Mixers & Shakers: DJ Enferno and Oleg Chursin

Worldly gentlemen DJ Enferno and Oleg Chursin have similarly ventured from country to country, albeit for different reasons. However, both stressed the importance of balance in their work, whether it’s finding the right mixes of music to keep a crowd dancing or the perfect combination of flavors for a new beverage. They shared their collective travelogues while discussing the never-ending desire to be original in all of their professional endeavors at NYC’s Gansevoort Park roof, as Enferno sampled Oleg’s new Stoli Raz-infused “Sweet Life.”

Check out their video interview below, and be sure to head over to our Mixers and Shakers section for more great cocktails!

Joonbug CEO Jon Gabel on Halloween Happenings Around the Country

When is Halloween? That is the question. Many will celebrate this Saturday, making the weekly moneymaker that much better. However, is the net result better if you factor in a slower-than-normal Friday and other days as people save up their loot and energy for costume parties? The answer will come on Wednesday—the actual day of—when a normally slow middle of the week "hump day" has the opportunity to bring in added revenue. Joonbug.com CEO Jon Gabel makes a business of Halloween and New Year’s, which is practically tomorrow. I asked him all about it

Your company sells tickets for Halloween and New Year’s Eve. What is the difference between what people are looking for with these two mega holidays?

No matter which holiday, we try to understand and provide the full customer experience – something different from their normal night out.  On Halloween, we offer parties with one-hour open bars, costume contests, and top DJs that keep partygoers on their feet all night long.  On New Year’s Eve, our parties feature 4-5 hour open bars, light fare (passed hors d’oeuvres or mini buffet), party favors, and either full views or televised views of the Times Square ball drop. On both holidays we offer a range of venue options from bars to hotel lounges to nightclubs to entertainment complexes to yachts.  All of our parties have varying ticket options, from General Admission to VIP bottle packages.  Lastly, we always provide a joonbug.com photographer to capture the customer experience – guests can check out our website one day later to see their party pics and share their photos online.

What places that you are marketing are going to be hot?

In NYC, Joonbug’s 2nd Annual Haunted Mansion Party hosted by former Playboy Playmates Monica Leigh, Stephanie Larimore, Ashley Massaro, and Courtney Culkin.  We transform Bowlmor Lanes‘ tremendous facility into a bi-level, mega costume party.  Last year this was the biggest event on Halloween. Gansevoort Park is also a huge event – we will utilize all four rooms (Red Room, Blue Room, Pool and Park Lounges) in the rooftop hotel as well as Asellina, the restaurant lounge on ground level.  This is a great event and will be a really hot crowd. In Atlantic City, check out One at Revel – AC’s newest mega resort with views of the boardwalk. If you’re in Philly, the party to be at is Zee Bar where Katy Perry’s tour DJ, Yung Skeeter, will be spinning all night.

Are we still in a recession or are people more willing to spend for a good time?

We aren’t feeling it. Sales are great and customers are choosing VIP ticket options more this year than in previous.  For the customer who doesn’t want to spend that much, we have less expensive (starting at $15!) ticket options for them as well.  Everyone wants to go out on the holiday and have a good night.

You also do events during the year besides Halloween and New Year’s. Is another big night possible? Could Valentine’s day be packaged and become the next big day?

St. Paddy’s Day. This past March we sold 10,000 tickets. This year we are going even bigger and hope to grow it into a huge holiday that crosses over to both the bar and the nightlife worlds.

Have you sold any New Year’s tickets yet? How many venues will you handle?

We are projecting record numbers this year and have thousands of tickets already sold. We plan to do 130+ venues this year in NYC, Miami, Boston, Philly, AC, Chicago, and Vegas.  All of our parties can be found at www.joonbug.com.

DJ Martial Is Just Getting Warmed Up

Marshall Weinstein, known to club-goers and music aficionados as DJ Martial, is having trouble getting used to the deep freeze New York currently finds itself mired in. When I reach him by phone at his Brooklyn apartment, he’s just returned from a work trip to the Caribbean, a difference of 1,650 miles and five layers of clothing. "I was DJing in St. Maarten in 85 degree weather and here it’s 10 degrees outside," he says with a laugh. "The airplane wouldn’t even go to the gate because it was frozen, they had to bus us in. It was crazy." He won’t be frozen for long, as he’ll soon be on his way to balmy New Orleans for a handful of gigs centered around the upcoming Super Bowl. We caught up with him during his brief layover to find out how he got started, his favorite clubs to perform in, and his secret for de-stressing fast.

Where are you from, and what kind of stuff were you into as a kid that led you to being a DJ?

I went to elementary, middle, and high school outside of Boston. I started DJing in 1993 when my older brother introduced me to underground electronic rave music. I was 13 at the time. When I graduated from high school I moved to New York City. My mom is originally from Long Island and my dad is originally from Coney Island, Brooklyn, and my whole family lived in the New York area, so it was a no-brainer. I went to Hofstra and DJ’d my way through college. I’ve been actively in the New York music scene since 1998 when I came to the city.

