A Suave Selection of Sippable Sakes

Sake is rarely spotted in the U.S. outside the gilded ghetto of sushi bars and Asian-themed nightclubs. That’s a shame, as the sakes I’ve tasted would brighten just about any occasion. At its best, cold sake (the warm stuff is generally less refined) boasts the versatility of liquor, the cerebral complexity of wine, and the visceral satisfaction of beer. There are hundreds of styles and brands out there, but here’s a selection of my favorites that you should be able to find at better wine and liquor stores anywhere. 

Hiro Blue Junmai Ginjo ($40) is a crisp sake with a fruity edge and notes of blueberry and watermelon. The pricey but delicious Murai Family Daiginjo ($69) has tart grape flavors and an aroma of spring flowers. Yoshinogawa Gokujo Ginjo ($33) is a super-smooth sake with enjoyably complex notes of fennel and herbs. Oregon-based Momokawa has several affordable offerings, including its Organic Creamy Nigori Junmai Ginjo ($13), a silky sake with a citrus bite, and the Organic Medium Rich Junmai Ginjo ($13), with coconut notes and a nice balance of tart and sweet. 

My favorite of the bunch come from TY KU, which offers a very impressive range of sakes and spirits. TY KU Black Super Premium Junmai Ginjo Sake ($28) is simply sublime. Brewed in Nara, Japan using 45% milled Akebono sake rice – putting it in the top 6% of the world’s sakes – it’s soft, smooth, and refreshing, with notes of vanilla and peach, the slightest hint of spice, and a mildly sweet finish. A grain of rice can come to no finer end. But as far as your evening is concerned, consider ending it with a fine Japanese whisky

Jen Gatien’s ‘Limelight’ Documentary Premieres Next Week

I am weak from Fashion Week. I have writer’s block and writer’s cramp. I’m discombobulated, disillusioned, distressed, disabled, dyslectic, disappointed, and disturbed. I don’t know which end is up and I’m feeling low down. So, today this will be short and sweet and not too neat. Tonight I will follow one of my not-too-lost leaders Nur Khan to Hiro for Crystal Castles. He says there might be “more after” and I believe him, as he’s a truthful human being and delivering a good time is his mission.

I saw Crystal Castles at Don Hills when Paul Sevigny, Nur and Don showed us all that things could still be all that they could be. I’m excited about tonight’s show, as unlike every other event this week, I won’t have to think about what to wear. I’m eating at MPD right before catching up with Daniel and Derek Koch. They’ve had a busy summer. I have rsvp’ed to the Manero Party at Skylight West which I have not been to—I don’t think so, at least.

I guess that’s the point…my thinking isn’t where it should be, and next week promises to be a mess as well. Amanda scolded me about the mess on my desk and I pointed to my forehead and replied, “You should see what’s going on in here.” I think Vonnegut said that. My next week will be dominated by the official premiere of the Limelight documentary that Jen Gatien produced and Billy “Cocaine Cowboy” Corbin directed.

Limelight documents the rise and fall of Peter Gatien, Michael Alig, tons of other peeps, and that guy who used to be Steve Lewis as well. I am being stopped on the street by strangers who have seen the trailer. My dentist looked down at my eyes instead of my bleeding mouth and said “Hey, I saw you in that movie preview.” Yes that was me and that is the great scandal, which will always be linked to my bio. I will always proclaim my innocence and those who believe me will and those that won’t, just won’t. It matters not to me. Those that support me and love me and believe in me have always outnumbered my detractors. I definitely was pushing the envelope back then and definitely got knocked on my ass but I believe the measure of a man is how he picks himself up after the big fall. I looked at the abyss and came through.

My current endeavors have redefined my brand and I don’t miss the old Steve Lewis…very often. This flick will bring you there. It will show you the players and the thinking and define the dangerous world of the legendary clubs I was part of. Today’s operators worry about the competition, bottle sales and promotion. We had that and lots of real deal gangsters to deal with. I think the movie is great and I’m anxious to see the final cut. Now I have to put on the cheap suit, the almost real smile and rush off into the fray. Piece out…I like that but it’s kind of corny.

Can Small Clubs Make Real Bank?

On my trip to Vegas the power of the strategic group machine was evident. Tao Vegas and Lavo, on back to back nights, packed a formidable wallop. The same one felt every night in associated New York venues. Avenue is still there and so is doing it, doing it and doing it well Marquee. The ability to service clients, especially those that spend big bucks in both New York and sin city, sets strategic groups above the rest. Tao New York as well as Stanton Social Club and other properties provide multiple cross promotion possibilities. It is difficult to see how any stand-alone nightlife entity can compete in New York without this outside revenue and marketing boost.

