Watch the Trailer for the New McQueen Documentary Premiering at TriBeCa This Weekend

 

When it comes to fashion, there’s only ever been one Alexander McQueen. His edgy, avant-garde looks and radical runway presentations throughout the ’90s and early-to-mid-’00s constantly pushed boundaries and reinvented shapes, catapulting the volatile young designer to infamy and accolades.

When he took his own life in 2010 at just 40-years-old, the fashion world was devastated by the loss of such an inimitable genius. And McQueen, the new documentary by Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui, will at last give genuine insight into his life and creative process.

 

 

Born in London, the designer graduated from Central Saint Martins before taking over the position of head designer at Givenchy and launching his eponymous brand. By the time he was in his thirties, he had won the “British Designer of the Year” award four different times. Beyond his innovative design approach, McQueen completely redefined fashion – and the fashion show – as we’d come to understand it. Whether he was recreating a shipwreck (S/S ’03), using models in a game of human chess (S/S ’05), or programming robots to spray-paint supermodel Shalom Harlow at the end of the runway (S/S ’99), he never saw fashion as just a way to make pretty clothes (though his designs were definitely so). For Alexander McQueen, everything was art.

In the film, Bonhôte and Ettedgui capture this through archival footage, never-before-seen photographs and interviews with the designer’s closest friends and family. Premiering this weekend at TriBeCa Film Festival, McQueen paints a powerful portrait of one of his generation’s most influential artists.

Watch the trailer, below.

 

 

Photos courtesy of ‘McQueen;’ Buy tickets here.

 

‘Boom For Real’ Chronicles Basquiat’s Life as a Homeless NYC Teen (Watch)

Photo by Alexis Adler

 

Everyone knows the name Jean-Michel Basquiat. Throughout the ’70s and ’80s, he became one of the world’s most influential artists, responsible for revolutionizing the New York art scene by popularizing street art and promoting a radical, political message. But before his paintings were selling for $110,000,00 at auction, Basquiat was living as a homeless teen in NYC’s East Village.

A new documentary, Boom For Real, explores this pivotal time in the artist’s life, which undoubtedly impacted his work and career. From the prevalence of drugs, crime and violence that he witnessed (in the documentary, director Sara Driver shows how his famous tag “SAMO” came from Basquiat seeing the “same ‘ol shit”), to his experiences with class struggle, these themes were at the center of the artist’s work until his untimely death in 1988. While most of the other films about the painter, like Tamra Davis’ 2010 Radiant Child documentary, touch on Basquiat’s career and the effect he’s had on contemporary art, Boom For Real sheds light on his life before fame, and how those experiences shaped him as an artist.

In theaters May 11. Watch the trailer, below.

 

 

Feminist Activist Zainab Halbi Talks ‘#MeToo, Now What?’

Image courtesy of PBS

 

Sexual assault has long been a problem, not just in Hollywood but around the world. And the justice system hasn’t helped much either. According to RAINN, out of every 1000 rapes, only 310 are reported to the police, and out of those, only 6 rapists will ever be jailed. Over the last year, women have finally decided to fight back, sharing their stories and calling out abusers using the hashtag #MeToo.

The result has been revolutionary. Celebrities like Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and Aziz Ansari have been outed and punished, and women are banding together to finally say #TimesUp to sexual abuse. But what happens after you share your story and log off Twitter? That’s the question posed by PBS’ latest docuseries, #MeToo, Now What?

Through five episodes, host and activist Zainab Salbi tackles the crucial issues behind the #MeToo movement, exploring how sexual assault can be prevented and what women can do going forward. Bringing together journalists, activists and pop culture personalities like Editor in Chief of The Establishment, Ijeoma Oluo, executive editor of Teen Vogue and co-author of Nasty Women: Feminism, Resistance and Revolution in Trump’s America, Samhita Mukhopadhyay, and Nadine Strossen, the first woman ever to lead the ACLU, #MeToo, Now What? doesn’t just discuss sexual assault  it provides an outline for real change.

