Bowing Down To Stevie Nicks Tonight & Why I’ve Been M.I.A.

 

Hey all, sorry I’ve been M.I.A. (That’s Missing In Action, not Miami International Airport). I have been very busy completing the new Birch Coffee Shop on 96th and Columbus. I think it’s hot, and the coffee is beyond wonderful. Check it out. I’ve been completing the design over at The DL where I just added these wonderful glass lanterns I bought at Milly & Earl on Graham in Brooklyn. Everything in that place is to die for. I frequently go in and find myself saying I’ll take 10 of these and 12 of those. Me and mine are also completing the design of the front lounge of XL Nightclubwhich will be named "Rosebud" –  not a movie reference.

I am running back and forth to Huntington, Long Island doing a restaurant that’s to-be-named later. It’s a big gig and I love it. I am also finishing up a quaint little restaurant on Avenue C which I will brag about when it’s a little closer to opening, which I think looks like 4 weeks. And tonight I’m Djing atEVR, my favorite place to spin. It’s an afterwork crowd and I get to play stuff that just won’t go over in a club environment. There’s so much more, but enough about me. 

Tonight I’m bowing down at the feet of Chi Chi Valenti, Johnny Dynell, and Brian Butterick (Hattie Hathaway)  as the23rd Annual Night of a Thousand Stevies returns to the Highline Ballroom. This is, for me , the number 1 can’t-miss-for-nothing-no- how event of the year. A list of legendary characters will perform all thingsStevie Nicks. The crowd will dress the part and sing along. It is, of course, sold out – save for 100 tickets that will be offered at the door on a first-come, first-serve basis. Doors open at 9pm.

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Day and Night’s 5-Year Anniversary & Halloween Bashes

I’ve heard it said that I am "far out.” Really, I’ve heard that. Today I will talk about events that are not as near as usual. First, however, I must pause to congratulate the Koch brothers Daniel M. and Derek M. for their four-year anniversary of Day and Night. They and their usual suspects including MATT OLIVER, RANDY SCOTT, GREG GUILLEBAUT, PHILIPPE BONDON, MATT MONCADA, IAN PARMS, DAVID SCHULMAN, ERICA LAWRENCE, and YANN FRANTZ will celebrate this Saturday at Highline Ballroom, 431 W. 16th St., with DJs Roger Sanchez and CLMD from Size Records. Reservations can be made by emailing PARTY@DAYANDNIGHTLIFE.COM or calling 212.201.1222.

Next up and far out there for me is the GEMS’ Girls Like Us Benefit Gala next Wednesday, October 17 at El Museo Del Barrio, 1230 5th Avenue between 104th and 105th Street, 6:30pm-10pm. The event will be hosted by Demi Moore and Arden Wohl. It’s cocktail attire with tickets at $300.

"The gala will honor Girls Educational and Mentoring Services, GEMS, the largest service provider to commercially sexually exploited and domestically trafficked girls and young women in the US. One hundred percent of the proceeds of this event will go to GEMS critical services for victims and survivors, ages 12 -24, of commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking. Hosts Demi Moore and Arden Wohl will kick-off a star-studded dramatic reading of excerpts from Girls Like Us, the critically acclaimed memoir by GEMS founder and executive director Rachel Lloyd. Participants in the event include: Jada Pinkett Smith, Yolanda Ross, Natasha Lyonne, Roz Coleman, Jamie Hector, Adepero Oduye, Shontelle, and India Arie." 

Also out there is Social Life Magazine’s 7th Annual Halloween Ball with  a performance by Madame Mayhem at Center548 on Saturday, October 27th. It’s a Halloween costume affair. Mayhem has an album coming out on the 30th called White Noise with a single called "Save Me.” It starts at 7:30pm with a meet & greet with Madame Mayhem and Grammy Award winning producer Mark Hudson over champagne and hors d’oeuvres until 9pm. "General admission tickets are also available for $45 and holders will get to enjoy the costume ball and live performance by Madame Mayhem and her all star band. Doors open at 9pm and will include a full open bar and DJ spinning till 2am.A portion of the proceeds from each VIP ticket sold on eventbrite will aide Musicians on Call, which brings live and recorded music to the bedsides of patients in healthcare facilities."

