Pants Optional: Identity Theft Networking at the Supper Club One-Year Bash

Supper Club — “It Brit” Tamsin Lonsdale’s mobile members club — celebrated the one-year anniversary of its New York chapter last night with a gin-fueled jam at tony Haven in the east 50s. Young socialites with big rocks and posh frocks cavorted with upwardly mobile cats in crisp suits; everyone bopping along to the blaring big band music while sexy Josephine Baker look-alikes slinked among the crowd in nothing but throw-back pasties. Haven is a dapper spot, especially when both floors are packed to the rafters with people who’ve actually dressed up for the bygone era the club seeks to conjure.

I was, as usual, one of the most under-dressed people at the event, along with my friends Matt Butler, the Reckless Sons frontman, and artist Shelter Serra; preferring to conjure Greenpoint circa 1997 in our jeans, t-shirts and worn out kicks. I will mention that the very freely-flowing cocktails were made from Plymouth gin not because I seek to ingratiate myself with the classic English spirit maker (please note shipping address below) but because the booze was phenomenally abundant and, as it’s been known to do, making those in attendance go apeshit on the perilously overloaded balcony, as well as the extremely popular photo booth, and on the plush couches in the club’s faux, leather-bound library.

A downtown model type who’d joined us for the evening wondered what exactly the Supper Club entailed — and after some discussion we concluded that it was, among other things, a (cringe) networking event of sorts — at which point she pulled out a tiny business card with a picture of a half-naked girl pointing a gun at her face (her, presumably) and handed it to me. Caught out by her Patrick Bateman worthy one-upmanship, I handed her the card of a Spanish real estate tycoon I’d met recently, passing it off as my own, and offered to whisk her and her friends to my opulent Marbella estate. For the rest of the night, I posed alternately as a fashion photographer, marketing guru, Miami club promoter, boutique hotel manager, and a shoe designer until I ran out of other people’s cards, then headed back home to Chinatown to meet some friends (also rocking Greenpoint circa 1997’s hottest look) for cheap beer and more high-level networking.

Pound for Pound Sterling: We Still Have the World’s Top Shallow Set

imageThe English are having a fine old time in New York — we’re sort of like their Mexico right now, a place where you can throw around your powerful loot and loosen your tie, get away from real-world concerns back home … just unwind a little. Witness last week’s unprecedented bubbly fest at Pink Elephant, financed by the crass, beleaguered billionaire who owns troubled English Premier League squad Newcastle. While he was being shredded back home in the press, heavyset honcho Mike Ashley dropped $220,000 on bottles of Cristal, even finding time to spread the champagne love with various bottle hawks and other moochers who reportedly knew him only as “soccer guy.” UK tabs brilliantly referred to the beneficiaries of the clueless Ashley’s largesse as “Manhattan’s shallow set.”

These included, according to The Daily Mail, the runoff from an Entourage party wrapping up down the street: “Actors Kevin Connolly and Jeremy Piven swilled champagne with former Dallas Cowboys star Deion Sanders, ex-Boston Red Sox baseball star Mo Vaughn, and Black Eyed Peas’ singer Will.I.Am. They all joined in, but none of them knew who Ashley was.”

Moving on to some higher brow though equally shallow set-worthy festivities financed by UK funds, last night we checked out the opening of “The Outsiders” show at the pop-up Lazarides Gallery space on the corner of Bowery and Houston. The turnout for the UK gallery’s temporary spot represented the cream of the downtown scene. We spotted round-rimmed Jeffrey Deitch surveying the foreign invaders, select art world players from London/New York gallery Haunch of Venison, and of course the ubiquitous Beatrice Inn types who unanimously agreed the show was stellar as they got loaded on endless, quality booze courtesy of Belvedere. Cool French performance artist Coco Dolle scouted for Amazons in the crowd while supporting a creepy, masked pal who was shrieking like a hyena while injecting a blonde model with black ink that dripped off her back in the form of a Chanel logo, much to the delight of all.

The highlight was the impressive quality of the pieces on display — even if seeing lots of “street art” co-opted and put on display by a fancy gallery is always a tad unsettling, like seeing a bunch of sad elephants prancing around a circus tent. The lowlight — and the proof that the shallow set extends to both the haute and base elements of Manhattan — came toward the end of the vodka-fueled festivities, when a pleasant little old lady from the neighborhood approached and asked the clipboard chick working the door if she could come inside to take a look. As the door girl informed her (with the efficiency of a 1Oak door diva) that she did not make the cut, a pretty model girl breezed past her with nary a problem. Proving that New York’s economy can explode, but our shallow set will always be world class.

