The Darby Gets a Name, Carnival is a Hit

Sometimes, wearing two hats doesn’t stop the rain. I was kept late at job sites yesterday evening, as my designer hat kept me deep in sheetrock, dust, and paint fumes. My firm is currently finishing four venues that will open between now and Labor Day, and I don’t have enough hours in the day, or showers, or clothes, stashed around town. The Richie Akiva/Scott Sartiano restaurant on 14th and 8th has been named The Darby. I’ve known this for a while, but needed it to break in The Times, first. That’s where the two hats get into arguments with each other. I am so excited about this project, as each day the place looks more like the vision my partner, Marc Dizon, and I developed months ago. I’ll talk about this more in the coming weeks. Next door, at the old Country Club/ Dirty Disco space, now known as Snap, a woman and celebrity-friendly sports bar/restaurant is shaping up. The restaurant at 146 Orchard Street is in its final stages of construction, and looking like a winner. Stand Up New York, our first comedy club, is open to the public, while final finishes make it sweeter every day. Needless to say, my schedule is hectic, and I missed two events that I swore I’d attend last night.

The Jersey Shore soiree at Marquee was my biggest loss. I was promised access to the “talent,” and I was preparing questions all week. Most started with “YO!” In what had to be the biggest cultural ying-yang in quite some time, the Paul Kasmin Gallery next store opened David Lachapelle’s “American Jesus” exhibit. No press flack had the gumption to drag The Situation next door to the gallery, nor did David go to Marquee. Combining these two crowds would have been a snap. The images at David’s show, available online, feature an angelic Michael Jackson—with wings and all. They looked insanely hot. My Blackberry screamed to me that Julian Schanbel and Lenny Kravitz were there, and everyone who was everyone, as well. Afterward, the swells took their boom boom to the Boom Boom Room, which I hear will go private in a snap of Andre Balaz’s well manicured fingers. To almost everyone, that means very little access granted, and while people are always denied, it will discourage the mediocres from even trying to get in. I’m sure the fabulous aren’t affected much.

I was motivated by midnight, and headed to Amanda Lepore and Kenny Kenny’s Big Top party at Carnival, held at Bowlmor Lanes. Now, that’s a mouthful of candy corn for sure. I wanted to say hey to David Lachapelle, who I haven’t seen in a few years. It was advertised he would be there, and everyone knew he would. He has been mussing around with Amanda forever. I found David surrounded by a sea of paparazzi and iPhone photographers by a throne in the big room. He was wearing a gray Shepard Fairey T shirt, and a red baseball cap. Drag queens and flash dancers vied for his attention with big—real and store-bought—grins. Everyone was smiling, as “good nature” is considered classy with this fashion gay crowd. David posed with everyone. I saw photographer Roxanne Lowitt grab a few minutes while adoring fans jockeyed to be next. This scene latches onto its home grown celebrities like David and Richie Rich and Ru Paul and others who, for so long, have sipped cocktails in the same places and have now achieved international celebrity. The dress, style, and sensibility of this crowd loves to be validated with these success stories. Dressing up in fantastic costumes is high fashion, and high style, when one of these ambassadors “sells” it to the larger culture. The way of life has its own rewards, for sure, but it’s nice to be recognized. David is the real deal and it was nice to have him home again. I said hi, and we exchanged the “how good you looks” and all. He was always there for me over the years. He provided beautiful floral images for use on invites when I opened the Palace de Beaute with Larry Tee and Michael Alig. That was where the PetCo in Union Square now lives. Andy Warhol had his Factory upstairs. When my ex wife was putting out a record on Next Plateau Records, David shot it. He was always around to lend his brand to fabulous events, or have his after-events with my crew. He was always a wonderful, fun, and intelligent person—great to be around.

The crowd swarmed, posing, selling their fabulousness to him and each other, swarming his candle light. It was nice to be in a club where the idols were artists instead of moguls. Nearby, muscle queens took exaggerated hammers and rocketed energy up a 14 foot shaft to ring a bell. Others stood by with admiration while sipping vodka through straws. A successful slam had a huge LED sign begging, “HIT ME AGAIN.” All were delighted by this spectacle. Delicious cotton candy was being hawked by delicious young men, as a gymnast-type hoola-hooped in short shorts. 7-foot drag artists, with air-brushed makeup, air kissed each other and exchanged pleasantries. Gym-built bodies hawked games of skill and luck and distributed stuffed purple prizes, and sexy smiles to winners. The carni-shtick made wallflowers into entertainers. It was smiles all around, and forward music for a forward thinking crowd, who remain years ahead of it all while, doing much of the same as 10 years ago.

Kenny Kenny was pleased as he surveyed the room with me. He knows that he, Amanda, and Joey have created something that can be built on. “It’s good,” he humbly proclaimed. The crowd is fresh, unjaded, and uber friendly. They dress the part, and are aware that something is happening here that borrows only the best parts of the bawdy past. It is respectful of the legacy, and embraces the success of what came out of that era that broke it all out, but they don’t relate to the pitfalls of that time. David and Amanda, Kenny, and so many others from long ago bathe in the new light. I love Wednesday’s at Carnival.

Paul Alexander, who has always been an oracle—a person to ask when you want to know the story, the scoop, and what’s really happening—is hosting a Sunday night shindig at the Pearl lounge on 17th and 8th avenue. It’s an early gig, meant to fill those hours between dinner and Suzanne Bartsch and Kenny Kenny’s late night affair at Greenhouse. It’s cocktails and flirtations, 10 to 1am at Pearl, and then everyone heads downtown. Paul’s parties at Jackie 60/Mother, Caine, and so many other places, have been reliable fun for the sometimes, somewhat unreliable set.

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