Purveyors of Posh Night Club Provocateur Unveil New Venue 

Flash Factory Theater – reclaimed chopped wood church crosses form the ceiling arches, a 20ft x 15ft genuine 1920’s era stained glass piece hangs behind the DJ booth

Provocateur owners Mike Satsky and Brian Gefter have announced plans to open their latest joint-venture, Flash Factory.  The new, 10,000 square foot, dance den, which is slated to open this fall at 229 West 28th Street in Chelsea, was once home to clandestine parties under the name, Shadow.

 “This is going to be a ticketed club for music people,” a spokesperson for the duo claimed. “Not a VIP room.”

Generally catering to a bottle-service and models (or at least aspiring ones) crowd, Satsky attracted venerable DJ talents to his tony nightspot Provocateur, located on the ground floor of Meatpacking’s Gansevoort Hotel.  Loco Dice, Eric Prydz and Sven Vath held court over the years and a similar, if not more dynamic, roster of talent has been promised at Flash Factory.

The club, now two years or more in the making, aims to be a hybrid: part contemporary night entertainment, part retro music hall; catering to a coterie of dedicated electronic dance music aficionados.

“Flash Factory is a creative music venue,” added Satsky. “We built a destination for artists whose priority is keeping it real.”  Whether you are a techno, rock, punk, or alternative hip hop fan, it’s our mission to produce an environment where everything, but most of all the music, feels right.”

A ticketed music audience can expect a healthy mix of DJ sets and live band acts. Stay tuned for updates as well as opening festivities this fall.

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Flash Factory Lounge – reclaimed temple benches form the seating, while stained glass provides the backing to the bar

NY’s Top Properties For Sale: Former Lucky Cheng’s & District 36

There’s lots going on behind the scenes as various parties "negotiate" for the old Lucky Cheng’s space; a deal is a deal only when it is a deal. At District 36, closed for a few months, other various parties are trying to obtain what probably is the best room that’s come available in quite a while. Owner/operator Damien Distasio told me that “it will take a real player with real money and a real vision to make the deal.” The bottom line is that District 36 is a recent multimillion dollar build-out, with all newish fixtures. Plumbing and electrical and permitting are all intact. A "real player" can do a relatively inexpensive redux and have a brand new space on the cheap. All the heavy lifting has already been done. The District 36 folks are aware of this and are looking to get paid. Interested parties hope the price will come down as creditors, including the landlord, gripe. But spaces this size in neighborhoods where neighbors are rare don’t come along often. Someone’s going to snatch it up. My sources tell me Mike Satsky has looked, and other players have as well. I was told the operators at the shuttered Mars 2112 were interested, but Damien says that’s news to him. I know of one other serious group, but they are bargain hunting content to wait for their price.

Over at Ken & Cook/ Lil Charlie’s, Karim Amatullah, who is a man who can always talk the talk, told me he is going to walk the walk. He’s out, and here’s what he had to say: "Let’s just say it wasn’t the right fit."

On the must to-do list is tonight’s birthday bash for the ever lovely Justine Delaney at the Electric Room. It’s part of her weekly Tuesday night affair there where, with partner Nick Mark, she spins under her DJ moniker Justine D. Justine is a winner.  She has always been a bellweather of what’s hip, and I won’t miss her celebration.  She taught me everything I know about being a DJ, but obviously she didn’t teach me everything she knows.  A big happy birthday shout-out to Justine.

A Tale of Two Mikes: Prison and Provocateur

I was at dinner the other night with Eater’s Scott Solish and he asked me if I was tired of writing yet. My answer was no, though few realize what it takes to deliver something fresh five days a week. He writes three or four entries a day while I write six times a week, including the relationship advice column. What does get tiring is all the ruckus over seemingly innocuous statements or minor incidents in the nightlife world. Within a span of 20 minutes I got calls from Provocateur owner Mike Satsky and blogger/friend Brittany Mendenhall over little bits of gossip that seemed to be nothing. I was having a latte at a truck stop in upstate New York. Before your deviant little minds wander, I was at the truck stop with the gal pal. We had just visited Michael Alig. Yes, I did that again.

