Diplo Headlines Huge Hush-Hush Event Tonight

Last night I bartended the Help Heal New York benefit at Pacha. I had not bartended since before you were born; the game has since changed. Here I am writing everyday about how to do this and how to do that, and my afternoons are spent designing bars so it was good to have this hands-on experience. I didn’t actually make a drink; I had minions to do that. I better correct: the love of my recent life, Amanda, made the drinks while I interacted with the patrons. It all went to charity – the price of admission, the drink revenues, and even the tips. The real Pacha bartender assigned to me, Megan, was amazing. Her smile and demeanor while slinging drinks for the cause and putting up with my antics was above and beyond. She is a great bartender and a wonderful new friend. Twenty-dollar bills and even some Benjamins flew over the bar to the tip bucket, which also benefits the cause. At one point I was squatted down picking up loot that slipped down from the bucket.

The DJs were just grand. I particularly loved Afrojack. I left before Erick Morillo went on, as I have to be up early for you…and looking good at that. At one point, Pacha owner Eddie Dean came by to hug and heckle me . He was accompanied by his sidekick, partner in crime, his "Tonto"… Rob Fernandez and DJ Sunnery. These guys threw money at us for the bucket as well-wishers gathered to shake hands and take pictures. All around us, thousands rose with the music… the love was apparent. DJ Sunnery , a big deal, was waiting to go on. He seemed as calm as a thoroughbred at the gate on derby day, ready to get this party started. I was told he is the nicest of persons and is married to the most beautiful girl in the world… Victoria’s Secret model Doutzen Kroes. I looked her up and, for sure, she is real, but alas I only have eyes for Amanda.  

Pacha is a monster. On every level, from the door to the staff to management, they are pros. Everybody talks a good game, but Pacha walks the walk. As those who know me know I am a rocker, and house or  EDM or whatever label is put on it in whatever decade doesn’t sooth this savage beast . That being said, being in a big room with a big DJ, big lights, effects and a big crowd is an experience unlike any other.

Before the bartending gig I was at 1OAK, tasked to DJ for Richie Romero at his birthday. I was to open for ?uestlove and Jesse Marco, and I had M.Ortiz opening for me. M.Ortiz was so great that I didn’t bounce him off, content to hear what he was offering. Amanda told me if I kicked him off, as some told me to do, she would "moida me.” Mr. M. Ortiz is getting ready for a British tour, and I expect we will be hearing his name often. He is really great. 1OAK was starting to fill up when the birthday boy finally showed. Richie Romero was zonkered as I wished him well. He has dodged almost as many bullets as your humble servant and it was good to see him surrounded by hundreds of friends and tacky balloons and such.

Tonight I will be at a big event in a big location…off the beaten path and super hush-hush as it’s sold out. Dos Equis is behind this shindig. Diplo will headline. There are six or so rooms of music and other distractions. I’m going to DJ for a short set along with Cobra Krames, Sam Valentine, David Katz, Justine D. Daniel Leyva, Fatherhood (Michael Magnan and Physical Therapy), Hayley Pisaturo, Shayne (Hood By Air), and 7aywana. There will be a lot going on at this happening and I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow. If you see me today, ask me nicely. I think there are three tickets left.

If I wasn’t obligated elsewhere, the place I would surely be is the Ava Lounge at the Dream Hotel up on 55th Street. A photo installation by Marko Kalfa will bring the sharp set. Liquid Lab, which I have to tell you about in depth on a later day, will provide fall cocktails. Fannie Chan wil DJ.

Another party worth checking out is the five-year anniversary of the Thursday Punk Rock Happy Hour at Otto’s Shrunken Head. My pals Traci Danielle and Joy Rider are doing the inviting.

The New Marquee: Believe The Hype

While the folks in Washington DC struggle to raise the debt ceiling, the good folks of Strategic Group have literally raised the roof on the redone Marquee which opened last night. The roof is now 30 feet high, which is unheard of. The front wall is dominated by a 24-foot LED screen which flashes and pops and keeps the energy up. Costumed go-go dancers did their thing on elevated catwalks while EDM banged on. I said it before and I’ll say it again (probably a few more times): Marquee in New York City dispels the adage, “What Happens In Vegas Stays In Vegas.” It also knocks down another common saying: “Don’t believe the hype.” Believe the hype people; Marquee NYC is built for speed, sound, and sight lines.

Literally everyone in clubland was there to see what has been hyped as the next big thing in clubland. It seems bigger than before, as volume will do that, though the capacity hasn’t changed. I spent my time chatting up club royalty like Jamie Mulholland, who has had great success with Caine, GoldBar, Surf Lodge, and all sorts of excellent etceteras. Noah Tepperberg tore away from his table of gorgeous jet setters to give me the $5 tour. We posed for pictures on the way.

