Riviera Sundays at Lavo, the Ban on Big Sodas, Sylvia Wood’s Passing

There will be no napkins safe this weekend as the serviette-tossing Rocco Ancarola returns to Lavo, July 29, for Riviera Sundays starting at 9:30pm. It is a joyous occasion. The event, called a "Celebration of Life," is a reference to Rocco’s long recovery from a heart attack that almost ended his life. In a Facebook post, he offered, "Thank you to all my friends for all your Love. You all helped me to recover very well and I THANK YOU ALL !!!!” Rocco is one of the great gentlemen in this business and we can’t wait to see him.

While at BINGO at Hotel Chantelle Monday, tablemate Michael Cavadias informed us that he was going to miss a week, something we never do, because he was heading to London. "For the Olympics," someone exclaimed, and I imagined him in a leotard, pole vaulting or weight lifting. Actually, he and our dear friend and inspiration Kembra Pfahler (Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black) are performing at Antony’s (of Antony and the Johnsons) Meltdown Festival. Other performers include Lou Reed, Hercules and Love Affair, Joey Arias, Marc Almond, Laurie Anderson, and Diamonda Galas. The festival runs from August 1st to the12th, basically at the same time Olympians (sans the banned Greek racist track star) are running for the gold.

So I was so-so when Mayor Bloomberg led the charge in banning cigarette smoking in places where I eat and drink and dance and play and walk in. The downside at the time was the encroachment by government into our rights…or freedom of choice. The arguments about second-hand smoke hurting those around those evil smokers won the day and, in retrospect, the trade-off was OK.

Now comes a proposed ban on large containers of sodas that contain dreaded sugar at any place regulated by the Board of Health. It’s easy to spot those: they have a letter grade in their front window. I am a strictly-diet-soda guy, but this ban reeks of Big Brother. If they can ban sugar in soda, then they can ban butter on popcorn or lollipops or cracker jacks or hot dogs or liverwurst. The foods we eat are often only acceptable in moderation. I didn’t trust the cigarette ban because it seemed like a step 1. Now that step 2 is on the brink of enactment, I fear for step 3. Is step 100 a requirement for sensible shoes? A ban on ankle-breaking Louboutins? If a person wants to buy fattening soda, educate them, don’t regulate them.

Will drink maximums be considered by our Mayor? This won’t end until Bloomberg is put out to his billionaire pasture. He is so out of touch with the life of the regular guy that he thinks this might actually stop someone from consuming massive amounts of whatever. If they can’t buy a 32-ounce bottle, they’ll buy two 16-ouncers. Will New Yorkers eventually be fined for not wearing sunglasses on a sunny day?

We have to mention the passing of Sylvia Woods at 86, the legendary proprietor of Sylvia’s, Harlem’s soul food mecca. She was buried this morning. Reverend Al Sharpton performed the eulogy. I never met Sylvia, but was touched by her. When I was designing the Cherry Lounge for Timbaland and DJ Clue in Harlem, me and mine would stroll over to Sylvia’s for lunch and comfort. The walk over and the meal and the company at her restaurant washed away a myriad of stupid misconceptions we had about Harlem. She was a true ambassador for the neighborhood. It was wonderful. She will be missed.

DJing for Susanne Bartsch at the Soho Grand

I get to DJ for Susanne Bartsch! The grande dame called me and asked and I said yes. That’s how it’s done. Her Tuesday parties at the Soho Grand feature the incomparable Joey Arias. Joey channels Billie Holiday and if you haven’t seen it why am I talking to you anyway? They lubricate the luminaries with $8 Vodka cocktails. I have no idea what to spin. I’m not sure if I’m the right guy for the job but in my long association with Susanne I have seen her make very few mistakes so I’m going to rock it. The party has a reputation for sexy elegance so if you are going to show please bring it like you mean it. Dress for success and all that. Susanne is the best I’ve ever seen in this scene that I have lived in for so long. The concept of a subdued loungey early-week party intrigues me.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away I was venturing from my Queens home with a few friends to St. Marks to see what we could see. We ran into Joey Arias and Klaus Nomi on the street. I had never met or seen or even imagined fellows like this. They were kind and witty and … educational. I decided to abandon Queens as I knew it for a life amongst the queens, sugar plum fairies, and denizens of the deep dark night. There was no turning back. There was no way to keep me down on the farm once I had seen Joey. Mr. Arias is a legend who changed my life. It is an honor to work and play with him and Susanne. 

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Christmas Gets Kosher & X-Rated This Year

As I am a 4AM Management DJ I will attend the 4AM Holiday Party at Artichoke Pizza17th and 10th Avenue, tonight. I assume  that’s the one and not their place on E. 14th St. They never tell me these things. I’m the runt of the litter at 4AM. The after-party features 4AM pedigrees Dalton and The Chainsmokers and is at Avenue.

