The Legendary Debbie Harry Will Host Dropout’s Fashion Week Party

A smart, sharp, beautiful, successful friend asked me where she could entertain her out-of-towners. Not knowing anything about these tourists I sent her a list of the A-List places. This list included joints as diverse as The Darby, Avenue, Provocateur, Electric Room, Le Bain, Le Baron, and W.i.P. There are of course many other choices and places closer to the edge but as I said they are strangers in a strange land and these felt safe to recommend. After describing each place in a couple of sentences they opted for W.i.P. W.i.P. is satisfying the needs of a downtown art/fashion/mixed crowd that had been forsaken for so long. Their Tuesday night soiree’ Dropout continues to service the Post Jackie 60 scene. Tomorrow night in honor of Fashion Week they are offering up the amazing Debbie Harry. I caught up with Dropout honcho and man-about-town Lyle Derek and asked him all about it.

What does it mean to you/Dropout to have Debbie host this Fashion Week party?
Debbie is in a class all on her own by her doing this show for us. It confirms yet again how cool she is. Debbie is giving back to New York nightlife culture. With some of these pop stars that pretend to care about the NY scene and the underdogs, Debbie put her money where her mouth is and she doesn’t have to keep proving anything to anyone. We all know some of these girls can sell out the Garden, but what is really cool and a real feat in my book is doing small club gigs and keeping NY alive and exciting. Since we announced Debbie’s show we have gotten hundreds of emails from people saying how much this means to them to get a chance to see one of their heroes in an intimate setting like this. She is the real deal – not only one of the best pop song writers, but one of the sweetest people in show business.

Debbie is a rock icon/star. How do you interact with her? How hard is it to be a friend without the cloud of celebrity?
Debbie and I met when I was in film school, while I was producing the documentary about the legendary ’90s nightclub SqueezeBox, and we have remained friends. She makes me feel totally comfortable because she is so human and so real. Her beauty is the only thing [that’s] a little spooky. I mean that face! She is even more stunning in the flesh!

How did the Dropout concept begin?
Dropout was an idea that my pal from Texas – filmmaker Jonathan Caouette – and famed Dutch actor Noah Valentyn had. We wanted a new party that celebrated live performance and what New York City was when we started it almost a couple years ago. We did it at Don Hill’s, and there was nothing like that going on. Noah Valentyn came up with the name and we all created a night from the heart. Jonathan’s new movie took him to France and then sadly Don passed away and Don’s closed. We were shocked when we discovered our little art party had captured the imagination of the city and of the club worlds as we got calls from six club owners to move it to a new venue.

How did end up at W.i.P.?
We held off for a bit as most club owners do not support parties like these and don’t see the big picture of what this could grow into. The only owners in town in my book that get that are Barry M. and Noah Tepperberg, but none of Noah’s clubs have stages and we couldn’t do the party without a stage. Barry wanted the party and said he would put a stage for our nights and we started back up at W.i.P a few months ago and it was the best move we made. It was our first time working with Barry, and he cares about NY nightlife the way we do, and after our first meeting we were sold. His new venue W.i.P. was one of the best; Noah Valentyn and I discovered and it being new and fresh and letting us have a stage was the right fit. Stu [Braunstein] was also someone we worked with in the past and he gives W.i.P. a sick gallery of artwork and that helped make Dropout the perfect venue, ’cause Don Hill’s was a hard place to replace with its stage and feel. Barry also gives us the resources to bring on our hosts from Don Hill’s: the cool Darian Darling, Kiss, and Tommy Hottpants, and some new ones like recent PS1 curator Tim Goossens, upcoming designer John Renaud, and cutting edge art producer Michelle Tillou. And one of the best club DJs in New York ever: Miss Guy! Guy is one of our close friends and gave us the idea for a mannequin DJ back at Don Hills when we started because we couldn’t afford a real DJ! It was our way of downsizing. So having Guy on board to DJ was key and all that helped the night in blowing up. New York is very excited about this party cause we are giving artists an outlet they didn’t have otherwise ,and there is a real scene and community happening like many folks haven’t seen in a decade. We get calls from bands everyday – well known and new young artists that want the chance to play in front of an audience that celebrates new music and risk-takers. Artists feel safe coming to play Dropout and that why it works so well.

