Champagning Wednesdays Tonight, Spotted: Scarlett Johansson Getting a Tattoo

This Sunday I will DJ at the VAR Magazine launch at the Wooster Street Social Club (43 Wooster, Grand and Broome). Everyone knows the space from NY Ink. I have attended a couple of functions there and am looking forward to this event. I’m trying to arrange getting a tattoo in between DJ sets. There are a bunch of bands so I might be able to get a quickie. Has this been done? I’m such a visionary. It is an "art of tattoo event.” They say:

"The purpose of the event is to launch VAR’s inspired vision of tattoo and body art into mainstream culture. VAR recognizes the accessibility preferences of its readers and that with digital media and blogging comes on-demand video and audio interviews, image, and text at the tap of a finger or the click of a mouse. VARs first issue will focus on the desire for accessibility while returning to the tradition of fine art’s elite status as tactile object by publishing a traditional print edition."

FUSE TV’s very own Juliya Chernetsky will be the host for the evening. Sally Shan was my point person. I’m about to start a new round of tattoos and this is a good place to start.

Speaking of tattoos, the other day I caught Scarlett Johansson at Graceland, one of my favorite haunts, getting some ink. I don’t know what she got. Maybe I do, but I’ll leave that stuff to the gossip columnists. Speaking of gossip, I heard that one of my favorite heroines of nightlife is planning on a Meatpacking venture. Amy Sacco who has been, I am told, winning in London, is set to open up again in New York. If this is true, it is truly a reason to be cheerful. Nobody does it better than Amy.

My pal Nick Andreottola (I can never say his last name right…let alone spell it) is constantly inviting me to his highly successful Champagning Wednesdays at the Dream Hotel. Tonight I must venture up there – the one on 55th Street – because he has DJ Teal working for him. The idea of this early midweek event ( it goes from 6:30pm to midnight) appeals to me. This week, the party has moved upstairs to the Ava Penthouse Lounge of the hotel due to construction downstairs. A rule in nightclubs: if it’s not broke, don’t fix it but immediately export it to another location… and then another. So it goes with Champagning!

Downtown is being launched on Thursdays from 7pm till midnight at Villa Pacri (55 Ganesvoort) in the Meatpacking District. Bobby Blaze will provide the music. Villa Pacri provides an indoor and outdoor space so this figures to be a great early evening place to go to before the late night Meat mayhem.

Last Night’s Var Magazine’s Launch Event: I Got a Tattoo

 A long time ago, there was this club called Palladium. It was my job to fill its 108,000-square-foot space about five nights a week with people that mattered. To give you an idea of how big that is, it is more than two Webster Halls and maybe 15 Marquees. Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager were on top of the pyramid and were really great at bringing in top-tier celebrities to create the shock and awe such gigantic places needed. In this modern era, superstar DJs drive the car. Back then, it was Yoko and Liza and Rick James and Andy Warhol. Palladium never lived up to Studio 54 -Steve and Ian’s previous project – but it did have its moments. We did do 3,000 to 5,000 people, five nights a week. It was a pre-bottle universe but people drank a lot more and most paid admission.

I learned many lessons working for these geniuses of nightlife. The specifics were lost in time, but there was this party, and Madonna was going to be there …she really was supposed to. We were even allowed to say it, but we opted not to. The thought process was that we were going to sell out anyway, but if we said that Madonna was going to host or pass through or whatever then everyone would be focusing on that and not the party. The theory went on that if she does show, then everyone will be energized, as it will come as a great and wonderful surprise. Madonna ended up showing, sitting on the backbar, and reading the magazine that prompted the party. It was a party where the anticipation of the celebrity didn’t squash the fun.

Another event at Palladium was an Elite Model soiree. Again, we opted to limit promotion to the model agencies’ list. We didn’t tell our adoring public about the event. The logic was that model agency parties attracted the worst kind of guys and it would be swell if people came and saw a place packed with long-legged beauties. Without knowledge of the event, they might think it was like that every night. I did a good job.