On Christmas Day, Jezebel, that wonderful restaurant that happens to be kosher, is teaming up with BaoHaus chef Eddie Huang. Jezebel claims that Jewish folks love to eat Chinese food on Christmas, but they never have the opportunity to have the real-deal, bonafide fare. Chef Huang will take you there. Jezebel is located at 323 W. Broadway. OK, I’m going to handle all my weird Christmas pitches in one paragraph; there’s this dude Shea who calls himself "The Prince Of Christmas" who has this #1-on-Cashbox hit "The Christmas I Met You." Apparently, he is phenomenal. He’s performing at Steven Colucci’s benefit at the National Arts Club this Thursday, and then he heads up to Harlem to do it again at the Hale House. The Steven Colucci party is a tough ticket. From the release:

"Steven Colucci’s ‘Sounds of Color’ exhibition will showcase at the National Arts Club in New York City on December 20th, 2012 for a very special benefit holiday party. In addition, the National Arts club will present a premiere exhibition of 49 drawings by legendary artist Andy Warhol.The rare collection, created from 1955 to 1967, features the artist’s unique, free-form expressions inspired by dance, performance, and esoteric influences."

I really want to go to Westgay tonight at Westway, 75 Clarkson St. There will be an XXXMAS party featuring the incredible Joey Arias and go-go elves and everything. If you don’t know of Joey, then Google him and start getting a life. He has performed with Bowie, Cirque du Soleil and more etceteras than I have time for.

When I was first discovering Manhattan and the queens I didn’t see in Queens, it was Joey and Klaus Nomi who spent a little time answering some big questions for me. I had never met anyone quite like them and, at the time, I didn’t realize that I actually never would again. My world was opened up and I never was the same. Joey, like some wines and leather jackets, gets better with age. We have been friends across generations of club kids and parties and cultural shifts and I am devastated I cannot attend. Alas, I am leaving at 5am to drive four hours to visit Michael Alig up in the clink. Michael is also quite unique. I may not post tomorrow but I am sure Thursday I will have a lot to say.

When I Lived In Hotel Chelsea’s Penthouse & My Birthday On Saturday

OMG! FYI, EVR – pronounced ever which is soooo clever or is it clvr – is wonderful. It’s that lounge on 39th street between 5th and 6th Ave. I DJd there last night for the early-evening sexy time. It was well-dressed adults mixing with the wonderful staff as I mixed my rock into disco and soul and funk and other fun genres. Everything is new and clean and state-of-the-art. It looks great. There are bold design decisions keeping the travel areas and service areas raw while the rest of the  place is completely done up. There is cool art everywhere – or is it evrywhr? Lots of my pals came and will again as they’re having me back. I hung out with industry stalwart Mikey Lights who showed me what all the bells and whistles do on the mixing board and CD players I use. OMG! I have a whole lot of new knobs to play with. After the gig, me and mine went to see Zero Dark Thirty in not-too-far-away Times Square. I think it should be renamed "Zero Dark Three," as the movie – except for the wonderful, obviously no-surprise ending – was a colossal bore. 

Everybody wants to know where I’m going to watch the Super Bowl and well…I’m not. I have never seen an entire football game and I’m not going to start now. I hear the major sports bars are sold out. I’m going to do something a little more my speed, like catch Joey Arias, the performer, diva… the legend at Joe’s Pub. This is week two of three, so get your act together and catch this act. Joey ruled at the now-shuttered Bar d’O for a decade. He performed with Bowie. He cavorted with Klaus Nomi. This week, he will be joined by Flotilla DeBarge. If all this doesn’t make any sense to you, then by all means pop some brews and watch the game.

Just wanted to mention the 130th birthday of the Hotel Chelsea. I spent my social Wonder Bread years at the old hotel. At one time I lived in the big penthouse, which was actually a house sitting on top of the hotel with a magnificent giant garden around it. I was told that Arthur C. Clark wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey in my joint, and that John Garfield and John Wayne and a hundred others passed through. I don’t have enough space to mention the celebrities and bright lights that called it home. Friends lived and died there. For me, it was like a town that I could leave but was always welcome back to. Now, it’s all tangled up in real estate legalities and it isn’t the same and we…all New Yorkers, are a lot poorer and less fabulous for it.

Saturday is my 100th birthday or something like that. I will be celebrating…or something like that at the Mercury Lounge, where I will be amazed and amused and maybe even aroused by Guns N’ Hoses – which I am told is an all-female G N’ R tribute band. Afterward, I will paint the town red or just head straight to bed, after all, I’m old—er, or something like that.