As the docuseries comes to a close, BlackBook sat down with Salbi to talk activism and what to do, even after the protest ends.

 

Tell me about the program.

#MeToo, Now What? is trying to contribute to the discussion of #MeToo that’s currently happening. In my mind, to really contribute to that conversation, we need to look at the issue from a complete 360-degree angle. That includes not just looking at individual stories, but looking at our culture at large and how it plays into what’s happening, which means exploring things like money, race, the normalization of behavior between women and men and class. The reason we need to examine all of these layers — from the treatment of women in the workplace and not just in regards to harassment, but with wage inequality and everything else — it all adds up to the images we are portraying in how we treat women. All of this has just been boiling over for so long, and it really shouldn’t be a surprise. I know a lot of men seem to be surprised, but I’m not. It’s overdue — long overdue. And to ensure that this movement leads to lasting change, we need to get to the root of this issue. It’s just not good enough for me to name these people — that’s a great first step, but this needs to transform culture as we know it.

How does this series add to the conversation? I mean, like it says in the title — #MeToo, Now What?

Right. I hope the series is contributing to the discussion, not just replicating it. For example, the part I’m proudest of is in one of the episodes, where we discussed an accuser and the accused. Beyond just discussing what happened and what he did to her, she basically said, “If I really believe in restorative justice, I need to really examine how that applies in my life.” He came around, after he lost everything in his life and said, “You know, I’m a liberal progressive man, and I did this. If I really believe in the values I thought I did, like I’m a feminist who believes in women’s rights, then I’ve failed myself. How do I fix that and make amends to her?” That, for me, is another layer that shows what we’re trying to do with this program. If the nation is taking about naming names and behaviors, this particular episode was taking it a step further and looking at the meaning of reconciliation. Can we have restorative justice? In another episode, we look at the culture and the mass objectification of women. Of course, these issues have been discussed many times before, but sort of on a small scale — like in the Women’s Studies department at colleges. So, our goal is really to bring these kind of topics out into the open, on a national level, and start a bigger dialogue.

What made you want to get involved with this project, personally?

I’m a women’s rights activist — that’s what I do with my life. After 20 years of being in the humanitarian world and exploring all aspects of it, I came to realize in the process that what really needs to be done, beyond humanitarian work and education, we really need to inspire a new discussion. The secret ingredient to change is inspiration — I really believe that. What we’re trying to do here is take this movement — the #MeToo movement — and make it have a lasting impact. It’s like, how can we use this moment of crisis to look at ourselves and actually grow?

#MeToo has actually been around for awhile. A lot of people don’t know this, but Tarana Burke actually started the movement online in 2006. It just happened to go viral last year. So, what do you think it is about the current political climate that made it finally erupt?

Yeah, it’s been around forever. I was even looking at my speeches from 2010 and I was saying even then that we need to band together and break our silence. But I think women’s issues on a larger scale have always been more like thirld world women’s issues, or women of color issues, instead of the overarching problems all women face in our culture, you know? That’s frustrating for me — when we limit women’s issues. But I think it took a couple of things, one of them has definitely been the celebrity aspect. I know that’s made some people kind of cynical like, “Oh, it’s taken a bunch of celebrities to say something for this to be real?” But you know what? I’m glad they did. As a woman of color it’s like, “Finally! White women are also breaking their silence. This is real. This is sisterhood.”

Right. But I think culturally, everything has sort of lined up to create this moment. First, Trump was elected, which immediately gave women more of an incentive to speak up, and then Hollywood broke their silence. So, why do you think now is such a good time for this to happen?

Having Trump as President has definitely ignited everyone to act. But I’ve been working on this since 1993 and there’s really no perfect time. Like I said, it’s happening now, so I’ll take it. I’m glad. But I also think all of the men who are chiming in negatively are fueling it. You have people calling it a witch hunt or saying it’s gone too far, and this is progressive men saying this — not just Trump. It’s easy to blame him, or Harvey Weinstein. It’s a lot harder for these men, who think they’re liberal and support women, to look at themselves and see that they’ve done wrong. I think that’s inspired women too, because this isn’t just about the bad guy. It’s about the good guy — every guy, the ones who have been silent while all of this was happening and hid behind the fact that they’re not so obviously bad.

