Look, I hope you won’t be insulted if I keep this short today. I am way too busy to chat or be profound or funny or whatever it is I am doing these days. I got to get to the 17 Stanton space, formerly called The Elsinore, to finish up with the construction so you guys can go oooh and ahh or say …"What in God’s name was he thinking?" According to Scott Solish at Eater yesterday, nobody cares, but sometimes he is a little left of right. I read his take on my column yesterday and noticed just a little error…a right when he should have gone left. He said that Noel Ashman had changed the name. In reality, the name was changed over Noel’s strenuous objections. This will play out, as revelers attend the space and play with tables and bottles and other toys. Seventeen Stanton has a new name, which will be seen and heard sometime in the next few days. The place is almost ready. It feels good-to-go. After this writing and the day-job designing, I’m off to Hotel Chantelle to DJ with Sam Valentine and Michael Tee and a slew of others.. I’ll get home at 6am-ish. I was up at 7am, so it’s a 23-hour day for me. I figure I’ll get all the sleep I need in 20 or 30 years.
So the summer is over according to everybody except my really smart smartphone which swears I have another couple of weeks till fall. To add to the confusion, Fashion Week is upon us and it’s celebrating spring 2013. Tonight, down at Demi Monde, Katrina Darling – the second cousin of Kate Middleton – will perform her burlesque routine. Darling will join my favorite double entendre DJ Miss Guy and the princely but not really truly royalty DJ Prince Terrence for a soiree. The event is to celebrate her cover of Playboy, although "Playboy is not a sponsor of this event.” I’m completely confused but feel comfy as the always enlightening Lyle Derek, Patrick Duffy, and Kimyon Huggins will surely fill in my blanks. Katrina was a burlesque queen before she fell into this Middleton muddle and is enjoying the luck.
Burlesque troupe Lady Circus will also provide some flesh for fantasy. Now the whole shebang will take place down at the aptly-addressed 90 "Broad" Street. There is also a celebration of Elle Macpherson’s new lingerie line "Intimates" and rock goddess Theo Kagin’s new makeup line “Armour Beauty.”
I caught up with Katrina Darling and asked her all about it
So you are coming back to the USA for a show at Demi Monde… what did you learn from your previous NYC burlesque experience, and how will it affect this performance?
With every performance, the venues and the audiences are different, so I’m always adapting and tweaking things to fit. I know that this time around the audience will be at a safer distance as I’m using fire in my performance.
Did you get to meet NYC’s burlesque queens?
Not whilst in New York, however the guys from The Slipper Room did two shows in Edinburgh and Glasgow a couple of years back, and I saw Julie Atlas Muze, Ms. Tickle, and many more. They’re two of my favorite performers; I’m more into the bawdy, provocative, modern burlesque than the mainstream stuff.
This cousin Kate thing… is it her problem, your problem, or anybody’s problem. Has anyone "talked" to you?
I don’t think it’s anybody’s problem! I’m a distant relative. I’ve been performing since I was 18. I’m not going to stop expressing myself through my art because some British journo showed up on my parent’s doorstep and decided to “out” me because I did a “God Save the Queen” act (I’m not the first girl to do a royalty-themed act). You deal the hand life throws at you and mine seems to be unfolding with some happy coincidences. That’s all.
What attracted you to this ancient art form, and where do you want to take it? With your new notoriety, has it become your entire world?
Well, as a child I was a show-off, and as a teen I dispelled my angst by performing in music bands. But as a young adult I stumbled across burlesque and toyed with my sexuality. I grew up in a small town and come from humble means; the gift of being able to express myself was a form of escapism for me. Being able to create a fantasy world is what I’ve been doing since I’ve had an imagination. I prefer a modern take on burlesque; for me, if the art form is to last it needs to evolve past nostalgia and into the present. As an entertainer, I love to parody the present pop culture and explore new skill sets. Ten minutes on stage isn’t too long, so you gotta make them remember it. As for the future, I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.
Playboycalled, and you said yes. Why did you do it? Was the money the primary factor or does it define you as your own person and, of course, drive your brand?
I’ve spent a lot of time admiring beautiful women and great minds. For me, it’s a privilege to be accepted into an institution and be a part of that history, alongside beautiful women and great minds. I had an amazing time working with everyone on set shooting the cover spread, and I’m proud of what was created.
What have you gained and what have you lost?
Reaffirmation that I am always going to be very decidedly myself, my mind, and my hair.
