Attending Church With Father Glenn O’Brien: Last Night’s ‘Penance’ Celebration

The candlelit storefront at the Chelsea hotel couldn’t have been a more perfect venue for Glenn O’Brien’s Penance book signing. More than vaguely resembling the inside of an old church with its massive pillars and its decrepit, exposed ceiling, the pews, confessional, and candles only drove home the already apparent theme. Guests including the likes of Olivier Zahm, Nemo and Kacey Librizzi, and Natalie Joos gathered at the “church” so as to have “Father” Glenn O’Brien resolve their sins by way of a signature on a copy of their books.

Bread and wine were served as customary of mass. Patrons lounged on pews, kneeled on a Prie-dieu placed before “Father” Glenn (who was seated in an overstuffed leather chair) and chatted about in small groups all toting freshly bought copies of Penance.

O’Brien conceived the idea of hosting a modern-day confessional back in 2012, a place where he would offer penance and absolve sinners within the sacred walls of the Chelsea Hotel. However, unlike a traditional confessional, artworks by Richard Prince were on display within the booth and swimsuit model Michelle Vawer was dressed as a nun acting as his assistant.

Penance is a collection of transcripts of the confessions as collected by O’Brien. The book is wrapped in a full-size Richard Prince poster and includes a baseball card featuring O’Brien in full priest regalia.

The crowd gravitated around O’Brien all evening, each individual waiting their turn to have their book signed and to offer their words of admiration to The Style Guy. The wine flowed freely all night, which helped to combat the freezing weather that awaited patrons outside of the cozy storefront. And can I get a hallelujah for that?

GLENN O'BRIEN Penance Book Signing  GLENN O'BRIEN Penance Book Signing

Images courtesy of BFA

The Chelsea Hotel Reaches the End of an Era With New Ownership

I go away for a few days and the place falls apart. The closing of the Chelsea Hotel to guests must be noted here. Among its numerous and well-documented achievements, it was the place where nightlife lived, crashed, and partied. In its last 40 or so years, it was a place where scenesters hooked up with scenesters, rock stars behaved badly, artists found their vim, and writers became unblocked. It was a cauldron of creativity. I lived there for a bit, high on top in its penthouse peak, with a panoramic view of the relevant world.

I was told that Arthur C. Clarke wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey there and John Wayne, John Garfield, Isadora Duncan, and a couple dozen more like that enjoyed its charms. Someone famous even died on the steps and supposedly still roams around. Ghosts are a big part of the history and the story of the place. I used to crash in the Sid and Nancy room when my wife got real mad at me. I never felt the “presence” and always brought my own sheets. The Sid and Nancy shebang clouded the Dylan Thomas or Herbert Hunke, Ginsberg legacy and it was dusted under the rug by management. Still visitors were obsessed. The elevator would sometimes stop on the first floor as you traveled down, without a person to be seen when the ancient doors opened. We’d exclaim “Nancy!” to startle tourists and friends obsessed with that rock opera. It opened because someone realized the elevators were super slow and the staircase behind them was a better option, not because Nancy was saying hello…I think.

Even after I left and got me a swanky apartment on the East Side I was treated like family when I would pop by. I was always popping by to see Venice, or Arthur Weinstein, or some other downtown dignitary. I’ve only gone twice since Arthur passed. His Mobiles in the upper atrium spoke to me as he did. The eyes of his Roy Cohen or Lucky Luciano images reminded me of those types I used to know, who wouldn’t see what you or I saw but the hidden truth underneath. Arthur left a hole in my life and the death of The Chelsea will be the end of an era—an end to an old New York that was dying by inches, but now seems to be galloping away.

Then again, I looked at a video of The Tangiers Blues Band, which recently did a gig at the John Varvatos store on Bowery. We all know that the store was once CBGB’s and that a big stink was made about CB’s closing and a clothing store coming in. The sky was falling and the world as we know it was ending. Then John Varvatos did the right thing and made it musically relevant and the loss turned into a gain. John understood the value of the legend and honored it and used it. CB’s wasn’t what it was anymore and it now has new life and new music. Maybe something good will come out of this as well. The Chelsea, without its famous curator Stanley Bard, who, like a club doorman picked and chose who had the right to stay, hasn’t been itself in years. The club downstairs is irrelevant and the people who used to hang in the lobby have moved on. Now it’s all gawkers and wanna-be’s and there is zero chance that a Bowie, or Dylan, or Grace, or Dee Dee will prance through. The Chelsea is a ghost of itself. Maybe the new money will return the old spirit. The aging residents will cling to their pasts but the feeling I have is that here’s nothing new coming from the rooms. Discount tourists don’t ferment art.