Pants Optional: Hating on Fashion Week

imageFashion Week, as you may already know, is that special time of fall in New York when good friends gather to swap tales of summer fun in faraway places, amuse ourselves with skinny immigrant girls playing dress-up, drink our way through open bars, fight blonde Penn grads with powerful clipboards, and nonchalantly mention how lame the Marc Jacobs after-party was the next day. Great fun, say you? Of course. But lately, there’s been some grumbling from the normally exuberant party peoples who make the fashion magic happen. Stories of jaded fashion scenesters glumly sipping Vodka-of-the-Week & Sodas at drab lounges, whispers of widespread discontent at the tents — a general sourness has befallen the festivities.

Could it be George W. Bush’s bummer of an economy? There definitely didn’t seem to be the usual rash of slick, nightlife-redefining, secret-password-requiring lounges hosting fashion week events this year. Anticipating the inevitable letdown, we simply got the fuck out of the city and passed out under a trees in Cali. Upon returning, we set about understanding why this Fashion Week was getting such dismal reviews.

Shirley Cook, who runs a company called Proenza Schouler that makes expensive dresses and hats, sounded half asleep when we roused her by phone at 4:21 p.m. But we pried some answers out of her regardless:

Do you think fashion week sucked this year? No, I didn’t see any shows except for ours and I liked it.

Did you go to any parties? I didn’t go out at all.

Don’t you think that speaks volumes? In past fashion weeks you would have gone out, right? Not at all, because we’ve been really busy. It really is not like that at all. I do think there are too many things going on in Fashion Week, and that makes it hard to focus. It’s watered down. There’s way too many shows.

You mean like Art Basel? You could say that.

Would you say that? No. I don’t want to be quoted.

Would you say it’s lost its focus? Don’t write that. Just say, “It’s a little overwhelming.”

Done. So far, everyone we spoke with agreed: This fashion week was the worst one ever. On to the next expert. Finn designer Soraya Silchenstedt. A girl with a lot of spunk, knows the kids in the rag biz, parties like an Olsen, lives like the richest king.

Hey I heard fashion week sucked this year. I stayed in a lot.

Exactly! I’m anti fashion week.

Great. Can you give us an anti fashion week quote? The best thing about fashion week was Marc Jacobs’ fashion show. The collection was awesome.

I said anti. How about the parties, what was the worst one? It’s just all a little not special. Don’t quote me on any of this. I don’t want to be quoted. Call Chris Campbell. He will give you a great quote.

I intend to call him. I even got Shirley Cook to talk. [sound of car horn honking] I’m with two hot blonde girls in a Danali. [to hot blonde girl driving, presumably] “Hey make a right on 47th street!” I’m into sports fashion. Like Nike sportswear. I’m into Olympic fashion, I’m into Michael Phelps. It just feels congested and very commercial and everybody just dresses the same. There wasn’t anything new and different, except from Marc Jacobs. You should go to TMZ.com and search Michael Phelps, I’m in it. [to smoking hot blonde driver, again] “Park here!” [screeching brakes, screams, glass shattering, silence] Christopher Campbell is senior fashion editor at Departures, a stylist, and one half of fashion’s dynamic duo along with his twin brother James (the really shy one from Kimora Lee Simmon’s reality show).

Hey Chris! Why did fashion week suck so much this year? I don’t think it sucked. It’s the same as it always is. I will say that the shows were very spread out. You’re constantly going between the tents and Chelsea.

I made Shirley Cook say it was “watered down,” that it was like Art Basel. I wouldn’t say that.

Yeah, she didn’t either. I don’t have to go to all of those shows, and I don’t think she does either.

What were the best shows? Obviously Proenza Schouler, Isaac Mizrahi … and the Oumlil show (which I styled).

What parties did you like? The Club Sandwich party, which is a monthly party in Paris, and they threw if at Norwood for the first time in New York, and it was floors and floors of debauchery, on Sunday night. Alex, the head of PR for Burberry, threw it.

How about the Purple party? Yeah, the hipsters. But I’m talking about the real fashion people.