Your act includes “God Save the Queen.” Tell me about what you are saying with this royal reference.
When I created this act I was hanging out with a lot of the older punks in my area. They were pretty split on their ideals, but when discussing monarchy I was pretty much on the fence, listening to both sides of the argument. I guess, in my naivety, I thought the problem was I couldn’t relate since I came from such a different world. Which then led to me parodying this in my act.
Speaking of queens, you have large – how shall I put it? – broad appeal in the gay community. Tell me about that.
Well, someone asked me the other day if I thought it was weird for me to go on stage with my tittles out, having men gawk. I said "it’s not just straight men that come to shows; it’s straight women, lesbians, gays, trans, queens, blacks, white, Asians, Indians, young, old, rich, and those who don’t have two £1’s to rub together." And I’m humbled by everyone who takes time out of their life to watch me perform.
Your gigs are timed with NYC Fashion Week. Will you attend some shows? What appeals to you?
I am very excited for Fashion Week and I’m scheduling in as much as I can, including Marc Jacobs and The Blonds. However, as this is my first Fashion Week, I am more than open to show suggestions. I just want to absorb it and have a great time!
If Kate called you on the cell.. what would you say to her?
"Fancy a cuppa?" – tea, that is.
A half a dozen emails and a bunch of texts were a waste as tech problems plagued what was otherwise a stupendous party last night at Yotel. There were three DJs. I needed CDs, Roxy Cottontail, turntables, and Guy Furrow just needed a Serato hook up. I was stunned by minutes that seemed like centuries as techies fumbled with wires. My mood reflected in my set; I have to learn not to let the tech problems, the bad song requesters, and other distractions affect me. I am, after all, a professional disc jockey. Lady Starlight was scheduled as well, but a last minute bit of confusion sent her elsewhere. I caught her as she was leaving and I was arriving. She was fabulous head-to-toe and with a brilliant smile. I’m trying to reschedule to spin with her and interview her as well. Patrick Duffy put together last night’s shindig and he is just undeniable. The crowd was beautiful, fun, and dressed up.
Tonight, I will be DJing at the ever fabulous Yotel for the ever fabulous Mr. Patrick Duffy and his crew. That crew includes Darian Darling, Roxy Cottontail, Mint and Serf, and Henry De La Paz. Patrick always gathers wonderful crews. I will be joined in the booth by DJ Lady Starlight and am honored to be spinning with her. They are even promising a contortionist. The party is called Kung Fu Disco, as everyone is popping on the Chinese New Year. My set, which covers 55 years of rock and roll, leans heavily on the punk era. Handsome Dick Manitoba is punk rock royality. His bands, The Dictators and Manitoba’s Wild Kingdom, rocked my world for decades. Still, though he is a rock star, he is also a saloon keeper, a husband to the insanely beautiful and smart Zoe Hanson, and a father. His bar Manitoba’s is mentioned in way too many of my friends’ sloppy conversations. Tomorrow night, he is offering up his new band Manitoba and I asked him all about it.
Help me, I’m melting! I actually need someone to pour water over me as I just don’t do well in the heat. In a heat-of-the-moment decision, I decided to DJ for free, something my manager Adam over at 4AM frowns upon. The occasion was the Surf’s Up soiree over at Aspen Social Club, which was converted to “Aspen Surf Club” to catch the wave. When I got settled and shook a bunch of hands and kissed the babes on the cheeks I went to the DJ booth where DJ Life was killing it. His offerings of hip-hop, pop, and R&B was just what they wanted so I opted out and headed to Hotel Chantelle where I really wanted to catch Luc Carl’s set.
The Aspen Surf Lodge event had a door proceeds benefactor in the Rockaway Beach Alliance. Every hipster I know is heading out to beaches in Fort Tilden and Rockaway these days. The night before at The Darby I dined with Marky Ramone and his wonderfully-made Marion and my gal Amanda. Marky felt strongly that a street in Rockaway should be named after Dee Dee Ramone, who penned the classic Ramones track “Rockaway Beach.”
That song has tourists from all over the globe flocking there. Marky pointed out that Joey Ramone Place is at 2nd Street and Bowery, just a hop, skip, and jump from what is affectionately called the Ramone’s loft. It is actually the loft of artist, lighting designer, road guru and all-around genius Arturo Vega who I named my Chihuahua after. “Rockaway Beach” is one of the most recognized tracks from this seminal NY punk band, and a street for Dee Dee would indeed be sweet.
