Bottoms Up to Travis Bass’s Latest Nightlife Collaborations

As I told you earlier in the week, there is a lot going on as clubroom continues to play its never-ending game of musical chairs. Thank goodness I was left standing with the silly music playing sans chair many years ago and can quietly watch from the sidelines. Travis Bass, who had such a big hit with Madam Wong’s and Red Egg and those Swedish dinners on Delancey, has taken the revamped Tribeca Grand and made a go of it with a  pop-up bar. He insists it’s not really the TriBeCa Grand because it has its own entrance, but it still is so shhhh, Travis, I mean what’s the point. He also is calling it a pop-up because, like many things in nightlife, the parties come with an expiration date. That date is still undetermined but a guess would put it in mid-November.

At that time, the EMM Group’s much anticipated 199 Bowery space will open. I drive by it almost every day and just love the Monopolgy motif on the construction barrier. EMM’s foray into downtown fabulous includes ex-Collective Hardware maniac Stuart Braunstein and, I hear, ex-White Noise and ex-Mansion man Luke Brian Sosnowski. Luke has a downtown sensibility but also has the ability to sell bottles. This is promising to be a bit of what The Box offered, without the shock and awe. They are looking for talented performance-types, and my guess is that this space will be a hybrid of what EMM does and what these and other players do. It may just scratch that all-things-to-all-people itch that nightlife hasn’t returned to in a bit. The developing cabaret, performance club on Bowery seems highly exportable to cities like Vegas and AC. This is a winner.

Here, Travis Bass gave me all the details about the yet-to-open Bowery spot, pop-up bar, his role in it all, and his greatest weakness.

You launched Tribeca Grand at the close of Fashion Week. Was that a strategy?
We didn’t want to launch the “Bottoms Up” pop-up bar on a high during Fashion Week and then have half our crowd leave for Europe for three weeks, taking us down to a lower note. So we launched it when they were gone and it did amazing! Now everyone is talking and hearing about the pop-up party known as “Bottoms Up.” Now that everyone is back from Paris Fashion Week, we are gonna take it to a higher note!

What goes on here? Who comes? How has this place reinvented itself?
What goes on down there is magical. People have really been able to lose themselves and dance their asses off! The crowd is much of the same loyal fashion/art downtown crowd that we have picked up along the way since Red Egg and Madame Wong’s, with some new faces mixed in that are really into this new concept of dancing a bit and then hiding.

First off… Bottoms Up is not in the Tribeca Grand Hotel, but a world onto itself. You can’t enter through the hotel. We took the space into the basement and turned it upside down and made it the place you come to party and dance all night! Before that, it was a great space to see big bands and go to early parties. We built it out as a place you can go crazy on the dance floor or vanish into all the hidden spaces. It’s a place where you can escape from everything that is happening on the streets above you. We were going to call it “Pop-Up Vegas” as it feels like a casino, in the fact that time there has no meaning.

199 Bowery opens, and you leave. What can you tell me about EMM Group’s latest adventure and your role in it all?
The space on Bowery is going to be amazing. It will be a culmination of everything that my team and I have been doing for the past two years. The space will be like nothing you have seen before and, using the abilities of EMM, we will be able to curate experiences that have never been possible before in our scene.

Are you a promoter? A curator? A director? All of the above? More?
Dictator or Director?? Ha!

I think the best way to describe me would be all of the above, except a promoter. I put together the team and then work with my team to curate the room. I like to come into a space that no one else wants or even thinks about, move a few things around and punk it out for a few bucks so we make the money back the first weekend. 

What are your strengths and weaknesses?
My #1 strength is my ability to surround myself with an amazing team that truly loves each other and will go to battle for each other — Eamon Kelly (Best Friend/Door), Vance Brooking (Best Friend/sweetest human alive), May Kwok (Best friend/DJ) — all three have been with me since Madame Wong’s and Red Egg. Our bartenders Dave Mason and the two George’s have also been with me since Wong’s as well

My weakness is trying to find a balance in life while being in the nightlife industry. Being a healthy person that does clubs is a contradiction of terms. I am in love with the punk rock lifestyle and attitude of doing clubs, and it really hurts the day after.  Like many people that do clubs, we all need to find a balance between the late nights and having a normal life.
 

Super Linda More Than Super, Three-Day Pop-Up This Weekend at Chrystie 141

Bingo was riotous as usual. Murray Hill and I talked about his May tour with Dita Von Teese. After all that, we kissed our crew goodnight and walked the cool night to Chinatown. The Wo in Wo Hop still stands for wonderful. Encouraged by hearty soups and dumplings, we braved the cold night to visit Matt Abramcyk and Serge Becker’s newish hot spot Super Linda. My dear friend Travis Bass was blowing up my phone, begging me to come. We passed The Odeon and I told Amanda that 20-something years ago it was the hottest place in New York. Today it is just perfectly amazing. We entered Super Linda and immediately knew it was just super. There, a small, sharp set were lounging casually in booths and tables. Vance Bookings held court, surrounded by all his unusually beautiful suspects. I introduced Amanda to Cordell Lochin, and he and I exchanged the secret handshake and a hearty hug. The deep booth had Serge Becker and his crew of hip jet-setters talking the talk. Serge got  up and gave me the tour. He explained how the new lights for the dining room had not arrived as of yet and that there were still some finishing touches to the design coming in the next two weeks or so. I loved it. The downstairs had the right amount of hiding spots and comfy booths and there was some great detailing to the paneled wood walls. It’s opening soon. We talked a bit more about the biz and small wonders and then I visited the always excitable Travis Bass at the bar.

