Super Linda More Than Super, Three-Day Pop-Up This Weekend at Chrystie 141

Bingo was riotous as usual. Murray Hill and I talked about his May tour with Dita Von Teese. After all that, we kissed our crew goodnight and walked the cool night to Chinatown. The Wo in Wo Hop still stands for wonderful. Encouraged by hearty soups and dumplings, we braved the cold night to visit Matt Abramcyk and Serge Becker’s newish hot spot Super Linda. My dear friend Travis Bass was blowing up my phone, begging me to come. We passed The Odeon and I told Amanda that 20-something years ago it was the hottest place in New York. Today it is just perfectly amazing. We entered Super Linda and immediately knew it was just super. There, a small, sharp set were lounging casually in booths and tables. Vance Bookings held court, surrounded by all his unusually beautiful suspects. I introduced Amanda to Cordell Lochin, and he and I exchanged the secret handshake and a hearty hug. The deep booth had Serge Becker and his crew of hip jet-setters talking the talk. Serge got  up and gave me the tour. He explained how the new lights for the dining room had not arrived as of yet and that there were still some finishing touches to the design coming in the next two weeks or so. I loved it. The downstairs had the right amount of hiding spots and comfy booths and there was some great detailing to the paneled wood walls. It’s opening soon. We talked a bit more about the biz and small wonders and then I visited the always excitable Travis Bass at the bar.

He introduced me to Richie Cheung, the owner of that 141 Chrystie space. I exclaimed "OMG (I say that sometimes), you must hate me." I reminded him that I had written a scathing review of his place when it opened. He said, "Oh, you’re Steve Lewis! No hard feelings. You were just doing your job and we’ve made many changes for the better." I loved Richie. I would have popped me in the nose . I felt so strongly about it I almost popped me in the nose. Instead I promised to visit the new and improved space Friday. Travis ,as his norm, never shut up about this and that and what he was doing at 141. He gushed, "I am doing a three-day pop-up at 141 Chrystie Street from Thursday through Saturday next week. It will be a raging dance club party theme. Think Ibiza or rave party with the Red Egg crew and crowd. I am going to do giant balloons and projections and laser beams."

I’m always a sucker for giant balloons and laser beams, so I agreed to go Friday. Anyway, Travis wasn’t taking no for an answer. I couldn’t come Thursday, I explained, as I am DJing at Hotel Chantelle. I expected him to ask me to put on a long song …say "White Lines" and pop over for a hot minute to see his pop-up. He continued (he always continues), "Gonna bring back the old New York high-energy dance club! No more lounging bullshit! NYC is all about fun and we are bringing that back."

He told me he was doing dinner parties downstairs at Super Linda and I almost asked him if that wasn’t sort of "lounging bullshit," but I needed to get home before sun up to write this piece. New York needs Travis’ energy. We are so often ruled by the blasè. He may be a lot of things but he certainly isn’t blasè. We kissed everyone goodbye and headed to Brooklyn to our humble home and puppy and cat. I loved Super Linda; it’s intelligent and adult-offering in a nightlife world increasingly dominated by the unfabulous…the blasè.

Sevigny and Nur Join Don Hill

Don Hill is a club cult hero. His joint Don Hill’s was born in April 1993 to much flag waving, fanfare and hoopla. The Smithereens set the tone that night and it has since become a virtual rock and roll hall of fame. Don has booked the joint, hired staff, run day to day and night to night operations, he’s answered the phones and I suspect that on some nights he swept out the joint. He will now be joined by superheroes Nur Khan and Paul Sevigny. They will come in with mad skills, new energy and cash to redux the place. They will merge with Don to create more of the same but even better. Nur is famous for his stadium act showcases in what essentially is an over-sized living room over at Rose Bar. He will now have a mid-size venue to accommodate his vision and connections. Nur and I talked about the Don Hill space being perfect for him over a year ago. I floated the idea past Don Hills honcho Nicki Camp last July and I am as pleased as punch that a deal has been finalized. Nur is partnered up with my own personal Jesus, Paul Sevigny at Kenmare and together they will bring their unparalleled talents to this venture. The inclusion of Don into the mix is brilliant. I caught up with Paul and asked him if I could finally write about this and he spewed info at me at a thousand words a minute. I got some of it.