The 27th will be Halloween for most, as the Wednesday actual date is too much for the working class. All week is my norm. On the 27th I will DJ at the Empire Ballroom’s Monster Bash with DJ Kyle Rayner. I go from 9pm to 11pm, and Kyle goes after, unless I scare the crowd away with my spooky Halloween set. Having Halloween celebrated on a Saturday isn’t necessarily a good thing for operators as most spots are slammed anyway. The added revenues from the holiday on Wednesday would normally be a shot in the arm, but the midweek date will kill Thursdays and slow Fridays for most operators. More of this next week.

What I’m Missing While I’m At The Beach

I am on a beach in an exotic land and not inclined to speak much today. I’ll take a break from the 86 degrees, surf, and pina coladas to just say this: tonight the amazing Murray Hill and Linda Simpson will celebrate both their birthdays at Hotel Chantelle at their weekly Monday night BINGO. I go every week, but this figures to be gigantic. Alas, I am stuck here on this beach. You should go in my stead as it is the most fun nightlife has to offer.

I’ll be back with a serious tan and a new tattoo Thursday night for my DJ gig at the same Chantelle which me and my team is in the process of renovating. The good operators don’t rest on their laurels; they keep improving and correcting. That’s why they remain successful. Ravi Patel, Frank Alessio, Tim Spuches, Kyle, Tristen, and the rest of the crew keep trying to make it better and that’s why they are crowded and that’s why I talk about them. But this week, BINGO will go on without me and I it.

As the 4AM DJ that I am, I’ll be hosting a shindig that the DJ company is having on Saturday at Highline Ballroom, 431 W. 16th St. Other hosts include Jus-Ske, Jonny "the Lover" Lennon, and Chrissie Miller. It’s all about the 4AM electronic division, with DJs The Chainsmokers, Dalton, Ani Quinn, and Orazio Rispo providing the sounds. There will be performances by Mia Moretti, Caitlin Moe, Pink Cashmere. 

 Oh, the girl in the bikini is beckoning me…sorry, just got to go.

Halos, Heartbeats, & Rosewood Land in NYC Tonight

Tonight sees the opening of Rosewood (5 E.19th Street). I’ll be there. I like everyone involved in the project and well…yes, they are paying me. I will be DJing in the lower-level den which the press release describes is for "a more eclectic crowd.” That’s me. I’m opening for the fabulous Kelle Calco, one of my favorite DJs. Upstairs, Danny Rockz and Zeke Thomas provide the music. They had some preview thing the other night and it was a major celebrity fest. The building space has been many clubs, mostly with silly names like Roam and Boudoir. Nobody went to these places, so it will feel real new now. Naysayers and nut jobs will say it’s cursed. Bah humbug! My first of many this season, says I. There is nothing wrong with the space that a little experience, some love, good DJs, and common sense won’t solve.

The experience comes in the form of Redd Stylez who, as Gary Oldman once quipped in True Romance is practically related to me. Redd has been associated with a dozen places over 15 or more years. He is the creative guy; the guy tasked to fill the room and make it sing and swing. He will do just that. Hiring Ruben Rivera to do the door is a great start. Ruben has a great following and a solid eye for what works. Like all great door folk, he is not afraid to say no and also not afraid to say yes. The latter part is something that newbie door folk rarely understand. Creating a mix and letting in that borderline patron and making a club money at the same time is the difference between red and black ink. Redd doesn’t want red ink.

Inside Rosewood will be one of the fastest and, he will tell you, best-looking bartenders in this ‘Burg: Blaise Johnson. Heis fast. There’s some drink he made up called the “White Rose” which I will try after I turn things over to Kelle. It’s Appleton Rum, Chambord, and blood orange puree. Sounds yummy. Rosewood will open Tuesday through Saturday, and I’m hoping they do well.