Michael had gotten into a little spat and was bruised, rocked and rolled–but surprisingly not shaken or stirred. We talked about his homecoming and how he was going to enter society again. He is obsessed with showing the world how rehabilitated he is and how he will use his creative energies to serve society. We talked about how close the light at the end of the tunnel seems. We talked about some of his old friends who have shunned him and how he hopes they will give him a chance to prove himself. Talk is cheap (you should see my paycheck for writing this) but it is a great first step. He has a job with a writer (not me, a real writer) and a choice of two nice places to live. The last time I visited him and wrote about the visit many commenters raised many questions. I addressed these with him. In remorse-filled answers he told me how events played out and how the drugs owned his mind. To some extent many will buy this explanation, but the dismemberment and cover up will always haunt him.

There were many times when anger and circumstances provoked me to act violently. I’ve driven cars too fast and, on a handful of circumstances, been out of my mind on alcohol or other substances. I have raised a hand with ill intent. Luck kept me from crossing that big line that Michael certainly crossed. Michael woke up unlucky that day 15 years ago and has been paying the price since. I’ll keep you posted.

Back to Mike Satsky and Brittany. So I’m in this truck stop and Mike is complaining to me that Brittany had written this story about how he and his partner Brian Gefter were opening a lobby bar and outdoor area despite the fact that they were incredibly behind on the rent. He explained to me about how that is impossible because they’re partnered with the Gansevoort Hotel. I heard the story too, but elected not to write on it even though I confirmed the rent issue with a source who is half-right some of the time. I remembered that when I interviewed Satsky way back when and he told me that they weren’t partners with the hotel. I hadn’t told this to Brittany when she called me to check her story, I told her that getting a little behind on rent is natural when a place is opening past its predicted date, and Provocateur opened later in the year than they hoped. It is very common for a new venue to be in arrears in rent and most landlords give a grace period of maybe 5 or 6 months for the build out. Provocateur’s agreement with their landlord included a grace period, according to Mike, that was more like 2 years. I told her it was no big thing and the place was slamming and slammed.

She went through with publishing the article and later told me that the Provocateur camp at first discredited the entire article as false. But she pressed them and under her intense first-year law student cross-examination they admitted that part of her article (that they were opening a lobby bar) was indeed true. One small lie is enough to give credibility to the whole tamale, in her mind. Lies are like that, they are remembered.

I read her article and her tone was indeed a bit snarky. I told Mr Satsky that this sort of thing is going to happen when you don’t let her in to your joint. Although she usually attends Provocateur with no door problems she was denied the other evening. Mike says it was 3am and she didn’t call ahead. That whole call-ahead policy thing isn’t going to work as an excuse with me and many people scoff at that concept . It would be fine if that was the policy for everyone who stands at the ropes of Provocateur, but many are admitted without calling. The door, as I predicted after my first visit, is a problem. Since it has only been open for about a year, it may not be that big a deal for them yet—they’re still drawing a crowd—but let’s see how this plays out over time.

Here’s a great example on their half-baked door policy. A very well-known wife of a well-loved owner was throwing a birthday bash at Provocateur the other night. It was planned and arranged as important birthdays are, and went well until, well I’ll let the birthday girl do the talking. Here’s some of the venting I got about the incident.

“I’m sure you have no interest in my new petty “Hate Campaign” against Provocateur but little Geffie cancelled my birthday there while I was standing at the door in front of him b/c he didn’t like the “short fat one in my group.” We’ve known each other for 10 years and I was very supportive of him and Romer back in the day. I then found out he has pissed off almost everyone in nightlife in NY, so much so that almost every industry person I invited to come by for a birthday cocktail declined saying they won’t go there b/c they’ve been disrespected by him or his staff at the door.

I guess I just miss the respect we used to have, even if we didn’t like each other we never forbade staff to go other places, we let each other in, we showed some love, it made this industry unique I thought. I guess part of it just makes me wonder what will the next generation of the industry be like? Whose responsibility is it to remind them of the rules–old school or not. I will say this, it made me respect my husband for always extending hospitality and respect to those in the industry and it made me miss Gilbert for really knowing how to do it so well. Those two blond heads on sticks at that door were scurrying about in and out all flurry, no action, no panache. I guess I miss the idea that a night and a crowd could be curated out of more than models, investment bankers and promoters.

Anyway most of all I wanted to vent and vent big by venting to you, maybe hoping just a little that maybe more had done the same and that there would be a call to action and Geffie and Satsky would forever mend their little ways.”