For the most part, they stuck with the floor plan I helped devise around a year ago. There was some furniture that wasn’t on the plan but Noah told me that’s going since it will be a big room for dancing. shows, and events – with considerably less seating than the Marquee design that was so successful before this latest incarnation. Noah thanked me for my minimal effort, recognizing that I have always had a special attachment to the venue which I helped design a long time ago, in what feels like a galaxy far, far away.

Alacran Tequila honcho Artie Dozortsev chatted me up about his White Mezcal Tequila bottle and the pink bottle he’s hyping for Valentine’s Day. A percentage of sales of Artie’s hot product will go to a variety of breast cancer awareness charities, thus defying another old adage… nice guys can finish first. I hung with Bill Spector and Richie Romero and Paul Seres and Pascal and and and…. I stopped to congrats co-owner Jason Strauss who was herding a bevy of beauties past the door bureaucracy. The staff was brilliant and helpful. Some dude once said, "you can’t go home again.” Baloney! I went to Marquee last night and It felt like home. 

Being the nightlife veteran that I am, (for those that don’t know, I used to be Steve Lewis), I went to Strategic’s other hot property Avenue to see how it was faring on a night when everyone was at their new elsewhere. Avenue was packed with an eclectic crowd. Sam Valentine, a big-haired rocker, hosted a table that wasn’t aware of the hoopla 10 blocks up 10th Avenue. The programming of those who wouldn’t know about Marquee or who dance to the beat of a different drummer…er DJ… was an act of professionalism that should be noted.

Avenue was doing business, maybe not as usual, but busy. Let’s just say it was doing business as unusual. Strategic’s great minds brought in folks to pack the place while most of their efforts and their a-team were occupied with the Marquee opening. To a visitor unaware, it seemed like a great club night. I did a walk through 1OAK, which was gathering steam and ready to embrace the late-night crowd that it always gets. Marquee’s revelers would surely be packing booths in an hour or so. 

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The DL Begins Anew Tonight & Why You Should Never Call Me ‘A Legend’

Tonight marks a new beginning for The DL, a joint at 95 Delancey that was doing very well anyway…thank you very much. It’s luscious, sprawling, and enclosed rooftop brings the crowds – rain or shine, winter or summer. The launch of its Wednesday gala brings events on three floors, with notable DJs Prince Terrence, Carol Shark, Miss Guy, and Michael Cavadias on the top floor. Dirtyfinger and JLamar will be on the restaurant level as Sam Valentine and I recreate our rock and roll hootchie koo on floor two. I’m double dipping with an early gig at EVR, which attracts a totally adult fun crowd. My peers can pop by for a drink and still be asleep right after Letterman.

Seva Granik is behind this revival at The DL with partners Richie Romero and Bill Spector. I think this will a be back-in-the-day good time. Everywhere I go people pat me on the back and tell me how much fun they had in the "good ol’ days." They refer to me as "a legend," which always has me checking my pulse. To repeat some lyrics from my real "good ol’ days" …"These are the good ol’ days." Although I understand that I did some things back then that was all things to some people, I do very much like to be defined in the now. Now…tonight I will DJ 55 years of rock and roll from Carl Perkins to Rival Sons, and if you tell me I look good, I will smile but will be thinking less of you.

As I pointed out, The DL was doing fine before all this. Their restaurant serves serious food and they fill the place with great crowds who keep coming back for more. They will expand into more vigorously programmed weeknight soirees, timed to hit a warm weather season that sees them attracting throngs. I have been thinking about the first song for the new soiree and it will be "You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory’ by Johnny Thunders, a childhood friend. Yeah, I’ve been rolling and rocking for a minute.

Oh, lest I forget: Happy Birthday to Prince Terrence… Oh, and I’m back from that wedding in Puerto Rico, tanned from the hot sun and plump from mofongo. There may be a time, ladies and gentlemen, when you can truly say "Goodnight Mr. Lewis" as a future of quiet walks on endless beaches with puppies and my gal and friends on warm sunny days seems an inevitable conclusion to so many nights spent in so many loud rooms. I may end up swimming with the fishes after all, and the guy serving me Limber De Coco popsicles won’t think of calling me a legend.

