My First Time: Last Night At Beauty & Essex

Beauty & Essex is one of those places that fell into my social cracks. Believe me; there are many of those and other categories of cracks and, yes, I’m starting to see wrinkles around my eyes. My birthday (Feb. 2nd) is coming up and, well, it’s just starting out to be one of those days. Probably because it was just one of those nights. Anyway, before last night, I had never been to Beauty & Essex. I’ll let the "what kind of nightlife writer do you pretend to be?” lines get out of the way and just say… "it happens.”

Chris Santos, the owner/operator, has invited me a zillion times, and I adore him and respect the brand a lot but…it happens. So last night, I finally went to Beauty & Essex, and it was for bon vivant and scallywag Dave Delzio’s birthday bash. He was there – a hundred familiar people told me – but, alas, I couldn’t find him for an hour. As I was leaving, I finally spotted the rock and roll-club promoter. Dave showed me his new neck tattoos and I asked him a few questions about growing up.

How old are you and what do you have to be most proud of on this day?
I’m 38 and I’m dating the most beautiful girl in the world and I couldn’t be happier?

Why do this party at Beauty & Essex?
Chris Santos is my best friend and it always feels like home here

What do you want to be when you grow up?
You !!

One of the attendees at Dave’s birthday bash was the charming and disarming El (Lindsay) Grace, a beautiful, fresh, up-and-coming model/photographer. Her band, El Grace, will be performing its new age, ambient, psych folk offerings at The Delancey this coming Monday at 10pm. She will be celebrating her birthday at the gig. I would be there but I’m DJing at the new Passenger Bar for Sailor Jerry’s Birthday. Unfortunately, Sailor Jerry will be a for sure no-show.

Speaking of, Charlie Sheen was a no-show at the New York screening after-party for A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III at Hotel Chantelle. Still, there were plenty of celebrities to gawk at from Chantelle’s roof. I arrived as it was winding down; the staff was abuzz about the likes of Swan III director Roman Coppola’s clan which included Francis Ford Coppola, Sophia Coppola, Eleanor Copolla, Jason Scwartzman, Sean Lennon, Anna Sui, Fred Armisen, Alan Cumming, Tennessee Thomas, Alexa Chung, and someone said Bill Murray attended as well. 

Note: today is Pat Benatar’s birthday…she’s 60! And I’ll be honoring her in my set tonight at Hotel Chantelle.

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.

Changes: Openings, Endings, & Good-Looking Females

imageThe mindset in New York is changing rapidly; we are venturing into a strange time of transition. In the minds of many, the economic downturn this winter evaporated with the new sunlight of these warm spring days. Yet I hear a little voice in my head saying, “not so fast, not so fast.” High-end folks with high-paying jobs are making the same loot they did last year but are reluctant to shell out big bucks for summer rentals and big vacations because their savings and investments have lost so much value. Las May 12, the Dow was at 12,867. Yesterday it closed at 8,469. The upswing in the last couple months certainly has been as refreshing as those warm spring winds, but the reality of loss is keeping the checkbooks semi-closed. Reports of the worst Hamptons and Jersey Shore real estate markets are everywhere, with an unheard-of short-season market developing. People have been renting for a month instead of a season. Yet, in the last two weeks things have improved, and there are signs that maybe it will be OK after all.

In the face of this, clubs are opening at a time of year previously considered impossible. The Gates, Griffin, and (any day now) Avenue’s opening all fly in the face of the “if it isn’t open by tax day wait until September” mentality. The outdoor spaces are getting spit-polished as there’s a great sense that the summer season in Manhattan will be banging. In years past, I could walk my dogs in peace on a Sunday morning. This year, I am anticipating dodging around revelers in herds as they endure “the walk of shame.” Sunglasses sales will surely surge. More roof parties than ever before will be entertaining stay-at-home partiers. I had a conversation with the operator of a very underground semi-legal place about air conditioning and such, and he’s figuring to be in business with a non-migrating crowd and an influx of tourists basking in the shine of our weakened dollar. Summer in the city, long considered a problematic time for owners, may be unexpectedly profitable.

