Goodnight Mr. Lewis: Death Mask Murderer Up For Parole, Clubdom Gasps

Photo via Newsday

The parole hearing of the convicted murderer 31 years into his 25 years to life sentence went relatively unnoticed. On February 23, 1985 Bernard LeGeros tortured to death club goer, model and aspiring fashion designer Eigil Dag Vesti in what was sensationalized as the “Death Mask Murder.”

The leather S&M mask preserved the face of the burnt and animal eaten corpse, allowing for identification in a pre-DNA world. It was the murder of the decade until a year later when the murder of Jennifer Levin in Central Park by Robert Chambers, the so-called “Preppy Murder” eclipsed it. Bernard LeGeros was not alone, but he was the only person convicted of the crime. “One Percenter,” Andrew Crispo was accused of masterminding the crime. The investigation led police into the S&M clubs that thrived in the old Meatpacking District. It opened up their eyes to a culture and society thriving underground, sometimes literally. Places like the Mineshaft where Eigel was picked up, catered to patrons that put themselves at risk as a way of life. The death of Eigel was still a shock.

Limelight VIP host Fred Rothbell-Mista was a target for Andrew Crispo and his lapdog Bernard LeGeros. Fred recounted to me, many years ago, how they tried to seduce him into leaving with them that evening. Drugs and sex were the bait, but Fred said he just didn’t feel comfortable. His gut told him it wasn’t right and he decided to find his action elsewhere. He told me he came close. Rumors of the death chilled the hot crowd. Some said his heart was cut out while he was still alive, while others said a large sex toy was still lodged in the corpse. Andrew Crispo’s drug-fueled forays into S&M had become legendary and now there was a body. They couldn’t pin it on the art mogul, but over the years other charges stuck. There was a threat to his lawyer to kidnap her child, there were other beatings, a tax rap. He did go to jail, but not the 30 years prosecutors wanted. He got out many years ago, while Bernard stayed locked away.

Years after the crime, I was in a 7th Avenue restaurant featuring a Chelsea crowd. It was a scene place and the scene at the bar was loud and cruisey. I was in mid-sentence when a communal gasp followed by the loud whispers stopped me cold: “It’s Andrew Crispo.” Every head turned, every conversation stopped. Joy turned into stone, as the guy that got away was shown a table. It was that kind of impact the murder had on nightlife—hard to pick up someone at a bar having heard of Eigels fate.

But death was no stranger to nightlfe. It was a war with casualties counted just like any
war. It was measured in deaths, wounded or missing in action. Drugs, AIDS and a crime ridden NYC had taken a massive toll. A creative generation was wiped out. Where are the Haring’s, the Warhol’s, the Basquiat’s today? The mean streets of New York bubbled out that vibrant art scene, as well as new genres of music like punk, hip-hop and house that had only percolated in the deep underground.

Those who were there remember the early to mid ’80s as a sort of golden age for club life. It had a speedy numbness like a Cocaine rush. Looking back at that time, old school patrons talk of how mixed the clubs were with celebrities and Euro-trash hobnobbing with skateboard punks, artists and the fashion set. Clubs had become inclusive as even the most exclusive ones looked to curate a smorgasbord of tastes, styles and classes. Gays hung out with straights, rich with poor, Blacks with whites, all in the same room. Transgender people used any bathroom they wanted to and nobody complained. New drugs replaced, or at least cooperated, with old drugs. Looking back, it looks like heaven, but really wasn’t. Part of the problem was the party never ended and nobody was keeping track of the cost.

After hours clubs, some as big as today’s mega clubs, flourished on weekends. During the week, there were countless regular hours places to go to and smaller joints that went till noon. Mondays were great and Tuesdays amazing. Many went out every night. Many enjoyed sex, drugs, alcohol and sleepless nights that merged seamlessly with annoying days. Sunglasses were part of a night crawler’s ensemble, as much as dancing shoes and condoms. Clubs were often located in seedy neighborhoods where nobody would complain. The local entrepreneurs scored big time by selling whatever was wanted—drugs, women, late night sandwiches—to the stumbling masses. Bad decisions went with distractions. We all made them, but Eigel paid the price.

