Déjà Vu All Over Again at The Area Party

Yep, it’s déjà vu all over again as I am going to tell you about yet another amazing, amazing, amazing Sailor Jerry event, and also the Area book party last night which was… amazing. The opening party at the Hole Gallery had celebrities and bold face names old and newer enjoying the recreation of a night at the famed downtown club. I don’t name drop, there are plenty of gossip sites that do and I’m sure photographer Patrick McMullan – a celebrity in his own right – took a zillion photos for you to see on his web site.

I just checked. He did.

For me the thrill was definitely not gone as dear, old friends gathered to celebrate a very special part of our lives. The big moment for me was seeing art icon Chuck Close real close. Amanda and I both lost our cell phones so no pics are forthcoming. We both got them back – a tribute to a kinder, gentler age where people cared about each other. We chatted up a very proud Eric Goode about his career path and his work with endangered turtles which his success helps support. I promised not to send him a pewter turtle that I have been saving for a moment. He gets them all the time.

We scooted over to The Cardinal (234 East 4th Street) where a Sailor Jerry dinner was taking place. I got a horse head tattoo dedicated to an old friend from Spike TV’sInk Master judge-extraordinaire Oliver Peck. The food was, well, amazing, and the crowd super hip and hot. The soiree was for Australian mural artist Steen Jones. Sailor Jerry Rum commissioned a piece that adorns the gates of the Cardinal. The Cardinal is wonderful. I knew so many people who work there and made new friends. The catfish and fried chicken are to die for. A vegetarian friend sitting nearby commented on my declaration and said that that is the reality. The ravioli looked good too. Oliver and I talked about the Ramones and the Pixies and Texas and tattoos. He’ll be back real soon and I’ll tell you all about it when I can. Photographer and troublemaker Rickey Powell got a scorpion. Also there were DJ Roofeeo, Jam Master Jay’s son TJ Mizell, and… oops, I’m dropping names. Oh, Buff Monster buffmonster.com/pages/about-us was there and I got some cool trading cards.

Then it was to the Area Book after party at Eric Goode’s Bowery Hotel. There the A crowd of past and present were mingling and trying to figure out “who that was”. Those “my name is” stickers would have been a good idea. I was actually surprised that time was so kind to so many. How is that possible considering the constant effort over many years to self-destruct? A friend suggested that “many of us were simply pickled”. Strangely on four separate occasions I did a double take. I thought I saw someone who was no longer with us. It turned out it was someone who looked a lot like that person. In the dim light and the emotions I saw old friends who had succumbed to the countless pitfalls of the night. An old friend said they had the same experience seeing someone they enjoyed embodied in someone too young to have been around so long ago in that Area so far, far away. It was smiles all around and I wondered if it could happen again. Justin Strauss played songs still relevant today while the ghosts of nightlife past told me it was time to go home. It was a surreal, wonderful reunion. That fool who said you can’t go home again was once again proved wrong.

The Area Book Party

A bit back I named the 5 greatest clubs of all time. They were in order: Studio 54, Area, The World, Max’s Kansas City and Paradise Garage. All are long gone now, dust in the wind like so many of the people that partied hardy there. Studio was the Babe Ruth, the Michael Jordon, the Pele of club-dom. It was by all definition an uptown club. Area grabbed number two and was easily the best joint downtown ever saw. It opened in 1983 and dominated the arty, bohemian scene from day one. It was Madonna, Warhol, Haring, Basquiat, David Hockney, Bianca, Grace and Dolph, with JFK Jr. and Malcolm Forbes and all the cool kids. They changed the decor every six weeks or so. Suburbia or Confinement or Sci-Fi were themes. Actors and personalities and live animals too were part of the redux. Every installation was a new opening. Eventually larger clubs targeted the set-in-stone openings with larger, undeniable paid-for events that coincided with the theme changes, and Area couldn’t compete. It sort of didn’t want to.

