Jezebel’s Henry Stimler Reveals His Casino Royale-Themed Gala & Favorite Bond Girl

The previews of The Great Gatsby have me totally psyched up. Leo as Gatsby is a big ZOWIE! for me. Baz will understand. I’ve read Gatsby a zillion times. I relish the eternal optimism of the lead, his romance, his insane quest. The parties in Fitzgerald’s great tome – which attract all types, and devolve into the impure-ist bedlam – are the model for my events. The rich hobnobbing with the dressed-up peasants, the debaucherous under-classes worked well for me. Nowadays, nightlife is more segregated. Slumming isn’t the norm for the well-heeled, as most opt for mingling within the same class. The top spots thrive on big bucks and exclusivity as opposed to inclusivity. There are exceptions to this rule: usually the fun night at the usually boring joint. The hoi polloi have been banished to Brooklyn and they thank you very much. 

At Capitale’s Casino Royale-themed gala January 26th with Henry Stimler (Jezebel) and Seth Greenberg (Capitale) at the helm, the price of admission is $125, separating the men from the moochers. Capitale,130 Bowery at Grand, is the perfect setting for such an affair. The building was designed by Stanford White who was murdered by a millionaire who learned of an affair between the architect and his model wife which predated the marriage. Stanford White designed the house where Gatsby author F. Scott Fitzgerald attended those lavish parties that inspired him. Stanford also designed the Arch in Washington Square Park, The Players Club Mansion on Gramercy Park. The old post office on 31st and 8th and tons of other places. He was the epitome of the American renaissance of architecture. His murder at the hand of Harry Kendall Thaw was the "trial of the century.” Capitale is there to behold. Its beauty, timeless. Its ability to host great events, legendary. I think this is an event of Gatsby-esque proportions. J. Bond and J. Gatsby are great icons. 

This Saturday, the Casino Royale Gala will attract the best. There will be gaming tables and a live symphony orchestra and sexy singers who will perform every Bond song. There will be a late DJ set by Antonio de Angelis of Pacha Ibiza. Aston Martins will be parked outside. Shaken not stirred martinis will be  served by gold painted ladies. It’s a costume party and attendees are encouraged to come as their favorite Bond character. They have provided this link for all info and costume concepts. A full 20 percent of ticket sales will go to the Tunnel to the Towers Foundation in support of Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. A VIP table for five people goes for $2,000, for 10 people $4,000. There is a $50 ticket after 12:30p.m. as well. Their last event, “Midnight in Paris,” was all the rage and this looks like tons of fun.

I asked Henry Stimler a few questions.

What will guests see when they attend?
We are going to create a world of all things Bond, from being greeted by Miss Moneypenny, to tarot card readers, gold-painted ladies, Bond ice sculptures, full band, different singers performing all 22 Bond-themed songs, and of course a casino with amazing prizes.

What will they hear?
Well, the band will play during the gambling etc., then for the after party we are flying in Italian DJ Antonio De Angelis with DJ V to spin from 1am to 4am.

The reason for the Bond theme: is it just because it’s plain sexy?
It’s more than sexy, it’s iconic. I love Bond, and think everyone has that fantasy, the opening scene of Dr. No sitting at the table, lighting a smoke, and saying that immortal line, “Well, here you can embrace it, grab your best tux, strap on a Walter PPK (fake on please), and pull off your best ‘Bond, James Bond’ to a beautiful women, and the place will be full of beautiful Bond girls.

Why January 26th?
It’s my birthday on the 28th, so I kinda rolled with that weekend.

What have you learned from your previous event, Midnight in Paris?
Midnight in Paris was a smashing success. Everywhere people went that night, they ran into flapper girls. I ended up at 6am in a top hat and tails and the door guy asking me "what the hell’s with all the 1920s outfits tonight?” New Yorkers embrace themed parties it seems. We put on a big production –  but this one is bigger.

It’s you, Seth Greenberg, and who else?
We always have a team of people, such as Yana Tara, Michael Heller, Gary Quirk, Vito, Matt Esstes, and Vanessa Gil, but it’s just me and Seth for promotion.

Your restaurant Jezebel is providing "bites." Tell me about bites and, while you’re here, Jezebel. Who goes there? Has the kosher cuisine crossed over, and been embraced by non-Jewish patrons?
Jezebel has been a trip. We are seven months in and it’s going great. I think it’s really been embraced by people. You get such a huge mix of people, it really is the melting pot that is NYC. On any given night, you can have your table of 5 Chabad dudes sitting next to two football players with their girlfriends, next to a table of models, then a rabbi and his wife on a date, next to some huge financiers next to Russell Simmons. We have a great new chef, Chris Mitchell, formerly of The Breslin. He is just great.

For Bond, we are going to do a mix of Goldfinger food and Bond-inspired snacks. It’s gonna be very cool and super delicious.

Ok, ok, ok, who’s your favorite Bond? Who’s your favorite Bond villain and your favorite Bond girl?
Sean Connery, hands down, for favorite Bond, the girl in The Spy Who Loved Me, and Goldfinger as my fav Bond villain: "I don’t expect you to talk, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die." Classic stuff.