My day started with an interview with a cool cat named Tom Folsom who wrote a book called The Mad Ones: Crazy Joe Gallo and the Revolution at the Edge of the Underworld. We did it in my neighborhood of Nolita, finding some irony in having a chat on the stoop next to John Gotti’s old haunt, the Ravenite Social Club on Mulberry Street. The profound possibility of change — in fact, the inevitability of it — marked the day. The nouveau club operators of the model/bottle generation are adjusting fast to the new rules. This summer will be unlike the last one. I took my dark-eyed date to Mr. Jones for dinner, where we talked to owner Lesly Bernard about market realities and summer fun and changes. A successful operator is always reevaluating what is working, and accepting and dealing with what isn’t. The food service and vibe at Mr. Jones is fantastic, yet he is always looking to what’s next.

We then headed to Santos’ Party House, where a Holistic record release party was happening. Holistic is my friend Izzy’s band, but the opening act, Cringe didn’t make me cringe until the lead singer belted out the lyrics, “hey you good looking female.” He’s the hubby of Food Network star Rachael Ray, and about ten people told me that’s a big deal. I asked Dave Delzio who invited me to this soiree and how he could mix a classic rock band like Cringe with the Holistic’s hip hop sound, and he actually looked at me when he answered, “Isn’t Aurora hot?” He was referring to the very good-looking female to his right. “Well, yes,” I pressed on, “but what brings you to make the bold move to book a rock band to open for a hip hop band?” He gave me the skinny: “Izzy works at John Varvatos, and Rachael Ray is a customer there.” The packed house of hipsters, promoter types, man about town/manager J.R.. Walden, and scores of good-looking females will ensure that this one-off happenstance becomes the trend.

My own good-looking female and I made a mad dash for the door, stopping for a second to hear the dapper Jaizen explain the advantages of Buddhism for lead singers. He spoke of how much it helped Tina Turner and many others, and as we scooted away I swear I could hear him say, “Thank you, I’ll be here all week.” As I raised my arm for the cab, I put my dark-eyed gal into the yellow and quietly walked back into the hood. I stopped by the door of GoldBar to chat up Daisy, who used to work with me. I had missed her birthday, and I needed to say “hey” and tell her she was a good-looking female. The conversation was about change to the important things you think about a couple days after a big birthday. I adored her and enjoyed the warm night. The other GoldBar door honcho Jon Lennon walked by, and we talked for a long bit about good-looking females, the Tom Folsom book, Crazy Joe, old school values, and my case and the State of the Union. He was on his way to Umberto’s Clam House right across the way, where he would soon dine on linguini and white clam sauce (always a winner). Crazy Joe Gallo was murdered inside Umberto’s, but not this one, the one down the block; Umberto’s moved, but the gravy stayed the same. He got it on his birthday, April 7, 1972, while eating with his family late at night. The Dow Jones had closed at 9,162 that day. As I walked the few blocks to my apartment, I heard that little voice saying, “not so fast, not so fast.” I’ll be here all week.

Dave Delzio Brings Back Rock ‘n’ Roll

There’s an exploding rock ‘n’ roll scene in New York City; bands are banging everywhere, and there are more than a few options every night for this vibrant community. I was at Bowery Electric last week for the Bloody Social gig and found a super-hot following of rock models and scenesters mixed with a crowd from the Max’s Kansas City era — old-school rockers that I hadn’t seen in years were everywhere. Dave Delzio is making moves and is a force in this new rock social scene. He’s involved with the post-Snitch rock Mondays at Greenhouse — which are absolutely kicking — and is about to start a Wednesday night slated to run like the long-lasting weekly party at Marquee, which for me was the sole reason to be there. After talking about tattoos — he gets his done over at North Star Tattoo by Becca Roach, and we decided that he’s going to hook me up for my first ink job — we managed to get in a quick chat about the projects he’s currently working on.

Are you a club promoter? Is that what you would call it? I actually own an entertainment company called Rock Box Entertainment, and I just partnered with MoodSwing 360, which is an entertainment talent agency co-owned by Ricky Greenstein and Johnny Maroney, who book DJs and live acts. I’m coming in to bring more live acts and a different dimension to the agency — bringing more of the rock side into it and just expanding upon what they have. Right now we’ve got everybody from the Good Charlotte boys — Joel and Benji Madden — to Tommy Lee, DJ Enferno, The Crooklyn Clan, and a whole mix of artists.