Dropout is really growing and has already garnished a great reputation. There is a lot going on these days – mostly good in nightlife. Have we turned a corner? Is nightlife back?
I think we have for sure turned a corner for the better and this show with Debbie Harry on Tuesday, which will also feature guest DJ Nick Zinner and a debut music video for the Miss Guy album, out next month. It will go down in the books as a night that helped spark a true happening – the kind you only have in New York City!

To David Yassky: Kick the Bad Cabbies Off the Road

Last week the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) of this fair town voted to increase yellow taxi fares by 17 percent. The raise was a foregone conclusion as an increase in fares last occurred in 2006 and costs for everything have gone up. Reports say that the average cost of a ride will rise 2 bucks, to $15. The commission, through mouthpiece Allan Fromberg, says that after a 12-hour shift, a driver will take home around $160 as opposed to the current $130. I’m all for it on many levels, but I do have some beef. Taxis carry about 600,000 passengers in 450,000 separate trips. Living in Williamsburg has allowed me to avoid the yellow perils as I opt for the convenience of my beloved, albeit rat infested (another story) "L" Train or the comforts of Northside or Metro Car services. I am sure there are many polite and respectful yellow cab drivers out there, but the bad eggs spoil the carton.

On Saturday night, around 3:15am, I was rolling deep with three attractive, well-dressed ladies, leaving the wonderful Le Bain. They were casually enjoying the night air while trying to navigate cobblestone in their Balenciagas and Louboutins…not an easy task. They had zero sense of urgency about obtaining transportation to our next and last stop. I warned them that in about 15 minutes, all the surrounding bars and clubs of the Meatpacking District would be emptying out and a cab would be scarce. We hustled to 9th Avenue, where I witnessed yellow cabs refusing fares or demanding exorbitant amounts for normally metered fares. It was "$30" or "I’m only going to New Jersey" or simple rude "no’s" as the cabbies broke every rule in the book in this feeding frenzy. All of the cabs had their off-duty signs on as if this allowed them to be above the law. 

One particular cab driver was beyond the pale and said some terribly rude things to multiple applicants for his services. He refused me even though I was well-dressed, completely sober (as is my norm), and was going to a nearby Manhattan location – even though he would be obligated to take me anyplace in NYC. He wanted more. He wanted $30 and a quick ride. He used profanity and pulled his cab forward, almost injuring me and a drunk patron crossing in front of his vehicle. I took his number and told him I was going to file a complaint; he laughed. As he sat there negotiating fares with revelers, I looked for a cop. Alas, none were near, so I opted to complain through the TLC web site. We ended up getting a cab on 8th Avenue where they were plentiful.David Yassky is the Taxi and Limousine Commisioner and a reasonable guy. He has ambitions. When I sat on the NY Nightlife Association Board, he was talked about as a friend and a possible future mayor or such. The illegal and unenforced rape of the public by cab drivers on late nights is a disgrace. Past commissioners have found ways to regulate taxi-gouging of the public at airports and the Port Authority; surely a plan to stop this nonsense can be formulated. Maybe a taxi stand or an increase in enforcement is called for. I am sure that the extra loot these bastards demanded from people desperate to get home or wherever was not figured into the average earnings statistics.

It is rare that I find myself in this desperate search for a ride. I walk a lot, am not allergic to public transportation, and have a car. However, on this night I had civilians with me. From now on I will stiff bad cabbies and over-tip the good ones; I think this should be a public policy. The bad cabbies need to be weeded out and the good ones rewarded.

A 17 percent fare increase is a good start for good service. With it must come a commitment from David Yassky and his team to protect the public from the assholes. These creeps are a bad messenger for the tourists who take these bad experiences back to Peoria and other backwater towns like LA or Chicago. If a driver refuses a fare with no reasonable excuse, they should pull his license and fine the jerk $500 for the first offense, and make it worse after that. If a driver picks up a fare with his off-duty sign on, hit him hard. If he charges more than the fare on the meter, shoot ’em. O.K., O.K., don’t shoot him.

I am filing a complaint against an individual driver. I will have to take time out of my day to go to a hearing. He deserves a hearing. Most New Yorkers can’t take the time out and just shrug the whole thing off. Giuliani, for whatever he was, did understand that the squeegee guys lowered the quality of life in this town. David Yassky must step up and do his job. As the drivers were just given the carrot, he must wield the stick. 

