Under the Influence: Joey Arias & Pee Wee Herman

I was born and raised in Jackson Heights, Queens, a nice enough place. I had friends, went to PS 69 (okay, get it out of your system, I’ve heard every joke possible), played Little League Baseball, and on my birthday, had the Kitchen Sink at Jahns on on 37th Avenue. I was popular, I was brash, I questioned everything. I once had a run-in over my stolen baseball glove with a kid a little bit older than me. His name was Johnny Genzale, and he was, generally speaking, a punk, a “must” to avoid. I got my glove back, and after that scrap, he crossed the street every time he saw me. He grew up to be punk superstar Johnny Thunders (New York Dolls and The Heartbreakers). At Max’s Kansas City we hung out once in a while as two kids from the neighborhood. He was always good to me. I was extremely upset when he died, but I was also surprised he lived so long. Dee Dee Ramone told me that he had been whacked by Louisiana assholes. When I was old enough to know better, I went down to the old East Village, which resembles its current incarnation for only a few moments once in a while, and only at a few places, like Lit or maybe Veselka at 3am.

On St. Marks a zillion years ago, I met Joey Arias and Klaus Nomi. They took some time to chat with me and my friends. After about 10 minutes, my friends got tired of talking to the “freaks” and went off to buy a bong or something. I stayed; I couldn’t get enough. Up until this point, I knew no like-minded individuals. Except for Johnny Thunders, my world was straight and narrow. I’m not referring to gay. We had openly gay people in Jackson Heights during my Wonder Bread years. I’m talking about that downtown edge that’s been my carrot on a stick since meeting them. Joey and Klaus Nomi introduced me to a world of wonder that I haven’t left since. I went to the store that they ruled, Fiorruci, and bought swanky clothes for me and my gal pals. I hung with people that dressed differently, thought differently, lived differently than those I lived with. For so many years I thought I was alone—a freak hiding amongst the sane. Then I hung with freaks like me, and smiled about it. Although my thoughts were always grounded in the old hood and those traditions, I had been redefined. From that moment on I played and ate and read and partied — and always danced to the rhythm of a different drummer. I make my living creatively. If not for Joey and Klaus and the time they took to show me a different way of looking at things, I’m sure I’d be in a different place.

Tonight Joey will bring his considerable talents to Le Poisson Rouge. Over the years, I’ve seen him countless times, once as a backup to David Bowie, another in Vegas with Cirque du Soleil. He was a mainstay at Club 57, the performance-based club that ruled the 80’s St. Marks scene. He has been Billie Holiday in performances that made crowds gasp—he doesn’t imitate the legend, he channels her. He has been a severe Joan Crawford; he was gorgeous at Bar d’Or performing with Miss Sherry Vine and Raven O. He’s been in movies with Pee Wee and Elvira, and made me laugh in To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar. He starred in Arias With a Twist, collaborating with puppeteer Basil Twist. Brilliant and funny, with an impossibly seductive singing voice and an impossibly tight corset. Joey is a Can’t Miss, so don’t miss him at 7pm tonight at Le Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker street.

Bowlers at the new Times Square Bowlmor Lanes were surprised to see Pee Wee Herman and the cast and crew of his soon-to-close Broadway Show last night. He was there to celebrate the wrap of his forthcoming HBO special. His fans were invited and showed up in full force. Pee Wee, actor Paul Reubens took the time to pose for pictures with as many fans as possible. The party was put together in a couple of days and was being shopped around by publicists trying to make it work for all parties, and I got to put in my two cents. Although I was pushing a swankier locale for the event, Bowlmor was the perfect venue. Alas, I could not attend, as Sunday evenings are spent in Jackson Heights visiting my family.

Culture Clubbed, Communities Bored

As I look at things from across the river, it becomes more and more obvious that downtown culture will merely be a warm, nostalgic conversation piece in just a few years. As rumored and reported everywhere, the closing of such places as Max Fish, Pink Pony, and the threat to Mars Bar are just a few more nails in our cultural coffin. At this point, downtown nightlife doesn’t seem to be doing much more than going through predictable motions. Even though it fell way short of it’s dreams, life as we (creatures of black leather and forced sunrises) know it probably had its last fling when Collective Hardware roared. At least they tried. News comes of a return of Culture Club, that Jersey-Shore-in-Manhattan, theme-scene nightspot. This joint, famous for the hair do’s and don’t of its patrons and it’s classless kitschy décor, will occupy the former 39th Street home of Speed, a club that couldn’t close fast enough. Over the years I’ve looked at the space with operators who saw it as a gay club, a dance club, and a hybrid model/bottle house space. One gentleman caller saw it as a sort of midtown Soho House. In the end, a combination of high rent and community board frowning tempered interest.