El Quijote still slaughters a thousand lobsters a day and their aroma as I walk by on 23rd Street still reminds me of a time when Ultraviolet and Richard Bernstein and Nina Hagen and such would be a part of my daily life. The Chelsea has become as irrelevant as the tourists who can’t book a room there anymore. Maybe developer Joseph Chetrit, armed with architect Gene Kaufman, will understand the value of the past and will strive to bring it back even if it is only a means to market the old hotel. He paid $80 million for the place and it seems reasonable that a smart man would consider the legend and vibe and ghosts and the remaining tenant’s assets, rather than nuisances. Varvatos understood CBGB’s and I’ll argue that he did what needed to be done in our changing world. Although I would have felt better if Andre Balaz had gotten hold of the property I will cross my fingers, toes, and eyes that a renovation will return The Chelsea to its glory.

Revisiting B.E.S. After the Transformation

Second chances in nightlife are very difficult to pull off, especially when first chances are often not realized. There are hundreds of bars, restaurants, lounges, and clubs that never open because they don’t get financed or approved by authorities, landlords, or community boards. The stress of opening sees many a partnership dissolve. Even after all that, some say getting open is the easy part.

Someone long out of the business once said, “Its not just a nightclub, but a way of life.” The business, even for the best, is all-consuming. My own relationships understand that they never really have “all of me.” Operators are all poly-amorous, and the flesh-and-blood partner is usually the “other person” in the relationship.

I revisited B.E.S. after a long hiatus. Although my deep affections for Patrick Duffy had me singing his praises and beating the drums for him early on, the restaurant just didn’t live up to my expectations as time went by. Soon it faded from my conscious. The last time I went I decided to tell him and his management team what I felt was wrong, and that always creates discomfort. It’s like telling parents that their children are idiots. Most don’t appreciate constructive criticism.

The laundry list of things that I didn’t like at B.E.S. started with some of the food. I privately described to Patrick a blueberry pancake as having the texture and taste of an old ladies bra with warm jelly on it. Needless to say, things got strained between me and them. I had heard that B.E.S. struggled sometimes. A place on 22nd and the river better be marvelous all the time, considering it’s a 6 dollar cab ride from the Chelsea Hotel, and nobody was walking this winter. B.E.S survived, and Patrick, at first content with being the handsome face of the place, got his hands dirty with the back of the house.

The transformation is stunning. I arrived expecting the same-old, but was thrilled with the new. The new décor featured Helmut Newton-inspired images and gobs of new art everywhere reinvigorating the space. The restaurant has always been beautiful, and the staff was always fabulous and efficient, but the vibe was always off. Vibe is a weird word. Yes, you feel it when you walk in a joint, but there are few who understand it. The great ones understand it well. Designing vibe is my day job. I’m pretty good at it, but if one busboy is pissed off or a bartender is in the middle of breaking up with his boyfriend, or a manager’s girl told him off, then the vibe of a place can go sour. It could be the lights, or the music, or clamoring of plates—it can be a thousand little things, or just one big one. Either way, customers feel it when they walk in the room. The great operators have so much love for their projects that the vibe in the room is always alluring. Patrick loves B.E.S. enough to tell investors and operators to step back while he tries to run the whole affair. The results are undeniable. Maybe it was the hovering black suits that chipped at the vibe before and flustered the kitchen. Whatever it was that had dampened the spirit it’s all good now. B.E.S. was all that this Friday. The food was just great, and I sampled 8 different appetizers and entrées, and wanted more, more, more. The staff was attentive and engaging, and were people I wanted to meet. Amanda Lepore and her entourage were spirited at the table next door, and people got up to dance at the drop of a hat. The music was perfect for dining and conversation, and an occasional “get up and shake it.” One of my companions, the straightest person ever, found it wonderful. Someone yelled at someone “You look Shelicious” and I was completely won over. Patrick told me of serious new projects just ahead, and I felt he was really ready to go forth and conquer.