So, Yankees or Red Sox?

I’m definitely an all-Boston sports fan. It’s a little upsetting with the Patriots losing recently, however now that I’ve got some gigs at the Super Bowl I can focus on work and not sports.

How did you start DJing in the city?

When I got to New York, I realized that I had access to the best city in the world that had the best music. At Hofstra I was on the radio, and I majored in television video production communications, so music was always a part of my life. Whether it was in the studio working with audio tracks or video, or at the radio station on the air, all I did was music music music. When I got out of college, I was still DJing nights and weekends. With my full-time job – I worked at MTV and in the industry – eventually it steamrolled. I was picking up more and more gigs to the point where I was burning the candle at both ends. I couldn’t be in a television studio at six o’clock in the morning when I got out of a club at four.

So you decided to make a change?

In 2006 I realized that I’ve been DJing for 13 years, but I had a career in television. I said to myself, I’ve always wanted to be a full-time DJ. I had an opportunity to work overseas for three months as a DJ, so I sat down with my boss at the time and explained it to him. He said, you’ve got a lot of passion for this, so go for it. I put in my two weeks, it was December 2006, and since then I’ve been a full-time DJ. I also do a lot of private events, not just in New York but around the nation and internationally, and I book DJs at clubs and events through my company, SET Artist Management.

Is that when the momentum started to build?

Once you do one event it leads to another. Being humble and staying true and smiling and constantly following up with everybody, it leads to an escalation. Since then I’ve never looked back or second-guessed myself on leaving a career that I went to college for.

What kind of clubs were you playing at the time?

When I went overseas I was working in Israel, in various places in Tel Aviv,  Jerusalem, and Haifa. Clubs like Shalvata, Lima Lima, City Hall, Layla Bar.  Then I came back to New York and gigs started to add up, residencies here and there. I’ve worked at clubs like Beauty & Essex, WiP, Double Seven, Top of the Standard, Yotel, Stash, STK Midtown, Gansevoort Park, Bounce Sporting Club on 21st, Haven Rooftop.

How would you describe your musical style, and how do you adjust that for the crowd and event?

I’m a 100% open format DJ. I love all types of music and I’m not afraid to drop anything. It’s not about what you play, it’s about what you follow up with. You can drop a song from the ’70s and people start to get into it. For the next song, whether it’s a huge club banger or a perfect smooth transition, it can make the song before it that much better. My outgoing personality shines through my beats, like a sixth sense. I bleed hip-hop, ’80s, rock, house, and still stay true to the music and dance floor because I keep those classics in the mix. And I have no problem playing the most current, hottest tracks, to do whatever I can to keep the dance floor packed till dawn.

So you believe that the context is important, it’s not about any one individual song, it’s about the whole set and the vibe you’re putting out there?

Yes. It’s not like I’ll play one ’80s song, one ’70s song, one rock song, one hip-hop song. Then it can be a bit ADD. It’s more about the way you blend different genres of music together throughout the night to build that crescendo. You finish the night and people look at their watches and they can’t believe it’s four in morning and the club’s still packed.

What do you have going on with the Super Bowl?

I’m down in New Orleans Thursday through Monday. I’m working at the NFL House, doing parties Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, and I’m doing a number of parties for CBS, including pre-game and post-game on Sunday. The two CBS parties I’m involved in, there’s one Friday night at the Contemporary Arts Center, and Saturday I’m doing the party at Generations Hall with a live performance from Trombone Shorty, who is a really talented local guy who does huge live performances with a big band feel.

What else do you have coming up?

I’ll be DJing in the number one college town, Morgantown, West Virginia, at a place called Rock Top. I’ll be in Boston. I do a lot of private events for BlackBerry, since I’m the official Latin American BlackBerry DJ. In the summer I’ll probably have a lot of Hamptons gigs.

What clubs do you like to play in?

I like being close to the crowd. Mid-sized clubs work really well. I love working at Stash on 14th Street. Beauty and Essex is a great place to feel the energy and the vibe, and Double Seven is another spot where you’re right in the mix.

What’s on your iPod?

I have a series of playlists for all the new stuff I need to hear. There’s never enough time in the day to hear all the new songs. But when I’m relaxing, I love old school music. Old classic rock, ’70s, ’80s, things like that.

What do you do to relax and de-stress?

I love going to the Russian and Turkish Baths. Sometimes I just need a good shvitz. And I’m not afraid of the cold pool either.

What advice do you have for aspiring DJs?

Be as musically knowledgeable as possible. Everybody knows that electronic music is huge right now, techno, house, dubstep, but the more versatile you are, the more gigs you can play. If you want to specifically become an electronic music DJ, and that’s your passion, go for it, but if you’re trying to get noticed and get gigs and get experienced, the more versatile you are, the more avenues you have. Stay humble and keep in mind there’s a big line between work and play. Keep a clear mind.