Another time we produced a Koshin Satoh fashion show. He did clothes for lots of famous folk like Miles Davis and Rick Ocasek and Andy Warhol. Again, we knew Andy was going to show but we left it an undiscovered secret. The crowd that came was pumped up by his presence and the party was off the hook. For me, having the party off the hook was more important than a Page Six mention. He was swarmed by the press, including a TV crew who asked him why he had come for the Koshin Satoh show and he replied "Because Koshin designs clothes for Don Johnson.” The interviewer didn’t understand and said "So?" and Andy deadpanned: "Oh, because I think I look like Don Johnson." I held back my laughter as she went away confused and happy. Andy let loose a small smile as she skitted away.

I was mad about Andy. You can take all your Guitar Heros, DJ Megastars and whose-reality-is-it-anyway TV stars and toss them away. Andy was my reason to be cheerful. My clubs and the great clubs of this day are driven by the great crowds and off the hook parties. Word of mouth, amongst the people who actually got in past the door staff, was and remains more important than housewives reading gossip in the NY Post or other periodical. Most savvy operators realize their revenue streams aren’t driven by mentions in Us Weekly.

Last night I attended the VAR Magazine launch event. In fact, I was the DJ. It was a great party. Everyone had a blast. Sally Shan did a fantastic job. She will be happy when she reads this. She is sleeping now because she put everything into it. At the event there were whispers that Ron Wood, out and about pushing his book, would show and that Adrian Grenier was going to perform. These whispers didn’t become the focus of the event because Sally and the other organizers didn’t let the celebrity or the anticipation of one get in the way of a good event.

The Wooster Street Social Club, known as that tattoo place on NY Ink, was the setting for this bash. One of the highlights of the evening was me getting a tattoo while spinning records…well, CDs. Has this been done before? You can Google it if you think it’s important. You can even call the Guinness Book of World Records or start an event where everyone leaves with a tattoo to remember it. Luke Wessman did my tat. Even though the event was wonderful, in time it will fade in memory for even those who had a blast. I won’t forget it, as the ink will always be there to remind me. What did I get?… Andy Warhol’s signature… of course.

Buckler Soirèe, Sally Shan on the Winter Film Awards, and A Night Ending with Bereket’s Lamb Platter

I made the rounds in the Lower East Side/Nolita last night and, as usual, lingered too long at some places and therefore never got to other places. After the great Buckler soirèe at The Elsinore, I stopped at The Orchard House which was having a relaunch or preview of the new reincarnation. Scores of people I haven’t seen in a minute were making a scene. It was fun. I introduced Hotel Chantelle’s Kyle O’Brien whom I am DJing for tonight to nightlife empress Sally Shan. Sally and I used to hang, but life often pulls people who want to hang down different paths. She has made a name for herself, going from a sub-promoter drawing a dozen or so people, to throwing events for hundreds. She was with a wonderful restauranteur from San Juan, Steven Yiu. He owns the East restaurants there. We became fast friends and I promised to visit him on my next visit to the island. I told him about a super-secret, totally amazing sandwhich shop on the wrong side of the tracks. Guys like me seek out such places where time and the changing world haven’t yet corrupted. I directed him to this small spot where in-the-know locals of all classes wait in line for a half hour to try a Jerezma or seven potencias sandwhich. The place can be found behind  a Marshalls parking lot in Santurce. Steve affirmed that the hood is, well… quite hoody… and he has never heard of it but is heading there straight off. I told him to travel heavy. It’s worth it.