B.E.S. is what it always should have been with Jordan Fox orchestrating the evening, and Patrick bustling about. The menu is as eclectic and tasty as it always should have been, and the staff is visibly having fun while getting you hooked up. I told Patrick that if you have a place on the edge of the island then you had better be edgy and professional enough to be worth the trip. He is doing just that. The food has to always be as enlightening as this experience, and the vibe just right. B.E.S deserves its second chance—maybe even earned a T at the end of its name.

A Walk Down Hotel Chelsea’s Lane

What started out as a super hush-hush “for those in the know” affair is turning into something much more. Tonight, Jayne County and Kymara Happenings invite you to a “Modernist Party and a Happening.” This event will be the first use of the Ballroom at the Chelsea Hotel, 222 West 23rd street. To understand what I’m talking about, we have to start at the beginning, and since this is my column, it will start where I got on. I used to basically live at Max’s Kansas City. The bartenders knew my drink and the waitresses knew what I ate. I saw the same bands over and over again, and witnessed new ones that blew the socks off the New York scene.

Among the performers was Wayne County, with various backup musicians and in bands with various names. Wayne was legendary in the subculture that I was trying to infiltrate. She was all “Warhol-ed up,” and hung with people like Patti Smith and Jackie Curtis. She performed in hip plays at the ultra-hip La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, like Warhol’s “Pork,” and then in London. She got signed to Bowie’s record label. Some say that “Rebel, Rebel” was taken off one of her tracks. Although nothing was ever released on Bowie’s Mainman label, they did spend a couple hundred grand filming “Wayne at the Trucks,” which was never released. In 1976, she appeared in Amos Poe and Ivan Kral’s film “Blank Generation” just as punk started to really take form.

I didn’t know Wayne then. I didn’t travel in those circles. I was a “pay to get in” kind of guy. It was then that Wayne became known as Jayne, and my head tilted and I concluded “Why not?” That led to a thousand other questions that were also answered in “Why Nots?” I also blame—and thank—Joey Arias, Klaus Nomi, Chi Chi, and all sorts of creatures of the night who “corrected” my middle Queens way of looking at things. Of course, the opening up of my feeble, cloistered mind led to tons of fun, and tons of trouble. It was Max’s to CBGBs, and then to some deep dark rooms with girls with hair that could hurt me. Rinse and repeat. There are no regrets, except maybe Jeannie Lavullo, but that’s a story for another time. As I got deep into clubs I would often find myself in the same room as Jayne, and the scenesters that were the wheat in my club Wonderbread years.

In later years, when I was calling shots, she DJ’d for me, and she was always awesome. Professional, talented, well mannered, and above all, fun. Jayne County inspired me. There was a time, when I was first working the rooms, that I was preparing for an evening with the thought that my joint had to be able to impress Andy Warhol if he happened to show up. On the occasions that he did, I think I may have, possibly, in a little way, succeeded enough to be proud. Warhol and his art of living was a great goal for the artistic set that used to control the night. Jayne is royalty in that world.

Tonight Jayne will not be on hand, as she has suffered an injury that will keep her elsewhere. She will recover, but can’t put on dancing shoes for tonight’s event. Friends and fellow icons like Walter Steding, Donna Destry, and Joy Ryder will step up and perform along with Isis Vermouth.

The Ballroom at the Chelsea Hotel is located in what was Richard Bernstein’s—our dear, departed friend and former cover artist for Interview Magazine—old room. For those who don’t know: you make a left at the front desk. It’s a magnificent room with wood-carved crown moldings and paneling. They’ve borrowed a bit of the office behind the front desk, and have blown through some arch to make it larger. There will be an exhibit of Jayne’s art, which is for sale. I caught up with Kymara Happenings who, along with Milo Rock and Fernando Carpaneda, is presenting the affair. Kymara has been hosting “happenings” for over 25 years. Fernando is also showing his sculptures. Their last party at the venerable Hotel was in the old Bait and Tackle shop, which they gussied up with street art by Alex Kaminski. Once they did the whole thing in foil—a la the Silver Factory. Kymara told me how important it is to do “What we could have done back in the day.” I personally can’t do that, but will attend in force. She says “it’s important to support,” and I agree.



