Black is back in a big way. Black is the new black. Stuart Black of the famous Mr. Black party, which was amazing here and has been amazing in its L.A.incarnation, will move his traveling circus of debauchery to the spacious confines of Webster Hall. In this interview, I was surprised to learn about the audience he plans to cater to. Stuart is determined to carve out a great club within the great club.
Mr. Black is at Webster Hall starting tonight. Webster Hall has been around for like 130 years. It’s an institution, it’s absolutely the best room in New York, bar none. Best sound, more rooms than you can imagine… Now, Stewart Black, known for being one of hippest motherfuckers in this world, had this great party called Mr. Black in various places, and now you’re moving your Mr. Black to Webster Hall. You’re shaking your head. Alright, tell us! Inform us! To clarify, Mr. Black now exists in L.A., just so you know. It’s a party at Bardot, which is the V.I.P. space in Avalon. I can arrogantly say it is the best gay party in L.A. and has been for the last two years. We are celebrating our second year. Which is fantastic! But to get out of that, I’m on board with Webster Hall to create a club within Webster Hall. We are essentially taking over the balcony lounge, as you know. The balcony next to the lounge. High ceiling, great sound… So this has been in the works for the last eight months. I guess there are two parts to this. One reason is trying to get a different clientele and demographic into Webster Hall. And another reason is trying to create more of a…I hate to use the word “upscale”… Mr. Black is not “upscale.” It might intelligent. It might be forward thinking, but upscale is not the word. Upscale is not the word. So, it sounds a little bit sleazy, but essentially what we’re trying to do is given this room its own name. It’s going to be called Hanky-Panky. Good name. Essentially the room will serve its purpose as being a V.I.P. lounge for regular Webster Hall customers. We are looking to create real cocktails with real glassware. And it’s going to be 21+ plus, as you know Webster Hall is a 19+ venue. So, the idea is that Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, huge acts come through here, huge hip-hop acts on Thursday nights, and then there’s also that big electro-European thing going on as well, and not everybody wants to be in that 19+ crazy chaos downstairs which is great for what it is, as honestly nothing like that is happening elsewhere as far as I can see. But we thought, You know what? This place is big enough to create a new oasis away from all that. And now we’re just going to turn it into something unique and special. For me nightlife is all about a gimmick, so I start off with a concept and idea, and then I allow it to evolve according to what I see.
What kind of music are you going to play? I mean, it’s a music driven venue… I’m tailoring the music according to what’s going on. Like for example, on Thursdays, when it’s really heavy on the hip-hop sound, I would make the upstairs a little more classic R&B, a bit of funky, grind-y, sexy music. I’ve got Herbert Holler and Ed Lover from those Yo! MTV Rap days. Two of them will be doing the music, and again, hopefully we wish to bring in a more mature crowd.
You described the party at Bardot as a gay crowd in L.A.? No, no, this will not be a gay crowd at all. Surprise! So this is not a gay party. This is a mixed party? So, essentially, it is gay friendly, but it is not necessarily for a gay audience. I don’t have any gay parties on schedule. The schedule is to be open Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I guess this my opportunity to do everything for the straights that I wasn’t able to do with Mr. Black because it was predominantly a gay party. So why not give the straights the things that I’ve learned? So let’s do this briefly. On Fridays it’s… On Fridays it will be DJ Louie the 14th, who’s a great mash-up, pop DJ. I expect it to be a really nice downtown vibe. On Saturdays, Johnny Dynell-
Classic.Love johnny! Can’t say anymore than that. Daddy. We call him Daddy.Who’s a mash-up DJ. Right. And Lydoske. So essentially, they’ve been doing a great party in Bushwick, once a month, for Tiki Disco. It ends in the summer, and we’re not looking to replicate that. But we’re thinking we could create our own little disco party here on Sundays. Bushwick, Greenpoint, Williamsburg… will they come to the city? Well, no, I’m not expecting them to because I’m not trying to replicate that. I never try to replicate anything. I just do my own thing and push ahead towards whatever that is. I think anyone that’s ever been really successful in New York, they do their own thing. Yeah, but they don’t do their own thing by being safe! You need substance, and thoughts, a process. Absolutely. So how did you end up at Webster Hall? Well, obviously Steve Ballinger I’ve known for quite a long time– Steve is one of the three Ballinger brothers… Steve had been torturing me all of 2010 to come on board at Webster Hall. No one really knew what the idea was, and so I met up with him and he needed help with his V.I.P. section and I was like “Okay. I guess I’ll help out for awhile”. And from there we saw that there was a section being neglected and that could be utilized. And then I said to him, “Well, why don’t we try to create more of an adult scene upstairs. See how it goes and give it its own entrance. We’re going to use the back entrance which leads up to the pink stairway that you created. And we’ve actually built bathrooms up there as well. So essentially we’re just trying to create an environment of which you go through Hanky-Panky and you don’t have to leave to get anything there. You don’t have to go into Webster Hall if you don’t have to. It’s self-sufficient, but if you chose to, you may. The staircase you alluded to is part of the renovation my team and I did a couple of years ago. Webster Hall, with all its tourists and New Yorkers that do come in offers incredible music on the main floor and the other rooms, It’s; a real big club experience that is becoming extinct. Now let’s talk about that. Basically, you’ve got Pacha, which isn’t close to being as big as Webster Hall, there aren’t any big clubs anymore, there was an era when I ran clubs and going to a big club was the shit.
What does being in a big club mean to you? Professionally and otherwise? Well I’m used to small venues, so this is the first time I’ve ever been exposed to the logistics and promotional work of a big club. I think I’ve actually learned more in the last eight months than in the last three years. But I guess this has just enabled me to infuse what I’ve learned, well how I managed smaller venues. I don’t know how to explain it… I’ll explain it. It’s an exponential experience. The problems you have in a small club are exponential in a big club. There are so many other things to control and cover. an example. You can have a lot of places which people could sneak into your party, and so then you’re going to have to secure from downstairs, upstairs, all those ways to get in , all these rooms have got to be secured. We’ve really been particular about what we want to do this is operation. It’s taken this long to even agree we could pull this off because all those things that you just mentioned are so crucial and essentially we are bringing in a new business model. As like you said, I’m now dealing with three business managers, and so we all have to be on the same page, and we all came to the conclusion that this club is going to run as its entity. And so it’s not Mr. Black? No! The name is Hanky-Panky! That’s what it will be called. Stewart Black’s Hanky-Panky? No, I haven’t really used my name for this occasion before. But I mean, people will know. I’ll add certain touches to it Give me one touch. Well, it will be full of debaucheries. We’ll have some sassy, sexy entertainers in the room. Performances, more showcases. But it’s not going to be like The Box. I don’t like stopping a party for five minutes to show off some X-Rated show. I kind of like…well, part of it is going to be a dance party, and the other part, a lounge. I prefer to have moments of time in which the music never stops.