Sally is working on the events for the Winter Film Awards. She studied acting and directing at the very prestigious Central Academy of Drama in Beijing .She told me, "I’m really happy to organize the Winter Film Awards events. Being from the film industry, I know how much passion everyone puts into their work. Our after-parties will be able to truly celebrate and congratulate the filmmakers and actors for their accomplishments in film this year. The inaugural Winter Film Awards Festival celebrates cinema and performing arts in New York, February 9-12. The First Annual Winter Film Awards will air on American primetime television, featuring the winners for best studio film, indie film, and emerging performing artist."
Here is the press release about the festival:
The Winter Film Awards (WFA) is a celebration of cinema and the performing arts. The 2012 Winter Film Awards Festival will run from February 9-12 with a series of award ceremonies and special events.The star-studded launch event will take place in New York City on Thursday, February 9, 2012. The awards show will air on American Primetime Television, a new IPTV multi-platform network, distributed by Omniverse TV reaching over 45 million households.
“We are delighted to showcase the best of the best in film and performing arts at our festival and to have our award winners featured on APTV as part of its dynamic original programming”, says WFA President George Isaacs.”
As a precursor to the Oscars, the 2012 Winter Film Awards Festival will launch with the Winter Film Awards Major Studio and Latin Film Awards gala, which celebrates the outstanding film achievements of 2011, as recognized by the WFA Board of Governors. The Major Studio and Latin Film Awards will be presented on Thursday, February 9th, 2012, in NYC and will be nationally televised on APTV. On Friday, February 10th, 2012 awards will be presented for excellence in independent film to filmmakers who deliver outstanding work, but have not yet received a distribution deal. Award winners will receive national exposure on APTV. February 11th and 12th will round out the festival with the WFA Film Festival and Performing Arts showcase.
As part of the Competitions section of the festival, the performing arts showcase will be a forum where individuals from all areas of performing arts will compete for awards.  WFA is proud to announce its partnership with Cringe Humor for the comedy awards and live stand up competition.
The WFA Film festival is an IMDB-qualifying film festival.  WFA Call for Entries is officially open and filmmakers can submit their work here
Sally will be throwing the following events. Contact her on the world wide web for more info.
Fri, Feb., 10th starts 10-11PM at Hudson Terrace (w/ a one hour open bar); Sat, Feb., 11th starts 9-10PM at Sky Room (w/ one hour open bar); Sun, Feb., 12th starts 9-11PM at 1OAK (Awards Ceremony).
On the way home, I walked trhrough the wondrous snow with the intent to stop by Open House for a hello to Stylelikeu’s Jordan Middendorf at her pre-Fashion Week gala. Alas, as I passed Bereket, that wondrous joint of lamb kebob and late-night encounters, I was waved to by DJ Reach, with his billion dollar smile and my man Ash. I went inside and we talked for an hour, joined by a dozen or so denizens of the deep night who popped in to say hey or grab a bite. We shot the breeze and other stuff until it was too late to go anywhere but to bed in BBurg. My night’s agenda was a dozen or so "must attend" parties, but as it wound up, I just hit a few parties but reconnected with a dozen or so old friends and made a couple of new ones. I felt warm and fuzzy as I ate my delicious lamb and rice platter with Lulu and Buster. Amanda is back from a short trip today. I couldn’t sleep in her absence so I finished the first season of Heroes as the morning light told me last night was done and I could move forward with the purpose of today.

The Man Show: No Girls Allowed in NYC Nightlife

A casual conversation yesterday ended with much confusion and no conclusions. Is New York nightlife one of the last/worst industries for women executives? I went online and read about progress in the workplace throughout America. I read how the disparity in wages and the percentages of women in management is chipping away at the gender gap. Yet in nightlife the opposite seems to be the case. With Bungalow 8 still closed and not likely to open anytime soon, nightlife’s leading lady Amy Sacco is without a NYC base. And with a hundred joints banging bottles and blasting beats, I can’t think of a single gal running a big show. Ariel Palitz has Sutra, a small but very viable offering on 1st Avenue and 1st, and I’m sure my wonderful readers will tell me about a pub here, or a joint there, but progress to the top of the heap seems to be stalled.

Jennifer Worthington was the go-to gal over at Spotlight Live, but things went sour and that place is as dead as Julius Caesar. Nell Campbell was the name and reason to be cheerful over at Nell’s, and Regine was Regine’s namesake, but that was last century and hardly relevant to this conversation. We’re just talking here and, in truth, this thing is going to take a lot more thought and coffee than I got going this morning.