Robert Watman is the main man here. He was reported to describe the Culture Club experience as follows: “Good, clean fun” and “It’s a safe, easy place, non-threatening.” Having opened 30 joints in 30 years, Mr Watman says, “It’s not my first rodeo.” His liquor license was approved unanimously by the Public Safety Committee of Midtown’s Community Board 5. It’s ironic that the loudest objections come from the neighboring Elite Day Spa. A day spa complaining about a nightlife spot seems to be a reach, as the two should be operating at very different hours. Maybe it’s the “elite” thing, as Culture Club promises to be anything but.

I have no objections to Culture Club. It’s a sort of “is what it is” place. The problem is that the Disneyfication of Times Square, hotly debated years ago, has become a city-wide cancer. Good clean fun in safe, easy, non threatening places is getting fast-tracked, while anything edgy is struggling to survive, or get a license to operate. The same goes for the new Bowlmor in Times Square. It’s absolutely wonderful, and is to be celebrated, but it must be understood that they are paying a rent equal to my neighborhood. They are, to their credit, providing much needed jobs, and are excellent at providing good “clean fun.” With 50 lanes and a better location, Bowlmor seems to be in a position to take out Lucky Strike Lanes on 42nd street and 12th (or is it 16th?) Avenue. It’s so far west you feel like you’re in Colorado. Bowling at the new Times Square Bowlmor will cost me and mine about 70 bucks an hour on the weekend, and 60 during the week. A cheeseburger will run me 13 bucks. You do the math. It’s beginning to feel a lot like Vegas everywhere I go. Except in Times Square, where the hookers have been banished. New York seems destined to become a Disneyfied Vegas.

Both the Culture Club and Bowlmor are banking on the bankers and other normal, routine types that live in the hampster habitats built for them over the last decade. The crossing of our great river divides all the peeps who used to be called “Bridge and Tunnel” into the high-rent high rises in our beloved hoods. Over time, franchise stores that catered to these non-trendy types displaced low-rent boutiques and mom-and-pop places that made our streets quaint and hip and unique. The chain stores followed the Starbucks, and soon Brooklyn was our only hope. The tantrum thrown by locals over the new Duane Reade, which opened on Bedford Avenue, seems silly until you realize what it will eventually bring.

The opening of Culture Club shows New York culture in its worse possible light. Tourists, a revenue stream that will keep this joint, Bowlmor, and the entire city afloat, will get their “New York experience” without ever meeting a New Yorker (who isn’t serving them). From their hotels, to Broadway shows, to the landmarks, they will be hanging out with people from all over the world, but none from here. We are designing our “New York” to cater to their needs, and losing our edge in the process. Just as buildings have a Landmark committee, culture certainly needs one. Maybe developers must preserve the Mars Bar just as it is, with its wonderful warts and all, if they are going to be allowed to build up 12 stories. Maybe the community boards must realize that if they don’t allow the edge to survive, they’ll just be left with communities bored.

Farewell L.A. & Notes from Santos’

I left California with fun facts resonating in my head. First, I heard that In L.A. there are more medical marijuana distribution joints than there are Starbucks. Secondly, the people who live in Venice Beach call themselves Ven-utians. My crew has settled there and in West Hollywood. I ate strange fruit and peed next to movie stars in restaurant bathrooms. I had conversations with local nightlife shakers about celebrities as commodities and their car-based clientele. In good old New York it’s hard to make a place that is what we call a “destination” work. Notable exceptions have been Bungalow 8, Area, Cielo, Lotus, and The World, which popped up in hoods that were less than traveled.