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God Save the Queens: Star-Studded Benefit for Russia’s LGBT Community

The new Secretary of State at the Vatican, Pietro Parolin, said the other day that the subject of celibacy within the church is open to discussion. Responding to a question during an interview with Venezuelan newspaper El Universal, the man regarded as "the most powerful official at the Vatican after the pontiff," said, "Celibacy is not an institution but look, it is also true that you can discuss [it] because as you say this is not a dogma, a dogma of the church."

"The efforts that the church made to keep ecclesiastical celibacy, to impose ecclesiastical celibacy, have to be taken into consideration," added the 58-year-old prelate from Italy. "One cannot say simply that this belongs in the past." (Now if i can only get this guy to talk to my girlfriend.)

The world is changing. Amid the usual doom and gloom, skirmishes, war and all the tragedy our media shows us, there are movements forward. I was the best man at a wedding between two women the other day. Rights and fair play are at least discussed. Society is more forgiving. Lindsay Lohan will get another chance. And we almost forgave Weiner and Spitzer—which is destined to be a talk show…OMG a reality show! How fun!

But then we have Russia. Vladimir Putin—who looks like the gayest man alive in every photo I’ve seen him in—is leading a regime of oppression against LGBT citizens of his beloved homeland. An event to raise awareness and loot to support our oppressed friends over there entitled "God Save the Queens" will light up XL Nightclub on Saturday night beginning at 7pm.

Lyle Derek and Noah Valentyn have put this shindig together and they should be rewarded for their efforts. By all means attend and tell everyone you know about it. Things can be done! I mean is any gay bar or club selling Stoli anymore? Shouldn’t all the clubs take a stand on this? I say fuck ’em in the wallets…It always works with my girlfriend.

A star-studded benefit for Russia’s LGBT community, God Save the Queens! To Moscow, With Love, will feature performances by Katrina Darling, Joey Arias, Miss Guy, Sherry Vine, Mistress Formika, Tina Burner, Dallas DuBois, Maddelynn Hatter, Michael Cavadias and Cher Noble.

Miss Guy will also DJ. I am assured there will be some surprises as well. It’s $20 at the door, shows at 7:30 and 9:30. The gala is hosted by Mudhoney Salon and Any Old Iron. Your door dollars will benefit the Spectrum Human Rights Alliance, which is working to stop the violence in Russia.

Lyle sent me this:

Hi Friends:

I hope this finds you well. I am producing a party next Saturday that is a real labor of love! This party is supporting a friend’s organization called the Spectrum Human Rights Alliance which is working on the sad situation in Russia for our LGBT brothers and sisters.

Of all my events over the years I am so proud of this one. And it really needs your support and I would love it if you could join us and get tickets for this wonderful group who are taking direct action. Let’s all come together on this night and celebrate and send Moscow lots of love!

I would truly appreciate it if you would get tickets to this one and if you cannot go please spread this around on Facebook and emails, etc. Let’s show Russia some real New York love!

And the show is one of the most exciting NY line ups in ages—and we have some real surprises in store too! I hope to see you there and share a Pink Russian with you!

xoxox

Lyle

I had a chance to ask Lyle some questions.

What is the situation for LGBT people in Russia?

We have spoken to some of the queens in Russia and as we all know, it is rough for them, but they have a thriving gay scene and drag scene despite it all. Russians are a very strong and resilient people, but I am by no means an expert on this issue. Like many, I am just concerned and this is a sad state in this day and age. We have come so far and had such a great year here and it’s like the dark ages there.

What do you hope to accomplish with this event?

We hope to raise awareness for the Spectrum Human Rights Alliance, and some funds would be great too. They are friends of ours and we want to help them. They are from Russia and working in Washington now on this issue directly. They will be at our event Saturday and will speak about what is going on and they know much more about what is going on than I do, so we hope everyone comes, we all get the facts and the night makes an impact.

What is going to happen at the event?

"God Save the Queens" is really a drag spectacular with Mistress Formika doing a rare drag appearance. We have the legendary Joey Arias and Sherry Vine and many more who will do numbers in the theme and spirit of our event. The scandalous Katrina Darling who ruffled the real queens’ feathers last year with her Playboy spread will open the show with a sexy burlesque number and Miss Guy is going to close the night with his new track "God Save New York," which he did with Debbie Harry.

Are you excited about doing this at XL?

Doing this at XL made so much sense as they are the epicenter of gay culture and are doing it with such class. A lot of venues wanted this show but XL at The Out Hotel just made perfect sense to us and we will be doing another God Save the Queens right before the Olympics and in London and Los Angeles to continue to help the Spectrum Human Rights Alliance. The one thing this is doing is bringing the global LGBT community together and that is good. It’s going to just grow before the Olympics.