The Andre Balazs properties operate differently, but it can be argued provide similar opportunities. As I mentioned the other day, while attending a party in my honor at the Chateau Marmont, I noticed Leonardo Dicaprio playing backgammon at a nearby table. I heard that he had recently been spotted at Andre’s ever booming 18th floor at the Standard. The ability to service a celebrity as they jet set between cities like New York and LA or Miami is an advantage the real players feel they must have. In the summer, the clubs will create Hamptons outposts to ensure that when the season is over VIPs return to the fold. You basically have 16 days to pay for a year’s rent, insurance, wear and tear and financing, not to mention day to day operating costs. That’s 16 real days out of 365 and that reality doesn’t consider cold spells or rain. You can’t really make money, but you can stay real close to those who butter your bread year round.

Going forward can a stand-alone club generate enough money or publicity or marketing momentum to compete with clubs located in hotels where rent, security and publicity? Electricity and other expenses are absorbed by the large chains. It’s becoming more and more important for food and beverage to drive hotels. Wouldn’t the Standard be just standard if not for the publicity and beautiful folk its restaurants and clubs attract?

Eric Goode and Sean Macpherson seem to understand and succeed in letting the f and b drive their properties. Would the Maritime be worth a mention if not for Hiro and Matsuri? Would the Bowery Hotel be more than a flop house without Gemma and the Lobby Bar? Would the Jane be anything but a youth hostel without the major hype of the Jane Ballroom? Would Ian Schrager’s Grammercy Park raise an eyebrow if not for Rose Bar? The small hipster lounges will somehow pay rent, salaries and other expenses by being “off the beaten path” or non-corporate alternatives, but will these operators actually make loot without the hotel connection or a viable franchise in sister markets? How will they pay their bills, let alone thrive?

Places like Lit or Beatrice will always bring home some bacon and will generate volumes of press, but the big clubs with Vegas, Miami and LA partners will have much larger revenue streams. My home will always be in the smaller, hipper places where advanced forms of music and alternative ideas can flourish outside the mentality of the hotel chain, but I spend about 11 dollars a year going out. The pools, outdoor terraces and decks of the hotels turn summer, which traditionally melted club’s bottom lines, into a season of prosperity. Rumor has it that the roof of the Ganesvoort grossed close to 200k on weekend afternoons during the hot months. With the publicity generating Provocateur now open on the lower level, the hotel is a home run.

The future of clubs will be in hotels. Hotels receive an almost automatic liquor license. This has been challenged of late, as seen in the problem Todd English ran into at his community board hearing for the new hotel on Bond street. In most cases, obtaining licensing will be easier at hotel properties. Their political lobby is stronger than the nightclub industry and the tradition is to grant them permits. Police and government inspections will surely be more lax. Considerations to hotel guests will ensure soundproofing and controlled sound systems. As a by-product, this will lessen the impact of the joints on the lives of neighbors. Hip little bars in hip little inns may become all the rage. Boutique bars will excite boutique hotels. My trip to Vegas showed me XS. It is the deathstar of all nightclubs. It is a place where a million dollar night may well be feasible. Some may find it a bit cheesy, but that’s a lot of cheddar being generated. XS is setting the bar for the new decade.

[Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article reported inaccurate information about Thompson Hotels. BlackBook apologizes for any misrepresentation or inconveniences caused as a result.]

Where Celebs Go Out: Marc Jacobs, Amanda Lepore, Adrian Grenier, Emma Snowdon-Jones

At David Barton Gym annual toy drive: ● MARC JACOBS – “In Paris, there’s a small club called Montana, and there’s a restaurant called Thiou. Bars I really don’t hang out in. Oh, there’s this great club that happens once a month in Paris called Club Sandwich. And it’s at the Espace Cardin. And everyone gets super dressed-up, so it’s really, really fun. I try to go whenever I’m in Paris, if it’s going on. And we stay out all night and just dance like crazy. And in New York, my favorite restaurants have always been the same. I love to eat at Pastis. I love the Standard. I love Da Silvano. I eat in the lobby of the Mercer a lot, the hotel. I usually go to Pastis for lunch, and there’s a sandwich that was on the menu, but they don’t make it anymore, but I always insist that they make it for me. And it’s really fattening, so I shouldn’t eat it, but it’s chicken paillard and gruyere cheese and bacon. And it’s so delicious. It’s really good. And it’s my weakness. It’s just like the most perfect sandwich.”

