Michael Alig: 16 Years Later

After a week of bad news about my pal Michael Alig, a bit of good has finally happened. He seems to be leaving the un-comfy confines of Southport Correctional Facility and is on his way to greener pastures. They probably won’t be too green, but when you refer to Southport, the grass is always greener on the other side. For those who care, Southport and Michael are a bad fit. He recently received yet another ticket. This latest setback was a positive test for THC. Friends and family were scrambling to raise money to challenge this ticket as he swears he is innocent…or at least not guilty of this latest infraction. A homophobic guard with a history of bad blood and other factors were cited, and a letter campaign to prison officials ensued. The result was a transfer to a not-yet-disclosed new facility. The logical choices are Attica, Marcy Hospital, and Five Point. Southport is a nine-hour drive to us respect-the-speed-limit types. Then, you have to stay over in a motel and have all your papers in order and hope that no other friend of his gets in before you and the trip is in vain. Hopefully the new ticket will be squashed with the transfer and hopefully Michael will be freed sometime soon.

It’s been over 14 years since he walked among us. He has never used a computer or cell phone. Last night, we rushed home from "Tranny" BINGO at the Bowery Poetry Club, where my pals and I won an insane five games, including two in the "naked round.”  I came home with a puppy dog doormat! We had recorded RuPaul’s Drag Race and were dying to see who had won. I bet on Sharon Needles and was spot on.  Back in the day when Michael Alig and I were partners, we opened up a joint in Union Square called the Palace de Beaute’. It was supposed to be called Yeah, Yeah, Yeah – but our other partner Larry Tee hated the name and went to Michael Musto unilaterally and gave him the Palace. It was in print and that was that. Larry brought in a few of his pals from Atlanta to host and DJ and do assorted club work. Larry’s band of merry "women" included LaHoma Van Zandt, Lady Bunny, and RuPaul. RuPaul stopped the music nightly and took to the mic on Tuesday Nights for Larry Tee’s Love Machine and asked the audience to say “love” with that multi-million viewer smile. She was a star in the making and everyone knew it, except in those days, drag queens didn’t become stars. Gay didn’t often break out to the world at large, and to all involved it seemed nightlife stardom was all any of that crew could hope for.

Michael Alig didn’t buy into this. He believed that those who surrounded us were ready to break out into mainstream America. He saw them as the future fashion designers, photographers, artists, stylists, etc. Appearances on Geraldo and a half a dozen shows and in hip magazines announced the Club Kid Movement as a force. Michael, with help from thousands of friends, led the way. RuPaul is huge, and somewhere in that success Michael must be credited. Ru worked in the clubs that Michael had hustled the owners of to support his vision. The Sharon Needles look and shtick was born in the clubs and the movement that Michael created was cultivated. RuPaul has taken things to heights that I never thought possible in the late ’90’s, but Michael knew it was.

I’m never going to sit here and feel sorry for Michael’s fate. I don’t sugarcoat it when I am with him either. He killed Angel and chopped him up and discarded him in a river, and he won’t get sympathy here for that devilish act… that cowardly act. It’s been a decade and a half in hellish places and Michael is a man now, not a Club Kid. He is remorseful and aware of his terrible actions. I can’t see him dressing up like…Sharon Needles or his old self when he hits the streets again. He is a middle-aged man. He has no delusions and no hopes to get a second chance from many quarters. I remain his friend and will be there when it counts. I loved Sharon Needles’ look, and rooted for her and screamed when she won, but to quote the great Yankee Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra, "It’s déjà vu … all over again".

Lots of Big Sexy Noise, Parties, Vodka, & Christmas Lights

With a week to go before the big show, clubs must compete with Christmas parties at unique venues where free booze will flow. In fact, it’s pretty easy to get all liquored up in this town without spending cash money as long as you diligently RSVP to the right events. Many clubs are getting people through the doors, but the spend is not there as these holiday soirees eat into revenues and people are hoarding cash for Christmas gifts.

