New York City Itinerary: Hard Times with Paul Iacono

“Who would have thought that a show about a guy with a big dick would become such a hot commodity?” says Paul Iacono, as he passes a giant billboard for HBO’s Hung, the word “Ho” plastered across Thomas Jane’s face. Never mind the overlap, this season, the 21- year-old writer-actor will play RJ in MTV’s Hard Times, a series about a young loner with, according to Iacono, “a massive, massive penis — but the show’s main organ is its heart.” He also stars in this month’s “reinvention” of Fame, a role for which he’s visibly grateful. But while strolling through his favorite East Village haunts (see our behind-the-scenes video), he’s just been informed that the film’s rating has gone from PG-13 to PG. “My character now says, ‘It was everything I hoped for and more, except for the part where I’m still a virgin — technically,’ instead of, ‘I was supposed to get laid.’ But,” he adds, grinning, “At least I get to drop my pants on TV.”

image Cafe Gitane 242 Mott Street This is one of my favorite places to get lost in my writing and grab some amazing French grub. I used to live around the corner on Elizabeth Street with my roommate at the time. He is kind of infamous in the area for being this very good-looking guy who paints on the corner of Elizabeth and Prince Street. It’s not even his art as much as his look that sells. Anyway, I found the apartment on Craigslist, and lived there for four months until our smack-user landlord, the guy I gave my rent check to, tried to evict us. I’ve written a play called Prince/Elizabeth, which was inspired by living down here.

Yaffa Cafe 97 Street. Mark’s Place I had insomnia for a full year, right after I dropped out of college to pursue acting. I’d come here at 3 in the morning for a cup of coffee and free wireless. It was a really hard decision to drop out of college—I spent a year in limbo, during which time I went out into the world and lived every fucking experience to a T.

image St. Mark’s Comics 11 St. Mark’s Place I’m a DC Comics fan all the way. One of the first films I recall seeing was Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman. I watched Jack Nicholson play the Joker and fell absolutely in love—I became a 3-year-old child who watched Terms of Endearment and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I was a weird little kid.

Angel’s Share 8 Stuyvesant Street, 2nd Floor You stumble through a door at this sushi-and-sake restaurant thinking it leads to the restroom, but little do people know, it opens into this old, 1950s-inspired speakeasy with mahogany wood and leather. I get off on that. Apparently, there used to be swarms of these places during Prohibition, but they still exist, and Angel’s Share was the first one that I found. There’s PDT (113 St. Mark’s Place) below Crif Dogs. There’s also The Back Room (102 Norfolk Street), the entrance to which looks like a gate that leads into an alleyway that says “East Village Toy Company.” They serve drinks in coffee cups and beer in brown paper bags. I’ve been going out in New York since I was 15 years old. As long as you’re not a hot mess, most places in New York respect the youth. Plus, I’ve had many fake IDs over the years. My favorite was one on which Pennsylvania was spelled like “Peen-sylvania.”

image Sushi Samba 245 Park Avenue South It’s a Brazilian-and-Japanese fusion restaurant, so don’t expect the stereotypical spicy tuna roll. It’s got the best sushi in the city, original and authentic at the same time. They have a gorgeous rooftop patio at the one on Seventh Avenue. There’s such a lack of really nice outdoor seating in the city. Speaking of, I had a weird experience at Above Allen (190 Allen Street) a week ago. I was standing in line at the bar when someone jacked my BlackBerry right out from my back pocket.

image Topshop 478 Broadway All of their stuff has that classic men’s look—very straightforward, clean lines. I grew up idolizing the Rat Pack, which heavily influenced my identity and the way that I like to present myself. I’m not at the point yet where I get sent free stuff so, typically, most of my shopping is very practical. One thing I definitely learned from Fame is the power of mixing and matching, and the glory of accessories and layers.

