27th and 28th Street Ghostown: Clubland’s Lost Nabe

For years the epicenter of vibrant NY nightlife, the west 27th/28th street club corridor is now a virtual ghost town. Tonight, Scores will celebrate its anniversary, with Damon Dash DJing. I’ve been facebooked, texted, tweeted, and called to attend this gala. Noel Ashman and a zillion promoters insist I attend. I might not go— never been a strip club guy. No homo, I just don’t head to that area these days. But there was a time when I was there almost every night. The core clubs of that mall, Pink Elephant, Cain, Home, Guesthouse, and Bungalow 8 are gone, as are the cops on horseback and the Kleig lights that put virtually the entire area out of business. Gone also are a couple thousand jobs in an economy that needs jobs. A visit to the M2 website revealed an ad promoting Common and DJ Funkmaster Flex on May 14th. I guess I missed that as well. Tomorrow I’ll be meeting with Joey Morrissey to find out if the mega club will reopen—if he even knows.

A few months ago I attended the closing night bash for Cain. Outside, a reporter from the New York Post asked me why Cain was closing. I pointed to the new building being put up across the street and told her that the Post was partially to blame. I said it was no coincidence that the rezoning of the neighborhood allowed developers to develop those luxury residential building, which resulted in the harassment and closing of the clubs. I pointed out how the Post stirred up the feeding frenzy with its call to arms after the unfortunate death of Jennifer Moore. My comments weren’t used.

Last week, the NY Times reported that the highly successful “fast tracking” of liquor licenses would not be put out to pasture. When new State Liquor Authority chairman Dennis Rosen implemented the program, almost 3,000 license applications were awaiting processing, with 9-month delays very common. The SLA is now sitting on under 900 and there are plans to go back to normal, with state inspectors doing the heavy lifting. The program allows qualified liquor license attorneys to self-certify that the facts on their client’s applications are indeed facts. The budget crisis in Albany, with a moratorium on overtime for state employees, necessitates the continuance of Mr. Rosen’s solution. This is good news for clubs, bars, and restaurants, and good news for business in general. New licensing means new jobs in construction as well as hospitality. Community Boards are severely at odds with a state that may finally be recognizing the potential in sales tax and new jobs the hospitality industry offers.

The difficulties bars and clubs impose on a neighborhood can usually be solved. A new construction project I am working on at 146 Orchard Street is engineering a complaint-proof establishment, stopping the belly-aching before it happens. A new ceiling in this establishment has a layer of sheet rock, with a layer of insulation between it and a new ceiling. The new ceiling is suspended from springs and is 3 additional layers of sheet rock thick, and that’s before the finishing materials of wood and wallpapers are applied. All ductwork is treated to a soundproof construction. Sound will be hard-pressed to find the ears of good neighbors. The problem will be when those dreaded smokers pop outside for puff-and-chats. Responsible management must enforce respect and demand soft talk. This can be done.

What’s been a real problem at hotspots is cabs honking. The clubs have lobbied for a cop from the Paid Detail Program to be allowed to work outside to enforce the quiet. You see Paid Detail cops inside banks and other businesses. Commercial establishments can hire a uniformed patrolman to act as security. Licensed premises are the exception. Raymond Kelly, the police commissioner, has nixed the idea of his soldiers working near bars and clubs. Potential corruption has been cited often. A possible solution is to use Department of Transportation employees instead of cops. A uniform with the authority to write a costly ticket may well serve the community. Sometimes it seems that a solution isn’t being sought at all. It can feel like constructive dialogue falls on deaf ears. The club community moves into neighborhoods that are so often derelict, filled with prostitution and crime, like West Chelsea and Meatpacking, and spend millions of dollars to turn these hoods around. Politicians are prompted to rezone these districts for mixed-use, allowing residential construction. The real estate industry then builds high rises and city agencies persecute the clubs until they go out of business. This is the reality of West Chelsea. It seems the city just wants the clubs to disappear or move on to another unattractive hood and start the process again.

Maybe I will go over to Scores tonight. Noel Ashman has invited me a hundred times since Friday. Nostalgia begs me to revisit the strip club that I enjoyed until just a few years ago. I’ll walk down 27th street and then up 28th. It will be a relaxing walk down memory lane and, frankly, I could use the peace and quiet.

New York: The Best Places to Watch Tiger Tee-Off

It’s time to strategically plan your lunch breaks, people! Tomorrow, at precisely 1:42 p.m. Tiger Woods will try to put the past behind him with a single swing of his golf club. CBS president Sean McManus compared Tiger’s return to the Obama inauguration in terms of media coverage and audiences, and while he might be overshooting a little, we get his point. The Tiger Woods scandal has engulfed the national psyche for the last four months, and tomorrow serves as a climax of sorts. After this weekend, it’ll be business as usual for the world’s best golfer. You could easily stream tomorrow’s event from your desk, but this is a sporting event, and tradition states that they should be watched from establishments with liquor licenses. If you’re in New York, and frankly who isn’t, here’s where you should be watching the festivities.

