A half a dozen emails and a bunch of texts were a waste as tech problems plagued what was otherwise a stupendous party last night at Yotel. There were three DJs. I needed CDs, Roxy Cottontail, turntables, and Guy Furrow just needed a Serato hook up. I was stunned by minutes that seemed like centuries as techies fumbled with wires. My mood reflected in my set; I have to learn not to let the tech problems, the bad song requesters, and other distractions affect me. I am, after all, a professional disc jockey. Lady Starlight was scheduled as well, but a last minute bit of confusion sent her elsewhere. I caught her as she was leaving and I was arriving. She was fabulous head-to-toe and with a brilliant smile. I’m trying to reschedule to spin with her and interview her as well. Patrick Duffy put together last night’s shindig and he is just undeniable. The crowd was beautiful, fun, and dressed up.
It’s that time of year again. The judging for the 2013 Nightclub & Bar Awards have arrived and I am humbled to be part of it all once again. The award winners will be honored at the Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show on March 19-21 in Las Vegas. I will be there. I write four columns a month for Nightclub & Bar Magazine and therefore get to judge categories that are relevant to my expertise. I will be a judge for Small Nightclub of the Year, New Club/Lounge of the Year, and Mega-Club of the Year. I cannot discuss the process with any of the nominees and they should not discuss this with me. I take this very seriously and will spend a great deal of time analyzing and agonizing about my choices.
In the "it couldn’t happen to nicer guys" competition (not part of the above mentioned awards, but should be), I vote for the band The Dirty Pearls who are currently on tour with Lady Gaga. Tommy London, Marty Concussion, and the fellows are providing the entertainment at her after parties. Tommy and Marty are fixtures at the Thursday night Wild Generation parties at Hotel Chantelle where I DJ with Samuel Valentine and Luc Carl, who’s famous for being Gaga’s ex.
Luc, for his credit, has a show on Sirius Radio and a book and tons of things going on. He is a wonderful human being and I enjoy DJing with him. He wins the "DJ I am most likely to Shazam " award (also a non-category at above, but should be). Anyway, The Dirty Pearls ended up on Page Six of the New York Post last Friday. The Post put up a wonderful, candid picture of The Pearls and a half-naked Gaga taken by my "photographer of the decade" Terry Richardson.
First prize in the "if you don’t RSVP to my birthday party or I will keep bugging you" competition goes to Jezebel owner and bon vivant Henry Stimler. Henry will celebrate tonight at Jezebel, 323 W. Broadway. Alex Bilu will be having a solo art show tonight at the "best-named gallery on Houston Street" winner White Rabbit Gallery. I love the place and love the curation. White Rabbit is at 145 E. Houston at Forsyth and Eldridge.
I am so happy to hear that the "greatest non-baked snack ever" Twinkies may have a buyer and I’ll be able to buy them again. For those old enough to remember, I served thousands of Twinkies at my wedding back in the last century at the Palladium. Twinkies are my favorites.
On the subject of "ever," I will DJ tonight from 6pm to 10pm at EVR, 54 W. 39th St. off 6th Ave. That early slot allows you old timers, maybe some who even attended my wedding, to get off your old rumps and catch my wave. I’m never, ever going to win any awards for DJing, but I am true to my rock roots and enthusiastic, WhatEVR.
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When I used to spend my time in woodsy places like Yellowstone or Yosemite, I learned that when confronted by a large toothy, clawed animal, the last thing you do is try to run away, as that animal can surely out-run you; the running triggers a hunter/prey response and they instinctively attack. This is my excuse – the only one I have – for being very Steve Lewis at the Nightclub Disrupt Panel at the Dominion Theatre yesterday. The other panelists Michael Gogel, Steven Rojas, and Mick Boogie triggered my predator instincts when they started using terms like VIP to describe a bozo with a black card. Mick Boogie, to a lesser degree – he was just being charming. My canines came out and, well, the rest will soon be posted online and I’ll let you see it then. Moderator Vikas Sapra said I was fine but he smiles too much to be trusted with this sort of question.
