Larry Tee On His Favorite Project Yet: New Single ‘Charlie’

You can’t talk about the "good ol’ days" of nightlife without homage to Larry Tee. However, Larry, like myself, likes to be remembered for what he has done and acknowledged for what he is doing in the "now.” Larry and I have worked together many times. Sometimes the relationship has been testy, but it is always respectful. He has constantly redefined nightlife and our culture. I was around when he coined the term “Electroclash” for a genre of music that few knew about then. He helped push artists like RuPaul, Peaches, Fischerspooner, and Scissor Sisters into our vocabulary. He talked about Williamsburg while we were still paying Manhattan rents and listening to boring disc jockeys.

His Love Machine party with his Atlanta clan RuPaul, Lahomma Van Zandt, and Lady Bunny was the precursor to so much of our fabulously forward nightlife. He was pushing Amanda Lepore when she was still sporting a push-up bra. I remember hearing him talk about Princess Superstar when she was Princess "I wanna be a” Star. Larry has always been in front of the action. He has always gone where no man has gone before. So when he says that something’s going to be the next thing… we better listen. He and I were partners in crime at Le Palace de Beaute with Michael Alig before the famous crime(s). He has made a rock star out of Perez Hilton and created W.I.T. This can go on and on but as I said up top, Larry is still making it happen in a huge way and we chatted with him about it.

We met many years ago and worked together often. I have always looked at you as an innovator. Electronic music, RuPaul… talk to me about the things and people you helped push into the public view.
I have always been lucky to befriend people who have big talents, from my friends in Georgia like Michael Stipe and RuPaul, to the Scissor Sisters and Afrojack more recently. I have always loved other peoples’ big ideas and have tried to push them into the spotlight too since it’s exciting to watch. My whole Electroclash period of festivals and touring groups like Peaches, Chicks on Speed, Fischerpooner, etc., was all based around my love of outrageous and often political shows. And lately my work has been hi-jacked by more mainstream stars like Santigold, Shontelle, Steve Aoki, and Princess Superstar with my song "Licky" and Afrojack, MDPC and Roxy Cottontail with my "Let’s Make Nasty" track. As ‘crazy’ gets more mainstream with Nicki Minaj and Lady Gaga, my brand has been dragged into the mainstream too, thankfully.

Your single comes out today! Tell me about it and how it started.
The song is called “Charlie” and features 15 dogs in wigs dressed as contemporary artists like Chihuahua Del Rey and Stinky Minaj, designed by Lady Gaga’s hair couture genius, Charlie Le Mindu.

How do you get 100 million views on YouTube? That was the question when I decided to make a video with Charlie Le Mindu. Google-image him for sure. After some research, we realized that if you didn’t have Justin Bieber, Rihanna, or Eminem in your video, you better have children or animals. The song “Charlie” is a collage of sound effects, mad pianos, electro-synth riffs, a 60-year-old subway singer, and hyper-percussion bongo breaks, and so we needed something equally madcap to make the video pop.

So we got Charlie to make wigs for 15 dogs. When we were finished shooting, people kept saying that this dog looked like Lana Del Rey or this one looked like Amy Winehouse so we took the idea further and gave the dogs fake celebrity names like “Chihuahua Del Rey” and “Madogga.” It was one of the most satisfying projects in my life, I tell you.

Do you still DJ? What else do you do with your time now spent in London? Why did you abandon us?
Since I have had so many breakouts on the dance floor and in movies these last couple years, it’s led to a DJ residency at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas which is amazing. I was arm wrestling with Pete Wendt from Fall Out Boy at the pool party I did there last week. In London, Super Techno Party Machine at East Bloc is my residency every Friday/ I have guests like Rolf from the 2 Bears, Severino from Horse Meat Disco, Rueben Wu from Ladytron, Chicks on Speed, supermodel Luke Worrall, Richard Mortimer from Ponystep Magzine, and Carmen Xtravaganza from the house of Xtravagnza. What do these guys have in common? Nothing except if I wanted to put on an amazing party, I would want to have lots of diverse guests and sounds! And some fabulousness! And I still consider New York to be my spiritual home, but it was becoming like Groundhog Day where every day seemed like the one before…London has inspired me to make new things and experiment with new sounds, so I’m super happy.

While we are on the subject…what’s great in London club-wise, for people with…er… different perspectives?
London always has new hot spots popping up that are worth a try. Destroy Cluture raves are amazing featuring the Boy London DJ Team, Alis Pelleschi, the post-rave fashion goddess, and Sean Bass, the graphics genius behind the DISNEY bastardizations. Hot Boy Dancing Spot is just what you would expect: BUTT magazine come to life.