● DAVID BARTON – “Oh, I can’t think where I like to hang out in Seattle except my new gym! There’s a great place that just opened up in New York, up on 51st, called the East Side Social Club. Patrick McMullan is one of the partners there. He’s co-hosting with me tonight. Great place; really cool. It’s very old world, kind of like going to Elaine’s, kind of little cozy; sit at a booth; very cool. Love a little place called Il Bagatto, over on 7th between A & B — little tiny Italian place, East Village, kind of a neighborhood place that I go to. What else? I don’t know restaurants. I’m very casual. I’m so not that into food. I mean, I could eat cardboard — I’m just not into food! I like people. I like atmosphere, but I’m just not that into food.” ● AMANDA LEPORE – “I definitely like Bowery Bar and I like Hiro. Boom Boom Room. Just anywhere where everybody is, I guess! [laughs] Novita, I like, my friend Giuseppe. Any favorite dishes? I try not to eat too much! ● PATRICK MCDONALD – “My favorite restaurant in New York is Indochine. It’s been around for 25 years. Jean-Marc, I adore. I love the bar at the Carlyle. I don’t drink, but I like to go there for tea in the afternoon. And I love Lady Mendl’s Tea Salon on Gramercy Park. I love Pastis, Odeon, and everywhere. I like the French fries at Pastis.” ● PATRICK MCMULLAN – “I love going to Waverly Inn downtown. Boom Boom Room is fabulous. That’s really a new, great place. SL, on 409 W. 14th Street, down below is nice. Of course, I have the East Side Social Club that I’m involved with, and that’s great for hanging out in, for eating. Favorite dishes anywhere? Oh, I don’t know, just anything that people recommend. I usually go with what people recommend ’cause most people know what’s good — the waiters know, so I think that’s the best thing. Red wine is good to have to drink sometimes. They have a drink called the Eastsider at the East Side Social Club that’s really good; any of their pastas; their ravioli is great there. What else do I like? That new place that’s open, the English place, on 60th in the Pierre — Le Caprice, that’s a nice place. At the Waverly Inn, I like the macaroni and cheese. It was funny because the macaroni and cheese is about two dollars less than a room at the Pod Hotel, which is where the East Side Social Club is! The Monkey Bar is fun. There are so many cool places in New York. I just go where people tell me to go.”

At elf party for Santa Baby 2: Christmas Maybe:

● JENNY MCCARTHY – “In Chicago, I would have to say Gibsons Steakhouse still; in Los Angeles, Katsuya, still love that sushi; I’m addicted to it. And in New York, Koi. I’m very trendy and boring, but, hey, that’s where the good food is, so …” ● PERI GILPIN – “In L.A., we like BLT a lot. We have five-year-old twins, so we’re like in bed by nine o’clock — pretty boring. Corner Bakery for soup.” ● CANDACE CAMERON BURE – “L.A., hands down, our favorite restaurant is Gjelina, which is in Venice. And we love Craft; love Michael’s in Santa Monica. Here, in New York, my favorite restaurant is Lupa, which is a Mario Batali restaurant; love it here. And I don’t go to clubs anymore, nightclubs; I don’t ever! At Gjelina, they have a burrata with prosciutto and, usually, a warm pear or a warm peach. I love that! I really love tapas. I enjoy getting a lot of appetizers, more than just a main dish. We, actually, have had our own wine label, Bure Family Wines, for two years, which is at several restaurants, so matching the food and the wine is a big part for us. We’re big foodies” ● DEAN MCDERMOTT – “There is a great bar, Ye Coach & Horses in L.A., on Sunset. I’m so bad at this stuff! Oh, Katsuya, in the Valley, awesome sushi. It’s our favorite place. We go there like three times a week.” ● KEN BAUMANN – “In New York, my favorite restaurant is Il Cortile. It’s in Little Italy, and it’s run by this guy named Stefano, and it’s incredible, phenomenal food. In Los Angeles, my favorite restaurant’s gotta be Cut, which is in the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.” ● SHAILENE WOODLEY – “Honestly, I’m not really a club kinda girl. I’d rather go to a local bar with some friends and hang out there. Or just go back to my house and have people come over. I’m more of the congregate-at-my-house kind of chick. I’m 18, so I don’t drink, so I don’t go to bars. There’s a place called the Alamo, which has karaoke and it’s a bar, but we go and karaoke there probably once a week.” ● FRANCIA RAISA – “I’m not a big club person. I really like bars and lounges. In L.A., I like to hang out at Buffalo Wild Wings, watching sports and drinking beer with my friends. I really don’t go out that much. I hang out at home and have my own glass of wine, watching Grey’s Anatomy. Oh, I just tried this restaurant yesterday at Gramercy Park Hotel. It’s a new, Italian place — Maialino. It was amazing. And again, I’m very simple, so I like pizza, and John’s Pizza out here is amazing to me, too. And hot wings I like at Planet Hollywood. I’m obsessed with them!”

At Zeno “Hot Spot” launch party @ MTV Studios:

● SKY NELLOR – “I am a huge sushi fanatic, so I just had Katsuya three times in two days in L.A. What is it about Katsuya? It’s the baked-crab hand roll in a soy-paper wrap. It’s just so yummy. I want one now! In New York, I have a fixation with Bagatelle. I just love the fish and the veggies. Nightclubs, nightlife, oh, my God! Apparently, I’m a really good bowler, so I hang out at Lucky Strike everywhere — Miami, L.A., Kansas! We just had a bowling party, and I won, so … Oh, they didn’t let me see my score. I just kept getting strikes to the point where they were, like, ‘Give her more shots! We have to stop this girl!’ And the drunker I got, the better I got. Clubs — if I’m going to go out, I’m going to go out to dance. And I’m going to go where the DJ is playing. I don’t care what club it is. I went to a dive in L.A., at a party called Afex, just because some of the best DJs were playing that night. Like, I don’t care about the crowd. I don’t care about the scene. I care about the music. I don’t think the venue has a name. I think it’s called No Space. They just move the party around.” ● SUCHIN PAK – “I have a great place. It’s called Broadway East, and it’s on East Broadway. And I love it because it’s a beautiful space, but also it’s literally across the street from my house. That always helps. And then there’s a really fantastic place called Bacaro. Oh, it’s amazing! It’s downstairs. It’s almost a dungeon-like place. The people that used to do Peasant, the wine bar there, moved to this place. I like to say the Lower East Side on East Broadway is where the grown-up hipsters go. For a true Lower East Sider, it may not be true Lower East Side, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve moved more south than east, and I keep trickling that way.”

