The Xtravaganza Ball: Hard to Put Into Words (Photos Inside); Latex Ball Coming Up

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The morning was swept away as I hugged my pillow and dreamt of Father Jose Xtravaganza’s iconic 30th anniversary WRATH OF THE GODS & GODDESSES” BALL last night at XL Nightclub. I dreamt of Aphrodite and Hercules and Gods and Goddesses and princes and princesses and sugarplum fairies and lots of other fairies and girls that would be boys and boys that would be girls. I never wanted to wake up. The Ball was everything. It was glamour and drama and love and sadness as those that have gone with God were remembered. It was beauty and emotion. It was professional. Grandfather Hector Xtravaganza was a proud father surveying the universe he presides over. I sat as a judge next to the legendary Patricia Fields who was flanked by the joy that is Jack Mizrahi.

Jack is usually an emcee and he commented on the uniqueness of his new role. Pat Fields was amazing. She was unforgiving as a judge. She was fair but demanding. She wanted excellence, and she chopped those who didn’t bring it. I chopped some guy in the Thug Realness category. He came at me at intermission with anger, demanding to know why. He pointed out that he had brought the required spear and, as he yelled at me, he was full of fire and brimstone. I explained to him – although all around me said I need not explain – that if he had come to the stage with the attitude he was coming at me now, like a thug, I would have given him the "10" and the prize he coveted. On stage there was nothing Thug about him. He got chopped.Xtravaganza Ball

Nunney Karma competing in the BQ Vogue Fem category was all attitude and athleticism and creativity and confidence. He twisted and pranced to his just reward. Jennifer Paris had to tell the MC and the crowd that she indeed was born a man as there were few believers in the crowd. She was recruited to be an Xtravaganza on the spot.

Claudia Charriez Xtravaganza was radiant. YouTube her on The Tyra Banks Show to believe. Claudia and I talked about ourwonder years at clubs gone by, when she and Jennifer were the new kids on the block. They are goddesses now in this Ball world and in mine as well.Xtravaganza ball

Lady Bunny was stealing the show, dancing and toying with every camera in the room. There were many so photos; video should be all over the internet. She was asked to the stage as a legend and told the adoring crowd that she represented the International House of Pancakes. As I have explained, the Ball has representatives from the various "Houses" that make up the culture, competing for prizes and glory. It was glorious.

XL was perfect. I hadn’t ever been. Old friends, owner John Blair and GM Tracy Choi, gave me the 50-cent tour and massive amounts of drink tickets. I keep finding them in the pockets of my jacket, which I got from SEW on Mott Street. I felt like a million bucks, all decked out in their duds, which are anything but duds.Xtravaganza BallBINGO moves tonight from the Bowery Poetry Club (now-shuttered because of renovations) to Duane Park, as Duane transforms it into its brand of paradise. BINGO lands softly on the enclosable roof of Hotel Chantelle.

Tonight I’m going to dream of another fitting befitting of the glow that the Ball has bestowed on me. The next big Ball is the Latex Ball at Roseland Ballroom on August 18th. Thousands will show as all the houses will represent. This will be the 22nd Latex Ball and it is, of course, a GMHC affair.

The Latex Ball’s theme: 

The House of Latex Project presents The Enchanted Forest

“The place in which inner darkness is confronted and worked through; where uncertainty is resolved about who one is; and where one begins to understand who one wants to be.”- Stephen Sondheim, Into the Woods, 1987

The inner life of forests has always enchanted us. It is that special place where roots, soil, leaves, insects, flowers, animals, and water collide to create the circle of life. And it is there that the sounds of the raindrops falling from the leaves of ancient trees were transformed into the deafening sounds of our ancestors beating on their drums. Inspiring them to create and spread the magical stories of our creation, our past, and our future – that we now call fairytales and fables.

Tonight’s categories will take you into this inner sanctum and help you travel from tropical jungles to alien worlds; from confronting scary spirits, to places of indescribable beauty. To a place where magical herbs grow unnoticed until they are found to hold the power to help cure illnesses and diseases. We hope your enjoy this trip filled with joy, adventure, mystery and beauty that we call The Enchanted Forest.

The Latex Ball’s categories:

RUNWAY
Cinderella – A classic story where a young girl goes from rag to riches in spite of her evil step mother and step sisters. In the classic Disney animated film, Cinderella is the much-loved only child of a widowed aristocrat. After deciding that his beloved daughter needs a mother’s care, Cinderella’s father marries Lady Tremaine, a proud woman with two daughters from her first marriage, Drizella and Anastasia. Plain and socially awkward, these stepsisters are bitterly envious of the beautiful and charming Cinderella. After the death of Cinderella’s father, Lady Tremaine and her daughters take over the estate, and begin to abuse and mistreat Cinderella out of jealousy. Despite everyone trying her, Cinderella becomes a kind woman and befriends the animals living in the forest around her, until her Prince Charming comes along and saves her.

Women – $ 1 Trophy
The Fairy God Mother came to rescue Cinderella from her misery and granted her a blue dress and glass slippers. Tonight, bring your wand and transform your simple look into a glamorous effect before our eyes. Don’t forget your wand!!!

Butch Queen – $ – 3 Trophies. European (Small vs Tall vs Big)
Lady Tremaine (Tall) and her daughters Drizella (Small) and Anastasia (Big) drove Cinderella to tears with their shade. Before Cinderella could get to the ball, they tore her dress to shreds to prevent her from going. Tonight, we want to see you take those tattered and shredded pieces of fabric from Cinderella’s original gown and create a Victorian BQ high-fashion effect and walk with your wicked step-family attitude.