Do you think the movement will actually change anything in Hollywood?

I look at it like this: follow the money. I would want to see much more money behind female filmmakers, making sure every actress receives equal pay. I want to see true transformation in the culture of HR departments, I want to see more women all around the board. We cannot stop here. But the day I actually believe things have changed is the day I see more money behind women — not just in Hollywood, but in Silicon Valley, in politics, in the grocery store, everywhere. And that hasn’t happened yet.

I’ve talked a lot about this with my female friends and co-workers, and this is also why I responded so strongly to your program, because it’s easy to show up for the Women’s March, or to share your #MeToo story on Facebook, and then go back to your regular life. What do we do to keep this momentum going, to keep women inspired and interested everyday, not just International Women’s Day?

I struggle with this too, of course, because I want people to walk the walk and talk the talk. But we have to be patient. We’re in a place where so many more women than ever before are finally waking up and saying something — and that’s huge. But we have to remember that it’s a process, a journey — it can’t all happen at once.

 

Watch ‘#MeToo, Now What?’ in its entirety, here.

Werner Herzog Does the Internet in ‘Lo and Behold’

A few months ago I sat in a Munich conference room with Werner Herzog listening to him talk about, among other things, his upcoming documentary, Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World. He shared anecdotes about interviewing Elon Musk (“It was hard to get any human emotion out of him”), and the semi-staging of the monk shot – a “happy accident” that was both unplanned and essential. That’s just the kind of mysterious magic his films are known for. I was at his Rogue Film School, famous for including lock-picking in the syllabus. But beyond the anarchy he encourages, in filmmaking and in life, the real pleasure of Herzog is in hearing him talk about things he’s enquiring into, because he embodies the zero-fucks-given mentality better than anyone.

In the trailer for Lo and Behold (below), it’s clear Magnolia Pictures is counting on audiences heading to theaters for the iconic filmmaker himself as much as for the à propos subject matter. “The internet is a manifestation of evil itself,” says one woman being interviewed, while another man postulates that future generations may evolve beyond needing any human interaction or companionship altogether. Nothing will depress me more today than that sentiment. But if I have to hear about the downfall of humanity via technology, it’s Herzog’s voice I want lulling me into the seemingly inevitable. Lo and Behold hits theaters August 19.

And for the record, Herzog thinks Musk’s Mars plan is idiotic.

Designer Raf Simons Talks Nerves, Fears, and Getting Emotional for New Documentary “Dior and I”

In an interview with WWD, Christian Dior’s Raf Simons discusses the filming of the documentary “Dior and I” about his coming to the house that will premiere next week at the Tribeca Film Festival. Geniuses get nerves, too.

270 hours of raw footage have been whittled down to the final documentary, a film that Simons found both comforting and emotional. Said Simons, “There was an enormous intimacy in the movie, which I think is also present in Dior, in the company. In the building, there was a strong kind of family feel.”

The filmmaker Frédéric captured Simons’ creative process — so rooted in contemporary art in a house “steeped in tradition” — a process that includes a bit of a temper:
“As he watches the film long afterward, Simons squirms as his anger flares in some scenes…”
… even at Simons notes he appears much more calm then he had envisioned. Wonder what the members of the atelier would have to say about that.
The film premieres on April 17. See stills from the film, below.

