Honoring Famed Dracula Bela Lugosi & ‘Limelight’

Famed Dracula actor Bela Lugosi died on this day in 1956. So far he hasn’t returned my attempts for comment. I try to work in the brilliant Bauhaus song "Bela Lugosi’s Dead" into my set as it has a way of taking the dance floor to a surreal almost hypnotic state. It’s nine-and-a-half minutes long and is often remembered from the opening sequence of the terminally hip 1983, Tony Scott flick The Hunger. That film stared Catherine Deneuve, Susan Sarandon, and an absolutely brilliant David Bowie. As “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” blared, lead singer Peter Murphy climbed a chain-link fence that separated him from his crowd at a nightclub. Vampires Bowie and Deneuve pick up a couple of victims, including club performer- turned-actress Ann Magnuson. They lure them to a lavish home on the pretext of sex and then rip them to shreds. When I play the track on club nights it’s like a cigarette break. I can close my eyes and ponder things like how songs from this era are still relevant to fast crowds. YouTube this scene right now and toast to Bela Lugosi.

The Limelight flick is scheduled to start airing on Showtime starting today. I figure anybody relevant has already seen this film which has me chatting away in a few scenes. Now, the film which has been seen in the major markets will get to play in Peoria and places like that. For me it’s sort of like a vampire flick with a time and place that has been dead a long time, rising from its grave and into my bedroom and millions of others. Limelight is enjoying its limelight and return to the party with the opening of Daniel and Derek Koch’s Château Cherbuliez restaurant in the hallowed halls. 

Club Kid-Turned-Raw Food Queen: Talking To Karliin Brooks, Founder Of The Squeeze

I’ve know Karliin Brooks since she was a kid …a club kid, that is. Years later, Karliin has put all that behind her and is living the good life, dedicated to helping others live a healthy lifestyle by founding The Squeeze: a company devoted to “producing the best-tasting raw foods in the city, such as detox cleanses, superfoods, and fresh live produce prepared into raw gourmet meals.”

In this week’s series of where are they now?” for fabulous types, Karliin is alive and very well. Her truck is a solution to getting your act together, and her partner is club royalty Jen Gatien, who has a successful film career. Gatien producedLimelight and a bunch of other flicks.

Karliin – who has worked for ABC as a freelance producer and owns a production location agency – graduated NYU with degrees in broadcast journalism and nutrition. It all makes sense now.

Karliin also has, at any given time, 15 to 20 pets under her care, which is why The Squeeze is cruelty-free. I caught up with my old friend and asked her all about it.

Tell me about raw food porn.
The Squeeze’s cold-pressed juice and raw comfort food have been known to induce states of euphoria. It tastes naughty, but it’s healthy! Our Mint Choco Chip Mousse is a babe – made with raw unpasteurized coconut meat, spirulina, Irish moss, and activated cashews. It’s so good, you’ll think you have to give it up for Lent. We convert high-energy raw food into something that people can recognize and would consume: like Mac ‘n Cheese, Funyuns, Almond Joys, Almond Buttercups – all your favorite American classics without the guilt. And lets face it, vegans taste better and have superlative stamina. I have done the research.
 
You certainly enjoyed your stint in clubland and saw its excesses and pitfalls. Did that experience shove you toward a healthier lifestyle?
I did bear witness to a tragic amount of ODs in my day. The ’90s were very excessive, very gluttonous very narcissistic. There was an utter disregard for personal responsibility regarding one’s health. Drug use and experimentation were rampant.  Alkalization, raw juice, and cleansing were still foreign concepts. The green juice of the ’90s was a Midori punch laced w xtacy.  All the club kids of yore are now juicing – the ones still alive and not incarcerated anyway. Pressed juice is the new drug of choice because it allows you to get high on your own supply and reclaim your beauty from the days of yore.
 