I’m sure I’ll get a call about this. I think Mike and Brian “Geffie” Gefter need to talk about this. They are bright people and must realize they need bright people at their door. I think Provocateur is a major player but it wasn’t built for 1 year. The people they are turning away harshly now will not forget this when they are needed to fill the room or provide a needed service. All the great clubs turn most people away. How it is done and by whom is very important. In an age of Twitter and camera phones, Brittany and others like her don’t need to be in the club to know the dirt.

On a much lighter note, I could not attend the birthday bash for Justin Ross Lee the other night at 49 Grove. I was ultra busy rearranging my sock drawer that very night. Happy birthday Mr. Justin Ross Lee! Now grow up, my friend.

Greenhouse: Master of Provocateur’s Domain

I woke up, had my cup, and I dragged a comb across my head, and I read the news today (and yesterday) — oh boy,about a lucky man who made the grade, and though the news was rather sad, well I just had to laugh … The Jon B-Mike Satsky URL story had heads shaking and tongues wagging as the blogs took pleasure in what appears to be a lowlife clubland grift. Jon B is by all accounts a very successful club operator with a number of properties and a lot more coming in the near future. He is absolutely dedicated to defining himself as an honest, intelligent, and gifted club/restaurant operator. But the blogosphere is buzzing with negative reports of a below-the-belt hit on Iron Mike Satsky. According to the reads, the Greenhouse gang took the provocateurnyc.com domain and had it direct people to the Greenhouse website. Provocateur is the new spot my designer pal Lionel Ohayon is producing for Mike and partner Brian Gefter. Mike and Brian had a winner over at Stereo before it was shuttered. After my successful mediation last week between Chichi212.com queen Brittany Mendenhall and Unik Ernest, who she called the “MC hammer of nightlife.” I was feeling very Bill Clintonesque. I called Jon B and said, “You have your new restaurant, Juliet, named after your mom, with top chef Todd English, and it just seems ridiculous to have this petty game play out online.” He agreed and told me to come meet him at Juliet.

When I arrived at Juliet, Jon had already spoken to Mike Satsky, and peace was made. Mike told Jon he never compared the Greenhouse crew to “Payless” in relation to his future boîte. Jon explained how an ambitious “intern” had grabbed the URL as a joke. Jon told me, “There’s no point in playing childish games … I’ll give it to them as a gift.” We were sitting in Juliet, co-owned by my friend turned enemy turned friend again Todd English. Todd and I had a “childish” fight in the blogs a bit back, but now he has expressed genuine interest in rekindling our friendship, and I am feeling peaceful myself. Jon is taking a conciliatory approach as well, and Todd and I will be having dinner real soon. I’ve been in Juliet a lot lately. It is a very ambitious design with a great deal of reflective surfaces. The columns, low walls, banquette backs, bar … even the floor is mirrored tile. It’s not my thing as it feels a bit cold to me, but Jon told me “it looks great with the lights down low.” Sounds like my last girlfriend.

A couple hours later, Mike Satsky responded to a call for comment. Mike usually shies away from talking to bloggers, and I was honored that he felt I was to be trusted. He explained how “Jon’s Greenhouse and what I do is very different, like apples and oranges.” I said some clubs might be heaven for some folks and a nightmare for others. Patrons at Pacha or Cielo wouldn’t see the value of a Jane or Avenue, and for the most part vice versa. They all are great clubs. Mike says “there’s plenty of room for everybody,” and his door at Provocateur will be like Fort Knox”; it will be “a place like no one has seen before … I will not disappoint.” Rumors of a just under $5 million build-out and acoustical treatments to protect hotel guests from noise being done by a former NASA engineer were not addressed in my conversation. Mike said they will open “in around four weeks, maybe as much as six.” “There’s room in this town for everyone, every type of club … Jon is doing something completely different, and I wish him well.” Provocateur is already proving to be provocative.

Remi Laba and Aymeric Clemente have gotten the go-over at the Merkato 55 space and will make a go of it without Kiss & Fly and Bagatelle partners David Graziano and Corey Lane, who are themselves making a go of it without them over at Gansevoort 69. This sounds like an incident waiting to happen, but all are really great people — and as long as Jon B’s “intern” doesn’t get into the mix things, will remain civilized.