Is there hope?

Of course there is always hope. Look at the great year we had with the Supreme Court. It was a long road to that victory. And Russia will be next.

What do you feel is appropriate regarding the Olympics in Russia? A ban? A boycott of advertisers? An armband of solidarity?

We need to take our anger to the Olympic Committee and the government, not companies that have nothing to do with Putin or his policies. I think the blogger Dan Savage was very irresponsible by putting false information about Stoli out there and started this boycott. All of our performers find that a waste of time and Stoli has been supportive of LGBT events for decades and continue to be. We should all stand together, not have this animosity for folks who our on our side.

Are Russian gays eligible for political amnesty in the USA?

I am not sure if they are, but after Russia took in Edward Snowden, I hope our country would welcome the queens from Russia. Gays never give up secrets.

Get "God Save the Queens" tickets here!

 

image of Joey Arias via

Under the Influence: Joey Arias & Pee Wee Herman

I was born and raised in Jackson Heights, Queens, a nice enough place. I had friends, went to PS 69 (okay, get it out of your system, I’ve heard every joke possible), played Little League Baseball, and on my birthday, had the Kitchen Sink at Jahns on on 37th Avenue. I was popular, I was brash, I questioned everything. I once had a run-in over my stolen baseball glove with a kid a little bit older than me. His name was Johnny Genzale, and he was, generally speaking, a punk, a “must” to avoid. I got my glove back, and after that scrap, he crossed the street every time he saw me. He grew up to be punk superstar Johnny Thunders (New York Dolls and The Heartbreakers). At Max’s Kansas City we hung out once in a while as two kids from the neighborhood. He was always good to me. I was extremely upset when he died, but I was also surprised he lived so long. Dee Dee Ramone told me that he had been whacked by Louisiana assholes. When I was old enough to know better, I went down to the old East Village, which resembles its current incarnation for only a few moments once in a while, and only at a few places, like Lit or maybe Veselka at 3am.

On St. Marks a zillion years ago, I met Joey Arias and Klaus Nomi. They took some time to chat with me and my friends. After about 10 minutes, my friends got tired of talking to the “freaks” and went off to buy a bong or something. I stayed; I couldn’t get enough. Up until this point, I knew no like-minded individuals. Except for Johnny Thunders, my world was straight and narrow. I’m not referring to gay. We had openly gay people in Jackson Heights during my Wonder Bread years. I’m talking about that downtown edge that’s been my carrot on a stick since meeting them. Joey and Klaus Nomi introduced me to a world of wonder that I haven’t left since. I went to the store that they ruled, Fiorruci, and bought swanky clothes for me and my gal pals. I hung with people that dressed differently, thought differently, lived differently than those I lived with. For so many years I thought I was alone—a freak hiding amongst the sane. Then I hung with freaks like me, and smiled about it. Although my thoughts were always grounded in the old hood and those traditions, I had been redefined. From that moment on I played and ate and read and partied — and always danced to the rhythm of a different drummer. I make my living creatively. If not for Joey and Klaus and the time they took to show me a different way of looking at things, I’m sure I’d be in a different place.

Tonight Joey will bring his considerable talents to Le Poisson Rouge. Over the years, I’ve seen him countless times, once as a backup to David Bowie, another in Vegas with Cirque du Soleil. He was a mainstay at Club 57, the performance-based club that ruled the 80’s St. Marks scene. He has been Billie Holiday in performances that made crowds gasp—he doesn’t imitate the legend, he channels her. He has been a severe Joan Crawford; he was gorgeous at Bar d’Or performing with Miss Sherry Vine and Raven O. He’s been in movies with Pee Wee and Elvira, and made me laugh in To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar. He starred in Arias With a Twist, collaborating with puppeteer Basil Twist. Brilliant and funny, with an impossibly seductive singing voice and an impossibly tight corset. Joey is a Can’t Miss, so don’t miss him at 7pm tonight at Le Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker street.

Bowlers at the new Times Square Bowlmor Lanes were surprised to see Pee Wee Herman and the cast and crew of his soon-to-close Broadway Show last night. He was there to celebrate the wrap of his forthcoming HBO special. His fans were invited and showed up in full force. Pee Wee, actor Paul Reubens took the time to pose for pictures with as many fans as possible. The party was put together in a couple of days and was being shopped around by publicists trying to make it work for all parties, and I got to put in my two cents. Although I was pushing a swankier locale for the event, Bowlmor was the perfect venue. Alas, I could not attend, as Sunday evenings are spent in Jackson Heights visiting my family.

