GHE20G0TH1K’s Epic Vogue Battle

Image via @GHE20G0TH1K on Twitter

GHE20G0TH1K kicked off with a boom on Saturday night at Santos Party House with a mad DJ line-up.  Venus X banged out some tunes that had the crowd going wild, including a remix of Boss Ass Bitch x Drunk in Love. The fashion? A mix of baseball caps, HBA, and skin-tight leather, which left partygoers quite sweaty when dropping to the beats like no one’s business.

The Vogue Battle ensued with MTV America’s Best Dance Crew’s Dashaun Wesley judging the performers. Mike Q hit the decks as people gathered around the contestants in a circle as they began the dance off. As the dancers moved to the center, people cheered and iPhone flashed as people commemorated the moment in photo.

Waving his arms elegantly to the music and dipping low to the ground with style and ease, native New Yorker Alex Mugler was the star of the evening, winning the battle and taking home the $250 cash prize.

Sleep-Deprived & Heading To The Love Show’s Send-Off Gala Tonight

I’m sooo tired, my phone number should be 1-800-Mattress. I’m so tired, if I go to an airport they’ll make me check the bags under my eyes. I’ll try to tell you where I’m at but don’t expect too much of me today.

Last night I went to the celebration of Mark Kamins’ life at Santos Party House and saw people I haven’t seen in decades and might never see again. I had the honor to introduce Konk, a band of note that hadn’t performed since 1986. All around me were familiar faces from an era that I enjoyed so much. The late, great Mark Kamins would have been happy. It felt right. The music was wonderful and the love in the hearts of attendees was anchored by his memory.

While "working the room," I was continuously reminded of nights and people lost in time and space. Tall tales were told. Some stories that were horrible at the time were comical when told of again. It was 30 years ago when we all danced together, made love, and knew we were oh-so-cool. We all felt so immortal.

Mark’s passing has seemed to define our mortality as never before. The arc of our lives took us to an alternative universe where we could play with others who also felt the call to the corners. From these corners, world-renowned artists, musicians, and personalities arose and all moved on. The creatures of the night went their separate ways as misspent youths adapted to a world of adult responsibilities. It took Mark Kamins’ passing to bring us back together.

If I wasn’t so exhausted, I’d head off to see the legendary Robin Byrd, who is doing a Q&A thing tonight at 7pm at The Duplex, 61 Christopher St. I personally have a thousand questions I’d love to ask her although I suspect not all of them have answers. I must stumble over to The DL for George Wayne’s Downtown 100 List party.

If I could muster up the energy, I might check out Goldbar, where” Live Flamenco” night is happening for the early birds from 9pm to 11pm, after which DJs Jonny "The Lover" Lennon, Louie XIV, and Chino are entertaining. “Future-themed Thursdays” include doo-wop, jazz, and karaoke. As the evening progresses, rock and hip hop will prevail. They seem to be trying to have fun over at Goldbar. A concept lost on so many operators.

Although I am too burnt out to tell you all about it, I must mention that The Love Show is on its way to Tokyo to shock and awe. Tonight they will have a send-off gala at Triskelion Arts, 118 N. 11th St., 3rd floor, between Berry and Wythe in Williamsburg. Due to its proximity to my apartment, this I can attend and after sleepwalk my way to my nearby bed. Please everyone say: Goodnight Mr. Lewis.

Honoring Mark Kamins With None Other Than A DJ-Filled Party At Santos

The passing of Mark Kamins was a definite shock and awww (editor Bonnie spelled correctly!) event. His passing in February made us all a bit more mortal, a lot more empty, and had us all thinking back to our misspent youths… well, spent anyway. Mark’s legacy includes names like Madonna, David Byrne, and Ofra Haza, and almost "everybody" of importance in the downtown DJ/music scene. An event called Mark & Cetera – a pow-wow of "everybody" – will celebrate his life. Santos Party House, 96 Lafayette, will host the party on Wednesday, April 17th.

The band Konk will perform for the first time since 1986. Other performances will include Crystal Ark, Nomi Ruiz, Coati Mundi, Strafe, Johnny Dynell, John Robbie with Harmony Trujillo, and the debut of the Pow Wow Band.