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Industry Insiders: Randy Scott, RDV Frontrunner

Randy Scott tells BlackBook about RDV— his newest nightlife muse, being considered the Kevin Bacon of the Industry and the social importance of the lounge.

What is your current project? I am involved in the whole complex on 13th Street between 9th and Washington which is now, Kiss and Fly the nightclub, Bagatelle the restaurant and the third space, which is the lounge, is the new project called RDV. Abbreviation for Rendez-vous. Bagatelle is one of the most successful restaurants in New York. Remi Laba and Aymeric Clemente are the partners and great to work with. I was brought on to head the lounge. RDV is a plush lounge—it is the gem. We are just doing friends and family now, but we will be opening shortly. We did a party for Josh Lucas and another for Quincy Jones. We hired a mixologist, Thierry Hernandez from Bar du Plaza Athénée in Paris, and we are following his formal steps of service.

Where do you go out? When you are in this business as I am, I enjoy quiet on my nights off. If I do go out, I like relaxed environments like Rose Bar, Beatrice and small restaurants. Cozy places, like the restaurant August. I really love Socialista, I love the Latin theme.

How did you start out in the business? I went from waiter to bartender. I bartended at the Paramount Hotel, Randy Gerber’s first project. I did the bartending circuit, then someone asked me to do the door in the Hamptons, at the Tavern. I think the Von Brocks were still running it. I remember David Sarner was involved. It was Lara Shriftman who dragged me around the scene, she is the one I probably owe my entrance to. We met at Frederick’s, the original on 64th Street. It was a game to me at the time. It became obvious doing the door was a more central position with a lot more opportunities. You become the front person.

What has changed? I think the culture has changed. It is not that as one scene comes in the last one has died. I see things as more cyclical than changed. When people talk about bottle service they make it seem that nightlife has created this evil monster when they are just supplying what there is a market for. Right now it’s obvious there has been a proliferation of lounges. People wanted more intimacy. The lounges have interesting interior design. Each one is different.

What led you here? Previous to this venture [which is RDV], there was Cain, prior to that was Marquee, before that was Pangea, and Float, and the beginning was every Hamptons club. I worked at every place Andrew Sasson did. He was a pioneer. I worked for Seth Greenberg when he opened Conscience Point which was then M80. Andrew asked me to open all the Jet lounges with him.

You have worked with everyone in this business. So you might be the Kevin Bacon of nightlife? Maybe, I even worked for Amy Sacco once when she was part of System.

What do you dislike about the business? When people lose themselves in it. It can be dark. These people feel fulfilled because they are inside an exclusive place. They get caught up in the hype. When they are out 4 or 5 nights a week for years. They dance with the devil. Also, when people complain about getting their friends in, I say, ‘I don’t see you down at McSorley’s, you could all be in there right now. Don’t pretend you don’t know what’s going on here.’

Industry Insiders: Seth Greenberg, Mogul Multitasker

Capitale’s Seth Greenberg on the origins of bottle service, taking over Boston, why Parisians bite New York style, and who really invented bottle service.

Point of Origin: The Paradise Club and Stitches [were my first properties, both in Boston]. Both needed pre-function, so we moved Stitches to an independent location. Then we expanded Paradise by opening M-80 in the old Stitches site. So we moved Stitches to a new location, about a mile away, so now Stitches had a big space. A comedy club in the back, and a little restaurant bar/lounge up front. And now M-80 was connected to the Paradise Club. After about a year, we expanded, then eventually gutted the entire facility so M-80 had both buildings. Then we expanded M-80 to New York, opened Conscience Point in Southampton, and created M-80 in the summer.

When I graduated from college, I was 21; by the time I was 30, I owned 10 nightclubs in Boston, and from there I decided that I really needed a restaurant in Boston, a Euro-themed restaurant; so 12 and a half years ago, I opened a restaurant called Mistral, which is probably still one of the highest grossing restaurant in the city. And about 9 years ago, I assisted my partner in Mistral with the development of XV Beacon. I came to New York about six years ago looking for a project, and I was presented with the [Capitale space] through a friend. The gentleman who had optioned this building was planning to turn it into a nightclub, and I said, before you do that, why don’t you consider doing something a little more high-end than a nightclub. So he came up to Boston with me, stayed at the hotel, had dinner at Mistral, went to one of my clubs, and we made a deal.

We realized that the best business model for this property [Capitale] is to just operate strictly as catering and events. I sold my last club in 2005 in Boston, and have since been focused on high-end hospitality. We opened another event space in New York on 42nd between 11th and 12th avenues in the beginning of this year called Espace. And about a year and a half ago, I bought a building in Boston called the Ames with my friend Richard Kilstock, and we did a deal where Normandy Realty and the Morgans Group, where Morgans is going to manage the hotel, and I’m going to still operate the food and beverage myself. And that’s slated to open next summer.

Occupations: I consider myself more of a hospitality executive now, focused on food and beverage. Currently my venues are Espace, Mistral, the Ames, and Capitale.

Side Hustle: I advised Jason Binn [of Niche Media] on the launch of Boston Common.