A Big Mess at GoldBar Last Night, Big Parties at the Soho Grand, Le Bain Tonight

I had the most fun at GoldBar last night. The Monday night party "BIG Mess" was actually not. Mino Habib is the host with the most at this chic soiree. Momus, Frank Olivo and Michael Christopher provide the music. It’s just a hop, skip, and a jump from Ken & Cook, which looked wonderful last night as I passed it in a cab. The two adult sexy hot spots so near makes for a reason to be cheerful on a summer Monday night. I’ll be at Susanne Bartsch’s party tonight DJing for the in crowd at the Soho Grand. It’s early, 9pm, and then everyone swarms over to her On Top weekly (pictured) at Le Bain.

There is so much going on these days. One of the best (most fun) parties I have been to in recent years is Wednesdays at DL (Ludlow and Delancey). The second floor Dorian Gray weekly stars Kayvon Zand and his fellow creatures of the night. Kayvon DJ’s with Anna Evans and Xris SMack and it is insanely beautiful, eclectic fun. This week Icona Pop is casting for their new video. The roof is headed up by DJ Prince Terrance and The House of Fields crew. This group is a younger, more mixed version of the fashion, gay/straight, hip crowd. The two scenes mingle and flirt and out dress each other and it’s all grand. I can’t recommend a more brilliant evening.

For me it’s deja vu all over again. As one door opens up to the fabulous, alas another must close, as in Max Fish actually, really, I swear closing. The usual reasons … rent going sky-high in a neighborhood that got its cool from places like Max Fish and St. Jerome’s and Motor City, which soared with cool while the streets were deserted. Nowadays a fratboy and gal nightlife mall scares the rats and the cool kids away.

[Related: BlackBook New York Guide; Listings for GoldBar, Ken & Cook, Soho Grand, Le Bain, DL; Susanne Bartsch’s On Top party; Follow Steve Lewis on Twitter]

Jell-O Shots & Ricotta Dumplings: Hill & Dale Opens in LES

The specialty at Hill & Dale, new to Allen Street, is a peach and vodka Jell-O shot called the “Dot & Dash.” Our waitress told us it was the house signature, so I suggested we all take one together. She declined, saying she didn’t like the feel of Jell-O in her mouth, and neither do I, so instead of the Jell-O shot, I drank just about everything else, and just about everything else was lovely.

A whole daisy came floating in the “Floozy,” one of eight other cocktails (all $12) fashioned by co-owner Elliott Carlson of Le Bain, which mixed muddled strawberries with Ketel One. Drinks like the Bourbon Negroni and The Berliner (rye, sweet vermouth, cherry, and Ramazzotti bitters) were plenty aromatic, and didn’t mask quality liqueurs with needless sugar. “Flip the Frog,” made with Plymouth Gin and St-Germain, sees its highball glass stacked with half a dozen cucumber slices. I approved.

Décor is themed around early home audio systems: an old brass phonograph rests atop a shelf behind the bar, and kitschy radios line a beam across the dining room. The 1920s-speakeasy thing treads lightly at worst. Beatles tracks played over the PA for a solid hour, with no dips into that “Hello! Ma Baby” schlock. Behind a metal grate in the back, a 30-person lounge with cushy sofas and potted ferns is well suited to quiet sipping.

Hill & Dale calls itself a “gastrolounge,” meaning they serve dinner. Ricotta dumplings are served with a mushroom medley, and a very juicy wild boar sausage wraps around three fantastic cabbage salads. Fried things come in all shapes. One of my housemade chicken nuggets (brown meat) had the form of a heart, while another looked like a man holding a basketball between his legs. For those keeping score in the New York pickle game, Hill & Dale’s current versions are golden baby beets, spring onions, celery, and cucumbers.

The Jell-O shots are not pickled.

Discover the latest openings by visiting BlackBook’s NY City Guides

As Certain As Death & Taxes: These Top 10 NYC Guarantees

Benjamin Franklin once said, “Nothing is certain except death and taxes,” and while I do quite admire the man (where would we be without bifocals?) – he’s wrong. In NYC, there are many other things we can be 100 percent certain of. I’ve gathered a list of this city’s top 10 occurrences that are bound to happen. And if they don’t happen, then you know the world is ending and you don’t need to buy a new laptop and summer clothes.

The Top 10 NYC Guarantees

1.    During a torrential downpour, you will wait for a cab for 15 minutes on a street corner, and the first cab driver you hail down will tell you he’s miraculously “not going” where you are.