One of the things I was putting out there is that computers are a two-dimensional view of people, often with only the information offered by those people or spending patterns or financial history. This rarely gets to the heart of things and lacks…heart. To the geek world, people are reduced to a much more two-dimensional profile than the one-on-one relationship a potential patron has with a good door person or with an owner or promoter. Their jobs are all about knowing their clientele. No, people: a doorman is not just looking for a pretty face, although that never hurts. A VIP is often a person willing to spend money, but that is not the criteria for any place worth this ink.
Another point I put out there was a VIP at Lavo is not necessarily a VIP at W.i.P. or Lit and vice versa. I feel the internet is only as good as the people feeding it and the people feeding it don’t necessarily understand the dynamics or requirements of each venue. Anyway, a lot was said – probably too much by me – and I’ll post it when I get it.
The previous panel of this Social Media Week gathering consisted of Nick Jonas and a moderator. I listened to him, completely enamored. He is charismatic, bright, handsome, and articulate. He is currently on Broadway. He eeks of stardom. Outside for air during the break, a handful of geeky fans waited with cameras. He posed with them all… experience telling him that running would only trigger a predator/prey response. He made them feel special and won me over.
Last night at Hotel Chantelle, I DJed the opening for one of my favorites: Kelle Calco. When we switched over, I told him I had played "Parachute Woman" by the Rolling Stones as I remember his set being very Stones heavy and didn’t want to subject the crowd to the same song twice. This wasn’t an issue; Kelle has changed. His set went everywhere from electro to hip-hop to rock. He offered up some very commercial pop and made it all work. I was impressed and surprised. I asked him about it and he said he now embraces all types of music and totally gets into it. He told me about all the places he DJs and hosts. He is a busy dude.
I hear that White Noise has only a few Fridays left, which means Sam Valentine’s rock fest will end. Sam says he wont throw a real rock party again till he finds a place with stripper poles. Rock is retreating. Nur Khan lamented the Hiro Ballroom reinvention a couple of days ago and the need for a new rock spot. His The Electric Room is setting the standard for rock purity. Lit remains a bastion of rock chops. It will celebrate its 10th anniversary Wednesday with a list of DJs including Justine D, Leo Fitzpatrick, and me. We’ll each get about a half-hour to showcase our rock and roll Hootchie Koo. The Kelle thing threw me off. Maybe he is right: he public wants a mixed format and so maybe that’s what they get. For me, I’ll stick to my roots. Those other genres of music just trigger my yawn response.
The summer heat melts many traditional joint and promotional programs as rooftops, pools, and outside spaces flourish. Street-level boites depend on refreshing air-conditioning systems to satisfy their patrons, but in the end a room with a view… or a garden with some potted plants wins out. Aspen Social Club in the heart of the asphalt jungle of Times Square is adjusting to the 90-degree forecasts with a redux of the space. It is rebranding as “Aspen Surf Club” and will sport a surfboard and bikini motif. The requisite frozen margaritas will keep all cool. The surf punk band The Mystery Lights will perform. I’m going to DJ early before my Hotel Chantelle regular gig. Later DJs include Justin Strauss, Billy Caldwell, and Tommy James. Marky Ramones’ Cruisin’ Kitchen Food Truck will be out front. There will be a door donation which goes to the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance.
Owner Greg Brier was asked why the party? He replied, “I just wanted to throw a great party for my friends…enjoy the summer…pull out all the stops. Aspen Social Club is based on the ski scene. The same people who enjoy that are surfers during the warm weather. Whether it’s California or Montauk beaches, it’s basically the same guys chasing waves and girls. I’ve invited my friends and we’re going to have a blast. My set is going to be The Beach Boys, Ramones, Dick Dale, and tracks along that vein…and I’ll have fun, fun ,fun till Greg takes the Pioneers away.