Tonight an RSVP-only exhibition of photos will give those were there reasons to be cheerful and maybe a little sad. The images and flock who show up tonight will show subsequent generations how it was done. It’s all about the book from Abrams Publishers, Area 1983-1987 by Eric and Jennifer Goode. The Hole (312 Bowery) will be slammed with the fabulous. I suspect the scene in the street outside will be wondrous.  There will be an after party at the Bowery Hotel. Area was owned in Part by Eric Goode. His life has led him to be a hotelier. He owns and operates The Bowery Hotel, the Maritime, Lafayette House, and the Jane Hotel. There’s also B Bar and a list of restaurants that has have shaped the scene.

A bit back I named the 5 greatest clubs of all time. They were in order: Studio 54, Area, The World, Max’s Kansas City and Paradise Garage. All are long gone now, dust in the wind like so many of the people that partied hardy there. Studio was the Babe Ruth, the Michael Jordon, the Pele of club-dom. It was by all definition an uptown club. Area grabbed number two and was easily the best joint downtown ever saw. It opened in 1983 and dominated the arty, bohemian scene from day one. It was Madonna, Warhol, Haring, Basquiat, David Hockney, Bianca, Grace and Dolph, with JFK Jr. and Malcolm Forbes and all the cool kids. They changed the decor every six weeks or so. Suburbia or Confinement or Sci-Fi were themes. Actors and personalities and live animals too were part of the redux. Every installation was a new opening. Eventually larger clubs targeted the set-in-stone openings with larger, undeniable paid-for events that coincided with the theme changes, and Area couldn’t compete. It sort of didn’t want to.

Tonight an RSVP-only exhibition of photos will give those were there reasons to be cheerful and maybe a little sad. The images and flock who show up tonight will show subsequent generations how it was done. It’s all about the book from Abrams Publishers, Area 1983-1987 by Eric and Jennifer Goode. The Hole (312 Bowery) will be slammed with the fabulous. I suspect the scene in the street outside will be wondrous.  There will be an after party at the Bowery Hotel. Area was owned in Part by Eric Goode. His life has led him to be a hotelier. He owns and operates The Bowery Hotel, the Maritime, Lafayette House, and the Jane Hotel. There’s also B Bar and a list of restaurants that has have shaped the scene.

Industry Insiders: Costas Charalambous, Hyde Seeker

The man who takes care of the day-to-day at LA’s hottest nightclubs (Hyde, Area, Foxtail) under SBE’s Sam Nazarian claims he’s a dedicated family man well before he’s a nightlife guru. “I’m family guy, I have two little boys. I have one side — the cool factor, being ahead of the game and in the nightlife scene — but at the same time I have another side that people don’t normally get to see.” Nonetheless, he’s running some of the biggest celeb magnets in LA and is constantly surrounded by bottles and models. Can he really turn out to be a normal guy?

Tell me about your position with SBE. I work the nightlife division at SBE and deal with anything that has to do with our nightclubs. I try to get the same hype and energy into our restaurants. I’ve been with the company since almost the beginning and helped get us where we are right now.

What piqued your interest in LA nightlife? My profession now is completely different from what I went to school for — kinesiology and athletic training. I’ve always been interested in nightlife. I’m European, and I just worked different positions, in many different clubs on different continents. I also had a little restaurant open in Santa Barbara before I joined SBE in the 90s. When the joint venture came together for SBE, and it heard of the proposal, I jumped on board.

How did you first come to meet Sam Nazarian? I knew Sam from way back. He would hang out in some of the places I worked back in the day. I used to do physical training, so I knew him from the athletic club as well.

What was your first impression when you met him? Sam is a very generous, very smart guy, but he’s not flashy about it. That’s what attracted me from the beginning … I knew what his powers could be and a little bit of his background, but he’s not the guy who’s throwing into your face. That was my first impression of him. He’s a very nice guy.

What’s your favorite of all the SBE venues? One of my favorite spaces now is the Area location. I like big spaces; I like the energy; I like the layout.