In L.A., everyplace is a destination. Pals Marc Rose and Med Abrous joined my clan for coffee and cocktails at Chateau Marmont, which is of course the chicest place ever. They told me about Spare, a project they are collaborating on at the Hotel Roosevelt. Spare will apparently feature a couple of bowling lanes and of course the greatest cocktails and service ever. I love the idea. Marc and I talked about my old Bowlmor Lanes Monday night club leagues. Bowling is mad fun, and a couple of lanes may need to be expanded on.

Marc worked for me back in the Life days, and I always thought he was the best of the young studs. He went West to find his future as so many of my crew has. It sure was swell sitting by the pool and talking on the cell at The Standard in West Hollywood, or strolling with kids on the Venice Beach boardwalk. I have to say, my recent Williamsburg move might not satisfy my urge to change. It was like the voting on Tuesday: A reaction against, rather than a positive acceptance. After Williamsburg, it will not be Bushwick for me. I seem to have developed a fetish for palm trees.

It must be noted that this Saturday,Tao Vegas is celebrating 5 years of doing it, and doing it, and doing it well. The property is a machine that captures the imagination and loot of thousands every week. It remains fresh and fun, as the players involved have evolved the space, keeping It energized. DJ Vice will entertain.

I missed the great artist/photographer Andres Serrano’s musical offerings at Lit last night. We e-mailed each other and he assured me that Brutus Faust will gig again. Traveling just a few days has distanced me from the NY scene. From afar, I noted the closing and the reopening of Santos’ Party House. I put in my 2 cents about what happened, but feel the press release from the day after the closing speaks well on the impact of random acts of unfair enforcement by city agencies. Santos was allowed to reopen after this release:

Dear Friends,

Yesterday was one for the books at Santos Party House. We had been working since the morning in preparation for the 20th anniversary celebration of the legendary record label Ninja Tune, in addition to the string of amazing Halloween events we had been working on for months. At around 9:15pm, the mounting excitement was crushed when the NYPD barged into the club and informed us that we were to cease operations until further notice. Needless to say, we were shocked.

The summons we received lists a few minor incidents that occurred months ago for the most part, all involving people not under the direct employ of the club. While many of the allegations listed in the order are simply untrue, we take most offense to the argument that SPH promotes behavior that causes “ irreparable harm to the City of New York, its residents and visitors.” Our intentions are exactly the opposite. We are a mom-and-pop business that strives to maintain the cultural and creative traditions that make this city such a miracle. SPH does not condone any illegal activity and has always gone above and beyond recommended security protocol to ensure a safe environment for patrons and staff. Spontaneously closing an independent business that has continuously cooperated with authorities (on one of the most profitable weekends of the year) is not the answer. It’ s absolutely ridiculous. Steve Lewis succinctly wrote today, “ Has anybody been in Madison Square Garden during a concert? Drugs are in schools, playgrounds, offices, parks and, quite possibly, every building—commercial or residential—in town. Nobody thinks of closing these places down, only the clubs.”

We have a hearing on Monday and are confident that we will be cleared of any wrongdoing and will resume business as usual shortly. Until then, we encourage our allies in nightlife to remain vigilant and protect your businesses. We are deeply appreciative of the outpouring of support in the press and on the internet. Our apologies go to the incredible event planners and customers that we intended to share the weekend with; we wish you a killer Halloween. Please bear with us as the best is yet to come.

Sincerely,

Santos Party House

Mid-Summer Dreams: What’s to Come in Nightlife

For many, the summer means long romantic walks on the beach, working on tans, and romance under the stars. For me, it’s long walks on hot concrete sidewalks looking for furniture and fixtures for places opening in the Fall. It’s getting a tan as I lean against scaffolding while sipping a coconut water, escaping a 100-degree job site. It’s summer in the city with my constant companion, a fly swatter, as the only creatures that want to sleep with me are mosquitoes. It’s even too hot for baseball, and although I tried to get into it, I find soccer—or whatever they call it—to be a colossal bore, punctuated with moments of extreme excitement. It’s exactly like my second marriage. I rushed home for the 4th as I was invited by my friend Matt DeMatt to view the fireworks at Lucky Strike Lanes. Alas, traffic and obligations wouldn’t allow me to get there. I viewed the rockets’ red glare at Greg Brier’s Highbar. I love the Highbar crew: Greg, Holly Roberts, and the staff have seen me through the best and worst of times. DJ Tommy James played an incredible set of Independence Day themed music in sync with the explosions. It was surreal and sublime.

