Respect to Keith Haring

Yesterday marked the 20th anniversary of the passing of Keith Haring. I first noticed Keith drawing on the black, unused ad spaces on subways. I’d see him work once in a while. One day I got off to chat with him and spent the next dozen or so years admiring his work and the man. He was always available, positive, helpful, involved. One of the missing components of Manhattan club life has been the lack of art superstars. The Beatrice, the Jane and a lot of the Brooklyn joints have these types, and those who appreciate them, integrated into the scene Most ‘city” joints thinks a B-level athlete is a celebrity. In the ‘80s, Basquiat, Haring, Kenny Scharf and Warhol helped define what cool really was. Previous club generations embraced the artist and writers as well as VIPs. Artists were not featured during this past, bottle-service-defined decade, unless they found themselves painting Absolut bottles or writing graffiti for the trust fund hip hop crews. Lately there seems to be more of a synergy between the art crowd and the club crowd. Art openings often start the night. Clubs that embrace this crowd and figure out how to pay the rent will key this decade’s future. A hotel club with lower overhead and less financial expectations will surely embrace this set.

In 1988 I was running a joint called The World, on 2nd Street, and watched Keith Haring do his doodly cool thing on the men’s room stalls. It was a surreal potty party and word quickly spread that there was something cool happening. When the night was done, one of the owners of the place ordered the cleaning crew to remove the entire stall wall and transport it to his E. 3rd Street penthouse. I don’t know what happened to them after that. I do know that we didn’t have stalls around the toilets for a few days.

Designer/philanthropist Malcolm Harris is in Paris trying to make the world a better place. My old friend is staying close with everyone by facebooking. He posted this: ”Keith Haring died twenty years ago to this very day and his influences can still be felt all over the globe. Rihanna’s Rude Boy video is a perfect example of how Keith’s influences still live on.” He’s right check it out.

I caught up with Jon Gabel, who handles New Year’s Eve for half the town. His company joonbug.com was where I first started to write this column and I have a deep affection for the crew over there. I threw him a few softballs about his fashion week gala

This was Joonbug.com’s First Annual Fashion Week Gala. How was this event different from New Year’s Eve? This was definitely a more press heavy event. We had tons of fashion press RSVP to cover this and more photographers than we knew what to do with. Unlike other Fashion Week events, ours was open to the public. People were rubbing elbows with designers such as Amy Claire and Walter Baker, the Editor-In-Chief of Elle, and cast members from Ugly Betty. Celebrities showed up who we didn’t even know were coming!

Were you nervous about diving into something new? This wasn’t just a first for us. This was the official kick-off party for STYLE 360. This was Fabolous’ first time performing at a Fashion Week event. It was the New York debut of Charles Hamilton and Josh Madden’s performance. We had O’Neal Mcknight premiere his new single “Fashion Week,” Claudine Desola DJed her very first event. It was the launch party for the Prasperity bracelets. The list goes on! It was a great opportunity to work with all of these incredible people and put on an awesome event.

How did you get the idea to throw a Fashion Week party? What were your expectations for the event?

We really want people to get to know Joonbug.com as a nightlife and lifestyle guide. We want to provide more content and more variety for our guests and subscribers. This was an event for them more so than it was for us. We wanted to give them an insider’s view of Fashion Week and bring the party to them. Our Fashion Week Gala definitely exceeded any expectations that we had.

Who ended up coming? Everybody showed up to our event! We knew that Ugly Betty cast members like Vanessa Williams and Ana Ortiz were coming but it was great to see Ralph Macchio, The Karate Kid!

How did you select the performers? Fabolous was a no brainer, he makes hit after hit, and he was really excited about getting involved in Fashion Week. He completely changed around his plans to be here for our event. With Pras, everybody knows him from The Fugees, but what they may not know is that he founded the non-profit organization, Prasperity Project. The celebrities who attended our event walked the red carpet with the Prasperity bracelets on their wrists to raise awareness and help generate funds for Haiti relief efforts. We were thrilled to get behind that. O’Neal Mcknight and Josh Madden have performed for us before and we’ll continue to invite them back, they know how to entertain a crowd!

What was the designer committee? How did you recruit their support for the event? How were they involved? We had a great designer committee made up of Caravan, Emu Australia, What Goes Around Comes Around, Walter, E.Vil, Amy Claire, Twinkle, Prairie, Boy Meets Girl, Rewash Jeans, Gunnar Optiks and Raffone Luggage. They lent their names to our event and stood behind us to make us an official Fashion Week event. Claudine Desola, from Caravan and THINK PR, DJed a special “Inspiration Played” set featuring music that inspired these designers when creating their Fall 2010 collections. That playlist is available here.

I’m off to Miami on design business. I haven’t been there in a year and have no idea what to expect. Miami always reminds me of Vegas. They try real hard to get it real right and sometimes they really succeed. However, there’s a sexy seediness that lies in wait. A whiff of sex, vice and unsavory characters. Its a land of old money and new. Of the very clean and the very dirty. I’ve had some serious problems there back in the day and some unbelievable adventure. Maybe I’ll tell you something tomorrow.

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