Bernard ultimately stopped the party. He was Jack the Ripper, a subconscious demon, a pause to think in that mindless moment when the drugs, music and urges didn’t want to. The parole hearing has been postponed until November. When I saw his face on my computer the other day, I sensed the breath of that demon once again and worried that he will soon walk among us.

Plot Your Heists: June Is International Crime Month

Not crime per se, mind you. June will see a month-long celebration of crime fiction, as well as its notable authors, editors, critics, and whatnot. Crime novels and stories are a big enough business that they get their own section in the New York Times Book Review, and universal enough that people who never ordinarily read will lug around giant hardcovers by someone named “Stieg Larsson.” So how are we marking the occasion?

Well, officially there are a great many readings and events around New York, thanks to some outstanding independent publishers and bookstores: the kick-off is today at Book Expo America, where editors from Grove Atlantic, Europa Editions, Melville House, and Akashic Books will lead a panel discussion. Throughout the next weeks, there’s plenty to be excited about—a reading by awesomely-named author Wolf Haas sounds cool, you definitely want to hear about the adventures of Detective Brenner in Austria. Then there’s Jessica Hagedorn, whose work tackles the dark side of the Philippines. So much seamy filth to learn about!

But your observance of International Crime Month really shouldn’t end there. This is your chance to go around talking like the private eye in a classic noir film, calling ladies “dames” and such. It’s also an excellent occasion to start plotting that insanely overcomplicated burglary you’ve been keen to get going on. Or just spend a day trying to think like a psychopathic killer. Soothing, isn’t it.

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David Hasselhoff Goes Missing (But Just From Cumberland Farms)

Tragedy has struck suburban Boston! 550 life-size David Hasselhoff cut-outs have been stolen from area Cumberland Farms stores. The ads showed the aging Baywatch hunk endorsing Cumberland’s 99 cent iced coffee. Only 20 David Hasselfhoff cut-outs remain, which means a life-size Hoff ad could be as rare as a Bigfoot sighting.

For his part, Hasselhoff told a news station it is "cool and kind of humbles me" that people care enough to steal his likeness, like alone 550 of his likenesses. (Don’t speak too soon, Hoff. You have no idea what the thieves are doing with them.) Hasselhoff is unconcerned about the thefts, sticking to his concern for the bottom line. "Please have a cup of coffee while doing it," he said.

Stolen Dalí Mailed Back To UES Gallery

Case closed. Back to your donuts, coppers. The $150K Salvador Dalí painting stolen last week in broad daylight from an Upper East Side gallery has returned. In fact, it was mailed back. What polite thieves!

Last week, a man removed the painting Cartel de Don Juan Tenorio off the wall of the Venus Over Manhattan gallery, stuffed it in a shopping bag, and walked out. According to The New York Post, earlier this week the gallery received an email reading "Cartel on its way back to you already," with an Express Mail tracking number. As promised, the 11-inch painting arrived "in pristine condition" at John F. Kennedy International Airport, where it was intercepted by police. Not surprisingly, the return address appears to be fake. 

A spokesperson for the investigation said its difficult to sell stolen artwork "because they’re hot," which I think is movie gangster slang for "everyone’s going to know it’s stolen." Thus, it’s still unclear who jacked the painting in the first place or why. But rest assured knowing a rich person now has his very expensive painting back.

Picasso Vandal Is Some 22-Year-Old Punk-ass Kid

Houston police have nabbed the wackjob who spray-painted a bull and the word "conquista" (Spanish for "conquest") on a painting by Pablo Picasso last week — and he turns out to be some 22-year-old punk-ass kid.

Uriel Landeros, 22, has been charged with criminal mischief and felony graffiti after has caught on a cell phone video vandalizing Picasso’s Woman In A Red Armchair with gold spraypaint at the Menil Collection museum. Landeros got busted after the video was uploaded to YouTube and a good citizen called Crime Stoppers to identify him. 

As for the Woman In A Red Armchair, a Menil Collection spokesperson said the 1929 painting has been cleaned of gold spray paint in an on-site conservation lab and is ready to hang again. 