Photography by Pieter Henket

Working Titel: Designing Duo Ohne Titel Storm Fashion’s Frontlines

Flora Gill is a fashion victim — literally. One-half of the New York-based label Ohne Titel, alongside Alexa Adams, Gill was blinded by the bright lights at a Calvin Klein and Visionaire party the night before her BlackBook shoot and interview; hence, the dark sunglasses she kept on while inside their Chelsea studio. But no one would accuse these two designers, or the women who wear their fierce creations, of being soft — or anything other than fashionably forward. “Personally, we have very different styles,” says Adams, “but the way in which we critique each other and unite makes something completely different and stronger, rather than just being about one viewpoint.”

The Parsons graduates behind the 2009 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund-nominated line each come from very different sartorial lineages: Adams, who also did time with Helmut Lang, concentrates on the tailoring and silhouettes, while Gill, who cut her fashion fangs in knitwear, focuses on color and patterns. It was a stint at Karl Lagerfeld that brought them together.

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With its dark palette, armor-like embrace of grommets and tunics, and towering, horned heels that teeter towards S&M, the line exudes elegance and cat-like sexuality in equal measure. Graceful draping and featherweight knits are detailed with asymmetrical folds and zippers left at half-mast, producing pieces that feel slightly deconstructed. Their moniker is German for “untitled”—a nod to artist Anselm Kiefer, whose works remain, for the most part, nameless—but their unassuming sensibility hasn’t stopped them from becoming one of the hottest names in fashion.

Flora’s Favorite Wine Bar: Brook Vin, New York City.

Photography by Pieter Henket.

Fashion Gallery: Milan’s Tattooed Love Boys

Lock up your daughters: Inked, but sharly attired, a band of sartorial punks inject the mean streets of Milan with edge. Photography by Pieter Henket. Styling by Chris Benns. See full gallery.

Bravo’s Must-See TV Makeover: Lauren Zalaznick

She may not be a household name herself, but it is thanks to Lauren Zalaznick that American audiences have come to know and love—and loathe—such outsize personalities as Rachel Zoe, Tabatha Coffey (of Tabatha’s Salon Takeover), Millionaire Matchmaker Patti Stanger, the five Queer Eye guys and far too many Real Housewives and project Runway contestants to rattle off here. As President of NBC Universal Women and Lifestyle Entertainment Networks, Zalaznick has reshaped the way this country zones out.

Even though she hasn’t singlehandedly massacred the traditional sitcom, her hands certainly have traces of blood on them. “at Bravo, we saw, through these extreme personalities—whether it was Jonathan antin of Blow out, or the five guys of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy—that people seemed to derive their comedy and drama needs from non-fiction and reality television instead of classic sitcoms and one-hour dramas,” she says. “everyday people are our stars. you don’t have to write characters if they exist in real life.” Welcome to the world of the “Bravo-lebrity.”

Under her guidance, the once-marginal network has become an integral part of the pop-culture conversation. “yet another series of water cooler moments,” she says, summing up the recent success of The Real Housewives of new Jersey. a quaint reference, perhaps, but she notes: “They’re coming back—literally this month—because we’re such a green company that this is the end of bottled water.”

Zalaznick, clad today in a bolero jacket by The Fashion Show castoff Merlin, wasn’t always the queen of campy, highly addictive TV. she got her start producing art house hits such as Todd Haynes’ work of genius, Safe (she remains best friends with his production partner Christine Vachon), and larry clark’s Kids, before she was brought on to re-brand VH1 in the ’90s, and ascended to the reigning ranks of reality TV at the Trio network. Part of the allure of reality programming for Zalaznick is that “everything is a surprise. The beauty of our shows is that we don’t control anything. We certainly didn’t plan on the table flip.” she is, of course, referring to the season finale of The Real Housewives of new Jersey, one of the most iconic TV moments of the year. Zalaznick can’t wait to watch what happens when the next incarnation of the Real Housewives franchise invades the nation’s capital. “We’ve got to nail the right ladies,” she says, “women who have been in an environment, for at least the past eight years, that has radically changed with the energy of the White House. it should be interesting to see what they do everyday in relation to that changing energy.”