Joey Arias & Basil Twist Bring the Show to LA

One thing I love about Los Angeles is that everyone comes here, and I don’t have to go anywhere — they come to me. Case in point: Joey Arias, the drag diva who first made a splash in New York’s underground drag scene and then went on to infamy at Cirque du Soleil’s sexytime Zumanity in Las Vegas, is here in town. I can go see him without jumping on a 3,000-mile (or 250-mile) flight for the next few weeks, in “Arias with a Twist.” The name stems from the collaboration with Basil Twist, a puppeteer who conjured the fantastical set that Mr. Arias performs on.

If you don’t know Mr. Arias, he looks like a twisted version of Betty Page (he’s got the bangs down pat) and sounds like a darker version of Billie Holiday. He is not your mother’s drag queen — there will be no cotton candy-colored outfits, no lip-synching to Whitney Houston songs, no bad banter. To call Arias a drag queen is something of a misnomer and a disservice; he’s a performance artist. He’s playing from now till December 13 at the Redcat Theatre.

Back in the day when I was a wee baby raver, I was obsessed, and I mean obsessed with drum ’n’ bass. I began DJing and spent every last dime of my very meager earnings on 12-inch records which now sit in my room and have no value except for a very small sector of the population. A portion of that population will be out at Respect tonight at Dragonfly, a drum ’n’ bass party that has managed to not be extinguished in the face of marginalization. They’ve been going strong since 1999, when drum ’n’ bass was on top of the electronic music world, and tonight they are bringing two DJs from that era who are apparently also still going strong — Optical and Trace. (Also, according to Myspace, Optical is living in L.A..) Old lady raver here might have to go to that.

Another old standard is spreading its wings again: the Beauty Bar, which has been an LA outpost (it was opened after the NYC original) is expanding its mini-hipster empire to another city. Chicago is the lucky recipient of the only indie rock bar chain in the country — and certainly, the only one worth a damn. If the Chicago Beauty Bar is like the others, expect a high quotient of tattooed hot girls and indie rock on the speakers.

Email tips to {encode=”tromano@bbook.com” title=”tromano@bbook.com”}.

Creatures of the Night: A Gallery of After Darkers

In the booming, bustling world of urban nightlife, things are neither silent nor still, nor necessarily what they seem. Here, when most people have begun cashing in on their eight hours of rest, we hit the streets with our most beloved, insatiable crew of revelers—from deejays and drag queens to one very poised 92-year-old single gal—to experience the debauchery and decadence of the world after dark.

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The Downtown Dynasty: Geordon Nicol, Leigh Lezark and Greg Krelenstein of The MisShapes with Sophia Lamar and Spencer Product, photographed at the Annex, New York City. Never mind the fickle nature of the deejay lifestyle. The enduring hipster phenomenon known as the MisShapes — Geordon Nicol, Greg Krelenstein and Leigh Lezark — continue to garner momentum while other club kids simply spin out of control (Lezark has even managed to leverage her downtown success into international stardom, most recently as one of the celebrity faces in this fall’s GAP campaign). When not living out of suitcases — filled, almost exclusively, with black clothes — they most often frequent the Annex, a casual, beer-soaked club on Orchard Street overrun with irony and seam-defying denim. “I want to feel excited and sometimes nostalgic when I’m out listening to music.” says Krelenstein.

Their close friend Sophia Lamar, a trans-gendered Cuban refugee, style visionary and onetime member of the Michael Alig crew, shares the same passion for the deep, dark bowels of evening revelry. A nightlife fixture for years, she cops to having witnessed some strange sights: “I once saw a performer who was naked on stage eating corn on the cob. She then blew popcorn out of her ass.” Lezark and Nicol chime in with their own memory: “We saw someone in a bear suit catch fire, and his friend pissed on him to extinguish the flames.” In response to a question about rest, Lamar’s longtime friend and party conspirator, deejay Spencer Product, whose mix album …Product was released last month, asks, defiance in his tone, “Sleeping pattern? What sleeping pattern?”

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The All-Nighters: Deborah Harry, musician, actor, and Justin Bond, cabaret performer, photographed at The Diner, New York City. Rock goddess Deborah Harry and international cabaret star Justin Bond (aka Kiki of Kiki & Herb), friends for over 10 years, revel in pleasures of the evening — creative and otherwise: “I look at it like this,” says Harry, casual and still utterly iconic in her white blouse and stripey pants, hair platinum blonde, fresh from Blondie’s Parallel Lines anniversary tour. “My favorite part of the day is from about 4 a.m. to 7 a.m. I love those hours. I think that being in the city, staying out all night and facing the dawn offers an amazing perspective. It’s a very creative time. I either get there from the back side or the front side.”