He introduced me to Richie Cheung, the owner of that 141 Chrystie space. I exclaimed "OMG (I say that sometimes), you must hate me." I reminded him that I had written a scathing review of his place when it opened. He said, "Oh, you’re Steve Lewis! No hard feelings. You were just doing your job and we’ve made many changes for the better." I loved Richie. I would have popped me in the nose . I felt so strongly about it I almost popped me in the nose. Instead I promised to visit the new and improved space Friday. Travis ,as his norm, never shut up about this and that and what he was doing at 141. He gushed, "I am doing a three-day pop-up at 141 Chrystie Street from Thursday through Saturday next week. It will be a raging dance club party theme. Think Ibiza or rave party with the Red Egg crew and crowd. I am going to do giant balloons and projections and laser beams."

I’m always a sucker for giant balloons and laser beams, so I agreed to go Friday. Anyway, Travis wasn’t taking no for an answer. I couldn’t come Thursday, I explained, as I am DJing at Hotel Chantelle. I expected him to ask me to put on a long song …say "White Lines" and pop over for a hot minute to see his pop-up. He continued (he always continues), "Gonna bring back the old New York high-energy dance club! No more lounging bullshit! NYC is all about fun and we are bringing that back."

He told me he was doing dinner parties downstairs at Super Linda and I almost asked him if that wasn’t sort of "lounging bullshit," but I needed to get home before sun up to write this piece. New York needs Travis’ energy. We are so often ruled by the blasè. He may be a lot of things but he certainly isn’t blasè. We kissed everyone goodbye and headed to Brooklyn to our humble home and puppy and cat. I loved Super Linda; it’s intelligent and adult-offering in a nightlife world increasingly dominated by the unfabulous…the blasè.

Sandy Relief at Pacha & The Bottoms Up Controversy

You can’t throw a rock without hitting a benefit for Sandy relief efforts and so it should be. The other night, a singer in a sleazy place proclaimed her performance was to help with Sandy relief. A friend who wasn’t born yesterday quipped in my ear that "she just renamed her cat Sandy.” "Hmmm," I replied more brilliantly than it reads. I’m sure there is some of that, but these days I am believing in people. One person I can always believe in is the brilliant producer of The Love Show and an inspired performer in his own right: David F. Slone, Esquire. Last night, his Love Show, which happens every Thursday at Hotel Chantelle, before Sam Valentine’s Generation Wild party where I DJ along with him and Luc Carl, ran way over, as performer after performer had the crowd in shock and awe… and stitches. They passed the hat and raised some loot and the spirit was wonderful. Every cloud has a silver lining and without trivializing the pain and suffering still afflicting our neighbors. Sandy has gotten people working together again for a greater good. The Obama election has helped turn the mindset from the fears and loathing a Romney win would have meant. The Love Show benefit gave 100 percent of the money collected at the door  to The Brooklyn Recovery Fund to benefit Sandy’s victims.

Angela Harriell & The Love Show Dancers!
Harrison Greenbaum: Award-Winning Comedian/Magician – Comedy Central’s ‘Comics to Watch’ and winner of the Andy Kaufman Award!
Kissing booth with everyone’s favorite late night lover, Manchego!
Award-winning quirky songstress, Jessica Delfino!
Performance genius, Eric Schmalenberger!
Tight harmony singers, The Shirtwaist Sisters!
Vocal powerhouse, Corn Mo!
Sweetheart of the Sideshow, Lady Aye! 

Eric Schmalenberger slayed us as Miriam, his alter ego whom I personally like way more than Eric. In a drunken drawl, Eric…er, Miriam proclaimed "Hella fun night. My only fear is tomorrow I’ll give the NY Blood Bank blood/vodka.”

The highlight of the show was when my editor Bonnie Gleicher, out on her blind date with the debonair Craig Clemens who donated $500 to MS for the privilege, pulled a large sword out of the throat of Lady Aye. Do not try this at home.

Next Wednesday, Nov.14, I will be a guest bartender at Pacha for their gianormous HELP HEAL NEW YORK Sandy relief benefit. The DJs I can mention include DANNY TENAGLIA, FRANCOIS K ,SUNNERY JAMES & RYAN MARCIANO, SHERMANOLOGY, DANNY AVILA ,D BERRIE ,AUDIEN, HARRY CHOO CHOO ROMERO, SHAWNEE TAYLOR (live) ,CARL KENNEDY, HECTOR ROMERO, DAVID WAXMAN, CEVIN FISHER,, THEO, HEX HECTOR ,PAUL RAFFAELE, CODES, ROXY COTTONTAIL ,SAZON BOOYA ,DALTON ,SIK DUO, CARL LOUIS & MARTINDANIELLE ,PAIGE, BAMBI, THAT KID CHRIS. There are many more , but I’m sworn to secrecy. Eddie Dean and Rob Fernandez (RPM) are always spot-on in their bookings, as evidenced by them asking me to bartend.