DJ sets by Mike Pickering, Jellybean Benitez, Veronika Vasicka, Justin Strauss, Stretch Armstrong, Eric Duncan, Francois K, WorldWarWalter, Jazzy Nice, Bill Bahlman, Mark Elias, Mark Fotiadis, Kip Lavinger, Ivan Ivan, Delphine Blue, Dodo Almaas, Walter Vee, Jody Kurilla, and more will bring us back to the glory days of Danceteria and Area.

A $20 donation to support the Mark Kamins Scholarship Award in electronic music is being collected.

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Talking About Sexuality: Domi Dollz’ Nina Payne & Boxer Manny Pacquiao

There was a time when the artistic types that ran clubs saw pushing boundaries as their reason to be cheerful. Sure, everyone wanted to make loot and art. Being able to make money while being creative and thinking outside the box was what made that era great. Now few care about anything but the bottom line, and only a few Manhattan-based clubs embrace "the new,” DJs dumb down their sets to please bottle buyers with black cards, and door people let the mundane spenders in as VIPs. There was a time when designers like Galliano and Gaultier took inspiration from clubland. Fashion innovators like Lee Bowery, Kabuki Starshine, and, yes, Michael Alig influenced collections as their own fashion sense pushed toward the edge. Michael famously went over that edge and with it came a retreat from it.

Tonight, at Santos’ Party House, is the House of Diehl’s “Style Wars: The Style Battle Championships,” 7:30pm. It’s going to be a blast. There will be a live competition which will include some friends of mine the amazing Domi Dollz. I will be there cheering them on as they whip the audience into a frenzy. There will be DJs and cocktails and even Vice Magazine giveaways. This is an invite-only affair so RSVP here and hope for the best.

The Domi Dollz are out there exploring the edge of sexuality. As they push that edge, they are also teaching mainstream America to embrace it by meeting it halfway. They hold fabulous parties and regular educational soirees at the Museum of Sex. I caught up with the beautiful Nina Payne and asked her all about it.

You are competing in this style wars thingy at Santos. Do teams make clothes and dress up and whoever has the best outfit wins or is it more than that?…. Tell me all about it.
It’s much more intense than that! Teams have to create head-to-toe looks from the most random items like an umbrella, a garbage bag, or a shower curtain. The more "out there" and crazy, the better! It is the truest test of creativity- all done live, in four minutes, in front of a rowdy screaming audience and blaring club music. It’s fierce!

Style Wars was created by House of Diehl, and this event is a throw-back to the ‘80s when MCs or break dancers from different crews used to battle each other for respect and recognition. Style Wars takes that concept and uses fashion instead. Fusing the intensity and spontaneity of a rap battle with the glamour of a fashion show – and even the excitement of extreme sports – House of Diehl invented "style battling" as the newest opportunity for rising fashion designers to make their name in the competitive arena of design. And tonight, Monday, June 11th, Domi Dollz will be ready to rumble at Santos Party House (96 Lafayette St). As we battle other teams, we’ll show audiences that we can create edgy and beautiful looks in about four minutes – right on the spot!

Domi Dollz fans get in for FREE. Just RSVP. But be sure to get there early as it’s expected to sell out fast. Doors open at 7:30pm and the battle begins at 8:45. 

Tell me about Domi Dollz today. Of course we have been following your events for a minute now. What’s coming up? What is evolving in your events?
Domi Dollz has been busier than ever! We were recently featured on ABC’s 20/20, and after this Style Wars event, we will be touring the US this summer. LA, San Francisco, Chicago and Vegas, baby! With the recent success of Fifty Shades of Grey, Domi Dollz’ mainstream style of kink is in demand. In fact, we will be coming out with our own book as well. It’s called Kinky Amour and it is an introduction to kink for the woman who’s looking to enhance her love and sex life. As in our workshops, we always bring our knowledge of kink to the public in a very accessible and fun way.

Sharon Needles won the Ru Paul’s Drag Race competition. She was certainly the edgiest of the contestants. Is the edge becoming more important to us as a society and, if so, why? Is the world ready for Domi Dollz on a big scale?
 We are big Sharon Needle fans and love what she has brought to the main stage. Edge is great as it keeps the audiences on their toes. But with that being said there is also a very genuine energy that Sharon Needles projects that people can identify with and I think that’s the true root to her success. Some think that we are quite edgy too. However, Domi Dollz’ objective is to bring kink into the mainstream in order to create a safe environment for people to explore their sexualities. Whether Domi Dollz is engaging in fashion, music, or education, at the end of the day we are just doing what we love and trying to make this world a happier place!