For Bond, charismatic and festive in eyeliner and quilted jacket, the hours between 10 to 12 offer the first window of nocturnal magic: “Putting on my makeup is like zen meditation, especially if you have girlfriends to get ready with,” he says, seated across from his partner in crime over blue plate specials at a Chelsea diner. “Then, three to five is good, because all the hardcore people are left, the risk-taking people who’ve come out from their buildings to mingle with each other.” Living in one of the world’s 24-hour cities, both agree, is a major perk. Bond’s after-hours itinerary includes catching up with moonlighting deejay John Cameron Mitchell at Mattachine, a Thursday night blowout at Julius in the West Village. Harry, whose favorite clubs over the years have included Jackie 60 and Mother (“high on the list, if not the top”), CBGB, Max’s Kansas City and Studio 54 says: “At least in New York, you can act like an adult. You can be responsible for your own irresponsibility.”

When it comes to their choice libations, Bond, whose boozy chanteuse Kiki has a celebrity-addicted following, says that he likes “a nice slug of Jack and Coke.” Harry, the quintessential diva of the night, whose seductive “Heart of Glass” and “Rapture” are inevitable pleasures in any nightclub (the endurance of the songs “is the best thing that happened to me, but I prefer now to the past. I’m not really a nostalgic person,” she says), gets her thrill from champagne, Cristal to be precise: “It’s the ultimate. You can always rely on it. I never get hangovers.” But if they mix their poisons, or have one too many, what do the dedicated nightbirds turn to for hangover cures? “Advil, or a hamburger,” Bond offers, “and sex. Anything that makes me sweat.” “There you go,” says Harry. “Best cure yet.” — Ray Rogers and James Servin.

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The Late Bloomer: Zelda Kaplan, nightlife legend, photographed at Bungalow 8, New York City. Zelda Kaplan, 92, sits tucked away in a booth at the back of Bungalow 8, one of her favorite New York City haunts, sipping from a champagne flute. Scheduling an appointment with her days earlier came with the following caveat: “Remember, sweetie, don’t call until four or five in the afternoon. Otherwise, I’ll still be in bed.” A trained ballroom dancer, the twice-married humanitarian has traveled throughout Ethiopia to raise awareness about female genital mutilation (“It’s excision, not circumcision,” she says). These days, she saunters about town at all hours of the morning, wearing that cylindrical hat of hers, draped in rich fabrics she discovered while touring Africa. “I like to go out,” she says, her sharp eyes shielded by sunglasses. “I like to be with nice people, although not the types who get sloppy, sloppy drunk.” She remembers, after the loss of her second husband, “going home at night and thinking, My gosh, this is so boring! But how could I possibly go out without an escort? And then one night, I went to Bungalow 8. There were people in line, but I was let right in. I went straight to the bar. To take up a table by oneself is awful, and besides, I wanted to talk to people.” Which is precisely what she did, forming a core group of friends, many of whom could pass as her great-grandchildren. And that’s just fine with Kaplan, who has little patience when her few remaining nonagenarian peers complain about rheumatoid arthritis. “After two or three minutes, I’m like, Whatever,” she say, smiling. The club scene, of course, has changed drastically since Kaplan first hit the dance floor, and she’s the first to notice: “Women today, these girls, present their fannies to men by bending over at the bar. And the men, they come up close behind them, you know, moving. I’ve presented myself to men like that before, but never in public.”

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The Firestarter: Luke Worrall, model, photographed at his “mum’s house” in Croydon, London, U.K. Luke Worrall was only 17 years old when he made his second appearance on the cover of Dazed & Confused magazine, the lascivious proposal “SEX ME UP!” brandished over his body, which was tightly braided in an embrace with two other naked models — one male, one female — colorful phallic blow-ups adorning their heads. A few months later, in January of this year, Worrall cracked the pages of W in little more than an Ann Demeulemeester coq feather vest, actress Hilary Swank on all fours in front of him. Photos like these, along with his closely monitored romance with Kelly Osbourne (about which he’s chosen to remain reticent), have positioned Worrall as quite the party boy. It’s a label he’s quick to discard, and one of the reasons he vows never again to model naked. “I like to go out,” he says. “But I also party at home with my family.” A run-in with a torch might explain his preference for celebrating on his own turf: “I was recently at the Versace party in Milan during Fashion Week. I had just modeled in a show where they had done up my hair in fine cornrows. I walked past a hanging lamp and, the next thing I knew, my hair was on fire.”

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The Stone Thrower: Perez Hilton, celebrity blogger, photographed outside of the El Rey Theatre, Los Angeles, California. At 5:40 a.m., merciless Hollywood blogger Perez Hilton, 30, sits down at his computer to defile a few well-known faces with the hand-drawn semen he’s become famous — and reviled — for. But while most guerilla gossips remain faceless, if not altogether nameless observers, Hilton has built an online empire on the promise of full disclosure and constant exposure — which hasn’t always worked in his favor, especially among certain members of the tight-lipped, West Coast nightlife set. “Getting kicked out of Chateau Marmont was shocking,” he says, “because I didn’t do anything to deserve it. They just knew who I was, what I did for a living, and made it clear that I was not welcome there.”