The air-conditioning failed to meet the test at Chantelle and, although we DJs did our best and the crowd tried to make a go of it, everybody ended up on the roof and partied under the stars. I had fun playing tracks that had some sort of heat reference including "Hot Stuff" by The Rolling Stones, "I’ll Melt with You" by Modern English, and eventually "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana. They say the air will be fixed, but it was a bit too late for last night’s party. I’ve always been taught to "never let them see you sweat"…last night, I failed.
I would be remiss and subjugated to much emotional distress by my friends celebrating Gay Pride if I didn’t mention it. My fabulous friend and fiend Patrick Duffy has done it again. A fabulous event will mark my introduction to OUThouse within the THE OUT NYC resort complex. The space is behind a red unmarked door at 510 west 41st Street between 10th and 11th. This is a private affair with a $50 6pm-9pm champagne-and-curated- cocktail reception so if you want into OUThouse you better hustle.
The gift bags are a "must" with “a gorgeous equality candle, jewelry by Chris Habana, and a skin spa gift and much more. The gala has a name: “The Garden of Earthly Delights," a very special Pride benefit for the Courage Campaign and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Campaign. The shindig is hosted by the ever-fabulous Amy Sacco, Peter Davis, Christopher Valiante, Michael Warner, and of course Patrick Duffy. DJ Angola will set the tone, and my favorite Monday Night Bingo buddy Murray Hill will perform. I wouldn’t miss it for the world …unless their air conditioning is on the fritz.
On the eve of the all new Dallas, we asked Patrick Duffy to compare and contrast the Dallas of his youth and today’s show. He obliged.
Compared to the new Dallas, which premieres on Wednesday on TNT, the pacing of the original was lethargic. It was a 13-year shaggy dog story, stringing the plot lines along in real time. There used to be an “Oh my God!” moment every three episodes. Now it’s every commercial break.
When Dallas first aired on CBS, it seemed there was no end in sight for the American oil boom. The conflict wasn’t one of natural resources, but of geopolitics and, of course, the internecine war waged between J.R., played by my friend Larry Hagman, and my character, Bobby Ewing. The show premiered in 1978 and the Iran oil embargo began two years later.
Now, if you talk to any oil company, they’ll say we have another 100 years left, maximum. Alternative energy is no longer a hippie pie-in-the-sky concept. It’s economically feasible. On the new show, you’ll see this as the dichotomy between old school and new school: J.R. and his son want to drill and find new oil, and my son Christopher and I want to secure a reasonable way to find alternative energy. One fights for the status quo; one fights for the future. Though we never explicitly state the political affiliations of the characters, I’d say Bobby is a Democrat and J.R. is a Republican. Time has only deepened each character’s sense of his own righteousness and allowed him to engrain it into his now-grown children. With the primary season and the presidential election heating up, the show couldn’t come back at a more perfect time.
No divorce is pretty, and some are less unpretty than others. The split over control of Far Western Manhattan establishment Boutique Eat Shop, or B.E.S., seems destined to get downright ugly. Venom behind the scenes has reached the lawyeristic level, and remaining management and the departing discontented both claim they each are the rightful owner of the B.E.S. name and logo.
B.E.S. has a history of trouble, dating from its life as Opus 22 and then Mr. West, and it would be easy to blame the location (most do when speaking ill of the joint). More recently, showrunner Patrick Duffy has exited the business in a cloud of ill will, much to the apparent relief of remaining boss Edward Lee.
Thinking ahead, Duffy filed a trademark claim on the B.E.S. name and sigil back in November 2010. After the breakup, his lawyer informed his ex-colleagues that they had until May 31 to cease using the name and mark on the current B.E.S. business; they have declined. Lee and his partners plan to contest the trademark filing, claiming the B.E.S. name and marks are their property. While they have yet to offer documentation to support their counter-claim, they characterize Duffy’s trademark filing as “fraudulent.”
For his part, Duffy has already moved on, taking a new job as creative director at Albert Trummer’s Theater Bar. When asked if he planned to open up his own version of B.E.S., he responded cagily, “I believe that I own the mark and that I am proceeding accordingly. I will act lawfully in all circumstances.”