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R.E.M. Bops ‘Fox & Friends’ Over ‘Losing My Religion’ Usage, Fox Sasses Back

R.E.M. issued a cease and desist letter to Fox News this week after Fox & Friends used the band’s song Losing My Religion to illustrated that Democrats are butt-fucking, baby-killing God-less heathens during its coverage of the Democratic National Convention.

In a statement posted on the web site R.E.M. HQ, the band claimed the use was "unlicensed" and "unauthorized." Michael Stipe is quoted saying:

We have little or no respect for their puff adder brand of reportage. Our music does not belong there.

First of all: puff adder, you guys.

Second of all, unfortunately, Fox & Friends, as fucking dumb as it may be, could have used the song with the proper permissions. A predictably snotty response from Fox as reported by Entertainment Weekly answered:

FOX News Channel’s use of an R.E.M. song during Thursday’s edition of Fox & Friends was in full accordance with its license agreements with all appropriate parties. Nevertheless, we’re always flattered to have this much attention for a song selection and we hope R.E.M. was able to satisfy their publicity fix.

It’s a case of he said, she said and the jury is still out on whether Fox News used Losing My Religion legally. (Or why it didn’t occur to them to cover Sandra Fluke’s speech with a sample of Liz Phair’s Fuck And Run.)

I guess right now Michael Stipe is playing this:

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Morning Links: Paris Hilton Talks Jail With Lil Wayne, Chris Brown Is ‘Loud & Totally Disrespectful’

● In a one-on-one in the April issue of Interview, Paris Hilton talks with Lil Wayne and finds that the two have more in common than just music and Miami: They’ve also both spent time in solitary confinement. “Oh, so you know how it is,” says Wayne. “Yeah, I know how it is,” says Paris. [Interview] ● Notoriously sweet-toothed William and his princess-to-be Kate have finally settled on their wedding cake! They’ve decided on, uh, fruitcake. [People] ● Reese Witherspoon and Jim Toth tied the knot at their ranch in Ojai on Saturday, surrounded by all their closest friends: Toby Maguire, Robert Downey Jr., Renee Zellweger, Sean Penn, Scarlett Johansson, Selma Hayek, Colin Hanks, Conan O’Brien, Sacha Baron Cohen, Isla Fisher, Alyssa Milano… [Us]

● Mariah Carey upped the diva over the weekend, spending her birthday in the hospital with what she believed were contractions. It was false alarm, but an exciting one, as she later tweeted: “We have a few more weeks 2 go but- wow!!!: )” [People] ● Shockingly, 21-year-old Chris Brown’s neighbors say he’s bad news. The troubled pop star “has his posse traipsing around until the late hours of the night, he’s loud and totally disrespectful of his neighbors,” and he only moved in a month ago! [TMZ] ● The MTV music video “has been replaced by Youtube,” said early MTV video star Michael Stipe. “Its moment has come and gone, and that’s good and fine.” [HR]

Let the Dark Ones Eat Cake: Pendu Disco Turns One

On January 27, 2011, Pendu Disco – aka Horror Scores for the Dance Floor – will celebrate its first anniversary with some decidedly dark musical performances by Houston’s //TENSE// and GHXST, DJ sets by DJ Harrison, and plenty of cake. The raucous concert series burst onto the scene this time last year at Glasslands Gallery, with unforgettable performances by Salem and Gatekeeper, two bands that came to define the hip-hop/goth/industrial genre known as Witch House. Michael Stipe and Terence Koh were in the crowd, so too The New York Times. Initially started by Todd Pendu (not to be confused with underground promoter Todd P) and DJ Harrison, the series is now firmly under the umbrella of PENDU NYC, an arts organization that’s produced a gallery show for underground filmmaker Nick Zedd, the musical debut of porn starlet Sasha Grey, and annual musical showcase the NY Eye & Ear Festival, upcoming in May 2011.

Pendu Disco has become known as a place to discover new bands, even for show promoters. Recently, the concert series developed a Manhattan offshoot, Pendu Acid Disco at Home Sweet Home, and it will be making its West Coast debut in Los Angeles on February 12, presenting live performances by Chelsea Wolfe, The Present Moment, King Dude, and a DJ set by Robert Disaro of Disaro Records, a Houston label at the center of Witch House movement that also put out albums by Salem, oOoOO, and White Ring. Todd Pendu’s sights are already set on Beijing and Paris.