What’s going on tonight? Tonight’s dead. Sunday was the good night for parties. There was a big Calvin Klein party that was major. You know what sucked about New York Fashion Week is that usually there’s a European designer who shows and that makes it exciting, but this year it was the usual line up, and that was really disappointing.

For the kids’ perspective, we turned to photographer/painter/’tween on the scene Martine, who also runs a mysterious enterprise called Shot.

Hey, you’re 16. How is this Fashion Week different from other Fashion Weeks? Oh my god [rolling eyes, we assume]. I am not 16.

Do you think the whole thing was played out? I thought it was weak to be honest, I really didn’t like it at all.

That’s what I’ve been telling everyone to say! If you weren’t from New York, you wouldn’t know what the hell was going on. It wasn’t promoted properly.

Should they just quit and never do it anymore? New York Fashion Week? No, that’s impossible.

Impossible? I heard they’re thinking of deading it. No, they should make it more friendly. What are you doing tonight?

Going to Tribeca Grand to see some new DFA band or something for Fashion Week. Supposed to be good. Cool, let’s go.

Tommy Saleh, the Soho and Tribeca Grand’s Creative Director, is an international cat, followed by legions of cool kids from BK to Dalston to [insert new hip city/neighborhood nobody has heard of here].

Literally every single person I’ve spoken with since I got back to town says Fashion Week is done. Say it ain’t so, Saleh. Fashion Week is great, everyone was away for the summer, now they’re back, it’s a great time to see old friends and have a few drinks. I love it.

Love it as in hate it? I’m going to say only positive things. I love Fashion Week.

Damn you Saleh, there goes my thesis. Come to Tribeca Grand tonight, it’s gonna be fun.

Pants Optional: Coco Dolle, Queen of the Amazons

Art parade star Coco Dolle preps for Deitch’s annual Art Parade street fest from her lofty perch in the Soho Grand.

You¹ve been one of the main performers in the Deitch parade since it started in 2005. How did you get mixed up in all of this?

I was in Avignon, France, where I’m from. Painting in my studio, very tranquil existence. And one day, a friend who is a curator at Deitch here in New York called me and asked me to be in this art parade. At first I was hesitant, because I’d never done anything performance-based like that. Then I came up with this concept, which was based on Picasso’s famous 1907 painting Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, which represents a key moment in modern art and happens to be where I am from. So I called my piece “Coco’s Demoiselles.” It was very liberating, the performance aspect. And it was well received. The Deitch people have been very supportive of my work ever since.

Say somebody wanted to be in the art parade. Can you basically just spray-paint a bunch of emaciated Bushwick residents, give them drugs to get ‘em acting crazy-like, show up, and jump in the mix?

It’s probably better to sleep with one of the curators from Deitch first.

The feared art parade casting couch. You’ve been a muse for a number of people. The French fashion designer Pierrot, American painter Alex Katz. Is there a muse casting couch also?

Well, the relationship between muse and artist is like a love affair. Even with the girls in my work that are my muses, there’s an attraction. You can’t be a muse for someone you’re not attracted to. That’s why artists are often portrayed as sexual obsessive maniacs. It’s a form of power, energy, tension, love. And sexuality is very much a part of that.

Your boyfriend is Julien Asfour, as in sibling of fashion collective ThreeAsFour. Your kids will be the trendiest downtown art fashion scenesters ever created. Or curated. Can I have one?

And they’ll have great teeth. He’s also a dentist.

I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that. Let’s talk about your upcoming art parade project: Amazons.

Yes. I became interested in the Amazons from a PBS documentary I saw that proves that a tribe similar to the mythical Amazon warrior women did in fact exist, in what is now northern Kazakhstan. A researcher named Jeannine Davis-Kimball discovered the tombs of these warrior women there from the 4th century BC.

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Really? Kazakhstan as in Borat? Everyone knows PBS is left-wing propaganda. But now they’ve gone too far.

And this researcher discovered a 12-year-old blonde and blue-eyed Mongolian farmer girl whose DNA matches that of the remains in the Amazon tombs. So this little girl is a descendant of the Amazons.

It’s too bad that little girl doesn’t get to hang out in the penthouse of the Soho Grand drinking champagne with her Amazonian sisters. As queen, you should adopt her.

I think her family raises goats or something like that. But she has blonde hair and blue eyes, which are not typical Mongolian features. I personally believe the Amazons created their own DNA. They were warriors and very nomadic, so I think they went from place to place, mating with different types of men till they perfected their DNA over time.

