Michael H walks, talks, acts and totally looks like a rock star. He is the lead singer of an all-star band that played last night at Greenhouse and Michael is also killing it with a clothing line. It’s so reminiscent of my glory days at Max’s Kansas City that I wish I weighed 135 pounds again and was dating Jeannie Luvullo from Irvington, New Jersey. Greenhouse on Monday is my new Snitch Monday. When that party died a year ago, I simply didn’t have a place to get up for, but now I won’t miss this. I visited Michael Alig up in the big house yesterday with my assistant Nadeska. I told Michael that the scene is as vibrant now as it ever was, but he was doubtful. I told him it’s true, but with a big difference — it isn’t organized under one flag.
Back in the day when I was cutting my teeth and he was — well, you fill in the blank — the scene was dominated by the four Peter Gatien mega-clubs: Palladium, Limelight, Tunnel, and USA. Sure there were other eras; 1981, for instance, was the best year I remember, but I don’t really remember 1979, so it’s possible that it was grand also. But the peak of it all (which ended in murder and indictments) was 1994 or 1995, when anything seemed possible and everyone was fabulous. Back then, the crowds waiting outside could number in high hundreds, and everyone needed a schtick to get past the doorman at giant clubs that held 5,000 people. Sure, there were way fewer clubs then, way more drugs, way less regulation, and certainly a great many more creative people at the helms, but my view of the scene today is that although it’s hit or miss, the hits are getting way more frequent.
The “3 as Four” party at the Bowery the other night, the “Trash” party at Webster Hall on Fridays, and even Southside on Sundays. I see fabulous people dressing creatively and a new generation of non drug-crazed club kids. There is a new vibrancy in music as hip-hop mash-up DJs bring in electro and other genres, adjusting to the public’s needs for positive re-enforcement from music programming. There is no club czar like Peter Gatien controlling the scene, sucking it into his monopoly. The new scene is spread out, chill, and comes together in hundreds of small, vibrant venues as well as late-night restaurants and a big club or two.
Friday’s “Half of Justice” GBH party coupled with “Trash” was the single best night I’ve seen in clubbing in five years or more. Sure, the crowd was young, but they were fabulous. A bartender introducing me to a hot party-promo type gal was shocked that she didn’t know me — I told her that she didn’t have to know me. New nightlife will define itself and will not be defined by me or a back-in-the-day mentality. It will not be defined by the last five years of blasé bottle boites. It is loose as a goose, and I’m not talking about the bottle of that pop that used to be sold to frat boys in clone suits at tables in boring clubs everywhere. I think that if a few bucks can circulate in our scene — not many, just a few — then 2009 will be super.
Check out my interview with Michael H, an old-school rocker, still doing this thing in 2009.
What’s the best way to describe you Michael — that you’re a rocker? Oh yeah, we rock!
And you also design clothing for rock ‘n roll society. What’s the name of your brand? Right now I have a collection called the Evil Eye, and it’s been formed from my old collections, revamped and reincarnated into more of a spiritual sort of edgy line. We just put it together over the last six months, and it consists of leather and denim, tees, knits, even some bags.
If I go see a Bloody Social show with hot rock ‘n roll chicks, a lot of them are wearing your clothes. Yeah, we just dressed a couple of models … we want everyone sporting the gear in their own way, and it’s always beautiful to see.
Your band played at Greenhouse last night — tell me about the band. This one is called Michael H and Friends. I have another band called Michael H & the Bashers, but members in that band are actually in Guns N’ Roses, and they’re starting to rehearse right now for their big tour. So this band, Michael H & Friends, consists of two members from David Bowie (Sterling Campbell on drums and Earl Slick on guitar) and two members from New York Dolls (Steve Conte and then Sammy Opera rocks on bass). It’s a really cool, edgy band … we’ve never played together before, it was just one rehearsal.
Your name now is Michael H — is it Michael Hilfiger, or Horton? Well, Michael H stands for two names: Horton, which I was adopted into, and then the Hilfiger, which was eventually adopted by me. So it’s always been a mystery who I was and where I came from, but I like that … it kind of just formed it’s own shape. I’ve always been introduced as a Hilfiger, but I was adopted into the beautiful Horton family, and I’ve always been happy about both, so “H” was kind of just a medium, and it stuck. And it stands for “hazardous” as well.
Where does Michael H hang out these days? I tend not to really go out and socialize in the drug and alcohol atmosphere anymore. Even though I do go to lounges sometimes where people are sipping and chatting, and snorting whatever, I’m doing my own thing, and that’s just being more social. I tend to stay out no later than 1 a.m. nowadays, but I love going to Rose Bar. I’m more of a lounge lizard. I also like hotels, like The Bowery Hotel, to meet and chat. Right now I’m at Bread, and that’s my friend’s restaurant in Soho, which is very relaxing. You always see Terry Richardson, Josh Hartnett, and those kinds of people here. It’s always a pleasure. But I like to relax, let my hair down. I also go to Don Hill’s, ol’ faithful Don, and I go to Greenhouse with Scott.
How far back do you go in New York City rock clubs? I’ve been coming here since about 1976 with my big brother Tommy. He introduced us to the punk scene near St. Mark’s. I remember as a kid going to Max’s Kansas City and CBGBs back when the Ramones were hanging out front and just smoking.
I always talk about how accessible that scene was and how much more fun it was. Yeah, and like Malcolm McLaren said, the punk rock music really started in New York down in Bowery, from just seeing Bowery boys just torn up, with holes in their clothes and being the real deal. And I remember St. Mark’s, back in the day when it was just Vietnam vets and the heroin addicts, and it was scary to walk down, and now it’s Starbucks and whatever.
So you hinted at it before that you got straight, and is it a great feeling to be straight now? Yeah, I’ve been drinking and hanging and doing the party scene for years. I’m going to be 47 in March, and I love being a kid man, I would never change a thing, just the diet and the drugs. It doesn’t pay to do drugs kids, I promise you.
What are you doing for Fashion Week? I’m doing a spread of events, I’m going to see the family show — Hilfiger of course — and we’re going to be doing the trunk show this week. It’s called Customs, down on 180 Front Street. It’s a chopper place, similar to the Von Dutch custom motorcycle, and then high-end apparel like your top names. I’m launching my private collection there. So it’s a trunk show/launch for the Evil Eye collection, and then I’m performing on the 16th with the Bowie members. So we’ve got a packed week.