What to wear? While we’re talking about sex and sexuality I can’t help but mention the defeat of boxer Manny Pacquiao to Timothy Bradley on Saturday night and his statements about gay people recently. Pacquiao has won titles in eight different weight divisions. I don’t follow sports much but was aware of Mr. Pacquiao’s dominance of his world. He reportedly "told the National Conservative Examiner that he doesn’t agree with President Barack Obama’s support for same sex marriage” and was quoted as reciting Bible verse Leviticus 20:13, which says “If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.”

Manny is a congressman in his native Philippines and reported to be a devout Catholic. He denied he made this statement with his version of the "some of my best friends are gay” defense. I read that he said
“I didn’t say that, that’s a lie…I didn’t know that quote from Leviticus because I haven’t read the Book of Leviticus yet,” and “I’m not against gay people… I have a relative who is also gay. We can’t help it if they were born that way. What I’m critical of are actions that violate the word of God. I only gave out my opinion that same-sex marriage is against the law of God.”

Since Pacquiao’s defeat, Bob Arum, the events promoter, has been screaming for an investigation. Millions seem to agree and are demanding the truth. It was a split decision, with two judges saying Bradley won. Many knowledgeable boxing folk, including former pugilistic judges, had Pacquiao winning by a wide margin. In an article published in The Wall Street Journal, the writer called it "THE WORLD-WIDE MANNY PACQUIAO FREAKOUT.” From paragraph one: "The reaction was universally apologetic, with promoter Bob Arum calling the decision a ‘death knell’ for boxing and plenty of other spectators suggesting a more sinister motivation behind the surprising decision."

Did the uproar over his alleged homophobic remarks distract Manny? Could the "gay mafia" have gotten to those refs? Did God get involved and punish Manny for using his message of love incorrectly? I pray for Manny. I hope he grows from this and overcomes his reported hatred. I read he is headed to the Holy Land while his next fight is figured out.

I have read my Bible and offer him this : “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.“ Philippians, 2.12. When he finally does get around to Leviticus he might note: "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." Leviticus 19:18.

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Toy’s Grand Opening, ‘All Night Rong’ At Santos’ Party House

I didn’t sleep yesterday. I was awake at 7am having crashed at 3am Wednesday night. Thursday I had design meetings, marketing meetings, I wrote, and I dj’d a 7 hour gig at Hotel Chantelle. I found myself once again at the Olympic Diner where I said yes to the waitrons query "You want the usual?" I was too tired for an adventure so the usual was, as usual, wonderful. I awoke this morning at 11 am and feel great, I think.

I have too much to do so I’m keeping this short and sweet. Every so often I tell you to do something because I think it will answer some of your questions and put a smile, or at least a satisfied smirk, on your face. Tonight absolutely go to Santos’ Party House (96 Lafayette Street) for the launch of "All Night Rong". I love that name. Tonight they open with Dj Harvey., There will be installations and collaborations and it will be wonderful. For all you fools who cry and lament and complain about the state of the nightlife just shut the f@*%X& up and have some fun … if you remember how.
On a completely different tip the Koch Brothers Daniel and Derek and the wonderous Tony Theodore are officially opening Toy in the Ganesvoort Meatpacking. I will go here first and then scoot to that downtown hipster scene at Santos. I love Toy, which has been previewing in the late summer and Fashion Week. It is a welcome addition to the Meatpacking. I loved the Koch bros MPD incarnation before it went poof through no fault of theirs. These guys are gentlemen and I will pay my respects.