What are some positive trends you’ve noticed recently in nightlife or hospitality? One that is positive and negative at the same time is the option that consumers have of more locations and more options. It gets more people involved in going out, and I think, in general, more people are going out. This could have a positive or negative effect depending on how good of a grip you have on the clientele and how you stay ahead of the game. We hope to tap into a bigger market and attract and engage. That’s been a big focus for us in the past five or six years. Before, you had only a few locations to choose from. For a long time, there was one spot going strong per night on the weekdays.

So you think people are going out in general more now? I think so … there’s more options, more nightclubs, and it attracts more people to be out there and in the city. A lot of people take the nightlife component into consideration before moving to a new city.

How does SBE maintain the cool factor in venues? We try to keep our heads on top, as we’ve got to know what’s happening today. This is a city, and if you lose a connection with what the people want — you’re pretty much done. We’re very active in what we do, we mobile run it. I’m still active 100% into the trends and the nightlife component. We’re basically selling something that you can’t see and you can’t touch — the vibe. To create that, you have to be part of it, otherwise people won’t come back.

What do you think people are looking for now? It went from big clubs to small locations, and now I think it’s coming back to the bigger spots. They want energy. This is true in the music world also. I think house music is making a huge impact on our society at the moment, and especially in nightlife. I’m Greek myself, and house music was all I grew up with. I’m happy to hear it here and know it’s coming to this side of the world.

Where do you go out? I definitely hang out in more of the SBE locations. One of my favorite locations is the Bazaar at SLS. It’s an amusement park there, you get great food and great drinks, and the ambiance of the people and all of the above. The design is phenomenal. I also love The Abbey That location is by far one of the most exciting, unique places with the ambiance that you could find in the city regardless of the clientele, but that’s definitely that’s a unique space. I love the energy.

You were a Navy SEAL in the Greek Army. Any comparisons between that experience and LA nightlife? From that experience, I learned the respect factor and I use it every day. That experience shaped the way I work, the way I function, the way my brain works. Discipline is key into what we do, especially now because we create the party instead of being part of the party.

Do you have any non-industry projects in the works? I’m looking into an electronic cigarette. They have no tobacco. It gets you the amount of nicotine that you wish you could . And you can smoke it anywhere because there’s nothing burning in the air. Those have been out by Vegas companies, but I’d like to take it to the next level and provide users with things other than nicotine. I’m working with one that would give you energy and vitamins.

What’s your dream spot for a project for any sort of venue? Something at the beach where the party goes on all day and the energy goes through, and the night comes down and sinks into more of the nightclub vibe.

Aside from SBE, who else does it right in nightlife? There’s a few people in other cities that I envy, but I can definitely count those people on one hand.

Anyone in particular? I don’t want to mention anybody.

What are you doing tonight? I’ll be out at Hyde. I’m out and about tonight.

Los Angeles: Top 10 Thanksgiving Eve Parties

Every year in Los Angeles, the night before Thanksgiving seems to come as a huge surprise — everyone remembers that it’s Wednesday, and tomorrow they’re blessedly free from going back to work. Bars and clubs across the city remember it too and treat this night like a hot Saturday in high season. It all comes together to make Thanksgiving Eve one of the most promising nights of the year to go out. Here’s our list of November 26th blowouts for your partying pleasure. 1. The Hideout Ah, glorious Los Angeles. Party on the beach in late November! Though usually Wednesdays at the Hideout are reserved for quiet chilling (and, earlier in the evening, a spot of speed-dating), this night will play host to resident DJs and, as past years indicate, an unusually packed dance floor. Not to worry; there’s breathing room on the beachside patio.

2. Chloe This new-ish Santa Monica bar is on the elegant side; people come here for schmancy small plates and complicated cocktails. But on the 26th, there will be a DJ and plenty of raucousness. Wear a dress — but one that can get spilled on.

3. Foxtail Celebrity (kind of) DJs StoneRokk and Kev E Kev are giving up their Wednesday residency at Hyde to come west to Foxtail, which is trying to switch from a restaurant to a club. There’s still food, though, so this is a good spot for those who need to line their stomachs. Whether or not there’s a cover seems up for debate, so best have your $20 just in case.