The essentials are that they will renovate. Thousands of rock and roll shows have worn the place out. Rock and roll has a tendency to do that—take a look at a recent shot of Keith Richards. I told Paul that I heard from a second source about this love-in and therefore I should be allowed to tell my loyal readers the good news. Paul agreed and gushed info at me. He’s wanted to talk about this for a while and is uber-excited. “We’re adding 5 bathrooms and seating, we’re going to fix it up.” I tried to take notes but it was hopeless. He was particularly excited to reboot the traditional all-ages Sunday rock shows. He told me to expect 2 or 3 big rock and roll shows a month. I know enough not to ask him if this will be the new Beatrice. Paul would have said Beatrice was Beatrice and this is Don Hills and why do people ask that and then he would have mumbled, laughed to himself and made sly, snide side comments—a bit like loveable Popeye.

The Beatrice, ladies and gents, is gone and thankfully not forgotten. The space has new ownership and I hear it’s going to be a tapas joint. I am sure that the beautiful, fashionable, relevant, unusual and usual suspects will follow both Nur and Paul wherever they go. Don Hills familiar Spring Street location near Sway where Nur held court for eons is sure to be a different kind of wonderful. Both of these gents are so connected and creative that something ‘new’ grounded in their understanding of what was—and is still—relevant from a glorious past is to be expected. ‘New’ often trumps ‘nostalgia’ when the past is embraced and respected. Don Hill, the man, the legend, also has some tricks up his sleeve and now he will have a new place grounded in his legacy to entertain his friends. I’ll keep you posted.

Today Cordell Lochin will rejoin the living. This is great news for the multitudes who have missed his energy and spirit. His stint over at La Esquina when it opened insured its success. I can’t wait to see him and I hope his transition back into society is an easy one. I had many friends and supporters when I got back from my “Poconos vacation.” The hardest part was the acceptance that, no matter what I said or accomplished, many would never believe in me. The only thing you can do is embrace those who embrace you and to work your way back into society’s good graces. In time, the work will define you as much if not more than the past. My design career and my writing replaced the Steve Lewis brand that I created before. Although there are times when I miss the action, I really can’t complain. I get along with this Steve Lewis way better than the last one.

Good Night Mr. Lewis Turns One at BlackBook

My wonderful editor informed me that today’s entry falls on the anniversary of my first BlackBook post. I surely need to thank everyone there for their patience and support. Two wives will verify that I can sometimes be difficult to deal with, but BlackBook has been berry berry good to me. Ironically there are behind-the-scenes negotiations going on which will result in my content being posted again on Joonbug as well as here. Good Night Mr. Lewis enjoyed its first eight months at Joonbug; I left not because of bad relations but because I felt I needed to be associated with the BlackBook brand, with which I have enjoyed a decade-long relationship. Writing about things I see and hear started as a hobby — or maybe a fetish — but has now captivated me.

There have been many great moments for me in the last year, but I particularly enjoyed a phone call from André Balazs’s rep Howard Schaefer the day after I broke a wildly picked-up story about drink prices, hosts, seatings, and such at talk of the town Boom Boom Room. I received my inside info from a significant but secret source; I had asked my assistant to arrange for a chat with Howard that very morning because I felt guilty about getting inside info from my significant source when Howard and I are no strangers. We’re about the same age, and he grew up a few blocks from me out in Jackson Heights, queens. At one point in a twist of coincidences I found out my Jersey-bred wife was best friends with his girlfriend out there in mainstream America. He now lives two blocks from me.

So Howard beat me to the punch with a call. Our conversation was about how he knew that I wouldn’t tell him my significant source, but he wanted a few clues. I asked if I had called him directly if he would have told me any of the stuff I found out, and he laughed and told me, “Of course not.” I was directed to publicist Nadine Johnson for future queries. He mumbled he needed to “close those leaks.” I contacted my significant source again, who would no longer speak to me. So I asked the significant other of my significant source what was up and was told an internal memo had been circulated warning the staff not to talk to people like me or face termination. Another significant source inside the now-gagged organization says they believe “the Boom Boom Room will be the most significant space in the last 15 years.” They continued, “It will bring everything to another level … André gets it … he is on top of his game.” Blogging is still fun!