Rick’s Cabaret: With as many flatscreens as there are strippers, this is the perfect mix of sports in sex. In other words, it’s Tiger Woods in strip club form. (The food ain’t bad either.) 40/40: The perfect mix of sports bar and the same kind of bottle service sleaze that got Tiger in this mess in the first place. The Ainsworth: For those of you whose offices are located in Chelsea or Flatiron, there is enough space and enough flatscreens to leave all views unobstructed. ESPN Zone: If it weren’t for ESPN, you wouldn’t even be watching, so pay them back by buying a beer and basket of potato skins, just to show your gratitude.

Calling All Extras: Scores NY Needs You!

As a former extra on movie sets, I can tell you it’s an entirely unglamorous and sometimes demeaning affair. They herd you into a holding room like cattle, and if it’s for a crappy Sylvester Stallone racing movie. That’s about the time that one of the Assistant Directors comes into the room and warns you not to look the star directly in the eye. For lunch you’ll get a turkey sandwich wrapped in foil and a soda. It’s a whole day of waiting around for maybe an hour or two of shooting, and two weeks later you’ll get sent a check of $80 for your troubles. But this weekend Scores New York is offering up a little some thing extra for their extras.

(‘DiggThis’)At 10 AM this Saturday, a video shoot will be going down at Scores for an upcoming commercial. Here’s the kicker though: a fully open bar and food will be on them, while the girls, hopefully, will be on you.

The Strippers of Scores Rate President Obama’s Performance

It’s been roughly over 200 days since Barack Obama took office, and since then, he’s faced criticism from piggish buffoons and corpse-like wenches who just don’t get it. Every day we watch unattractive talking heads yappity yappiting about health care and beer summits, and it’s as painful to listen to them as it is to look at them. If someone’s going to talk smack about our president, they’d better be attractive. In order to help Obama get better looking critics, we combed the city in search of the best looks money can buy, and we found it at the newly revamped Scores. After the jump, find out what nine strippers-turned-pundits think about our Commander-in-chief.

Joey, 23

How long have you been at Scores? Almost 3 years.

Where do you like to go out in New York? M2, Pink Elephant. I love Asseteria for after hours on Sundays. It’s sick.

What do you think about the job Barack Obama is doing? I don’t care for Obama and I don’t care for McCain. They want to drop us into the fucking hole, but it’s not my fault because I didn’t vote for either of them. I don’t give a shit about either one of them, they don’t impress me. I want Clinton back.

Why’s that? Listen, it’s nobody’s fault, everybody’s got to catch a blowjob every now and then. It’s Hilary’s fault. She wasn’t taking care of her man.

What don’t you like about Obama? I’m not a racist at all, I just don’t agree with what he’s doing, at all.

As in what? I want to open my own business, but I can’t. Now they’re going to tax me for it, and give my money to the lazy motherfuckers who don’t work, who sit on their ass and basically take rich people’s money. Get the fuck up. There’s class. There’s low class, middle class, high class. I’m a high class bitch and I have my money. I’m not going to give it to people who don’t do shit. Right?

Naomi, 22

Where do you like to go out in New York? Scores.

Other than Scores? I used to be a promoter for Pink Elephant and M2. I also go to Tenjune, 1Oak, and Butter.

Wow, you love the Meatpacking District. I do but you have to know where to go.

What’s the number one spot in the Meatpacking District? Where I work. You get girls, food, and a good time. It’s like a club, not a strip club. Guys can dance, bring girls over, eat dinner, and enjoy themselves. This is not bullshit.

What do you think about the job Barack Obama is doing? I think he’s doing very well, but people expect him to make a miracle in a day. I don’t like what Bush did. He has to make up for 8 years. He hasn’t even had one term yet. I was a political science major, by the way.

Chloe, 26

Where do you like to go out in New York? I just moved here, but I love ‘inoteca on the Lower East Side. The food is amazing and the staff is awesome.

What do you think about the job Barack Obama is doing? How are we rating him? 1 to 10?

Grades, percentage, whatever you want. I’d give him an 8 of 10. I think he’s doing alright. I know he’s getting criticized for a lot of things, but he’s moving slowly but surely in the right direction.

Madison, 21

How long have you been working at Scores? 3 years.

Where do you like to go out in New York? Avenue. It’s good times.

What do you think about the job Barack Obama is doing? I don’t really know anything about it, but I think it’s okay.

Do you think he’s good looking? He’s not my style.

Why not? He’s too tanned.

Frankie, 23

Where do you like to go out in New York? I go to Home, I go to Marquee and definitely Greenhouse, that’s my favorite.

What about restaurants? I like Koi.

What do you think about the job Barack Obama is doing? It hasn’t affected me much. It hasn’t helped me out, besides the fact that I collect unemployment. Since he got elected, my unemployment has increased, and it’s been expanded for nine weeks. But so far, I don’t think any one is good in office, him or McCain, but as far as my situation goes, it’s benefited me.