Do you enjoy going out and experiencing DJs and live entertainment? Check out the BlackBook City Guides for all the best spots in New York and around the world. Download the free, GPS-enabled iPhone and Android apps, and sign up for our BlackBook Happenings newsletters for New York, Miami, and Los Angeles. Knowledge is power. 

Grey Goose Outside Insiders: Devon Mosley, Singular Sensation

As National Director of Marketing for The One Group, Devon Mosley might find himself on New York’s Gansevoort Park Rooftop one night and on site at the brand’s latest venue, STK Atlanta, on the next. After working as a publicist in Los Angeles for One Sunset restaurant, Mosley accepted a New York-based position handling marketing for The One Group’s nightlife destinations, which are located in New York, LA, Las Vegas, Miami, and Turks & Caicos.

Your job regularly takes you to different cities, but where did you begin your hospitality career? I got my start in Los Angeles as a restaurant publicist. I worked with dozens of restaurants, nightclubs, and chefs around the country. It was there that I met The One Group team when I represented their first West Coast restaurant, One Sunset. I actually went to school for hospitality because I love this industry; I’m a foodie and die for travel.

What venues will The One Group launch in the coming months? I oversee the marketing and PR for our venues in NYC, LA, Las Vegas, Miami, Turks & Caicos. And right now we’re gearing up for the opening of STK Atlanta this fall, and then London the following year. I’m part of a great team with lots of very dedicated people.

What is the most rewarding part of your job? We throw a party every night. The time zones are the most difficult part of the job because we’re turning the music down in one city just as it’s going up in the next. There’s just this high-on-life feeling you get from doing what you love every day. Working a red carpet is a pretty good high every tine and there have been so many crazy nights and wild experiences to even call out the most memorable one.

What is the key to entertaining guests at home? If your guest always has a drink in their hand, it makes them your biggest fan. And have there’s no shame in starting the dance party yourself!

How does summer nightlife in New York compare to the other seasons? Are you kidding? It’s incomparable. There’s such fresh energy in the warmer months. You’re going to find me on a rooftop overlooking Gotham every night of the week.

What is your favorite summer cocktail this year? The One Group has such a stellar cocktail program; we use fresh fruits, bitters, and bubbles in cool ways. On the rooftop of the Gansevoort Park Hotel this summer, guests can enjoy STK’s signature Green Intensity cocktail.

Green Intensity: 2 ½ oz. Grey Goose Vodka ¾ oz. lime juice ¾ oz. simple syrup 5 basil leaves 1 Serrano chili pepper

Grey Goose Outside Insiders: Herbie Gimmel, Fully Loaded

Herbie Gimmel spent over a decade performing in various rock bands before landing his first hospitality gig as a bar manager at B.E.D. nightclub in Miami, where he was mentored by owner Oliver Hoyos. The North Carolina native then moved to New York to manage the bar at the Gansevoort Hotel’s rooftop lounge, and four years ago he assisted with the launch of the Empire Hotel Rooftop Bar & Lounge. Now, as general manager, Gimmel is responsible for everything from promotion to organizing live music events and generating new business.

What are your responsibilities as general manager at the Empire Hotel Rooftop Bar & Lounge? My day to day involves a variety of tasks from marketing the establishment, to generating new business, and maintaining the clients lists that we already have. The Empire Hotel Rooftop Bar & Lounge is not just a nightlife destination; we also put on music events with Jazz ensembles, for example. Currently, I’m working on a movie themed night, and toying with other similar ideas.

How did you land your first hospitality gig? I had been in the music business since I was 17-years-old, playing in different rock bands across the country until I was about 28-years-old. After that I befriended Oliver Hoyos, the owner of B.E.D. nightclub and he moved me down to Miami. I worked as a bar manager there and learned the business from him, then a few years ago I moved to New York and remained in hospitality.

Where did you end up after working at B.E.D.?I worked for Jeffrey Chodorow at China Grill Management as a bar manager at the Gansevoort rooftop. And after doing that for awhile, we opened the Empire Hotel rooftop together four years ago.

What has your job taught you about entertaining guests at home? The most important things are being in a gorgeous space with good music and good people, and certainly having a cocktail or two, to make the moment right. I love having a good time and making people happy. Throughout my life I’ve loved throwing parties—whether it’s a house party— and having the responsibility of making my guests feel welcomed.

How do the summer months change the flow of business? The pace changes dramatically, we triple our business in just three to four months. And there’s not much time off for anybody in the rooftop business because it has definitely grown in the seven or eight years that I’ve been involved in New York nightlife. At B.E.D we were the only ones with that feature, but at Empire we’re one of many, so it’s definitely more competitive. But I think the Empire has a lot to offer; great views, all different types of spaces, and a great location.