All American – $ -1 Trophy. All American
Welcome to Prince Charming’s ball!! The King and Queen are ready to marry you off and set you on your regal way. Bring us Prince Charming in your ROYAL HOUSE COLORS.

Butch Queen Up In Drags vs. Fem Queens – $ – 2 Trophies
From Rags to Riches is how Cinderalla’s life unfolds. Tonight we would like the BQUID to bring it as Cinderella BEFORE her fairy godmother came and transformed her into the belle of the ball, and we want the FQs to bring it like Cinderella in her blue gown as she steps into the ball with one of her feathered friends on her shoulder cheering her on as she gets her prince. FACE
In the original story of Sleeping Beauty by Charles Perrault, seven fairies were invited to the christening of a King & Queen’s long wished for baby girl. Each fairy brought her gifts of BEAUTY, WIT, GRACE, DANCE, SONG & the ABILITY TO PLAY ANY MUSICAL INSTRUMENT. An eighth fairy was accidently not invited to the party, and showed up plucked and gave the little girl the gift of a curse – should the princess prick her hand on a spindle, she would instantly die! Fortunately, a quick thinking fairy granted the princess with one final gift and transformed the shady fairy’s curse into 100 years of deep sleep that could only be broken by the kiss of from a king’s son.

Women – $ – 1 Trophy
Paint your face as a gift of beauty, wit, grace, song, or music – and dance down the runway to the judges and give them the best gift of all – your face!

Drags – $ – 1 Trophy
The overlooked and understated fairy served Sleeping Beauty’s face with a look that made the poor child go to sleep for 100 years! When she awakens, will she gag and live for your wicked beauty – or will she fall back into slumber for another 100 years?!!

Butch Queen – $ – 1 Trophy
The King’s son traveled through the enchanted forest on his steed and stumbled upon a sleeping beauty like no other. In your most royal garb and crown, bring us your look of love tonight. Will your kiss wake her up to love at first sight or will it send her back into a dip of deep sleep?

Fem Queen – $ – 1 Trophy
Sleeping beauty’s face remained ageless when she pricked her hand on a spindle at the clock stopped at the age of 16, keeping her face timeless and effortless. Bring us an effect that only a true Sleeping Beauty could wear to sleep for 100 years and sell us your everlasting carta with a bejeweled mirror. Honey, this Princess is ready to become Queen of Carta!!

TEAM REALNESS
Any type of Realness, Male Figure, Female Figure – $ – 2 Trophies

In the original story of Hansel and Gretel, two siblings try and find their way home from deep in the forest. Unfortunately, the birds ate the breadcrumbs they left behind and they found themselves at the hands of an evil cannibalistic hag. Forced to outwit her in order to escape her stew pot, bring to the judges your realness as Hansel and Gretel and see who survives to live another day in the enchanted forest. FASHION
In Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, Alice is transported to another world and told that she is the only one who can slay the Jabberwocky, a dragon-like creature controlled by the Red Queen who terrorizes Underland’s inhabitants and bring peace back to the forest. With the help of the mad hatter and Mirana of Marmoreal, the White Queen, Alice is able to outwit the evil queen and slay the Jabberwocky, and save the forest and return back home.

OTA Labels – $ -2 Trophies Female Figure vs. Male Figure
The Mad-Hatter is hosting a “Wonderland Fashionista Affair” at his house and only the richest of them all will attend. Bring us this Season’s Labels…

Sneaker vs Sneaker – $ -1 Trophy
Wonderland is full of bright colors and outrageous surprises. Bring us your most colorful sneakers that you would wear to enter the Wonderland forest.

Best Dressed – $ – 2 Trophies Female Figure vs. Male Figure
She really likes the dark side, but she’s so scared of going too far into it that she’s made everything appear very light and happy. In Honor of the White Queen, come dressed in all white best- dressed look.

SEX SIREN
Dating back to 1697, the tale Little Red Riding Hood tells the story of a little girl going to go visit her sick grandmother. During her trip she bumps into the biggest, baddest, and hungriest wolf in the forest. At first he’s ready to eat her, but decides on another plan. The wolf runs to the grandmother’s house and eats her, then waits for Little Red Riding Hood to arrive so he can eat her. When she arrives, she is confused by the deepness in her grandma’s voice and the size of her Grandma’s hands and teeth, she gets a little too close and is quickly gobbled up too!! Luckily a lumberjack from the forest steps in and chops the wolf open and frees the Grandma and Little Red Riding Hood!!

FQ – $ – 1 Trophy
Little Red Riding Hood is on her way to visit her sick grandma, but had actually planned a date for later that evening. Bring it in a red cloak and sexy lingerie underneath!

BQ – $ – 1 Trophy
The lumberjack stepped in and rescued Little Red Riding Hood from the big bad wolf. Bring it in your plaid sexy wear and show us how chopping wood all day does a body good!

TM – $ – 1 Trophy
Come as the biggest baddest wolf in the forest ready to eat some young tender white meat. The bigger, badder, and hairer…the better. BODY
Written by a female author in 1740, the story of Beauty & the Beast is about a merchant, his three daughters and a tortured prince who has been cursed to live his life in the shape of a beast. Lost in the forest on his way home from a failed trip to bring back his daughters jewels and riches, the merchant bumps into a castle and seeks shelter for the night. The next day, the merchant steals a rose from the garden to bring to Belle – it’s all she really wanted, since she was his most humble and good daughter. Enraged by the merchants disrespect, the owner of the castle – the Beast, forces the merchant to give up his daughter Belle in exchange for the rose and gives him the riches he promised his other two daughters. Belle agrees to live with Beast and is showered in the finest clothes and jewels but misses her family. The Beast agrees to let her leave for a week and when she fails to return he almost dies of a broken heart. When Belle finally
 returns she finds him half dead and weeps over his body and her tears magically break the curse and the Beast transforms into the most handsome Prince she has ever seen.