He has, however, befriended the inspiration for his eponymous website. “Paris Hilton knows how to throw a really good house party,” he says. “At her place, I always see the most random group of people, from A-listers to D-listers.” When asked if he’d rather throw down in New York or Los Angeles, the self-appointed “Queen of all Media” says, “New York is dangerous because the clubs don’t close until 4 a.m. My favorite place in Los Angeles, which I go to pretty much every weekend I’m in town, is Akbar in Silver Lake. There’s no velvet rope. There’s no cover. They have a dance floor, but they also have a jukebox in the other room, if you feel like lounging. In L.A. — even though clubs close at 2 a.m. — you can get in a lot of trouble because you still have to drive home. And we all know how much celebrities love to drink and drive.”

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The Keepers of the Faith: Michael Musto, Andre J., Joey Arias and Amanda Lepore, club kids, photographed in the bathroom at BBar & Grill, New York City. Outside of the tiled bathroom at BBar & Grill on Manhattan’s recently sanitized Bowery strip, hundreds of fragrant men cluster together in shape-defining jeans for Erich Conrad’s notorious Tuesday night happening, Beige. They sidle up to one another, impatient for cocktails. Inside, in front of a wall lined with urinals, French Vogue cover model Andre J., dressed in a hot pink halter with matching booty shorts, bends down to cool his face with the breeze from a nearby hand-dryer. Next to him in a black pinstripe suit, The Village Voice columnist Michael Musto jokes with drag cabaret performer Joey Arias, while Amanda Lepore, photographer David LaChapelle’s muse — and “the world’s most famous transsexual with a fully-functioning vagina,” according to her voicemail greeting — places the scarlet heel of her right Louboutin into the urinal beside her.

But despite being crammed together in that scant, airless room, business proceeds as usual for the club kids who discovered themselves and one another throughout the 1980s and 1990s. The surroundings don’t faze them, especially not Musto, who used to ogle Michael Jackson at Studio 54 and dodge streams of projectile breast milk used to make White Russians at Susanne Bartsch’s infamous bacchanals. Because he doesn’t drink, Musto describes himself as “a eunuch at an orgy,” and says, laughing, “I think heaven will be awfully boring — Mother Teresa and Angelina Jolie tending to the children and Julie Andrews singing ‘Chim chim cher-ee.’ Give me hell anytime!” Of his relationship with the other three assembled here tonight, Musto says, “They are people of the night! My kindred spirits pursue their dreams, living as their most extreme and fabulous versions of themselves. Most people don’t have the balls to do that.”

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Les French Fries: Yelle, singer-songwriter, photographed in Paris, France. French siren Yelle (pronounced “gel,” not “jelly”) first performed the acerbic lyrics to “Je veux to voir” last fall, to a sold-out sea of neon tights and tattered T-shirts at one of France’s trendiest nightclubs, Le Paris Paris. “I wanna see you in a porn flick,” she sang, “Getting busy with your potato or French fry-shaped dick.” The audience went crazy, and one can’t help wonder if that’s why the spud theme has stuck. “I love a good hamburger with French fries,” she says, adding, “But a plate of pasta with butter is also pretty perfect after a long night out.” Since stomping her cyber footprint on MySpace only a few years ago, Yelle, 25, has taken control of French airwaves with tracks from her bold, brash debut album Pop-Up — sex toys, lesbian desire and love are all explored in her songs — for which she is currently touring America alongside her two bandmates. With her electro-sexpot look and wide, bewitching stare, one imagines she attracts plenty of attention when out with friends. “The worst pick-up line I ever heard was, ‘Your father is a thief. He took all the stars from the sky and put them in your eyes,’” she says, rolling them.

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The Playboy: Sébastien Tellier, musician, photographed at Santos Party House, New York City. It’s nearing dusk when French musician and deejay Sébastien Tellier breaks from conversation in search of another drink at the Tribeca Grand Hotel. He returns, his Herculean sunglasses still firmly in place, and says, unprompted, “I drink one glass of white wine before every show to loosen up my throat. And, of course, I smoke a joint.” After a reflective pause, he adds, grinning, “I smoke a lot of joints, actually.” On tour in support of his latest album,Sexuality, a warm, writhing toe-dip into Gainsbourg territory that was given its pre-release exclusively at American Apparel, Tellier explains that his creative focus has shifted from politics to sex. “I used to make music for a room of French intellectuals,” says the self-described “enemy of convention,” who has worked closely with the members of Air and Daft Punk, with whom he also spends most nights out. “And now, I see young women in the crowd who are barely 15 years old. Their spirit and youth are wonderful. I don’t even really want to see people dance to my music, but I do want to see them kiss.” Has Tellier ever played his own love jams to set the mood? “Holy shit, no. I’m not that much of an exhibitionist.”