What got you interested in magazines? I was a promoter in college, and I had approached Jason and said it would be a great idea to launch an Ocean Drive in Boston. But first he became a part of Hamptons, then he did a deal with Gotham, and over the years he always said, “One day when I come to Boston, we’ll do it together.” At this point he has such an enormous infrastructure, he just needed someone local to help facilitate the magazine. He opened Boston Common and Capitol File at the same time. We set up Mistral and XV Beacon as a kind of ground zero for the magazine, hosting lunches and dinners with clients, and then we did a pre-opening party. We host five cover launch parties a year.

It seems like you’ve been involved in pretty much every facet of the nightlife industry. Which is your favorite? When I was younger, I was out so much. I just loved it. I just wanted to be out all the time. I always said I was good at what I did because I was out. My clients were my guests and my friends. But now, my lifestyle has changed; I don’t want to be out every night, I don’t drink. I just want to stay healthy, I want to stay fit, stay focused. I want to focus on developing more real estate, and hopefully putting my own hospitality projects in that real estate. And that’s my focus for the next ten years. I don’t want to go backwards.

I still love the marketing side, I still love hosting parties, but now it’s just different. A Boston Common party starts at 8 p.m., and it’s over at 11.

Favorite Hangs: In New York I love going to Rose Bar, I love going to dinner. I’ve been going to Gemma a bit in the Bowery, I love Craftsteak in the Meatpacking. I like Tao, Nobu. And if I go clubbing, I go to Marquee. Noah Tepperberg is one of my best friends, I have to support Noah. In the Hamptons, I love going to Sunset Beach. Saturday nights I never go to restaurants; five or six friends will invite each other over for different brunches or dinners. On a Friday I like Savanna’s every once and a while. I try to go to different spots.

Industry Icons: Andre Balazs and Ian Schrager. Ian came from the nightlife side, but really the operations side, and he really created some amazing spaces. Ian’s hotel company is now owned by Morgans Hotel Group; I think their projects are timely and beautiful. Same with Andre, he’s done some great work. I think the Mercer is beautiful, I think the Gramercy Park Hotel is beautiful. They’ve both had some projects I’ve been really impressed with.

Known Associates: Noah [Tepperberg] and Jason [Strauss of Strategic Group] are two of my dear friends. I’m good friends with Jeffrey Jah, I like Jeffrey a lot. I’m friends with Danny A, Richie Akiva and Scottie [Sartiano of 1Oak], and Mike Satsky [of Stereo].

Jeffrey Jah claims to have invented bottle service. What do you think of that? That’s really ridiculous. I was doing bottle service way before anyone knew what it was.

So you invented bottle service? I didn’t invent bottle service; it was being done in Europe for years. When I was 29 years old, I was in the south of France, and you’d go to a table at Saint-Tropez and Cannes, that was the European way. You get a table with a group of friends, you get a bottle, and they bring you mixers, and a bucket of ice, and that was normal for twenty years. So maybe [Jeffrey] was one of the first people to bring it to New York, but we were doing it in the Hamptons, certainly, 13 years ago. At M-80 in Boston, we had bottle service, back around 1990. I grew up in Miami Beach, and when I was high school and used to go to the Cricket Club, which had bottle service.

Do you think New York nightlife is dead? I think there’s a symbiotic relationship between nightlife and fashion and celebrity. And it’s shifted over the years from bars to dance clubs to restaurants to lounges. It’s continually cyclical. And what’s predominant in New York right now is hip-hop, which is affecting the way people dance and what’s more comfortable for nightlife. Certainly lounges are more appealing than big nightclubs today, and maybe a lot of it has to do with the music. There’s a fashion that goes with it [hip-hop culture] too. New York was the first city where you started playing hip-hop and people started wearing sneakers. The look of New York sort of changed. The New Yorkers would show up at Fashion Week in Paris wearing jeans and sneakers and everyone would look at them saying how déclassé they were, that they didn’t know how to dress properly. And now you see that as a fashion trend in Europe as well. So I think New York has always been ahead of the curve.

Projections: Right now the hotel in Boston, The Ames by Morgans, is slated to open next summer. I’m co-developing a property in Chelsea, yet to be named, similar to the deal I have in Boston where I’ll end up operating the food and beverage, and we’ll have a big management company involved. XV Beacon is 61 rooms, and I learned how to develop a hotel properly by observing and assisting my partner in Mistral. The Ames is 115 rooms; the hotel in Chelsea is closer to 500 rooms. So I’m moving up in the world.

Do you have any overseas expansions/projects lined up? I’ve been approached by some different groups to get involved in some projects in the Middle East, but until things are signed, there’s really not much to talk about. But I’m looking pretty closely at Dubai. But we want to grow our infrastructure first. In Europe, nothing in the immediate future.

What are you doing tonight? Tonight I am training Muay Thai, and then I am going to a friend’s rehearsal dinner. And then I’m meeting Michael Bolton. I’ve been training martial arts for at least twenty years.

Sounds like you’re pretty good at scouting trends before anyone else. I guess so.

Photo: Gerry Lerner