2.    On a weekday evening, you will somehow find yourself in Times Square, and will be suddenly struck with intense feelings of despair about your life and disgust for plaid, knee-high, “tourist” socks.

3.     On every day of the week, there will be a line of pancake-craving, agitated NYers furiously texting, awaiting tables at Clinton St. Baking Company.

4.     You will wear all black.

5.     When you really need to get to where you’re going, when it’s really important that you make it on time, you will be on the subway that’s “delayed because of train traffic ahead of us.”

6.     When you’ve spent weekends inside watching movies on Netflix, you will vow to become “more cultured,” buy a ticket to a Broadway musical that’s based on a movie or band, think it’s awful, and go home and watch Netflix.

7.     You will end up sitting next to and talking to someone who is incredibly influential and successful, exchange emails, think your life has changed forever, and never hear back from them again.

8.     You will trip and fall in your heels on the cobblestone Meatpacking streets outside 1 Oak and Le Bain, and panic that people think you’re from New Jersey.

9.     For three months starting June 1st, the city will smell like hot piss.

10.   On a sunny Saturday while strolling Chelsea Piers, you will have a moment of blissful clarity and gratitude that you live here – until a guy/tranny on a bike  runs into you and yells “watch out, asshole.”

Follow Bonnie on Twitter here

Hurricane Hell: 12 Great NYC Spots to Visit In Your Mind Today

Hurricane Sandy got you housebound? Don’t die of boredom, hit your liquor cabinet, think about all the great bars and restaurants in New York, and take a mental stroll through them all. To get you started, I’ve made a list of a dozen winners that I love. Check them out, agree or disagree, and then dream up a perfect NYC itinerary of your own. When the weather eventually improves, work through your list in real life. It’s like Imagination Christmas, and just as cheap. Continue on to our list of 12 New York Spots I Wish I Could Visit Today Instead of Being Stuck Inside Thanks to Hurricane Sandy

Hey, it beats playing solitaire by candlelight. 

To David Yassky: Kick the Bad Cabbies Off the Road

Last week the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) of this fair town voted to increase yellow taxi fares by 17 percent. The raise was a foregone conclusion as an increase in fares last occurred in 2006 and costs for everything have gone up. Reports say that the average cost of a ride will rise 2 bucks, to $15. The commission, through mouthpiece Allan Fromberg, says that after a 12-hour shift, a driver will take home around $160 as opposed to the current $130. I’m all for it on many levels but have some beef. Taxis carry about 600,000 passengers in 450,000 separate trips. Living in Williamsburg has allowed me to avoid the yellow perils as I opt for the convenience of my beloved, albeit rat infested (another story) "L" Train or the comforts of Northside or Metro Car services. I am sure there are many polite and respectful yellow cab drivers out there, but the bad eggs spoil the carton.

On Saturday night, around 3:15am, I was rolling deep with three attractive, well-dressed ladies, leaving the wonderful Le Bain. They were casually enjoying the air while trying to navigate cobblestone in their Balenciagas and Louboutins…not an easy task. They had zero sense of urgency about obtaining transportation to our next and last stop. I warned them that in about 15 minutes, all the surrounding bars and clubs of the Meatpacking District would be emptying out and a cab would be scarce. We hustled to 9th Avenue where I witnessed yellow cabs refusing fares or demanding exorbitant amounts for normally metered fares. It was "$30" or "I’m only going to New Jersey" or simple rude "no’s" as the cabbies broke every rule in the book in this feeding frenzy. All of the cabs had their off-duty signs on as if this allowed them to be above the law. 

One particular cab driver was beyond the pale and said some terribly rude things to multiple applicants for his services. He refused me even though I was well-dressed, completely sober (as is my norm) and was going to a nearby Manhattan location – even though he would be obligated to take me anyplace in NYC. He wanted more. He wanted $30 and a quick ride. He used profanity and pulled his cab forward, almost injuring me and a drunk patron crossing in front of his vehicle. I took his number and told him I was going to file a complaint and he laughed. As he sat there negotiating fares with revelers I looked for a cop. Alas, none were near, so I opted to complain through the TLC web site. We ended up getting a cab on 8th Avenue where they were plentiful.David Yassky is the Taxi and Limousine Commisioner and a reasonable guy. He has ambitions. When I sat on the NY Nightlife Association Board, he was talked about as a friend and a possible future mayor or such. The illegal and unenforced rape of the public by cab drivers on late nights is a disgrace. Past commissioners have found ways to regulate taxi-gouging of the public at airports and the Port Authority. Surely a plan to stop this nonsense can be formulated. Maybe a taxi stand or an increase in enforcement is called for. I am sure that the extra loot these bastards demanded from people desperate to get home or wherever was not figured into the average earnings statistics.