Beauty and the Beast
Team FQ & BQ – $ – 2 Trophies
Bring Belle and the Beast to the runway in their finery. In his search for love, the Beast has spared no expensive and showered Belle with the most beautiful ball gowns and jewels money can buy. Tonight, you are the most elegant couple at the ball. Bring the house down.

Women – $ – 1 Trophy
A rose is a rose is a rose….come covered in roses and show us why the rose is such a powerful symbol of beauty.

BIZARRE
OTA – $ – 1 Trophy
Bring the enchanted forest to life in your effects. Forests are often the home to rare animals and flowers that live nowhere else in the world. Show us an effect no one has ever imagined or seen before. You are the forest that brings life and beauty to the world, and especially to tonight’s ball.

VOGUE
An orphan with the ability to fly and never age, Peter Pan is one of the most beloved forest dwellers of all time. With his crew of other orphans known as the Lost Boys, Peter Pan invites Wendy Darling to be the house mother and join his wild adventures on the island of Neverland that have inspired us for more than a century now. At the Mermaid Lagoon, Peter Pan saves the native princess Tiger Lilly and fights off the evil Captain Hook and his crew of pirates. Captain Hook tries to poison Peter Pan but his best friend, a fairy named Tinkerbell, drinks it and is saved by the promise that we will always believe in fairytales no matter how old we get!

FQ – $ – 1 Trophy
Tiger Lilly is the prettiest Native in the forest who fiercely took on Captain Hook and his men. Tonight bring us this princess warrior, ready to fight and snatch that trophy for her tribe.

BQ – $ – 1 Trophy
This mischievous man-child can fly and twist and turn in the air on a dime. Tonight bring us that childlike spirit and energy and take flight!

Women – $ – 1 Trophy
Tinkerbell is Peter Pan’s best friend and always has his back. She’ll even drink poison to save him. In a fairy effect, spread your fairy dust love on the runway.

Drags – $ – 1 Trophy
In the end, Wendy chooses to go back home and leave Neverland, but not before she leaves her mark in her signature blue dress. Show us what you got and why you’ll always be remembered in the forest of Neverland.

Pop, Dip & Spin vs New Way – $ – 2 Trophies
Captain Hook and his pirates are always in search of treasure and will do what they gotta do to get it. In a pirate effect, show us why we will always treasure the Pop, Dip & Spin, and why New Way gets the crowd to their feet.

Twist – $ – 1 Trophy
Sometimes parents just don’t have it together and can’t take care of their kids, so the kids are left to figure it out on their own. We call these the Lost Boys. They’re young, they’re strong, and they have what it takes to survive in a hard world. And when the pixie dust touches their skin, they get cunt and twist it out. Bring it in a lost boy effect and let the battles begin!

GRAND PRIZE
As A House – $$
James Cameron’s film Avatar took us to a whole new world where the forest was the center of all life. As a house, take us to the future of 2148 and into the forests of Pandora, where the cure for HIV has been growing deep in this alien world. Your house has recruited 1 Legend, 1 Face, 1 Runway, 1 Vogue and 1 Realness to find this rare flowering plant that is the panacea to all that ails humans, including the HIV virus. Your house holds the key to end the pandemic of HIV and on Earth. Bring us your best, as undercover Avatars to help humans find the secret location of this rare alien flower.
 

Riviera Sundays at Lavo, the Ban on Big Sodas, Sylvia Wood’s Passing

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There will be no napkins safe this weekend as the serviette-tossing Rocco Ancarola returns to Lavo, July 29, for Riviera Sundays starting at 9:30pm. It is a joyous occasion. The event, called a "Celebration of Life," is a reference to Rocco’s long recovery from a heart attack that almost ended his life. In a Facebook post, he offered, "Thank you to all my friends for all your Love. You all helped me to recover very well and I THANK YOU ALL !!!!” Rocco is one of the great gentlemen in this business and we can’t wait to see him.

While at BINGO at Hotel Chantelle Monday, tablemate Michael Cavadias informed us that he was going to miss a week, something we never do, because he was heading to London. "For the Olympics," someone exclaimed, and I imagined him in a leotard, pole vaulting or weight lifting. Actually, he and our dear friend and inspiration Kembra Pfahler (Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black) are performing at Antony’s (of Antony and the Johnsons) Meltdown Festival. Other performers include Lou Reed, Hercules and Love Affair, Joey Arias, Marc Almond, Laurie Anderson, and Diamonda Galas. The festival runs from August 1st to the12th, basically at the same time Olympians (sans the banned Greek racist track star) are running for the gold.

So I was so-so when Mayor Bloomberg led the charge in banning cigarette smoking in places where I eat and drink and dance and play and walk in. The downside at the time was the encroachment by government into our rights…or freedom of choice. The arguments about second-hand smoke hurting those around those evil smokers won the day and, in retrospect, the trade-off was OK.

Now comes a proposed ban on large containers of sodas that contain dreaded sugar at any place regulated by the Board of Health. It’s easy to spot those: they have a letter grade in their front window. I am a strictly-diet-soda guy, but this ban reeks of Big Brother. If they can ban sugar in soda, then they can ban butter on popcorn or lollipops or cracker jacks or hot dogs or liverwurst. The foods we eat are often only acceptable in moderation. I didn’t trust the cigarette ban because it seemed like a step 1. Now that step 2 is on the brink of enactment, I fear for step 3. Is step 100 a requirement for sensible shoes? A ban on ankle-breaking Louboutins? If a person wants to buy fattening soda, educate them, don’t regulate them.