It’s still unclear what Landeros meant by the bull and "conquista," though. He seems to think he is an "up-and-coming Mexican-American artist" who was paying tribute to Picasso’s work. Way to take the concept of cultural mashups literally, dude. 

$150K Dalí Painting Jacked From Upper East Side Gallery

Galleristas must have thought their eyeballs were melting. But no, a man really did walk into Venus Over Manhattan Art Gallery on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and steal a Salvador Dalí painting without being caught. You might even call the whole incident surreal. (Art joke!)

Police say a man removed the 11-inch "Cartel de Don Juan Tenorio" from the wall, placed the watercolor in a black shopping bag, and walked out. Security cameras depict the thief as the 35- to 45-years-old with a receding hairline — rather attractive, I should say. I cannot say the same for his taste in Surrealist art. The jacked Dalí is a mess of sloppy reds, browns and black. Alas, it’s a sloppy mess worth $150,000.

The aggrieved gallery owner is Adam Lindemann, a prep-school educated billionaire’s son who is a radio station honcho and New York Observer columnist. It’s difficult to feel sympathy for a man described by ArtNet as "the prince of the one percent." Ironically, given the crime, Lindemann’s money came from the invention of the first soft contact lens. 

Amanda Bynes Accused of Third Hit-and-Run

Actress Amanda Bynes may soon be better known as Hit-and-Run Perpetrator Amanda Bynes. That is, if a new report accusing Bynes of a *third* hit-and-run car accident in about a month is true.

According to TMZ, Bynes was accused recently of hitting another car with her BMW while driving on California’s 101 Freeway on April 10, just four days after being arrested in West Hollywood for DUI after clipping a cop car and then fleeing the scene.

For those keeping track, Bynes was also accused earlier this month of another Hollywood hit-and-run, but was cleared of any charges after telling police she didn’t feel the impact.

Three hit-and-runs in one month? Get it together, girl! Or at least do things like Lindsay Lohan did and stretch all of this out over a few years.

Three Men Involved in Real-Life Version of ‘The Hangover’

In what is being described as a real-life version of the movie The Hangover, three Brits vacationing in Australia are being charged with several crimes related to their kidnapping of a penguin from SeaWorld while drunk, then waking up the next morning with no recollection of the events. And before you even have to ask, of course they filimed it.

Check out the above local news report on the incident, which occured last Saturday night, to see the footage in question (the men provided the station with it in an attempt to prove they meant no harm to the penguin, named Dirk).

Some additional details, via Gawker:

According to police, the three young men from Wales, who are currently residing on Queensland’s Gold Coast, unlawfully entered the marine park last Saturday night, and proceeded take a semi-nude dip inside the dolphin tank. They then moved on to the penguin enclosure, where they helped themselves to a 7-year-old Fairy Penguin named Dirk.

Upon awaking the next day and discovering an aquatic bird roaming around their rented room in Surfers Paradise, the men struggled to piece together the events of the night before.

They eventually decided to ditch Dirk in a nearby shark-infested lagoon, where he was luckily spotted Sunday after being chased out of the water, possibly by a predator. The frightened animal was returned to Sea World and reunited with its mate, Peaches.

I’m not sure about you, but I can’t wait for the sequel. I really hope it’s not identical to the original, though, because that would suck.

Fashion Bloggers Endure Feuds, Felonies

Fashion blogging can be a sketchy business. First there was a brawl between bloggers Daniel Saynt of Fashion Indie and Sarah Conley and Julie Frederickson of Coutorture. Now, a fashion blogger in New Mexico had his computer gear looted in the middle of the night. Strangely, he had been broadcasting webcam images of his designer neighbor Tom Ford building his new home.

The thieves stole $7,000 worth of computer and camera equipment early Monday morning from the home office of blogger George Johnson while he and his wife were sleeping. “I just couldn’t believe it happened while we were here,” Johnson told the Santa Fe new Mexican.

Johnson has maintained a video camera on his property aimed at the neighboring lot where Ford, who grew up in New Mexico, is building a large house. Reported the SFNM, “That image is now frozen at 12:05 a.m. Monday because that’s when the thieves stole the camera, according to an e-mail message from Johnson.”

Johnson expects to replace the Ford webcam, which means all residents should be on chest hair alert.