The Greater New York Red Cross will receive 100 percent of the proceeds from door, bar, and coat check. Doors will open at 5pm and stay open till 5am. If you do come to my bar, order beers and simple drinks or else you’re going to have your own private little benefit. For the record, I entered the business as a bartender . How long ago??? Well, back in that day when you ordered vodka on the rocks and it came in a stone mug  poured over pebbles. And it wasn’t Grey Goose.; it was Grey Pterodactyl.

Oh and on another note. I’m going to a "sneak peek" preview of BOW, that much anticipated EMM Group entry at 199 Bowery, shared with FINALE. Travis Bass, ex-Madame Wong’s and Red Egg and recently Bottoms Up is doing the inviting. They say the place isn’t quite done and neither is Travis nor me for that matter so it might be fab. I’ve told you that I think this place might be a game changer and I’m anxious to see how right I am. Even if I’m only 10% right,  tonight, I anticipate much more as BOW is only part of a 20,000 square foot hospitality entry being unleashed by EMM at 199.  Travis always delivers. I heard that his off-again on-again incarnation Bottoms Up at the Tribeca Grand was often off-again because the hotel people didn’t much like the wear and tear Travis’ crowd inflicted on the furniture and decor. Now that sounds like my kind of party.

Curse of the ‘Wong’ & the Disappointing Flick ‘Drive’

It may be a bad idea to put the word “wong” in your club’s name. A bartender friend of many years called me to scout out some work for him, reporting that “Suzie Wong has been closed by the SLA.” Now, if a bad club closes on a deserted Chelsea strip, does anyone hear about it? This news comes on the heels of Madame Wong’s closing at the start of Fashion Week. That joint moved a little to the left and up to Red Egg without skipping a beat. I can’t imagine Suzie Wong landing on its feet anywhere that doesn’t require passing through multiple toll booths.

Since he is so amazing at his job you’ve probably heard this ten times already, but anyway, my favorite Brad—not in Rocky Horror Show—Brad Zeifman, of Shadow PR, has just been named Publicist/P.R. Executive of the Year by the prestigious Biz Bash New York Readers Choice Awards. This puts to rest the adage that nice guys finish last. A regular sweetheart, Brad has worked long and hard to make a name for himself. I worked with him back in the day when he was working for someone else I can’t remember at a club that slips my memory. Congrats Brad!

I missed the Tony Bennett: Portrait of an Artist opening party last night at the Morrison Hotel Gallery on Prince Street. It featured the photography of his acclaimed granddaughter Kelsey Bennett and Josh Cheuse. It was timed to coincide with the release of his new album, Duets II. The public (you) are welcome starting today, but don’t expect Tony to be around. He’s in the middle of a swirl about some political remarks regarding the World Trade Center and I figure he will be busy doing damage control. Maybe he should call Brad.

Also on my list of things I shoulda-if-I-only-coulda attended list was last night’s opening of Tolani Tribeca at Theater Bar.

The blurb: “Owner/Mixologist Albert Trummer and Tolani Executive Chef Luis Ulloa have teamed up for a three-month limited engagement with a Tribeca cocktail/dining concept. Tolani will be taking the stage at Theater Bar for three months featuring a combination of Tolani favorites paired with Trummer’s signature cocktails.”

Well, I can’t seem to get that clone thing going so I’ll just have to miss a few openings and catch them on day 2,3, or more—it’s so often better that way. The true measure of a new joint may not be the opening night when the kinks are being worked out and all of the fabulous are turning out. Take a peek at a place a week after it opens and you will know more. I used to only open on Saturdays and then stay closed till the Friday after to have a chance to correct and maybe enhance.

Despite my insane schedule, which has me getting up at 7am and to sleep around 3am, I did catch Drive, that new Ryan Gosling flick that everybody is talking about. I not only hated the movie and thought it was utter nonsense but I have decided to cut off any of my acquaintances who liked it. My Facebook 5,000 may recede to a mere grand but that’s the way I roll. It’s Shane with the hot newcomer trying to help out the hot wife and cute kid against the bad guys the husband can’t handle. Missing was, of course, any talented actors and Shane director George Stevens. The guy in charge is from Copenhagen and is as clueless as a Dane would be about the way people talk to each other on streets and in violent situations. The elevator scene was so amateurishly done that I just had to laugh. This movie is horrible. My man Marc Henry (who is moving from Double Seven to another hot spot Catch) texted me from the make out row to say that it was just a waste. Its only redemption was that Ryan Gosling did not take off his shirt. Just drive by this one. I’ll be at the Limelight premiere tonight. That will be better.

Oh, and I just got my ex-pooch Arturo tattoed on my arm by Alex at Thee Kings Tattoo. It has given me closure after the loss of my bestest friend and co-conspiritor. Now he will always be with me.

image