Will drink maximums be considered by our Mayor? This won’t end until Bloomberg is put out to his billionaire pasture. He is so out of touch with the life of the regular guy that he thinks this might actually stop someone from consuming massive amounts of whatever. If they can’t buy a 32-ounce bottle, they’ll buy two 16-ouncers. Will New Yorkers eventually be fined for not wearing sunglasses on a sunny day?

We have to mention the passing of Sylvia Woods at 86, the legendary proprietor of Sylvia’s, Harlem’s soul food mecca. She was buried this morning. Reverend Al Sharpton performed the eulogy. I never met Sylvia, but was touched by her. When I was designing the Cherry Lounge for Timbaland and DJ Clue in Harlem, me and mine would stroll over to Sylvia’s for lunch and comfort. The walk over and the meal and the company at her restaurant washed away a myriad of stupid misconceptions we had about Harlem. She was a true ambassador for the neighborhood. It was wonderful. She will be missed.

Catching Up With Catch

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The thing about Monday nights at Catch, that  EMM Group staple in the Meatpacking District, is that you could cast your line anywhere in the joint and hook a gazillionaire or stooopid-hot hottie faster than you can say "I used to do this at Butter.” Last night I went to their Monday night shin-dig, the heir of the Butter Mondays that reliably entertained us for a decade. I know I’m a little late to the game but my Mondays are reserved for Bingo and bedroom. Armed with some well-heeled friends, we were treated to fine fare and conversation. Table-hopping is the norm. I noticed the cork and sound treatment on the low-ish ceilings, put there to keep the socializing bearable to those actually trying to eat. Every table was a scene to be seen. Celebrities dined with their posses while tycoons were tycooning. Tables of beautiful girls picked at the menu.

We had traveled in a chauffeured car from Bingo at Hotel Chantelle, and noticed how dead the streets were as Manhattan has already emptied out to the fantasy playgrounds of the last-gasping summer. The bon vivants at Catch were in no rush. They truly believe that the party always starts when they get there. Every table was a success story. Every table was offered food and drink suitable to worldly tastes. This crowd was in no hurry to get elsewhere as they all knew full well that they had already arrived.

We were whisked upstairs to the roof like we were Elvis by a staff who probably could handle even that. The place was crammed with the beautiful.  I shook a lot of hands and kissed a lot of cheeks. It was deja vu…all over again. The never-ending party of the party set. The endless supply of luxury bottles. The eternal flames of the sparklers. The plush banquette, the music, the girls du jour and the girls of yore mixing it up with the swells who were spending the GNP of small countries for these females’ affections – or maybe just a minute, or three, of their time. All this while hipsters are starving in Bushwick.

It’s always the little things that tell you that management has shown the staff the way to this naughty nirvana. Like, an hour in, when I thought I had lost my jacket and a nearby security guard immediately noticed and helped me with a flashlight. He found it at the table next to mine, moved by a model type who wanted to get up there and dance and didn’t want to soil it. He assured me that I could put it down again and that he would be watching it. I believed him. I noticed a few promoter types keeping it on the low to help maintain the illusion that this was happening organically.

As the bottles popped, we were surrounded by the smiles of the party girls, the b for beautiful, but not quite campaign models so I-can-be-out-this-late girls, and the genuine grade-A bonafide girls. Our table was a spending table and I assume the one next door was an "image" table put there to assure us that we were indeed at the end of the rainbow. The six-foot Russian blond, possibly looking for that proverbial pot of gold often found at ends of rainbows, was apologizing to me for something she didn’t do. Amanda laughed at my naiveté. That girl or someone just like her is always there. She was there before she was born.

Bottle after bottle with their 4th of July-esque flares sizzled by. They moved through the crowds like Olympic torch bearers bringing expensive wheat juice to players who long ago earned their gold.  Jeroboams of champagne and their beautiful, happy, delivery systems passed by every few minutes, The sparklers lit up the ceiling, a signal for one rich suit to show off to the next and buy yet another bottle for their table of worshippers. DJ Politick was taking us all to that mindless frenzy we need to justify the love. I was told he was a DJ AM protégé. I was told he’s a big deal in LA. He was a big deal last night in NYC. I don’t usually enjoy the style of music offered by mixed-format types, but he was real smooth,and his mixes of stuff I don’t like into stuff that I love made me enjoy it all. This guy is…superior.

Catch Mondays is killing it and it couldn’t happen to nicer guys .I chatted up owners Eugene Remm and Mark Birnbaum who are living proof that nice guys can indeed finish first.

Abbe Diaz’s Greatest Rant

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Abbe Diaz is an old friend. If you catch her at the right moment, she’s an angel, but if you say something offensive that could be the most innocuous thing, she’ll rip your throat out. I try to always be pleasant around her. I ran into her on my way to BINGO recently. She was sitting alone at Gemma, and I took her up on her offer to sit and chat. I adore Abbe Diaz. The last time we interviewed her, sparks flew so I figured I’d try it again.

What’s all this movie stuff about?
It’s actually a pilot/web series for more of a TV show than a movie. PX This: The Series is based on my book PX This (Diary of the Maitre d’ to the Stars), so it’s essentially an audio/visual manifestation of the story depicted in it. Some stuff was restructured to make it more adherent to the paradigms of television, but it’s still based on a true story. I mean seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.

Aside from that, this show also really reflects the exposition of my book, because it’s such a bootstrap project. I am lucky to have been able to assemble an amazingly talented cast and crew, many of whom have worked in the restaurant industry and whose lives mirror my own to a pretty substantial degree. I am humbled by their passion and dedication, working such long arduous hours, for a sum that doesn’t nearly compensate their tremendous skill and effort.