dior01
Raf Simons

dior02Members of the atelier

Main image: Dior fall 2014, photo by Guillaume Roujas for nowfashion.com

Stills: Courtesy

Armen Ra On His Shocking Documentary, Favorite Nightlife Stories, & Theremin

In this holiday-shortened week, with the spring pushing and pushing and pushing its way to free us from this winter of discontent, I am writing about the unusual suspects who toil or play in the clubs as they define their crafts. Yesterday it was FLXX. Today it’s Armen Ra, the master of the theremin. The theremin is a rare, eerie-sounding musical instrument, with its foremost astonishing trait explained by Armen in our interview below. Right now, Aremn is raising loot on Indiegogo for a theremin-infused feature documentary about his life: one of growing up in Iranian aristocracy and, after going on vacation in the United States, being forced to stay there due to the Iranian Revolution. A man from wealth and in exile, his story takes flight when he discovers the magic of the theremin and its effect on people. The fundraiser has six days left, and $4,000 to go to get the feature released.

Armen Ra is a well-known face and figure in the posh NY nightclub scene. His story is of ups and downs and all-arounds. It will shock and awe you. I asked him to tell me all about it
 
It’s been a long road. You are an exile,  being forced to leave Iran and live in a foreign land. Tell me about that transition.
That transition was a complete nightmare. I literally thought it was a nightmare for years. Coming from a sheltered aristocratic background, growing up in the opera, traveling the world yearly, submerged in music and art and literature. Being stuck here was like Gilligan’s Island from Hell. I started making jewelry, doing puppet shows with sets and costumes, learning about the power of beauty. We had been to the US several times already, but I didn’t speak any English. My mother and sister were fluent though, so they helped. I adapted quite fast in every way possible. I had to. It was a sudden survival, and I was unprepared at that age, but you figure things out when you have to.

Drugs, prostitution, alcohol, a zillion demons – not exactly the American dream. How’d you get out of that?
Divine intervention, self discipline, and believing in my own intelligence to eventually conquer the demons that were in reach. The light is always there. We are all light. The substance abuse was knocking holes in my aura, diminishing the light. It was not easy to get a regular job for someone like me at the time, especially when the club scene collapsed. Sometimes I had nowhere to sleep and was living in my friend’s multi-million dollar mansion. I worked at Patricia Field doing make-up, did reception at hair salons, drag shows, and whatever else I had to do to survive. I even worked at Show World in the old Times Square! Until I found a voice through the theremin, I was spiraling downward. I wanted to be great at something, and drag and clubs and doing make-up did not satisfy that urge, that quiet knowing that something else is in store, but what? A gift from the gods…waiting for me to open my eyes, to look up.

Tim Burton, Andy Warhol, Vali Myers, Salvador Dali met you, checked you out… you guys rubbed shoulders.
Being in NYC at that time and living in the East Village, it was inevitable really. I’ve always been lucky in attracting interesting people, and I was just amazed that such incredible people and artists wanted me around. It wasn’t that I had low self-esteem; I was just coming out of years of school and abuse, so it was a fabulous shock. I tell the stories in the film. It really is like mythology, and thankfully its all documented and witnessed. Being 16 and spending hours a day with Vali Myers in her room at Hotel Chelsea with people like Ira Cohen,  Andy Warhol, and Debbie Harry coming and going was insane. Vali would constantly take Polaroids of me and send them to Dali. Befriending Leigh Bowery and Thierry Mugler, dancing with Grace Jones in the Limelight DJ booth,s itting on the floor of Frankie Knuckles’ DJ booth at the World… going to a tranny hooker club with Tim Burton and Francis Ford Copolla. Yes, really. Doing the 1999 MTV VMAs in the Madonna Drag Queens segment; I represented the frozen video, that’s a story! I COULD go on! 

The theremin. You have mastered it, and yet I’ve never heard of it.
The theremin is the first electronic instrument ever. Invented by Russian Physicist Leon Theremin around 1920, it is the only instrument that is played without touching, and one of the most difficult to play. Many people use it as a sound effect. I play it as a classical instrument and a voice. My theremin has an eight-octave range, so she is like the ultimate opera singer. She sounds like Maris Callas from beyond. The theremin was used in many sci-fi and horror movies in the background. I think it fell into obscurity because it was difficult to play properly and was not easily accessible. My intention is to bring this instrument to the foreground where it belongs. It has taken me all over the world and onto some of the greatest stages. The sound affects people, it brings out emotion, and touches the heart like a beautiful voice does.