Suzanne Bartsch is absolutely, undeniably the queen of the queens. Her Sunday parties still rule, but it’s one night a week and a New Years, maybe. Where are the women in charge? Sure there are door girls and lots of managers and some DJs and some promoters. I remember when I interviewed Sally Shan, a very nice person who happened to be female and had the audacity to enter the fray as a promoter. The public and other bloggers attacked her with a vehemence usually reserved for peeps like Justin Ross Lee. Maybe audacity was not the right word. Maybe the right word would be “balls.” Maybe they attacked her because she had the balls to try to break through and this ultra-male orientated business, and they couldn’t handle it. Sally is still around, working 8 days a week and has done all right. But she’s usually just one gal promoter among a pack of wolves. That’s hardly a victory for women’s equality.

There are those women behind the men, notably Mary Boudereu, who is the glue that keeps those Strategic Group fellows together. At Marquee, it was Mary that kept all the wheels spinning. Once at Home, Guesthouse and now Greenhouse and Juliet Supper Club, Megan Gaver is owner Jon B’s number 2, 3, 4 and so on. Frankly I wouldn’t talk to anyone else over there. It’s Richie’s sister, Jackie Akiva, doing it and doing it well over at Butter/1Oak. Everybody knows that the distance between being number 2 and number 1 is an ocean. Gals like Voula often think about opening a place, but just fall short. Of course there are the lesbian event and marketing groups which, thank god, are owned by women. But the glass ceiling in nightlife seems as low as a cocktail table.

The exception: PR women are a force in nightlife PR and always have been. Susan Blond and Claire O’Conner (who ran Limelight for Peter Gatien) were trailblazers and are now joined by bevies of bright ladies telling the exciting story for the clubs, keeping them in — and sometimes out — of the papers and handling big events. It is only here that women are holding their own. There are handfuls of relevant women DJs, ie, Samantha Ronson, Eve Salvail, Roxy Cottentail and Rekha, who followed pioneers like Anita Sarko, Jackie Christie, Jazzy Joyce and a small group of others … but the big slots are dominated by the guys. There are the gal bottle hosts, but enough has been said about that and it doesn’t in anyway help the feminist cause I’m beating around.

I’m going to think about the why’s and the why nots and come back to this. In a modern world and a business that used to be so forward, it seems so backwards and plain dumb that more woman aren’t calling the shots. Maybe it’s time for nightlife to get in touch with its feminine side. Maybe it’s as simple as seeing women in a different light. Nightlife looks at the dames as if they are commodities. Promoters are hired to bring babes to toyland. A promoter is often only judged as good as the number and “quality” of the models he can wrangle. Often, I hear promoters say things like “he has lots of B girls while I have the ‘campaign’ girls.” Cocktail waitresses are not thought of as people, just smiley skirts — bait — to lure the big fish. Sometimes they’re the “half-hookers” of tabloid lore. In this atmosphere of objectification, how can a women hope to be respected?

A Response to ClubPlanet’s Most Hated People in Nightlife

In an article appearing on his Clubplanet blog, Justin Ross Lee named the “Top Ten Most Hated People in New York Nightlife,” a list in which he includes himself. I like the idea of this list, specifically the idea of identifying who the biggest assholes and bullies are. I just think Justin’s list is a little too narrow. With the exception of Strategic Group honcho Noah Tepperberg, he names the puppets and not the puppeteers. I became aware of the list when promoter Sally Shan, who made the list, asked me what she should do about it. I had just written about Sally, and she told me it had reinvigorated her haters, which is odd since she is certainly not a bad person. In fact, she is hard working, moral and somewhat pleasant. Promoters like her are motivated by many things — money, glamour, excitement — but the need to feel loved is at the core of it. This is especially true for Sally, since her big heart doesn’t take criticism well.