Saturday night I attended the 4AM electronic dance music event at the Highline Ballroom. I didn’t know what to expect. The place was sold out, jammed with a crowd down the block. When I arrived, DJ Dalton was frenzying the crowd. Promoter pal Cody Pruitt and I discussed how refreshing it is to attend events outside the usual boxes…the familiar clubs. He helped me out at that Dos Equis party at Masonic Hall a few weeks ago. Then, and over the weekend and seemingly always, he brings a great crowd to any party. He is singlehandedly convincing me that promoters, who usually referred to me as the "P-word," are not all bad. Last I saw him, he was going to cut off his long locks. Alas, it was only a couple inches and I feel mislead.

Also of note is tonight’s charitable event Halos and Heartbeats, hosted by the ever-fabulous Tish and Snooky at the new Cutting Room. Tish and Snooky of Manic Panic fame sold me my first pair of pointy shoes when they had their store on St Marks. I ruined them and a brand new leopard-print sports jacket while going over a barbed wire fence one typical night a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. They are the most wonderful of people. Their hair dyes are coveted to this day. Tonight’s event features performances by Emmylou Harris and Steve Earle. It will benefit Frankie’s Friends foundation, which funds grants for life-saving veterinary services from their Hope Fund to treat pets whose families cannot afford the cost of care. There is a live, silent, and online auction to raise funds. For tickets to tonight’s event, see here.

Uncle Mike’s Closes, McCarren Park Pool Opens…

Matt De Matt’s birthday bash at his Gaslight annex G2 Lounge kept me away from Danny A’s latest screening as, once again, I couldn’t clone myself. Danny Abeckaser used to be best known for the company he keeps which includes boldface names like Leonardo DiCaprio and scores of models and beautiful people. Now more and more he is becoming a celebrity in his own right, having been a promoter and owner and club personality for decades. He works as both an actor and producer and has recently completed Freelancers and The Iceman. His role as drug dealer Jackie Solomon in Holy Rollers, a film he also produced, has me salivating for his next project. There will be other screenings, goes the logic, but I’ll have to wait until next year for Matt De Matt’s birthday.

At the party I was pleased to get a chance to chat up my friend Mason Reese who followed a childhood commercial acting career with a club/restaurant career. He may be small but he has big ideas and it was wonderful to catch up. Dina Regine and I exchanged war stories about DJing (she still does it) and people and places. It was an age-appropriate crowd for me and I’ll just leave you with that straight line. Yeah, I’m not getting any younger and neither was anyone in that room except maybe Matt who looked great and was certainly full of less BS than I hear from most people of his stature in the biz.

I like the concept of the “F**K the Hamptons” bikini and champagne brunches at Lavo on Saturday afternoons. I like that all the people in this town that I don’t enjoy as much as they think I do leave town each weekend for that never never land (as in I will never go there unless paid well). I am hearing raves about McCarren Park’s newly-opened pool and recreation facility for all the scruffy hipsters in Williamsburg. I had a blast last night at Hotel Chantelle which got its air conditioning together. The crowds – those that didn’t melt last Thursday – returned to enjoy the show and especially the roof. Debbie Harry came by to visit her pal DJ Miss Guy and I had a few minutes to chat with her. Last night I hung with regulars Tommy London and Marty Concussion of the Dirty Pearls. They were busy being boys-to-men…and back to boys-at-the-bar with Luc Carl. Before next Thursday’s DJ gig at Chantelle, I will see them perform at the Highline Ballroom with Bebe Buell, The Killing Floor, The Noise, and Ingrid and The Defectors.