Tomorrow night I will be co-hosting Matt DeMatt’s birthday soiree over at Lucky Strike. I used to bowl fairly often—I was good at it. I bowled a 253 one Sunday afternoon, had my own ball and everything. Back in the day, when I worked on that Club Camel program, we sponsored club leagues on Monday nights over at Bowlmor on University Place. We brought in DJs and celebrities. Clubs bowled against each other with shirts advertising their joint’s name on it. It was pitchers of beer, french fries—good ol’ American fun. It was also nothing new, as some club god of a previous generation had done it in the early 80’s. Matt took it to another level with Nightstrike in the mid nineties, which still reigns at Bowlmor.

Club people are restless. They are looking for something more than the whole “model drops the bottle and then we throw napkins in the air” shtick. The fall will bring change to nightlife, as operators looking for competitive edges will surely make changes. The long-legged doll with the sparkler in the champagne bottle will no longer be confused with real fireworks—real pizzazz. The music must morph, as there’s certainly new stuff out there. Owners must push the envelop musically, and embrace new sounds, as only a few joints are pushing anything but the scripted sounds of handsome lads that “play” a DJ, rather than get a day job. Entertainment may be in order: the experience must grow. While bowling certainly isn’t anything new, it certainly is fun, and fun is what I believe the people will be looking for, come fall. The Box led the way, and it’s contribution cannot be underestimated, but it’s act eventually seemed desperate or forced after awhile, as it didn’t progress to a level above the shock-schtick. Still, it was new and it was embraced. It got an “A” and a “$” for effort. It still delivers, and I believe it provided a glimpse of a future where club entertainment moves beyond the Serrato, the napkins, and the sparklers.

What is happening at Lucky Strike for your Birthday, Matt DeMatt? Every year I think about not doing my birthday party, and then I start getting phone calls in May that makes me realize my party is not only for me, it’s really an event where all the nightclub owners, employees, hoteliers, and restaurant people want to go, so they can have an enjoyable place to see each other, tell stories, and relax. It makes us all feel good about what we do for a living. Last year I had my birthday at Gaslight and it was a collage of old and new friends. This year I have teamed up with Lucky Strike to create a very different kind of event. I have felt for quite some time that clubs in the city have taken on a Starbucks mentality. As a result, I enlisted some great talent from the 70’s and 80’s, through today, as well as some unique talent like magicians, burlesque acts, and dancers to create an event reminiscent of Studio 54, mixed with a carnival-like atmosphere. Dean Winters will be hosting and Mark Kamins, Freddy Bastone, and Eddie Baez will be DJing, as well as some up-and-coming DJs. Gerardo Velez, 7-time Grammy nominated percussionist who played with Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock and collaborated with David Bowie, Sir Elton John, and many others, will be playing percussion alongside the DJs. Melle Mel and Randy Jones will each be performing a medley of their hits throughout the night. A video montage will be shown with over a 100 pictures of the friends, celebrities, and good times I have had in my life.

What is your role with Lucky Strike, and how will you change what’s going on there? Lucky Strike is a beautiful and unique venue that I really feel will be able to give people a lot of things to break up the monotony of the club business. The staff is young and fun, the management is talented and there to help. I was contacted by the owner, Ethan Hunt, to try and do something new. He was aware of the fact that I had named and started Night Strike at Bowlmor Lanes in the 90’s, and that is still going on today. Every Wednesday, we will be bringing in special DJs, acts, events, charities, as well as theme nights. The basic science is to give people an affordable night, where the norm is not the norm. We start with $15 bowling all night, as opposed to $10 per game, and pool table discounts, great music, in an upscale nightclub atmosphere, with reasonably priced food and drink.

