The Xtravaganza Ball: Hard to Put Into Words (Photos Inside); Latex Ball Coming Up

The morning was swept away as I hugged my pillow and dreamt of Father Jose Xtravaganza’s iconic 30th anniversary WRATH OF THE GODS & GODDESSES” BALL last night at XL Nightclub. I dreamt of Aphrodite and Hercules and Gods and Goddesses and princes and princesses and sugarplum fairies and lots of other fairies and girls that would be boys and boys that would be girls. I never wanted to wake up. The Ball was everything. It was glamour and drama and love and sadness as those that have gone with God were remembered. It was beauty and emotion. It was professional. Grandfather Hector Xtravaganza was a proud father surveying the universe he presides over. I sat as a judge next to the legendary Patricia Fields who was flanked by the joy that is Jack Mizrahi.

Jack is usually an emcee and he commented on the uniqueness of his new role. Pat Fields was amazing. She was unforgiving as a judge. She was fair but demanding. She wanted excellence, and she chopped those who didn’t bring it. I chopped some guy in the Thug Realness category. He came at me at intermission with anger, demanding to know why. He pointed out that he had brought the required spear and, as he yelled at me, he was full of fire and brimstone. I explained to him – although all around me said I need not explain – that if he had come to the stage with the attitude he was coming at me now, like a thug, I would have given him the "10" and the prize he coveted. On stage there was nothing Thug about him. He got chopped.Xtravaganza Ball

Nunney Karma competing in the BQ Vogue Fem category was all attitude and athleticism and creativity and confidence. He twisted and pranced to his just reward. Jennifer Paris had to tell the MC and the crowd that she indeed was born a man as there were few believers in the crowd. She was recruited to be an Xtravaganza on the spot.

Claudia Charriez Xtravaganza was radiant. YouTube her on The Tyra Banks Show to believe. Claudia and I talked about ourwonder years at clubs gone by, when she and Jennifer were the new kids on the block. They are goddesses now in this Ball world and in mine as well.Xtravaganza ball

Lady Bunny was stealing the show, dancing and toying with every camera in the room. There were many so photos; video should be all over the internet. She was asked to the stage as a legend and told the adoring crowd that she represented the International House of Pancakes. As I have explained, the Ball has representatives from the various "Houses" that make up the culture, competing for prizes and glory. It was glorious.

XL was perfect. I hadn’t ever been. Old friends, owner John Blair and GM Tracy Choi, gave me the 50-cent tour and massive amounts of drink tickets. I keep finding them in the pockets of my jacket, which I got from SEW on Mott Street. I felt like a million bucks, all decked out in their duds, which are anything but duds.Xtravaganza BallBINGO moves tonight from the Bowery Poetry Club (now-shuttered because of renovations) to Duane Park, as Duane transforms it into its brand of paradise. BINGO lands softly on the enclosable roof of Hotel Chantelle.

Tonight I’m going to dream of another fitting befitting of the glow that the Ball has bestowed on me. The next big Ball is the Latex Ball at Roseland Ballroom on August 18th. Thousands will show as all the houses will represent. This will be the 22nd Latex Ball and it is, of course, a GMHC affair.

The Latex Ball’s theme: 

The House of Latex Project presents The Enchanted Forest

“The place in which inner darkness is confronted and worked through; where uncertainty is resolved about who one is; and where one begins to understand who one wants to be.”- Stephen Sondheim, Into the Woods, 1987

The inner life of forests has always enchanted us. It is that special place where roots, soil, leaves, insects, flowers, animals, and water collide to create the circle of life. And it is there that the sounds of the raindrops falling from the leaves of ancient trees were transformed into the deafening sounds of our ancestors beating on their drums. Inspiring them to create and spread the magical stories of our creation, our past, and our future – that we now call fairytales and fables.

Tonight’s categories will take you into this inner sanctum and help you travel from tropical jungles to alien worlds; from confronting scary spirits, to places of indescribable beauty. To a place where magical herbs grow unnoticed until they are found to hold the power to help cure illnesses and diseases. We hope your enjoy this trip filled with joy, adventure, mystery and beauty that we call The Enchanted Forest.

The Latex Ball’s categories:

RUNWAY
Cinderella – A classic story where a young girl goes from rag to riches in spite of her evil step mother and step sisters. In the classic Disney animated film, Cinderella is the much-loved only child of a widowed aristocrat. After deciding that his beloved daughter needs a mother’s care, Cinderella’s father marries Lady Tremaine, a proud woman with two daughters from her first marriage, Drizella and Anastasia. Plain and socially awkward, these stepsisters are bitterly envious of the beautiful and charming Cinderella. After the death of Cinderella’s father, Lady Tremaine and her daughters take over the estate, and begin to abuse and mistreat Cinderella out of jealousy. Despite everyone trying her, Cinderella becomes a kind woman and befriends the animals living in the forest around her, until her Prince Charming comes along and saves her.

Women – $ 1 Trophy
The Fairy God Mother came to rescue Cinderella from her misery and granted her a blue dress and glass slippers. Tonight, bring your wand and transform your simple look into a glamorous effect before our eyes. Don’t forget your wand!!!