My newest friend was telling me right before my DJ gig about her favorite bar: Uncle Mike’s. Less than 10 minutes later she received a message that announced its immediate closing. I’m rethinking my friendship… this girl is dangerous. The message said:

"tomorrow, Friday, is closing day for mike’s. we are throwing an ‘end of the world’ party. I expect everyone to make the bar as much money as possible if we want guaranteed jobs at the other company bars. the $ Friday needs to be huge. I couldn’t tell anyone until now, ring as much as possible. sell decor sell chalkboards, hats, glasses etc. starting at $10 the money will be very closely watched. drop text and Facebook bombs NOW. twitter, call, etc. put it on the sign in the am. sell every drop of liquor in here at full price. I need $6000+ tomorrow."

Uncle Steve is heading to Uncle Mike’s tonight with cash in his pocket. Yesterday I told Mason that the business is booming and that everyone is making loot. I might have misspoken. Come join me at Uncle Mike’s and I’ll buy you a beer…or maybe a barstool.

Dual Groupe Split Up – Day & Night Goes On

I hear it all the time. Nightlife people say, “It’s all about relationships,” almost as often as they say, “It’s all about service.” But “relationships” is a broad term. It’s relationships with customers, staff, celebrities, P.R. firms, promotional entities, cops, robbers and relationships with lots of broads, models and other beauties. In an era where night life spaces—faced with increasing overhead— are open on more nights, and often days, it is important to have partners you can depend on. The modern nightlife entity must expand or franchise it’s brand elsewhere, like another space or city or even country. It is increasingly important to partner with like minded individuals. The successful groups like Tao, Strategic, Butter, The OneGroup, and Emm have multiple players with a common purpose.

A minute back I congratulated Dual Groupe partners Daniel and Derek Koch for their continued success and the seasonal opening of Day & Night. But I got a note from them saying they were no longer involved with Day & Night or Dual Group—they are working on something new. But as they say in showbiz “the show must go on,” and so it does. For me, the brand Dual Groupe referred to Daniel and Derek, the twin brothers, the two or duo. I got confused and I got in touch with Michael Weinstein, a Dual Groupe partner, to find out how this happened and what will happen now. Lawyers are way deep in this, so answers were expectedly guarded.

I myself was confused by the “tiff.” I assumed that Dual Groupe referred to the two, the duo that are the Koch twins. Has the public been confused? Does the public care?  
Dual Groupe started as a collaboration with Derek & Daniel, but the Day & Night brand has continued to grow without their input. The public is only interested in a quality experience, they know that they will continue to enjoy the best brunch party out there. We not only have an amazing venue in Highline Ballroom, but continue to present the biggest DJ’s and the highest energy team.

The Highline Ballroom brunch is a hit. People are going, spending money, having fun but eventually, Derek and Daniel will start a rival brunch. How will this affect you?  
We aren’t concerned. We just celebrated our 5th anniversary and the crowds consistently prove to be non-plussed by any outside noise. They are only interested in the product, not by drama. Our task is to provide that experience. Our partners at the Highline Ballroom have really turned up the offering with an amazing new sound and light system. There is nothing like it in the city. We are also looking forward to taking the show on the road; we have some exciting plans for Art Basel Miami Beach at the Ritz Carlton, St Barths for the holidays, and the Sundance Film Festival.

I’m sure that Derek and Daniel will come up with something creative, it just won’t be Day & Night.

Can you talk to the reasons why the Groupe broke up? 
Without getting into specifics because of pending litigation, I will say that there were differences of opinions as to the direction of what we do. It’s no different than any business arrangement. Sometimes people don’t agree, but how they react that makes all the difference. Sometimes things are said and done that change relationships irrevocably.

How has brunch changed nightlife?   
We truly have created a new category that many have tried to duplicate throughout the country. Restaurants from NYC to Miami to LA all offer an alternative to what we do, but none come close to what we offer. We are the archetype for this category.

Who are the faces now of Dual Groupe and what are their backgrounds?  
We have a great team. My partner Andreas Huber and I have partnered with Tsion Bensusan at Highline Ballroom. Our hosts for the brunch are Phillipe Bondon and Olivier Lubrano, both of whom have a wealth of hospitality experience. They couldn’t be more debonair or charming.