Word comes that man about Nolita, Soho, and virtually every hot spot in town Maurice Capli and two partners (who will remain anonymous at this time) will open a new lounge at 100 7th Avenue at Bleecker. The place will hold around 300 people and is located in the old Actors Playhouse space, which is a flight (or two) below street level. I see Maurice every time I go to La Esquina, so he most surely feels comfortable with a basement location. Maurice is my main contact with Cordell Lochin, who will rejoin the living in May. Maurice’s partner is a major door presence but is currently employed at a major door, and there is real fear he would be shown the door if his name was revealed here. With a little bit of luck, construction will start mid-October, and a Christmas /New Year’s opening is hoped for.

I have had a weird week, with my highs being Everesty and my lows abysmal, yet I never wanted to embrace that flatline in any other way. It would indeed be a sort of death by inches for me. I watched the tallest man in the world on the street the other day. He indeed was a peak, much larger than can be imagined from a photo. He could only move in inches aided by crutches. I felt bad for the big guy. I read that he lamented he had no woman and that he hoped fame might bring him one. I wanted to take Ukrainian-born Leonid Stadnyk to a club and help him meet a gal and bring him over to a table of ballers so they could experience what I do when they stand near me. At 8 foot 5 inches, he’s a full 1 foot 4 inches taller than Shaq and 17 inches taller than the average nightclub door.

I went out to celebrate my year but found out the Jane was closed because they were shooting Wall Street 2 there. I headed to subMercer to visit my DJ friend Jennifly, only to find out she was hosting and had left the DJ duties to m0ma, who was grand. “We’re going to have a funky good time,” was a defining moment; the party is called “Collective Music Maestro … Please” and is hosted by the NY-LON team of Jennifly and Vincent. NY-LON stands for “New York-London.” They’re trying to produce “a full on London underground feel and at the same time bring New York nightlife to what it was back in the day.” I asked her if she was around in New York back in the day, and her laugh said no, but she absolutely gets it as does Vincent. DJ m0ma offered “everything from jazz to disco to 80s boogie, funk, electro, and rare grove dope.” The reopening of these subMercer Wednesday soirees is yet another reason to be cheerful this club season. Oh — and André Balazs owns this one as well.

Strong Silent Type: Genc Jakupi, Keeper of The Box

I am not a frequent visitor to The Box, even though I live just a short walk away. The shows don’t excite me much; in fact, what I have seen has had the opposite affect. However, I cannot deny the cultural impact the place has had on our town. In the jaded land of nightlife, The Box has redefined the model-bottle era. In its performance-based theatrical approach, it has shocked us into believing once again that if you think outside of the box in clubdom, you can achieve success. My problem with the bottle-model era is that it’s never been over the top enough to excite me. It never pushed the envelop or culture. Having Lindsay Lohan, Paris, and a gaggle of lowbrow celebutantes, models, and promoters throwing napkins into the air to generic music is not greatness. Any night at the World, Studio, Area, Paradise Garage, or any of the classic joints was better than the best nights ever at Marquee, Tenjune, or Kiss & Fly. I am not knocking these clubs, as they are doing their formulated best to entertain their crowds. They are the product of these times and are a reflection of the attitude of their owners and the need to make money against impossible odds.

These crowds are not, for the most part, interested in serious music or culture as an important part of their nightlife experience. Their clone-like clothes and views define an age where Grey Goose is more relevant than art. The Box said there can be another way, and even though I don’t go there, I celebrate it for taking the scene in another direction. The Box is always swirling in controversy. Showgirls and other distractions, scandals, and such have been well documented in the gossip columns. Life on the edge can sometimes get edgy, so let’s talk with Box doorman Genc Jakupi about his vision and how he guards Simon Hammerstein’s playground.