What is the film about?
The film is channeling sadness and horror into beauty, and music is the alchemy. It’s about being clear enough to receive. We are in THE LAST WEEK of our Indigogo crowd-funding campaign. We’re asking anyone who is interested in seeing this fabulous film made properly to please help support us by making donations and/or especially spreading the word about the film and the campaign. We are working very hard to create a meaningful, beautiful, high-quality work of art. Any and all support is welcomed and much appreciated.

And thank you, Steve. You helped me when I first started working in clubs by believing in me and giving me work of all kinds, and you continue to support what I am doing. I really appreciate it. You’re a real gentleman.

Wednesday Night: Documentary on Newsstand Owner Jerry Delakas, Candy Darling Art Show Opening

As New York emptied into and out of vacation paradises, I was here holding down the fort. I went to a few BBQs, hung with friends at McCarren Park, and walked the puppy…a lot. When the city empties, you can get a good look at it. I watch with a certain schizophrenia always found in my work and my social life. As new construction tears down the old and makes way for the new, I am sad or nostalgic for what remains of the past era, but I’m often awed by the visions of the modern architects and designers. Evident as we walk are the old advertisements for fabric or tradesman fading on ancient brick facades. On NY1 I caught a glimpse of a story about a barber shop closing that opened even before the television became a popular household item. A similar tale of the new crushing the old was told to me by my friend Dani Baum. It seems that the newsstand on Astor Place is being redone and its owner Jerry Delakas, who has been there forever and a day, is being told to hit the road. Tomorrow night, Wednesday, for those of you who are also confused what day it is after the long weekend, there will be a screening of a documentary about Delakas’ plight and an after-party at W.i.P., which is tomorrow’s scandalous story, btw. Here’s the event info:

Actresses As Allies presents a screening of The Paper House Report, a documentary film by Nicole Cimino and Jack Boar Pictures. Join us for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres at W.i.P. on Wednesday, May 30th at 9:00 PM. Complimentary Admission.

The Paper House Report is a 25-minute documentary about Jerry Delakas, a Greek immigrant who immigrated to the United States in the 1970’s. Over the years, Jerry has become an icon of the Cooper Square area and the face of the Astor Place Newsstand, which he has been running for past 25 years.The Paper House Report is the story of his fight to continue running the newsstand after the DCA denied the renewal of the license. Director Nicole Cimino & Jack Boar Pictures teamed up to create The Paper House Report, a documentary which brings awareness to support Jerry and his struggle.

Filmmaker Nicole Cimino is an Italian actress and filmmaker whose past credentials include The Wall, Conscience of Zeno, The Blue Wind of Madame Sauvage, Play it Again, and Sam & Les Bonnes. She has also acted in several feature films, short films, television series, and webisodes. She is currently developing two plays: Once Upon a Time in Rome, which pays tribute to the Italian Neorealism genre, and her one-woman show A Night with Nannarella based on the Italian icon Anna Magnani.

Actresses As Allies was established by actress Dani Baum and serves as an alliance between talented, passionate, and dedicated actresses in New York City. The actresses comprised of "A3" support each other, share information about the business and their work, produce original works, and inspire greatness in each other. Many in the community are rallying to save this newsstand, believing its loss would hurt the traditional values of the ever-changing hood. You can sign a petition if you agree that the stand should be saved.

I caught up with Nicole Cimino and asked her all about it:

What has happened in regards to Jerry’s case since The Paper House Report was filmed?
When the shooting was in progress we were waiting for the final decision of the Supreme Court. It was supposed to be the last appeal and that’s why we tried to finish the documentary as soon as possible to support Jerry’s case. On last April 26th the court gave the decision and we lost. Fortunately, we lost for two to five. This was incredible since the result allowed us to go for another appeal with the higher Court of State, which was not supposed to happen. This result also shows how the Court is starting to understand the human aspect of this matter. The possibility to go for another appeal with the Court of State is an important chance to keep fighting for the renewing of the license and hopefully to win his case.