What else are you working on? I am working on bringing a theme night event to Atlantic City with Harrah’s and Caesar’s. I am collaborating with Dr. Nick Kardaras, former owner of Mr. Fuji’s Tropicana, in writing a treatment about two guys from Queens that get drawn into the nightclub business. The story line will reveal interesting characters, true-to-life events, and life-lessons learned. I am an investor in Wodka, a triple distilled vodka. I had hoped to be a fabulous salesperson for them when I made the investment a year ago, however my back injury has kept me from that. As a result, my partners, James Dale and Shu deJong, use me as an “ambassador” when needed. They have been wonderful in keeping me involved, despite my back problems. I am Co-producing a Theatrical Concert with Gerardo Velez, entitled Woodstock–You Should Have Been There. My Uncle Neal, who founded Scunci, always told me he would not come out of retirement unless there was a billion-dollar opportunity. He has found a very unique and patent-pending advertising tool that I have also invested in. The product is an interactive advertising mirror that displays any message or brand until it is engaged by the consumer which triggers the image to instantly convert to a traditional mirror. My partners and I at Gaslight, G2, and Gaslight Pizzeria, are looking to expand upon the Gaslight name with additional locations in the near future. I have formed my own company, The DeMatt Group. We help start up or in-need restaurants, clubs, etc., with everything from menus, to traffic flow, to back office setup. We provide cutting-edge designers, industry expediters, marketing expertise, and additional tools needed to be a success. I believe you follow your dreams and help people and (Karma says) money will follow. I have great relationships and respect from people I have worked with in my industry, and will use those lessons learned to help people help themselves.

You’ve been around for eons. What were the best of times and what can be done to bring them back—or are the ‘best of times’ really here now, for a younger generation? I want to bring back club courtesy, and make everything I do in night life friendly. The night life scene has never been more ready to get some new infusion of ideas and energy—the baby boom is in full swing! Not people trying to push bottle service while sacrificing the crowd and any chance of fun. Your designs, for example, have given club owners the ability to have a unique quality product, but if they prostitute the crowd so that anyone who buys a bottle gets in, and the others who get in are promoters who get everything for free, why do it? There is no creativity. We need to incorporate great lighting for movement, good music, and excellent service with a nice blend of people. The nightlife is here for all generations and the best of times are ahead of us.

Photo Via DarbCU

Summer Spots: Kenmare, The Standard, and Bowling Are Back

The night was to begin at a bowling alley and end at a bowling alley. I had it all planned out. I had a bevy of beauties including my ex, my girlfriend, a client, and some good friends—all in town from someplace else—and it was my job to entertain them. Most of my entourage avoided my DJ set at Lucky Strike Lanes. They missed a good party. It was so much fun, as birthday boy Noel Ashman turned it out. The place was packed with an adult crowd of mixed origins. People were partying and laughing and meeting each other. There is something relaxing about a bowling alley. It’s as American as apple pie, a Chevrolet, or baseball, and it was a much needed oasis from all of the World Cup hoopla. As pins shattered, the gals were jumping up and down and squealing, and the guys were pumping their fists and bellowing macho belches. You can play anything at a bowling alley, as the strikes and spares are the real heroes. I finished my set and turned the DJing over to the more capable Jamie Biden, and chatted up Grandmaster Flash and his crew. Matt de Matt, whose pushing the place to the public, loved the turnout. We talked about his upcoming birthday bash, and a thousand other things he is up to. A pretty actress asked me if I was going to the Hamptons anytime soon, to which I replied “I never go.” She then offered, “How about Hyannis Port? I’m friends with the Kennedys.” I left in a hurry. I didn’t pass go and I didn’t collect my $200. I headed to subMercer for its closing party, but wondered if the Kennedy Fried Chicken in Stuyvesant Town was open late.

SubMercer closed for the summer after last night’s festivities. Only a couple blocks from my humble home, which no Kennedy has ever visited, it’s my regular stop at the end of my evenings out. I live for the gal in charge, Gabby Meija. She always greets me with that special, warm smile reserved for drunks and bad little kids who get caught. She asks me if I want “my usual”—iced water in a tall glass—and greets my entourage with an affection common only to family dogs, or strippers. She introduces me to the most important people and tells them, “Steve Lewis is a legend.” Every time someone says something like that, I check my pulse. I headed for the door partly for fear of being introduced to some stray Kennedy, but mostly to hang with door gurus Moses and Richard Alvarez. I also live for Richard Alvarez. We go off on each other big time, in a language that few can understand. It’s a sort of pig latin laced with shade: chatter about getting laid, paid, or how some poor fool just doesn’t make the grade. He will now be moving his dog-and-pony show to the door of Boom Boom Room, or Bon Bon, the 18th Floor, Top of the Standard—or whatever they call it—for the duration of the summer. The new room at the Standard makes the undeniable more undeniable, and I will be found there as often as they will have me.