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From Avenue to Bantam to the Diner: The Never-Ending Night

I try not to write too much about what you already know. Everyone knows the bottle clubs, the scene clubs, the celebrity, the jet-set joints where money is no object – but then again, it is the object. These places are often considered commonplace by the common man who dwells in hipster havens and dive bars. That perception is wrong. There is validity to what these operators offer, although they aren’t all things to all people. Most people can’t afford to party there or they lack the looks or connections to pass through their velvet ropes. Once inside there is always action. Although the bottom line is the bottom line, as it is in most businesses (including the nightclub business), these clubs deliver a quality good time to their often well-know audiences. The DJs often play a set that contains crowd-pleasing, familiar tracks, but the DJs themselves are great DJs and giving the people what they want makes it fun -and what in the name of God is wrong with pleasing a crowd?

Last night I whisked myself to Avenue for club mogul Noah Tepperberg’s birthday. He co-owns a lot of places. Off the top of my head, he has pieces of Marquee (NYC, Vegas, Australia), Lavo (NYC, Vegas), Tao (NYC, Vegas), Marble Lane, Ph-D Rooftop, the aforementioned Avenue, Artichoke Pizza. There are all sorts of pool entities and spin-offs of these places now. He has many reasons to be cheerful, despite being half the man he used to be. Well, not exactly half, but he has lost a lot of weight by watching what he eats and drinks, and working out with a new trainer who Noah introduced to me last night. Avenue was packed with the beautiful, the rich, and the famous last night. The energy was through the roof. I’m not going to mention the celebrities that I saw, as that comes with the no price for admission. Avenue is a gossip-free zone and those that go know that.

We bolted into the night and popped by 1OAK, which was just getting started. A late-night rush comes from sister space The Darby Downstairs which closes early by NYC standards. The Butter Group operators, which own these properties and Butter, understand that after a while, crowds want to hop, skip, and jump elsewhere, so they engineer that hop-over to another one of their spaces. Thus, 1OAK gets a big late boost. We chatted up a looking-real-good Richie Romero and said hello to all the familiar faces of the vibrant staff as we headed into the night. We strolled to No. 8, where Amanda danced with Amy Sacco who was simply being wonderful. I hadn’t been before, as I rarely get over to this hood during the week. Currently, they aren’t open on Saturdays, but will be when the summer spins away. I loved No. 8. The music was amazing. Amy, one of the best operators in this business, was an active part of the action. At 8, I saw countless familiar faces. The crowd was mixed and adult and I loved it.

Still, the night had me moving, and we headed to The Electric Room, where Angelo made sure we were happy. Nur Kahn is in Italy with The Kills. In the past, when Nur traveled, The Electric Room often lacked…electricity. He and I talked about that a couple months ago. Last night, the place was pumping. Amanda said, and I quote, "The thing about this place is that it never compromises. When you walk in the door, you always hear great music and find yourself amongst a cool crowd.” She isn’t taking over this column, but she is spot-on about this spot. The Electric Room was fabulous.

Outside we ran into pal Dean Winters who was out causing mayhem but not as seen on TV. We chatted him up in front of the Dream Hotel, where we also ran into Limelight producer Jen Gatien. Jen, me, and mine spent an hour trading war stories and catching up. I told her she gave me yet another 15 minutes of fame as Limelight is now On Demand on Showtime. I am getting stoppedeverywhere. Someone asked me who I wanted to play me in the sure-to-come epic movie about my life, and as I looked at this silly person, I reached into my bag of stock answers for occasions like this and deadpanned the answer: “… Denzel.”

After the very brief chuckles, we headed to The Darby. I just wanted to see it in action. I occasionally pop in to see how it’s wearing and tearing. Designers do revisit their babies just to see how the fabric is holding up. Design is theoretical until a place opens. I like to see what I could have done better and what is working just fine. Dean Winters joined us at the bar and we toasted to something important to that moment. I stopped by Bantam as I headed to the Bridge. It was a classic 3am crowd of revelers enjoying the moment and the sticky liqueurs. Bantam is great for that first stop or that last stop, and not bad if you’re caught in between.

After we left and had our late-night meal at a diner, we arrived home just as the sun was coming up. We got the leash on Lulu and went to stock up on diet sodas and popcorn and such. As usual, my head hit the pillow at 6am and here I am at 10am talking to you. Someone told me yesterday that not needing sleep is the sign of a genius. I don’t know if there’s any truth to that, but if it is true I suspect that he’s a very tired genius.

The Night Starts Early With Magnum Mondays

The word "nightlife" is becoming increasingly obsolete or at least inadequate to describe what is quickly becoming complete lifestyle control. Nightlife used to be a 10pm to 4am affair with the worst of us sneaking off to after-hours bars. Many nightlife-style restaurants catered to the clubbers, but there were very few which offered dining and dancing. The black and white movie clubs always did that back in an era where the swells wore tuxedos and gowns to go out. As recently as 2009, brunch became part of the game as nightlifers flocked to be together even during hours when they could actually see each other. Brunch isn’t just lunch in nightlife terms. There must be a DJ and dancing gals and standing on tables, and it isn’t over until a hundred trees-worth of napkins are tossed in the air.