Tonight you can enjoy Russian Standard Vodka at the Bo Concept holiday party at 105 Madison Avenue. This affair is hosted by bon vivant photographer Patrick McMullan, Village Voice columnist Michael Musto, Michelle Park, and Niki and Shaokao Cheng. The music will be by Lady Bunny, who is riding yet another 15 minutes of fame after being used by Adam Sandler in a sight gag during his 12/12/12 routine. The party will unveil “the new collection of Swedish Underwear Brand, Frank Dandy modeled by New York Swim Team. You must RSVP. “ After Bingo at Hotel Chantelle, where Stoli will try to sway me, I might head over to the Jane Hotel  to listen to DJ Wonder and Bianca Linta as I play ping pong. This is a New York vs Sweden shindig and I may seek out aquavit and such.

Tonight I am desperate  to attend Big Sexy Noise performance at The Bowery Electric, 327 Bowery at 2nd Street. Big Sexy Noise features the New York no wave singer, poet, actress, and performance artist Lydia Lunch and ex-Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds guitarist James Johnston. This is post-punk nirvana and I’m there.

Tomorrow night, an event scheduled for November 2nd but postponed by Sandy will occur at SL, 409 West 14th Street.  Amanda Hearst, Georgina Bloomberg, and the Friends of Finn committee will attend The Humane Society of the US’ “To the Rescue! Benefit After Party.” The list of A-listers involved is ginormous. This is a see-how-the-better-half-live event.

Last night, me and mine headed out to Dyker Heights, a Brooklyn neighborhood right before the Verrazano Bridge, to view the holiday lights. There are homes where hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent to celebrate the season. We were in awe of these Disney-level extravaganzas. I have to go out and buy some gifts, a tree, and wrapping paper, so I will leave you here. 

A Tale of 2 Felons—Or is it Three?

A source close to the ground told me, Peter Gatien—the disgraced club mogul of Limelight fame—was in NYC the other day. I asked around looking for confirmation and got a couple "you didn’t hear it from me(s)" and lot of incredulous "no’s," as opposed to it didn’t happen "no"s. But a little luck brought me to Griffin honcho Chris Reda. I called Chris and asked him if he took a meeting with the "Dark Night." He seemed surprised and replied,  "I saw him." I pushed, "In New York, at dinner?" He replied "yes" but had to "call me back."  Then, guys who he called after my conversation called me to make sure I told Chris that I hadn’t heard it from them. I hadn’t, but it did serve as a confirmation. I called the filmmaker daughter of the one-eyed blunder Jennifer Gatien and asked her if she had seen him. She hadn’t heard from him and didn’t expect to. They haven’t talked in a while.