The Virgins’ Donald Cumming on the Band’s Comeback, His New Sound, and Being a Life-Long New Yorker

Donald Cumming has led and continues to lead quite a life. From the trials and tribulations of his youth to those that accompanied signing with a major label, the 31-year-old born-and-bred New Yorker has no shortage of stories illustrating his hustle, his hang-ups and his regrets.

Cumming’s cult band The Virgins—which loosely formed in 2006, was signed to Atlantic in 2007, experienced a meteoric rise in 2008, and continuously toured the world after that—has kept somewhat mum for a few years, but returns today with their sophomore album, Strike Gently, out now via Julian Casablancas’s indie imprint Cult Records.

In the interim since his debut, Cumming has overhauled his sound—essentially morphing from shiny pop to folk rock—and begun playing with three entirely new “dudes,” as he is wont to collectively identify his bandmates. Max Kamins (bass), Xan Aird (guitar), and John Eatherly (drums) round out the updated ensemble, which last month played an intimate set at Soho House and tomorrow plays SXSW. The remainder of March and early April the foursome will tour the US, and they can next be enjoyed in NYC at Bowery Ballroom on April 1.

Connecting with Cumming, who I’d feel more comfortable calling Donald, was particularly special for me, as The Virgins was the first band I ever interviewed. Last time, we crouched together at Highline Ballroom in the designated “VIP” section. Five years later we could be found at his studio space in the East Village—walls lined with blankets in an attempt to muffle their rehearsals—sitting on his beat up sofa beside an open window while he basically chain smoked. “It’s, like, my shame,” he told me, explaining that in part his shame stems from the fact that cigarettes are tested on animals and for the past few years he’s been vegetarian-turned-vegan.

He seemed to me to be in a better place, and said so. Married for two years to Canadian visual artist Aurel Schmidt, Donald, the only child who dropped out of high school, ran away, and did odd (and undisclosed) jobs to make ends meet, seems to have found his footing again. He was gracious and humble and open to talk. We caught up for an hour and a half, and what follows is the most meaningful, entertaining, and informative aspects of our conversation. Donald discussed a number of things, including his take on The Virgins’ audible departure, what he’d do if he didn’t have his music career, and how, despite a challenging childhood and professional woes, he feels ever so fortunate.

Tell me a bit about this switch. New members, new sound…
It’s been a minute. The dudes [and I] wanted to do different things. I love those dudes, those guys are like family to me, [but] we were ready to move on. We changed a lot. These guys, I’ve known them a while. We played together in a country cover band. When I was writing new songs, I started playing with these guys, and it felt really good. It just made sense that, since we were friends—we’d been hanging, playing music—they would be the dudes I worked with. It was a cool vibe; when we started writing new stuff, the songs grew naturally. It worked right away. I love these dudes and the way they play. We don’t have to tell each other much. Everybody does their thing.

What was the process of bringing the album together?
We’d been writing songs, started playing around the city. Because we had an opportunity to do a one-off, we had a single. We had, like, half this record written and started recording. We didn’t know who was going to put it out. We probably thought we’d end up putting it out ourselves. Through a mutual friend we found out Julian [Casablancas was] interested. We played him songs, talked about what [we] wanted to do, and he [told] us about the label. It felt really cool. The vibe was good right away.

Sounds pretty painless.
It was. This experience has been amazing. A lot of painful shit happened with the last album, with the label we were on.

What compelled you to maintain the name while transitioning the style?
The first thing I ever made was a demo in my room. I started giving [it] out and put “The Virgins”—I thought it would be cool to be in a band. Then, when I got a deal really quickly, I didn’t have a band, so I put the band together [and] made the EP. Things were progressing logically, except we had [signed with] a major label. When we went to make the record, a lot of stuff didn’t fit for me. It changed our direction, without us having control. We started having to deal with the business model and projected earnings and all the things that come with being on a big label.