Butch Queen – $ – 3 Trophies. European (Small vs Tall vs Big)
Lady Tremaine (Tall) and her daughters Drizella (Small) and Anastasia (Big) drove Cinderella to tears with their shade. Before Cinderella could get to the ball, they tore her dress to shreds to prevent her from going. Tonight, we want to see you take those tattered and shredded pieces of fabric from Cinderella’s original gown and create a Victorian BQ high-fashion effect and walk with your wicked step-family attitude.

All American – $ -1 Trophy. All American
Welcome to Prince Charming’s ball!! The King and Queen are ready to marry you off and set you on your regal way. Bring us Prince Charming in your ROYAL HOUSE COLORS.

Butch Queen Up In Drags vs. Fem Queens – $ – 2 Trophies
From Rags to Riches is how Cinderalla’s life unfolds. Tonight we would like the BQUID to bring it as Cinderella BEFORE her fairy godmother came and transformed her into the belle of the ball, and we want the FQs to bring it like Cinderella in her blue gown as she steps into the ball with one of her feathered friends on her shoulder cheering her on as she gets her prince. FACE
In the original story of Sleeping Beauty by Charles Perrault, seven fairies were invited to the christening of a King & Queen’s long wished for baby girl. Each fairy brought her gifts of BEAUTY, WIT, GRACE, DANCE, SONG & the ABILITY TO PLAY ANY MUSICAL INSTRUMENT. An eighth fairy was accidently not invited to the party, and showed up plucked and gave the little girl the gift of a curse – should the princess prick her hand on a spindle, she would instantly die! Fortunately, a quick thinking fairy granted the princess with one final gift and transformed the shady fairy’s curse into 100 years of deep sleep that could only be broken by the kiss of from a king’s son.

Women – $ – 1 Trophy
Paint your face as a gift of beauty, wit, grace, song, or music – and dance down the runway to the judges and give them the best gift of all – your face!

Drags – $ – 1 Trophy
The overlooked and understated fairy served Sleeping Beauty’s face with a look that made the poor child go to sleep for 100 years! When she awakens, will she gag and live for your wicked beauty – or will she fall back into slumber for another 100 years?!!

Butch Queen – $ – 1 Trophy
The King’s son traveled through the enchanted forest on his steed and stumbled upon a sleeping beauty like no other. In your most royal garb and crown, bring us your look of love tonight. Will your kiss wake her up to love at first sight or will it send her back into a dip of deep sleep?

Fem Queen – $ – 1 Trophy
Sleeping beauty’s face remained ageless when she pricked her hand on a spindle at the clock stopped at the age of 16, keeping her face timeless and effortless. Bring us an effect that only a true Sleeping Beauty could wear to sleep for 100 years and sell us your everlasting carta with a bejeweled mirror. Honey, this Princess is ready to become Queen of Carta!!

TEAM REALNESS
Any type of Realness, Male Figure, Female Figure – $ – 2 Trophies

In the original story of Hansel and Gretel, two siblings try and find their way home from deep in the forest. Unfortunately, the birds ate the breadcrumbs they left behind and they found themselves at the hands of an evil cannibalistic hag. Forced to outwit her in order to escape her stew pot, bring to the judges your realness as Hansel and Gretel and see who survives to live another day in the enchanted forest. FASHION
In Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, Alice is transported to another world and told that she is the only one who can slay the Jabberwocky, a dragon-like creature controlled by the Red Queen who terrorizes Underland’s inhabitants and bring peace back to the forest. With the help of the mad hatter and Mirana of Marmoreal, the White Queen, Alice is able to outwit the evil queen and slay the Jabberwocky, and save the forest and return back home.

OTA Labels – $ -2 Trophies Female Figure vs. Male Figure
The Mad-Hatter is hosting a “Wonderland Fashionista Affair” at his house and only the richest of them all will attend. Bring us this Season’s Labels…

Sneaker vs Sneaker – $ -1 Trophy
Wonderland is full of bright colors and outrageous surprises. Bring us your most colorful sneakers that you would wear to enter the Wonderland forest.

Best Dressed – $ – 2 Trophies Female Figure vs. Male Figure
She really likes the dark side, but she’s so scared of going too far into it that she’s made everything appear very light and happy. In Honor of the White Queen, come dressed in all white best- dressed look.

SEX SIREN
Dating back to 1697, the tale Little Red Riding Hood tells the story of a little girl going to go visit her sick grandmother. During her trip she bumps into the biggest, baddest, and hungriest wolf in the forest. At first he’s ready to eat her, but decides on another plan. The wolf runs to the grandmother’s house and eats her, then waits for Little Red Riding Hood to arrive so he can eat her. When she arrives, she is confused by the deepness in her grandma’s voice and the size of her Grandma’s hands and teeth, she gets a little too close and is quickly gobbled up too!! Luckily a lumberjack from the forest steps in and chops the wolf open and frees the Grandma and Little Red Riding Hood!!

FQ – $ – 1 Trophy
Little Red Riding Hood is on her way to visit her sick grandma, but had actually planned a date for later that evening. Bring it in a red cloak and sexy lingerie underneath!

BQ – $ – 1 Trophy
The lumberjack stepped in and rescued Little Red Riding Hood from the big bad wolf. Bring it in your plaid sexy wear and show us how chopping wood all day does a body good!