There were rumors a minute ago of Peter plotting a return to NYC to do a joint. There was talk of him lawyering up. I don’t think a billion lawyers could help him grasp back his gory…er glory days.  He tried to do a place Circa in Toronto, but the exile not on main street couldn’t succeed. I never thought he was that good at running clubs anyway. He did put together an empire of sorts that ruled nightlife a long time ago; he hired everyone who could compete with him head-up and bought and re-modelled the best spaces. He lost it all in a sea of finger pointing. He blamed everyone else and the Federal government for the great demise. He was to blame. He created a monster and hired and supported monsters. In the end, it was an evil empire with victims of many kinds strewn in its wake. It was fun, but not viable, and I have never heard him own up to the grief while he took all the credit for the success. I will say that his enemies were as bad—if not worse—than him and the company he chose to keep. 
I worked for and with the best in clubland. Peter Gatien never had the people skills the good operators had. He was great at the back of the house stuff and hiring the best of the best, but that was way back when. Now the best of the best have their own places and Peter would attract lots of attention from much stronger community boards and neighborhood organizations. With his felony convictions it would be hard to own a dive bar let lone a real club—but he could try to prop someone in front of him, on all the papers while he pulled the strings from behind the scene…where he is most comfortable anyway. Peter has his fans, people who he paid and shared a good time with a long time ago in a galaxy far far away. I have no ill will towards him, but not all that much respect either. This is all probably just a rumor anyway; Peter Gatien couldn’t possibly believe that he could come here and make a mark. He’s smarter than that. The organizations that rule this town’s nightlife are far more sophisticated and clean than he could ever be. The ghosts of club nights past would surely haunt him. I don’t really care if Peter had dinner with Chris Reda in NYC and except for the back story I’m not sure anyone else would care. There won’t be a front story. That ship sailed and it’s only hot air and ego that floats that balloon.
Speaking of the Peter Gatien era and ghosts and such, his right hand man from back then, Michael Alig got a mention in Michael Musto’s column the other day. Michael (Alig) has been in prison for 16 years for numerous crimes against humanity—including drug dealing while working for Peter at the Limelight. Oh, and murder as well. Peter beat those drug charges but got nabbed and deported to his native Canada for Tax inaccuracies. Anyway, Michael Musto reported that Michael Alig might be returning to the living as early as a couple months. Now, Micheal (Musto) listened to someone who spoke too soon and didn’t have it right, but great journalists end up right even when they’re wrong. At the time of the article, Mr. Alig had been denied a hearing before the Time Allowance Commitee—which will set a release date and is now actually going to happen. Congratulations to both Michaels.  
Michael Alig never used a cell phone or a computer. I visit him from time to time. He will probably write or continue with his painting, which he picked up behind bars. He has a place to stay and job offers. He won’t return to club life. He realizes he won’t be allowed to do that even if he lawyers up. His victim Angel Melendez of course won’t be getting a second chance at life. Michael Alig is aware of this and vows to do whatever he can to prove worthy to walk among us. He knows sorry isn’t enough. He says it all the time. I have never heard Peter Gatien say that. Peter didn’t kill anyone and has always professed his innocence of everything he has been accused of. I wish Peter and Michael Alig and Musto as well the best of luck in their 21st century lives. I have worked at rebranding myself and putting that past behind me. It’s working for me.

The ‘Dead Dream Machine’ Brings Theatrical Horror to Brooklyn

Sometimes you just have to listen to me. I’ve got all this experience, you see, and people lean on me to tell them what’s hot and not and all that. And after all, I ran joints for decades. I’ve been threatened by wise guys, shot at, stabbed, divorced (twice), jailed. I mean, I got some real experience. So listen to me when I tell you that you must check out the world premiere of The Dead Dream Machine, a theatrical horror anthology by Jake Thomas that previews tonight at La Luz (135 Thames Street, Brooklyn) and runs through October. The show is produced by Eric Schmalenberger and Thomas’ Raging Squid Ink. And if Schmalenberger says it’s all that, then it surely is.

From the website:

"In an abandoned theater on the outskirts of town, an experiment is being conducted–one which extracts dreams. But if this insane enterprise works, what dreams may come? Mad scientists, monstrous killers, tyrannical royalty, government witches and hipster occultists (and not one damn vampire or zombie) explode forth in this crazed horror anthology that incorporates song, dance, puppetry, aerial, magic and more to build an out of body theatrical experience."

The show stars various luminaries from the alternative stages of New York City, including Darlinda Just Darlina ("Mastermind of Bizarre Extravaganza"); Arden Leigh (author of the book The New Rules Of Attraction; performance artist Michael Cavadias; Malia Scharf (daughter of artist Kenny Scharf); Ashley Springer from the cult movie Teeth; Eric Schmalenberger from Blunderland and Banzi; and the Great Dubini, a Ripley’s Believe It or Not magician.

The whole shebang is directed and choreographed by the amazing Rachel Klein. It runs Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 8pm from now until October 13. Each night, the role of Shaman will be played by a guest. Here’s what they have so far:

September 18: Heather Christian (Heather Christian & the Arbornauts, Witness Relocation, The T.E.A.M.)
September 19: Ashley Morgan Monroe (Silky Sirens Burlesque)
September 20: Rob Roth (Screen Test, Click And Drag, The Mystery of Claywoman)
September 21: Randy Jones (original cowboy from the Village People)
September 26: Mx Justin Vivian Bond (TANGO: My Childhood, Backwards and in High Heels, Bdwy: Kiki and Herb Alive on Broadway, Tony nomination)
September 27: Lady Rizo (“Cabaret Superstar” – New York Magazine, Grammy winner)
September 28: Michael Musto (journalist and columnist for Gawker and Out)

And more TBD. OK, this is amazing. You must go.