Here, he talks to BlackBook about his seminal disco, Salem, and Witch House – the phrase that defined a movement.

How did the idea for Pendu Disco come about? The idea for Pendu Disco began in October 2009. I had booked a show at Glasslands in Brooklyn with Indian Jewelry, Living Days, and Led Er Est, and asked Harrison to DJ for me last minute. Harrison came in with just an iPhone to DJ with, but all the tracks he had to play were total floorkillers. The bands were amazing and people danced throughout the night. When it was all over, we started talking about the notion of starting a weekly dance party with myself booking the shows and Harrison as the resident DJ. We especially wanted to promote the darker styles of dance music that we saw around us. I had met John [Holland] from Salem earlier that summer and we had already talked about doing shows together, so once the idea for a weekly was approved by Glasslands, it only made sense to contact Salem and have them play our first event. Gatekeeper, who were Chicago residents at the time, were the second band we contacted, and we found out they were already going to be in Brooklyn in January, so it worked out perfectly to have them play as well. The show could not have been better received. It was Michael Stipe’s birthday, and he came out with an entourage that included Terence Koh. I now like to think of January 5, 2010 as “I/V/X – The day NYC went dark.”

A year later and its still going strong. Has it changed at all since it first started? The only thing that’s changed is that we moved the party to a monthly format and changed venues. We want to keep people’s attention by not becoming stagnant or repetitive. Not playing the same day of the week or exactly the same time each month, keeping it fresh and new always. image

You brought in some great acts early on, like Salem and Gatekeeper. Did you have any idea those bands would blow up the way they have? Honestly, I had an idea that these bands would go big, and I wanted to help encourage that. In my mind, these bands are the future of the dancefloor and part of Pendu Disco’s mission is to help foster a kind of alternative club music scene to form.

What can we expect from Pendu Disco in the new year? Are there any particular bands you’re looking forward to seeing perform, or kinds of music that you feel will be popular in the coming months? All kinds of surprises are in store for Pendu Disco and I like to keep it that way. ‘Keep everyone guessing’ is a motto of mine. I am really excited to have //TENSE// perform here for the One Year Anniversary. They really are an incredible band to see live. Pummeling high-energy dance music rooted in Industrial EBM. I have GHXST opening the show — they are a band to look out for. I have Streetwalker, who are members of White Car, coming from Chicago in March, and they will be playing with Gatekeeper and Innergaze — I’m very psyched about that show as well.

I know you recently started an acid house dance party in Manhattan. How is that different from the original Pendu Disco? Pendu Acid Disco is a branching-out of the Pendu Disco idea. I really feel that Tekno and Rave is on the rise. I threw a smaller version of a rave last year and this summer plan to put on a much larger one. I’m really into revving the spirit of Acid House that Psychic TV propagated in the mid-80’s. Rave style before it turned into a commercial mess diluted by backpacks, vapor rub, and glowsticks. I’m into the psychedelic experience and the ecstatic experience and I feel that Tekno is a great way to get into those states of being. The DJ’s I have spinning, such as Shawn NoEQ of Led Er Est and Matthew Radune, are digging in the crates of late 80’s and early 90’s Tekno, and are really bringing out music that most people have never heard but can instantly enjoy and dance to. It’s not about the retro aspect of the music — it’s about fostering an idea that can translate into newer music. Bands such as Blondes here in NYC are making Tekno completely relevant for today and the future.

Will Pendu Disco LA have a particular feel to it that’s different from its Brooklyn and Manhattan counterparts? My goal in bringing Pendu Disco to LA — as well as anywhere else it may go — is to bring the general Pendu vibe and style to each venue it inhabits. It’s not so easy to describe that style precisely. It’s just a kind of feeling and atmosphere. Lots of fog and strobes, for sure.

In a piece your wrote for Pendu Magazine, you seemed to have some beef with the term Witch House as it’s used to describe the kind of music that you’ve featured at Pendu Disco. But there’s certainly a “dark” mood that the bands you’ve featured seem to foster, like Gatekeeper, Laurel Halo, and Wolf Eyes. Will Pendu Disco continue to feature similarly dark sounding music? Or is that part of a specific moment in time? Yes, I think that Witch House is a confusing term that means very little. It may be helpful once in a while, and help people find certain music now and then, but ultimately I think it’s useless. The way I see it is that the 90’s were about Alternative Rock Music and the 2010’s are about Alternative Club Music. The sounds coming from the dance bands I tend to promote do fall on the darker side as far as mood and atmosphere, and that’s something that I don’t see changing very much. I’ve always been into darker music. It’s just part of me and I can’t help but reflect that in my choices in the bands I bring. But that darkness somehow brings a smile to my face. Ultimately I like seeing people having fun and dancing. I’m throwing a disco, after all.