4. Hyde There’s no cover at this tiny, TMZ-tastic bar, but there will undoubtedly be a line. Good for people watching, bad for your dignity. Still, Graham Funke is DJing, so lovers of hip-hop may find the wait worthwhile.

5. Area This Hollywood club is all kinds of big and wild; it’s where the party people go to really get down. The 26th will see the rare, busy Wednesday, and promoters are confident enough of the crowd they’ll draw that they’re charging a $20 cover. We guess you can treat it like a one-night gym membership.

6. S Bar There’s a DJ and promises of Thanksgiving Eve rambunctiousness, but keep in mind that S Bar is really more of a “sitting around trying to look cool” kind of bar. There’s sure to be all manner of regular and seasonal specialty drinks on the liquids menu; order something autumnal to get into the spirit. Of the season and the dancing.

7. The Bar Most DJs stick to dancey Top 40 stuff, but that’s not really the MO at The Bar. They’ll be paying homage to their dirty roots by having Travis Keller man the decks, with music made more for rocking than dancing.

8. Akbar This could win an award for friendliest gay bar in the world. Seriously. If you’re without family for the holiday weekend, by the end of Wednesday night you’ll feel like you’ve made a new one. Everyone in the neighborhood knows to come here to preemptively work off the turkey calories.

9. Redwood Well, this should be an interesting mix of hard rockers and journalists. The Redwood is across from the Los Angeles Times building, so writers are a given. The music for the evening will be loud, loud, loud, so expect a lot of burly folks with tattoos. People drinking whiskey and talking about layoffs in one corner, headbangers in another.

10. Elevate The fact that this downtown rooftop club is even open on a Wednesday is proof of the power of Thanksgiving Eve. They’ll be opening their doors a night early to draw in the big spenders who want to dance. And if you’re looking for food, Takami on the other side of the roof has sushi. That’s pretty non-turkey.

Industry Insiders: Michael Ault, International Spy

Michael Ault, owner of the Pangaea clubs in Austin and elsewhere and the man behind legendary New York clubs like Spy and Chaos, checks in with the scene (New York) where he once reigned.

How did you start in the nightclub business? Growing up in Palm Beach in the 1970s, every night was a party. All the families on the social scene were expected to host large events at their homes, mostly charity balls and large dinners. Both my mother and father’s family took this ethos to extreme lengths. So as a child, most of what I recall were large parties, planning, logistics, caterers, florists, car parkers, bands, guest lists, phone books, and fun. No one ever considered them “businesses,” because they weren’t, but they were extremely complicated productions to produce and promote. To be completely frank with you, I’m not certain that I was ever really a component of the nightclub business. In many ways, the concept of a business and “party” are often mutually exclusive. If you’re concentrating on the business, you’ll often lose sight of the party. And naturally the reverse is invariably true. But to answer your question, my first clubs as an owner were Merc Bar and Surf Club.

What are the places you have owned or been affiliated with? During the 1980s, I promoted virtually every major club in New York City. I did a lot of openings, or closings, mostly one-offs. I can’t recall them all, but certain rooms stand out; The World, Tunnel, Palladium, Area, Visage, Club A, Regine’s, MK, Zulu, Maxime’s, Mars, Au Bar, and Tavern on The Green. By the mid-1990s, however, I really felt that the scene was missing something. The excitement of the 1980s was gone, no one was dressing up, no sense that anything could happen or would happen. The mix had evaporated, and everything was quite flat. I wanted to try something really outrageous, a synthesis of Blade Runner, a haunted house, a New Orleans bordello, and the Soho loft none of us could afford. That was the birth of Spy Bar. Spy changed everything. Spy had such a sublime aspect to it; the energy, the way people moved and mixed. Spy really launched the international lounge craze. Although, so few really got it right.