It is rare that I find myself in this desperate search for a ride. I walk a lot, am not allergic to public transportation, and have a car. However, on this night I had civilians with me. From now on I will stiff bad cabbies and over-tip the good ones; I think this should be a public policy. The bad cabbies need to be weeded out and the good ones rewarded.

A 17 percent fare increase is a good start for good service. With it must come a commitment from David Yassky and his team to protect the public from the assholes. These creeps are a bad messenger for the tourists who take these bad experiences back to Peoria and other backwater towns like LA or Chicago. If a driver refuses a fare with no reasonable excuse, they should pull his license and fine the jerk $500 for the first offense. Make it worse after that. If a driver picks up a fare with his off-duty sign on, hit him hard. If he charges more than the fare on the meter, shoot ’em. O.K., O.K., don’t shoot him.

I am filing a complaint against an individual driver. I will have to take time out of my day to go to a hearing. He deserves a hearing. Most New Yorkers can’t take the time out and just shrug the whole thing off. Giuliani, for whatever he was, did understand that the squeegee guys lowered the quality of life in this town. David Yassky must step up and do his job. As the drivers were just given the carrot, he must wield the stick. 

Sipping Martinis With Sultry Singer Neon Hitch

Even in the darkened confines of The Vinatta Project, an elegant bespoke cocktail bar in New York’s Meatpacking District, there’s no missing Neon Hitch. The 25-year-old British singer’s bright red hair frames her delicate face. Her fingerless lace gloves accentuate her jet-black nails. She wears a tasseled crop-top. The product of a wildly eclectic and electric upbringing, Hitch’s father was a lighting technician (Neon is her real name), but after the family house burned down, Hitch toured Britain in a traveling circus caravan with her mom. Now, she is a bona fide pop star, with her debut album Beg, Borrow, and Steal, due out late this summer on Warner Bros., and a raunchy new single, Fuck U Betta, already 
on its way to becoming a strip-club anthem. Obviously, she’s a good woman with whom to drink.

Hitch and I are at 
Vinatta to experience 
variations on the 
martini—a cocktail so 
iconic its very silhouette 
suggests a party. Jasper
 Soffer, a bartender with 
a gift for creating sublime, perfectly balanced cocktails out
 of disparate ingredients, offers us a produce-aisle worth of mixers: ginger, honey, pineapple, and cucumber. Neon Hitch and I say yes to all of the above.

There’s so much going on in your life these days.
Always, there’s always a lot going on. There’s never a boring day in my life.

What do you tap into when you write club bangers that also have an emotional component to them?
I’m a Gemini, so there’s two sides to me, and I can be a bit of an emotional wreck. I have been through some seriously tough times, so that emotion comes out at the appropriate times, in songs. “Poisoned With Love”—yeah, I can cry my heart out to that one, but other times you just want to have fun, so I’m like, “Fuck U Betta.” It depends on where I am, but I can get a little dark.

Fuck U Betta” is quite a track. I’m thinking it’s going to be the strip club anthem of 2012.
I’ve actually heard it in a strip club!

Were you thinking strip club when you wrote it, like it could be between “Don’t Cha” and “Girls Girls Girls”?
I wasn’t, no, but it’s kind of perfect now. Let’s see where the night takes us. We might end up in a strip club, dancing to “Fuck U Betta.” It’s going to be number one on the playlist of strip clubs.

When’s your album coming out?
I think late summer is what we’re shooting for. Maybe put another single out after “Fuck U Betta” and then the album.

You’re going to the NBA All-Star Game?
Yeah, it’s fantastic. I really know nothing about sports, it’s all kind of new to me doing the sport thing. It’s a lot of fun. I did the Super Bowl as well. That was crazy, very intense.

Did you get to hang out with Nicki Minaj and Madonna?
No, I never met them. It’s a shame, I would love to.

They’ll open for you some day.
No, we need to form something together, come together with girl power.

How long have you lived in New York?
I’ve lived here for a few years now, on and off, but I decided to really settle here a year or two ago. I love it here. It feels like home. I’ve never really had a home, I lived in a bunk my whole life, so my home is where I lay my hat, or headdress, or whatever you want to call it.