My advice to her was not to worry. “I was on the top of lists like that for years!” I said, “If you don’t have a few haters, you’re doing it wrong. Promoters are generally people who, besides the money, seek admiration. Those going down that road will have haters throwing dirt at them. The bigger you get, the bigger the target you become. Feel sorry for those who find satisfaction in hurting others … they are merely moths to your flame since they have no light of their own. Otherwise they just live in the darkness of their own making.”

This seemed to cheer her up, and as any good promoter would do, she proceeded to publicize the mention proudly. Others on the list include Matt Lipman, a promoter who flies under my radar, so how bad can he be? Adam “The Glove” Glovsky is another promoter I can’t see harming a fly or doing anything except annoying people to come to his events. I’m sure Glovsky and the other promoters disturb people with texts and Facebook invites, but that’s part of their job. Jonathan Schwartz is harmless — unfortunately, way more harmless than he himself thinks. He is brighter than most and has risen quickly through the unwashed promotional ranks to become a promotional director. Although snarky at times, he is never malicious, and this “hated” branding is uncalled for. David Jaffee, like Adam, considers annoying an art form and is so good at it that the art form becomes fun. Mathew Assante is a puppy, not a pit bull. He is always a gentleman that travels with a polite and pretty crew, and I have never seen him do or say anything that would warrant an emotion as strong as hate.

Now as Justin Ross Lee described them, “the rope rats.” Aalex Julian and Rich Thomas stand in front of clubs that hold about a tenth of the number of people that want to enter them. Saying “no” a few thousand times a night will collect haters. To the people who know them and are deemed worthy to enter their spots, they are a pair that is loved: both are professional and both must be defined as people who have a lot more going on than standing in the cold and rejecting the Justin Ross Lees of the world. The only really big fish on this list is Noah Tepperberg. He is described by Justin as “Dr. Evil.” I’ve known Noah for over 15 years and have never seen or heard of him going back on his word. His success is undeniable, his list of friends expansive — he supports thousands of people with his vision. Noah loves what he does and has quietly been a friend to so many in need. Running an empire is not an easy task and if sometimes he seems distracted or indifferent to the small talk of people he doesn’t know, it should be forgiven.

In a business populated with real assholes, Justin Ross Lee seems to have named none except himself. Out of the 10 he lists, only he remains without my defense, which is ironic since Justin once told me that he was going to try to be the most hated man in the business. To do that one has to actually be in the business and be important enough to be noticed, which means one has to target the real players and creeps rather than point out the people who deign to kiss one’s ass. I certainly am hated by many and accept that as part of what I do. I’ve always felt that If some people “like” me then I must be failing. I like Justin a great deal — he’s smart, witty and I consider his antics a unique branding ploy. But he throws spitballs, not rocks, which doesn’t really earn him a spot on my hated list. There’s plenty of real live jerks out there who need calling out, and Justin seems to be flailing about and screaming like a three-year-old trying to get the adults’ attention. I’m an adult, Justin Ross Lee, and now you have me listening. Did you have anything important to say?

Post-Bottle Service Promoter Sally Shan

The economy is driving some people from comfortable jobs in fluorescent offices into neon-lit palaces of the night. Take David Jaffee, for example, who is often ridiculed for his approach to nightlife and his day job in a bank. David has an energetic approach to self-promotion as a means to gather names and establish his brand for a crowd that is all too tired with how snarky hipsters want to define their nights. David laughs all the way to whatever bank he actually works for as the frenzied attacks by “cool cool hipsters” on blogs and their comment sections fuel his mean machine. He often crosses lines and drives established players nuts, but he is taking names, kicking ass, and generating sales, while more established promotional teams are flunking. It’s a numbers game, and as we’ve said for months, the dude bringing 15 girls to lure a Lehman “bro” to buy some Goose are over.

Owners tell me they have MBAs and architects begging for coat-check jobs even as global warming is threatening to shorten this winter of discontent. New promoter on the block Sally Shan sends me text messages and Facebook prompts and is basically out there trying to brand herself and make money in clubs. Most promoters I talk to find her naiveté and enthusiasm bothersome, but yet her tireless approach underlines the death throes of the model-bottle era — an era in which the “I didn’t really like modeling so I became a promoter” dude sending a mass text after the morning yawn was considered work.

