WTF?! This Fall’s Nightlife Gossip

I remember my first date with Jeannie LoVullo like it was yesterday. She chewed a lot of gum and said "what the fuck" a lot. This weekend was like a date with Jeannie LoVullo; my movers, who were indeed shakers, were chewing gum and saying "what the fuck” a lot. They got me saying it. I didn’t have time to go out but did answer the phone and heard bits and pieces of what seems like a great game of musical chairs. I’ll get to the bottom of all this faster than you can say "wtf," but for now you will have to accept these moist and fuzzy tidbits. I hear that Nur may be leaving The Electric Room on his way to the newly remodeled TriBeCa Grand. My source who is usually unreliable swears it’s true, citing contract endings and stuff like that. I also hear that Travis Bass will also bring his special brand of whoopee yippee yay nightlife to TriBeCa. This may be a temporary thing, as he is slated to be a honcho over at the 199 Bowery space that EMM Group is developing for November. OK, OK,. I’m pausing for a WTF…

I heard that Jamie Mulholland was all set for that bank space on the corner of Houston and Essex which has, for years, been so many things to so many people. Now, this other group is there doing something irrelevant, and I’m not sure what’s going on with Jamie. He would be the perfect fit for what is an imperfect space. I’ll find out WTF is going on and tell you when the time is right.

 Also, I am told that Vala Durvett has taken over the job of putting asses in seats over at the almost new Bishops & Barons. They kicked Danny Kane and his crew out for lack of performance, according to another fairly unreliable source. Translation: they opened at a bad time, withered during the summer, and kicked their team out as the season began. Vala is a good fit for this joint as its 14th Street East location is a tough destination. Bishops is located right between the IHOP, and they just opened Bait & Hook, my pal Div Patel’s (formally of Nest) seafood joint. WTF, Vala has her work cutout for her, trying to hook people over to a hood where no man has gone before. Good thing she knows a lot of women. It can be done; Beauty Bar has been there since WTF – the last century. I’m sure I’ll get some calls to clarify, and so I will.

Moving has been one big WTF and I’m a bit frayed. I’ll be at BINGO as usual tonight to get my mojo back, and if I win I’m just gonna yel…you got it.. WTF!

New York Opening: Bishops & Barons

Bishops? Barons? Where else can you party like a Teutonic aristo and a prince of the holy mother church all at once? The new Bishops & Barons is indeed fit for the titled classes, with its glittering chandeliers, plush velvet banquettes, and general air of old glamour and decadence.

The newest nightlife venue from Danny Kane of The Gates, it features the creative talents of Patrick Fahey and Kevin Chun; and with drinks by Dushan Zaric of Employees Only, it’s got cocktail cred to match any in NYC (try The Billionaire for maximum swank). Chun’s succinct menu of comestibles completes the epicurean picture. For those naughty special occasions, a VIP "chamber" is done up like a retro showgirl’s dressing room. 

[Photo: Sophie Elgort]

Opening The Gates & Advanced Jameson Theory

imageA handful of posts ago, I reacted with what The Gates’ owners Redd Styles, Danny Kane, and Michael James thought was an iron fist regarding their soon-to-open club. My less than enthusiastic preview supplied a list of what I thought were glaring problems facing the place. These three guys are friends of mine, and my criticism was seen as a betrayal of sorts, but mutual associates pointed out that the analogy of telling a friend they have toilet paper on their shoe is meant to be helpful. I, as a nightlife writer with an editor and a public that need to see me as an honest broker and as friend, felt the need to point out what ailed them. It wasn’t as if I was the only person who noticed this stuff. Most just air-kissed them on the cheeks and said things like “congratulations,” while whispering behind their backs. And the types that revel in others’ failures spoke out loud. And though I’m not that kind of person, I probably spoke the loudest.

I wasn’t going to attend last night’s grand opening because I had other obligations, but I got a text message on my brand new Crackberry that said, “Please come to The Gates, they got the toilet paper off their shoe.” So I grabbed Dave Delzio and headed up. I had five major criticism last time I visited: sound, lights, DJ, cheap upholstery, and location. The first thing I noticed was the major adjustment to the lighting package. Now, the ancient marble and wood paneling were clearly visible. The sound was also much improved. I had spoken with Dan Agne, one of the best sound dudes in town, about the problems of this room. With hard surfaces everywhere, there is a “lot of bounce,” which creates these little echoes — and what you end up hearing is a muddle of sounds. They did a decent job of making it better; the music sounded better as well. Well, the cheap seats were probably still there, but I couldn’t see them because the place was jammed. As far as location there’s not much that can change that. It just means they have to be on point. A long time ago, I had a club, and my main rival was formidable but in a remote location. I attacked this club — yes, I used to attack my rivals — by concentrating really strong promotional events at their best night. I gave away free booze and wrangled celebrities. I did what was called “giving the house away,” in a Cold War-type atomic attack. Maybe I couldn’t survive long doing this, but I was going to take them down and then rise from the ashes to be the last man standing. It worked. By taking away their thunder even for a few nights, I made people think twice before they spent beaucoup bucks on cab fares to this far-away place. If you are in a remote location, you just have to be solid every night, or people will be reluctant to travel. The three amigos over at The Gates will have to be dedicated to providing a consistently good time if they hope to overcome their 26th and 8th location. The crowd was energetic and pretty — I didn’t see one person with toilet paper on their shoes.