When we built Chaos, the next year, it was really a product of Spy, plus two fresh concepts, house music and bottle service. We went on to build other Chaoses in Sao Paolo and South Beach. Towards the end of the Chaos run, the concept had drifted somewhat, as had the city. Nightlife was fairly pedestrian. I needed something new, something super-intimate, wacky; something that transported me to another world, that might bring us all together again. So two weeks after 9/11, I opened Pangaea. It was a smash. I don’t think anyone has had that much fun since. I went on to build one at The Hard Rock Casino in Florida, Marbella, Spain, and Austin, Texas.

What do you feel has changed? For better, or worse? The scene has changed so completely, it’s unrecognizable. There are very, very few really creative people in the business. It’s mostly about making money, which they most often don’t. Most operators would not know a great party if it fell on them. The bottle concept was ruined and taken to ridiculous lengths. When you bring bottle service to a city, as we did in New York, Miami, Sao Paulo, and Austin, you must remember: it’s not about the bottle, it’s about service. It’s about creating an intimate party where people can pour their own drink, and more importantly, others. It’s the best way to meet someone — “Hi, would you like to join me at my table, what are you drinking.” Sadly, the concept was squandered. Now it’s a tool to rip people off. Greed and excess can destroy everything, as it has the club business.

What has affected nightlife most? The wrong people are driving the bus. And the regulatory environment is absurd.

Is there another city that you think may have better nightlife now? Definitely. A few cities that come to mind: Berlin Barcelona, Marrakech, Amsterdam, Oslo, Moscow, Sydney, Sao Paulo, Kiev, Cape Town, Milan, Buenos Aires, Vienna, Krakow, Madrid, Shanghai, and many in between. Although I think New York has some very good operators, and a few extremely creative and talented hosts. Generally, the restaurants are much more fun.

What are your current projects? We have two very large clubs at the Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Florida: a Pangaea and The Gryphon. In a few weeks, we’ll be starting our fifth year. We’ve been blessed with a fabulous team in Florida, and both clubs continue to rage very hard indeed. Since we opened, we’ve seen a few generations of South Beach clubs come and go. South Florida will always be a great market, but with the economy in such dire condition, one must be very careful. I also have an enormous Pangaea in Austin, Texas. It’s by far my most beautiful space. It really is a complete African safari lodge, within a 9,000-square-foot 1860s brick warehouse. And of course, Austin is a wild party. Great-looking kids that really are determined to have fun. The combination is truly a spectacle.

Projections: I’ve been looking at spaces elsewhere in Texas, California, Arizona, Europe, and flying to Dubai next week. I like East Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. Traveling to new cities, discovering the complexities of a market, meeting everyone, designing, staffing, building, and ultimately, operating nightclubs is incredibly exciting. I’ll do it anywhere. Secretly, I am plotting to come back to New York and take a fresh swing at it.

Is there any person or place in New York that you feel is doing it right? Nur Khan always does a great job. His opinions and perspective are purely authentic. He knows what he likes, what his friends like, and he keeps his eye on that goal. Wax was so much fun. Studio 54 can never be topped, and the same is true of Area, but the Golden Age was Spy and Wax. However, with that said, there are so many people in the business that I sincerely love. I’ll go out generally just to see them all. It’s a wild, dark world, and as you might imagine, some bizarre people inhabit it. Most of us have been competitors over the decades, sometimes partners. And although most of us have been deeply scarred by the business, usually by each other, there’s still a lot of love between us all.

When you are in New York, where do you go out? I love bouncing through the restaurants. It’s easier to see and speak to people. If you see me at a club, I’m likely to be building a new team for the next adventure.

One-Day Tour: West Hollywood

imageWelcome to the gayborhood. Known as one of the most notable gay villages in the country, WeHo is also home to some of the best bars, restaurants, and shopping in all of Los Angeles. The vibe is friendly and the streets are walkable — this is one spot in LA where you can get all you need within a few blocks. The 90069 is filled with hot young things walking their dogs — due in part to the tight rent control in this area (cheap rent!) and the extremely dog-friendly landlords. For the first-time visitor, here’s your primer.