Will there be any new cocktails featured on your summer menu? Strawberry Fields: 2oz. Grey Goose Le Citron flavored vodka ½ oz. lemon juice ¾ oz. simple syrup 2 muddled strawberries Top with Prosecco Garnish with strawberry

A Chat with the Fabulous Amanda Lepore

This coming Tuesday is the first day of summer and the beginning of a fabulous new weekly, Amanda Lepore’s Penthouse. The gala will be at the ever adaptable Ganesvoort Park. Joey Israel and Kenny Kenny will add to the magic, and Marco Ovando will host. The rooftop pool deck and penthouse will be the scene of the action for a crowd that loves nothing more than to dress up and be seen. The amazing Joey Arias will perform. This is a can’t miss event for the fashionista, gay, and fabulous crowd, which is finding a renewed resurgence in the new hotels we talk so much about.

Susanne Bartsch, the grand dame of this world, is of course doing her “On Top” thing over at the Standard on Tuesdays, so everyone will be all dressed up with at least two places to go. For a while, this crowd was pushed to the fringes as bottle service bucks pushed these fabulous ones to off-nights in irrelevant clubs. Now, the new world of nightlife is embracing this clan again, as they want their guests to have a true New York experience to tell all their friends back home about. Today’s interview is with Amanda Lepore, a true NY experience. She has an album coming out and a huge soiree slated at the Highline Ballroom to support it. She seems ready to expand her brand and re-re-re-invent herself.

I’m sitting with an old friend of mine, Amanda Lepore, who has worked with me many times. I don’t wanna say ‘worked for me,’ because in nightlife everyone has their roles, and my role might have been a director or whatever, and Amanda certainly was part of the entire circus that we tried to create. She’s a brilliant persona and has created an international brand with her appearance, performances, and parties. I’ve learned so much from her. Talk to me about your gender and how you became what you are today. Well, I started out in life thinking I was a girl, and my parents and stuff and everything would cut my hair and not buy dresses for me. And I didn’t even understand what they were doing. I just thought they were punishing me for something. And then, you know, slowly when you like get older, you realize, oh well, I’m stuck with this guy’s body. I did everything I could to change it, because I was really disturbed by it. I definitely have a female mind, I took hormones when I was 15, and I started getting breasts, and I saw talk shows, and people getting sex changes, and heard that it was possible, so I did it as soon as I can. I met a boyfriend that was supportive, and his father paid for my sex change, and I became a girl and didn’t really have any ambitions, I just wanted to be a pretty girl and maybe work in a mall doing makeup or something.

Your look is iconic. It’s a Marilyn Monroe caricature. What are you trying to say with your look, and when people you don’t know see you, what is their reaction? Well, I think at first I actually didn’t even have breast implants, I had little hormone breasts. And it was a wave. I’d always watched movies and stuff, and I really liked the Hollywood bombshells. I always liked like hips and breasts and all that, and I always thought it was the most feminine body type. So I wanted to look sexier, and I would buy clothes, and try on a top and I wouldn’t fill it out, so I could only wear certain things. I got more fascinated with girls in Playboy, so I got my breasts done, and I got lips.

You also have a persona. You always are classy. You are always on. You are always performing, if you will. Is there a time when you go home at night and turn it off? Is Amanda Lepore a 24-hour thing? It’s a 24-hour thing. I mean of course, I do errands and everything and I’m not made up. I’d like to think that people don’t recognize me, but people recognize me and say hi and treat me exactly the same. I’ll be insecure about it, but sometimes I’ll meet guys I went out with and they’ll say, “Oh, you look pretty and don’t worry about it.” But I feel better made up.

Well now you have a record coming out and you are doing an event, which coincides with this record. This is really important to you. Tell me about the production of that record, which has involvement from some of my old friends: Roxy Cottontail, Larry Tee, Cazwell. Your life is a performance art piece, but now you’re actually performing as an artist, a different step altogether. Now you have put out records before, but this album is different. A lot of people are talking about the legitimization of Amanda Lepore as a music artist. Well, it was a slow kind of a thing. Around the time we worked together at Life and Spa is where it all started. I would have those birthday parties once a year, and I always admired the scene, like there was the electro scene with Larry Tee and Cazwell—he was one of the best, we really liked his music. We would hire him for my birthday parties every year and he would perform. And then one day, he saw me partying with champagne. And he said, “I wrote this song ‘Champagne’ for you, would you do it?” And I said, “Sure, that would be great.” It took me a long time to learn it and do it well, but it was a success.

Tell me about the songs on the new record. “Turn Me On, Turn Me Over,” is I guess a sequel to “My Pussy.” There’s “Convertible” and “All I Wanna Do Is Get My Nails Done.” Roxy Cottontail does a rap on it with Cazwell.

Sounds like so much fun. Yeah, it’s a lot of fun.

So, the Highline Ballroom. We were just there for the Night of a Thousand Stevies, the Jackie Factory tribute to everything Stevie Nicks. It’s becoming this very legitimate venue for the fashion and gay set. Yea, Lady Gaga had her record release party and me and Cazwell performed at it, so it was really cool.