Of all the messages people have seemingly or professedly derived from PX This, the one about holding tight to your dreams (as clichéd as it is) is the one I cherish the most. So PX This: The Series is turning out to be quite the spiritual manifestation as well. And that is so infinitely satisfying. The teaser-trailer (and more information is available at) at IndieGogo.

You are a relentless proponent for fair play in the restaurant biz, and give the newbies the 25-cent tour. Who are you and how did you become you…and leave mom and dad out of it.
Well, that’s a nice sentiment but I don’t think I’m really all that “relentless.” I published a diary that happens to expose certain unsavory aspects of some renowned and illustrious fine-dining organizations. And since all I was doing was telling the truth, I take a fair amount of umbrage at those who would seek to disparage me for simply recounting these anecdotes in my own comical and satirical way.

All I was doing was minding my own business, literally. I’m one of the most chill people anybody will ever know. The industry has made me misanthropic enough that I’m perfectly happy to keep a good distance from other people and their fatuous escapades. I think I have pretty much one philosophical mandate and one alone, and that’s: DON’T COME FOR ME– which is undoubtedly a fairly easy rule for anyone to follow.

Unfortunately, it seems some people have had to learn the hard way that if you come for me, oh, you are sure to find me alright. Too bad I’m not quite the feeble prey you anticipated. I ran into you a couple Monday nights ago at Gemma and you seemed happy. Many people see you differently…some as a crusader – a c word – and some would use a b word. We always hear about your peeves, but what makes you happy?
Ooh, I’m afraid to say because then I might jinx everything. But yes, you have it right; I am happier now than I have ever been because I have pretty much everything I’ve ever wanted. (And what I don’t have yet, I’m about to get.)

Come to think of it, that last sentence alone is probably enough to make certain people seethe. I must admit; that does make me happy.

We’ve been friends for decades…we both have the scars to show we were there. What is not talked about within all the scandals surrounding Limelight and the characters you used to work with? That’s a leading question because so much written and screened is misleading.
Which is probably why I’m the wrong person to ask. I’m so accustomed to “misleading” representations in the media and whatnot, I have no idea what’s “talked about” anymore, because I’ve long stopped paying attention.

But I can well imagine that what’s not talked about very much is everything that was good; the wonderful people we knew, the fun times we had, the outrageous things we saw, the spectacular things we experienced, the whopping money we made. Despite all the hard work all those years (and the scandals), the only thing I regret about any of it is I never took any photographs.

We were part of a unique era that will never transpire again. Sometimes it feels like certain elements would have us apologize for it. But that very same era fostered a generation of strong and fearless wills – some good and some not so good, but largely the unparalleled combination of both.

What are you going to be when you grow up?
Fierce. Like my mom. (Oh, oops, sorry I didn’t leave Mom out of it. Hey, I didn’t bring up my dad.)

Ok, we need a rant … who makes you mad and why?
Woo child, that’s a whole other book. Literally. Its title is PX Me (How I Became a Published Author, Got Micro-Famous, and Married a Millionaire), as a matter of fact. Coming soon in the autumn of 2012!

But okay, I’ll give you a rant. Right now it’s still some particular facets of journalism and the media that make me really mad. To this day I am dumbfounded by the media’s rampant unscrupulousness and hypocrisy.

And if a piddling little nobody like me can be subject to the media depravity I’ve encountered, imagine the global implications of such a thing. It’s vomitous. It’s enough to make the entire news system suspect and incapacitated, the universal consequences of which we are just beginning to realize.

How’s that for a rant.

Four Years Later: Remembering Michael Jackson Tonight and Forever

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Yesterday, the streets were filled with people with pride and I was proud to live in a city that has traveled so far since I was a youth. Sure there’s a long road ahead, but yesterday the past I grew up in seemed as long ago as Howdy Doody. I was happy that W.i.P. got reopened for Susanne Bartsch and Kenny Kenny’s Gay Pride party. It will be interesting to see if W.i.P. stays open. I wish I had made it to the Mermaid and Gay pride parades but, alas, I was torn to many other elsewhere’s and must do’s. I did manage to get to the roof of the Standard with interior design icon Karen Daroff and her son Robert. Although it was dead summer and "the" crowd wasn’t supposed to be around, we found wonder in this wonderful place. I texted the manager Emily Rieman after, thanking her for her and the entire staffs’ brilliant hospitality. I told her Le Bain was an "oasis of classy fun in a world of soccer-hooligan saloons.”

Earlier in the evening we caught Lady Rizo’s act over at The Darby. It was classic songs sung with intelligence and grace over coffee, dessert, and some Beau Joie Champagne. We glad-handed all the unusual suspects before hoofing it west to Andre Balaz’ anything-but-standard oasis, dodging desperate suburban youth being hustled by bottle hosts at the joints along the way.

Tonight, after BINGO at the Bowery Poetry Club and after the Inked Magazine soiree at Lit Lounge, me and mine will head over to The Darby for The Fourth Annual Remember The Time Michael Jackson Tribute.

On the night of the day Michael Jackson died, we all headed to the clubs for some sort of reconciliation and grasp on the situation. Some use the expression "it will all come clear with the light of day" and I guess for many things light works, but for some concepts only the dark will help. Many tried to find answers by looking at the bottom of newly-emptied shot glasses…others in the eyes or chatter of friends or strangers. I got an education from DJ Cassidy at 1OAK. Tonight he’ll do it again, offering a barrage of Michael and I won’t miss it.

The day after Michael Jackson died I wrote a piece. It may be a little short on the facts we later learned, as it was written in the confusion of the tabloid headlines and lingering grief of the next morning, but it describes my mood and the love of precious life I found at 1OAK the night before.