There’s that word again: “everyday.” if everyday people are her stars, it’s the everyday viewer with whom she hopes to connect. “Bravo’s intention is to never take itself too seriously,” says Zalaznick. “still, in the moment, viewers care deeply about whether or not Rachel Zoe is going to find the perfect pair of shoes for some event. For that episode, it carries the weight of ‘can we end world hunger?’ i’m not sure about world hunger. But in the meantime, we can find the perfect pair of shoes.”

Lauren’s Favorite Japanese Restaurant: Ippudo

Photography by Michael Scott Slosar

Tracklist: Monsters of Folk Map Out Their Favorite Traveling Tunes

With a frighteningly good album on the horizon, the nomadic band of super-troubadours known as Monsters of Folk—Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis of Bright Eyes, M. Ward of She & Him and Jim James of My Morning Jacket—map out their favorite traveling tunes.

M. WARD:

Tumbling Tumbleweeds,” by Sons of the Pioneers. This one’s for inner-city thoroughfares, paying tolls and getting stuck in traffic. John Coltrane’s “You Don’t Know What Love Is.” Listen to this one while driving through the middle of nowhere. Hank Snow’s “I’ve Been Everywhere.” This is perfect for reflection when the freeway is nearing its end.

CONOR OBERST:

“Burn Rubber,” by Simon Joyner. I think about this song often. I sing it to myself, I occasionally sing it to my friends and I’ve even covered it. One time, Bright Eyes recorded it. It’s as good a mantra as any I’ve found: “Get behind the wheel, stay in front of the storm.” David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” Although this song ends in tragedy, it is still a beautiful description of the final frontier. Hands down, it’s the place I have the most interest in traveling to next. “Hear My Train A Comin’,” by Jimi Hendrix. I feel like Jimi Hendrix was a time traveler. He was from both the past and the future. The sound of his guitar playing in this song actually makes me feel like I’m in motion.

MIKE MOGIS:

“Once in a Lifetime,” by Talking Heads. This song makes you feel glad that you’re leaving wherever you just were—mostly because it’s an amazing song and you’re happy just to listen to it, but also because it invokes restlessness and the need for change. “Group Velocity” by Arnold Dreyblatt and The Orchestra of Excited Strings. It’s completely instrumental and ideal for the late-night drive. Something about it excites me, and puts me in another world. The whole Animal Magnetism record does, for that matter. I think it annoys everyone else. Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5.” My daughter likes to sing this song. She’s only 5 years old, so she doesn’t really understand what she’s saying, but I get a kick out of it. It will brighten any trip if you put this on and you’re rollin’ with Stella.

JIM JAMES:

“Be Thankful For What You Got,” by William DeVaughn. This song is the ultimate statement: “Be thankful for what you got.” It is perhaps the most peaceful and gentle—yet oh so stirring and stimulating—groove mankind hath ever birthed. When I listen to it, I listen on repeat. “Be Thankful For What You Got,” by William DeVaughn. This would be our second listen of the song, at which point, myself and anyone else in the car would continue to feel more and more happiness from its gently mind-melting waves of joy and pure bliss. “Be Thankful For What You Got,” by William DeVaughn. This would indeed be the third of hundreds of repeat listens, stopping the audio only for pee or food breaks. This, my friends, is the ultimate song to listen to on repeat. It is over seven minutes long to begin with, and when you listen, you just get lost in it. Repeated listens turn it into the greatest 2,380,970,900-minute song you’ve ever heard.

This month, Monsters of Folk will release their self-titled debut album on Shangri-La Music.

(Clockwise from top left) M. Ward, Mike Mogis, Jim James and Conor Oberst of Monsters of Folk. Photo by Autumn Wilde.
Monsters of Folk Tickets United Palace Theatre Tickets New York Tickets

Two for the Road: Adam Green & Lissy Trullie

A small portrait of Adam Green adorns the entrance to his East Village apartment, the words “Kafka Lives” written across the top of the framed sheet of paper, painted over by what look like smatterings of diluted watercolor red. “Pete Doherty painted that with a syringe,” says the 28-year-old singer-songwriter. “He wanted to use my blood but I said he had to use his own.” Seated in his living room next to friend and collaborator Lissy Trullie, downtown New York’s latest hope for rock salvation, he motions to a different, napkin-size painting: “Beck’s grandfather did that one.”

imageClick here for a free download of Lissy Trullie’s track “Boy Boy.”