My crew hopped, skipped, and jumped over to Kenmare, where DJ Todd played basically the same set I offered at the bowling alley. That clever devil actually mixed one song into the next, and I must admit, that does make the old tracks more desirable. Proprietor, bon vivant, and all around good guy Paul Sevigny talked about the state of his art. I loved everything about Kenmare. It was a super-fun crowd. My crew had actually eaten there earlier and raved about it. Kenmare will be my new last stop. I asked Paul if he ever got to Hyannis Port and he looked at me like I had Kennedy Fried Chicken stuck in my teeth

I used to tell a great joke called ‘The Penguin Joke.’ Once, at a club that I operated, a DJ pal of mine, Walter Vee, asked me to tell it to this beautiful blond that was at the bar with him. I went into my dog-and-pony-show schtick and told it. She loved it and said, “You must tell it to my boyfriend,” and dragged some hunk over. He shook my hand and introduced himself as John. I started to tell my joke. Then it hit me: John was John F. Kennedy Jr., and the beautiful blonde was his girlfriend, Daryl Hannah. I blew the punch line, and looked like a fool, as I remembered the saluting child with his father’s flag-drapped coffin passing into legend. Six months later, the couple were waiting in line to check their coats at the Palladium, where I was selling booze to the beautiful. I helped them cut the line, and they were polite and perfect. It was the only time I ever checked a coat for a customer. I live around the corner from Old Saint Patrick’s, where John John got hitched to another perfect blond, and I never forget to tell visiting friends about that. It’s strange how I’ll use the Kennedy brand to enhance the tale of this ancient church.

I tried to end my night at another bowling alley, Bowlmor Lanes. It was the Gay Pride Carnival party from the legendary Amanda Lepore and Kenny Kenny. I was told it was great fun, but probably over since it was 3am by some of my friends at Kenmare who had just come from there. The fact that these 2 places have overlap is encouraging. For nearly a decade, only very few joints mix the gays and the straights, the rich and the not so rich, the fashionistas with the hipster schlubs. SubMercer does it, so does Kenmare, and so does the Boom Boom Room. Maybe that’s why I feel so warm and fuzzy at these places—and they said it couldn’t be done.

Photo: Patrick McMullan

Not So Plain Jane

I’m real sick and tired of snarky wannabes who wouldn’t know what end of the bottle to pour booze from, declaring a place done 20 minutes after it’s open. I saw all sorts of silly comments on my friendly neighbor Scott Solish’s blog Down By The Hipster about how the Jane Hotel Ballroom is over. I decided to check out the Jane Ballroom on Friday night and see for myself. I had written about its opening but the distractions of summer have kept me away. A large crowd of attractive people were vying for the attention of the doorman. I approached James, who I didn’t recognize at first and said a few relevant things and was welcomed inside with my companion.

The crowd was simply great. It was the kind of crowd that moves a little to the left to let you pass often with a nod and a smile. This was a weekend night in the heart of the summer and the place was packed with sharp scenesters. There were celebrities: an Olson and that skinny, tall, British, rock-starish, actor Russell Brand. He, like everyone else, moved to the left and allowed me to pass behind him with a smile. The DJs were great laughing and playing fun tunes and the crowd was wildly into it. The lighting isn’t great and it’s a bit hard to see how beautiful the room looks.

My only real criticism is that the bartenders aren’t fast enough and there are certainly not enough of them. I couldn’t find Carlos Quirarte or Matt Kleigman to say hello. There didn’t seem to be anybody in charge or “working the room,” but maybe that’s a great thing. Maybe it’s about the room, the music and crowd rather than the personality of an operator. The place is a smash. Is it the next Beatrice? I don’t even know what that means. Why can’t it just be the Jane Ballroom?

I have yet to see one critical comment, which lays out in terms that I can grasp, what is wrong or expected. I actually believe that the writers of these silly quotes are people who could never make it past James. That doesn’t make them necessarily bad people but it does in so many ways discount the value of their point of view. Jane is near perfect and if some people don’t like it they just shouldn’t go. I hear Bowlmor is open late for them. A joint doesn’t have to cater to people who declare something over simply to impress their loser friends that they’re way cool. A joint doesn’t have to cater to anyone but the crowd they want and not some anonymous loser who can peck unsubstantiated bile on an open forum blog. A joint can define itself and be grand without the validation of people who know so very little about the process. The Jane can cater to a vibrant crowd and be fabulous without the approval of negative nellies. The Jane is great. I say so.