You are a mysterious character — we really don’t know each other. I’ve met you maybe once or three times. I know your brother Binn pretty well. He does 1Oak, and you do The Box. How did you become doormen, and who was first? Binn started G-Spa with Richie Akiva. He took off for like a year I think. Anyway, I got into it with my brother’s help. I started just doing hosting and helping with Mark and Richie at Tenjune. That was just for a short amount of time. I met with Serge Becker, as they needed a guy at the door of The Box. They’d really never had one before — not that they didn’t have a doorperson, but they didn’t have somebody who knew the people. They did not have it down at the front of the house, you know what I mean? It’s such a complex project, you know what I mean?

I did the door there one night — they brought me in for an event. Cordell Lochin asked if I’d be interested in doing. I told him I couldn’t because I have other things to do. Cordell told me that it underscored their need to have someone who know a lot of people out there. I was doing it for Tricia Romano’s party. I’m glad that I actually became a part of The Box because I really care about that place — I care about it, very much. I’ve been in New York for about seven years, so I can’t speak so much about past New York. I started first working like two nights a week, and then Thursday, Friday, Saturday I was still at Tenjune, and then I just switched — took over the whole thing at The Box.

The Box is certainly a prestigious door … it’s one of the premiere clubs in New York. You’ve got a lot of important people showing up. How did you train yourself to do door? Did your brother instruct you, or did you take your own approach? I used to bartend at Bungalow 8. I learned from Armin Amiri. I have a lot of respect for him, the way he did things, the way he did the door — he kinda ran the whole place. That’s what I do at The Box, that’s what Binn does at 1Oak. it’s not just standing around at the door — he’s doing more than that. So there’s no real training to become a doorman besides knowing the people, knowing what the party needs to have. Knowing what you need inside to make the party happen, how many people you need, who do you need and what are you lacking … different things for different clubs for different clientele,

You need to make money at The Box — it’s showbiz. You have three shows a night, right? Yeah, we have three shows a night … right now we’re going through a little different way of doing the shows.

You have to make revenue off the tables You have to. Everybody has to. At The Box you have to more because there’s more overhead. We’ve been doing pretty good considering the economy; we’re still being exclusive, whatever that means — having the right people. The good thing about it is that we have a name out there; it’s a destination place. So I don’t have a problem with a lot of people outside.

Yeah, the people showing up are getting in for the most part People are showing up with 80 percent expectation of getting in. When you talk about fights, when you talk about stuff like that, I don’t — have much of that

I don’t want to dwell on this too much, but lately there’s been a spate of the incidents involving doormen where people are just losing their cool, and both of us are astonished that that could ever happen. I mean, there’s no need for it No need, no need.

Contrary to the public’s perception, doormen are there to let people in, and to educate people how they may get in in the future, and to be nice even when you turn people away, and say something like, “This place may not be for you.” Do you agree with that? Not “this place might not be for you,“ no.

Well what do you say? As much as I take doormen’s side in this, you know the fights and everything, I look at it in two different ways. I look at it if I was to approach the door — people who go out, they’re ready, they’re dressed, they put a lot into that, you know what I mean? So now when you say no to somebody, my approach is to let them know to come back. I want them to come back. That’s the main thing — I want them to come back and just to see to let them decide how they’re gonna show up when they come back. And people get it right — believe me, people get it right.

I used to say that I’m not making the decision that you’re not getting in; you made that decision when you left your house like this. True.

Nobody likes to be rejected … it’s the hardest thing in the world to tell people that they don’t belong, but that’s probably it, they don’t belong. You’re saying this is a club, and you don’t’ belong. You’re the expert on whether they belong or not. See, with the Box though, that’s not what I’m trying to do, because of the show. It allows me to let people in. I want to have all sorts of people. As long as there’s a community between people — as long as people see something, and they can talk about each other, and they can talk to each other, and they connect. I don’t believe in dress codes and stuff like that.

