Where Celebs Go Out: Wes Anderson, Emmy Rossum, Charlotte Ronson, & More

At Lucky magazine’s Lucky Shops:

● KATRINA BOWDEN – “I love Café Mogador in the East Village. It’s Moroccan, and they have these great fish and chicken kebabs and really cool dishes and olives and bread. It’s really good. And they have this fish soup that’s amazing, on special sometimes.”

● ANA ORTIZ – “I’m a very local person right now because I don’t have a lot of time away. So there’s this really groovy little place across the street from me called the Speak Low bar and it’s in Dumbo in Brooklyn, and it’s just underneath Rice. It’s a really funky, hip little bar. And they have the most delicious cocktails. As soon as I was able to drink after giving birth, I went down there. They have the best martini I ever had!”

At The Fantastic Mr. Fox press day:

● WES ANDERSON – “There’s a place in Los Angeles called Nishimura that’s a sushi place. That’s a great place. I would recommend that one.”

At launch party for Yoga Wii by Dreamcatcher Interactive Inc.:

● ANJA RUBIK – “Right now — it changes, of course — right now, I’m addicted to Matsuri. It’s a Japanese restaurant in the Maritime Hotel. I just love the food there. It’s incredible and the atmosphere they create there is so beautiful. I love it there. I love the Cipriani’s uptown. I love it. The food is so great. And it also has an incredible atmosphere. Da Silvano is great. Bar Pitti is amazing. It has Italian food, which is fantastic. I love Gobo. It’s all this organic food, vegetarian. It’s on Sixth Avenue near Eighth Street or Seventh Street.”

At Fashion Group International’s Night of Stars:

● SIMON DOONAN – “I love Il Cantinori. It’s around the corner from my house. The risotto primavera is killer!”

● EMMY ROSSUM – “I really like David Burke Townhouse. I love that lollypop tree that comes out at the end. There’s like a cheesecake lollypop tree. It looks like a lollypop, but it’s a ball of cheesecake on the end of stick and it’s in this holder that makes it look like a tree. I really like eating sushi at Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, at like 4am.”

● TOMMY HILFIGER – “Rebecca’s in Greenwich, Connecticut. Incredibly delicious. It’s simple, but it’s really, really high-quality food and always well done — consistent. It’s prepared very well.”

● MARK RONSON – “My favorite restaurant in New York is, probably, Gino’s uptown on 60th and Lex. The angel hair with the secret sauce. They call it that. ‘Cause when you’re a kid, and anyone tells you something’s secret, of course, you like think it’s amazing. In the whole word, I don’t know. I wish — I’m really good at answering these questions, but not on the spot.”

● DITA VON TEESE – “I love going to London to eat. I love China Tang at the Dorchester because I love the Art Deco Chinese interior. I love the Wolseley in London. And I’m not familiar with New York restaurants. It seems like they’re ever changing, so …”

At Purgatorio pop-up club:

● JOSH LUCAS – “Oh, the old school — Raoul’s is one of my all-time favorites. And there’s a place right down in my neighborhood, called Broadway East, which is a really interesting new kind of organic, sexy restaurant I like a lot. Also, down by my place, Les Enfants Terribles, you know that place? A good, little fun one. Those are my three that come to mind immediately.”

● SIMON HAMMERSTEIN – “That’s a hard question. I kind of like the 18th floor of the Standard — the bar on the 18th floor. I think he’s done a really good job with that.”

● CHRISTIAN SIRIANO – “In New York, I love the Cooper Square Hotel. We have dinner there a lot, hang out there — really, really fun. But, like hang out, hang out spots — where do we go? Oh, Bagatelle, very fabulous. I’m pretty low key, so I feel like — my couch, that’s where we go to hang out and have a party.”

At Motorola’s party for Droid phone with Verizon service:

● PATRICK HEUSINGER – “I just went to Delicatessen for the first time. I really enjoyed that. We watch Sunday and Monday football at Brother Jimmy’s on the Upper West Side. Yeah, it’s great. We’ve been going there since I was in college because I went to college here in New York, too. And then, I go to the bar, Niagara, on the Lower East Side a lot. That’s one of my haunts. I probably go there once a week. One of my best friends works there, so — it’s on 7th and Avenue A.

● JUDAH FRIEDLANDER – “I don’t drink or anything. I’m a role model for children. But I do eat. The place I really crave is called Sarajevo. It’s in Astoria — Bosnian owners. It’s basically Yugoslavian food. Awesome. That’s the place I crave more than any place. Cevapcici is the main thing. It’s kind of like ground beef and lamb on skewers, and you serve it in this fresh, homemade bread. And there’s this spread called Kajmak. It’s kind of like a sour-cream spread, except a million times better. And then you put ajvar on it, also, which is a like a tomato, red pepper, eggplant spread. And then you put raw onions on it, and you’re in heaven, baby! And you got power! And you’re ready to kick ass! It’s good stuff. The other thing they have is stuffed cabbage with tomato sauce, which they call sarma. It’s in Astoria. It’s on 34th Avenue and 38th Street. It’s so good. That’s my favorite food. I like all the ethnic, little take-out type places. Those are my favorite places.”

At launch of fashion game Style Savvy for the Nintendo DS and DSi:

● CHARLOTTE RONSON – “I love Bar Pitti on 6th Avenue. It’s nice and easy. You can sit outside when the weather is nice. You always run into someone you know. For movies, the Anjelika is nice. It’s clean. I’m drawn to movies that play there. In London, I love Holland Park, Kensington High Street — great area with lots of good shops and walking distance from my parents’ home. La Famiglia is a great restaurant.”