I don’t often disagree with DBTH as they have their thing and I have mine, but I do believe that their article the other day about “ballroom blow,” was a low blow and not worthy of the intelligence, wit and insight that I, as a daily reader, have come to expect. As one person said, it can and does happen everywhere. I didn’t understand the entry. To me, it could only be seen as an attack, an attempt to bring the authorities down on the new establishment. I know that it hurt the operators who didn’t understand why Scott would do this. The Jane is not over. It is brilliant. It is one of the more significant nightlife entries this year. They’re not even up to speed yet. They opened in the middle of the summer and the food element and outdoor spaces will make the place undeniable.

I live near Cafe Gitane in Nolita, and the notion that Luc will bring his considerable restaurant skills to the premises is brilliant. Gitane keeps me fed and will be a great asset to the west side, and as for the Jane, I think all the loser commentators that will now rain down their blubbering bullshit on me should open their own joint and try to make it work. The place would play music that even they wouldn’t like and be inhabited by that too-cool-to take-a-shower hipster crowd. No one would talk, just tweet anonymous downer remarks at each other, and they would declare it over before the bartender could say PBR. The Jane Hotel is operated by Sean MacPherson and Eric Goode. These guys have brought us the B Bar, The Bowery Hotel, The Maritime Hotel, and The Park. Eric Goode gave us Area, easily one of the top 5 clubs of all time. The Smile, Carlos and Matt’s Bond Street entry is one of the great places in my hood. I’d love these snarky know-it-all commentators to open a joint. That space wouldn’t last an Andy Warhol 15 minutes.

Happy Mondays at Stanton Social

Mondays have always been very, very good to me. I used to host my Monday-night bowling at Bowlmor, I DJed regularly on Mondays at Life and at Luann, my Stevieverse parties were always crowded (Junior was doing Juniorverse and, well, it seemed clever at the time). The industry goes out on Mondays, and I was coerced by Richie Romero to check out his Monday-night gala at the Stanton Social. Great service, great food, and the promise of a Green Day party upstairs enticed me to get out of a long-overdue appointment with my pillow, and the night delivered as promised. A diverse crowd, which included former Studio 54 VIP hostess Carmen d’Alessio, promoter types Dave Delzio and Morgan Miller, and the staff of half the joints in New York packed the place. The way most restaurant/club spaces operate is that the weekends pay the bills and the profit comes from the rest of the week. Stanton has a winner with their Monday. If a joint like this can generate the numbers I’m thinking they do to kick off the week, then they’re doing great.

I didn’t attend the Green Day festival in the upstairs lounge since it seemed to be a huge deal. I was told that they would walk me up, but then I realized I didn’t really want to meet Green Day anyway and had another OBAN. I’m sure they’re sweet, and their name is so PC, but I just never understood why some rockstars have to isolate themselves in a situation like this. For all the grief David Lee Roth got, he was never one to hang with bodyguards or separate himself from the public. He was available to chat up and buy a drink. Sting, Debbie Harry, and even Prince hung out when they went out. I remember shaking hands with Jimmy Page, Peter Gabriel, and each of The Rolling Stones. Yet Green Day was upstairs, and a lot of the crowd down. Mark David Chapman types are indeed very rare and not hanging at the Stanton.

Stanton Street itself was bustling, the stores and bars and restaurants largely filled in the middle of the worst economic downturn since the talking film was invented. A vibrant nightspot like Stanton Social was having a tremendous impact on the businesses around it. There were cabs getting fares and a line at the local deli; everybody was spending money, and that translates to jobs, taxes, and the lifeblood of the city. We made our way to Lucky Jack’s bar, and I thought the world of it. They too benefited from stragglers from the Stanton. This economic scenario is playing out all over the city every night — the hospitality business feeding the surrounding hood.