Tonight, I will visit my old friend Brian Butera, who is DJing a biweekly party called Savage at Beloved (674 Manhattan Avenue, Greenpoint). I hear it’s all the rage. It’s soul and roots early and rock-n-roll late.

image: Michael Blase

The New Museum Remembers the ’90s (And It Actually Sounds Cool)

It seems like everyone wants to get a piece of the ’90s nostalgia explosion, but nobody wants to actually use this reexamination of the era to create anything new or explore the hows and whys. It’s all a regurgitation of brief cultural signifiers, a cry into the echo chamber of "Who loves orange soda?" That is, until now, when the New Museum is remembering the ’90s in an interesting and constructive way that connects New Yorkers to their city’s history, culture and two decades of change.

For New York, 1993 was a pivotal year—a year where the city, in a bit of an identity crisis (and much bigger crises, from crime and violence to the HIV/AIDS epidemic), began to see some real changes. To give city-dwellers a bit of oral history, the museum has rigged 50 pay phones around the city, so that when you dial 1-855-FOR-1993, the phone will give you a story of what that neighborhood, that block was like in 1993 by the people who lived it. "1993 was a war zone in New York," Fernando Mateo, the creator of "Toys for Guns," tells you out of a phone in Washington Heights, at 183rd and Broadway. "Cabbies were being killed, 30 to 60 a year." In Midtown, Robin Byrd regales about the good ol’ days when Times Square wasn’t so family-friendly. Some familiar voices, including James St. James and Michael Musto, are featured at certain phones. 

The pay phone project is part of a larger exhibition, "1993: Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star," named for an era-defining Sonic Youth album. The Museum will feature works from 1993, from big events like the Whitney Biennial and Venice Biennale, along with much more obscure works, as to try to show a more complete picture of what the art world was like two decades ago. As the exhibitors explain on the New Museum’s website:

"Centering on 1993, the exhibition is conceived as a time capsule, an experiment in collective memory that attempts to capture a specific moment at the intersection of art, pop culture, and politics. The social and economic landscape of the early ’90s was a cultural turning point both nationally and globally. Conflict in Europe, attempts at peace in the Middle East, the AIDS crisis, national debates on health care, gun control, and gay rights, and caustic partisan politics were both the background and source material for a number of younger artists who first came to prominence in 1993. This exhibition brings together a range of iconic and lesser-known artworks that serve as both artifacts from a pivotal moment in the New York art world and as key markers in the cultural history of the city."

Watch the teaser video for the project and start your exploration. 

“I Hate Music!” Says Michael Musto, Your Gay Grandpa

How many times have you heard some old person complain about what the kids are listening to these days? (Oh, yesterday, from me?) It’s a certainty, like death and taxes, that popular music will only cause the furrowed brows of the cool kids of yesteryear to become more creased, their now wrinkled hands forming into limp fists raised slightly in the air as the loose skin on those arms shake with a ferocity only matched by the senility so depressingly spouting from their typing fingers. Do not dare hush them! They have opinions, and they are always correct! Ladies and gentlemen, Michael Musto has something to say about the current state of pop music! 