Harlots, the whole lot of them. But with a noble purpose. How much champagne is necessary for a proper art parade?

(Opening another bottle of champagne) Lots. And tequila. Shots of Patron. Very important for the art parade.

Alcohol is our muse, too. The name of this column is Pants Optional, which is another way of saying “we’ve been drinking.” This begs the question: did the original Amazons wear pants?

They did whatever they wanted to. Who knows? I won’t speak for them. But my Amazons, definitely pants optional.

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One last question. What’s up with the blood on the models’ right breast? Scary stuff.

Well, the Amazons of mythology supposedly cut off their right breasts in order to shoot their bows better, so it’s a reference to that. And also, it represents the suffering that women have to overcome, like breast cancer, while still retaining their own sense of femininity and beauty.

On that note, let’s drink.

Catch “Coco Demoiselles: Legacy Fatale” at this Fall’s Deitch Parade, which takes over Soho for one freaky day during Fashion Week. She’ll be the feisty French chick marching down West Broadway, flanked by thirty tunic-clad Amazon women drumming, chanting, and wielding all sorts of gnarly primitive weapons.

Pants Optional: Stories, interviews, photos and other blurry bits of nightlife we sort of recall.

Pants Optional: Damon Johnson & the Art of the Party

For years, artist Damon Johnson has been making his prolific, cartoonish mark all over the New York cityscape, including numerous works in well-known clubs around town. His latest in-situ project is a sprawling mural at the historic Webster Hall. The New York-based painter took a moment with me to discuss his latest nightlife-themed piece.

You just finished a mural that depicts the history of Webster Hall. This is an accusation, as well as a statement of fact. Tell us more. It’s in the lobby of Webster Hall and it depicts Webster Hall through the ages, from 1886 to the present. I met the owner of Webster Hall at Baird Jones’ memorial at Webster Hall [after Baird passed away last February], we got to talking …

So is Webster Hall’s Baird Jones (RIP) in the mural? Nope, but I’m pretty sure he would be happy with it. How did you research for it? Other than hitting Webster Hall ladies’ night and buying rounds of kamikaze shots for girls named Cindi? It was mostly that. But I also did some historical research, and the iconography in the mural represents the different Webster Hall eras.

It was originally an after hours coke den, right? Not exactly; it started out as a gathering place for politicians and aristocrats. Then in the 1920s it morphed into a countercultural place. The clenched fists in the mural represent that sense of counterculture. At that same time, they put on these elaborate masquerade balls and something called the Devil’s Ball. So, I painted the chick in the mask and the devil DJs — a modern twist on that part of the history. Then in the 1930s it became a speakeasy.

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I feel like everything was a speakeasy at some point. Except this one was allegedly owned by Al Capone, who spent lots of time hanging out there with fellow gangsters. Hence the multiple gangsters throughout the mural. Legend has it there’s lots of Al Capone’s money hidden in the walls, which I represented with the dollar signs.

That’s quite literal, excellent. It’d be great if the dollar signs showed exactly where the money was, right? Well, when the new owners took over the spot in the 1990s, they did find tens of thousands of dollars stuffed into a disco ball.

Wow. I’m sure that wasn’t drug related. Let’s continue down memory lane. OK, so in 1951, high fidelity recording was actually born in Webster Hall. A lot of musicians recorded live there. In the 1960s, RCA was based in Webster Hall. I painted an Elvis-like figure with a guitar and mic to represent that time period. The flowers represent East Village bohemian culture of that time. In the 1970s, it was a Spanish social club, so I depicted these salsa-dancing Latin cats. In the 1980s, it was a rock venue where bands like Ramones, U2, Guns-n-Roses performed before they became big. I depicted that with the death skulls. And in the 1990s it became the mega club that it is today.

What did you use to depict that mega club era in the mural? Nothing. But I did throw in some geometric shapes to capture the rhythm of nightlife movement.

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Nice. So you’ve painted murals in numerous clubs around the city over the years. The original Pink Elephant, Plumm, Quo, Eleven, a bunch of others. I admire this elaborate ploy to drink for free for the rest of your life. Ha. Not really, they don’t really hook you up like that for life. But I like painting in clubs. It’s an interesting painting environment. You work during those weird daytime hours where you get to see the bizarre inner workings of the club, and of course the carnage from the night before.

Pants Optional: Stories, interviews, photos and other blurry bits of nightlife we sort of recall.