The reason I find myself available to DJ this shin-dig is Luc Carl is DJing the early slot at Hotel Chantelle this Thursday from 11pm till 1am. It will be a welcome addition to have Luc and his fabulous rock followers join in on the fun. Fear not, my fans/mom… I will maintain my late set: 2am till 4am with Sam Valentine banging it in between. Luc had set up shop across the street at Ludlow Manor until it was time to move on. I used to watch his crowd of hipsters and hotties with envious eyes. Now he’s bringing them where I spin. I’m excited.
I didn’t sleep yesterday. I was awake at 7am having crashed at 3am Wednesday night. Thursday I had design meetings, marketing meetings, I wrote, and I dj’d a 7 hour gig at Hotel Chantelle. I found myself once again at the Olympic Diner where I said yes to the waitrons query "You want the usual?" I was too tired for an adventure so the usual was, as usual, wonderful. I awoke this morning at 11 am and feel great, I think.
Happy Sam Valentine’s Day and Week! I’m talking about Sam Valentine; the cool, cool rock and roll promoter that I work with every Thursday at Hotel Chantelle whose birthday is tomorrow. He lives rock 24/7, 365 days. He has the hair to prove it. This week, he is all over town celebrating, culminating in his sleaze rock festival called “Big City Rebels 5,” this Friday at Webster Hall. He has the band CRASHDIET playing, and much, much more. He says that he hasn’t been this excited in years. I caught up with Sam and asked him to tell me all about it.
It’s your birthday week and you have been celebrating this blessed event. What’s happened so far and what’s ahead?
So far I’ve been taking it easy and concentrating on promoting the big event coming up on Friday: my once-a-year sleaze rock festival called "BIG CITY REBELS 5.” This year I got the leading band in this new rock ‘n’ roll movement called CRASHDIET; they are basically the Motley Crue of our generation along with the bands THE LAST VEGAS, WILDSTREET, WICKED, and NASTY HABIT… lots of new blood with lots of passion, talent, and attitude. On top of this we have the rock n roll designer TOXIC VISION doing her party “GIRLS, GIRLS, GIRLS” with us; we get 30 girls and dress them in her trademark sexy bodysuits and they just go wild all night. As if that isn’t enough, for the after-party we are filming for a future episode of the popular TLC show NY Ink; Megan Massacre and Jes Leppard from the show will be guest DJing along with Joe Letz, the drummer of the industrial band COMBICHRIST. This is considered to be the rock ‘n’ roll event of the decade here in NY and it will live up to that.
Before the Festival on Friday, I have my weekly Wednesday the rock party RIOT AVENUE at Webster Hall. It’s known for its high level of debauchery, and this week we have a heavy metal magician and a strip contest.
On Thursday night, my actual birthday, I’ll be celebrating with my intimate friends at Hotel Chantelle’s GENERATION WILD party; that’s where the hangover will be started, and I expect the night to be crazy. I’ve got some very special guests coming as well.
You are a true rock and roll disciple. Tell me why rock is the true religion.
Growing up I had nothing to keep me company but rock ‘n’ roll. The moment I saw bands like Guns N’ Roses, Skid Row, and Motley Crue on TV, I was hooked. I connected with this larger-than-life sound, look, and attitude. I like all kinds of rock ‘n’ roll, though I have a passion for the sound of loud guitars and pounding drum beats. It’s a style of music that rebels against the norm, and it expresses every feeling – from the love songs to the angry or just the party songs – it has it all. I don’t know where I would be or what I’d be doing with my life if rock ‘n’ roll hadn’t been there to guide me. I had no role models growing up but the rock stars on TV, which probably explains why I get in so much fun trouble all the time.
I DJ with you on Thursdays at Chantelle. You incorporate local bands into your set. Tell me why this is so important.
This is the most important thing to me. The hits that people know are needed, but these bands already had their success and got their money. The local bands are struggling to push and keep rock ‘n’ roll alive, and if we ignore them by not playing their music or rocking out to it, how is rock ‘n’ roll going to survive? Everyone likes to get a new car or a new apartment… new things are great, so why not want new music made by our generation? By playing these songs, we teach people there’s still great talent out there and rock ‘n’ roll is getting stronger than ever. It’s been growing in the underground for quite a bit now and it’s almost ready to explode again. It’s our local talent that is making this possible; their songs are as good as any classic, so why not play it in our sets? Someone has to put a stop to the same Bowie and Blondie songs being played over and over at every "rock" party.