Bartlett & Carlton, Margiela & Stipe

Designer collaborations have been sprouting up left and right at an inconceivably rapid rate. But there are two newbies on board the bandwagon that definitely warrant a moment of pause and consideration. First up is the powerhouse duo of John Bartlett and Alex Carlton. Each is a revered men’s wear designer in his own right — the former is best known for his namesake line and for a time heading up Liz Claiborne, while the latter co-founded Rogues Gallery and is the new creative director of L.L. Bean. The collaboration, which according to Women’s Wear Daily will be “called Rogues Gallery/John Bartlett (RG/JB), which will launch in December at the John Bartlett store in Greenwich Village,” will include “Rogues Gallery’s signature vintage Ts, a distressed pique polo shirt, an overdyed black union suit and New England-inspired accessories.” Also to be expected: handcrafted leather goods from a gym bag to a leather log and “assortment of bankers’ envelopes.”

Meanwhile, REM frontman Michael Stipe is getting into the design game thanks to a collaboration with Maison Martin Margiela. For the latter, Stipe has designed a limited edition mini-cassette tape accessory that can be worn a number of ways (ahem, convertible clothing). “Continuing where Stipes’ first sculptures (his cast bronze Polaroids, exhibited in New York at Rogan) left off, the piece is part accessory, part object d’art, and comes equipped with an unraveled tape that serves as a chain,” says Hint. Whether it’s a “a necklace? Bracelet? Knuckle duster? Eyepatch?” is up to the wearer that’s lucky enough to land one of the 199 pieces available soon at Margiela boutiques and select stores.

The Black List: Michael Stipe

Michael Stipe—the lead singer of the iconic alternative band R.E.M., and a keen photographer—unleashes his inner monster while proving that no one is shiny or happy all the time.

“Common courtesy is an oxymoron these days.” [R.E.M. bassist] Mike Mills said it, and I could not agree more. Here are 10 things I fucking despise:

1. Those TMZ guys on the street who ask me rhetorical questions. Fuck off ! I’m not that smart or quick.

2. People who block sidewalks. It’s called a “sidewalk,” not a “side-annoy me.”

3. Pranks. You’re not that funny and you’re not 15. Get out of my face—I’m too earnest. I like Andy Kaufman in the abstract; that doesn’t mean I want to live with him or eat dinner with him.

4. Do not walk up to me and say, “You don’t remember me, do you?” Unless you’re Morrissey, no, I don’t. I need context.

5. Oblivious girls with big, foofy hair at concerts (It always gets in your face and mouth).

6. Anyone who doesn’t BCC. Don’t send me your address book; I don’t want it.

7. PC mentality in general, but specifically at the doctor’s office: “I have a few forms for you to fill out.” I fucking filled those out the last six times I came here, you ingrate, and they are identical to every other form I’ve ever filled out here.

8. Art that cannot be dusted without being destroyed. Make it fl at and easy! Fuck!

9. Flush the fucking toilet at the restaurant, or on the plane. I don’t want to look at your piss-water.

10. Fucking Dick Cheney. I know, it’s obvious, but he ruined my life. Thanks, that was fun!

Industry Insiders: Marc Forgione, Master Forger

Marc Forgione, chef and owner of TriBeCa restaurant Marc Forgione, is up and running again after averting a costly trademark infringement lawsuit (his restaurant was once called Forge, as is another dining establishment in Miami Beach). He spoke with BlackBook about his celebrity chef father, Navajo rites of passage, his death row meal, the irresistible nature of suckling pigs, and REM’s nuanced palate.

Who have you cooked for lately? One of our regular customers is D.L. Hughley, the comedian. He’s a lot fun to be around and always says, “Yo, whassup chef? This is my fave restaurant, man — put the suckling pig back on or I’ll kill you.” And Michael Stipe came in last week. It really made me feel old when half my cooks didn’t know who he was. You could tell that he likes food. He was sniffing his wine and then quaffing his dish before eating.

What do you enjoy most about what you do? It’s so cliché, but I genuinely love to cook. I love the business as a whole because it’s fun. Every day is totally different and new.

What is your food trying to tell us? Be open-minded. Have fun. Like my foie gras lollipops — it’s having fun with classic stuff. Anyone can do an oyster with a mignonette. Why not throw a different flavor in there? I do one with fresh pineapple juice, habanera pepper jelly, and mint leaf.