I’m Back: New Year’s Nightlife Rumors, Openings, and Transformations

So I’m back. Frankly, I was too pooped to write after that marathon of Halloween, Sandy, Christmas, and New Year’s. New Year’s was spent at the Dream Hotel Downtown. I DJ’d the Marble Lane restaurant and had the most fun. My DJ style is a bit pure. I mostly offer rock and roll some old soul as, after all, I am an old soul. I was smart enough to bring along a ringer, DJ Louis XIV, who is used to and embraces the commercial sounds necessary for a NYE good time. He and we rocked it…  by adding in hip-hop and R&B and other non- rock stuff. Before the crowds arrived, the staff was line-dancing to the Temptations and Bootsy Collins offerings I served up. Someone told me there were 300 people servicing the event. It was marvelous to see Strategic Group types like Jonathan Schwartz and Matt Stauss service the good time had by all. DJ MOS relieved us, and we scooted into the night.

New Year’s Eve is not as chaotic as I remember it. In Times Square, humans are herded into pens to watch the ball drop as opposed to the massive and sometimes violent chaos of decades ago. Even the clubs are adjusted. With transportation problematic, and most places farming out the night to promo groups with high ticket prices and open bars, there is less movement. People go to a place and stay there and then go home. New Year’s has become controlled and sanitized, leaving only Halloween for the madness.

I have lots of rumors and movement to talk about but am heading off to my day job. I’m designing a restaurant out in Huntington Long Island and a coffee shop uptown. Hotel Chantelle is getting a face lift, and I’ll be there tonight for the 2013 launch of BINGO with Linda Simpson and Murray Hill. Yes, I am spending a lot of time up at XL Nightclub. Contrary to many whispers, I am not involved in the spot, other than consulting on a renovation of one of the rooms. I love XL; it’s big and fun and the staff is sexy and familiar.

One other thing that pleases me to report is Frankie Sharp of Westgay at Westway Tuesdays is doing another night. He will launch Fridays (isn’t that clever) at Santos Party House come February. Santos is settling in as that one reliable club you can send your downtown types to without knowing what’s going on. There is something always going on. I took a mini tour at the new train-themed, Williamsburg bar called Passenger. It is wonderful, chic and stylish, and staffed well. I was just booked there for Sailor Jerry’s Birthday Bash next Monday. I love DJing Tattoo events. There’s so much more but I’m going to just get my feet wet today. Tomorrow, we will plunge back in.

Hell is a Place in Queens

We have talked to Seva Granik before when he threw a party at Sugar Hill Disco in Bed-Stuyvesant. For me, that event was a eureka moment. It convinced me that my future was absolutely in Brooklyn, and that the much touted past or "back in the day" that everyone complained was gone was alive and well and maybe even better. Next Saturday, October 27, Seva is involved with 319 Scholes gallery’s Club Hell. In what figures to be one of the most ambitious nightlife events ever, these guys have taken over and will curate an aging 600,000-square- foot glass factory for a party so way out off Metropolitan Avenue that it’s in Queens. I caught up with Seva and asked him to tell us all about it.

A glass factory? 600,000-square-foot space? Is this Woodstock, 2012-style? Tell me about the party.
Yes, the venue. It’s called the Knock Down Center. It’s actually an early 20th Century glass factory that was owned by a Jewish family whose scion had recently bought the space out from his grandparents. 

The factory and the lot it stands on are so large that there are even train tracks – for ease of transporting materials and final product, I’m guessing. 

It’s a bit out of the way, all the way down Metropolitan Avenue, a 10-minute walk from the Jefferson L train stop, squarely in Queens, NY. But we’ll be providing free shuttle buses to the space from two places: the Lorimer L train stop and 319 Scholes, the gallery that’s behind this event. 

The party itself is a bit conceptual. THUNDERHORSE, these guys that I work with a lot, are visual effects and event installation gurus, and we’re doing a nightmarish version of a club, basically with lots of red lasers, sets and stages, smoke –  crazy creepy crap on an industrial scale. The venue itself is so creepy that not much has to be done, really. But we’ll do stuff anyway.

How many people are you expecting?
Capacity is staggering. I’m sure we could pack 3,000 people in ther,e but I don’t think that many people will show.

What is the state of underground Brookln nightlife? What kind of parties are you into?
Yikes. Well, it’s not doing so good. Things are certainly not nearly as crazy and carefree as they used to be in the early oughts. Kids, too, are pretty tame, simply because they’re just more mainstream than older Brooklyn audiences. Fifteen or 10 years ago, it was a bunch of artists and musicians and poor kids out here, but now it’s just normal young people who have jobs or go to NYU or something. And they don’t go nuts much. They’ve got too much to lose. 