Did you talk to Lady Gaga that night? Yea, she knows who I am.

What does Lady Gaga talk to Amanda Lepore about? She just said, “Hi Amanda.” She was busy.

You didn’t talk about hair. Well actually, one time, when David LaChapelle was photographing her for Rolling Stone, and we went to her house and she cooked dinner for her boyfriend— it was at her boyfriend’s house at the time—she just talked a bit about getting up in the morning, she seemed like just a girl from Queens, kind of, she had her Jersey Shore kind of friends, you know, they were calling her Stefani, and you could really tell that it was Lady Gaga in the making.

Your relationship with David LaChapelle has been famous. You’ve been called his muse. We know David from the beginning, he was hanging out at the clubs when he was younger. He was this great up and coming photographer who became this mega photographer. Has your relationship changed with David over time? We’ve been friends all along. I didn’t see him as much when he moved to LA and then to Hawaii. He wanted me to come to LA but I don’t drive or anything, I’m just used to being in New York. We’ve been really close friends over the years, he’s great.

Where is the connection between you and him? Where do the minds meet? I think that we see things that other people don’t see. We’re kind of perfectionists, we’re both narcissistic, you know, he was attracted to me. He’d seen me in a club and was attracted to me because he actually used to draw girls that looked like me when he was like 15. They were always naked with big boobs, big lips and cheeks, and always had different hair. He actually showed me the pictures at his mother’s house once. It was really wild. They looked identical to me.

Why are you shy? I think from being harassed in school. I wasn’t an outgoing person, you know, when I first left my husband. I worked as a dominatrix, and they would really tell me not to tell guys that I was a transsexual. But in nightclubs, we were sort of celebrated for being a transsexual. I really related to these kids, they came from other cities and grew up being harassed and had the same kind of thing.

I’ve talked to the Mother of the House of Xtravaganza, Carmen Xtravaganza, a dear friend of mine about how difficult it was for her to find her true self, make the change, and to move forward with her life and have a productive life. You are, in a sense, a leader, an icon, and you are an example to a younger generation. It must be easier nowadays, but still impossibly difficult. The surgeries are easier, more accessible. And certainly, your gender, or your definition of gender, is more acceptable than it was 20 years ago or 10 years ago. Talk about how you feel about that responsibility to people and how young people approach you and talk to you. I think it’s a great responsibility, you know, it’s really hard for them. It’s a struggle to come up with the money, it’s very expensive, and the main problem is the bullying.

What do you have to say to that? The key to overcoming that is to feel proud of who you are.

Beauty Mark: Exhale Gansevoort

Gansevoort Park Avenue was conceived throughout as a self-contained world,” Michael Achenbaum, President of Gansevoort Hotel Group, told the press of the Park avenue addition. Indeed, the sort of things that bring you to Manhattan in the first place—shopping, dining, nightlife—come built into the property’s experience. Especially attractive is its full-service Exhale Spa.

In addition to Ristorante Asellina, a Cutler Salon, and the Lacoste boutique, Exhale spa offers an experience unique to the usual amenities of a hotel. It’s a full-service spa, certainly, but it’s one that offers rather unique treatments that inspire more of a “get off your ass” sentiment on top of the usual “sit back and relax” mandate.

Take for example their Fertility Program. Not exactly a passive spa experience—not exactly a passive anything. This take-charge item on a diverse menu includes consultations with an expert in the Berkley Method for Reproductive Wellness at $250, with subsequent sessions scheduled for $135 each. How appropriate, then, that your room is just steps away?

There’s also the highly acclaimed proprietary Core Fusion classes (which include Core Fusion, Core Fusion Sport, and Core Fusion Cardio), yoga classes in the mind-body studio (Music Yoga Flow and Core Fusion Yoga), a rejuvenating infrared detox chamber (“infared detox chamber” doesn’t exactly pair well with the word “rejuvanating” in my book—minus the times I’m willing to indulge my inner masochist), and a pool.

This is Exhale’s fifth location in New York City, and it offers a full menu of tried-and-true facials and body treatments as well as some hotel package deals.

Head to Toe Package If you’ve partied a bit too much at Asellina, or just need to hit the restart button on life, this package will knock you back into place. It starts with a heart pumping mind/body class, followed by a signature spa treatment, and ends with a poolside beverage. Total Package: Two reserved seats by the pool or sundeck Valet Parking for one night only Two pool-side cocktails or smoothies One Exhale Mind & Body Class Choice of 60 Minute Fusion massage or 60 Minute True Facial Price: $696* for booking with a Superior room, and $1,026 for Suites

Things I Like: Stella, DVF, Nuela & Gansevoort Park

Fashion Week is upon us, and I just don’t know what to wear. Last night, fur and leather were certainly not an option as I attended the PETA Fashion Week Bash. It was hosted by a man who always knows what to wear, Tim Gunn, along with the beautiful actress and Daily Show correspondent, Olivia Munn. Special guests included long time PETA proponent Russell Simmons, and actress Taraji P. Henson. Henson, who was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her part in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, poses without anything to wear in the latest PETA “Fur? I’d Rather Go Naked” campaign. She spoke about growing up unable to afford fur, but refused to buy it after becoming aware of the cruelty behind it. Ironically, the gala was held at the Stella McCartney boutique in the “Meatpacking” District.