The Mondrian SoHo, a New Classic

A fairly mediocre NYFW has come to an end, right as spring seems ready to roll around the corner. We skipped and tripped over the remaining patches of frozen tundra that was our post-Christmas New York, to attend all of the fabulous parties. And the only conclusion I drew from the week, is that snow is now the new black. Dinner at El Quijote at the Chelsea hotel was wonderful, and the same as it ever was. I’ve been going to this classic spot, named after Cervante’s classic read, since before you were born.

Of course, I was a resident of the place back in my wonder years and took the elevator instead of a cab. We walked off our meal while heading to a soiree at the new Mondrian hotel. There, the hotel’s nightlife honcho Salvatore Imposimato invited me to a friends and family preview and the walk from the old, landmarked Chelsea — erected in 1883 — to the brand new Mondrian, had us discussing and debating the differences and advantages between new and classic.

The Chelsea has been home and host to notables such as Dylan Thomas and Bob Dylan, Sid and Nancy, Iggy Pop, Dee Dee Ramone, Allen Ginsburg, Thomas Wolfe, Virgil Thompson, Charles Bukowski, Patti Smith, Janis Joplin, Leonard Cohen, Iggy, Larry Rivers and a zillion others. The room I lived in, I was told, was once home to or at least a notable stop for John Wayne, Isadora Duncan, John Garfield, John Huston and Arthur C. Clark, who wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey there. The Chelsea still has a squadron of artists, authors and nightclub superstars living in its’ comfy confines but no longer accepts new long-term residencies. My mighty band went to the top floor and walked down the steps where Natalie Portman dangled from in The Professional. We stopped at every painting and photograph adorning the walls and chatted up Dahlia Weinstein, the daughter of my dear, departed friend Arthur Weinstein. I don’t visit the Chelsea much anymore, as I have found it painful to do so. Two years later, I’m coming to grips with the loss of someone I could always turn to for honest advice while he tried to pick my pocket. His exquisite images hung on walls and as a giant mobile on the 10th floor.

We headed out towards subMercer where we stopped for water and chit-chat with Richard Alverez and Gabby and Moses. It was slamming. subMercer is now a classic, which means that you can pop by anytime and expect quality crowds and music. We then stopped by Goldbar to pick up Jonny “The Lover” Lennon. P.R. player Steve Kasuba greeted us and Johnny took me to meet his new Thursday night DJ, Lino Meoli, who was playing rock and dance classics. Johnny didn’t realize that I have known Lino since he was a brand spankin’ new baby. His mom, Maripol, stylist to the stars–including a young, budding Madonna–is my dear friend. His dad GiGi was a DJ for me for many years and his Wednesday night parties with Moby were one of the better nights I’ve ever programmed. Maripol was on hand to check on her creation who was seriously killing it. Jonny is re-launching Thursdays at the now classic Goldbar. It feels like home and although Goldbar went through some troubled times, it remains much more than a viable nightlife choice.

We skipped and jumped to the new Mondrian and were greeted by Disco, resplendent in suit and tie, at the door of the new hotel’s lounge Mister H. Disco, of course, once worked side-by-side with Mister H operator Armin Amiri at Bungalow 8. He is a welcomed face at this destination stop. The entrance to Mister H. is on Lafayette Avenue, to give it a separate identity, while hotel guests will enter through the 9 Crosby Street lobby.When operators open something new, especially when it’s a little off the beaten path, it is imperative that a familiar face is manning the door. Mistakes made there are hard to rectify as good people rarely return to joints that don’t welcome them. Disco knows everyone and that is a good thing. He is classically trained, having worked with me at the doors of Life and Spa.

