One Year After: Arthur Weinstein, Robert Isabell, & the New Nightlife

My dear friend Arthur Weinstein died about a year ago, and the sense of loss that haunted me for so many months has morphed into gratitude that I was able to call him friend. A random comment left on his still-maintained Facebook page was accompanied by my pal’s grinning puss. It read, “Guess who I just ran into? Robert Isabell!” The greatest events planner since the Louvre epoch, Robert died last week; the generation of club types that pre-dated me is getting thin. For me, Arthur was the voice of reality as he rarely sugar-coated anything and often saw the truth hidden behind layers of fatty lies and misrepresentations. The clubs that the New York Times was talking about the other day — the specialty joints catering to the needs of a special few — were his forte. Hurrah’s, the Continental, and the Jefferson were the exact mix of exclusive, celebrity and real beautiful cool with downtown art, fashion, and music types. It was the Bea before Paul learned how to pee by himself. It’s a forgotten era between Studio 54 and the modern clubs.

Art was offered a partnership by Ian Schrager and Steve Rubell in Studio, but he turned them down. His club Hurrah around the way from Lincoln Center was the only game in town before the boys tore it up with my friend Carmen D’Alessio at The Greatest Club of All Time, Studio 54. The NYTis right when it talks about a spread out scene and “club” being the dreaded “C word” now. The scene has changed so much in the last year as the economy and persecution has driven clubs to constantly redefine themselves from music format, point of sales, and even price points. A year ago I wouldn’t be designing dance floors into joints; now with bottle service fading faster than a speeding bullet, such are in high demand. Even the shape of the banquette and table is changing as pushing cocktails and finger food pushes out the mixers, chocolates, and strawberries that often accompanied the liter of vodka.

The last week saw the pressures of summer hit a boiling point as there were three separate incidents involving door people. First came the now famous Wass squash, then lanky doormander Timothy went south at Southside and finally it was Noah Tepperberg and door guru Genc at The Box — the last incident raised more than a few eyebrows. I say if dudes like that are going to roll around The Box and get physical, then put it up on stage and promote the hell out of it. Noel Ashman could ref.

A place my pal Arthur would have loved is Collective Hardware. It is for sure a poor man’s Factory, but Andy has been hanging with Arthur and Robert Isabell these days, and that’s the difference. Yet week after week Stuart Braunstein and pals put up something worth the trip to Bowery and Delancey. There’s always a great art show, a record being recorded, people getting their hair cut or rearranging the joint. I regularly hang with Peter Rosenthal of Pee Wee’s Playhouse fame, Ronnie Cutrone of Andy Warhol’s world, and photographer Clayton Patterson, who is currently shopping his amazing documentary Captured in L.A. this week. Stuart Braunstein is working on a film called Monstererotica. Check out the press release:

Monsterotica is an iconoclastic film from Collective Hardware Productions based on a story by Stuart Braunstein. The film will be comprised of six different erotic fairytales. Each fable is a stand-alone short film as well as part of a narrative feature connected through the story of a runaway girl, lost in New York City. Principle photography for Monsterotica is scheduled to commence on Aug. 25, 2009 with production of the first segment, Djin and Toxic, starring Adam Senn and Sara Beth Stroller. Djin and Toxic tells the story of a beautiful bohemian girl(Sarah Stroller “Connection, Shaman and conceptual development coordinator”) and her lover (Adam Senn, from the MTV show “The City”). One night at a crowded gallery, the girl rubs a painting of a Magical lamp releasing her sexual fantasy, which she was trying to escape. A new York story told in a fantastical way. Stuart Braunstein and Michael Boisson will take turns producing and directing these stories. The first segment, Djin and Toxic will be screened to the press in October along with a documentary of The Making of Monsterotica, and live music, by Electric Black, and Collective Hardware’s own Gabriel Friedman, Sage Brantley and Kevin Tooley’s new band(currently un- named) produced in the music studios, show casing the production facility. This will be the beginning of Stuart’s dream of a content driven business and art movement like none other.

I love the energy down at Collective. It certainly isn’t a club or lounge, but its crafts are often shown at night, and I find myself there quite often.

Nightlife lives during the day at pool parties and rooftops. It’s fond of dive bars and especially one-off events at galleries and loft spaces. There is a line in the sand filled with ashtrays, as places are classified as cool if you can smoke there and mainstream if you can’t. The world of clubs has changed drastically since Arthur left us. During the last few years of his life, he would push me to do one last joint with him. I didn’t understand the urgency in that statement, and I’m awful sure I’m content to be defined by the places I’ve already done. For now and going back awhile, a club has been defined by me as a place where people can drink and dance, and a lounge is a place where they can drink and — well, lounge. Now we have that Avenue place calling itself a gastrolounge. We used to call those places restaurants, but I will buy into the name and concept — if only for reasons of self defense and the fact that it’s really working.

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