The venerable Village Voice columnist is very upset today, because of Rihanna and Flo Rida and Ke$ha. And honey, he has lost his mind and control of his elipses:

The number-one slot on the chart generally goes to whoever gave the most free copies to concert-ticket buyers that week. The second week, they’re suddenly not even in the top 100. … Adele is happy. … Once you’ve heard the title of a Taylor Swift song, there’s no need to hear the actual song. … The "Piano in the Dark" sample in Flo Rida’s "I Cry" drives me cuckoo crazy. I keep wanting them to finish the phrase! … Someone please tell Rihanna it should be "shine brightly like a diamond." … Boybands are back. They’re like a case of crabs you just can’t get rid of. I really like their hair, though. … The musical repetition that started with all those Kesha songs is now in every single mix-mix-mix-mix-mix by every singer-singer-singer-singer. Stop-stop-stop-stop. … People who walk around listening to music are generally oblivious to everything else, not even aware that they’re endangering your life as they step into traffic in the middle of the street. Somehow they always come off scot-free as they glide through everyone else’s tragedies. They’re probably listening to Eminem.

Please, sir, tell me more!

Every song today happens to be "featuring" someone. Would the Beatles have had to give up their instrumental breaks to someone rapping about bitches and hos? 

Very good musical analysis, Mr. Musto! I had never ever considered the possibility of the Beatles singing about bitches and hos, much less the notion that Paul and John might step away from their microphones to give room to someone else to rap about bitches and hos. Very astute observation, pitting a band that has not released music since 1970 against, say, Jay-Z and Kanye West. Very smart! 

But hey, Michael Musto is hardly a music critic, and he knows it! Which is why he then begins to quote heavily from his music critic friend, who, similarly, is so angry about everything, especially Pitchfork:

"Pitchfork.com is an intentionally obscure website that reviews every indie record, rating them with a score from 1 to 100. It’s hard to get a score over 73. They create stars, like Melody Maker and NME did in England 20 years ago, and then they turn on them. As a result, your EP will sell 6,000 copies in Brooklyn, and then your full album will stiff. If you’re no longer new, you’re not as cool to them. They love bands they never heard of, and they love Neil Young, but everything in between is not good."

Anonymous Music Critic, you are so on-point! We’re on the cusp of 2013, after all, so it’s about time someone take a stance at those dastardly Pitchforks with their 100-point rating scale. And goddamn you, Brooklyn, for being so overpopulated by people who pay money for EPs! "White people," am I right? 

I mean, I get it: it’s hard to take your afternoon nap while listening to One Direction, and that only leaves you being cranky at dinnertime (which is 6PM, in case you forgot). 

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Celebrate Oscar Weekend With a Retrospective of Hilarious Acceptance Speeches

Sally Field. Roberto Benigni. Marlon Brando (by way of Sacheen Littlefeather). There have been over eighty years of memorable Oscar acceptance speeches — some heartfelt, some batshit crazy. With this weekend’s ceremonies just around the corner (and a fair amount of speeches to be delivered in broken English by The Artist‘s creative team), what better way to celebrate so many decades of Oscar memories by hearing some of the greatest speeches performed live on stage? That’s why Rachel Shukert (author of Everything Is Going to Be Great!) and Michael Schulman (of The New Yorker) created You Like Me: An Evening of Classic Acceptance Speeches, running on Oscars Eve at Ars Nova in New York City.

Featuring the likes of Village Voice columnist Michael Musto, comedian and author Julie Klausner, and This American Life contributor and Thurber Prize winner David Rakoff, as well as several other New York-based performers and comedians, You Like Me celebrates the most entertaining part of the Academy Awards: the ego-fueled ridiculata so severely (and deliciously) on display. 

Check out some of You Like Me‘s previous installments below, including Shukert as Roberto Benigni, Klausner as Patti LuPone, Billy Eichner as Elaine Stritch, and Emily McNamara as Angelina Jolie:

You Like Me: An Evening of Classic Acceptance Speeches takes place at 8pm at Ars Nova, 511 West 54th Street. Tickets are $15 and are available here

Our Fond Memories of the Late Walter Monheit

Walter Monheit, the old guy that wiggled his money maker and balanced a rock glass on his trademark cap at all the clubs, for all those years, has passed. Like half the information I get in this wild world, I got the news on Facebook, from a column forwarded to me from Susan Anton. The Village Voice’s wonderkind Michael Musto broke the sad news, while declaring himself the world’s oldest club kid—I want to compare birth certificates. Walter was buried yesterday in Montefiore.