The Mark Packer acquisition of the Au Bar space, across from his totally successful Tao, seems to be complete. Sources say that old Park Avenue South brand Canastel’s will be the restaurant entity, while the rest of the space may be a lounge or corporate event space. It’s a can’t-miss, as it could easily survive on the overflow from Tao.

GoldBar had a little facelift, with a couple of well-placed disco balls, a tweak of the mesh curtains, and an overall dimming of the lights making the space a bit more frenetic. I hung out with door king Jon Lennon while a beautiful crowd of fun-loving and well-heeled patrons partied hardy inside. GoldBar remains one of my favorite places, and Jon Lennon has really stepped up and made the place his home. Here is a hotspot which handles its door in a way that the Jane Hotel should take note of. Avenue and 1Oak as well are uber-desirable places to get into, as much so if not more than the Jane. They control their door, have few patrons outside, and control the uncontrollable cab honking outside. The Jane’s problems outside are solvable, and I understand that they are taking big steps to do just that. I’ll be there later to check it out.

Lastly, Paul Sevigny finally returned from his Rome concert in partnership with Deitch Gallery. In response to rumors I reported that he would be joining the crew at the Standard, he says, “I wouldn’t be caught dead walking through the Meatpacking District.”

Industry Insiders: Seth Greenberg, Mogul Multitasker

Capitale’s Seth Greenberg on the origins of bottle service, taking over Boston, why Parisians bite New York style, and who really invented bottle service.

Point of Origin: The Paradise Club and Stitches [were my first properties, both in Boston]. Both needed pre-function, so we moved Stitches to an independent location. Then we expanded Paradise by opening M-80 in the old Stitches site. So we moved Stitches to a new location, about a mile away, so now Stitches had a big space. A comedy club in the back, and a little restaurant bar/lounge up front. And now M-80 was connected to the Paradise Club. After about a year, we expanded, then eventually gutted the entire facility so M-80 had both buildings. Then we expanded M-80 to New York, opened Conscience Point in Southampton, and created M-80 in the summer.

When I graduated from college, I was 21; by the time I was 30, I owned 10 nightclubs in Boston, and from there I decided that I really needed a restaurant in Boston, a Euro-themed restaurant; so 12 and a half years ago, I opened a restaurant called Mistral, which is probably still one of the highest grossing restaurant in the city. And about 9 years ago, I assisted my partner in Mistral with the development of XV Beacon. I came to New York about six years ago looking for a project, and I was presented with the [Capitale space] through a friend. The gentleman who had optioned this building was planning to turn it into a nightclub, and I said, before you do that, why don’t you consider doing something a little more high-end than a nightclub. So he came up to Boston with me, stayed at the hotel, had dinner at Mistral, went to one of my clubs, and we made a deal.

We realized that the best business model for this property [Capitale] is to just operate strictly as catering and events. I sold my last club in 2005 in Boston, and have since been focused on high-end hospitality. We opened another event space in New York on 42nd between 11th and 12th avenues in the beginning of this year called Espace. And about a year and a half ago, I bought a building in Boston called the Ames with my friend Richard Kilstock, and we did a deal where Normandy Realty and the Morgans Group, where Morgans is going to manage the hotel, and I’m going to still operate the food and beverage myself. And that’s slated to open next summer.

Occupations: I consider myself more of a hospitality executive now, focused on food and beverage. Currently my venues are Espace, Mistral, the Ames, and Capitale.

Side Hustle: I advised Jason Binn [of Niche Media] on the launch of Boston Common.

What got you interested in magazines? I was a promoter in college, and I had approached Jason and said it would be a great idea to launch an Ocean Drive in Boston. But first he became a part of Hamptons, then he did a deal with Gotham, and over the years he always said, “One day when I come to Boston, we’ll do it together.” At this point he has such an enormous infrastructure, he just needed someone local to help facilitate the magazine. He opened Boston Common and Capitol File at the same time. We set up Mistral and XV Beacon as a kind of ground zero for the magazine, hosting lunches and dinners with clients, and then we did a pre-opening party. We host five cover launch parties a year.