You swear by sleaze rock. Who are the sleaze rock players and what defines that sound?
Sleaze rock is the freshest most dangerous and fun sound in rock ‘n’ roll right now. It takes from bands like Guns N’ Roses and Motley Crue – that party, badass, rebellious sound – but it’s being made by young people from this generation, so it took a life of its own, updating that sound to what we now call sleaze. It was made popular by bands like Hardcore Superstar, Crashdiet, Backyard Babies, and such. All these bands are from Sweden. Over there it’s the style of rock ‘n’ roll that dominates, and now it has spread to America with bands like Wildstreet, The Last Vegas, Dirty Penny, Sex Slaves, and such solidifying the following over here. It’s music to party to. It brings the fun back to rock. It has the larger-than-life rockstar look. It has danger, is dirty-sounding, and speaks to us, the generation that’s fed up with all this emo and generic sound that rock has had for the past decade. Plus, it’s giving strippers all around the world new songs to get naked to!
“Hey, Hey, My My” rock and roll will never die, but most clubs don’t play much of it. Will rock be played in clubs in five years? Is it a viable genre for anyplace except dive bars and hipster hangouts?
I believe so. If you look back five years ago, there’s no place that would have ever let me play a sleaze rock track, but now they call ’cause every club wants that edgy look that this scene is bringing. I believe that in five years the sound will be just like the ‘80s again. It will be everywhere. It will be a great time, and everyone is going to want a piece of it. The pop world has drowned itself. Kids are bored. They need this new edge that sleaze rock and sleaze metal is bringing to music again… plus, it’s feel-good music and no one can be against that. In five years, I think my word will be proven right; it will be rock ‘n’ roll land once again. It’s long overdue.
OK, you’re going on a long rocket ship trip and can take 10 songs…what are they?
- Crashdiet – “Rebel
- Guns N’ Roses – “Night Train”
- Skid Row – “Youth Gone Wild”
- AC/DC – “Whole Lot of Rosie”
- Crashdiet – “It’s a Miracle”
- Wildstreet – “Easy Does It”
- Hardcore Superstar – “Run to Your Mamma”
- Motley Crue – “Kickstart My Heart”
- Backyard Babies – “Drool”
- Airborne – “Raise the Flag”
Tonight the house community will gather to support Gwen McCrae who gave us the hit "Funky Sensation" and so much more. Ajna, 25 Little West 12th Street, will be packed to the rafters with DJs, performers, and hosts. Gwen suffered a major heart attack in London and this event is being held to raise cash to get her home to her family.
Yesterday, I gave you 2 posts, and today it will be a half. Christmas has me going bonkers. Trying to get any of the design stuff finished or even worked on is near impossible, but New Year’s looms, and people are needing to get open, if only for that night. Traditionally, I would open my clubs on Thanksgiving and New Year’s if only to provide a place for those who couldn’t travel to family, or for many, many other reasons had no place to go. People move to NY to accomplish or at least chase their dreams, and find themselves far away from those they usually spend Christmas with. The Lewis family Christmas dinner will include a few of these strays, and I urge everyone to look around and see if there is someone you know who could use a place to share in the love. Bah hum-bugging is not allowed
There are a few joints open Christmas Day/Night. I will be out meeting up with close friends after dinner with the parental units. My first stop will be the Soho Grand, where our dear friend Erika will be bartending from 6pm. I will then pop over to Christie 141 where Sara Copeland is serving up booze and good cheer. I hated 141 Christie when they were calling it Mystique. Apparently enough people agreed to warrant a name change and a rebranding. What better day to give it another chance than Christmas. If I am still looking to party and can find a cab to get around, I will head to Le Poisson Rouge for DJ Rekha’s Christmas edition of Bollywood Disco. DJ Rajstar will join her and visuals will be provided by Fictive.