There have been waves after waves of shutdowns, something that never used to happen in the past; a score of DIY venues have been pressured by the cops to stop putting on events. It’s largely due to three reasons, in my opinion: the rising real estate costs and white people moving in and calling cops for noise complaints, the NYC film tax credit (which has attracted scores of film and TV productions here who have taken a lot of spaces away from the underground promoters since they have more money), and the rising popularity of Brooklyn as a capital of music. That last one really did us in because once there is money in putting on music shows, it all goes to regular venues because that’s where the money is, and that’s where agents are .That’s the easiest way to play and be seen and make money as an artist, with an agent. So, again, the DIY show/event loses. 

With all these mounting pressures, it’s a wonder that there is actually still a scene. But there is. A lot of it has morphed and transported itself into the gay and queer culture that has little regard for money and loves to just get down. So, there is a small clique of queer promoters and performers who do well and have lots of fun. 

For my readers who just moved here from Kansas, who are you and what do you do?
I’m an independent event producer. I put on stuff. Usually one-offs at off-the-grid, special places, and usually conceptual things, things that I know no one else can/will want to really do. 

What was the last party event you went to in Manhattan, and what do you find relevant there?
Ladyfag’s parties are always fun, Westgay at Westway is pretty fun, and so are Earl Dax’s performance series, but, again—that’s all queer stuff! I guess I just find that sort of thing really fun, even though I’m straight. 

There is a cute semi-straight party at Santos Party House called Chez Deep, and that’s nice, actually. 

Weird Wednesdays at Home Sweet Home is a great weekly that’s been going for, like, 6 years. It’s almost always fun, and the crowd there is freaky and dark and cute sometimes, too.That’s as much as anyone can ask of a weekly. 

Mark Kamins’ Greatest Legacy & My Spot On The ‘Vanity Fair’ Downtown 100 List

The celebration of Mark Kamins’ life and times culminates at Santos Party House tonight. Konk will perform for the first time since 1986. Lady Miss Kier of Dee-Lite fame, as well. Coati Mundi, Crystal Ark, and a ton of other performers will crowd both floors of the club that most resembles the old- school type clubs where most of these folks did their thing …in days of yore. A zillion DJs including Jellybean Benitez and Justin Strauss and Mike Pickering and Stretch Armstrong and Ivan Ivan and Jazzy Nice and and and…. will make musical statements about the man we and thousands of others loved. I will MC along with Jim Fouratt, Chi Chi Valenti, Michael Holman, and and and. Proceeds of the event will go to the Mark Kamins Scholarship Award in Electronic Music. Walter Durkacz is the puppeteer pulling all the strings that make this sort of thing happen. Not an easy gig.

This journey will end for all of us maybe tomorrow, maybe in 40 or 50 years. Many have preceded. Some people will say Mark’s legacy can be defined by a great record or his immense body of work. I think Mark Kamins’ legacy is the love that he instilled in the hearts of all the people who will gather tonight to remember and celebrate a life well-lived. 
For 20 years, Vanity Fair’s George Wayne has compiled his Downtown 100 List for his annual party of the Most Fabulous+Inspired+Relevant People Who Today Define Downtown. The list has often been controversial, as many who think of themselves in those terms have been snubbed, and many newbies added have gained instantaneous validation and recognition.

The order of the list seems to be irrelevant save for the first name who is always someone delicious. This year that name is Kate Upton. The list includes Solange Knowles and Vito Schnabel and Marc Jacobs and Dita Von Teese and Alan Cumming and Susanne Bartsch and, like, 94 more. I am honored to be listed as well. George is an old and extremely vibrant friend. I will join him on The DL Rooftop, 95 Delancey, tomorrow night at 10pm.

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Drinks on the Move: Chatting With The Ladies of Speed Rack

Not that Speed Rack founders Lynnette Marrero and Ivy Mix timed their charity and booze event to ease your guilt for not going out to Staten Island or Queens to volunteer, but it sure works out well. For the second year, these cocktail mavens have whipped together the best women in the drink making business to compete for the title of Miss Speed Rack NYC and subsequently, raise money for breast cancer research.