Now comes Magnum Mondays at Celeste Fierro’s STK Midtown. Richie Romero, Mark Bau, and Craig Molesphini are taking the nightlife experience and providing it at dinner. The requisite DJ (in this case Sinatra), dancing girls, and a pairing with a different model agency each week is geared for the local after-work business crowd that occupies the nearby buildings so tall that even Superman couldn’t leap over them with a single bound. The Magnum Monday schtick is to encourage people to buy magnums of wine, champagne, and liquor, which, I guess, is to encourage socializing amongst tables. They are boasting about a Mad Men-meets-models environment. It all starts this coming Monday.

As I am a believer in all things Mark Baker, I will mention his huge Friday soiree, The Best Little Whorehouse in New York production/party this Friday. This shebang is happening at The Liberty Theater, which they say is "now fully operational." There are a slew of DJs and promises of all sorts of debauchery, scandal, and sin. Sounds like my second marriage. His last galas there—The Gangs of New York and Dressed to Kilt—were smashing successes, so here you go.

This Just In: DJs Erick Morillo & Afrojack Join Pacha Benefit

This old guy once wrote: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way…." The quote begins Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities.  He continued  "…in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only." Mr. Dickens offered this tome in 1859, but was referring back to the French Revolution days. He might as well have been talking about now, for New York is a tale of two cities. While many of us are sipping lattes and talking football and going to parties, others are struggling in the cold, displaced and in despair.  It is the worst of times for so many of our neighbors while most of us are busy as bees, forgetting the destruction and "inconvenience" the storm brought, and readying for the holidays.

Last night at BINGO at Hotel Chantelle, a packed house laughed and squealed with joy as regular hosts Murray Hill and Linda Simpson returned to the stage after a two-week Sandy-induced hiatus. They were joined by Michael Musto who proved to be a joy. Like almost every event worth mentioning these days, this night was dedicated to raising money for victims of Sandy. Specifically, BINGO raised much-needed funds for the Ali Forney Center which was flooded by the imperfect storm. Homeless LGBTQ homeless youth can drop in when they need a place. 

Tonight I will party like nothing ever happened at The Electric Room where the dapper Nick Marc will celebrate yet another birthday. Partner-in-crime Justine D. will DJ. Kodi Najm of Hypernova will host. There are rumors of a proper English celebration with everyone involved partaking in heavy drinking and partying. This is rock and roll, followed by some rock and roll and then quite a bit more rock and roll. I’ll be there.

Tomorrow night, Richie Romero will celebrate his birthday and has tasked me to open up for real DJs Jesse Marco and ?uestlove. This affair is at 1OAK and I am very excited about it. I love the staff of OAK and, of course, Mr. Romero. As is his way, Richie was complaining about his age and other trivialities. I’m going to play tracks older than him to cheer him up. I reminded him that I have shoes that are older than he.

As I wrote the other day, I will then whisk myself up to Pacha for their Help Heal New York Sandy benefit where they have me bartending. Since I will have my CDs and headphones with me, I stand ready to pitch in if one of the following DJs fail to deliver: DANNY TENAGLIA, FRANCOIS K, SUNNERY JAMES & RYAN MARCIANO,  Chainsmoker, 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 & MARTIN DANIELLE, PAIGE, BAMBI and THAT KID CHRIS. 

Just added as we go to press are superstar DJs Erick Morillo and Afrojack. This is a serious not to be missed event. There are some fabulous surprises that, because of conflicts and dotted i’s and such, can’t be listed here but will be appreciated there. Among that illustrious crew are DJs from my management company 4AM. Chainsmokers are whisking in from Singapore and are off on tour but are stopping by for this fundraiser. Dalton has been debuting his new house tracks along the Northeast corridor, making stops in D.C., Boston, and Philly. 4AM just booked me for New Year’s Eve … yeah, it’s coming up fast.

Please help those still without, and as the holidays approach, be aware of those unable to have a normal celebration. Help where you can.

Scores Opens for Boozeness

Or is that boobness? I got a call from my pal Richie Romero, who is a marketing director at the new Scores New York on 28th Street, around 8 p.m. last night as I was walking my dogs. “Have you written tomorrow yet?” he asked. My mind immediately went to that mural of Joe Strummer east of Avenue A on 7th Street which says, “The future is unwritten,” so I said, “No.” He told me to grab my camera and run over to him at the joint. I felt like Jimmy Olsen; I got the Canon out (see gallery) and changed my shirt as he promised the entire staff was there, and I am still single, and it was a Monday night, and the agenda till then was a book with a Gossip Girl interlude.