No wonder Trullie, 25, comes around so often. The willowy rocker, with strawberry-blonde hair and Holly Hunter’s baritone dipped in nicotine, has begun devoting more time to home entertaining with a circle of friends that includes Mark Ronson, Chloë Sevigny and her DJ brother Paul, the Virgins’ Donald Cumming, photographer Ryan McGinley and model Cory Kennedy—to whom credit should be given for introducing Trullie to Green, her then-boyfriend.

On October 20th, Trullie will re-release her critically acclaimed EP (complete with 4 new tracks) Self-Taught Learner (Downtown Records), a spirited rock record that brings to mind Debbie Harry’s style and verve. Green, whose star skyrocketed with the release of Juno, the soundtrack to which featured songs from his now-defunct band the Moldy Peaches, is at work on his next record. Later this month, they will embark on a two-week tour covering nine cities across the U.K., a decision that was cemented after actor-jeweler Waris Ahluwalia challenged Green to cover Biz Markie’s “Just a Friend.” The bathroom at Santos Party House transformed into a rehearsal space, where they met, “drank a forty and learned the song really fast,” says Trullie. The cover, a favorite among the crowd at Trullie’s shows, was so well received that they decided to record it for her album.

Over tall cocktails in the comfort of his reassuringly lived-in apartment, littered with musical instruments, tossed-aside sketches and Garfield paraphernalia—figurines, drinking glasses, a cookie jar and his debut solo album, named after the orange sloth—Green gives his guests a preview of his new collection of introspective songs. “I usually stay in,” he says, “drinking and painting.” Trullie, scanning the room, agrees: “I think that every young kid goes out a lot when they first move here. But I’ve become a bit of a homebody, which I’m not ashamed to admit.”

LISSY’S FAVORITE BORSCHT: Veselka, New York City.

Photo by Danielle Levitt. Styling by Bryan Levandowski.

Left to right: Tank top by Gap; jacket by Ben Sherman; Adam’s own jeans; dress and jacket by Dolce & Gabbana. Hair and makeup by Tracy Alfajora for Chanel Cosmetics.

The Black List: Diablo Cody

Two years after stripper-turned-screenwriter Diablo Cody shocked Academy old-timers by taking home the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for Juno, the one-woman sloganeer returns with Jennifer’s Body, a horror film starring Megan Fox’s breasts. Here, the creator of Showtime’s The United States of Tara unleashes the Furies on the world’s most rank fashion blunders.

1. The ubiquity of gladiator sandals. Weird foot tan alert! Plus, I need a special extender for my cankles.

2. Guys in summer scarves. (Paired with Bose headphones for double Brooklyn bonus points.)

3. I just can’t do white denim. It’s like a letter to YM waiting to happen. (“I was out with a cute guy and I accidentally sat in chocolate pudding! OMFG!”)

4. Tattoo-print clothing. That old-skool tiger should be inked on a bicep, not embroidered on the ass pocket of your “dad jeans.”

5. High-waisted items. Why would you want your tits to look lower?

6. The orange fake-tan phenomenon. Everyone in L.A. looks like a circus peanut.

7. Rompers. These look good on exactly two types of people: infants and Katy Perry. Besides, I don’t want to peel off my entire outfit when I need to urinate.

8. Popped collars. It’s like ’80s schoolyard bully-chic. Be the bigger man and tone it down, Trent.

9. Rubber rain boots in arid climates. Calling them “Wellies” doesn’t make you British. (P.S. I secretly want these.)

10. Rock T-shirts on babies. Please don’t use your 4-month-old child as hipster ad space.

Photo: Jilly Wendell/Vistalux

Five Easy Pieces: The Best Nightclubs in the History of New York City

These days, I write for BlackBook the magazine as well as online. The magazine has limited space, and I have long stories to tell. Here’s the expanded version of my September print column.