At launch party for Scupltz shapewear and legwear:

● ROBERT VERDI –Le Singe Vert on 7th Avenue. It means the Green Monkey. I was born in ’68, the year of the monkey. I love it. Novita, on 22nd Street, off of Park Avenue. It feels very insider; the food is fabulous. There’s a scene, but it’s not sceney. Da Silvano, because I feel like a big schmaltz when I go there ’cause I’m treated better than I really am. He’s really sweet. I’m very good friends with his wife, Marisa, who treats me like family. Since I grew up in a restaurant family, it’s a feeling I like to have when I go out to eat.

Strong Silent Type: Genc Jakupi, Keeper of The Box

I am not a frequent visitor to The Box, even though I live just a short walk away. The shows don’t excite me much; in fact, what I have seen has had the opposite affect. However, I cannot deny the cultural impact the place has had on our town. In the jaded land of nightlife, The Box has redefined the model-bottle era. In its performance-based theatrical approach, it has shocked us into believing once again that if you think outside of the box in clubdom, you can achieve success. My problem with the bottle-model era is that it’s never been over the top enough to excite me. It never pushed the envelop or culture. Having Lindsay Lohan, Paris, and a gaggle of lowbrow celebutantes, models, and promoters throwing napkins into the air to generic music is not greatness. Any night at the World, Studio, Area, Paradise Garage, or any of the classic joints was better than the best nights ever at Marquee, Tenjune, or Kiss & Fly. I am not knocking these clubs, as they are doing their formulated best to entertain their crowds. They are the product of these times and are a reflection of the attitude of their owners and the need to make money against impossible odds.

These crowds are not, for the most part, interested in serious music or culture as an important part of their nightlife experience. Their clone-like clothes and views define an age where Grey Goose is more relevant than art. The Box said there can be another way, and even though I don’t go there, I celebrate it for taking the scene in another direction. The Box is always swirling in controversy. Showgirls and other distractions, scandals, and such have been well documented in the gossip columns. Life on the edge can sometimes get edgy, so let’s talk with Box doorman Genc Jakupi about his vision and how he guards Simon Hammerstein’s playground.

You are a mysterious character — we really don’t know each other. I’ve met you maybe once or three times. I know your brother Binn pretty well. He does 1Oak, and you do The Box. How did you become doormen, and who was first? Binn started G-Spa with Richie Akiva. He took off for like a year I think. Anyway, I got into it with my brother’s help. I started just doing hosting and helping with Mark and Richie at Tenjune. That was just for a short amount of time. I met with Serge Becker, as they needed a guy at the door of The Box. They’d really never had one before — not that they didn’t have a doorperson, but they didn’t have somebody who knew the people. They did not have it down at the front of the house, you know what I mean? It’s such a complex project, you know what I mean?

I did the door there one night — they brought me in for an event. Cordell Lochin asked if I’d be interested in doing. I told him I couldn’t because I have other things to do. Cordell told me that it underscored their need to have someone who know a lot of people out there. I was doing it for Tricia Romano’s party. I’m glad that I actually became a part of The Box because I really care about that place — I care about it, very much. I’ve been in New York for about seven years, so I can’t speak so much about past New York. I started first working like two nights a week, and then Thursday, Friday, Saturday I was still at Tenjune, and then I just switched — took over the whole thing at The Box.

The Box is certainly a prestigious door … it’s one of the premiere clubs in New York. You’ve got a lot of important people showing up. How did you train yourself to do door? Did your brother instruct you, or did you take your own approach? I used to bartend at Bungalow 8. I learned from Armin Amiri. I have a lot of respect for him, the way he did things, the way he did the door — he kinda ran the whole place. That’s what I do at The Box, that’s what Binn does at 1Oak. it’s not just standing around at the door — he’s doing more than that. So there’s no real training to become a doorman besides knowing the people, knowing what the party needs to have. Knowing what you need inside to make the party happen, how many people you need, who do you need and what are you lacking … different things for different clubs for different clientele,

You need to make money at The Box — it’s showbiz. You have three shows a night, right? Yeah, we have three shows a night … right now we’re going through a little different way of doing the shows.

You have to make revenue off the tables You have to. Everybody has to. At The Box you have to more because there’s more overhead. We’ve been doing pretty good considering the economy; we’re still being exclusive, whatever that means — having the right people. The good thing about it is that we have a name out there; it’s a destination place. So I don’t have a problem with a lot of people outside.

Yeah, the people showing up are getting in for the most part People are showing up with 80 percent expectation of getting in. When you talk about fights, when you talk about stuff like that, I don’t — have much of that

I don’t want to dwell on this too much, but lately there’s been a spate of the incidents involving doormen where people are just losing their cool, and both of us are astonished that that could ever happen. I mean, there’s no need for it No need, no need.

Contrary to the public’s perception, doormen are there to let people in, and to educate people how they may get in in the future, and to be nice even when you turn people away, and say something like, “This place may not be for you.” Do you agree with that? Not “this place might not be for you,“ no.

Well what do you say? As much as I take doormen’s side in this, you know the fights and everything, I look at it in two different ways. I look at it if I was to approach the door — people who go out, they’re ready, they’re dressed, they put a lot into that, you know what I mean? So now when you say no to somebody, my approach is to let them know to come back. I want them to come back. That’s the main thing — I want them to come back and just to see to let them decide how they’re gonna show up when they come back. And people get it right — believe me, people get it right.

I used to say that I’m not making the decision that you’re not getting in; you made that decision when you left your house like this. True.

Nobody likes to be rejected … it’s the hardest thing in the world to tell people that they don’t belong, but that’s probably it, they don’t belong. You’re saying this is a club, and you don’t’ belong. You’re the expert on whether they belong or not. See, with the Box though, that’s not what I’m trying to do, because of the show. It allows me to let people in. I want to have all sorts of people. As long as there’s a community between people — as long as people see something, and they can talk about each other, and they can talk to each other, and they connect. I don’t believe in dress codes and stuff like that.

That’s very interesting. I used to say, “We don’t have a dress code, we have a heart code,” and I think that’s what you’re saying. If a person puts enough effort to come out, thinks about it, puts a beautiful gown or a beautiful something — something interesting. We don’t wanna see boring stuff. All of these people that work in offices, they see so much boring stuff … the last thing you want to give them when they go out is to see the rest of what they saw in the day. So I like to see people going a little crazy, going a little wild with the way they dress. … I never had fights, and I knock on wood because I don’t wanna have fights in The Box. We don’t have them because I really keep people with good attitude. A lot of times people approach the door in a very aggressive way. I never deal with that, and I’m not at the door all the time, so that’s a way of avoiding conflict.

That’s a problem — the fact that you’re not at the door all the time. I showed up once, it was late at night a couple weeks ago, and nobody knew me at the door, and I should be somebody that people know. I’m not bragging, but I should be known. But you ended up inside

I did end up inside. I waited about 10 minutes outside. No you didn’t!

Yes I did. No you didn’t –there’s no way!

Yes I did. And I wrote about it. But it didn’t bother me. It seems to have bothered Noah Tepperberg the other day when he showed up, but we’re not going to get into that much because it’s an unfortunate thing — old news. I didn’t mind waiting because I don’t go to the place, so I can understand why they don’t know me — but you do go inside, and what happens when you go inside? Do people just wait, and that’s the attitude? I know we’re in the business where some people in this industry really take it hard when they have to wait a little. I’m inside because I do a lot of stuff. I’m not just a doorman at The Box. I take care of everything that needs to be taken care of to make the place happen. When I’m not the door, I have guys outside that I trust — I don’t let them make decisions, but people that come here all the time end up inside. It’s rare that anyone gets a surprise when they show up wrong, like, “Oh, why am I not coming in?”. These are people who have been coming for a long time — people from downtown, people who don’t take it personally if they wait a little.

I have been told by some people that The Box used to be much better; other people tell me that it’s better now. The first time I went that night I did the door there, I felt it was too pushed, like it was forced, and it was all about shock value. The shows?

Yes, and just the crowd itself, the vibe inside was like poseur or pushed. The second time I went, I liked it less, but the last time I went it was really natural, the way people sat, the way they interacted, and there was a sexiness to it. I guess I can credit you, and Simon Hammerstein. You have to credit Simon because he’s the visionary, and he’s really the best guy that I’ve ever worked with — he really knows what he’s doing. He’s an expert on his thing, and he trusts me with things that I want to do. He knows that what I do is good, and he believes in me.

That’s how a doorman has to work, and a doorman has to understand the message and the needs of the house, and he has to be left to do it himself. You have to know who’s expected, and what you have, because you’re really a maestro or an orchestra leader … you’re coordinating, mixing the crowds and creating this energy. But besides that, at The Box, you’ve got to have a certain amount of people by the certain time, because of the show. It’s more than just letting in who you want to let in.

How about money at the door? I mean, I’ve heard from people who I don’t really go out with — but I know of them — and they went The Box, and they got hit up for $1000 at the door, or $800 dollars at the door, and they bought tables. Tables are very expensive there, and yet you’re still selling them, even in this economy. Still holding up.

Because you’re offering something that no one else is? Not that no one else is — you’re offering something that people really appreciate. People don’t mind paying the show charge.

Is there an exit strategy? I’m addicted to nightlife; I’ve evolved from running clubs to writing about them, and designing them. I haven’t been able to get out. Are you addicted to The Box, to the nightlife, or do you think it’s a phase? I am at The Box because I like what The Box gives to people, which is not just nightlife. I’m addicted to New York. Even when I wasn’t at the Box, I wanted people visiting New York to go see what The Box has to give, because it’s really what I think New York is about. I don’t know if I would have been able to come up with something like that, but seeing it, my hat’s off to Simon for bringing that thing to life.

It’s not a nightclub — it’s a way of life? I wouldn’t be able to do any other place the way I’m doing it at The Box. If another place opened up, and they offered me a job, I don’t see myself going to work for somebody else. It’s not just a job.

Your job is theater in itself, plus your job is a responsibility to the acts inside and to the patrons; there has to be a certain intelligence, there has to be a certain way of people being treated, from the moment they get out of the taxi. Certain way of people being treated, certain ways of seeing where the party should be, and envisioning, where people want to sit, deciding where they’re gonna sit so they sit next to somebody who they’re gonna have fun next to. The first time I went to The Box, before I was working there, Serge and Cordell invited me, and I said to myself: there’s elegance in this room that could make such a good party.

There’s a movie called Casablanca, and in that movie, which is a classic nightclub, the lyrics for the most important song of the flick are, “the fundamental things apply as time goes by.” That’s the thing with The Box, isn’t it? It really gets down to the fundamentals We’re not going against time at The Box. A lot of clubs open, and they have this expectation of first year, second year, that’s it … but we are still developing.

You’ve reached a point where the performers and the audience are one thing. I want to let people in such that when they came in, you wouldn’t actually need to know who the performer is.

Porcelain Twinz vs. The Box: The Full Lawsuit

Not satisfied with just the selected salacious bits from the Porcelain Twinz’ discrimination lawsuit versus The Box and owner Simon Hammerstein? Then enjoy the entireity of the complaint after the jump, containing the previously released parts plus further details of vermin-infested living conditions and a poo-smeared green room (don’t forget the obligatory blowjobs). Life on the stage — so glamorous!

———————————– Plaintiffs, Amber Langley and Heather Langley, by their attorneys, Tuckner, Sipser, Weinstock & Sipser, LLP, respectfully complain as follows:

Nature of the Case

1. This is an action arising under the laws of the City of New York seeking damages to redress the injuries that Plaintiffs Amber and Heather Langley have suffered as a result of being discriminated against on the basis of their sex and subjected to a hostile work environment based on sex.

Parties

2. Plaintiffs Amber Langley and Heather Langley are identical twin sisters, hailing from Portland, Oregon. Plaintiffs are known professionally as The Porcelain Twinz, and they were employed as performers at The Box, an upscale restaurant and theatre located in lower Manhattan, during the relevant time period.

3. The Box, as well as co-Defendant and co-owner Simon Hammerstein, are “employers” as defined in S8-102(5) of the New York City Administrative Code, as they employ 4 (four) or more persons.

Material Facts

4. Plaintiffs are well-regarded, internationally recognized performance artists, and the pioneers of a cabaret theatrical milieu known as fetish-burlesque.

5. Plaintiffs worked at The Box five nights per week during their one year tenure prior to suffering the adverse employment action that ended their relationship with Defendants.

6. Plaintiffs were seen in performance by Christopher Jerrytone, a patron of The Box who saw Plaintiffs’ performance at Dante’s Cabaret in Portland, Oregon, and based on the strength of that show, Jerrytone advised Serj Becker, a principal of The Box, to hire Plaintiffs to perform at The Box.

7. Defendants contacted Plaintiffs while they were still in Portland, in or around the spring of 2007, and asked if Plaintiffs would come to New York and perform at The Box. It was initially suggested that Plaintiffs perform at The Box for two weeks, but Defendants informed Plaintiffs that lodging costs would not be provided, notwithstanding the custom and practice in the entertainment profession of priding room, board and air fare costs to out of town performers.

8. Following lengthy discussions with Defendants regarding these terms and conditions of prospective employment, Plaintiffs finally felt compelled to accept Defendant Hammerstein’s offer to lodge Plaintiffs for two weeks in his own loft apartment directly above The Box.

9. Upon information and belief, Plaintiffs arrived at Hammerstein’s apartment on July 9, 2007 and immediately declined Hammerstein’s proffer to powdered cocaine, a narcotic held in tall supply by Hammerstein, as Plaintiffs would soon discover.

10. Plaintiffs room was contiguous with the main living/kitchen area in Hammerstein’s loft. There were glass doors with draped cream-colored sheets providing little privacy; the dingy room Plaintiffs shared with an insect infestation was quite small, proximately causing fever and other symptoms of unwellness to Plaintiff Heather Langley.

11. Notwithstanding Plaintiffs’’ challenging short-term residential situation caused by Defendants’ failure to cover reasonable travel and lodging costs, Plaintiffs concentrated on their well-received act at The Box.

12. After Plaintiffs’ two week trial at The Box ended, they were asked to remain on the program for an additional two weeks. After four weeks of successfully performing at The Box, Plaintiffs conferred with Associate Producer Robyn Foresta, who then conferred with Hammerstein’s business partner, Richard Kimmel, regarding the prospect of negotiating a long-term contract of employment between the parties. Kimmel and Hammerstein agreed to offer Plaintiffs permanent employment but at a substantially reduced rate of pay compared with their earnings during this first limited engagement. Despite the diminution of their performance-related earnings, the opportunity to perform in a long-running engagement in New York City at this prestigious venue represented the continued fulfillment of Plaintiffs’ career aspirations.

13. After the first four weeks, Plaintiffs departed New York and performed shows that they had previously contracted for outside of Ne York prior to commencing employment at The Box.

14. Plaintiffs then returned to Portland to pack their belongings in order to permanently move to New York. Plaintiffs returned and continued to live in Hammerstein’s apartment while they actively continued a challenging search for a rental apartment of their own, given their limited budget.

15. As soon as Plaintiffs began residing with Hammerstein again, he commenced a campaign of sexual harassment against them. Plaintiffs clearly communicated to Hammerstein that they considered his sex-based advances unwelcome. Hammerstein responded by calling Plaintiffs “prudes” among other pejorative sex-based terms, and generally degraded the terms and conditions of their employment by barely acknowledging their individual or collective presence. In retaliation for their declination of Hammerstein’s sexual advances, Plaintiffs were thereafter notified that they must move both themselves and their property out of Hammerstein’s residence as quickly as possible.

16. Plaintiffs distanced themselves from Hammerstein at the outset of their employment at The Box in order to avoid his predatory ways and inappropriate questions concerning, among other illegal inquiries, whether Plaintiffs had current boyfriends/lovers and whether or not they “shared” them with one another. Plaintiffs regularly steered clear of Hammerstein’s apartment until late into the night, in order to avoid him, as he regularly invited people to his loft and once advices Plaintiffs that “everyone was waiting for them” in order to be entertained with the “fetish and bondage gear” that they used onstage in their act.

17. Approximately one month after Plaintiffs began searching for an apartment, Foresta told Plaintiffs that they had to leave Hammerstein’s apartment immediately and that they should stay in a hotel. As Plaintiffs had nowhere else to stay without incurring exorbitant nightly hotel costs, they sent a text message to Foresta and told her that they were unhappy with The Box and were highly emotional due to the situation they found themselves struggling with through no fault of their own, and they indicated that they were going to move back to Portland. Foresta texted Plaintiffs back, indicating that Plaintiffs continued presence at The Box was desired, and she thereafter became more flexible with respect to Plaintiffs’ departure from Hammerstein’s apartment.

18. Approximately two weeks later, Plaintiffs found an apartment in Brooklyn within their budget. However, they were required to produce a co-signatory for additional security on the apartment. On behalf of Plaintiffs, Foresta asked Hammerstein if he could agree to act as a guarantor for Plaintiffs to assist them in securing the apartment and he agreed. Plaintiffs were scheduled to move into their new apartment on or about November 7, 2007.

19. On or about November 6, 2007, Hammerstein summoned Plaintiffs into his bedroom while all three of them were in his apartment. Plaintiffs were packing for the imminent move inside of their own room and ignored his initial request due to his previous discriminately behavior. Shortly thereafter, Hammerstein again called to Plaintiffs to come into his room “to talk,” and when they entered Hammerstein’s bedroom, they found him lying in bed in his underwear.

20. Hammerstein enjoined Plaintiffs to “get undressed and come lay down with me.” Plaintiffs hesitated, as they did not wish to be intimate with Hammerstein. However, Plaintiffs felt compelled to accede to Hammerstein’s directive, as he had co-signed the lease on their new apartment.

21. Hammerstein required Plaintiffs to remove their underwear before demanding that they fellate him. Plaintiffs performed as ordered before engaging in oral sex with each other at Hammerstein’s direction, while he masturbated. Hammerstein engaged in sexual intercourse with Plaintiff Heather Langley and other sexual acts with Plaintiffs. Plaintiffs thereafter departed in disgust from Hammerstein’s bedroom.

22. The following night at The Box, Hammerstein informed employees there that he had enjoyed a “threesome” with Plaintiffs the previous evening. He falsely insinuated that they were willing and eager participants in their own degradation and objectification.

23. Plaintiffs, in particular, and other female performers in general, endured a severe and pervasive hostile work environment based on sex throughout their employment at The Box.

24. In or around September 2007, while Plaintiffs were engaged in conversation with a photographer following the night’s performance, Hammerstein walked by Plaintiffs and placed his hand inside Amber Langley’s pants, as he attempted to insert his finger into her vagina. Hammerstein then attempted to pull her into a curtained “VIP” booth, but she freed herself from his grasp before Plaintiffs departed into the safety of a room with other people present.

25. On another occasion, Hammerstein grabbed Plaintiff Heather Langley and dragged her into a stall in the women’s restroom. Langley’s shocked reaction to his manhandling her caused Hammerstein to open the stall door and allow her to leave.

26. Upon information and belief, Hammerstein provides prime placement within the show at The Box to female performers who are willing to engage in sexual relations with him. One Plaintiff’s performance was removed permanently from the schedule without explanation and Plaintiff emailed Hammerstein to indicate that they would perform fellatio on him if he would put their performance back into the show schedule. Hammerstein responded instantly, indicating only “Done”.

27. Plaintiffs were informed by various performers at The Box that Hammerstein had informed Kimmel that he “hated” their show, which was entitled Androgyny and that he never wanted to see it performed at The Box again. After Plaintiffs emailed Hammerstein with the sexual offer, Plaintiffs’ show ran for several months.

28. In addition to the unwelcome, sever and pervasive hostile working environment that Plaintiffs were compelled to endure throughout their employment at The Box, the environmental conditions at The Box were abysmally poor. The performer preparation room, nicknamed “the green room,” was infested with rats, cockroaches and maggots. There was broken glass on the floor, the ventilation was poor and performers were permitted to smoke tobacco, casting a thick pall of noxious smoke. Hammerstein confined his pet dog, a black Labrador, to the green room for days at a time, so canine excrement routinely permeated Plaintiffs’ work space. Plaintiffs saw rats and cockroaches in the green room on several occasions.

29. Plaintiffs witnessed and endured the performance of many illegal acts during the course of their employment with Defendants, including but not limited to, staff that behaved as prostitutes, in house illegal drug dealing and open illegal drug use throughout the club. Cocaine, heroin and marijuana were freely consumed; additionally, Plaintiffs witnessed Kimmel snorting cocaine at a private party at The Box.

30. Plaintiffs and other performers at The Box suffered profound degradation to the terms, conditions and privileges of employment with Defendants through physical and emotional abuse and unwelcome sexual harassment. Hammerstein would slap female performers’ buttocks so hard that his hand would leave an imprint on their skin, and in Heather Langley’s case, he left a bruise mark.

31. Plaintiffs were told to raise the level of sexuality within their performance in order to keep performing at The Box. Hammerstein advised Plaintiffs that their internationally lauded artistic performance was not sufficient for his club, and that if they wanted to remain at The Box they would need to incorporate actual sexual acts in their performance.

32. Hammerstein demanded that Plaintiffs perform a “Triple XXX” show, far outside the strictures of the “fetish-burlesque cabaret” theatre act that Plaintiffs created and perfected during the course of their innovative career.

33. On or about November 6, 2007, Defendants instructed and required Plaintiffs to perform cunnilingus on each other as well as vaginal penetration with simulated phalluses. Plaintiffs believed that if they did not alter their performance to appeal to the prurient interest of Defendants, they would be fired from The Box, necessitating a financially draining move back to Portland, Oregon.

34. Plaintiffs’ cabaret act involves the performance art melding of sexually taboo erotica with stylized, choreographed simulated sex acts. Plaintiffs are identical twin sisters who never before have engaged in incestuous sexual relations with each other—either privately-or professionally within the confines of their performance art.

35. As Plaintiffs wished to remain gainfully employed at The Box, they began employing glass dildos in their new act, which Defendants renamed Twincest. While Plaintiffs strove to perform these sexual acts in an elegant and beautiful manner, they remained extremely uncomfortable engaging in actual non-simulated sex with each other, which persisted until their constructive discharge.

36. As Plaintiffs could ill afford to live in New York City and survive on the salary provided by The Box, they requested a raise in salary. However their numerous requests were either ignored or denied.

37. Plaintiffs endured Defendants’ sex-based hostility and quid pro quo sexual harassment for an entire year, until on or about July 17, 2008, when they were constructively discharged.

Porcelain Twinz vs. The Box: Sex Suit Revealed

imageYou may remember the Porcelain Twinz — the sister burlesque act that once performed at The Box in New York until their public falling-out with owner Simon Hammerstein. The Twinz, a.k.a. Heather and Amber Langley, had been threatening legal action due to their summary dismissal and Hammerstein’s alleged discriminatory practices. Well, their lawsuit has officially dropped into the lap of the New York Supreme Court, and it’s … Well, it’s just raunchy. Let’s just say that with all the coke-snorting, fellatio, double penetration, grab-ass, and vadge-grabbing alleged to be going on, it’s little wonder that even Moby doesn’t really want to hang out at The Box anymore. After the jump, a few selected excerpts from the lawsuit, focusing on (some of!) the naughtiest bits. (Or see the full text of the lawsuit here.)

9. Upon information and belief, Plaintiffs arrived at Hammerstein’s apartment on July 9, 2008 and immediately declined Hammerstein’s proffer of powdered cocaine, a narcotic held in tall supply by Hammerstein, as Plaintiffs would soon discover. …

20. Hammerstein enjoined Plaintiffs to “get undressed and come lay down with me.” Plaintiffs hesitated, as they did not wish to be intimate with Hammerstein. However, Plaintiffs felt compelled to accede to Hammerstein’s directive, as he had co-signed the lease on their new apartment.

21. Hammerstein required Plaintiffs to remove their underwear before demanding that they fellate him. Plaintiffs performed as ordered before engaging in oral sex with each at Hammerstein’s direction, while he masturbated. Hammerstein engaged in sexual intercourse with Plaintiff Heather Langley and other sexual acts with Plaintiffs. Plaintiffs thereafter departed in disgust from Hammerstein’s bedroom. …

26. Upon information and belief, Hammerstein provides prime placement within the show at The Box to female performers who are willing to engage in sexual relations with him. One of Plaintiffs’ performances was removed permanently from the schedule without explanation and Plaintiffs emailed Hammerstein to indicate that they would perform fellatio on him if he would put their performance back into the show schedule. Hammerstein responded instantly, indicating only “Done.” …

33. On or about November 6, 2007, Defendants instructed and required Plaintiffs to perform cunnilingus on each other as well as vaginal penetration with simulated phalluses … …

35. As Plaintiffs wished to remain gainfully employed at The Box, they began employing glass dildos in their new act, which Defendants renamed Twincest. While Plaintiffs strove to perform these sexual acts in an elegant and beautiful manner, they remained extremely uncomfortable engaging in actual non-simulated sex with each other …

The Porcelain Twinz vs. The Box: Celebs, Cocaine, & Chicanery

On Friday, September 13, I arranged an interview with Heather and Amber Langely, better known as the Porcelain Twinz. It was a week after they had posted a scandalous post on their MySpace — a tell-all about their unsettling experiences, working at the New York nightlife novelty The Box. It’s been a hectic few weeks for Twinz: There’s a lot of press regarding their legal case against Box owner Simon Hammerstein, and they are without work. Yesterday, Eater reported on a community board meeting, held on Monday, during which the Box was denied a renewal application for its liquor license. What really goes on at the Box has always remained concealed behind a heavy and closely watched door; however, if the Twinz blow up their case against Hammerstein, the debauchery and scandalous events they allege might explain why the club has such a strict entrance policy.

The Porcelain Twinz’s sexually charged “fetish-burlesque” act is seductive and unique. A banker I interviewed outside the Box on a Monday night (who incidentally admitted to paying for bottle service in order to get in) told me, “They make that club. So many celebrities, and the elite flock to see them.” The Twinz have performed all over the world, produced their own music, appeared in dozens of fashion and fetish magazines, been on HBO and Playboy TV, and recently directed and starred in their own movie with a soundtrack including the Dandy Warhols, among others.

The Twinz left the Box officially in July; Hammerstein had given them the boot from his apartment in November, where they had been living for three months. He advised them to rent a hotel room, which was not an option financially (they had no contract with the Box), so they gave notice and planned on moving back home to Portland. Hammerstein then suggested they find an apartment with a year-long lease that he allegedly agreed to co-sign for.

Stuck in traffic, in a cab riding over the Brooklyn Bridge due to the pouring rain, I was 30 minutes late to meet the now-infamous Porcelain Twins. Nervously, I ring them (they share a cellphone); soft-spoken Heather answers, suggesting that I just “take a deep breath” because they, too, are tardy — the pair were getting primped for David LaChapelle’s art opening later that evening.

When I arrive at the agreed-upon coffee shop, it’s crowded and the Twinz haven’t arrived yet. I anxiously wait in the back, finding a vacant deep-rouge velvet couch (which coincidentally resembles the furniture at the Box). I don’t know what to expect from the deviant duo, but soon enough they arrive, waving and smiling with genuine warmth. They walk proudly over to me, exposing bare long legs and faces made up just as I’d seen in photos — quite picturesque. Towering over cafe patrons in their spiked knee-high boots, they draw every eye in the place. They match, of course, from their skirts and sleeveless blouses to the short, blonde bobs, resembling Nico in her Warhol days.

When we start the interview, I try hard to differentiate between Heather and Amber, but it’s not easy (nor do their identical appearances and mannerisms help). Another customer, who just so happens to work at a production company, spots the Twinz and walks over, pulling the girls aside to make an offer for them to star in a Nokia commercial. “$200? Add on another zero, maybe,” is how they respond.

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Despite their demand for another few hundy, the Porcelain Twinz are relatively humble and egoless; surprising, given their bold stage presence. “So, are you stressed out about your fallout with the Box”? I ask.

They both light up, and Amber eagerly responds, “Have you ever watched The Secret?” I have yet to see The Secret, but already, I sense there’s more to their story than risqué burlesque acts at a haughty nightclub. “It changed our lives, we lost weight, our outlook on life altered, and it’s helped us to remain positive.”

The twins are “straight-edge” — again surprising, given their work environment and late hours. They are religiously health-conscious; at the end of the interview, before heading to LaChapelle’s party, they will stop at a specialty gourmet deli to pick up fresh-squeezed vegetable juice. They are into detoxing, colonics, chlorophyll, and all the organic fruits and veggies they can get.

Prior to creating a sought-after burlesque act, they were former all-star distance runners in their home state of Oregon. At the age of 20, they began stripping in order to pay for college; Portland happens to be considered the strip-club capital of the country by some enthusiasts. The Twinz grew tired of the inconsistent money however, not to mention the numbing effect endemic to the work. “As dancers, we became sexually exhausted … constantly creating the illusion of sex.” A friend of the Twinz in the entertainment industry discovered them at Dante’s Cabaret Club in Portland in spring 2007. He was enchanted by their bizarre and captivating performance, and he called Serge Becker, a friend of his. Becker, who’s also a partner at the Box, put them in touch with Simon Hammerstein, who right away offered them a two-week gig at his New York club.

They were excited and negotiated an arrangement — not ideal perhaps, but the opportunity was irresistible, despite an inauspicious beginning. “When we arrived at 189 Chrystie Street during the wee hours of the morning,” say the girls, “we were buzzed in and greeted by Simon Hammerstein with his bushy beard and his syrupy sweet British-American accent. … The three of us walked up the stairs to the third floor, where Simon’s loft lay. We were starving and famished from flying across the country all day without a decent meal, and the only thing Simon offered us when we arrived was some cocaine and tap water.”

During the following week’s audition, they were introduced to what Box performers refer to as “Simon Says” — Hammerstein’s humiliating audition routine. “Why don’t you just cut everything out, except the finale, when you’re getting off?” he asked, after their performance. They didn’t, but they claim Hammerstein’s behavior didn’t exactly improve. The two-week gig at the Box wound up extending nearly a year, and various incidents over time eventually compelled the Twinz to bail out.

“We distanced ourselves as much as possible from Hammerstein, from the beginning, to avoid his sexual advances, comments, inquiries, and propositions that he would spring on us anytime he had our attention. … One of us had a boyfriend — in a serious relationship for three years — however, the boyfriend was currently in rehab trying to kick heroin. Simon replied, ‘Yeah I’ve kicked heroin before, it’s really a choice you have to make whether you want to do it or not.’

“There were many nights when Simon would tell us that he was having a party at the loft after the shows, and that everyone would be waiting for us to come entertain them with our fetish and bondage gear that we used on stage.” Once, Hammerstein asked if they would do a “favor” for him, i.e. domination work. “I want you to beat this guy up, a friend of mine. How much would that cost?” he allegedly asked.

“When presenting shows to Simon and [Box partner] Richard [Kimmel], they squashed our ideas and inspirations so deliberately and intensely with their overbearing verbalization of what they thought our art should be, that creating shows became stressful, dreadful, and fearful. We were trying so hard to give them what they wanted, and to please them, that our vision was becoming lost in translation. The psychological abuse that we had to endure from Simon and Richard’s corporate dictatorship and sexual harassment was ultimately why we left.”

Hammerstein and Kimmel, according to Heather and Amber, are “constantly high on cocaine” — possibly thanks to an in-house drug supplier, whose name they would not reveal. “Richard is close to the stage … openly using during performances.” They also claim Hammerstein’s “staff prostitutes” are at his beck and call. “Simon orders call-girls on the expense account,” they say. Club guests apparently were occasionally confused about who served the goodies. “The Wayans brothers once asked if we could get them cocaine.”

I rang the NYPD’s Fifth Precinct on September 16 to inquire about any recent police reports on the Box and/or Simon Hammerstein. It didn’t take much to get an answer from the officer I spoke to. “We are on the case,” he said. “And we know there are drugs going around there, it’s ongoing”.

During our interview, Heather and Amber talk about the female employees at the Box who have more to offer than a $300 bottle of bubbly. Supposedly, one of them approached the Twinz during their shift and asked if they could perform oral sex on a celebrity at a VIP table; $200 was the offer, which seems a pretty light for such a high-class place. Not that the Twinz were interested, understand (after all, they wouldn’t do a Nokia commercial for that much.) Regardless, the Twinz claim that Box employees have been known to service patrons in the bathroom downstairs.

Would they work at the Box again, if a contract was offered? “As long as the Box is run in its current state of dysfunction, as it has been since the opening in February of 2007… we would never work with Simon Hammerstein or Richard Kimmel ever again. … When Simon was out of town, in early June, we made the joint decision to no longer be slaves to the Box, though we had no back-up plan..”

Currently, the Twinz are in the midst of writing new material to use in a re-release of their self-published memoir, The Porcelain Twinz, Our Life in the Sex Industry. The updated book will detail their time at the Box. They’re also talking about taking their act to Soho’s Corio club. Neither Simon Hammerstein nor Richard Kimmel returned my calls or emails.

Industry Insiders: Tamsin Lonsdale, Supper Clubber

Supper Club’s jetsetting Brit Tamsin Lonsdale makes introductions, keeps secrets, and detoxes poolside at Soho House after a rough weekend in Ibiza.

Point of Origin: I went to University in Edinburgh and every birthday party, I’d organize a celebration in our house, a mansion, a house by the water. So that’s where I got my taste for hosting events and getting all my friends together for music and dancing. In 2004 I was a fashion stylist in London doing styling for rock bands, new talent for Creation, the record company, and that was fun. I’d style a lot of the music videos but it wasn’t fulfilling work and it wasn’t like working for myself. I started hosting these dinners and they were really successful.

A lot of people wanted to come. It got really popular, and I had to make the decision between staying as a stylist or doing my supper club. I decided to set up on my own and set it up as a company. After about a year of running it organically, alongside with fashion styling, I set up a website and I wanted to trademark the name, but the “Dinner Club” was already taken so I took “Supper Club.” I charged people membership fees to join. I hosted about 15 events per month, we were really busy. Sometimes, I’d do three events in one night. I did different categories of events. I did gay night, I did nights for people in their twenties, in their thirties. I had a lot going on. I decided two years later to expand to New York.

Why New York? New York is somewhere I always wanted to live. I traveled here as a fashion stylist, and I’d always wanted to be here, and suddenly I had a company that I could take here. I honestly felt that New Yorkers would love the idea, and that it would be a big success. I had a lot of feedback from members who went to New York who wanted me to take it there as well. A lot of times, I would e-mail a member to come to an event and they wouldn’t be able to because they were in New York. So I went out here and spent a year researching the market, meeting with people, interviewing people, meeting with press companies. I found an amazing girl to help set it up with me, who worked at Soho House as a consultant. So we did it together and launched it, and a year later, I now have 300 members in New York, 300 in London and growing. We take on about 10 members a month.

Are you guys doing anything for Art Basel? We might do something. It’d be nice to do a small dinner rather than do a big cocktail party. It’s good to have a presence there, but for me, I don’t want to compete with everything else going on.

Your main thing right now is Supper Club NY, Supper Club London, and you do separate events in LA., Miami. Are those the only cities? My plan in the future is to take Supper Club global. I want to take it LA next, and then Dubai, and then Paris. My idea is to set up a Supper Club in every major metropolitan city around the world. A greater community of people that can meet up in that city or another city they visit.

Like aSmallWorld? Like a smaller aSmallWorld. It has been compared to aSmallWorld. We have the online member aspect to it. If you’re a member, you have a profile.

Really? But it’s only like 300 people. So yeah, like a mini aSmallWorld. But aSmallWorld doesn’t really do events for their members. And I’m at every event hosting it, and I know everybody by name. If you come to a dinner, I do a seating plan where I sit you next to somebody you should meet, that I think you’d get on well with.

What kinds of people are your members? Our members work in different industries. Property, fashion, film, media, finance.

Who are some of your associates, then? What I do with Supper Club is I have an ambassador program. When I launched in October last year, I invited 16 friends, contacts, notables in New York to become ambassadors. What the ambassadors do is they host a dinner party with me and invite all of their friends, well, not all of their friends — their favorite friends, best contacts — to come to dinner. People such as Jennifer Missoni, Alexa Wilding, Hilary Rowland, Flavia Masson, Heather Tierney, Susan Shin, Jim Kloiber, Keren Eldad, Richie Rich, Kate Lanphear, Duncan Quinn.

Are you affiliated with Soho Housee in any way or is just a base? I have an office in Soho but I take all my meetings here. It’s easier I think, and it’s nice.

Where do you like to hang out? Other than Soho House. Soho House is great in the day. I love coming here during the summer. In the evening, I would choose to hang out elsewhere. Norwood, which is another private members club. Mole, the Mexican restaurant in the Lower East Side. Anywhere in the Lower East, any of those bars. GoldBar, I like. The Box, I love. Highbar is quite fun. I like Nolita. I love the restaurants around there. Ruby’s for lunch, Public for dinner — the food is fantastic. I love La Esquina. I love anything Mexican, it’s my favorite. Bond St. is great … I love the sushi there even though I don’t sushi. I eat the vegetarian sushi. Bobo, I love Bobo. Il Buco … so many good places. We work with all of Andre Balazs’ hotels in LA, Miami, and New York to give our members preferential rates.

Industry Icons: I guess I admire Simon Hammerstein. I went to school with him. He’s a friend of mine, I haven’t seen him in ages, but I really admire what he’s done. He’s taken his dream and he’s created something unique and different — in New York — that has longevity even though it’s so small and unique. It’s amazing. And everybody wants to go.

I don’t want to go. Have you been? I’m kidding. Upcoming projects. What do you have in the works? I’m hosting an event at Apothecary, this new bar in Chinatown that you must come to on the 27th.

I live in Chinatown. Actually, I’m not going to say anything about that.

Why not? Apothecary you say? Where is it? No, I’m not going to tell.

This interview is over! We’re going in the pool. Where is it? What street? Come to the event and then you can discover. I don’t want you to write about it because the owner is my friend and she wants to keep it a secret as long as possible.

Really? That’s going to be impossible. There’s a new thing called the Internet. But anyway … We’re doing something in the Hamptons for Halloween. We’re doing a Halloween in the Hamptons. We’re doing a murder mystery. We’ve acquired a big house in South Hampton. It’s a 16th-century house, really old. It’s got 20 bedrooms, so we’re inviting 20 members to come, and everybody gets to bring a guest, and everybody gets into character, so they come in theme. Somebody gets killed. It’s fun. I’m looking forward to it.

What are you doing tonight? Tonight, I’m going to Kiki de Montparnasse for a cocktail party. Then I’m going to this new bar in Chinatown.

Which is located where? I don’t know, actually. It’s top secret.

It’s not the fucking Eldridge is it? No, it’s not the Eldridge. But tell me about the Eldridge, I read about it on Page Six. Is it really good?

What did it say on Page Six? It said that Kate Moss and Richie Rich are regulars there, but then Richie said he’d never been, so …

It’s all hype — all media hype. Some kid from Long Island opened it I think. But I’m basically juice detoxed for the moment and I have to make it an early night because I can’t drink and eat.

So you’re going to go out in a make-believe bar in Chinatown, and you’re not going to drink? What kind of drugs do you have? I don’t take drugs. I’m a clean living kind of girl.

Interview is over, then, you’re going in the pool. How did I do?

Fantastic. Was it fantastic?

Brilliant.