It’s the name of my band. It was my name before the label, before the record and, after, it’s still the name of my band. When we started making this record, it was like going back to when things flowed naturally. We made what we felt like making. It didn’t feel like a change of direction. It felt like getting back on track. Personally, [“The Virgins”] doesn’t mean anything to me. It’s a name. I don’t have any attachment to it, emotionally or aesthetically. It just seemed like it would be more trouble changing it than leaving it alone.

Why the aesthetic shift?
For me, the music isn’t different. It’s just songs I believe in. I was deciding whether or not I even wanted to make music anymore, the conclusion I came to was, I’m not interested in doing anything I don’t believe in. It wasn’t a decision to change the style. I had to make what I wanted to make. I couldn’t have done anything else. If it throws somebody off, there’s not anything I can do. There might be fans that are like, “Oh, this sounds different.”And I understand. It definitely does. But, it just sounds like the way we play. We’re just doing it, and it sounds different. It’s not an ideology where we have to present a new thing. We didn’t say, “Let’s do it differently.”

Can you share a bit about your uncertainty surrounding continuing to make music?
Making the record with Atlantic was kind of crazy. I don’t want to go into it, but we all felt [that] wasn’t what we were trying to do. It affected all of us. Then we toured extensively. It was a strange experience. It wore away at me. I couldn’t identify with the music [anymore]. It got to the point where I was like, “I hate this. I hate this whole thing and I don’t know how to fix it.” So, I guess I had a bit of a spiritual crisis. [Laughs]

That was 2008?
’08 through ’10. Maybe ’11. It went on and on because we just kept touring.

Did you do anything else between then and now?
A ton of shit, but I needed to get my brain together. Besides getting married, finding out what means most to me, follow[ing] goals to their logical conclusions. There’s always somebody with an opinion, a reason you shouldn’t do what you want. Most times in my life, when I haven’t done what I wanted, I’ve ended up regretting it.

When I saw you perform last month, I kept thinking about Tom Petty and Bob Dylan. Have you gotten that before?
No. It’s great to hear. Everybody has their own take. So far it’s been stuff I like. It’s cool with me.

So, where do you like to play?
I love Mercury Lounge. I’ve enjoyed every show we’ve played there. It’s my favorite spot in the city. It sounds good. It feels connected. You’re sharing an experience with a room full of people. Obviously it’s cool when we play bigger venues, but the bigger the place the less personal things feel.

Do you become homesick pretty easily?
No. I really like traveling. It’s one of my favorite things about being in a band. Making records is amazing—it’s its own special thing—but the fact that you get to travel is quite cool.

And you grew up in Manhattan.
I grew up a few places, but I lived on Canal and Greenwich when I was a kid and, when my parents split, I [divided] my time between [there] and Astoria, with my mom. I’ve probably moved 10 or 11 times.

You have a favorite neighborhood?
I love Chinatown. I don’t live there anymore, but it’s peaceful and I like that. It’s gentrified, but doesn’t look like a mall. It’s heartbreaking to walk around the city and see how fucked it is. But, I love New York.

You’re a lifer.
Oh yeah, for sure.

Me too. So, of course this city influences your music.
Of course. All my memories are here and all my friends are here. Every place reminds me of somebody or something. It has an affect on me.

You didn’t finish high school, did you?
No.

And no college.
Yeah.

You’re self-taught. How many instruments do you play?
I attempt to play the guitar and the piano. That’s it. I’m not that guy who masters instruments. I get by. Shit’s not sounding so crisp anymore, you know what I mean? It doesn’t have that pop. I’m not the world’s tightest rhythm guitarist. Any little addition to my repertoire feels like a big achievement. [Laughs]

What’s been the biggest challenge?
Getting back to a place where I [can] express myself and feel like [I’m] making music for reasons valid to me. I didn’t know if that would happen again and was prepared for that not to happen. I feel grateful to have had the experience [of] making this record and excited to make more and play with these guys. I just feel really fortunate.

Do you do anything else apart from this?
I mean, I’m not really qualified to do anything else.