TM – $ – 1 Trophy
Come as the biggest baddest wolf in the forest ready to eat some young tender white meat. The bigger, badder, and hairer…the better. BODY
Written by a female author in 1740, the story of Beauty & the Beast is about a merchant, his three daughters and a tortured prince who has been cursed to live his life in the shape of a beast. Lost in the forest on his way home from a failed trip to bring back his daughters jewels and riches, the merchant bumps into a castle and seeks shelter for the night. The next day, the merchant steals a rose from the garden to bring to Belle – it’s all she really wanted, since she was his most humble and good daughter. Enraged by the merchants disrespect, the owner of the castle – the Beast, forces the merchant to give up his daughter Belle in exchange for the rose and gives him the riches he promised his other two daughters. Belle agrees to live with Beast and is showered in the finest clothes and jewels but misses her family. The Beast agrees to let her leave for a week and when she fails to return he almost dies of a broken heart. When Belle finally
 returns she finds him half dead and weeps over his body and her tears magically break the curse and the Beast transforms into the most handsome Prince she has ever seen.

Beauty and the Beast
Team FQ & BQ – $ – 2 Trophies
Bring Belle and the Beast to the runway in their finery. In his search for love, the Beast has spared no expensive and showered Belle with the most beautiful ball gowns and jewels money can buy. Tonight, you are the most elegant couple at the ball. Bring the house down.

Women – $ – 1 Trophy
A rose is a rose is a rose….come covered in roses and show us why the rose is such a powerful symbol of beauty.

BIZARRE
OTA – $ – 1 Trophy
Bring the enchanted forest to life in your effects. Forests are often the home to rare animals and flowers that live nowhere else in the world. Show us an effect no one has ever imagined or seen before. You are the forest that brings life and beauty to the world, and especially to tonight’s ball.

VOGUE
An orphan with the ability to fly and never age, Peter Pan is one of the most beloved forest dwellers of all time. With his crew of other orphans known as the Lost Boys, Peter Pan invites Wendy Darling to be the house mother and join his wild adventures on the island of Neverland that have inspired us for more than a century now. At the Mermaid Lagoon, Peter Pan saves the native princess Tiger Lilly and fights off the evil Captain Hook and his crew of pirates. Captain Hook tries to poison Peter Pan but his best friend, a fairy named Tinkerbell, drinks it and is saved by the promise that we will always believe in fairytales no matter how old we get!

FQ – $ – 1 Trophy
Tiger Lilly is the prettiest Native in the forest who fiercely took on Captain Hook and his men. Tonight bring us this princess warrior, ready to fight and snatch that trophy for her tribe.

BQ – $ – 1 Trophy
This mischievous man-child can fly and twist and turn in the air on a dime. Tonight bring us that childlike spirit and energy and take flight!

Women – $ – 1 Trophy
Tinkerbell is Peter Pan’s best friend and always has his back. She’ll even drink poison to save him. In a fairy effect, spread your fairy dust love on the runway.

Drags – $ – 1 Trophy
In the end, Wendy chooses to go back home and leave Neverland, but not before she leaves her mark in her signature blue dress. Show us what you got and why you’ll always be remembered in the forest of Neverland.

Pop, Dip & Spin vs New Way – $ – 2 Trophies
Captain Hook and his pirates are always in search of treasure and will do what they gotta do to get it. In a pirate effect, show us why we will always treasure the Pop, Dip & Spin, and why New Way gets the crowd to their feet.

Twist – $ – 1 Trophy
Sometimes parents just don’t have it together and can’t take care of their kids, so the kids are left to figure it out on their own. We call these the Lost Boys. They’re young, they’re strong, and they have what it takes to survive in a hard world. And when the pixie dust touches their skin, they get cunt and twist it out. Bring it in a lost boy effect and let the battles begin!

GRAND PRIZE
As A House – $$
James Cameron’s film Avatar took us to a whole new world where the forest was the center of all life. As a house, take us to the future of 2148 and into the forests of Pandora, where the cure for HIV has been growing deep in this alien world. Your house has recruited 1 Legend, 1 Face, 1 Runway, 1 Vogue and 1 Realness to find this rare flowering plant that is the panacea to all that ails humans, including the HIV virus. Your house holds the key to end the pandemic of HIV and on Earth. Bring us your best, as undercover Avatars to help humans find the secret location of this rare alien flower.
 

Weekly Parties At Bowery Poetry Club, The DL, & EVR

I had to take a vacation from my vacation. The good thing about my career(s) is that I am my own boss (I hope Amanda doesn’t read this). I can take off when I want to as I don’t have hours – just responsibilities. The bad thing about it is when I return, the work has not diminished and I’m slammed with more responsibility. Things left for my return need to be addressed immediately. The good news is I am loving DJing at "Renegade," a new Wednesday night party at The DL, 95 Ludlow St. This week, the amazing David Katz will join Sam Valentine and I on the second floor while Prince Terrance, Miss Guy, Michael Cavadias, and Carol Shark DJ upstairs on the enclosed roof. James Coppola and his cohorts fill the room with his eclectic following. I am in the process of renovating the space and I am pleased that it is looking good.

Thursday night, Seva Granik will offer Gavin Russom (DFA Records, LCD Soundsystem, Delia Gonzalez. Black Meteoric Star, Crystal Ark) presents with Nancy Whang (DFA, LCD Soundsystem),Nomi Ruiz (Jessica 6) and Druzzi (The Rapture). Other participants are Davis, MessKid and Jason Scott. This is a big deal since it’s the opening night of the DL’s new Thursday and I will certainly attend.
 
Tonight I will be off to EVR, a place I DJ at every Wednesday, early in the night, for their cool after-work crowd. It’s Mikey Lights’  birthday party, and for me that’s a must. Mikey is…well, a lighting guy in NYC. That’s a field that is surely lacking in talent, even as lighting becomes even more important. He’s not the guy who hangs the chandeliers or skims the wallpaper. He is the guy that programs lighting arrays to enhance DJ shows. He also builds state-of-the-art lighting systems and installs them. He has worked everywhere and I expect club royalty to toast the young man with the funny hats. 
 
I am so excited to see the new Duane Park addition to the old Bowery Poetry Club space which opens this Friday. I will surely sneak a peek at Peekaboo Pointe and Medianoche and their gang . Tomorrow I’ll be back in line, back to normal, rarin’ to go. I promise.

A Few Days in the Life

Monday night B.I.N.G.O. at the Bowery Poetry Club with hosts Linda Simpson and Murray Hill was revisited after a long regretted absence. The occasion for our return was the 1st anniversary for friends Misa Kobs and Brent Bettes. We were part of a large group who gathered a year ago to enjoy what used to be our every Monday, no matter what. A night of bad jokes, kitsch prizes, and good old American fun. They’ve been dating since, and are as happy as clams. Monday, I won a Ped Egg with handle as B-7 came through for me. After the show, Murray invited us to her birthday bash on Tuesday, at my favorite, not so secret spot, Duane Park. We had so much fun at B.I.N.G.O., we decided to re-adjust our lives around it again.

Tuesday night Amanda and I arrived at Duane Park in a very slow driving cab in a very hard driving rain. We ran inside and found our favorite man about town, Murray, wearing the world’s greatest tie. "Wow, great tie,” I interjected, trying my best to be clever. He replied "Yeah, I don’t wear this one to B.I.N.G.O." with a big birthday smile. The place was jammed with a wonderful crowd. Dear friend, Jo"Boobs" Weldon, who will appear tonight as part of  Calamity Chang’s "The Asian Sexsation"’s Burlesque show at Hotel Chantelle, chatted us up about her work with breast cancer patients. She helps them re-discover their sexuality through her art. Harvey Keitel was seated with his crew at a table nearby, as Jonathan Ames sat by himself in another booth. Murray insisted I chat up Jonathan and then proceeded to introduce me with a full rundown of my life less ordinary, with details that fell just short of my parole officer’s home phone number. Jonathan wasn’t impressed and scooted off for refuge by the bar. Oh, that Murray. I noticed he wasn’t talking much to anybody, even though the place was packed with burlesque dancers (in and out of work clothes) and all sorts of bon vivants, fabulous folks, and creatures of the night. I don’t know if that’s the way he rolls or if he saw us all as a bunch of nightcrawling sycophants or whatever. Amanda’s theory is "he just doesn’t like you." That’s one more idol ending up just human after all. As he paused by the door with the rain pouring down, silhouetted by a street lamp and the soft light from Duane Park’s storefront, I thought it was a very Jonathan Ames moment, and I concluded he was probably right not to like me.

Last night I DJ’d the opening night of Scott Hawkins’ and Sam Valentine’s rock night at Hotel Chantelle. It was supposed to be a casual 9pm to 1am gig up on the enclosed roof, but it went to 4am as I seemed to have found my crowd. They ate up my offerings of 50 plus years of rock and roll. Tim Spuches loved the set and commented how he can’t figure which tracks are new and which are very old. I had never done a 7 hour set. That’s like some Junior Vasquez shit. By the way, Junior will be spinning at his legendary party Juniorverse at District 36 this Saturday, with Razor and Guido helping out. It’s a 10pm to 7am happening.

After my gig, we decided to hoof it to I-Hop on 14th street between 2nd and 3rd. We needed pancakes and eggs and coffee and a comfortable, well-lit booth to spread out in. We went there last week before "L-ing" it back to BBurg. That experience was terrible. The food was great, but the service was the worst I have ever experienced, and as you peeps know, I got me some experience. No utensils, one meal at the table, the other who knows where, lemonade instead of grapefruit juice. We asked the old guy manager to get us our coffee as our waitron was lost in space. Turns out this dude couldn’t manage his own shirt. We never saw a smile, never got our coffee, and on a trip to the bathroom way in the back of the joint, I found half the staff gossiping. We came back anyway. We needed pancakes badly, but found the experience completely different. The staff was fast and attentive and had more smiles than an ad for a dentist. Our waitress, Sahara, told us it was her first night on the job. She was so wonderful. We have a new attitude towards this 24-hour eatery, which had a few tables filled with other nightlife workers winding down after their long nights. We table hopped and said hello. Amanda wouldn’t let me tell Sahara my very bad Sahara joke. Okay, I’ll tell you, but be warned I’m no Jonathan Ames.

So I’m in the joint back in the day. Yeah, the joint, joint—Khaki jump suit and everything—and I’m on landscaping detail around the perimeter fence. It’s me, my boy Goobs, and a bunch of slackers. We all got weed whackers, and Goobs and I are hard at it competing with each other to make it smooth and short like a putting green, while the rest of the crew are busy smoking cigarettes and talking about how tough they are and stuff like that. I was becoming incredibly adept at weed whacking, and treated my weedwhacker like it was a Light Saber and I was young Luke Skywalker. So a bunch of guards gather to watch our artistry, and my boss yells over, "Hey Lewis, you ever use a weed whacker back in New Yawk City?" I said "Of course, have you ever heard of the Sahara Forest?" And he replied, "You mean the Sahara Desert?" And I said "Yeah, sure Now?" It wasn’t really a great joke, but it was the right joke for the moment, and everybody was laughing. I-Hop isn’t probably the best place in town, but at 6am with people like Sahara who care, it’s a real nice last stop on your way home to dreams. I bet the late night club world will embrace it if they out the slackers and keep Sahara happy.

Good news on the Rocco Ancarola front. After open heart surgery, I hear he is out of his coma and surrounded by family. If he were to be surrounded by those who love him, they’d have to move his hospital bed to a much bigger room. Think Madison Square Garden. Everyone loves Rocco and for good reason. He is wonderful, and it is wonderful to hear he is doing better. From his Gacebook page comes this report :

"Dearest Friends 🙂 Our King Rocco is fully awake, alert, taking oral intake,talking with a big smile, surrounded by his brother & sisters. He has survived an invasive Cardiothoracic surgery , a procedure of 12 hrs with subsequent few days of serious intensive care. He is still very weak and has to be observed closely for any possible complication. PLEASE DO NOT VISIT HIM in Hospital yet, this put lots of pressure on medical staff in order to monitor him closely. I would like as (his Primary doctor) to suggest another 10 days for him to be looked after by his medical team and close family. Last night I have relayed all of your prayers to him. He expressed his grace and gratitude to all of you."

This time of year it is important with all the shopping and party frenzy to keep your eyes, ears and other relevant organs focused on what truly is important. Rocco is so much the heart of New York nightlife it’s ironic that his broke down. We love you Rocco. Don’t worry: it will all still be here when you are ready.

Bowery Bingo Legend & Andy Warhol Star Taylor Mead Has Passed

On Wednesday, bad news came as it does these days, via tweets and facebook. Taylor Meadan Andy Warhol "superstar," has passed. Other publications will get into the details of his life and death. They’ll list the underground movies he was in and repeat notable poems he wrote which were much more notable when he recited him. Those other periodicals and blogspots will tell of his long-running run-in with his landlord who finally bought him out. 

He was in Colorado when he left us. He was visiting a niece when a stroke stopped his heart. I won’t get into the details, but they are out there for you if you care. 

What can be said about him that Taylor didn’t say about himself before on the street, in a bar, or one of the countless Bowery Poetry Club readings I attended? I’ll just say this…when I heard the news, all I could think of was the people who loved him. I could see their faces weeping from the loss.

Taylor was wonderful. He was brilliant. He was a lovable monster. He was a definer of the downtown altar that I worship. Decades ago, a friend and I would seek him out in the East Village bars that he haunted. We’d buy him drinks in exchange for tales of life within the candle. He told us of Andy Warhol and the coolest peeps on earth. Sometimes he would hate them all, sometimes he would love them all. Sometimes he would love himself, and sometimes he would hate himself. I always felt that his love/hate for Andy’s gang was because they could appreciate him on a level far above us all. Taylor was a player with the most "in" of the "In-Crowd."

A year or so ago, I was playing Bingo religiously at the Bowery Poetry Club. It usually sold out, so I got there early to reserve seats for my crew. Taylor would read poems he randomly chose from a satchel bursting with them, and in between, he’d tell tall-tales while playing classical music or Charlie Mingus tunes on a small beatbox. 

There were times he would yell at the early Bingo aficionados for talking while he was enlightening. Once, he yelled "Bingo" when he didn’t have it, just to disturb the later event to get even. 

I went every week. Sometimes I’d hear the same story a dozen weeks in a row. Sometimes something new and bold sprang up. When Bowery Poetry closed to give way to Duane Park, no one made room for Taylor. On his last night, I thought I’d never see him again. And so it goes. 

From ‘Shame’ to Fame: Calamit Y. Chang On Her Hot Mènage à Trois Scene

Shame is a hot movie. The hottest scene in this hot movie is a ménage à trois with uber hot star Michael Fassbender and our dear friend Calamit Y. Chang and DeeDee Luxe. Calamit Y. is hosting and starring in Burlesque shows all over town, including this Wednesday at Duane Park and every Friday at Hotel Chantelle. This Wednesday’s show has DeeDee aboard, as well as the wonderful Shien Lee. It’s all timed in honor of Chinese New Year and is destined to be fabulous. Calamit Y. and I talked about the scene in Shame and she seemed surprised that it was such a big deal. Known as the "Asian Sexsation," she is constantly surrounded by incredibly sexual beings who spend a great deal of their time and energy thinking of new routines to turn us on. If you haven’t caught this act, get out there and do it now before the fame from the movie exposes her talent to the masses and she’s whisked off to Vegas or playing big theatres. The atmosphere at Duane Park is intimate, old-school burlesque elegant. It’s a great date destination. I asked Calamit Y. Chang a few questions, half expecting to be shooing away autograph seekers.

So I’m watching the hottest sex scene ever in the movie Shame with Amanda, when we both exclaim aloud CALAMIT Y. !!!!!. Your famous feather tattoo confirmed it was you and DeeDee Luxe.  I understand sex; it didnt actually occur, but everyone was hot. Tell us about the scene, the conversations leading up to it, and conversations after.
When I went to the audition, I knew the film was by Steve McQueen. His first film, Hunger, also starring Michael Fassbender, was a huge hit with film fans, so I guess you can say I already trusted him and his vision for my role as “Late Night Lover #1." When we met, he showed me the script and explained what the film was about. I had a lot of questions about Brandon’s (Fassbender) character development because I was curious about how Steve was going to handle the subject of sex addiction. On the day of the shoot, DeeDee and I wanted to know if our characters were prostitutes. Steve didn’t give a direct answer but he did say something to the effect that we were just normal people living in NYC, and like many people, we sometimes accept money for certain things. This reminded me of some people in fashion who work for free in exchange for expensive clothes and shoes. I know countless stylists who dress like a million bucks but can’t pay their rent and are consistently borrowing money from people left and right. Steve further explained that our characters were already familiar with Brandon and we were expecting him. When he first arrived and I opened the door for him, Steve wanted me to look a certain way when I saw Brandon. He wanted me to have a look as if saying, “Oh yeah, you again. Of course.” I even had Steve be me so I could see what he wanted my face to look like. He was very fun, patient, and gave clear direction. The actual filming of the infamous scene was a closed set. It was just five of us, including Steve and the cameraman. During the shoot, Steve pretty much let us three do our thing and every now and then he would ask one of us to switch sides for a better angle of our faces. As for conversations after this scene, well, we joked and laughed about whatever. We had some food. We talked about other films we liked, wanted to see, and I do remember asking Steve and Michael if they liked Lars Von Trier (cause I don’t). They didn’t. Michael did some impersonations of De Niro and I think Marlo Brando. It was pretty laid-back and comfortable, like friends hanging out.
 
I was told it was a retake, that the original scene was replaced with yours.
That was what our casting agent told us. They had already wrapped shooting months ago, but I guess some of the scenes (including ours) didn’t work out, so Steve came back to NYC with the cast and crew and re-shot them. Nicole Beharie was on set with us that day too, but I don’t know what scene she was working on. I also don’t know who were in the first threesome scene. They didn’t really talk about it and we didn’t really care cause we were there to kill it!
 
Calamit Y.
 
Tell me about Wednesday’s Duane Park show.
This is my newest show and I am excited beyond words! It is a dinner and a show at Duane Park, a beautiful restaurant serving delicious food and famous for their burlesque shows. The intimate and elegant dining room sets the perfect mood for a show like "Les Fleurs de Shanghai" with live music with Shien Lee as our featured singer. She will be singing several Chinese songs from the golden jazz age in Shanghai – music that will enchant you and take you back to a different time. DeeDee and myself will perform burlesque, It takes place on the last Wednesdays of every month at 8:30 PM.
 
How did a nice chinese girl like you become this fabulous burlesque queen, performer, and organizer?
 Well, I’ve always been Chinese but I haven’t always been nice. Joking! My parents have always said I have a rebellious streak ever since I was little. I suppose they are right, they’ve been right about lots of things much to my chagrin!  My new show “Les Fleurs de Shanghai” at Duane Park is a burlesque show paying homage to the great jazz era of Shanghai during the ’20s-’40s. I’ve become obsessed with that tumultuous era in Shanghai’s history with the music, the fashion, and the glamour of that time, but I haven’t always been interested in my cultural heritage and background. When I was a teenager growing up in Texas, the last thing I wanted to do was listen to Chinese music. I wanted New Kids on the Block. I wanted Bon Jovi. I wanted Garth Brooks! Well, maybe not the latter, but you get my drift. Immigrant mentality is to assimilate and to grown up in a non-culturally diverse place like Texas. I tried my damn hardest to fit in. Unfortunately, that meant rejecting a lot of things that makes me unique. My parents always said that one day I will want to know more about being Chinese and “return to my roots,” so to speak. So they were right yet again! Although, I don’t think burlesque was what they had in mind. Burlesque, in its contemporary reincarnation at least, is very feminist. It is subversive, transgressive, and rebellious. And all those things draw me in uncontrollably.
 
Calamit Y.
 
Tell me how you develop your new acts.
 It’s a lot like writing, which I’m sure you can relate to on some level. You stare at a piece of blank paper and suddenly the task of having to fill it with words that make sense and construct an experience narratively becomes very daunting. Likewise, I pick a song that I want to work with. I put it on repeat in my living room studio and I stare in the mirror. There is always that sense of fear that I think all creative people face. The act of creation. Of forming something out of nothing. Whether it’s writing, painting, choreographing an act, designing a costume. I embrace it and stew in it. Sure enough, after a couple of hours, a dance routine comes out of it and I know what the character feels like and should wear. For me, many of my acts are never completely “done." There is always something to upgrade, whether it’s the costume or the choreography. For example, my red “Dusk ’til Dawn” act has evolved so much since I originally made it  two years ago. Now, I’ve added new pieces to the costume, added another song to it, and incorporated red fans in the routine. This act has gotten me accepted in the Dallas Burlesque Festival (Feb 2-5, 2012) and the London Burlesque World Games (May 7-13, 2012).
 
I saw you develop an audience at Hotel Chantelle. At first, it was slow-going, but now your Friday night galas are packed. How does the newfound fame from Shame translate to a fanbase. How does it affect friends? Do you have major new burlesque credibility?
Yes, it was hard in the beginning, especially since I am the first person to bring burlesque to Hotel Chantelle; the road had to be paved! Thankfully, Tim Spuches (who found and hired me) didn’t doubt me and now it’s really great. I have met several male audience members at Chantelle who tell me they saw me in Shame and came to see me perform; it makes me very happy that people are going to see real films with quality editing and storytelling. And it makes me even happier that in all the press and interviews the film has gotten, Steve and Michael have been describing us as burlesque performers. I think this is so great because this gives burlesque and us burlesque performers credibility in the film world. I am always so happy to hear about other performers who get cast for a TV show or film, because the more crossover we have, the more people will come to our shows!

This Week’s NY Happenings: Bowery Poetry Relaunches, Sweet: New York, Tørst Opens

FRIDAY: Bowery Poetry Relaunches With Duane Park Burlesque
If poetry is to survive in the big town, it may need to flash a little leg. Bowery Poetry at 308 Bowery relaunches this week with a new partner: Duane Park, the former Tara of Tribeca. Duane brings its Southern comfort and renowned burlesque shows over to the East Village club, and. it all starts this Friday night;  The Plume Revue reclaims their Friday night slot with Peekaboo Pointe and Medianoche among the dancers, and a tight jazz band on the tunes.

Bowery Poetry (308 Bowery, East Village) relaunches Friday the 8th with Duane Park burlesque. The Plume Revue begins at 10pm. To learn more about the bar, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

THURSDAY: Eat John Doe
Eat well, drink well, and do well at The Doe Fund’s annual Sweet: New York benefit to help break the cycle of homelessness. Top talent from the likes of Tao, Lavo, and BLT Prime will hook you up with both savory and sweet bites inside the Classic Car Club Soho.

Sweet: New York at the Classic Car Club Soho (250 Hudson St., Soho) starts at 7pm Thursday the 7th. Main event tickets are $75. To learn more about the event space, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

FRIDAY: Quenching Tørst
An avant-garde trio of chef, brewer, and importer join forces on the ultimate beer bar. At Tørst, you can down bespoke brews by luminaries like Jean Van Roy of Cantillon Brewery inside a modern, minimal space. A stealth Scandi restaurant in back will follow later in the year.

Tørst (615 Manhattan Ave., Greenpoint) opens Friday the 8th. To learn more about the bar, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

Be the first to know about the latest openings & events in NYC by signing up for the weekly BlackBook Happenings email. Even better: download the BlackBook City Guides app for iPhone and Android and know every inch of this city. 

My First Experience at Duane Park’s Jazz & Burlesque Show

Maybe I’m the last to know this, or maybe you are, so here I go: Duane Park is fabulous. I’ve been implored to attend many times before, but circumstance always prevented me. I came, I saw, I want more. It was Friday night, and I was all dressed up with nowhere to go, when I was waylaid by burlesque performer and organizer Calamit Y. Chang and seven of her fellow artists. Being the gentleman that I am, I saw it as a duty to tag along and chaperone these young ladies.

It was déjà Mr. Lewis all over again, 1982 revisited. I was whisked to a front row table and a chair appeared from nowhere to accommodate me. It was very Goodfellas. We were thrilled by Ms. Tickle, blown away by Peekaboo Pointe and heated up by birthday gal, Gal Friday who got down nearly to her birthday suit. It’s all good ol’ American fun, as performance, after performance kept the sharp-as-nails crowd entertained. The setting is so perfect that I wished that I had created it. When I said that to one of the sassy lassies she responded, “Don’t worry dear, you will.” I left out most of the girl’s names to protect the innocent but there is one name that must be talked about and that is Brian Newman. I’ve seen the versatile singer, musician, showman before but feel he has found his niche at Duane Park, Fridays.

He sings, he trumpets, he introduces, tells a few jokes, and accompanies the performers. It was classic crooner cuts like “In My Solitude” and “One For My Baby” in a club that guys like Sam Spade or Mickey Spillane lived for and wrote about. It was tablecloths, champagne, and good manners with everyone in dresses and suits. It’s a place for ladies and dames, gents and wise guys, swells, bon vivants and sophisticates. It’s extremely sexy and extremely fun. When I was doing it, doing it, and doing it well back in the day, there were promoter and producer types that failed at other places but succeeded wildly with me and vice versa. Often the atmosphere just works and when it isn’t right no one can pull it off. At Duane Park, Brian has found a spot that suits him as well as the tux he wore on stage. I caught up with him and asked him all about it.

Man, did I have fun the other night. Thanks a lot for coming out to Duane Park on Friday night!

How would you describe what it is you do? I am the singer, trumpet player, bandleader, and master of ceremonies for a weekly evening of beautiful music from the great American songbook. I also book the best burlesque dancers in the business to flirt on stage in between the standards, playful banter, delicious cocktails and fine fare. The music is what makes the room the way it is. Duane Park is a tantalizing slice of Old New York that is difficult to capture in these times. The vibe is classic and elegant. I designed the show to take people to a timeless place that conjures good feelings and togetherness. If most of the couples in the room get laid—that’s cool with me too, but at the same time, I’m exposing them to a form of music that many people have misconceptions about. I am an entertainer and that’s the bottom line. Do a great show and make every note count.

I DJed at the Vans Supply And Demand Art Show at their ginormous Vans Skate Park space in Brooklyn this weekend. I brought my friend, the great DJ Ani Quinn, to fill in my blanks. They wanted CBGB’s era Punk and old school hip-hop and stuff like that. We provided Lou Reed, Ramones, Misfits, Lydia Lunch, Iggy, NY Dolls, Modern Lovers, Clash etc. There were free tacos and fries and refreshments and a good time was had by all. At the end I was exhausted, watching the Skateboarders on the giant half-pipe. It was worse the next day and I didn’t make it to an event I lent my name to, the Eat Yo! Brunch at Yotel. It was an event for issue #3 of SGU Art Paper and was “dedicated to the events of September 11, 2001.”There were proceeds donated and I just didn’t make it. I apologized to organizer Patrick Duffy, who, besides myself wrangled Anthony Haden-Guest, Scott Buccheit, Errickson Wilcox, Chris Williamson, Jordan Fox, Roxy Cottontail, Sedi Sithbe, Mike Warner, Glenmore May, Princess Xtravaganza and others to get the word out. I am beat up as Fashion Week goes forward. My last five meals have been eaten standing up.

A Weekend with Charo, Santo, & Melody Sweets

Oscar parties will dominate Sunday night, and I wont be attending. I never get to see the show with all the chit-chat and loud munching—and I love watching the show. Besides, I will be all tuckered out after a weekend charged with must-attend events.

Tonight, I will have to go to Night of 1001 Charos, with the “cuchi-cuchi” madam herself performing her new hit “Sexy Sexy.” DJs will include Michael Formika Jones on the main floor, and in the Lounge: DJ/ Producer Billy Lace, and DJ Something Something. The hosts are Amanda Lepore, Backspace, Devin Stone, Liam Yzabal, King Ralphy, Michael Bernal, and Yusef Xtravaganza. This affair takes place at Splash, which has been around almost as long as Charo herself. How old is Charo? Well she’s been around since before the beetles—not the band, the species. The ageless Charo is, of course, the original club kid. She was married at 15, or 21, or 25—depending on what you choose to believe—to the 66, or 60 year-old big band majordomo, Xavier Cugat. Jeez Louise! And people get mad at me? Xavier Cugat, an iconic New Yorker, was a legendary bandleader at the Waldorf Astoria for decades. Think: uber Desi Arnez.

Charo’s real name comes with its own zip code. Maria del Rosario Pilar Martinez Molina Gutierrez de los Perales Santa ana Romanguera y de la Hinojosa was born, officially in January, 1951. Unofficially, she was born a decade before, but why talk about the age of the ageless. As a young girl in Spain she learned classical and flamenco guitar from Andrés Segovia. Her abilities, and possibly her antics, got her named “Best Flamenco Guitarist” twice, from Guitar Player Magazine. She really isn’t a joke, although she is wonderful at making us laugh. From her early TV days when we first saw her stumbling hilariously over English in outfits too small for her assets, Charo has brought a smile to those who can always use one. Charo is still doing it, and tonight’s performance figures to be brilliant. Splash has been one of New York’s greatest club assets for 20 years now. Charo will add to that legend at midnight.

After that, if my heart is still working, I’m of to Santo’s Party House to attend the closing night gala for “Reopened.” They aren’t using the term “closing,” instead they’re calling it the “grand finale.” You say tomato, I say Charo. But in any case, the last one of these there will bring a plethora of talented DJs to the game. Just Blaze and DJ Soul, with special guests A-Trak, Clark Kent, DJ Premier, Evil Dee, Stretch Armstrong, and Tony Touch will perform with Basement vibes provided by DJ Gravy, Max Glazer, and Micro Don. They will all be on hand with that Jim Toth sound system, and lots of friendly faces. I’m there to support Bill Spector, who has been doing it right for a long time—just short of Charo and me.

It’s always wonderful when a past employee who tended bar, or waited tables for you finds success pursuing their creative dreams. Melody Sweets is soaring with her imaginative and sexy performances as Melody Sweets and the Candy Shop Boys. She’s performing with tons of other talent at her soon-to-close Sweet Shop party at Duane Park this Saturday night. She’ll do another gig there on March 5th, and it will be her own grand finale. Then it’s off to Las Vegas for a very bright future. I have caught her act a couple of times, and I can’t recommend it more. There will be Burlesque by MsTickle, Peekaboo Pointe, GiGi LaFemme, and more. If my heart is still working after 2 days of Charo and Melody Sweets, I’ll pop some corn, cross my fingers, and hope that The Kings Speech beats out that ugly duckling, The Black Swan, for best picture.