After all the hugs and kisses I begged Sal to show me the lobby, which I had seen just a week before. It has been a long week for me but short for those readying the Mondrian, which is only moments away from stardom. The lobby and restaurants on the main floor have improved exponentially in just a few days. It is the “funnest” place ever. Bright shiny patent blues, luscious reds, silver, weird woods, over-the-top chandeliers then the pièce de résistance — don’t be impressed, I get my French from Saturday morning cartoons — is the $250,000 plus, plus, plus table by artist Beth Lipman. The thing weighs a ton–literally–and has tons of beautiful, clear, crystal vases in zillions of shapes and sizes sitting precariously on it, about 8 feet from the bar. As a classically trained nightclub and design veteran I asked, “Don’t you think this stuff is going to break?” I was told that “breaking is an evolution of the art piece.” The Mondrian is going to be amazing.

NYC: The Poetry Brothel’s Top Spots for Poets

The Poetry Brothel, produced by The Poetry Society of New York, is a conceptual group that presents poets as characters—or “high courtesans,” as they say. The Brothel aims to take poetry outside the classroom and lecture hall and “place it in the lush interiors of a bordello.” Made up of a cast of “Whores” who put on innovative events staged to feel like the fin-de-siècle brothels in New Orleans and Paris, this band of poets strives to evoke the avant-garde movements and French Symbolists of the 19th century. The poets act as whores, calling their audience their “Johns” and, as you can imagine, the events are not your Mother’s poetry readings. Their next event isn’t until January 23rd at The Back Room (invite below), but the group has offered up a list of their favorite nightlife places where poets can bide their time until then. Here is the Poetry Brothel’s top places to live the poet’s life: places where poetry is inspired, where poets hang out, or maybe where one can find the ghosts poets past.

1) The Back Room – as much as we hate to plug our own venue (not really, we’re whores), Sunday nights at The Back Room are the best nights to meet poets, listen to poetry, talk about poetry, and be inspired to write poetry, because all those things are exactly what we at The Poetry Brothel aim to do.

2) The Brooklyn Bridge – I don’t know about you, but most of the poets I know are broke half the time. (See Mike Todd’s famous quote: “I’ve never been poor, only broke. Being poor is a frame of mind. Being broke is only a temporary situation.”) Grab a flask of homemade absinthe, a moleskin journal, and a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge; you’ll be seeing ghosts and writing poems in no time. If you’re feeling friendly, you’ll probably also run into a few Walt Whitman fanatics.

3) Goodbye Blue Monday – It’s a bar, coffee shop, art gallery, antique store, music venue, etc, with an artist-in-residence at all times. They have poetry readings most Friday nights (The Stain of Poetry) and some other nights throughout the week. The decor is as bizarre as the clientele, a mix of weirdo and beautiful poets, musicians and visual artists. Good times.

4) KGB Bar – Hosts literary readings almost every night throughout the week, and on Monday nights they’re always good. Best American Poetry series editor David Lehman started the Monday night reading series there back in the early 90’s, and since then, it’s become somewhat of a literary mecca. If you want to hear award-winning poets in an intimate setting, KGB is the place to do it. Get there early. It’s small and fills up fast.

5) Cafe Loup – On Tuesday and Wednesday nights particularly, Cafe Loup is the place to go to meet up-and-coming poets. Professors and students alike in MFA programs at the New School and NYU go there after class to drink and mingle with each other in a more informal setting. In addition, many of the major readings throughout the year (Best American Poetry, National Book Critics Circle Awards, National Book Award) take place at the New School Auditorium (which is a block away from Loup), and Cafe Loup is always the after-party destination.

Runners up include: Bowery Poetry Club Chelsea Hotel Battery Park City Raines Law Room Rose Live Music


AC Beats Vegas, Deluxe Experiences Launches

I don’t like Vegas — never have, never will. I think no matter how many towers of greed you put up there, no matter how much money you throw at, it’s still only about as classy as the hookers working the casino floor. For me, whatever happens in Vegas can thankfully stay there. Since I don’t engage hookers, gamble, or care about magic shows or Celine Dion, I never have anything to do. I go for business a couple times a year, and I generally use the time in between work to catch up on first-run movies. The restaurants are amazing, and so I do trip around and see what’s the latest and greatest, but I always feel afterward like I need a bath and a shower. For me, the alternative to dirty Vegas has always been Atlantic City. I’ve been going there since before Bally’s — and yes, I remember how bad it was — but even at its sleaziest there, was a certain majesty in the old buildings (now mostly gone) and the boardwalk. When I was younger, I had fun checking out the real streets and comparing them to their monopoly counterparts. I risked my teeth on saltwater taffy, visited the remnants of the steel pier, and swam in the Atlantic. That version of Atlantic City can be seen as it morphs into the future, our present, in Louis Malle’s beautiful film Atlantic City, with Burt Lancaster and Susan Sarandon.