Thursday is promoter, entrepreneur, and man-about-town Rob Fernandez’s Mega Birthday Bash. The invite shows a very pregnant Rob on the cover of a fictitious magazine called Vanity Fairy. That’s a very in joke for those who wonder how it ever got in in the first place. Benny Soto will be hosting this bash at Dance.Here.Now, his and Rob’s weekly gathering at Cielo. Music will be provided by Oscar G. and Lazaro Casanova
I may not be there, as I am still DJing at Hotel Chantelle every Thurday. This week I am very excited to have Lily of the Valley and Miss Guy start their weekly party in the basement lounge. I love these fellas and the crowd that follows them.
Monday night B.I.N.G.O. at the Bowery Poetry Club with hosts Linda Simpson and Murray Hill was revisited after a long regretted absence. The occasion for our return was the 1st anniversary for friends Misa Kobs and Brent Bettes. We were part of a large group who gathered a year ago to enjoy what used to be our every Monday, no matter what. A night of bad jokes, kitsch prizes, and good old American fun. They’ve been dating since, and are as happy as clams. Monday, I won a Ped Egg with handle as B-7 came through for me. After the show, Murray invited us to her birthday bash on Tuesday, at my favorite, not so secret spot, Duane Park. We had so much fun at B.I.N.G.O., we decided to re-adjust our lives around it again.
Tuesday night Amanda and I arrived at Duane Park in a very slow driving cab in a very hard driving rain. We ran inside and found our favorite man about town, Murray, wearing the world’s greatest tie. "Wow, great tie,” I interjected, trying my best to be clever. He replied "Yeah, I don’t wear this one to B.I.N.G.O." with a big birthday smile. The place was jammed with a wonderful crowd. Dear friend, Jo"Boobs" Weldon, who will appear tonight as part of Calamity Chang’s "The Asian Sexsation"’s Burlesque show at Hotel Chantelle, chatted us up about her work with breast cancer patients. She helps them re-discover their sexuality through her art. Harvey Keitel was seated with his crew at a table nearby, as Jonathan Ames sat by himself in another booth. Murray insisted I chat up Jonathan and then proceeded to introduce me with a full rundown of my life less ordinary, with details that fell just short of my parole officer’s home phone number. Jonathan wasn’t impressed and scooted off for refuge by the bar. Oh, that Murray. I noticed he wasn’t talking much to anybody, even though the place was packed with burlesque dancers (in and out of work clothes) and all sorts of bon vivants, fabulous folks, and creatures of the night. I don’t know if that’s the way he rolls or if he saw us all as a bunch of nightcrawling sycophants or whatever. Amanda’s theory is "he just doesn’t like you." That’s one more idol ending up just human after all. As he paused by the door with the rain pouring down, silhouetted by a street lamp and the soft light from Duane Park’s storefront, I thought it was a very Jonathan Ames moment, and I concluded he was probably right not to like me.
Last night I DJ’d the opening night of Scott Hawkins’ and Sam Valentine’s rock night at Hotel Chantelle. It was supposed to be a casual 9pm to 1am gig up on the enclosed roof, but it went to 4am as I seemed to have found my crowd. They ate up my offerings of 50 plus years of rock and roll. Tim Spuches loved the set and commented how he can’t figure which tracks are new and which are very old. I had never done a 7 hour set. That’s like some Junior Vasquez shit. By the way, Junior will be spinning at his legendary party Juniorverse at District 36 this Saturday, with Razor and Guido helping out. It’s a 10pm to 7am happening.