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The Anarchist Gypsy: Eugene Hütz, singer for Gogol Bordello, actor, photographed at Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel, Providence, Rhode Island. In the dank, wood-paneled Bulgarian bar Mehanata on Ludlow Street, Eugene Hütz, the churlish but spirited creator of New York’s gypsy punk rock band Gogol Bordello, spins beat-driven songs for a messy crowd of dripping, drunk Lower East Side dancers. “I’ve never really liked hipsters,” says Hütz, 35, after being called one. “They’re an unfaithful bunch. I’d rather rely on intelligent people who can see past what’s of the moment.” His homespun, bedraggled looks inspired Frida Giannini’s breakthrough Fall-Winter 08/09 collection for Gucci, and his star will certainly rise this month with his top-billing role in Madonna’s feature directorial debut, Filth and Wisdom, but his heart still belongs to the New York night and his riotous weekly parties. “I’ve spoken to a lot of people who were brought up by 1970s New York underground culture, which was disorderly and uncompromising in a lot of ways,” says Hütz, who was born in Ukraine before immigrating stateside. “So, I came to New York with a democratic mentality. Someone would be playing an acoustic guitar in a little after-hours club with people who didn’t give a fuck, and something special happened — talent knew no borders, hierarchy was thrown out of the window. I live for that atmosphere.”

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The Globe-Hopper: Nigo, fashion designer, photographed in Tokyo, Japan. Japanese fashion designer Tomoaki “Nigo” Nagao still calls Tokyo home, but he goes where the energy flows for inspired nights out. These days, that means New York. The nightlife there, he says, maintains a “genuine craziness. I can really feel the excitement.” It’s been 15 years now since the former magazine stylist and hip-hop deejay changed the look of streetwear — and the backstreets of Harajuku — with the creation of his fashion label A Bathing Ape (BAPE). Looking back, Nigo, 37, can’t help but notice a change in tenor throughout the Tokyo nightlife circuit. “Going clubbing in the ’90s, everyone cared about how they looked, and it was creative and progressive in terms of fashion. Today’s scene is much smaller and more disparate.” No matter — Nigo keeps that creative flame alive with his labels, which include BAPE, but also Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream, with friend and co-founder Pharrell Williams. A retrospective of his work comes forth next month in the form of the Rizzoli tome, A Bathing Ape. But he’s got a tall order if he wants to top his most exciting night out to date with Pharrell. “I remember going to Miami for the first time ever, to the video shoot for ‘Frontin” from Pharrell’s first solo record. We went to some big club to celebrate, and almost every song the deejay played had been produced by the Neptunes. Pharrell really doesn’t drink, but we were all going wild.”

Photos: Victoria Will (MisShapes, Sophia Lamar, Spencer Product; Deborah Harry, Justin Bond; Zelda Kaplan; Sébastian Tellier), Atlanta Rasher (Luke Worrall), Brian Lindensmith (Perez Hilton), Lizzy Sullivan (Michael Musto, Andre J., Joey Arias, Amanda Lepore), Yoann Lemoine (Yelle), Isa Wipfli (Eugene Hütz), Maria Amita (Nigo).
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Joey Arias with a Twist

Madonna recently told Vanity Fair that New York isn’t what it used to be, that it doesn’t feel alive anymore, and that the synergy between art, music, and fashion is no more. That’s because Joey Arias has been hiding in Las Vegas for the last six years, duh! The drag diva with the speakeasy voice was handling Mistress of Seduction duties at Zumanity, Cirque du Soleil’s carnal carnival. And in a “you can take the drag queen out of the city, but you can’t take the city out of the drag queen” twist of irony, the show was at the New York, New York Hotel & Casino.

But Arias has finally come home, with a twist. From June 12 to July 13, he’ll pair with famed puppeteer Basil Twist for a cabaret production at the completely-renovated HERE Arts Center. Arias speaks in a low purr, but onstage his legendary voice channels a young Billie Holliday. With Twist’s signature magic backing Arias, audiences will be transported “to unpredictable worlds, channeling ecstatic desires, lavish nightmares, and bizarre premonitions in a bejeweled cabinet of curiosities.” And for those doubting the magic of puppets and a queen, Arias reassures us, “It’s more than just puppetry. What Basil does in incredible.” You’re not so bad yourself, Joey. Here’s a video preview.