If you couldn’t make music, what would you do?
Honestly, without wanting to be overly romantic, washing dishes. That was [a] job I had that felt pretty all right. But you can’t support yourself doing that. Well, obviously people do. I don’t want to sound flippant. I’m lucky to make music for a living. But, when I washed dishes, I had some good friends and some good times. That’s a job I look back on without frustration or anger. A lot of things I’ve done for money in my life I really regret.

Regret?
[Deciding] to do something because I needed money, as opposed to believed in or wanted to, that stuff stayed with me. I’m not resolved. I needed money, so it was good to alleviate whatever problem I was having. But, I don’t have that money now. And those things are indelible. So, is it worth it? I don’t know. When I was younger, I avoided all work all the time. I was always broke. Beyond broke. No money whatsoever. I would paint myself into corners. If an opportunity came up to [make] money, I had no choice. I feel like it was cosmic punishment for not working. Like, you do shit for money you don’t want to do. I’ve got hang-ups about this obviously. [Laughs] I’m grateful to be a professional musician, to support myself with music. But washing dishes was a job I don’t have bad feelings about. I just got into tight situations. You do what you gotta do.

Did you receive monetary support from your family at all? Were you “privileged,” as they say?
No, not at all. My dad had a liquor store, my mom worked in an office. My dad was an alcoholic and basically went bankrupt. Closed the store. Moved in with his boyfriend. He was a committed alcoholic and died when he was 41, 42. I was maybe 11 or 12. My mom worked in Jersey, I went to school in Manhattan and we were living in Queens. She would take me, then get on a bus and go to work. It was tiring for her. When I was, like, 14, she met this guy from Florida and moved there. I went with, but didn’t get into it. My life was here. So, I ran away. I left home and moved back when I was almost 16. I had a little bit of money from social security—from my dad dying—and I started renting a bedroom from my friend’s mom. I got a job working at a coffee shop and was trying to go to high school. But I stopped going to school. I stopped working. That led to figuring it out. I wouldn’t trade it or change anything.

Wow. So, no regrets?
Only petty stuff that fucks with my ego and shit. I regret not going to school. I regret not going to college. I’ve always had to do shit on my own. It might have been cool to have a professor and be with other students, finish an assignment, and get feedback. I would have been down. But, I was way more focused on the opposite of that. I wouldn’t recommend it.

Switching gears, you’ve got a certain look. Can you comment on your personal style?
I only buy used clothes. I don’t believe in manufacturing clothes. It’s a drain of resources, putting all that shit into the world. I believe in secondhand. I’m vegan. I don’t wear animal products that are new. There’s definitely enough clothing on the planet, not only to clothe everyone, but [also] to stop fucking with animals, stop polluting the world, stop using plastic, stop exploiting people—all that shit. Like, I’m just not down. I could go on and on.

Didn’t see that coming! What prompted the veganism?
I bought The Animal Rights Handbook: Everyday Ways to Save Animal Lives by Linda Fraser at a secondhand store, because I liked the cover. I was already vegetarian and it was on my mind. I felt super guilty eating cheese and was like, “Fuck, I know I shouldn’t be doing this.” I didn’t know what was going to be “the thing,” but I knew it was coming. I started reading this book and that was it. I have never thought about going back. It’s not difficult at all. It makes perfect sense. It’s quite strange how willing people are to not give a fuck. 

Monday Funday: Tonight’s Top NYC Events

So it’s the first day of the work week and there are four more days to go. I get it. But why ruminate when you can start to make Mondays the best night of the week? This weekly column is devoted to finding the best events across NYC hosted by individuals and places that are doing amazing, crazy, wild, sexy things on Monday nights. And I am here to honor them. From singers in their underwear and free salsa dancing, here are tonight’s top events.

Watch two hot singers belt out famous songs in their underwear:
Pop/rock show The Skivvies has double meaning: led by Broadway performers Lauren Molina and Nick Cearley at Highline Ballroom, the actor-musicians sing stripped-down, acoustic versions of favorite Lana Del Ray-Robyn-Rihanna pop songs and their original songs all while they too are stripped down to their underwear. Molina and Cearley’s bodies are pretty perfect looking (we’re talking fully-exposed six-packs and chiseled arms), and their performance is about as unpredictable as it gets. The Skivvies is a wild experience. Highline Ballroom. 8pm. $25. All details here. Venue info here.