The most surprising things I garnered from the tidbits of information out there was that Walter was indeed still alive after all these years, and he was only 85 or 86 years old when he died. I thought he was 85 back in 94. Well anyway, he never acted his age but if that was a crime a lot of us would be in trouble.

The club world has strange VIPs. It’s easy to count in the celebrities, the models, the club operators and promoters, the beautiful people, and the spenders. But there is another class, the ones with universal juice without obvious reason. These include people who used to work in clubs or used to be regulars back in some day and the freaks and fairies of the underworld. Somehow Walter Monheit got universal juice. It wasn’t because of his Spy Magazine film critic gig, which of course was an “in joke” that everyone was in on. And it wasn’t for his wiggly, boozey shuffle because he was in already when he did that. I think it was because he wanted to be part of it all so badly and because he was the life of his little party inside the vast expanses of those infamous dinosaur clubs.

He had a great smile and a thick accent. I never knew what he was saying, as he took some crumpled paper out of his pocket to show me. Once it was family photos and I didn’t scoot away with a practiced line. I looked as he showed me them with pride and a lot of love. I heard he showed his relations pictures of his club family with the same emotions. Walter had been around. He had escaped the Nazis who took so many of his family, including his father who he watched get taken, kicked down the stairs back in Austria. Some say he’s been clubbing since the ’50s but I believe I became aware of him in the early ’80s. I suppose he was always around but became notable as the old guy when he actually became the old guy. Up until then he was just one of the flock.

Walter always got too close to his female friends. He would drop an arm around a giggling young thing enamored by his schtick and moved it around a little too much. Still, no one ever complained. He was sweeter than Danny the Wonder Pony, who wore a saddle and gave girls rides. He was saner than “Floor” who insisted gals walk on him as they traveled through a door or passageway. He was more accessible than the straight, briefcase-toting Chinese business man who wore the suit on top and the fishnet and high heels on bottom and brought his family in to watch his unpaid go-go performances.

There was an old woman as well. She was sort of Walter’s counterpart for a minute but she got mean spirited when she got wasted and Walter only had time for the young. There was a menagerie or collage of nightlife that the clubs cultivated and he was a huge part of it. Walter was tame compared to most. Just a sweet old man meeting young people and making them smile. He never paid to get in and I’m sure he never bought a drink. He rarely asked for a drink ticket but I always slipped him a few so he could entertain his new friends and be officially important.

I asked a couple of tough cookies who loved the man about their memories and why he got away with “it” always.

Susan Anton: Walter was the only perennial club denizen to get a perpetual “free feel pass” even from the suspecting. I allowed him to break my top 3 social rules: 1. People touching me below the bra strap 2. People calling me excessively to invite me to parties i’m not interested in. 3. People calling me “Susie!” He’d call me often and he sounded like he was gargling with giant gobstoppers (a la another late beloved, Amy Winehouse). I could discern maybe 2-3 words out of a hundred. Usually the words were “garlic” to my vampire ways, “early open bar,” “free wine,” “Baird Jones,” and “uptown.” He’d always call and say, “Susie, I want to tell you about a party tonight!” The party was always only few hours away, too. He’d call so often that I had his number committed to memory for close a decade. I tried calling a few years back and if I remember correctly, it rang off the hook. I changed our communication in the end so we talked about more productive things because I wasn’t club-hopping anymore. We discussed his health and some things about his apartment. A few years back he visited me at my office using Access-A-Ride. Turns out that he also used Access-A-Ride for many of his outings. No better way to spend our tax dollars than chauffeuring Walter to his shindigs, where he never failed to do a quick impromptu shoulder-shimmying dance involving a lit, glass-enclosed candle placed atop his signature “spy” cap, while shaking maracas with the biggest grin that instantly spread. We already missed Walter’s delightful antics, and now we’ll celebrate him! R.I.P.