Stella is a long time supporter of animal rights. PETA hero Dan Mathews remarked how wonderful it was to be having this event at a highly successful boutique where the designer has opted not to use fur or leather in their designs. I have known Dan since the Tunnel/Spa days when the clubs I was associated with would not allow people wearing fur inside. Dan talked about how far the awareness of the cruelty behind fur has come, and of course, how much more there is to do.

Tim Gunn is obsessed with personally getting designers to opt out of using fur. I had a great chat with PR goddess Kelly Cutrone, who helped put the event together. Kelly was my PR back when I needed someone to shout my name from rooftops, so you can blame her. Also on hand was the fabulous Jenny Dembrow. I guess it’s not PC to mention one charity with another, but I’m sure PETA won’t mind. Jenny is a honcho over at the Lower East Side Girl’s Club. They need people to go to their site, Girlsclub.org, and vote for Lynn Pentecost, their fearless leader. A $50,000 grant from the Diane Von Furstenberg is at stake. Here’s the scoop:

“The DVF Awards was created in 2010 by Diane von Furstenberg and the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation to recognize and support women who are using their resources, commitment and visibility to transform the lives of other women. These are women who have had the courage to fight, the power to survive and the leadership to inspire.

Honorees receive $50,000 in support of the organization (U.S. 501c3) with whom they are affiliated from the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation to further their work. Each year, four awards are given to women who have demonstrated leadership, strength and courage in their commitment to women’s causes.”

Every vote counts, and it only takes a few moments to help the Lower East Side Girls Club get this loot. They help young girls, when often there is no one else around to guide them. Jenny, a former club kid, dedicates her life to helping these young ladies. She and Lynn and their small band are often the difference between helping a bright mind have the opportunities to reach their potential, or having them fall by the wayside. As I left Stella McCartney’s event, I eyed the Diane Von Furstenberg complex across 14th Street and was thankful that these 2 great designers where doing so much to help others with the power their success has afforded them.

After the soiree, we hoofed over to Nuela to have dinner with old friend and restaurant PR extraordinaire Kelly Blevins. That very afternoon I had lunch with Hotel Ganesvoort operator Michael Aschenbaum, and he was raving about the place. There is much to rave about. Michael demanded I try the ceviche, and I accommodated him gladly. It’s the best I’ve ever had. Nuela is located where the dearly departed Sapa used to be. I used to visit Sapa frequently when I was building Select and finishing Gypsy Tea. Located on 24th Street, just east of 6th Avenue, Nuela is charming. The block has changed since those days. There are no longer hordes of clubbers in various stages of intoxication annoying diners, which was probably the reason Sapa suffered. Gypsy, at the old Eugene’s nightclub space, has gone through a multimillion dollar renovation and is now an Indian restaurant, Junoon, which I have been told rocks on the weekends. Nuela executive chef Adam Schop’s offerings were as colorful and exciting as the interiors done by Angel Sanchez and Christopher Coleman. Cocktails were done by Alex Ott, who describes himself (with good reason) as “ alchemist/master mixologist.” The drinks were delicious, and, of course, non-alcoholic for this old warrior. The mission statement of Nuela is “Exuding unique flavors, hospitality, and the unbridled passion of South America, with refinement and style.” I would say “mission accomplished,” but that line has been used.

After dinner Amanda and I needed a stroll, so we popped over to the Ganesvoort Park to see what Provocateur’s Michael Satsky and Brian Geftner were doing with the private room Michael Aschenbaum had showed me in the afternoon. The amazing lighting Derek Vasquez was installing while Michael toured me was paying dividends at night. The crowd was enjoying the property in general, which now features an area for special guests and their special friends. I like the Ganesvoort: The intelligence and effort put into both its food, beverage, and nightlife options and how they interact comfortably with their main business of running a hotel. I like it, and I’m going to continue to say so.

The New Carlton Hotel Brings Back Old New York

When I first started writing this column, one of my primary goals was to give my readers an insider look at some of the industry’s leaders, and how they approach the business. Some of these people are relatively unknown, as they allow the successful properties and brands they’ve created and promoted do all the talking. Most appear occasionally as a bold-faced name in a newspaper or magazine. Peter Chase is a player. He’s the founder of BPC, which develops and manages creative hospitality concepts. His concepts have included: Skybar in Miami Beach, Wunderbar at the W Montreal, MGM Grand Casinos (MGM, Mandalay Bay, Luxor, Borgata) in Las Vegas, Detroit, and Atlantic City, as well as Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood, and the W San Diego.