Stay: Chateau Marmont This beautiful, strange, matchless castle on the hill pulls stars for private bungalow overnights and rock-star debauchery. This is the spot to work your kinks out: relax, get wild, hide out, get noticed, anything goes. With all this rock n’ roll wrapped neatly in luxury linens, you may never leave the grounds. You should. But you might not.

10 a.m. Breakfast at Hugo’s. There’s a good chance you’ll sip coffee next to the latest hip producer/director/actor/creative in Hollywood. One of the top spots for power breakfasting in LA. Try the pasta Mama, it’s award-winningly delicious. Tea-lovers: You’ll be delighted to browse the several pages of offerings.

11:30 a.m. Head over to the Pacific Design Center. Browse the 130 design showrooms and the latest offerings from MOCA. Admire the oversized art surrounding the way-modern building.

1:30 p.m. Stop by Ariya and fill up on sushi. Sit in the covered back patio, and definitely order the OMG roll — it lives up to the name.

3 p.m. Put your chucks on and get ready to shop. First stop, Book Soup. This funky labyrinth of books is littered with staff recommendations and rocks an authentic creaky wooden floor. Once you’ve had your fill of the written word, pop over to Fred Segal. Trendsetters rule the roost here. The shopgirls are likely too cool for you, but admire the goods anyway. Next up, Resurrection: Vintage gowns, swoon. In case vintage isn’t your thing, check out A Bathing Ape down the street — hip hop sneakers on a conveyor belt. Then stroll over to Kidrobot and pick up the latest in limited-edition art-tastic “toys.” Whatever happens, make sure you end up at Wasteland, a Melrose institution, filled with the best vintage clothes in the city.

7 p.m. Go see the latest film at The Arclight (you are in LA for fck’s sake). See our list of the top theaters in Los Angeles.

9:30 p.m. Dinner at Comme Ca. Unpretentious French bistro. Try the steak frites and the risotto.

11:30 p.m. Roll out. Have a beer at Barney’s — and don’t be skerred if someone gets loud; the Bean has a penchant for lite bar fights. Wanna chill? Head to Bar Lubitsch, the red Russian lounge with top-shelf vodkas. Wanna people-watch? Head to The Abbey — the hottest cruising spot in town, boys who like boys who like girls who like girls, it’s all here. Wanna dance? Head to Area, of The Hills fame. Bottles, tables, dancing, preferably all three at the same time.

Bonus Round: • In town on a Sunday? Check out the Fairfax Flea Market, it’s a sure bet for funky jewelry, boho dresses, and other awesomeness. • Up late night, err, early morning? Irv’s Burgers opens at 8 a.m.

Top 5 Places to Run Into (or Away From) ‘The Hills’

The cast of the faux-reality show The Hills makes for (sometimes) entertaining television. Maybe you think you can do better? Here are the top five Los Angeles spots you can run into LC, Lo, Audrina, Stephanie, Heidi, and Spencer. Who knows — maybe you can get a cameo on an episode and parlay that into a regular spot on the show. We hear that LC and Lo are taking applications for “the boyfriend” role.

1. Les Deux. This Hills staple is a great place to start your quest to bump into the realebrities. While you people-watch, order a cupcake tower.

2. Hyde. Good luck getting in — their motto is: No one gets in. No paps and no photos inside, but there’s plenty of mugging for the camera outside, so at least you’ll know who’s having fun without you.

3. Area. Be prepared to pony up for bottle service, and also the music sucks, and unless you’re “somebody” you might not get in (even if you’re on the guestlist). However, all that may be worth it for the serious eye candy, and of course, a possible autograph from LC.

4. Boulevard3. Scene of Stephanie Pratt’s ruined birthday, it’s accessible with reservation. There’s a giant dance floor, a fireplace, and even a cabana boy.

5. S Bar . Philippe Starck has his stamp on the east and the west coasts; this place is Alice in Wonderland meets The Matrix. Vibe is not so much “scene” as “chill.”