As I wander around Manhattan on deserted summer Sundays with my entourage of furry mates, I sometimes pass an old warehouse or deli that once was the hottest place around. Sometimes I sneak a glance and try to remember where the bars or DJ booth were. The Petco on Union Square, for example, was the Underground, and after that The Palace de Beaute. I smile at reptile food where lounge lizards chatted up debutantes to Jellybean Benitez beats. The “five best clubs in my memory” is an exercise I try every couple years. The list can change, as my memory serves me in some strange relationship with the amount of distractions cocktail waitrons serve me. It’s my memory, and as I’m sure there were amazing clubs before my time, I’ll leave that list to some other dude. You wont find El Morocco on the list, or even the Copacabana or Latin Quarter. I’m sure these were swell places, but before my time. The Peppermint Lounge — a club where the young Beatles played — must be noted, but again I was playing with tin soldiers at the time.

The five best clubs in my memory are Studio 54, Area, The World, Max’s Kansas City, and Paradise Garage. Now there can be valid arguments to replace the last two with a Danceteria or a Tunnel or even Save the Robots. You peeps can play that game all night if you like. I’m sure I’m forgetting joints, but anyone who has spent as much time as I have in clubs can be forgiven an omission or two. Besides these already mentioned, other great ones in no particular order: The Saint, Limelight, Club USA, Red Zone, Mars, Bungalow 8, Palladium, Life, Lotus, Spa, Sound Factory, the Roxy, Xenon, the Underground, Heartbreak, Nell’s, and NASA.

CBGB’s is missing from the list. Although I saw some pretty great shows there — including a triple billing of the Police, Talking Heads, and the Ramones — for the most part I never featured the place. To me it was the Grateful Dead of nightlife. Never really a top band, but they survived so long. They refined their sound and reputation, had a loyal if confused following, and absolutely get an A for effort if not a G for greatness. CBGB’s had its moments, but in my mind doesn’t crack the list. The top five changed the way things were done, were way ahead of the curve, are still talked about or remembered by generations too young to have ever gone, and they offered great music, crowds, and diversity. Diversity is missing with the Paradise Garage, as musically it was Larry Levan and a few other pharaohs offering disco and house to a predominantly gay and black crowd. Its greatness and the religious devotion of its patrons still echoes through clubdom. Larry Levan is the Babe Ruth of DJs, and the Garage was his Yankee Stadium.

With the exception of Bungalow 8, no current club is listed. The current crop needs to be judged from a distance. Marquee, the dominant club of the bottle era, may qualify if it finds some new life and relevance to add to its legacy. Butter is great, but it’s just one night; the Beatrice was well on its way but flamed out a bit soon. Hopefully its legacy hasn’t been written yet So here’s my own personal current top five, with nostalgic setlists provided by DJs and other friends.

image The greatest club of all was Studio 54 (254 West 54th Street). Here Mick wooed Bianca and Truman Capote told wondrous tales to the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and Andy Warhol. It was the playground of the smartest set of my era. Carmen D’Allesio, the VIP hostess, said it was great “because it was the type of crowd that we trusted. It was a conglomeration of the best of the entertainment and music business, the fashion world, and the international crowd. Ian Schrager and Steve Rubell produced events that nobody had done before Studio or since Studio.” Now it’s a theater. Waiting for Godot is playing. The crowd only needs a ticket to see the show — there is no door policy, and Liza and Pele probably wont show. Setlist: “Bad Girls” (Donna Summer), “Love Attack” ( Ferrara ), “Ring My Bell ” (Anita Ward), “This Time Baby” (Jackie Moore), “I Love the Nightlife” (Alicia Bridges).