It seems like you’ve been involved in pretty much every facet of the nightlife industry. Which is your favorite? When I was younger, I was out so much. I just loved it. I just wanted to be out all the time. I always said I was good at what I did because I was out. My clients were my guests and my friends. But now, my lifestyle has changed; I don’t want to be out every night, I don’t drink. I just want to stay healthy, I want to stay fit, stay focused. I want to focus on developing more real estate, and hopefully putting my own hospitality projects in that real estate. And that’s my focus for the next ten years. I don’t want to go backwards.

I still love the marketing side, I still love hosting parties, but now it’s just different. A Boston Common party starts at 8 p.m., and it’s over at 11.

Favorite Hangs: In New York I love going to Rose Bar, I love going to dinner. I’ve been going to Gemma a bit in the Bowery, I love Craftsteak in the Meatpacking. I like Tao, Nobu. And if I go clubbing, I go to Marquee. Noah Tepperberg is one of my best friends, I have to support Noah. In the Hamptons, I love going to Sunset Beach. Saturday nights I never go to restaurants; five or six friends will invite each other over for different brunches or dinners. On a Friday I like Savanna’s every once and a while. I try to go to different spots.

Industry Icons: Andre Balazs and Ian Schrager. Ian came from the nightlife side, but really the operations side, and he really created some amazing spaces. Ian’s hotel company is now owned by Morgans Hotel Group; I think their projects are timely and beautiful. Same with Andre, he’s done some great work. I think the Mercer is beautiful, I think the Gramercy Park Hotel is beautiful. They’ve both had some projects I’ve been really impressed with.

Known Associates: Noah [Tepperberg] and Jason [Strauss of Strategic Group] are two of my dear friends. I’m good friends with Jeffrey Jah, I like Jeffrey a lot. I’m friends with Danny A, Richie Akiva and Scottie [Sartiano of 1Oak], and Mike Satsky [of Stereo].

Jeffrey Jah claims to have invented bottle service. What do you think of that? That’s really ridiculous. I was doing bottle service way before anyone knew what it was.

So you invented bottle service? I didn’t invent bottle service; it was being done in Europe for years. When I was 29 years old, I was in the south of France, and you’d go to a table at Saint-Tropez and Cannes, that was the European way. You get a table with a group of friends, you get a bottle, and they bring you mixers, and a bucket of ice, and that was normal for twenty years. So maybe [Jeffrey] was one of the first people to bring it to New York, but we were doing it in the Hamptons, certainly, 13 years ago. At M-80 in Boston, we had bottle service, back around 1990. I grew up in Miami Beach, and when I was high school and used to go to the Cricket Club, which had bottle service.

Do you think New York nightlife is dead? I think there’s a symbiotic relationship between nightlife and fashion and celebrity. And it’s shifted over the years from bars to dance clubs to restaurants to lounges. It’s continually cyclical. And what’s predominant in New York right now is hip-hop, which is affecting the way people dance and what’s more comfortable for nightlife. Certainly lounges are more appealing than big nightclubs today, and maybe a lot of it has to do with the music. There’s a fashion that goes with it [hip-hop culture] too. New York was the first city where you started playing hip-hop and people started wearing sneakers. The look of New York sort of changed. The New Yorkers would show up at Fashion Week in Paris wearing jeans and sneakers and everyone would look at them saying how déclassé they were, that they didn’t know how to dress properly. And now you see that as a fashion trend in Europe as well. So I think New York has always been ahead of the curve.

Projections: Right now the hotel in Boston, The Ames by Morgans, is slated to open next summer. I’m co-developing a property in Chelsea, yet to be named, similar to the deal I have in Boston where I’ll end up operating the food and beverage, and we’ll have a big management company involved. XV Beacon is 61 rooms, and I learned how to develop a hotel properly by observing and assisting my partner in Mistral. The Ames is 115 rooms; the hotel in Chelsea is closer to 500 rooms. So I’m moving up in the world.

Do you have any overseas expansions/projects lined up? I’ve been approached by some different groups to get involved in some projects in the Middle East, but until things are signed, there’s really not much to talk about. But I’m looking pretty closely at Dubai. But we want to grow our infrastructure first. In Europe, nothing in the immediate future.

What are you doing tonight? Tonight I am training Muay Thai, and then I am going to a friend’s rehearsal dinner. And then I’m meeting Michael Bolton. I’ve been training martial arts for at least twenty years.

Sounds like you’re pretty good at scouting trends before anyone else. I guess so.

Photo: Gerry Lerner