To some, Jerry potentially losing his license is a testament to the progress of modernization. But to you and his supporters, it’s a loss of what makes up the essential fabric of the neighborhood that is Astor Place.
Jerry is a landmark of the community. Astor Place is a historical neighborhood and Jerry is part of it. It’s like cutting a corner, which makes people remember the past and history of New York. The changing and the progress could be considered a “measure” of growing, and the legality could consider it a “measure” of humanity in its own way of looking at things. I think eliminating a human icon like Jerry is to forget an important part of the city and to diminish the dignity of a honest man.

Is compromise possible? Do you think the neighborhood is becoming less bohemian and more gentrified? When you say that "the neighborhood wants Jerry to be able to keep his newsstand," how are gauging that?
In this matter, a compromise is only possible if the Department of Consumer Affairs opens a new path in its own perspective. There are things in this case where the battle becomes meaningfulness without a deeper comprehension of human heart. You can keep screaming at each other your own reasons without asking yourself how we can create value together. I would say there is a possibility to look at Jerry’s case from a human perspective and to understand why granting a license to him is way more important than defending a bureaucratic principle.

I don’t think the problem is to search into two opposite ways of being in the world; bohemian and bourgeois attitude will always exist, as gentry and plebeian – if we want to use these terms – will too. The neighborhood is changing and transforming. The problem is when this change loses sensitivity toward people and keeps moving in a selfish, self-centered direction. I have spent more than a year talking to people in the neighborhood, attending the meetings of Community Board #2, talking to Jerry’s customers, and even looking on internet blogs and newspapers that gave opinions about this matter.

At the end of this process I found an outstanding support for Jerry from people of different backgrounds. That’s why I am saying it is only a matter of making an effort to go beyond the surface. It’s clear why a man, Jerry Delakas,  who  immigrated here in the 1970s on a ship, with just a few dollars and a dream, can be granted what he deserves, as all people who honestly strive for what they believe in with hard work and determination should. People understand that and support him.

What can people do to support Jerry’s cause?
People can sign the petition on line on the website or sign the petition which is displayed at Jerry’s newsstand in Astor Place. In this moment the most important thing is for the Department of Consumer Affairs to understand that New Yorkers and thousands of people all over the world are asking to grant a license to Jerry.

Political organizations, non-profit organizations for human rights, or organizations that take care of old-age people are vital in this moment to really go to the Department of Consumer Affairs and stand up for Jerry’s case and ask for the license.

In this moment we need to spread the voice through publicity. I am also planning to work with other artists to start several events throughout the city to support Jerry Delakas till the end of this trial. My desire is that the official screening of The Paper House Report will be only the beginning of several events that peacefully and creatively start all over New York City with the common Save Jerry-spirit.

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Another peek into the past, into the fabric that clothes NYC is the Candy Darling Art Show Opening at the Clayton Gallery, 161 Essex Street between Houston and Stanton, tomorrow night from 7- 9PM. That’s the place run by man-about-town Clayton Patterson and his lovely.

“CANDY DARLING (1944-1974) was born James Lawrence Slattery in Forest Hills, NY and "was – and remains – best known for her roles in two films produced by Andy Warhol and directed by Paul Morrissey, Flesh (1968), and Women in Revolt (1972). She was, however, in a number of other noteworthy independent films, including Brand X (Win Chamberlain, 1970), Some of My Best Friends Are (Mervyn Nelson, 1971) and The Death of Maria Malibran (Werner Schroeter, 1972).