So how exaggerated is the Wikipedia entry on you? Such an eclectic background.
Not exaggerated at all. I wish I was lying but I’m not.

With a background like that, you’d have to wind up either doing something amazingly creative or be totally repressed.
I don’t know what else I would do. I tried to have a waitressing job once, and it lasted one day. They fired me. They were like Get out of here, this ain’t a catwalk. I was like ah shit, I guess I have to do something creative.

You were first signed by Mike Skinner?
I was. I was signed to 679, which was the same label as Mike Skinner, and then he put me onto The Beats, which was his label. And that was great, we all toured together: me, him, Professor Green, Example, and they’re all blowing up now, which is fantastic. Here come the cocktails!

Bartender Jasper Soffer: So here we have your first two, your classics. This is your very simple gin martini. Three ounces of gin. I suggest a good London dry. What I used in this one that I think is very nice is Beefeater 24, got some nice grapefruit and citrus notes. Then I put in three-quarters of an ounce of dry vermouth. That’s the vodka one.

[Neon Hitch has the vodka martini] Cheers. This is very refreshing.

JS: That’s a classic New York vodka martini. Which is basically vodka, three ounces, shaken the shit out of. They say that when you put in vermouth it bruises it, so I rinsed the glass, so the vermouth still stays intact. And I went with a nice lemon twist instead of an olive because that’s the more classic.

[Neon Hitch tastes my gin martini] This reminds me of licking an old man’s body. I’m serious, and I don’t dislike that. Mine is very refreshing. It’s clean, it’s not X-rated. I actually prefer yours.

You prefer gin? You like the old man?
It’s sexy, I like the old man. Vodka is too innocent. I need to try the old man again. Wow. Honestly, I definitely taste wrinkles. I’m not saying, like, real flavors, but it really tastes like first base with an old man.

So what do you think of the vodka martini?
Very fresh, very innocent, tastes like summer. I would drink this in the park with the sun shining. It’s a very daytime drink.

JS: So here we’ve got the Vesper, which is a modern classic. It was created in the James Bond movie Casino Royale.Gin, vodka, a splash of Lillet.

So this is the ultimate James Bond cocktail? I’m going to turn into a sexy man.

JS: It would be nice to have Stoli in this, it’s typically made with a Russian vodka, but Belvedere is equally good. For gin I used Bombay Sapphire. What’s nice about this is the ounce of vodka that goes in there for people who don’t like gin such as yourself. It evens it out a bit, kind of the best of both worlds.

It smells good. It’s got a serious kick, but Bond’s a strong man, it’s what he’d like. It would go well with something very manly. Definitely driving a swanky car. I’d be pullin’ bitches. Tastes like it’s going to put hairs on my chest for sure. Too much of a kick for me. It smells great though.

Which is funny because you like the straight gin one. It’s the Lillet I think. So when are you going to Orlando?
I leave Saturday. I’m doing the pregame show. I’m doing “Ass Back Home” with Gym Class Heroes.

What do you drink when you’re on your own?
Generally whiskey, straight or on the rocks. Scotch. It’s very warming. I love whiskey. I keep trying to drink other things but I keep falling back to whiskey.

Have you been gigging a lot lately?
I’ve been doing a lot of one-offs. The Super Bowl. Jingle Balls.

JS: We’re a bespoke cocktail bar, and this is our play on a dirty martini. It’s vodka with three muddled olives, some muddled red bell pepper, a little bit of thyme and rosemary, and a little bit of Lillet because it’s sweet, to round it all out. We call this the Oh No You Don’t, because when you’re about to order a dirty martini, we’re like, Oh No You Don’t. You can do better than that, be more creative. It’s for your dirty martini liker.

Ooh, it smells very peppery. Wow. It’s kind of like a martini version of a bloody mary. It’s more refreshing than a bloody mary. It’s amazing. I feel like this would cure a hangover. This is my thing, but still the old man is my favorite. I want to lick that sweaty body.

So you don’t like it too sweet?
I don’t like it too sweet, I don’t like it too feminine. It’s got to be a bit ballsy. I find the sweet ones give you a headache. So what’s this?