At charity:ball for charity:water:

● ADRIAN GRENIER – “Brooklyn. Fort Greene. Habana Outpost — it’s run mostly on solar power, and it’s a sustainable business.” MARK BIRNBAUM “Well, if I do say so myself, Abe & Arthur’s on 14th Street; SL, the new club underneath it. I still love Tenjune. And I like hanging out at home other than that. What about places other than your own? So I shouldn’t say the Chandelier Room, in Hoboken? I really like going to Bar and Books in the West Village — that’s our spot. You know where else I like to go? Miami — the new W South Beach is unbelievable, by far the best hotel down there. The design is incredible; the pool area is very nice; they have good restaurants there — there’s a Mr. Chow’s and the other one is good; the rooms are really nice; it’s very well done; it’s just very fresh, the entire thing; and the artwork is incredible. You don’t feel like you’re in South Beach — not that there’s anything wrong with it — but it’s really, really, really, well done.” ● NICOLE TRUNFIO – “I just found this really cool jazz club in Paris where they still dance to old, rock-and-roll music in partners. It’s a location undisclosed. I don’t remember what it’s called. It’s in the Saint-Michel — it’s just off it. You can jump into a taxi, ‘cause we went to a jazz bar called the Library, but that was closed. So we asked the taxi driver, and he took us to this place. So, I’m sure lots of local French taxi-drivers would know the place.” ● LAUREN BUSH – “Oh, gosh, I’m like so uncool! It’s such an obvious question, it’s so hard … I’m a vegetarian, so I love Blossom restaurant. They have a good, quinoa-tofu dish. It’s like gingery. It’s really good. ● EMMA SNOWDON-JONES – “I love Le Bilboquet because it’s consistent, and mainly wherever your friends are it makes the place. It’s on 63rd, between Park and Madison. I’ve gone there since I was in boarding school. I’d come into the city on the weekends, and I’d go there. I think anyone that’s been in New York as long as I have knows it. That’s a really, bloody long time, sadly. As good as my Botox is, it’s too long!” ● KRISTIN CHENOWETH – “I am an old-fashioned girl, and I still love Joe Allen’s. I go there all the time. And right next-door above, is a place called Bar Centrale, and I go there, too. I was just there last night for three hours. I like the manicotti at Joe Allen’s. It’s excellent!” ● JULIAN LENNON – “Probably the Jane bar and the Rose Bar in New York.”

At launch of S.T. Dupont in-store boutique @ Davidoff on Madison Avenue:

● RON WHITE – “I love the bars in Glasgow, Scotland. You could go sit in a bar by yourself and in five minutes, you’d be talkin’ to 10 people because they’re so curious about anybody that walks in that’s not normally in there. They just want to go talk to ’em and find out what they’re about. They’re just as friendly as they can be. I was there for the British Open, or the Open Championship, as it’s called. And if you go to a bar in New York City, you can sit there for the rest of your life and not meet another person because they’re not really gonna come up to you and go, ‘Hey, what’s up? What are you doing in town?’ That just doesn’t happen here.”

Kylie Minogue Talks North American Takedown

Kylie Minogue has nothing to prove. She’s the sweetheart of just about every nation in the world. Countless European tabloid covers have devoted serious headline space to her romance with Italian pin-up Andrés Velencoso, 10 years her junior. The mini-divinity has not one, but five fragrances. She was even honored with the prestigious Order of the British Empire and the French Order of Arts and Letters. So why, exactly, has Minogue’s career not taken off Stateside? Maybe it’s because she hasn’t toured in North America since first chugging along to “The Loco- Motion” in 1987. Even Neighbours, the TV soap opera that gave birth to her illustrious career, was broadcast almost exclusively for Australian and European audiences. But all that’s about to change as the gamine, 41-year-old entertainer from Down Under takes her spectacular live show this side of the pond for the first time ever. Through each endeavor and incarnation—from Charlene, the garage mechanic on Neighbours, to the early-’90s shiny bubblegum-pop princess and the moody soul-searcher alongside Nick Cave, to the breast cancer survivor and activist—Kylie stays Kylie. Both sexy and likeable, she is the diva-next-door.

I’ve been watching you since the early days of Charlene on Neighbours. Now, again, those 1980s outfits are everywhere. Can you believe it? I’m sure everyone from that time thought it would never, ever happen, but now you’ve got girls wearing scrunchies—my God, it’s incredible.