That’s very interesting. I used to say, “We don’t have a dress code, we have a heart code,” and I think that’s what you’re saying. If a person puts enough effort to come out, thinks about it, puts a beautiful gown or a beautiful something — something interesting. We don’t wanna see boring stuff. All of these people that work in offices, they see so much boring stuff … the last thing you want to give them when they go out is to see the rest of what they saw in the day. So I like to see people going a little crazy, going a little wild with the way they dress. … I never had fights, and I knock on wood because I don’t wanna have fights in The Box. We don’t have them because I really keep people with good attitude. A lot of times people approach the door in a very aggressive way. I never deal with that, and I’m not at the door all the time, so that’s a way of avoiding conflict.

That’s a problem — the fact that you’re not at the door all the time. I showed up once, it was late at night a couple weeks ago, and nobody knew me at the door, and I should be somebody that people know. I’m not bragging, but I should be known. But you ended up inside

I did end up inside. I waited about 10 minutes outside. No you didn’t!

Yes I did. No you didn’t –there’s no way!

Yes I did. And I wrote about it. But it didn’t bother me. It seems to have bothered Noah Tepperberg the other day when he showed up, but we’re not going to get into that much because it’s an unfortunate thing — old news. I didn’t mind waiting because I don’t go to the place, so I can understand why they don’t know me — but you do go inside, and what happens when you go inside? Do people just wait, and that’s the attitude? I know we’re in the business where some people in this industry really take it hard when they have to wait a little. I’m inside because I do a lot of stuff. I’m not just a doorman at The Box. I take care of everything that needs to be taken care of to make the place happen. When I’m not the door, I have guys outside that I trust — I don’t let them make decisions, but people that come here all the time end up inside. It’s rare that anyone gets a surprise when they show up wrong, like, “Oh, why am I not coming in?”. These are people who have been coming for a long time — people from downtown, people who don’t take it personally if they wait a little.

I have been told by some people that The Box used to be much better; other people tell me that it’s better now. The first time I went that night I did the door there, I felt it was too pushed, like it was forced, and it was all about shock value. The shows?

Yes, and just the crowd itself, the vibe inside was like poseur or pushed. The second time I went, I liked it less, but the last time I went it was really natural, the way people sat, the way they interacted, and there was a sexiness to it. I guess I can credit you, and Simon Hammerstein. You have to credit Simon because he’s the visionary, and he’s really the best guy that I’ve ever worked with — he really knows what he’s doing. He’s an expert on his thing, and he trusts me with things that I want to do. He knows that what I do is good, and he believes in me.

That’s how a doorman has to work, and a doorman has to understand the message and the needs of the house, and he has to be left to do it himself. You have to know who’s expected, and what you have, because you’re really a maestro or an orchestra leader … you’re coordinating, mixing the crowds and creating this energy. But besides that, at The Box, you’ve got to have a certain amount of people by the certain time, because of the show. It’s more than just letting in who you want to let in.

How about money at the door? I mean, I’ve heard from people who I don’t really go out with — but I know of them — and they went The Box, and they got hit up for $1000 at the door, or $800 dollars at the door, and they bought tables. Tables are very expensive there, and yet you’re still selling them, even in this economy. Still holding up.

Because you’re offering something that no one else is? Not that no one else is — you’re offering something that people really appreciate. People don’t mind paying the show charge.

Is there an exit strategy? I’m addicted to nightlife; I’ve evolved from running clubs to writing about them, and designing them. I haven’t been able to get out. Are you addicted to The Box, to the nightlife, or do you think it’s a phase? I am at The Box because I like what The Box gives to people, which is not just nightlife. I’m addicted to New York. Even when I wasn’t at the Box, I wanted people visiting New York to go see what The Box has to give, because it’s really what I think New York is about. I don’t know if I would have been able to come up with something like that, but seeing it, my hat’s off to Simon for bringing that thing to life.

It’s not a nightclub — it’s a way of life? I wouldn’t be able to do any other place the way I’m doing it at The Box. If another place opened up, and they offered me a job, I don’t see myself going to work for somebody else. It’s not just a job.