Marisa Tomei & Lit’s 7th Anniversary

imageLast night I watched the Academy Awards over at Aspen Social and Amalia event coordinator Kevin Crawford’s house with the last of my Life-era friends. I was scheduled to DJ over at Southside, but I only found out about the gig through a Facebook flier so I opted out when I realized I had to see the Oscars with the old gang. Everybody had a Mickey Rourke story, but I had a Marisa Tomei story. When I started that Monday-night bowling thing over at Bowlmor Lanes back in the day, Marisa always came by, being friendly, enthusiastic, and real. One day she was hanging out and chatting with me as I was buying my bowling ball in the old pro shop that used to be there. As the guy was engraving my ball “Steve,” he realized that my companion was the Academy Award-winning actress, and he slipped up; the engraving came out as “Sneve” instead. That became my nickname for quite awhile. She’s as fun and cool and genuine as she seems, and it was wonderful to see her honored once again.

Our little Oscars party had lots of club types from the old days and the present, like Octavia, Robert Escalera, Teagan, and my good friend Dean Winters, who was once a bartender and now is doing great as an actor. We all squealed when Wass, Marquee’s door king, appeared in a commercial. For many, clubs are a means of support while developing a career. At cocktail parties, when you hear people say “I’m an actor,” someone invariably quips, “What restaurant do you work at?” This economic downturn can have a secondary affect — if talented and aspiring art types can’t find employment in hospitality, then they may not flock here. The old lyric “if you can make it here you can make it anywhere” may become too difficult to challenge. Dustin Hoffman, Bruce Willis, Debbie Harry, Keith Haring, and so many more paid the bills with nightclubs before they made it.

Anyway, after a brief “hello I’m alive but I’m too late to DJ” appearance at that wonderful Southside Sunday party, I went over to Lit for their 7th anniversary soiree. Here I was actually scheduled to DJ. My boy Eric Foss who owns the joint asked me to spin, not having ever heard me — he’s a brave man. In his invitation he mentioned some of my past “heroics” but threw in a stint at Studio 54 that wasn’t me (that was Steve Rubell). I’m only half the man he was (although I am taller). Eric was also amused by a New Yorker piece that showed a single patron at his bar with a storyline about the bad economy’s affect on such places. The story implied that Lit wasn’t Lit anymore, but that’s junk. Lit is vibrant, packed, and relevant. It is my favorite joint, and the 7th anniversary was off the hook.

I entered the DJ booth as the last of about 10 DJs, and Carlo McCormick of Paper Magazine was to ping-pong with me. I put on one record and he the next in a sort of sparring match. I was ready to rumble. But, alas, Carlo was off doing Carlo things, so Leo Fitzpatrick, an extraordinary DJ talent, showed me how to use all the knobs and hi-tech things. With the onset of the Serato computer era, I am finding that each joint I spin in has a different setup for the CDs as fewer guys use them. Last week, at Southside, the setup was on the floor, so I had to do a squat every time I changed a disc. It’s better than going to the gym. I offered up punk, punk, and more punk, and the tattooed gals on the dance floor seemed to love every minute, although it was late and I’m sure they were quite drunk. How drunk? One of them told me I was cute.

New York: Top 5 Anti-Valentine’s Day Parties

imageFebruary 14 is coming. Hearts, candies, and overpriced prix-fixe menus, and lucky for you, several Anti-Valentine’s Day events to get sloshed at (and perhaps find a partner to take home to properly hate on the fake holiday). Here are five spots to take a piss on love.

1. Village Pourhouse (Greenwich Village) – There’s a party going on after 10 p.m. called the “Ex-orcism Party.” Bring a photo of your ex and take your turn taping their mug to the dart board. If you hit bull’s eye, you win an hour of free open bar. 2. The Sunburnt Cow (East Village) – The second annual “No Love at the Cow” kicks off at 6 p.m. $20 gets you two hours of an open bar, and plenty of chances to mingle with the other singles at the bar.

3. Bowlmor Lanes (Greenwich Village) – 42 lanes, drink specials all night, singles in bowling shoes — it’s a strike. 4. Studio B (Greenpoint) – Second Annual Valentine’s Death Prom, DJ’d by Trouble & Bass. Sounds gruesome, but also, awesome. 5. Absinthe Wine Bar (Lower East Side) – Chef Nelson German’s four-course $45 prix fixe includes a glass of champagne or glass of wine, and it emphasizes dishes that are “(bitter)sweet.”