image Area (157 Hudson) was grand, according to former employee Desmond Cadogan. “At Area there was no VIP room. If you got past the door staff, you were a VIP. Everyone was hanging out together from art and movie stars to sexy yuppies and skanky hos.” The Area space is under construction; according to a friend at the building department, it’s to be “first floor offices, second floor lofts, third floor lofts …” The space also held Quick, NASA, and the Shelter. As I was standing there remembering the sounds of DJ Mark Kamins while listening to the buzz of circular saws, a neighbor whispered to me “Don’t buy there!” They didn’t want the clubs, and now they don’t want the gentrifiers. Ah, it made me wonder. Setlist: “I Feel for You” (Chaka Khan), “You Make Me Feel” (Sylvester), “Why” (Yaz), “Relax” (Frankie Goes to Hollywood ), “The Dominatrix Sleeps Tonight” (Dominatrix), “Slave to the Rhythm” (Grace Jones).

image The World (254 East 2nd Street) was a mess. It was my fault, as I helped run it. It was where house went from the Paradise Garage crowd to the hipster crowd. It’s where hip hop broke out from the streets to everywhere. Public Enemy played, plus Salt-n-Pepa, and Beastie Boys, but also Bowie and Sinead and Bjork and even Neil Young. One night Pink Floyd rolled in unexpectedly and wowed us. It was a place where Keith Haring was arting up the bathroom stalls and Andy Warhol was calming me down. It was dangerous and smart. It was Caroline Herrera wearing a zillion dollars worth of emeralds while project kids popped and spun. Owner Peter Frank says, “The true stars of the World’s universe were the club kids and patrons … when they came through the doors, they became anyone they wanted to be.” The building was torn down some years ago. Today the East Side Tabernacle resides on the first floor, while upstairs East Villagers listen to music that broke there back in the day. Setlist: “Paid in Full” (Eric B and Rakim), “Yo Bum Rush” (Public Enemy), “Saturday Night” (Schooly D), “Open Your Heart” (Madonna) , “Brass Monkey” (The Beastie Boys).

image Max’s Kansas City (213 Park Avenue South) was rock and roll hootchie coo. Dead Boys guitarist Cheetah Chrome offers, “Max’s was great because of the feeling of family there, from the Mickey Ruskin days right through to the day Tommie Dean closed it. It was one of the few places on the planet many people felt at home, and I’m proud to count myself as one. Hell, I even liked the food.” Max’s first incarnation was the Ruskin era. Andy Warhol, Lou Reed, Robert Rauschenberg, Debbie Harry, and the amazing New York Dolls defined New York nightlife. That time alone would put it near the top, but its second Tommie Dean reincarnation was the Ramones and the Dead Boys and Wayne and (eventually) Jane County. It’s a deli now, next to the W Hotel on 17th and park. Been in there a thousand times before this piece, and I never realized it was here that I had tea with Johnny Thunders. Setlist: “First Rock Star on the Moon” (The Brats), “Rocket USA ” (Suicide), “Flip Your Wig” ( Jane County ), “Final Solution” (Pere Ubu), “Blitzkrieg Bop” (The Ramones).

image Paradise Garage (84 Kings Street) was indeed a garage but paradise was never known there until the great Larry Levan showed a disjointed world how to love and support each other. Out of his great heart a sound developed that still rocks clubs all over the world today. This was his house and he is the legend — the standard bearer for so many. Paradise Garage is like that De Niro character from Awakenings. It was asleep, but suddenly from nowhere rose up and enjoyed a magical period of sound and joy and meaning, only to eventually slip back into a mundane coma. The building now stores Verizon trucks. Designer Malcolm Harris found himself there. “As a young African American moving to New York, finding the Paradise Garage was as close to finding a spiritual oasis or tribal commune as one could possibly get. A night at the Garage was a revival meeting, tantric healing, and primal orgy rolled into one. Larry Levan was a spiritual healer and leader, and we all knew every weekend when we left on Sunday morning our souls would be filled until we met up at the same time the following week to receive his gospel: LOVE IS THE MESSAGE.” Setlist: “I’m Every Woman” (Chaka Khan), “Le Freak” (Chic), “You Stepped into My Life” (Melba Moore), “I Will Survive” (Gloria Gaynor), “Feed the Flame”(Lorraine Johnson).

See also: Five Wheezy Places: New York City’s Most Overrated Nightclubs