Lionel Ohayon of iCrave fame was hired to redo the old Scores and make it grand, and he has succeeded. Jennifer Goldman, director of marketing (I think I met four of those) was gushing like a new mother about the joint. I asked her about the club, and she told me in about 10,000 words how beautiful it was. Her first sentence: “It’s a Vegas experience for the high-end nightclub crowd, bringing back the heyday of Scores from back in the day.” Her last sentence: “Look, they even put in grommets — grommets on the chairs!”

I got a word in and asked if the economy was bringing a different type of person looking for employment. “A stripper is a stripper, and that hasn’t changed,” she said. “It’s hard to tell if the economy is bringing more of them to New York, as the business is seasonal and the Florida girls naturally migrate north with the weather.” She also pointed out that “bachelor party season is starting and that brings the girls to New York — it follows retail.” She gushed about the pink and blue runway, which I referred to as a magic carpet, and the place went wild. Owner Bob Gans, a real down-to-earth gentleman, liked it, and let’s see if I made history. Jennifer felt (along with everyone else in management) that this place is nice enough to function as a club even if it wasn’t a strip joint. I’m teasing her, as she is quite sharp and brings class as well as an enthusiasm, which will ensure success. Director of marketing Ronnie Sherman told me “the city is ready for a place like this.” I agree. I asked him if they were biting their nails a few months back when the economy was tanking; he nodded a yes, but told me he felt that the upswing is perfect for the opening of this new place.

Will Savarese gave me a copy of his “New American” menu, which will be available until 3:30 a.m. Will did wonders at Le Cote Basque (now Benoit). He was raving about his al torchio pasta with dried duck sausage, and for a minute my mind wandered from the 50 or so beauties who were having their orientation. One of the managers, a savvy woman who has seen a few things, yelled, “You know we’re all not going to get along, but we’re all here for the same reason — to make money!” There were 200-plus employees and lots of recognizable management types telling them how it works, while upper-tier execs listened in. Top management, top designer, top chef, topless girls — seems like a winning formula to me.

Scores New York will have a pre-opening party hosted by Strategic Group tonight, followed by the grand opening on Wednesday.

What’s the Scores?

imageLike a diabetic avoiding a candy store, I avoid strip clubs. I don’t want to want what I can’t have, and even if I could have it, I really truly don’t think I want it really anyway — I think. Anyways, I don’t frequent them, but whenever I would lumber down 27th Street (back when that was something some people did), the guys at the back door of Scores would flag me down and invite me in. They knew I wouldn’t go, but in some old school ritual they extended the invite anyway. My man Clint used to say, “A man’s gotta know his limitations.” I’ve got a weakness for women, and as Brian Ferry once said, “Love is the drug for me.” So anyway, I don’t go.

I have been told that my old friend Lionel Ohayon over at iCrave, one of the countries premier design firms, is finishing off this mammary mansion on West 28th Street — it boasts a spectacular fashion show of the future with a light-up glass runway as the main design feature. The runway is married to scores of giant flatscreen TVs where “the most beautiful girls in the biz” will wiggle their moneymakers for a moneymaking crowd. I’ve been told that Bob Gans of Metropolitan Lumber and Penthouse fame has licensed the name Scores for his latest topless adventure. My source points out the that Bob also licenses the name Penthouse for his other joint.

There will be a Robert’s Steakhouse with chef Will Saverice doing the honors. I am told that “this is a big deal and these are the best [bleep]ing steaks in town.” The “honey I don’t even notice the naked girls, I go for the steak” rap will surely work. Richie Romero will assume the title of marketing director, and I asked him what kind of crowd he would be directing to Scores. “An over-25 crowd making well upwards of 100k per year,” he said. He also told me that they have 19 private rooms, and he too emphasized the “great food.” Noah Tepperberg and Jason Strauss’s Strategic Group is launching the place on May 12, and I may have to go as I hear the food will be great.

When the sky was falling, I heard that the strip clubs were hit hardest because the expense-account, big-bonus crowd was cut down to size. It seems that the bailout has made these kinds of folk flush again, and it’s nice to know that the government money isn’t, as usual, being flushed right down the toilet. It’s refreshing that you can actually see it hanging there on the garter belt of “one of the most beautiful gals in the business.” Liquor? Well, as I said, I hardly even know her — oops, sorry — I hear they have the license in place.