What makes your juice the craziest in the juice craze competition?
We use a lot of uncommon ingredients in our juices, like fennel, clementine, peppermint, dandelion, turmeric, and cayenne. We are also one of the few pressed- juice companies in NY that still use the Norwalk Juice Press. And we sing to our green juices. Music not only makes plants grow faster, but it increases the levels of enzymes and photonic energy in each juice.   
 
Club people come home from a night of debauchery and unhealthy choices; what should be waiting for them in their fridge?
A blood transfusion and an enema kit. Food and beverage choices should be anything vegan and raw, and cleanses are a way to purify your blood the natural way, and a lot more fun. They’re a reboot button for our bodies. The best foods for restoring liver function after a night or 20 on the town are dandelion, chicory, endive, and rocket. For Christ’s sake, make a shake. 

Here’s how to make a scrumptious and hearty detox smoothie:
4 – 5 x tomatoes
3 x stalks of celery
1/2 x spicy Pepper (optional)
1/2 x avocado
1/2 x bunch of fresh dandelion
1 medium sized endive
1/2 x the juice of a lemon
pinch sea salt 
 
And 2 ounces of vodka (just kidding)
 
Or just order our liver detox juice from TheSqueezeJuice.com.

So how does juice cleansing actually work?
Cleansing gives your body a chance to clear out the accumulated toxins that have built up over your lifetime. Digestion takes up most of the body’s energy, and when there are more toxins coming in than the body can immediately eliminate, the body stores these toxins to "deal with later." The only problem is that unless you radically improve your lifestyle, "later" may never come. Supplementing your diet on the regular with Squeeze juices, smoothies, foods, and snacks help to maintain that balance.
 
What’s in your products and are animals everywhere smiling?
We are 100% cruelty-free at The Squeeze – except in the bedroom, of course. Products contain fresh, live food prepared into raw gourmet meals. Our mission at The Squeeze is to make animals smile. I have a small focus group of 18 animals that live with me, and they cannot attest to that.
 
How did you come to do this, and do you still work in production?

After years of being an armchair activist, I decided it was high time to vegucate the world about the health benefits of a plant-based diet for themselves, the planet, and the animals. Jen Gatien and I created a reality TV series called The Squeeze, a show about healing, human connection, and the dirty politics of food – all taking place in the three fattest cities of America. 

What’s the advantage of the company being a truck instead of a store?
Visibility and presence at events and premieres, and allows us to keep our price lower. It also makes cruising vegan boys a lot more fun.  
  
Where can I find you and will there be a fleet of trucks in other cities?You can find our truck in Union Square West and 15th St. and Chelsea at 26th St. between the West Side Highway and 11th Ave. We will have 2 trucks in The Hamptons this summer, and will be expanding to Bethesda MD and Miami soon
 
What did you eat yesterday?
I am not big into solids. I started the day with an aloe water and a shot of ginger. Once you go ginger you never go back. It gives you loads of sustained energy without the post-coffee slump. I had a couple of I Have a Heart-On’s (leafy green with pineapple and peppermint), a Jeans I Wore In High School (oj, grapefruit and lemongrass) and a Don’t Cry Over Spice Milk (spiced nut milk) which I consume warm, because it tastes like mother’s milk, which if mammary serves me, is also warm. Never heat food or beverages above 118 degrees lest you expose it to enzyme degradation. For dinner I had a strawberry cheesecake (coconut meat-based "cheesecake") and a gazpacho.

From Avenue to Bantam to the Diner: The Never-Ending Night

I try not to write too much about what you already know. Everyone knows the bottle clubs, the scene clubs, the celebrity, the jet-set joints where money is no object – but then again, it is the object. These places are often considered commonplace by the common man who dwells in hipster havens and dive bars. That perception is wrong. There is validity to what these operators offer, although they aren’t all things to all people. Most people can’t afford to party there or they lack the looks or connections to pass through their velvet ropes. Once inside there is always action. Although the bottom line is the bottom line, as it is in most businesses (including the nightclub business), these clubs deliver a quality good time to their often well-know audiences. The DJs often play a set that contains crowd-pleasing, familiar tracks, but the DJs themselves are great DJs and giving the people what they want makes it fun -and what in the name of God is wrong with pleasing a crowd?