Did you ever anticipate that you’d grow up to be such a massive brand? No, absolutely not. Maybe I’ve got a false impression of myself, but I was very shy at school. When I was younger, I wasn’t really at the front. I never did school plays or anything like that, though I began learning music from the age of 4. Acting came up by chance and one thing led to another. I don’t think about it very often, but if I looked back on Charlene, and how feisty she was, I guess that was in me as well.

Your success hasn’t been as recordbreaking stateside. Americans were slow to embrace your 10th album, X. The fans in America aren’t great in number, but they’re great in spirit. And they’ve been so patient. I think I really shocked them when I said I was touring, because they’ve become accepting of the fact that it was never going to happen. But I meant it, all the years I spent saying I would love to tour the States.

What can we expect from the tour? I decided not to go somewhere I’ve never been before, direction-wise, because American audiences haven’t seen my live shows for the most part. So we decided—and I guess it works well in these financial times—to bring with us a “best of” my different tours.

You’re best known as a performer, but you’ve diversified well. I have all of these side projects—from bed linens to perfumes—but none of them would exist without the nuts and bolts of what I do, which is music and performance. But I find them really enjoyable; it’s just another way of being creative.

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After years spent being a famous rave scenester, did being sick make you discover other parts of yourself? I spent a lot of time being pretty quiet. You don’t have a lot of energy to do much more than that. I spent time reflecting and projecting, trying to give myself goals for where I wanted to be when I was well. That was obviously pretty emotional and I was still a bit delicate. But now I think I’m back in full flight.

And you’re actually living what you projected positively? I actually am. When people asked about my aspirations in life, I always said I wanted to find harmony, a balance between work and my private life, between work and play. I almost got tired of hearing myself say it, but I finally managed to make that happen. It’s a bit of a shame that it took something so traumatic for me to take action. But, at the moment, I really am enjoying my work, I’m enjoying performing more than ever and I feel a lot more relaxed and confident onstage—not that I’m without my nerves, of course. I’m also making time to do other nice, pleasant things…

Let’s face it, you do have a majorly hunky bloke. For all the talk of me having boyfriends and failed romances—I always find it a bit depressing when it’s written like that—my life just hasn’t been the white picket fence. I’ve spent plenty of time on my own, so it’s good now to have someone to do those fun and not-so-fun things with. I’m not particularly good on my own.

I’d imagine you let go of your passion for clothing when you became ill. I still tried to make an effort. Fashion takes a total rethink when it involves a scarf and when you’re not at your best. But I wasn’t prepared to let it all go, no way.

You seem to share a special bond with Jean Paul Gaultier. I met him at the start of the ’90s, way, way, way back when I first spent time in Paris. He’s such a talented, genuine and generous person. I was at his couture show just a couple of days ago because he’ll be doing some outfits for these upcoming shows in America. I wore a rare vintage lace dress of his that my stylist found on eBay. It wasn’t in Jean Paul’s archives. It’s really sexy, with all the poppers up front.

Does it have cowboys in the lace? I have that dress! I wonder if I can still get into it. Force yourself! Pain is fleeting, but fashion is forever.

KYLIE’S FAVORITE CLUB: Hiro Ballroom at the Maritime Hotel

Photos by William Baker.

Sweet & Vicious: Hanging with Honey Dijon in Los Angeles

In the run up to Sunday’s main event, the Gay Pride parade, I went to visit Miss Honey Dijon, the Chicago house DJ who is now a New Yorker. Miss Honey was playing at a party called Chocolate later in the evening, which was clear on the other side of town. I wasn’t sure I would make it that long, so I met her at a Mexican restaurant in Echo Park, where she was sitting with six or so of her favorite gay boyfriends.

It was a bit different than our usual meeting spot; Honey and I must’ve spend a few hundred hours standing on the corner of Second Avenue and Sixth Street bitchin’ and moanin’ about the state of New York nightlife. (Sample: “Did you go to that party last night?” “Yeah. It was tired, girl.”) I finally got the hell out but, she’s still there, DJing a few times a week including Sundays at Hiro.

Thus she was only in town for less than 24 hours (“hit it and quit it, girl”). We went for a quick drink at what we imagined would be a glamorous setting — the rooftop bar at the Standard Hotel. Instead, it being June gloom, it was gray and overcast, and we were greeted by some guy wearing a feather boa who was either an advanced inebriated state for that early hour (7 p.m.) or who was maintaining his inebriation from the night before. Either way, we didn’t get to find out, as we were turned down from entry since we didn’t get bracelets and were clearly way too cool for the trashy collection of souls inside.

So instead we sat downstairs and commented on the state of middle American fashion, watching the sad and the sadder stroll in and likely up to the much-vaunted rooftop. Honey, should her DJing career fall by the wayside, should consider a stand-up comedy career– razor sharp tongue, wit, and all.

Since most of us weren’t familiar with the crowd at the party that night, we talked about what she’d be playing. “Oh, I’m tired of Chicago,” she said, which sent shudders and gasps through our little group. Instead, she was favoring New York house, deep house, minimal, and techno. Honey wasn’t sure if the crowd would like it — techno usually throws a non-musically geeky crowd, and the gay boys are known for being more conservative musically than you’d expect. It turned out she needn’t have worried; they liked Honey quite a bit. She is, after all, sweet and delicious.