When Ian Schrager needed to replace the irreplaceable Rande Gerber back in 2000, he sought out Peter to manage and develop bars at each of his hotels. He has overseen fourteen bars in nine hotels, spanning New York, London, Miami, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. He has also overseen the creation of several new ones.

I spent three hours chatting with him at the Carlton on Madison and 29th the other evening. I could have stayed for eight hours. Peter knows what he’s talking about, and finds himself poised to do even greater things. He is very aware that the ancient, though wonderfully redecorated hotel finds itself between the uber-hot Ganesvoort Park Hotel and the seriously hip Ace Hotel. He’s gearing up to embrace the crowds that will be passing by his door: He understands their needs, and will entertain them. He is one of the unsung heroes of the industry, and today I am singing his song.

Ian Schrager brought you in to replace the irreplaceable Rande Gerber. How did you approach that impossible dream? Ian and Rande had a relationship going back quite some time. I respect what Rande has done, and continues to do, but I think Ian was excited to create outside of that relationship. What we accomplished at the Clift with the Redwood Room, the re-interpretation of the Morgans Bar, and the complete transformation of the Whiskey into the Paramount Bar makes that evident.

Rande and I come from very different backgrounds. Rande was a former model that got into the bar industry, and I am someone that worked within the hospitality industry, and went to Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration. Beyond all of the extraordinary creative aspects of working with Ian, I approached the “impossible dream” from a business perspective. I set out to implement better systems, controls, reporting, and several initiatives to maximize profit from every drink served.

I worked for Ian and Steve Rubell, and learned a great deal. What did you take away from that experience, and how do you apply it nowadays? I know that many of the things that I discounted or infuriated me about their style/personally applied when I had such opportunities. I never got to meet Steve, but I feel like there were several talented people Ian employed to help him create his vision. I learned so much from Ian that it almost seems that I learned nothing. So much of what Ian does can’t help but resonate and change the way you look at bars, restaurants, and hotels, or for that matter, everything. Ian has a way of instilling in you his perspective on service, music, design and style. He often accomplishes this through intense demands, but as the saying goes, “you can’t make diamonds without a lot of pressure.” Eventually, you change (for the better, I might add) and forget what you thought was acceptable before. His vision is his own. Many have tried to replicate it, some with success, but there always remains just one original. I use this valuable resource every day in operating my businesses, and owe a great deal to Ian for teaching me to view things differently. Sometimes the fates bring the right person to the right place and time. The Carlton finds itself on a strip between the new Ganesvoort Park and the highly successful Ace Hotel. What are you doing to exploit this moment? Having lived in the neighborhood for 20 years, I have watched its evolution. Back in 1904, just before the NYC subway opened, the Carlton (then the Seville) Hotel opened and helped turn the neighborhood into one of the city’s most elegant locales. The original bar from the Seville is still intact, and has hosted luminaries such as Frank Sinatra and “Diamond Jim” Brady. A block away lies the remnants of Tin Pan Alley, where much of the world’s greatest music was written and produced. The Breslin Hotel, now the Ace, opened the same year as the Seville, and was part of what was known as the “Avenue of Hotels.” Today, with the renovation of both hotels, and the addition of the Gansevoort, I think that we are seeing a re-awakening of the 29th Street hotel corridor. I have always treated my competitors like neighbors. There is plenty of business for everyone, and if we support one another we all stand a better chance of succeeding. Let the Gansevoort and the Ace do what they do best, I wanted to pay homage to the history of the area, and offer a connection to its storied past through music.

Having spent countless hours in what was originally the Café at Country in the Carlton, I always knew that its center bar needed to be removed and filled with energy, be it through people, or in this case, live music. The Salon as it is now known is the entry point for all things Millesime. It acts as a portal to another time. Upstairs, we have our seafood brasserie, and across a glass bridge, Bar Millie, which will soon open. It will feature burlesque images from the turn of the century, and views looking down onto the stage. Bar Millie will be a place where you can make a reservation for a table, and come and sip cocktails with friends. A lot of places charge a cover, or pack the room to help offset the expenses of the musicians. We work with musicians, and allow them an elegant space in which to showcase their talents.

A phenomenon in the current era is the synergy and possibly the necessity of solid NYC nightlife in hotels. Tell me your take on that. How much is food and beverage driving your hotel, and will that now increase dramatically? I operate bars in W Hotels, and consult for casinos: there are few things as important to a hotel or casino as its food and beverage offering. I do not know if Ian and Steve invented it, but they certainly exploited it to the fullest. When a new hotel opens people are not going to immediately rent a room. They will pop into the bar, or grab a bite in the restaurant, and then promote the property given their experience. This puts heads in beds, and safe guards the real investment: real estate. The press will only write about a hotel when it opens, but they’ll cover any celebrity sightings as long as someone communicates with them, be it the venue itself, a cell phone picture from a customer, or a random tweet. If it is from the venue itself, this can be a double-edged sword. As a policy, we do not actively pursue press regarding our customers unless they are at a function where it is understood that their picture may be taken. Celebrities know this as well, and use certain venues to garner press when it suits their needs. Additionally, restaurants and bars are the perfect locations for movie premieres and charity events. These bring press, cameras and celebrities, which only adds to the properties cache. In the six or so months since we have been open, we have already hosted TV film shoots for Curb Your Enthusiasm, House Wives of New Jersey, an after party for the band Rammstein, listening parties for NE YO and Estelle and the several charity events including one for Artists for Peace and Justice, hosted by Paul Haggis. The word “boutique” in regards to hotels seems to be very last century. Is there a new word? Will most hotels have to go chic to remain relevant and occupied? I agree that the term sounds very outdated, but as a concept it’s still relevant. The problem started when hotel companies and designers started calling something “boutique” but only regurgitated previous design work. Boutique should represent true individuality within its local context. This only happens when passionate people are involved in every detail of development.