Blackbook Magazine Goodnight Mr Lewis, June 26, 2009:

Michael Jackson: The Best Club Songs Ever

An autopsy may reveal it was pills or something similar that shut Michael Jackson down, but the heart really gave out because it once was loved by the whole world and wasn’t anymore. My emotions roller-coastered through a day of death and rumor. A great sadness consumed me as allegations and innuendo, tributes and music bombarded me through open windows and closed doors. From beat box radios and every TV in the neighborhood, I was told to remember, condemn, forgive, or just listen. The complexity of understanding the meaning of Michael Jackson’s death personally and on that grander scale became harder by the hour. I was enlightened by Jesse Jackson, Quincy Jones, Cher, Paul McCartney, and even Celine Dion. Everybody except Elizabeth Taylor was getting into the act — it is an act we and they will find impossible to follow.

From the point of view that I write about – the never neverland of clubs – Michael Jackson’s passing immortalizes the best songs I’ve ever heard on a dance floor. The music will live on as pure and wondrous and as perfect as the man himself was confusing. I won’t dwell on the bawdy stuff; plenty of others will milk that cow. I’ll just say flat out that "Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough" or maybe "Billie Jean" are the best songs I’ve ever heard a DJ offer. To this day they still blow a dance floor up.  Years ago, there were Michael Jackson club rumors. Some claim that he visited from time to time, unrecognizable in prosthetic makeup or with a face wrapped in scarves. The only place I know he went for sure was Studio 54. I asked Carmen D’Alessio about Michael at Studio 54, and she told me, "I of course remember him coming to Studio, 33 years ago. He was a kid releasing his first album. As the VIP hostess, I met everyone my dear, and I do recall clearly a 17-year-old Michael Jackson. He was nice and friendly, and I remember thinking he was very good looking." A quick Wikipedia read finds Michael listed first in a list of Studio 54 attendees. He led over Nureyev, Mick and Bianca, Elton John, Truman Capote, Mae West, Gloria Swanson, Jackie Onassis, and Elizabeth Taylor. Ironically, fair Farrah Fawcett was also listed.

I went to 1OAK, as a tribute was hastily put together with superstar DJ Cassidy only playing M.J. hits to a packed house of the beautiful. O’Neal McKnight danced and lip-synched to tunes, and Robin Thicke sang "Human Nature" in tribute. Cassidy asked over the mic, "Michael, why did we lose you this night?" When I arrived I was skeptical, thinking the idea of this tribute was almost cheesy — and it might have been if not for the sincere efforts by the 1OAK family. We were swept up in Michael’s massive talent as every single impeccably-produced tune held the packed house and dance floor. What other artist could have a catalog of songs that would hold a floor for hours?

I stood with Scott Sartiano and Ronnie Madra surrounded by a stunning and smart crowd. Sparklers announced bottles, and Cassidy offered, "We are here to celebrate the music and the life of Michael." The crowd roared and the waitrons poured, and I became a corny mush. I thought of the immense sadness that must have been consuming him at his end. I wondered if he indeed had just ended it, if he indeed had stopped cause he had enough. I thought of that traffic song, "The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys" — the lyrics, "If you just had one minute to breathe and they granted you one final wish, would you ask for something like another chance? Or something similar as this, don’t worry so much it will happen to you as sure as your sorrows or joys."

I wondered what Michael would have done with another chance. What would he have changed? What did he want that he, with all the fame and riches, never got? "We Wanna Be Starting Something" whipped the beautiful crowd into a frenzy, and the scope of our loss drove me to leave and find some summer air. It’s impossible to measure the wattage of the light that went out yesterday.

I remember watching James Brown’s funeral on TV and seeing Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton manipulate a frail Michael to the mic for a speech that was brilliant and eye-opening. He eloquently spoke of the soul icon’s love, contributions, and forgiveness as the Brown estate vultures loomed all around. The world that seemed to be tearing him apart will now fight for his bones, and it won’t be short or pretty. None of them will stop until they get enough, yet Michael Jackson’s life and much-talked about excesses leave us with a great lesson.

Is there ever enough? Can you ever stop? Is it human nature not to be happy with what you have and to keep pushing and fighting till the heart eventually bursts? If there is anything I’ve learned, it’s that all you have can be torn from you in an instant.

Rest in peace, Michael Jackson.

Bingo and Avenue A Soundcheck Party Tonight, the Passing of Bruce Patras

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Tuesdays are the best night of the week for people with heads that tilt like mine. I’ll tell you all about that tomorrow. As the warm weather progresses, many successful joints will turn to alternative programming early in the week. These off-the-beaten- path parties on the so-called "off nights" will offset their predictable model/bottle weekends and add cool, cool cachet. The competition is fierce, with nightlife enjoying a renaissance, rebirth, or whatever you want to call it. Places are looking for the edge to set them apart from the pack. Throw in Brooklyn nightlife, and what we have here is a golden age. The party is as good as it has ever been, albeit with some sacrifice. I gladly miss the smoke-filled, drug-induced mayhem of previous decades. My friends aren’t waking up dead and my hair doesn’t wash out gray from cigarettes… only old age.

Mondays are heating up with The Double Seven introducing a concept that I like. After Bingo tonight, I’ll coerce my crew to that 63 Ganesvoort hot spot for Nima Yamini’s Avenue A Soundcheck Party. It’s a weekly concert series – this week featuring Interscope Records artist Zander Bleck. Zander is being produced by two- time Grammy Award winner RedOne. He toured with Lady GaGa. CEO daughter Hannah Bronfman is doing a guest DJ spot tonight. Giza Selimi of The Box will be the friendly and handsome face at the door.
 