Chocolate is every second Saturday of the month at MJ’s.

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‘Woof Roof’ & Sun-Gay on a Weak Night

A night that began with a quiet and scrumptious Whole Foods BBQ was turned on its ear by a bombardment of text messages about the goings-on at theGansevoort rooftop. The nice weather enticed me to the party, which my friends call “woof.” I asked if that was the real name for the party — after all, I am a nightlife correspondent, and accuracy should be part of my agenda. I asked my friend again, who avoided eye contact and said, “When it’s good they call it ‘woof, woof’,” or sometimes “woof, roof’.” Maybe Sundays are not for answers. The roof was packed, although everybody told me it was a weak night. Apologetic promoters told me that “it’s usually more packed” and that celebrities abound. “Last week, Leonardo DiCaprio and Willem Dafoe were here, but this week we only have Lance Bass.”

We had started our night at the gay party downstairs at Ono but were constantly whisking ourselves up to the “woof roof.” We didn’t see Lance — maybe because we were going up while he was going down — oops, did I say that? The “woof roof” was great despite the promoters’ insistence that it wasn’t. There were people throwing napkins in the air, hot girls doing limbos in front of bongos (does that make the bimbos?), dancers on platforms, some guy who could really whistle on top of the bar, scenesters, models, and a beautiful view. My crowd was mostly lesbians and gay men, and we headed out before we were discovered.

We made our way to The Standard as one member of our party insisted that the third-floor bar was amazing. The Standard is anything but standard design-wise. I love it. The elevator took us up to the third floor, but a very helpful bellhop (do they still call them that?) told us there was no bar on the third floor, and there had never been one. This devastated our friend, who swore she had the time of her life there. Her Twilight Zone or Punk’d explanation wasn’t holding water with us. Some of our crowd headed off to Mix, because apparently hanging out with straight women and men can be a strain. They had joined us after partying at Stiletto with Queen Latifah, who they said was “very smart.” We then went to Hiro, where we were greeted by Connie and whisked to Erich Conrad’s well-appointed table. Amanda Lepore looked resplendent in a summer dress, and a promoter in a Weird Al Yankovic wig entertained us. Honey Dijon was wrecking the crowd, and I was thrown back to a simpler, sweet, bygone day. “Exactly,” said Erich Conrad, who I congratulated for being at Hiro forever. Erich is good at what he does. He has had this party going since 2003 — that’s like a century and a half in club years, but this still pales in comparison to his long-running B Bar Tuesday party. Beige has been going on for about 14 years; Erich insists he started it when he was 16.

After that, we headed over to Vandam at Greenhouse, where door dutchess Cynthia Powell greeted us. Suzanne gave me a big hello and asked me if it was a “slow night elsewhere as well?” I thought Vandam was brilliant, but apparently it’s often better. Johnny Dynell was playing a set that was decidedly more electro than the pounding sexy house beats Honey had offered at Hiro. I went up to pay respects to “daddy” and surveyed the room from that DJ booth’s great height. Vandam is wonderful, and I congratulated Kenny Kenny on his success. The crowd at Hiro is different than that of Vandam. Hiro is a very sexy, mostly gay crowd, while Vandam is more mixed and fashionable. The crowd at Vandam is dancing while it walks. At Hiro they are cruising. Sunday is my new Monday — the best night to go out. The summer weekends bring out the warrior party, set and the three gay nights I visited are more fun than what I’m seeing during the week. Sundays are not really part of the summer weekend, nor are they really a weeknight — and they are anything but a weak night.

Walter Durkacz, International Man of Mystery

Walter Durkacz is an extraordinary human being. He tells me this in the course of our interview, and you don’t find me disagreeing. In the movie business — a place Walter tells me that he wants to be — the real players are often quiet participants, while other less brainy but maybe more brawny folk tend to get all the credit. Take Gone with the Wind for instance, most people know its mega stars Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Olivia de Havilland and even Hattie McDaniel. But these were all just interchangeable hired guns, and so many others might have done just as well. The heavy lifting was done by the far lesser known (at least these days) producer David O. Selznick and the director Victor Fleming. How many of you knew Victor Fleming’s name? Yet, in that same year, 1939, Victor also directed The Wizard of Oz, so you really should know him. Walter Durkacz is that kind of player. If you take the time to read this, you will see a list of names and places that Walter made happen, and you will be impressed and wonder how come you’ve never heard of him. Although he is very quiet (unless you speak to him), Walter is making moves.

You were a DJ at clubs like Danceteria and The World, and I would go as far as saying that you were a teacher and not just DJ. Yeah, without trying to be egotistical, I certainly consider myself one of the pioneers of the skill. I certainly didn’t have the notoriety that a lot of the other DJs had, but that had to do with the nature of the way I carried myself. I’ve been playing records for a long time, and I’ve always been very versatile in terms of what I liked and in terms of understanding a lot of different kinds of music. A lot of that came from my family background and from people I met at places I visited all over the world. The reason I really became a DJ, in terms of big influence, was because of my brother-in-law who was a collector of doo-wop 45s. I got to hear a lot of this amazing music and to this day, some of my favorite music — which I still play if I occasionally spin records — is old soul ballads and doo-wop. My favorite two things are probably old soul ballads and old soul instrumentals.