The Borgata and the Chelsea Hotel are very different concepts indeed, but both are fantastic places to visit. I always like the Tropicana as well, especially when the legendary Denis Gomes had it. The new AC has the rooms, the restaurants, the gaming, the entertainment — shoot, everything good that Vegas has, plus a beach, and it’s now only three hours by train. Last time I was there, I rode bikes with my significantly ex in hoods that I wouldn’t have, couldn’t have just a few years before. I even watched a pod of dolphins and a school of stingrays from the Caesars Palace pier. I’m not going to pretend that AC doesn’t have the same sleazy side as Vegas, but at least you can wash it all off in the ocean in the morning.

I hooked up with the very entrepreneurial Alan Philips and Josh Shames of Sky Group and discussed Atlantic City and their new nightlife service Deluxe Experiences.

The season is starting in full blast down in Atlantic City. You both have worked at the Borgata, and now you’re at the Chelsea Hotel, which is a beach property with no casino. What are your roles there and what can we expect from the Chelsea Hotel? Alan Philips: Borgata hired us to launch Murmur and establish the sub-brand of Borgata Nightlife. They saw what was going on in Vegas, and they wanted to establish a major nightclub presence, so we organized Borgata Nightlife and established a celebrity program which included guests from the Olsens to The Rolling Stones, Gwen Stefani, DJ AM, etc. the Chelsea Hotel, unlike the Borgata “Vegas experience,” wants to create an authentic Atlantic City experience similar to the way the Bowery Hotel uses its neighborhood as the canvas for building their property. There are no boutique hotels within a close radius to the Chelsea, and it’s an exciting and transformative property. I think people will really appreciate a city-style hotel with an upscale experience in this marketplace.

The hotel was designed by Sean Hausman, and it has a beautiful Sinatra-chic style to it. I’m old enough to know AC before it was casino-driven, and unlike Vegas, it offers a lot more. What amenities does a hotel like the Chelsea offer? Josh Shames: One of the things that the Borgata and a lot of the hotels never really offered the customer was a daytime experience. I always felt that if you weren’t a gambler, there wasn’t much for you to do in AC other than to eat. The Chelsea has a gorgeous outdoor pool on the fifth floor of the hotel overlooking the ocean, and we put in a Euro-style (or Vegas style) daytime pool party with ten cabanas equipped with Playstations, 42-inch plasmas, mini fridges, personal concierges, etc. We’re going to give the customer that wants to come for a weekend — or who doesn’t want to gamble during the day — something to do. That’s something we’re really proud of.

The Chelsea is the new alternative hotel, and something great happened this year, which is the ACES train. How much of a difference will this make for you and your customer? AP: It’s going to make a huge difference. When we were at Borgata, we drove down in party buses filled with party girls and models. Traffic on the Jersey Turnpike makes Hamptons traffic look like a walk in the park, so the train is a great thing. And now people who don’t have the funds to fly to Vegas can get to AC easily.

People generally think that if they go to Vegas, they have to spend a lot of money, whereas you can go to AC and hang out without gambling. AP: Which is the reason you go to the Chelsea as opposed to going to the Borgata or the casino. The Chelsea is an authentic place; everything about it, from top to bottom, is real. The pictures on the wall are from the past of Atlantic City, and it’s trying to create a new, exciting future.

You’ve built a serious marketing company, Sky Group, and now you’re launching a new product called Deluxe Experiences. Can you explain the service? AP: Let’s say you wanted to plan your birthday party — how do you do it now? You call ten different places and speak to ten different reps who aren’t motivated to sell you, and by the time you’re finished just calling, you’ve already spent an hour plus of your time. As a better alternative, you can now log onto during your lunch hour to check availability, pictures, info, pricing, then plan the party and choose personalization options like cupcakes from Crumbs, or have an experience agent to meet you outside. It doesn’t cost anything unless you’re buying extra services, and then you can send your e-vite through the site. So you can do what used to take you a few hours in less than 30 minutes, the same way you can order your takeout from Seamless Web.