I spoke to Nima at Bantam (or 17 Stanton, depending on who you talk to) Saturday night at one of their preview nights. I told him to send me info on the night and promised to attend. He sent me this:
"The Mondays are not at all about the models, bottle spenders, etc. (same cookie cutter format everywhere) and are 100% about the musicians. This is a home for live music by a new generation of musicans in 2012 with a passion for rock n roll, alternative and indie music. People who want to come see a kick ass rock show on a Monday night. Jeffrey Jah, David Rabin and Mark Baker have given me 100% support on this project and I am excited to work with them on it."
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With great sadness I report the passing of an old friend: Bruce Patras. He passed after a battle with cancer at the young age of 54. He leaves behind a couple of kids and a loving wife. I hadn’t heard from or seen Bruce in 20 years. A Facebook friend tracked me down to let me know he succumbed in December after a courageous fight. He was sometimes called "crazy Bruce" because he often…misbehaved. His incredible smile and deep dark good looks always gained forgiveness. I knew him to be solid, always looking out for the other guy, never backing down to a challenge. We shared a thousand nights and once dated the same girl. We cavorted and laughed and played in the moonlight. We drank from the same cup and then drifted apart. I read his Facebook wall and reconnected with him after the fact. I read his hopes and felt his fear and his bravery. Club life creates bonds that can never be broken. There came a time 20 years ago when life and responsibilities and other
relationships separated us. I never stopped loving him, and his passing leaves me a bit more mortal and understanding of the gifts of life and friendship. Yesterday, another Facebook friend who saw the Limelight movie was saying she felt bad how the government fucked us over a long time ago in a galaxy… far, far away. My reply was the lyrics from a Tuxedo Moon track: "No tears for the creatures of the night." Today, I take that back. Tears for Mr. Bruce Patras: a saint, a sinner, and a real great friend.

The Most Hated and Loved Man’s Birthday & The Vinatta Project Gossip

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All the unusual suspects will gather for DJ-club god Michael T’s birthday. I have never loved or hated someone as much as Michael, and that’s in the first 10 minutes every time I meet him. He can be oh-so-sweet and oh-so-sour, but his heart is always in the right place. There was this one time — I’m going to stop there, as we all have stories. He remains my favorite DJ who isn’t named Paul Sevigny. How can someone so ageless have so many birthdays? He’s celebrating two on one day…tonight.

The first of Michael’s birthday parties, according to the invite, is from 8pm till 1am at La Bottega at Maritime Hotel, 363 W. 16th St. The second runs from 11pm till 4am at Beauty Bar, 231 E. 14th St. There seems to be an overlap, and I suspect that the wily Mr. T is employing one of those Tupac hologram thingys or something like that. I’m always confused if it"s Michael Tee or "T.” In either case I will show up at one of these soirees to celebrate my friend’s fabulousness – probably at Beauty Bar so I can dine at IHOP right after. Michael is so thoughtful like that.

Everybody I know (from some circles) is off to Sundance to overpopulate the tiny hamlet of Park City, Utah. I spent a year there one night. I am being inundated with invites, but everyone knows I gave up the snow years ago. I’ve actually never gone to Sundance, as ski slopes and roller coasters and jumping from airplanes are for my next incarnation. I do love a good film though, and I hear they’re showing some in between, before and after all those parties. Noah and his Strategic Group have taken over some underground garage facility, decorated it, and snazzed it up, and are ready to show all how it is done. I would love to check out Park City Live, the newly renovated hot spot that always books national acts. My pal Kathryn Burns is living her dreams there.

Monday (after BINGO) I will attend the Benefit Concert for Animals hosted by Wesly Wang, Geri Gongora, Dava She Wolf, and sponsored by Alacran Tequila and Forever Young wine at Sullivan Hall, 214 Sullivan St.  The Bashers – featuring musicians from Guns N’Roses, Soul Asylum, X-Pensive Winos, Uptown Horns – and others will lead the way. The Planets will also perform. Bands start at 9:30pm and they’re asking for a minimum of $10 at the door.

On Sunday the rockers will descend on Manitoba’s for the 14th annual anniversary extravaganza. It’s billed as the first great party of ’13 – and I’m a believer (unless someone actually plays that track). It’s running from 1pm to 4am, and is a "15-hour rock and roll party at 100MPH.” There will be munchies and drink specials, and the football games will be shown. Handsome Dick Manitoba and his lovely wife Zoe Hanson will host.

The other day, a reliable source whispered to my always open, rather large and sometimes naive ears that the building where The Vinatta Project thrives was bought by Matt Levine. It simply isn’t true. Matt reports: "I have no involvement at 69 Gansevoort at this time. Let me get The Rowhouse Inn open first before myself and Michael start opening up more spaces in the Meatpacking, haha."

Well, at least my boy got that Rowhouse part right. Rael Petit, a friend of mine and partner and manager over at Vinatta, 69 Gansevoort, asked me to clarify. He’s at Sundance doing diners for his Mulberry Project and Vinatta. I caught up with him before he jetted off. He told me Fridays and Saturdays are slammed at Vinatta with a great crowd listening to resident DJ Mok. He tells me the Tuesday-through-Thursday crowd are filled with the locals and are for my tastes. I’m summoned to check it next week when he’s back. The official line from them is :

“The Vinatta Project opened its doors in November 2011 in the bustling Meatpacking District. In the constantly evolving restaurant statosphere, The Vinatta Project embodies all of the components of a perfect night out–delicious food, complete beverage program, friendly service an a hip yet inviting atmosphere.  The menu features a selection of Contemporary American dishes including Paella Spring Rolls, made with Shrimp, Chorizo, Jalapeño and Smoked Paprika Aioli, Tuna Tartare with a Crispy Wonton and Wasabi Greens and NY Strip, served with Chimichurri, Polenta Croutons and Pickled Red Onion.