How did you get your start DJing? When I was a kid, there were these 21-and-under places that we could go to, and they would play a mixture of funk and rock music. When I turned 16, I was able to go to places called The Zodiac and 2001, which held about 1,000 people. I used to go there all the time, and the DJ used to play this one record that I loved dancing to, so once, maybe I was drunk enough from the cheap wine and I decided to go to the DJ and find out what that record was. He went through his records and pulls out this seven-inch, and says “You got a dollar?” and he sold me the record. It was from a band called The Trick, the song was called “Free as a Bird,” and the label said Made in America. So that was kind of my in, the fact that he sold me this record for $1. As weeks passed I used to go up there and I eventually befriended him, and then he got me my first job when I was 16, as a DJ in a nightclub in Pittsburgh. Then somewhere around the blackout and the Yankees winning the World Series, I made it to New York and started DJing here.

What places have you DJed at in New York? People don’t usually know this about me, but I actually moved to New York to be in the fashion business, and I’ve actually worked at several places like Paul Stuart. I was even an assistant shoe buyer at Bloomingdale’s for a quick moment, but after I took the Bloomingdale’s job I got really fed up with wearing a suit and tie every day, so I decided to go back to DJing or something music-related. But I worked at Ice Palace while I was still going to school, and later I got a job at the Mudd Club.

Where did you end up after the Mudd Club? I went to the Rock Lounge, which was Howard Stein’s place, and from there I went to Danceteria, which obviously was a long haul. During that time at Danceteria, I got taken to Paris with a guy named Peter Smith, who was a doorman. A French magazine called Actuelle brought us over there, and that was actually the first time I got into booking bands because while I was a DJ there, they asked me if I wanted to bring some bands from New York, and I did. Then eventually I booked some English bands and even African bands, since that was a big influence in France at the time. It lasted about eight months, and then I DJed in Berlin and did a record in Berlin with a woman named Christiana F., who is a very famous German personality.

So then you made the jump from Europe to New York again? Yeah, after that I went back to New York, and we opened up the Pyramid Club, so I did that and Danceteria at the same time. I eventually left Danceteria when someone fell down the elevator shaft, and that’s when I went to The World as a DJ.

You’re known as a DJ but also as a great booker of acts. Are you still booking acts? Yeah, after The World shut down, I didn’t really know what to do, and I had done some booking in Paris, so I ended up doing booking at a club that actually wasn’t looking to book a lot of bands. I got approached by a Grateful Dead-head who wanted to open a hippie club in Manhattan called Wetlands Preserve, and I did it because it was a change. I decided to help them out, and from there I really went to booking clubs seven nights a week. I’ve always had a lot of bands around me, even as a DJ in Danceteria — Madonna, the Beastie Boys, and a lot of these people came around us and hung out.

Tell me about the talent you’ve run into at Danceteria. Well, that was a special time in the early 80s, growing up with all of the graffiti legends and all of these musicians like the Beastie Boys who became my friends — I went to their weddings, etc. It’s always a nice thing when you see your friends do very well for themselves. Madonna was one of them too, but Madonna and I never really got along. She basically came on the scene when I was in Europe, so that’s when she met and got involved with the other DJs at Danceteria, like Mark Kamins. For some reason we just never really spoke that much, but it was probably more because of me.

What was it like working at Wetlands after being a DJ? At Wetlands we ended up doing something that had never really been done in New York, and for me it was a new thing also, because I was coming from the club scene. I was used to soul music, and all of a sudden I’m throwing parties for this Grateful Dead hippie owner, who wanted to do all of these things and I had never even been to a Grateful Dead concert. I was a purist in terms of being a DJ because any DJ would tell you that they don’t like playing with bands. I was never a huge fan of bands, so it was ironic that I ended up making my living by booking them. When I was a hardcore DJ, a band would come on, they would ruin your night, and you’d have to start all over. But Wetlands became much more than just a Grateful Dead club — hip-hop, reggae, world music, and a lot of punk bands became big there also.

How did Wetlands evolve? At some point people became enamored with the club and the sort of music that we were booking there, and it became quite a famous place. Maybe not to a lot of people who read this blog, but the main thing about Wetlands is that some of the biggest bands came out of that club, and I feel like I helped to develop them. Bands like Dave Matthews, Phish, Hootie and the Blowfish, a lot of these jam-bands, like Blues Traveler came out of there. I left after six years there because the bands had become bigger than the place, and the owner was reluctant to move to a bigger capacity, so I moved on. After it closed down, it got inducted in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, and to me that’s a feather in my cap. From Wetlands, I went to booking Joe’s Pub and a few other places here and there like The Ritz and Central Park Summerstage.