JS: We’re going back to the old school stuff. This could be the original martini. Two parts sweet vermouth, one part gin, and a dash of bitters and some maraschino. This is the Martinez, which could be the first martini, could be the original. And this could be its son or grandson, which is 50/50 gin and vermouth with 2 dashes orange bitters.

Let’s do the Martinez. I love the smell. Oh wow. So beautiful.

JS: That’s more or less a manhattan. It’s got bitters, it’s got sweet vermouth, it’s very Manhattan.

It’s quite syrupy.

JS: That’s the sweet vermouth. We use a rich sweet vermouth called Carpana Antica.

Kind of has a little tiny coffee taste. That is rich like Richard Branson. That’s amazing. Taste a little coffee essence in there. Richard Branson drinks this on a yacht. It’s a dusk drink, a little dusky. He’s got some chest hair out.

JS: Next one, this is a Prohibition-style drink. It’s half-and-half, with a couple of dashes of orange bitters. In the vesper family, not too potent, light and gentle. Like a martini, but you’d say I’d like a martini but I want it 50/50. It’s gin and vermouth.

It’s fresh but it’s very sharp. It wakes you up. This one you’re chillin’ on a yacht, enjoying life, that one is like Hello taste buds! There’s no lie, no hiding it. It’s like I am really drinking alcohol. I guess it’s the safest drink to go with. In the other ones the flavor is disguising how much alcohol is in it. But I’m getting there, I’m crossing into the world of martinis.

JS: Is that your round, that’s six.

Neon Hitch: Let’s have one more. Give me your sexiest cocktail.

JS: Do you want the passion fruit in there?

Yeah, let’s do that. I usually have a bottle of Jameson in my dressing room. It’s on my rider. I love to make hot toddies. Whiskey, hot water, honey, lemon. The rich like Richard Branson drink is dirty and full flavored. It tastes like dirt, but good dirt. Very relaxing.

JS: This is your passion fruit, Thai chili, tequila, little bit of nice pear brandy.

Neon Hitch: It smells so good. It’s tart. Here we go. This is definitely the "Fuck You Betta" drink. This is sexual, just like I asked for. It’s tangy. This is definitely a party girl drink. It’s sophisticated but sexual. Sophisticated people do have sex. It’s more feminine than the others. I would probably end up giving someone a lap dance at the end of the night if I carried on with that one. I love that one.

Where do you like to hang out in New York? What bars?
I love to go to Le Bain. I love having a nice view while I’m having a drink. I love Cabin Down Below. It’s such a cool space. And I love dive bars. I live on Mott and Bleecker. There’s a bar on Houston and Mott—great bar, great energy, I always have fun there. I love dive bars, and I love this place. I think I’ll be coming back here.

What’s it like being on the verge of superstardom? Do you feel the tension, that sense of in-betweenness?
If you’re in it, you don’t see the change. I’m in my life every day. It’s been very gradual. I’ve worked very hard. I don’t go Oh my god my life is so crazy. I get up early, I work out, I do a lot of phone calls. I like to keep busy. I’ll sleep when I’m dead.

Is it surreal to be at the Super Bowl? Do you ever have those moments where you’re like How did I get here?
I have recently been having some of those moments. I do meditate before every show. I can take myself out of my body and see myself from an outside perspective. I was raised Buddhist. I’m not religious. But then I’m like, Wow, I’ve come so far. I used to be homeless. If I had those kinds of realizations every day I’d be crazy. You should never take anything for granted. It’s important to be thankful. It’s friction. A few martinis would help that. I like living in a local community lifestyle. That’s the way I was raised, all of us in our caravans. We’d have breakfast together. In Soho you kind of can do that. You’ve got your Tiki place. Artistic life. New York is good for that.  It’s great. I get to see these people every day. My coffee man every day is like, “Morning, Neon, same again?” I go to my laundromat, you know they’re going to see your knickers. I’m like, how do you fold this?

When’s the last time you were on a trapeze? 
When I performed at the Rolling Stone party at the Super Bowl. Fox News was doing an interview with somebody and I saw the trapeze and I pushed people out of the way. It’s how I grew up. My mom was dating someone, a guy in the freak show. He was just a handsome dude who kind of ran the show. Freakishly handsome. There were these dwarfs on site, a woman with a beard, and the meat man. My mom would get a hundred pounds a minute to be chased by the meat man with a chainsaw. I was four years old and started swinging clubs, and eventually I got into swinging fire, and then I got into trapeze and stilt walking. It was just me and my mom for a while. We toured in the circus in the freak show. I’ve always been a performer. I’m a showgirl.