Unlike the Gansevoort in the Meatpacking, the Gansevoort Park was designed and pre-engineered with hospitality, food, and beverage in mind. Carlton is a much older property. What steps are you taking to retro-fit protection for your hotel guests against the sounds and such that successful watering holes inevitably bring? At the new Gansevoort Park they have added separate elevators to access the upper bars from the hotel, and seem to have situated the bars away from guest rooms. This means no more intoxicated guests on elevators with families staying at the hotel, and no more non-guests on hotel floors causing safety issues. When they built the Carlton they constructed it in such a way that sound from the bars does not disturb the hotel guests. Bars and clubs can be a tremendous asset to a hotel, but it is vital that veteran operators and professional audio engineers are involved in the design and construction phases, or you can end up with costly renovations, or lost room revenues for decades.

Tell me about Salon Millesime. The idea with the Salon was to create a sophisticated platform for progressive artistry and extraordinary musicianship. My partners and I have handpicked our talent from all ‘walks of life’ including students of the Juilliard School of Music, DJs, and well-regarded, established artists. The Salon is our doorway into the hotel. Everyone works off of their laptops or phones, and they are doing this in coffee shops more and more. People who have been laid-off, or are self-employed, are looking for a place to be able to have a meeting or get work done over a cup of coffee. During the day we offer a relaxing environment to do this and at night, sip wine and listen to our interpretation of Voix de Ville, the voice of the city. The Salon menu features casual French and Mediterranean inspired cuisine by my partner Chef Laurent Manrique. We installed a state-of-the-art Bose sound system for an unparalleled musical experience. Nightly performers include artists from far corners of the globe to nearby neighbors. N’Dea Davenport, Swizz Beatz, Nickodemus, Estelle, Grammy winning rapper Pras, Grammy winning singer Ne-Yo, and Brooklyn songstress and Si*Se have already graced the stage. When not performing live, there is a select roster of DJs like Carol C from the band Si*Se, and DJ Sir Shorty, a veteran of the city. I invite guests to gather and sip artisan cocktails like the French 75, or perhaps the Night & Day—my version of the Manhattan—a portion of whose proceeds supports VH1’s Save the Music.

We wanted to evoke an intimate music venue with hints of the history of the area’s past. The team came from Redhook Brooklyn and was lead by Doug Fanning’s DYAD Studio. Doug chose to transform the space with stylish mix of leather banquets, tiger print chairs, and glossy ebony cocktail tables with bronze inlays reminiscent of the early Café Society interiors. He also custom designed the oversize light shades reminiscent of old Vaudeville stage curtains. Designer William Calvert, a longtime friend, created a luxe cocktail dress for the servers.

How does Millesime and the other food and beverage spots in the hotel interact with each other? We chose to create one iconic name, Millesime, with multiple concepts feeding into it. Since no two guests are alike, we created an offering that appeals to each guest’s unique needs and desires, as well as those of our local community. Beyond the Salon we have the Lobby Bar, a dimly lit saloon where you can “belly up” to a magnificent mahogany bar dating back one hundred plus years to the original hotel. Order a scotch, eat a burger, catch a game on the flat screen TV, or just people watch as hotel guests arrive from near and far. Just around the corner from Millesime, across a 30-foot glass bridge, will be Bar Millie, a reservation cocktail bar. Reminiscent of an old French sitting room, it is an ideal perch for relaxing, chatting and drinking with good friends. Leather-bound chairs, metal screened burlesque images, a handcrafted marble bar, and traces of the past hang in the air like ghosts of prohibition. It’s a nostalgic portal to an era when automobiles had curves, women were dames, men wore hats, and a deal was sealed with a handshake. The room, with its vaulted ceiling and wood panels, is a place that encourages you to linger over drinks and trade glances as music wafts throughout. Seven hard shakes with a cocktail shaker and you’re transported back to the splendor of Broadway, Tin Pan Alley, and luxurious hotel lounges. It’s a trip back to the world of F. Scott Fitzgerald and The Great Gatsby,, and watching William Powell coach the bartender on the proper way to shake a martini in The Thin Man.