See award-winning Canadian indie pop duo Tegan & Sara perform:
Alright, so with their new album coming out tomorrow, tonight’s show is already sold-out, but tomorrow’s is all for the picking. Famous for being twins, writing angsty-layered music, and both being openly gay, Tegan & Sara are at the Beacon Theatre tonight and Tuesday, performing their award-winning music and unleashing their signature onstage political and personal banter. Grammy-nominated, and former tour mates with Rufus Wainwright and The Killers, the sisters’ show is high-class. Beacon Theatre. 8pm. Tonight and tomorrow. All details here. Venue info here.

EDIT: Both shows have been canceled due to illness. They will make it up to you. Somehow. 

Salsa dance for free with a live band and mojito happy hour:
Middle Eastern restaurant and lounge Taj II in Flatiron heats Mondays up with its weekly salsa night starting at 6:30pm, a live band and live singers provide the tuneful accompaniment to the lounge’s free salsa lessons. Don’t know how to salsa? Have a crush on your dancing partner? Find the courage in a frothy $8 mojito and $6 Coronas till 2am. Works every time. Taj II. 6:30pm. $8 cover before 7pm, $12 after. All details here. Venue info here.

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MONDAY FUNDAY: Tonight’s Top Events

So it’s the first day of the work week and there are four more days to go. We get it. But why ruminate when you can start to make Mondays the best night of the week? This weekly column is devoted to finding the best events across NYC hosted by individuals and places that are doing amazing, crazy, wild, sexy things on Monday nights. And we’re here to honor them. Here are tonight’s top events.

See Janeane Garofalo do stand-up:
The prolific comedian from such hit comedies as Wet Hot American Summer and Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion is coming to cozy West Village landmark Cornelia Street Café for the ninth anniversary of “Morrison Hotel:” a show produced and hosted by comedian John Morrison. While the show usually hosts up-and-coming comedians, tonight’s show is a special one, bringing with it not just Garofalo, but also Last Comic Standing Finalist Myq Kaplan and “This American Life” contributor Dave Hill. 8:30pm, $20 ticket, one drink included. All the details here.

Witness a star-studded burlesque show:
Burlesque celebrity Calamity Chang is hosting and performing at Tribeca’s Asian-fusion mixology haven Macao Trading Co., as part of her praised, once-a-month Drunken Dragon Nights show. The performance also features burlesque babes Gal Friday, Minx Arcana, and Peekaboo Pointe, so expect a high concentration of expert, sexy performers and potent cocktails, all in one space. Oh, and there’s a two-hour open bar before the 10pm show. And it’s FREE. Arrive 9pm. Must RSVP. All the details here.

Honor Pulitzer Prize-winner Edith Wharton:
 The New York Society Library honors the 150th birthday of Edith Wharton – the  author of such classics as The House of Mirth and The Age of Innocence – with a pretty intimate and personal exhibit that launches tonight. Featuring family portraits, books that Wharton read as a youngin, and facts about her life in New York, you’ll walk out knowing so much about Wharton, you could write a book about her. Or maybe meet another devotee and discuss the exhibit over a signature nutella hot chocolate at Max Brenner’s nearby café Little Brown Chocolate Bakery & Coffee. Exhibit runs until January 1st  and is free. All the details here.

Hear Jay-Z protégée Rita Ora sing:
Whether you’re a fan of Rita Ora, Jay-Z, or the idea of a female rapper becoming a huge success, the Jay-Z protégée’s show tonight at Chelsea club Highline Ballroom is going to be a huge move in her career. So be there to witness it (and a live performance of “How We Do Party”), and also openers Iggy Azalea and Havana Brown rock the stage. 8pm. Sold out… but you can find a way. All the details here.

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