Vinatta also features a robust beverage program, complete with hand-crafted bespoke cocktails created by some of the best mixologists in NYC, and a selection of artisan spirits. Vinatta is open for weekend brunch, special events or even catered parties.”

Yesterday,  my very secret whisper-in-my-ear source, who obviously is right most of the time but not all (the price of being fast and first), says that The Shadow space on W. 28th St. has a new operator. Shadow was owned and operated by the old-school, wonderful Steven Juliano.  He, according to my source, has settled on a buyer which my source says is one of the premier operating  groups. I know who it is, but I’m going to double and triple check before I tell you.

I’m Back: New Year’s Nightlife Rumors, Openings, and Transformations

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So I’m back. Frankly, I was too pooped to write after that marathon of Halloween, Sandy, Christmas, and New Year’s. New Year’s was spent at the Dream Hotel Downtown. I DJ’d the Marble Lane restaurant and had the most fun. My DJ style is a bit pure. I mostly offer rock and roll some old soul as, after all, I am an old soul. I was smart enough to bring along a ringer, DJ Louis XIV, who is used to and embraces the commercial sounds necessary for a NYE good time. He and we rocked it…  by adding in hip-hop and R&B and other non- rock stuff. Before the crowds arrived, the staff was line-dancing to the Temptations and Bootsy Collins offerings I served up. Someone told me there were 300 people servicing the event. It was marvelous to see Strategic Group types like Jonathan Schwartz and Matt Stauss service the good time had by all. DJ MOS relieved us, and we scooted into the night.

New Year’s Eve is not as chaotic as I remember it. In Times Square, humans are herded into pens to watch the ball drop as opposed to the massive and sometimes violent chaos of decades ago. Even the clubs are adjusted. With transportation problematic, and most places farming out the night to promo groups with high ticket prices and open bars, there is less movement. People go to a place and stay there and then go home. New Year’s has become controlled and sanitized, leaving only Halloween for the madness.

I have lots of rumors and movement to talk about but am heading off to my day job. I’m designing a restaurant out in Huntington Long Island and a coffee shop uptown. Hotel Chantelle is getting a face lift, and I’ll be there tonight for the 2013 launch of BINGO with Linda Simpson and Murray Hill. Yes, I am spending a lot of time up at XL Nightclub. Contrary to many whispers, I am not involved in the spot, other than consulting on a renovation of one of the rooms. I love XL; it’s big and fun and the staff is sexy and familiar.

One other thing that pleases me to report is Frankie Sharp of Westgay at Westway Tuesdays is doing another night. He will launch Fridays (isn’t that clever) at Santos Party House come February. Santos is settling in as that one reliable club you can send your downtown types to without knowing what’s going on. There is something always going on. I took a mini tour at the new train-themed, Williamsburg bar called Passenger. It is wonderful, chic and stylish, and staffed well. I was just booked there for Sailor Jerry’s Birthday Bash next Monday. I love DJing Tattoo events. There’s so much more but I’m going to just get my feet wet today. Tomorrow, we will plunge back in.

BlackBook Party Tonight, One Of NYC’s Biggest Party Nights Tomorrow

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‘Tis the season to be confused as too many events attempt to wash away the memory of the storm that nearly washed us all away and continues to define the lives of so many. The Sandy events will culminate in that Paul McCartney, Bruce, Bon Jovi, Who, Roger Waters, Kanye, Alicia Keys, etc., etc., etc. thingy at the Garden on December 12. I wonder if Kanye will complain about Paul McCartney’s billing or something like that. Kanye is doing three shows at Revel in AC for New Year’s weekend for those who do that.

A couple years ago, New Year’s Eve nights were defined by how long the open bars were and what kind of music was played. DJs are still the stars, but it’s great to see mega, super-duper, uber acts raising the good time bar. I can’t believe its Thanksgiving already. The storm seemed to wipe away the calm before the holiday storm. Up is down and down is up and gee, I have to pay rent already? Uptown comedy club Stand Up NY is taking its show on the road tonight with a one-off (which I’m guessing will eventually turn into a two-off or more) at Hair of the Dog, 168 Orchard St. at Stanton. A whole lot of great comics will bring cheer to your holiday starting at 6pm. You can get tickets here.

My Thursday rock and roll DJ gig at Hotel Chantelle with Sam Valentine is canceled due to turkey festivities, but it’s being pushed forward to Wednesday, tomorrow night. Hope those rockers get the message. 

Tonight, BlackBook has teamed up with Stoli for a Mixers and Shakers event at the Thompson LES on Allen Street. I hear the new hotel they are doing by City Hall is wonderful. I never get invited to these BlackBook things and I’m getting paranoid about it. I’m gonna crash it. Flash my column or something to the intern at the door. 

The confusing-on-purpose Murray Hill and his cohort Linda Simpson will make their Monday night BINGO extravaganza extra-extraordinary this coming Monday again at Hotel Chantelle with a joint birthday celebration. I, of course, never miss a BINGO and I am considering turning pro. I even had BINGO tattooed on my shoulder a couple months ago. I roll like that. 

Tomorrow night, the night before Thanksgiving, is traditionally one of the biggest nights of the year. Many have four or more days off work looming, and many are traveling in to dine with friends and relatives. Many places let college kids take over as they are flush with holiday loot. Others know their patrons will be absent for a moment or more as the snowbirds flock south to mark the Miami season and try to grab all the gusto and cash from them before they leave. Big DJs and quality entertainment abound, but call to see if the joints you usually like haven’t sold out to the frat-boy set. 

So if this is Thanksgiving, then December must be near and I am in no way ready for December. I must remind you as you feast and celebrate that many of our neighbors are still climbing out of the mud. Find time to help, donate, and contribute.