Last night I whisked myself to Avenue for club mogul Noah Tepperberg’s birthday. He co-owns a lot of places. Off the top of my head, he has pieces of Marquee (NYC, Vegas, Australia), Lavo (NYC, Vegas), Tao (NYC, Vegas), Marble Lane, Ph-D Rooftop, the aforementioned Avenue, Artichoke Pizza. There are all sorts of pool entities and spin-offs of these places now. He has many reasons to be cheerful, despite being half the man he used to be. Well, not exactly half, but he has lost a lot of weight by watching what he eats and drinks, and working out with a new trainer who Noah introduced to me last night. Avenue was packed with the beautiful, the rich, and the famous last night. The energy was through the roof. I’m not going to mention the celebrities that I saw, as that comes with the no price for admission. Avenue is a gossip-free zone and those that go know that.

We bolted into the night and popped by 1OAK, which was just getting started. A late-night rush comes from sister space The Darby Downstairs which closes early by NYC standards. The Butter Group operators, which own these properties and Butter, understand that after a while, crowds want to hop, skip, and jump elsewhere, so they engineer that hop-over to another one of their spaces. Thus, 1OAK gets a big late boost. We chatted up a looking-real-good Richie Romero and said hello to all the familiar faces of the vibrant staff as we headed into the night. We strolled to No. 8, where Amanda danced with Amy Sacco who was simply being wonderful. I hadn’t been before, as I rarely get over to this hood during the week. Currently, they aren’t open on Saturdays, but will be when the summer spins away. I loved No. 8. The music was amazing. Amy, one of the best operators in this business, was an active part of the action. At 8, I saw countless familiar faces. The crowd was mixed and adult and I loved it.

Still, the night had me moving, and we headed to The Electric Room, where Angelo made sure we were happy. Nur Kahn is in Italy with The Kills. In the past, when Nur traveled, The Electric Room often lacked…electricity. He and I talked about that a couple months ago. Last night, the place was pumping. Amanda said, and I quote, "The thing about this place is that it never compromises. When you walk in the door, you always hear great music and find yourself amongst a cool crowd.” She isn’t taking over this column, but she is spot-on about this spot. The Electric Room was fabulous.

Outside we ran into pal Dean Winters who was out causing mayhem but not as seen on TV. We chatted him up in front of the Dream Hotel, where we also ran into Limelight producer Jen Gatien. Jen, me, and mine spent an hour trading war stories and catching up. I told her she gave me yet another 15 minutes of fame as Limelight is now On Demand on Showtime. I am getting stoppedeverywhere. Someone asked me who I wanted to play me in the sure-to-come epic movie about my life, and as I looked at this silly person, I reached into my bag of stock answers for occasions like this and deadpanned the answer: “… Denzel.”

After the very brief chuckles, we headed to The Darby. I just wanted to see it in action. I occasionally pop in to see how it’s wearing and tearing. Designers do revisit their babies just to see how the fabric is holding up. Design is theoretical until a place opens. I like to see what I could have done better and what is working just fine. Dean Winters joined us at the bar and we toasted to something important to that moment. I stopped by Bantam as I headed to the Bridge. It was a classic 3am crowd of revelers enjoying the moment and the sticky liqueurs. Bantam is great for that first stop or that last stop, and not bad if you’re caught in between.

After we left and had our late-night meal at a diner, we arrived home just as the sun was coming up. We got the leash on Lulu and went to stock up on diet sodas and popcorn and such. As usual, my head hit the pillow at 6am and here I am at 10am talking to you. Someone told me yesterday that not needing sleep is the sign of a genius. I don’t know if there’s any truth to that, but if it is true I suspect that he’s a very tired genius.