After my gig, we decided to hoof it to I-Hop on 14th street between 2nd and 3rd. We needed pancakes and eggs and coffee and a comfortable, well-lit booth to spread out in. We went there last week before "L-ing" it back to BBurg. That experience was terrible. The food was great, but the service was the worst I have ever experienced, and as you peeps know, I got me some experience. No utensils, one meal at the table, the other who knows where, lemonade instead of grapefruit juice. We asked the old guy manager to get us our coffee as our waitron was lost in space. Turns out this dude couldn’t manage his own shirt. We never saw a smile, never got our coffee, and on a trip to the bathroom way in the back of the joint, I found half the staff gossiping. We came back anyway. We needed pancakes badly, but found the experience completely different. The staff was fast and attentive and had more smiles than an ad for a dentist. Our waitress, Sahara, told us it was her first night on the job. She was so wonderful. We have a new attitude towards this 24-hour eatery, which had a few tables filled with other nightlife workers winding down after their long nights. We table hopped and said hello. Amanda wouldn’t let me tell Sahara my very bad Sahara joke. Okay, I’ll tell you, but be warned I’m no Jonathan Ames.
So I’m in the joint back in the day. Yeah, the joint, joint—Khaki jump suit and everything—and I’m on landscaping detail around the perimeter fence. It’s me, my boy Goobs, and a bunch of slackers. We all got weed whackers, and Goobs and I are hard at it competing with each other to make it smooth and short like a putting green, while the rest of the crew are busy smoking cigarettes and talking about how tough they are and stuff like that. I was becoming incredibly adept at weed whacking, and treated my weedwhacker like it was a Light Saber and I was young Luke Skywalker. So a bunch of guards gather to watch our artistry, and my boss yells over, "Hey Lewis, you ever use a weed whacker back in New Yawk City?" I said "Of course, have you ever heard of the Sahara Forest?" And he replied, "You mean the Sahara Desert?" And I said "Yeah, sure Now?" It wasn’t really a great joke, but it was the right joke for the moment, and everybody was laughing. I-Hop isn’t probably the best place in town, but at 6am with people like Sahara who care, it’s a real nice last stop on your way home to dreams. I bet the late night club world will embrace it if they out the slackers and keep Sahara happy.
Good news on the Rocco Ancarola front. After open heart surgery, I hear he is out of his coma and surrounded by family. If he were to be surrounded by those who love him, they’d have to move his hospital bed to a much bigger room. Think Madison Square Garden. Everyone loves Rocco and for good reason. He is wonderful, and it is wonderful to hear he is doing better. From his Gacebook page comes this report :
"Dearest Friends 🙂 Our King Rocco is fully awake, alert, taking oral intake,talking with a big smile, surrounded by his brother & sisters. He has survived an invasive Cardiothoracic surgery , a procedure of 12 hrs with subsequent few days of serious intensive care. He is still very weak and has to be observed closely for any possible complication. PLEASE DO NOT VISIT HIM in Hospital yet, this put lots of pressure on medical staff in order to monitor him closely. I would like as (his Primary doctor) to suggest another 10 days for him to be looked after by his medical team and close family. Last night I have relayed all of your prayers to him. He expressed his grace and gratitude to all of you."
This time of year it is important with all the shopping and party frenzy to keep your eyes, ears and other relevant organs focused on what truly is important. Rocco is so much the heart of New York nightlife it’s ironic that his broke down. We love you Rocco. Don’t worry: it will all still be here when you are ready.
Late-night romps can be cruel after you have done in it for decades. Today’s sunlight is lashing me awake and I haven’t the strength to wash the evening out of my hair. Hotel Chantelle was absolutely off the hook last night, with Sam Valentine, Michael Tee, Miss Guy, and Michael Cavadias and a slew of others whipping the crowd into a frenzy. I think the weather had something to do with it as well. The early spring brings flowers early and confusion into club circles. When it’s nice, the places are packed, but when the weather returns to form and a cold rain requires clothes that have been packed away till next year, the hordes stay home. This Sunday, the two-hour premier of Mad Men will hurt Sunday club ambitions.
"RIP ANA BENDER4/26/1987 – 2/2/2012Ana Dyson aka ANA BENDER aka AYBEEWas an influential musician and graffiti artist from Seattle that lived in NYC and SF.She was known for her raw and pure punk/folk music style as well as her graffiti tags “AYBEE”.AYBEE was a close friend of the BTM graffiti crew both on the west and east coasts.She lived in New York City for a time.She lived in SF for a time.A free event is happening this Sunday."