Earlier I had attended my old and absolutely older friend Christine Cho’s birthday party. We ate at Charles, a very beautiful West Village restaurant. It’s located where 7th Avenue meets 10th Street and West 4th Street. I couldn’t find it. My assistant pointed out that my problem with locations may be just another sign of my senility. I do have a cure for that though — the summer intern season is near. I stumbled into Charles 15 minutes late. “I swear, Christine, I would have been on time if it was easier to find.” Her table was the gayest in the neighborhood (no small task) and something I loudly pointed out. “It just got gayer,” was offered from someone in the peanut gallery. Rachelle Hruska, my Guest of a Guest guru, squealed, “Look, they have Tanteo tequila,” and I told her I still hadn’t recovered from her BBQ.

Besides, for the last week I have been worshiping at the altar of that demigod Jameson. My newfound fondness of the sticky liquids is not a binge; it’s more of a research project, a sort of scientific journey to make sure my mental files on the effects of drinking are up to date. Rachelle is getting so much traffic on her GOAG blog that I had to look both ways and adjust my rear-view mirror just to chat with her. Dinner was great, but the $2,400 for 10 people wasn’t necessarily recessionary. Nobody was sober enough to check the check, and we regathered outside and took a leisurely stroll down to Greenhouse.

DJ Michael Cavadis, a.k.a. Lily of the Valley, and James Copalla entertained a packed house of revelers. The old-school mix of gays and straights of different generations that so many feel is impossible to find in this era was banging around the basement of the eco-friendly haunt. A promoter type waddled over to me and gave me the obligatory “love your blog” fist-pound hello. He loved the toilet paper shoe thingy and asked me if “those guys at The Gates knew how much of a favor you did them?” I told him I wasn’t sure, but that I had gone tonight, and we were all very friendly, and I liked it. He told me that my story about the Griffin was “spot on” and that two of the owners there, Chris Reda and Adam Hock, were “not getting along.”

A side effect of my Jameson scientific study seems to be a calm, detached, and rather kind view of life, and so I answered, “I hope they work things out.” I was told that Reda was upset at something I said about him the other day, and I told the promoter that “Chris has my phone number.” I’ll go on record that I like Chris and would not hesitate to do business with him again. Sometimes when a few people get together, they form this third personality that doesn’t act like any of the individuals. Maybe that’s the case here. Maybe Chris didn’t mean to say awful things about someone in my life, but in association with the people he chose to associate with — Adam Hock and Stevie D — it was that other personality speaking.

Anyway, it’s all business, and my business is telling it like i see it, or hear it. My firm, Lewis and Dizon (I’m the Lewis guy, and Marc Dizon is the Dizon guy) designed the Griffin. We therefore have an interest in it being a success. From all accounts, it isn’t. It may be that the combination of ownership personalities over there has formed this other personality that has no idea how to run a club. See, all this Jameson science stuff is helping formulate these cool hypotheses! Those guys have way more than toilet paper on their shoes, and no amount of great lighting, sound, DJs, or comfy couches is likely to hide the smell. Griffin is a beautiful product of hundreds of hours of work by my partner Marc Dizon. Marc is quiet, and in this way we are different. So when people say things about him, he is likely to bear it in silence, confident that he has done a great job. His partner, the dude who used to be Steve Lewis, is a bit more vocal. Griffin stinks, and it isn’t the shit stuck to their shoes that’s the problem. It’s the shit coming from their mouths. Was I too subtle, or do you peeps get what I’m saying? Ill be here all week.

Biltmore Room to Re-Open as The Gates

Danny Kane, Redd Stylez, and Rod Surut are gearing up the space formerly known as the Biltmore Room for an April opening. It will be called “The Gates” — a reference to the heavy ornate gates that guard the entrance. The Gates will be “a high-end lounge with food,” and the menu is slated to be “new American cuisine.”

Redd Stylez will serve as promotional director, and he tells me that they will have an “ambassador program” where qualified friends and fabulous folk will have special access and privileges. This will allow the joint to forego the use of dreaded promoters. A series of special events in April will serve as a preview, with an opening event scheduled for May. They will be open early six nights a week for that loungey after-work crowd and open late four nights for the clubbies.

The 8th Avenue and 25th Street location has proved to be problematic for two previous tenants — Rome, a gay club, once resided there, but it was a bit north of the strip and never really took off. And the Biltmore Room was a noteworthy restaurant, garnering an outstanding three stars from William Grimes of The New York Times, yet it succumbed to the no-man’s-land location as well.

The room is marble over marble and is absolutely breathtaking. Some upgrades to the banquettes and DJ booth were made, but they left the room mostly as it was, and it is beautiful. The times have changed, and it may well be that this location will work as many of this teams’ clientele have found traveling to places a little off the beaten path like Antik and Johnny Utah’s to their liking.