Athena, 25

How long have you been at Scores? 2 years. First at the East side Scores, but this one is the best.

Where do you like to go out in New York? Pacha definitely is the best because the DJ’s are amazing, and Marquee is one of my favorites.

What do you think about the job Barack Obama is doing? I feel he’s done more than anyone has done in their first 200 days in office.

Did you vote for him? I did, it was the first time I voted. I think he’s trying very hard, and the obstacles surrounding him are making it very difficult.

Anna, 25

How long have you been at Scores? 2 months.

Where do you like to go out in New York? I like Nobu and Greenhouse.

What do you think about the job Barack Obama is doing? I love him.

Why? Because of his smile.

Do you think he’s handsome? Not handsome, but there’s something inside that comes through in his smile.

Christina, 29

How long have you been working at Scores? Off and on for 2 years.

Where do you like to go out in New York? I like going here, and Cielo is amazing.

What do you think about the job Barack Obama is doing? I think he’s a moron and I can’t believe he got accepted in office. I wanted McCain to win, because even though he’s a dick, he knows what he’s doing. Obama says what people want to hear, but that’s not what he’s actually going to do, because he doesn’t even know how to answer questions truthfully.

So you don’t like what you’re seeing? Not at all. Just like I didn’t like what I was seeing from Bush, and I called that out but no one listened.

So if you don’t like Bush or Obama, who did you like? I was a Clinton fan. I cooked for the Clintons. I know Hilary, I know Bill. They’re very cool people.

Where did you cook for them? I cooked for their parties, for Hilary Clinton’s fundraiser. The country was run very well when they were in office, and when I met them, they were straight up people. Bush, I must say, when his father was in office, the country was at war the entire time, and Bush Jr. ran three companies into the ground. So how can he run a country?

What’s Obama’s problem? He’s a moron. I voted for McCain, and I don’t even like McCain. McCain’s an asshole!

You hate Obama that much? I don’t hate him as a person, I just don’t want him running my country. I think there should be a black president, but not Obama.

Is there a black man you think should be president? Will Smith.

Alicia, 27

Where do you like to go out in New York? Greenhouse, Pink Elephant, and Pacha.

What do you think about the job Barack Obama is doing? I voted for him, and I think there were a lot of economic problems before he came, and we should give him at least one term to see what he does. The last president had two terms and he fucked everything up.

The Bungalow 8 Blues

imageI got this story secondhand — and like sweaters I get that way, it’s bound to have a few holes in it. It seems that Bungalow 8 was closed for ten days, and excuses like “Amy isn’t around” and “They were taking a break or renovating” were thrown out for their adoring public. A source with some chops told me it was the collapse of parts of the roof that caused the closing. Plexiglas panels came detached, and in a sky-is-falling late night incident, the party came to a stop. Repairs were long overdue, and staff did their best to control the elements with strategically placed buckets and such. Amy is indeed traveling some, but my source revealed that with only about a year and a half left on her lease, Ms. Sacco has decided to ride it out. She has some money put aside from the sale of her West 23rd Street boîte as well as a flow of consulting fees from the Griffin, the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas, and the “Living by Amy” condo project on John Street. Bungalow 8 London, which according to another source isn’t hitting its marks, is still another revenue stream for the queen of nightlife.

This second source — a Brit with firsthand knowledge — says that though the membership thing is very common for upscale London clubs, in this case it wasn’t as successful as projected. “She should have gone with a strict door policy and doorman New York style; she would have made more money and been cooler.” I don’t like these secondhand, heard-it-through-the-grapevine stories, so I called up Amy Sacco confidant Tiana Reeves for comment. Tiana would neither confirm or deny the validity of the story. She would only volunteer that “Amy is very happy.”

There is little doubt that Bungalow isn’t what it used to be. One of the main reasons is that none of the feeding clubs — i.e., Marquee, Cain, Pink Elephant, Home, Guesthouse, or M2 — are supplying the A-crowds like they used to. In fact, Scores may be the best source for Bungalow 8 clientele. Scores is bringing people in, these people are spending money, and the girls are doing well. My source said that, “The Bungalow New York City is being treated like a stepchild.”

The realities of the woes of 27th Street have indirectly brought the sky down on Amy’s gin joint. A continuous police presence, the distractions of Noah Tepperberg and Jason Strauss with Tao Vegas and their new spot, Avenue (which is in previews), Jon B’s good crowd moving to Greenhouse, Cain’s crowd to GoldBar, and the change over of the “trying to be great Mansion” to the “trying to stay crowded M2” has drained Bungalow of its crowd. As I said, some of this was from semi-reliable sources and should be taken as just that — secondhand smoke. For instance, one of my contacts reached over to my friend’s hair, tasted it, and correctly diagnosed it as Sebastian with a little Paul Mitchell molding wax. With sources like that, how could I go wrong?

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.