Sally hails from a politically and industrially connected family from China and attended the prestigious Central Academy of Drama in Beijing (other alumni include Gong Li and Zhang Ziyi). She works in production on Broadway daily, and the thrill of it all seems to drive her to the night. Lately people have been asking me, “Who is this Sally Shan?” So here she is.

I was at a NYNA meeting, speaking with Matt Isaacs from The Bloc Group, and I when I told him I had to leave to get to this meeting with you, he said, “Who is this girl Sally Shan? I keep hearing about her.” I’ve heard that response from a number of people recently, so who are you Sally Shan? What do you do? Well, I think I give people access to different venues in New York on different days. I give them access to the nightlife industry, showing them what I think is a hot or nice venue.

So you’re not using the “P” word, although you’re basically a promoter. I guess when you label it, it comes out as a promoter, but when I think of the definition of it, that’s not what I think I am.

Define promoter. What is a promoter to you? And what is it about the term “promoter” that you shy away from? Ultimately I think that the people who go out with me are my friends. They’re names and friends … they’re not numbers and email addresses.

So you’re very hands-on and personal. I’ve had a few people compare you to David Jaffe. What is the difference between you and a David Jaffe? I think the similarities are that you came from nowhere, and you’re trying to get your name out there through Facebook and whatever other mediums. I think that I’ve drawn a lot of media attention, but it’s not something that I went out looking for.

How many friends do you have on your Facebook account? I have about 2,000.

So you have 2,000 names that you’re sending out teasers to, so you’re doing this on purpose. What are you trying to gain out of it? I think I’m trying to get people excited.

How many venues do you promote for? I throw different parties at different venues, on average maybe three a week.

Is this your primary career? No, I’m actually in Broadway production. I studied acting and directing from Central Academy of Drama, which is in Beijing.

So how do you go from art and theater to becoming a promoter, or an access provider (as you like to call it) at New York nightclubs? I have my own definition of what I want to see when I go out, and I think I have really good taste. I know what I want in a night out, so that’s kind of how I got into it. And with that I also have a lot of friends who will follow me to different places.

So you’re incredibly enthusiastic about this — do you see this as a possible career? I haven’t really thought about it that thoroughly yet, about my future in nightlife, but it is what I’m doing right now.

What kind of music do you listen to … what do you want your crowd to listen to? I listen to almost everything, I think because I’m coming from an art background. I’ll have my days where I just zone out, and I’ll go to a concert in Carnegie Hall.

What’s your reputation in nightlife? How do people perceive you, and do you dwell on this? I think people have different opinions on me at this point because I am kind of new in the market, but I’m just myself. I don’t try to be anyone else.

So you have 2,000 friends on Facebook and you send mass texts … you bring a number of people to the club. You know almost all of these people? Yes, and I think the relationship I establish with them is a lot different. I do remember their names the next day, and they do become my friends if I don’t know them.

So it’s Fashion Week, and you’re hosting an event tonight. It’s the after-party at Pink Elephant for Couture Fashion Week that I’m hosting with Gili Lev.

Where do you like to hang out? I’ll go to Pink Elephant, 1Oak, Greenhouse, and Webster Hall.

Do you tell your crowd what to do, or do they tell you what to do? I tell my crowd where I’m going and what’s hot.

How long are you going to do it? Are you doing it primarily for the money, or is nightlife driving you? It’s driving me, and I also feel a certain demand. I think that I’m good at it, that I’m successful at it.

What do your traditional Chinese parents feel about you being in a nightclub at 3 a.m. or later in New York City? I haven’t gotten around to explaining that to them … it’s hard to explain what I do. But I think if they see that I’m in it for the right reasons, just trying to show people a good time, they’ll understand. But I’m also always going to be involved in the arts. That’s my primary interest, so I’m always going to surround myself with business and art.
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