Known for her beauty, wit, and talent, Darling was also a sought-after actress in off and off-off Broadway productions of the sixties and seventies, best known for her work in plays by Jackie Curtis and Tom Eyen, and for appearing in the role of Violet in Tennessee Williams’ Small Craft Warnings. Born a male, and having lived the latter part of her life as a woman, Darling is now celebrated as a pioneer among transgendered communities worldwide. She is the subject of the documentary Beautiful Darling (2010), produced by Jeremiah Newton and directed by James Rasin."

We can go on and on about Candy and her Warhol, Bowie, Francesco Scavullo, Richard Avedon, Robert Mapplethorpe, Lou Reed, The Rolling Stones associations but that will happen tomorrow night at the opening. I do remember watching her with Andy at Max’s before I knew anything about that which I will never understand. Ask me about that line tomorrow night and I will…clarify.  

Bingo and Avenue A Soundcheck Party Tonight, the Passing of Bruce Patras

Tuesdays are the best night of the week for people with heads that tilt like mine. I’ll tell you all about that tomorrow. As the warm weather progresses, many successful joints will turn to alternative programming early in the week. These off-the-beaten- path parties on the so-called "off nights" will offset their predictable model/bottle weekends and add cool, cool cachet. The competition is fierce, with nightlife enjoying a renaissance, rebirth, or whatever you want to call it. Places are looking for the edge to set them apart from the pack. Throw in Brooklyn nightlife, and what we have here is a golden age. The party is as good as it has ever been, albeit with some sacrifice. I gladly miss the smoke-filled, drug-induced mayhem of previous decades. My friends aren’t waking up dead and my hair doesn’t wash out gray from cigarettes… only old age.

Mondays are heating up with The Double Seven introducing a concept that I like. After Bingo tonight, I’ll coerce my crew to that 63 Ganesvoort hot spot for Nima Yamini’s Avenue A Soundcheck Party. It’s a weekly concert series – this week featuring Interscope Records artist Zander Bleck. Zander is being produced by two- time Grammy Award winner RedOne. He toured with Lady GaGa. CEO daughter Hannah Bronfman is doing a guest DJ spot tonight. Giza Selimi of The Box will be the friendly and handsome face at the door.
 
I spoke to Nima at Bantam (or 17 Stanton, depending on who you talk to) Saturday night at one of their preview nights. I told him to send me info on the night and promised to attend. He sent me this:
"The Mondays are not at all about the models, bottle spenders, etc. (same cookie cutter format everywhere) and are 100% about the musicians. This is a home for live music by a new generation of musicans in 2012 with a passion for rock n roll, alternative and indie music. People who want to come see a kick ass rock show on a Monday night. Jeffrey Jah, David Rabin and Mark Baker have given me 100% support on this project and I am excited to work with them on it."
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With great sadness I report the passing of an old friend: Bruce Patras. He passed after a battle with cancer at the young age of 54. He leaves behind a couple of kids and a loving wife. I hadn’t heard from or seen Bruce in 20 years. A Facebook friend tracked me down to let me know he succumbed in December after a courageous fight. He was sometimes called "crazy Bruce" because he often…misbehaved. His incredible smile and deep dark good looks always gained forgiveness. I knew him to be solid, always looking out for the other guy, never backing down to a challenge. We shared a thousand nights and once dated the same girl. We cavorted and laughed and played in the moonlight. We drank from the same cup and then drifted apart. I read his Facebook wall and reconnected with him after the fact. I read his hopes and felt his fear and his bravery. Club life creates bonds that can never be broken. There came a time 20 years ago when life and responsibilities and other
relationships separated us. I never stopped loving him, and his passing leaves me a bit more mortal and understanding of the gifts of life and friendship. Yesterday, another Facebook friend who saw the Limelight movie was saying she felt bad how the government fucked us over a long time ago in a galaxy… far, far away. My reply was the lyrics from a Tuxedo Moon track: "No tears for the creatures of the night." Today, I take that back. Tears for Mr. Bruce Patras: a saint, a sinner, and a real great friend.