Your job is theater in itself, plus your job is a responsibility to the acts inside and to the patrons; there has to be a certain intelligence, there has to be a certain way of people being treated, from the moment they get out of the taxi. Certain way of people being treated, certain ways of seeing where the party should be, and envisioning, where people want to sit, deciding where they’re gonna sit so they sit next to somebody who they’re gonna have fun next to. The first time I went to The Box, before I was working there, Serge and Cordell invited me, and I said to myself: there’s elegance in this room that could make such a good party.

There’s a movie called Casablanca, and in that movie, which is a classic nightclub, the lyrics for the most important song of the flick are, “the fundamental things apply as time goes by.” That’s the thing with The Box, isn’t it? It really gets down to the fundamentals We’re not going against time at The Box. A lot of clubs open, and they have this expectation of first year, second year, that’s it … but we are still developing.

You’ve reached a point where the performers and the audience are one thing. I want to let people in such that when they came in, you wouldn’t actually need to know who the performer is.

Industry Insiders: Francesco Belcaro, Euro Star

Francesco Belcaro (of events/promotions concern Made in Italy) comes to America, meets the right Austrian chick, wakes up a top-tier New York scenester, works the door at the Box, and shakes hands with his 13,000 closest mates. Point of Origin: I was not supposed to be in the nightlife scene. I have a real estate company and an event planning company. The event planning company is Made In Italy. We work with a lot of big Italian companies in the city, and they sponsor us. When we started, we wanted to market ourselves and create a buzz for both companies to get more clients. We decided to create this night called Made In Italy, and we created a mailing list. I personally know a lot of people in the fashion business because of my family’s company, and my partner [Francesco Mo] knows a lot of finance people and entrepreneurs. So we started to do this party, not for money, but to market ourselves. It turned out that the night was cool, and more sponsors wanted to be a part of it and have their products known to our mailing list, which is over 13,000 people right now — people that we know personally and shake hands with. So my partner and I decided to get involved in nightlife.

How did you end up working the door of the Box? I was good friends with Cordell [Lochin] at the Box because our girlfriends were friends, so we used to spend a lot of time together. I wanted one of my sponsors, Peroni beer, to be at the Box, because it’s the best nightclub in the city. So Cordell said, “If you want this beer at the club, you have to help me out,” so I did the door Mondays there. I was super busy, but with our relationship and my respect for the business they had been doing … I decided to do the door. Peroni wanted to get into the US market, and everyone understands that New York is a window to that market. They also see me associated with the cool, trendy places in New York. They hire me as a kind of marketing guy to tell them where Peroni should be. Made in Italy has been around five years now. We hire promoters, bring DJs and artists from Italy. Usually we do our party twice a month and change venue.

How have things changed since you came on the scene? My first year here was probably the most impressive one. New York was there to be discovered by me. I don’t know if it was cool or not, but I remember one club, Spa, where I met this girl from Austria who had been living here forever. I don’t know why, but she just liked me. She took me under her wing and took me everywhere. I remember I didn’t know the nightlife scene. It’s the first time someone takes me, and we get free bottles, and I meet all the models. We arrived by limo, there were famous singers there, and I remember when I woke up I was like, “Was that a dream or what?” After a few months, I felt like a New Yorker. I grew up in Venice, I went to university in Madrid, I did my masters in Paris, I lived in London and in South America before I came here. I want to say that New York is the only city that made me feel at home right away, not like a foreigner. You just feel home as soon as you get here.

Are there any other places that you like? I was in Moscow recently and it was unbelievable. The way they partied. It was probably like when there was Studio 54. That’s what I see. New York is changing, so you might have to lose something that was part of the character of the city and the nightlife. I am still fresh here, and you know the past here. New York is always evolving. The older guys they remember New York at a time, but now the younger guys are coming up with energy and will create something, too. It will be different. New York is a city that welcomes different cultures and gets the best out of them. That is very hard to find anywhere else. The nightlife in New York is not going anywhere; it’s just changing. This is a transitional moment. New York is one of those cities you copy. That’s what makes it so special. We copy [things from New York] and bring it over [to other places].

What are you doing tonight? We’re doing a party for 2,000 people at the Pier.