What are you doing right now? I still primarily book concerts at places like Hiro, Joe’s Pub, and a few different places. At this point a lot of people know me, so I can call most people and they’ll open their house for me, which I’m grateful for and I don’t take advantage of it. I’m also an investor in La Esquina, and I have a couple other nightclub ideas … I’m thinking of a opening a Japanese noodle shop, but in terms of my passion I’m looking to make movies.

What kind of movies are you going to make? I have about six current projects, and they’re all different types of movies. I’m looking to be a producer, so I’d use some of my own ideas that have been developed, and I’ll bring people on the help me write the scripts, etc. The idea is for me is to find the money and hire directors to create the ideas that I have in terms of what I think could be popular in movie theaters.
Phish Tickets Empire Polo Field Tickets Indio Tickets

Industry Insiders: Nur Khan, Cool Cat

Rose Bar partner and creative director Nur Khan rocks out with Metallica in his living room, trains with Shaolin monks, holds court at his drinkery, and caps off the night at the Beatrice Inn. Just don’t ask him to sing karaoke.

Point of Origin: I actually converted a decrepit old movie theater in Connecticut (my home state). It was one of those old balcony movie theaters. I rebuilt that and turned it into a live music venue, a rock venue. I did that while Diana Ross’ husband was my partner, and we brought in Ron Delsner. Delsner was promoting Roseland and the Academy Theater at the time. This was probably 1990-91. I was commuting to Wall Street. We had this great music venue, and we took all the acts that came to Roseland and the Academy and rerouted them up to Connecticut. It was like a smaller version of the Ritz. Back then, there was such huge talent coming out of this venue: Radiohead, Nirvana, Pearl Jam. We called it the Marquee Theater.

I finally moved to New York. I sold the club. I opened Wax in 1995, and that was my first New York place. In my loft I had on Canal Street, I fell in with a group of people, and we just all clicked, and I found myself having parties at my loft. We had parties in my living room with Jane’s Addiction, the Prodigy, Metallica; it was the Headbangers Ball. We did fashion shows for friends like Alexander McQueen, Ghost, and Imitation of Christ. I met the right people in New York, and we hung out together and created a buzz. It’s worked for me every time. Then, I sold Wax and did something different with Sway. A different design. When Sway first opened, it was my entire Wax crowd coming in there. It was a little more DJ-oriented than Wax was.

Hiro started out as a small lounge upstairs, then wound up expanding into the ballroom. I had just come back from China, where I lived and trained with the Shaolin monks and was inspired by martial arts and Asia; that was my mindset at the time. It turned it into a great music venue. I left Hiro and came to the Rose Bar at Gramercy Park Hotel about six months later. I’m happy … I‘m proud of Rose Bar. Everyone likes it, it’s special, it’s unique. Two years old now and still going strong.

What do you make of the current trends in New York nightlife? There never used to be all this bottle service nonsense going on. If someone wants a bottle, they are welcome to order one, but I don’t push it. I don’t like the idea of anyone being able to get into a club because they can afford to buy a bottle. I understand the logic of it, with the larger clubs, but I can’t control a smaller room if I implement a bottle service policy. I just don’t think it’s cool. It was much cooler in the old days. It’s not something I would do unless it was a bigger place and I would always want to keep an area, a loungey area that was not about that. It doesn’t turn me on.

Downtown or uptown? I was always a downtown type person. Downtown, there were the artists. Funky people were downtown, musicians … and then there was uptown, and the banker types. Over the years, uptown has come downtown and changed the landscape of the nightlife. Hence bottle service, etc.

Projections for the future? Rose Bar is my focus right now. Do I want to build? I want to build. I have a few concepts in my mind right now. I would love to do another live music venue. I would love to do another funky rock n’ roll bar. There are a couple of itches I would like to scratch. What kind of relationships do you have with customers? Those people are my bread and butter. My relationships are very important to me. The relationships I have had all these years are the reason why I can open up a club and make it what it is. Favorite memories? If I’m producing a show that turns me on, if it’s Perry Ferrell, Beck, Sonic Youth performing at Hiro, or friends from Guns n’ Roses … Ian Astbury of The Cult … it’s that kind of creative stuff that turns me on. I’m happy as hell at a concert anywhere. I like my festivals, especially Glastonbury. It’s a good way for me to vanish … music.

Favorite Hangs: Right now, if I pop out somewhere, I’ll usually drop by the Beatrice Inn. Paul Sevigny used to DJ for me at Sway. Angelo, who’s over there, used to be my doorman. They are on the same page musically. It’s easy going, it’s chill. Cool kids. That’s where I hang if I go off duty.

Worst nightlife scenes? Karaoke nights. They are retarded. You will never see me affiliated with a karaoke night. There are no karaoke bars in my future. don’t know how the city let what happened to 27th Street happen. When I built Wax, I got held up with the 500-foot rule. I went to the Supreme Court to finally get approved. I don’t understand why the city had that happen over there. It’s just a huge mistake. It can destroy a neighborhood. Who wants to walk down the street with barricades, police, and horses? That’s not New York.

Photo: Chelsea Stemple