To win the crown, the ladies participating must impress judges with their speed and dexterity in a round-robin style, timed competition. The event takes place from 6 to 10pm on Monday, December 10 at Santos Party House, and costs $25 at the door. I caught up with Marrero and Mix and chatted about how they started and what it means for ladies in the world of bartending.

This is your second year doing Speed Rack, right?
Yes we began in New York City on June 12, 2011. Ivy and I approached industry friends and got brands to sponsor us. It was a crazy time to do any industry event between Manhattan Cocktail Classic and Tales [of the Cocktail]. However, we did it.

We sent out notices to NYC’s LUPEC [Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails] ladies to compete. Our great friends and mentors, Julie Reiner, Dale DeGroff, Audrey Saunders, and Jordana Rothman, volunteered to judge and the result was an exciting, nail-biting event that energized a movement.

What made you decide to do it again?
Frankly, it is an obligation. We had so much fun traveling the country and meeting so many amazing women that we knew that our mission was not finished. People were begging Speed Rack to visit their towns and it’s our vocation now.

IM: We decided to do it again for two reasons. One, because there are still so many female bartenders out there that can benefit from a platform like Speed Rack. And two, There is never an end to the amount of money to be raised for breast cancer charities. This year we are working with SHARE, a great organization that offers a support network to women, and sometimes men, who have been affected.

How did you come up with the idea?
Speed Rack started first as an idea that stemmed from a project a friend and I were asked to do that was about bartending. We were begged to participate in a project because we were female bartenders and there were no ladies around to do it, or so it seemed. I started to think about how odd it was that this project had no women.

I was a female bartender and I knew so many female bartenders. But, it didn’t seem like the food and beverage community knew that, like we were all living under a rock somewhere. So, I decided it would be great to create an event that created a platform for female bartenders to stand on to show the world just how awesome we can be. Then, I have always thought that people will pay for a drink no matter what, so why not make this double entendre go a bit further and have it be a breast cancer charity.

Lynnette Marrero and I became partners after we sat next to each other at a football game in April 2011. I had a slight idea of what I wanted and since Lynnette is the president of LUPEC NYC, she was the perfect pro-women partner. We talked, and then together we shaped Speed Rack into what it is today.

What, exactly, does the competition entail? 
It is the roller derby of cocktail competitions. Women are challenged to recreate the work they do on the busiest night of their lives working in a cocktail bar. Oh, and people who you completely admire walk in and want a round.

IM: It is like the March Madness of boobies and booze. The competition entails a preliminary qualifying round that the girls have known for about two weeks before the event. In this round, they make four drinks as quickly as possible and are competing against everyone. The top eight fastest move on to the bracketed girl-on-girl, round-robin-style competition that is open to the public. Then, we have the two girls, in two bars, in front of an all-star panel of judges. These judges select four classic cocktails at random and the girls go head-to-head making them.

Do you think women are making more waves in the bartending world?
I think women have always been making waves in the bartending world, you may just not have known their names. Women took to the bars during prohibition in Europe, during World War II, and in the 1970s and early 1980s. They fought extremely hard for their right to bartend and by 1980, bartending was the occupation in which women had the most liberating gains.

I happened to start in this industry when there were so few people in the cocktail world. Julie Reiner trained me at the Flatiron lounge in 2005, at that point, Audrey [Saunders] and Julie were some of the few American women in the small craft bartender world. I was promoted to bartender because I was willing to work hard, put in the time learning drinks, and I had a good palate. It was gender blind. You did, and still do, work long hours in cocktail bars. You need to be tough, have stamina, be able to make recommendations, and be ready to be tested on your knowledge. 

Who are some of the ladies that are pushing the boundaries in the bar and where do they work?
If we are looking at the current Speed Rack competition, we have Jillian Vose and Eryn Reece who both work at Death and Co., and Eryn also works at Mayahuel. Both women are leaders in the cocktail community in NYC. I have to say, because I can, that my partner Ivy Mix is pushing the boundaries. She is incredibly hard working and brings so many of her talents to the job. Her passion, business savvy, and tenacity are why she has achieved such accomplishments as 30 Under 30 for Zagat in 2012.

IM: There are so many, to single them out is hard, the list just goes on and on.