Ivy “Supersonic” Silberstein: I’m a great listener, but I never knew what Walter was saying, and I don’t think he had teeth. I was once featured on Maury Povich as a designer with my bevy of feathered hat models. My models weren’t really naked; I had an art team and we body painted them as living works of art. Sometimes Walter was my model and other times he was just part of my entourage. I had Walter sit next to my mom during Maury as part of the audience—they were a lot closer in age then we were—and Walter grabbed my mom. Now, if it were anyone else, I would have knocked all their teeth out, but Walter—he had none. Walter had this full head of snow white hair and would balance a wine glass on top of his head. While dancing in NYC nightclubs he would always make all the girls laugh. That’s how I met him. Walter was a night owl, a club kid at his age? What a hoot. I was in my early 20’s and Walter during his ‘70s. The first time we met he was on the stage. I met him at Danny Fried’s legendary China Club, where he was dancing the night away with my girl friend Kari Waldman. Walter was an adorable, sweet old man with very fast hands, always grabbing ass cheeks, boobies, whatever he could get and we’d all just laugh. He was cute and really good looking for an old man. He had trouble walking, so he took baby steps, itty bitty ones like a shuffle. But on the dance floor, when he heard that music, it went through him like he was twenty again. He wore a baseball cap that said “Spy” on it. The logo was from a magazine called Spy. I have fond memories of all my hats shows because people loved my feathered hat; they gave off a warm and fuzzy feeling the same way Walter did. Walter had a great hat face, he was my eldest model and he was cuter than many who modeled for me over the years. He modeled for me at Spa, China Club, and on TV he was covered by NY1 with George Whipple and on CNN with Jeanne Moos. He even wound up in fashion magazines wearing my feathered hat creations. He was featured in the buzz section of Accent, which is an accessory magazine and it’s funny because Walter always had a beautiful lady on his arm that he wore as an accessory.

Photo Credit: Robert Moses

R.I.P. Claire O’Connor

Business and a little R&R have taken me out of town. I wasn’t going to file today but the world tells me what to do, not the other way around. Bad news came to me as I was politely saying “no thanks” to an indecent proposal—the death of my old and dear friend Claire O’Connor, which shocked my mind back to NYC. Known by this generation of club owners and attendees as that nice publicist lady, Claire had her heyday as the woman behind the man at Limelight, Peter Gatien.

That was before it became “that” Limelight and he became “that” Peter Gatien. Claire and husband/rocker Adam Bomb were a fixture in rock ‘n roll circles in that era, when the music being played by today’s DJ brats was being fermented and displayed in her joints. Cancer took her from us too soon. I am hard pressed to think of an enemy she made, or an argument she couldn’t resolve. The world I have decided to live in is hard on the body and the mind. It exacts untimely casualties, hand-in-hand with the glamour and excitement.

In his column, Michael Musto recalled how he worked with her on the still pending Night Club Hall of Fame. There were a lot of “personalities” at a large round table one afternoon and some people involved were motivated by personal advantage, rather than historical fact. Claire was the voice of reason. There were no egos she couldn’t corral, or delicate points of contention that she couldn’t work through. She approached that meeting as she approached life—with zero agenda and unquestionable honesty.

Sometimes when things got a little heated she would interject with her famous giggly laugh. She knew us like a mother knows her off-spring. She loved us all and relished the quirkiest of our quirks. I can’t get back for today’s services or tomorrow’s funeral; the loose ends of my trip will keep me from gathering with friends and colleagues to remember her.

The wake for Claire is today, August 1, at Frank E. Campbell Funeral Home on Madison Avenue and 81st Street, from 2-5 pm and 7-9pm. Her family is requesting flowers. Her funeral will be on Tuesday, August 2, at 10am at St. Thomas More, 65 East 89th Street.

Tonight I will have a drink and reflect on all she meant to me and so many others. I will remember a time back in the day when I knew far less than I thought I knew… possibly less than I know now. She took me under her wing and showed me how to get things done. She taught not only how to thrive in the business but how to be a human being while dealing with the pressures, trials, and tribulations that come with the territory. Reflecting on how Claire lived her life and faced the end will inspire me to do better.