How are you different from your father, the great Larry Forgione? He’s a lot quieter than I am. Obviously, everything in his restaurant is completely American, from the olive oil to the chairs to the salt. I’m not as dedicated to that principle. If my favorite olive oil happens to be from Calabria, then that’s what I use. My dad helped put America on the map, but I feel like my cuisine is more New York and more melting pot. My dad laid down the tracks, and now I feel like I’m riding where those tracks haven’t been yet.

Who are some of the newer chefs you admire? The chef de cuisine at Casa Mono — I eat there all the time. Pinot Maffeo sort of “fell off” after he won Food & Wine’s Best Chef award, but whatever he does next will get noticed. Also, I have a great meal every time I go to this place called Market Table — the chef’s name is Mikey Price. It’s nothing fancy, but always great food.

What draws other chefs to your restaurant? I always have at least three or four dishes that are on the menu just for chefs — like crispy deep-fried bone marrow with caviar. Chefs like that type of thing. Plus, a lot of chefs on the high end have very formal dining rooms. At my restaurant, you can wear flip-flops and still get quality food.

What is it with you and suckling pigs? How can you not? Believe it or not, I just took it off my menu, but it’ll be back on soon. It’s a great product. The way that we came about doing the original one was kind of by accident. We tried it a bunch of different ways, and the best one was cured for two days and then cooked in duck fat for a day. You don’t have to chew it, I swear.

What future trends do you see in New American food? Sad to say, it’s recession menus. I’ve already added a value plate: Hampshire pork tenderloin — confit and crispy belly — with cornbread puree and barbecue Maui onions with chili oil emulsion. We serve it for $24.

You’ve already survived a lawsuit. What are some of the challenges you face now? It’s been an absolute roller coaster of a year. We opened to crowds flocking the place, and everyone was making big plans. Then we got sued and the economy fell on its face all within three weeks of each other. It was like standing on a blanket and having it yanked out from under you. But I’m not here wondering, “Why me?”. You just have to make it work. I think a major challenge is realizing how much you can cut your staff, lower your menu princes, and sacrifice what you need in order to stay a place that people rely on. The people in the dining room just want good service and a good time, which they deserve.

What’s in your refrigerator at home right now? Cured meats and a bottle of red and white wine. I live in Little Italy now, so I always have really good olive oil. I have this hot sauce that I found when I was in St. Croix called “Miss Anna’s.” I’ve had it for two years, and we still haven’t gone through the bottle — that’s how spicy it is. There are always eggs in my fridge and either Pecorino or Parmesan, red pepper flakes and olives to chew on when I’m working.

That sounds pretty Italian. My grandfather, who just passed away, was the only 100% Italian in the family, but I’ve found that as I get older, I just naturally lean towards Italian. In fact, I just put a Florida red snapper puttanesca on the menu. People ask me what my death row meal would be, and it’s so easy: homemade pappardelle with really fantastic Bolognese sauce. Nothing else.

What do you listen to back in the kitchen? It’s called “shuffle” these days — there’s a lot of Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, and Pearl Jam, Thievery Corporation, and lately I’ve been listening to A Tribe Called Quest and MGMT. Every day at 5 o’clock, I play “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey. It started back in the kitchen, but now I have it out on the floor, too. During the day, the cooks like to play these George Carlin skits. It keeps everyone happy.

What’s up with the matching tattoos on your forearms? I saw this piece of Navajo art in the Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC. It stopped me in my tracks, and I went straight to the tattoo shop in Georgetown and got it done. It’s called “the man and the maze”: the maze is all the decisions you’ve made in your childhood, bad and good. The man stands outside it because he’s ready to be on his own. At the time I was at a crossroads — I knew that I wanted to do my own thing, but wasn’t sure if it was the right time.

What are you doing tonight? I’m cooking a seven-course dinner that I designed for the underwater restaurant of the Conrad Rangali Island Resort in the Maldives.

Station to Station


“I love these two photographs side by side because they look like one shot with a ghost reflection. This is the Eurostar, and from the cityscape outside it looks like we had just pulled out of Waterloo Station. I always thought it was a little insulting that the French arrive in London to… Waterloo. Ouch.

The British finally changed that. I have my beloved T4, which I have now returned to after a few years’ flirt with digital; film is truly the butch top of the two and digital is fun but flaky at this point. Both stations, London and Paris, are great fun for getting a pile of trash magazines and newspapers and devouring them en route. Always figure out the sun side of the train or plane for optimal light.”


Images courtesy of Chronicle Books.