So this is a revenue stream for owners, but it also gives patrons the ability to shop around and see what works for them? AP: it’s the first active website that can allow the consumer and the club to communicate in a real-time basis. The consumer can find out what’s available and how much it costs, and the club, if they know they’re going to have an empty Thursday, can update the site to say, “We’re willing to take more parties,” or “We’ll give two for one bottles,” so they can fill their Thursday without hiring a promoter.

How are you getting the word out about Deluxe Experiences? JS: We created Deluxe Experiences, but we didn’t create this product. This product created itself, and that’s through people calling our office and us booking 20 parties a weekend and being asked the same questions: Will my friends have to wait online? Do we have to buy bottles? Are we all going to get it? Can we bring in a cake? There’s 10 million people living in Manhattan, there are thousands of bars here — why are people having so much trouble booking a birthday party? There’s something that’s not being communicated from the venue to the customer, and that’s when we identified the need for this service.

What does this product do to doormen? Are you going around them? JS: No, what we’re doing is offering different products to different consumers. On their birthdays, some people would like to get table service, and they can go to the Tenjunes, the Marquees, and GoldBars. But there are also thousands of people on a weekend that want a different experience at a lounge or a bar, and they just want to get their closest friends and family in, for birthdays or engagement parties, etc., and we offer that to them.

I’ve read some of the descriptions of the harder clubs to get into on the site, and it did describe what the door policy would be like, so people know what they’re going to get into. AP: Yes, because we planned about 3,000 birthday parties in the last year, and the number one question is: Will my friends get in? Will my friends be taken care of? Birthdays are what people follow now, birthdays are what get the big groups into a lot of clubs on Saturday nights. Our partner, Derek Feinman, books 25 birthday parties a week. He is the head Experience Agent for the sales and service team for Deluxe, and he does it all free of charge. Derek Feinman: What people want on their birthdays is access, service, and especially now, value. I spend all week dealing with these questions, and having Deluxe allows us to use our years of experience and access to help customers.

How did your role in the industry evolve to allow you to launch Deluxe Experiences? JS: We do venue acquisition. Companies like Sony will call us for product and game launches; they tell us what type of program they want for their events, and we’ll find them a venue for them. Alan has done the Catherine Malandrino Fashion Week event for five years running now, and he finds a different venue for them every year. So we we’re getting calls to book birthdays, Fashion Week events, product launches, movie premieres, etc., at all these different events because we’re not club owners, we’re free agents, so we can book them anywhere. AP: And multi-units like the Gerber Group, Morgan’s Hotel Group, and Starwood hire us to consult and fill venues. .

You guys are intelligent, educated, and you’re servicing the industry and supporting the city of New York, which I think is important for people to realize. AP: We’ve always been students of nightlife –, we’ve read all the blogs, looked at the history, etc., and if you look the casino business, it used to be run by hustlers, but the nightlife industry is different now. When Noah Tepperberg and Jason Strauss, our mentors, went to Vegas and opened a $65 million dollar club, corporate America took notice, and now nightlife is being legitimized. Big businesses see that they can make a lot of money, and we’re hoping that products like DeluxeExp and us being able to service the Starwoods and Morgans Hotel Groups of the world will help nightlife to grow so that people will look at it a new light.

How did you guys earn your credibility in the industry? AP: We go to all the new places, see where the people are — we’re out during the week, we do our rounds. We were able to get the GoldBars and the Tenjunes onto our site, and there’s a reason for that; it’s because these people respect us. In the tradition of successful and entrepreneurial business, we’re trying to take the excitement of a fashionable, trend-driven, downtown industry and bring it in an authentic way to the many people who we believe are looking to have memorable experiences and moments at all of these great places. JS: The one thing we always wanted to do was be true to ourselves, and we think that we’ll be more successful doing what we do best, knowing our crowd, knowing our customer, and providing the products and services they want.