So your focus is on booking talent? Right now I’m getting into a lot of concert production, and the main focus of my business is producing major events.

Where are you throwing events currently? We’re finishing up with SXSW, and then we’ll be working on the Winter Music Conference and the Coachella festival. My partners are down in Austin for SXSW now, and I’ll be heading down to Miami for the WMC this week.

What are you guys doing at the WMC? We have a few things going on: we’re doing the Moodwing360 party with all our artists, the pre-record release party at the Fontainebleau for LMFAO, who have their single “I’m in Miami Bitch” all over the radio; we’re hosting Samantha Ronson, DJ Chachi, and DJ Enferno at the Gansevoort rooftop pool on the 26th and a few other events.

So what are you trying to accomplish at these music festivals? We’re trying to establish the brand, market our talent, and find the next big artists to come out. We’re good at finding new, great talent.

In addition to that, you’ve used your connections to promote certain party nights in New York. What joints are you working at right now? With MoodSwing, we’re programming the talent on Tuesdays for Cain — we’ve had DJ Riz, DJ Chachi, and DJ Inferno recently — Sundays at Southside, and I’m looking forward to starting the new party at Greenhouse on Wednesdays. We’re going to program good DJ talent in there and have a mix of uptown and downtown promoters, so there’s a nice, cultural mix of pretty people — an upscale, sexy crowd with an edge.

So you’re going to be bringing in talent and all of your rock ‘n’ roll friends? I’m excited about it. I want to make it like the nights at Marquee from the get-go — that rock ‘n’ roll vibe, but still upscale and classy. Wednesday nights were always a cool night.

Why Wednesday? Wednesday is good, but I think it’s always been a tough night. Yeah, if you don’t have a great party, no one’s going to come out, but it reminds me of Disco 2000 and Marquee Wednesdays, which were always great. Generally speaking, it’s an industry night. Monday used to be the industry night, but now everybody goes out on Monday. For example, our Monday night parties at Snitch. That was a party that lasted for a long time; it was its own beast. It grew horns, and we took it on for a long time.

I’ve been making statements in my column saying that I don’t think there are really any great clubs, but I do believe that there are some great nights. In my opinion, the rock ‘n’ roll nights are banging, like the Monday nights over at Greenhouse. I stopped by Lit on Wednesday night with my buddy, and although Lit has been around for awhile, it’s still great. You go in there and it’s a hip-hop vibe, with model girls standing around and rockers all over the place. And also, if you look at a lot of the new clubs opening up now, you can see that the bottle service is really starting to swing. I’ve heard clubs are opening up and instead of bottle service, they’re offering pitchers of alcohols now.

The rock ‘n’ roll scene seems to be thriving; there are a lot of great bands being booked, concerts are selling out, and the scene is vibrant — it reminds me of the early 80s in this town. I’m working with a lot of bands right now. I’m currently managing a band called The Dirty Pearls — they’re headlining and selling out the Bowery Ballroom every time they play. And we’re touring with Brett Michaels this weekend for the Rock of Love tour, doing the opening act for that. We have a lot of really interesting things coming up, and I think that during the recession times, the rebel mentality really starts to come back. I live in the East Village, and if you walk down the street now, it seems like it’s getting back to where it was in the early 90s a little bit.

Yes, I think there’s a rebirth of nightlife — certainly in the rock ‘n’ roll community. If you’ve noticed, even in the John Varvatos store which moved into the CBGBs space, there’s now a monthly rock ‘n’ roll party where we’re having New York City bands perform and then do the after-party at Bowery Electric.

The rock community has never been rich — it’s a lot of people who are trying to make it, so they don’t necessarily suffer in this recession. As traditional ways to make money diminish, I think this scene is expanding and become much more vibrant. New York definitely took a break from the rock scene for a long time with bottle service; the lounges took over Manhattan for a long time, and it’s good to see it come back again. But you can see the change now, because every DJ mixes at least some kind of mash-up of rock ‘n’ roll in their sets now — even the old DJs who were playing nothing but hip-hop and house are playing rock ‘n’ roll now.