Do you incorporate that into your live act?
I have, in my last tour. I would love to do fire on stage, but I’m not allowed. I’d love to breathe fire. I actually tried to breathe fire in the “Fuck U Betta” video but the label wouldn’t let me. Thank you, Warner Bros! Boring! You guys are boring! I will breathe fire soon, in public. Watch this space. I go all out for my performances. I will do anything. If it hurts, that’s fine, I’ll take the pain.

What’s the origin of “Fuck U Betta”?
I wrote that song in bed, where I write most of my best songs. It was about an ex-boyfriend who was dating models and stuff. And I was like, well, that’s great, she’s obviously prettier than I’ll ever be, but at the end of the day, can she love you like I can? Not really. Does she have a butt like mine? I don’t think so. The message of the song is that it’s not really about looks. If you’ve got chemistry—whether it be emotional, sexual, or spiritual—that’s all that matters. That’s what the song is about.

I assume you’ve gotten over this guy?
Oh I’m totally over him. Now he comes back trying to call me. It’s over. But I can fuck him better. Now I’m really happy being single. Being single is fantastic. I’m spending a lot of time with my sisters now. They live in England but I’m being a good big sister and flying them out here.

I can’t stay late because I’ve got to go get my kids.
You’ve got kids? What are their names?

I have two boys. Zachary is five and the baby is Sebastian.
You have names like I’m going to call my children. Here are my future children’s names. I’ve got my whole life planned out. My boy is called Ziggy, and my girl is called Cleopatra. If I have another boy, he’s King. King, Ziggy, and Cleopatra. King Hitch. Holla! I’m going to get married, but I’m going to keep my name.

Recipes

Classic Gin Martini
Combine 3 oz Beefeater 24 London Dry Gin and 3/4 oz Dry Vermouth in an ice-filled mixing glass. Stir and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a Lemon Twist.
 
Modern Day Vodka Martini
Pour 3 oz Belvedere Vodka into an ice-filled shaker. Rinse cocktail glass with vermouth and discard. Shake vigorously and strain into glass. Garnish with a Lemon Twist.
 
Vesper
Combine 3 oz Beefeater Gin, 1 oz Stoli Vodka, and 1/4 oz Lillet Blanc in an ice-filled shaker. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a Lemon Twist.
 
Oh No You Don’t!
Muddle 1 olive, 3 slices red bell pepper, and 1 sprig fresh thyme in a cocktail shaker. Add ice, 2 oz Grey Goose Vodka, and 1/4 oz Lillet Blanc. Shake and double strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an Olive. 
 
Martinez
Combine 2 oz Carpana Antica Sweet Vermouth, 1 oz Beefeater London Dry Gin, 1 dash Angostura Bitters, and 1 barspoon Maraschino Liqueur in an ice-filled mixing glass. Stir and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a Lemon Twist.
 
Fifty-Fifty Martini
Combine 1 1/2 oz Tanqueray London Dry Gin, 1 1/2 oz Dry Vermouth, and 2 dashes Orange Bitters in an ice-filled mixing glass. Stir and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a Lemon Twist.
 
Neon Hitch’s Fuck You Betta Martini
Combine 2 oz Tequila, 1 oz Passion Fruit Liqueur, 1 ounce Pear Brandy in an ice-filled shaker. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a Thai Chili. 
 
[Photo: Sheryl Nields]

Roofs on Fire: Rooftop Bars Are a Proven Hit

As packed venues at A60Jimmy, and Le Bain have proven, rooftop bars were the year’s top hotel trend, according to a new report released by Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels. It covered a number of aspects of the New York City hotel scene, but the rooftop bar was by far the most dominant new trend. Pioneered by boutique properties but recently embraced by bigger chains, it’s not hard to see why. a good rooftop space can bring in up to $120 per square foot in peak months, translating to profits up to 50%.

There are a few factors that make these bars successful, including a large enough space (the flat, pre-war rooftops of New York buildings are the perfect setting) and a killer view, of which New York City has many. And in a city where other kinds of development and additions are curtailed, it’s a logical way to expand as well as offer something of value to your customers. And the trend is spreading:  “The concept has caught on in other U.S. gateway markets like Miami, Chicago, Washington, DC and Los Angeles, as well as international hubs,” says Amelia Lim, Executive Vice President of Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels.