Flxx Performs At XL: “Don’t Be Fooled By The Hair. It’s My Mind That Leads Me”

Flx Chaparro-Pitre, usually known as or referred to as just Flxx, has been a nightclub constant or quite a few years. A benevolent manager at hot spots around town, he is known for his look, which includes a lion-like mane. He is soft spoken but stern, and knows everybody and everybody knows him. In the category of "where is he now?" we report that after two and a half years of self-imposed exile, Flxx is back with an album. On April 6th, he will perform at XL nightclub. His new production, "FLXX’s Journey To You," will include the single and video off his new album Valentine’s Romeo, entitled "You". It will be the world premier at the hot 42nd street club and everyone – the old and new – will attend. FLXX is one of the good guys in the business. Read ahead and see why that definition may not be accurate.

You have an ancestry, a lineage that would lead you to entertain. Tell me about that it.
There has always been song and dance in my family for generations, and it’s an epicenter to my life. Every family gathering would lead to instruments playing, people singing and dancing, and the showstoppers were always my mother and father. I would wake to my mother’s singing voice every day. Growing up in Chelsea, my father would frequently perform in clubs and lounges in NYC and invite my Mother to do so as well.

You were always a look… a big look, a powerful look, a recognizable look.. tell me about how you came to it.
There is a picture of me when from when I was seven years old that I have begun to share when asked this same question so terribly often. It was taken during the wrap party for a production of Swan Lake that I was the lead in, and when I look at it, it is still me. I am just now adult version. In the picture I have long hair, a top hat, and tails and an ascot! Yep. Still me. I am all real. But sweet, awkward, comical men and women have dressed themselves as me. Men and women have followed the charcoal lines around my eyes as me. Sounds like a narcissist’s dream. But I believe it’s disconcerting to be reminded so blatantly of oneself. The fact that people want to impress upon you their perception of you is disturbing to say the least. 

You managed, worked in clubs, clubs, clubs.. tell me about that life.
In late 1998, my opportunity to enter the never-ending part of nightlife arose. It is no secret that at the time, Peter and Alessandra Gatien, who infamously owned Limelight, were going through extreme legal issues. They needed someone with a good, clean record to run their Limelight. I hadn’t even received a parking ticket. I was the perfect candidate. Luckily, Father always taught me "one foot in, the other one out to have proper footing," and mother taught me that "no one is better than I, and I am no better than anyone else." I went there to work, make money, and go home peacefully. 

I became the co-general manager of their jewel in the crown, the most infamous nightclub in the world to date. It was by no means a walk in the park. But that is the business. If you can’t handle it, don’t play in it. 

Eventually, their reign as NYC nightlife royalty came to an end and I left and re-positioned myself elsewhere. I opened Arena @ Palladium, XL-Chelsea, Avalon NYC, Mr. Black, Ultra, to name a few. Oddly enough, right after leaving these aforementioned venues, they were shuttered. Once I leave, it’s done. Look at me all you want, but don’t be fooled by the hair; it’s my mind that leads me.

Were you always looking to get out of the nightclub biz?
I always knew that I was leaving the clubs. It was just a matter of when. I like to move forward. I want every day to be new from yesterday in all. From the very beginning I realized that the "beautiful people" were actually quite ugly and untruthful. But it’s no different in nightlife now, I see it. I can smell it when I walk to the door of any club: the aggrandizing. I can only number on one hand the true friendships that I have kept from my NYC nightlife experience thus far, and those people remain dear because they live in truth. 

Is nightlife the same, has it changed drastically, or has it just matured?
I believe that nightlife is the same. The music is there. The people are there. The venues are there. The laughter is there. It is just redesigned. That’s not a bad thing. People often speak of the "good ol’ days."  What’s wrong with progression, with change, with today’s nightlife? Why must one stay in the memory of something they once had as opposed to living in what they have in front of them. I go out looking forward to what will be as opposed to longing for what was once available. 

You wrote, "I am not man, I am not woman, I am not black, I am not white, I am not gay, I am not straight." Define yourself. 
 I live in as close to my truth and present as possible. I reflect upon yesterday, look forward to tomorrow, but most of all, I live today.

You are performing at XL on April 6th. What can we expect?
It’s my first time conceiving, writing, producing, and directing an entire production within one emotionally-charged theme. It’s entitled, "FLXX’s Journey To YOU," with the worldwide premiere and release of the first single and video off my album, Valentino’s Romeo, entitled “YOU." I have combined the theatrical with the club in me. A DJ will play music during the opening reception, muralists have created live images of me to backdrop the songs, and I will sing, accompanied by musicians, a choir, and my mother. Curtain up!

Tell me about your album Valentino’s Romeo.
It’s a gathering of many different moments in my life within my journey of love. At times I felt great and at times I had a 103-degree fever! I lived every moment of this album in real time. And I live each song as they still affect me both emotionally and physically. At times we are loved, but not enough. Not too good. And sometimes these moments in love happen simultaneously  Serious mind-fuck. A psychiatric rubber room of emotions is this album. 

Tell me a club story nobody knows…
I met the person with whom I have shared a greater part of my life thus far in Limelight. A person that will forever be one of my greatest loves. I am lucky and thankful. I can extricate myself from the clubs at my choosing, but I will never erase the clubs from my heart.

Get the inside-info on XL nightclub here

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.