Love and business affairs often end badly. The perfect stranger or lifelong friend can become a person that you never want to talk to again. Such is life. The pressures of club/restaurant world are often too much to endure, and the perfect arrangement becomes imperfect. The other day, Patrick Duffy called me to tell me about the end of his era at B.E.S., a restaurant he fronted, hawked, and curated quite publicly. I wrote about it under the incorrect assumption that Patrick’s departure meant the end of B.E.S. His era, it turns out, is not the end of B.E.S. His old pal and partner Edward Lee tells me that B.E.S. will be just fine, thank you very much. Eddie and I go way back, and I have always found him to be a professional, honest, and a reliable friend. I asked him a few questions about life after Mr. Duffy.
So the rumors of the demise of B.E.S. are greatly exaggerated. Patrick Duffy has left, but you’re still open. Correct. We are very much still open and managing sold-out brunches and dinners, and we have a fantastic new lunch menu. We have begun delivery service which caters to many of the galleries, local businesses, and surrounding neighborhood. Business has never been better.
What will Patrick’s departure mean? The staff morale, kitchen efficiency, quality of food and service, and the overall atmosphere of B.E.S. has never been better than it is today. 95% of the ownership is the same as the day we opened.
What changes will be made? We continue to rotate local artists and present their work. Currently we are showcasing Kevin Fey, who was a graduate of Cooper Union. The burlesque shows that were once presented at B.E.S. will no longer be, and we will present entertainment such as a jazz trio from the Manhattan School of Music at certain seatings. We also will be showcasing Broadway stars such as Tony nominees Chad Kimball, Isabel Keating, Alison Fraser, and others. We will also continue our reading series; next up is Marlo Thomas. All dates TBA. Watch our website!
Will the name remain? Absolutely. We are B.E.S. We are Boutique Eat Shop. We have no intention of changing our name.
Will someone new come in to be the face of the place? We strive to provide excellent food and service in a pleasing environment. One person does not make a dining experience successful. It takes a team, and at B.E.S. we now have the collective intelligence to make this a reality.
Is the location as negative as I painted it, or are there advantages to being off the beaten path? What have you learned from this experience? Our clientele speaks for itself. We remain very busy with regulars, which we love, and gallery foot traffic as well as walk-ins from the High Line and Chelsea Piers. Those who know us, love us. Those who find us are happy they did. And what have we learned? With organization and a dedicated team, dinner can be served.
The dream that was B.E.S., Patrick Duffy’s uber-fabulous restaurant and playground, has become a nightmare. After receiving a mass email sent to some “close” friends, I called Duffy to find out what was up. He told me of impossible hurdles and partners with different visions, and problems lurking underneath all those other problems. These are all the things people say when a place isn’t making money. The great Arthur Weinstein taught me that when a joint is making money, even partners that despise one another get along just fine.
B.E.S. has many problems, including location, location, location. The oldest cliché in business is that location makes the biggest statement, but it can be overcome if everything else clicks. The place didn’t click. Well, sometimes it did, but when you are located a million miles from life as we know it, it’s hard. I told Patrick that he had done everything humanly possible, but that it was uphill from the start. The place is beautiful, the crowd fun and relevant, but alas, the things that were not in his control — old debt, food, and at in the beginning, service — may doom the place. All were inconsistent.
I made waves once when I described some blueberry pancakes as tasting like an old bra with warm jelly on it. I have some experience with old bras, blueberries, and pancakes — separately and mixed together — and I stuck to my description. That didn’t endear me to some. Oh well. The place was too far away to gamble on a good meal. When I did go, it was for Patrick and Jordan Fox, and it was always worth the trip. Unless I was hungry. In fairness, sometimes I got a great meal, especially when it seemed that Patrick was in control of the kitchen. I am sure fingers and tongues will be pointed, but from what I could see and from what I heard from insiders, my man couldn’t stop the bleeding, as inexperience and attitude all around prevented him from making it work.
Patrick apparently has something lined up right across the street, and will of course be doing fabulous things very soon. I won’t worry about him. He said in his mass e-mail:
But have no fear, I am working on some very exciting new projects with an incredible team of collaborators. Every moment in life happens for a reason and I am extremely thankful and blessed for all I have received. I will keep you posted on the new ventures and all the wonderful things in OUR future! See you in the SUN! Mr Patrick Duffy”
I’m curious to see what happens to the space if B.E.S. goes down the tubes. The previous incarnations were all awful (Mr. West the worst), but alas, with its location at 559 west 22nd street, I just can’t imagine anything working. Another few steps and you’re swimming with the fishes.
UPDATE: A previous version of this post referred to B.E.S. as closing; manager Edward Lee weighs in to the effect that this is far from the case.