Confronting My Past, Present, and the Article in ‘Crain’s’

So a friend (who prefers to remain nameless) and great publicist from R.Couri Hay Creative Public Relations, handles Stash, a club I recently completed, and Elsinor, which I am finishing up. I’ve known her forever and she is the tiger you want in your tank when you need some ink … press (if you need the other ink ,a tattoo, then Three Kings or Graceland serve me… well but I digress) She pitched and placed an article about me which talks about her clients in Crain’s, and that’s a big deal. I had mixed feelings about the piece which, while blowing me up as this design hero, brought up my checkered past, including my conviction for being part of an Ecstasy sales ring while I was director of the Tunnel, Club, USA, Limelight, Palladium. It also mentions my year in prison. Some people thought this was an unfair attack, or old news, or unnecessary for the story. A debate raged on Facebook, on my phone, and in emails and among friends about the value of the article and whether it was actually a positive thing. I called her up and she gave me this spin: "Your past has helped shape who you are today, and it’s a testament to the quality of your work that you’ve remained a player in the design industry for as long as you have. Clearly, there’s no end in sight." I’m buying into that.

The reporter, Ali Elkin, was very upfront about her desire and obligation to tell it like it is. I told her it was quite alright because it is a huge part of what drives me and defines me and I have never hid from that past. She noted in the article my take on things: "Currently living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, he denies any wrongdoing."
 
The responses and Facebook posts ranged from "Shoot the messenger," to "It’s fabulous." I responded that "I yam what I yam," quoting that great poet, Popeye. I would tell you my side of that story in details, but so many have done so already, including Frank Owen in his Clubland book, which tells a story pretty close to the real. There was a little bit in there that I objected to, and my old friend Frank and I almost came to blows, and that spat resulted in a few articles here and there. We’re friends again. There is also the Limelight documentary by Billy Corben and Alfred Spellman which is coming out any day now on DVD; it really does a great job in summarizing that circus. I’m all up in that and advise you to check it out if you want more insight into that era and the circumstances of my conviction. I didn’t participate in any Ecstacy ring. I didn’t need that to fill clubs. I and the people assembled to run those clubs were the best in the business. The creativity and results of our efforts were rewarded with tens of thousands of satisfied customers who enjoyed one of the best nightlife eras.
 
The running of clubs, the wars fought , the million smiles, the million nights, the trial, the prison stint all define me as well as my relations, friends, and my little dog too. My creative abilities, as meager as they often are, come from creative freedoms earned on a hard but rewarding road. When someone hires me to design their joint, I understand the price of succeess and failure. I bring all my experience to the table. I have made a great deal of omelettes and have had to break a great many eggs as well, but it all seems worth it when I walk into The Darby, Stash, Butter, the WeSC store, or Aspen Social Club and see them occupied by people enjoying my work. It’s been almost 10 years since my first design gig. Butter was the first place I designed for people other than myself. For many years I designed the places I was going to operate, but Butter was for others. In prison, having completed Butter, I decided to design and write when I hit the streets.
 
I practiced and studied and used the time I was given to learn how to redefine myself when I got out. Now, after a decade of doing it, I am clearly happy with the Crains article, which celebrates my attempt to get up and stand up. It’s harder than I thought to live with a felony conviction. Many things you take for granted are very difficult for me, but I have no regrets. I may have lost this or that, but I earned a lot and learned a great deal about what it takes to survive. My friends have always been there. The greatest gift has been the clarity I have when I look in the mirror at the beginning or end of every day. Many have said I should have done this or done that or said this about them or that.  A thousand "whatevers, what ifs, and why nots" have been analyzed and debated till my stomach was knotted and then un-knotted with the satisfaction of doing the right thing … I wouldn’t want to change a thing. Nothing in my life, or that wonderful Crain’s article.
 
Oh, if you are going out tonight, visit me at Hotel Chantelle, or head over to Bowery Electric for Frankie Inglese’s Beahver party. This party dominated Thursdays in NYC forever before Frankie moved to LA. I cannot recall a better party. I guess any party better leave me unconscious and without memory.