Charlie Corwin on Giuseppe Cipriani, Socialista’s Demise & ‘New York Ink’

Charlie Corwin is a player. More often than not, it’s the other guy from one of his ventures that has his photo in the funny papers or in bold letters, but it’s Charlie making things happen. I don’t think he’s complaining, as he’s insanely successful and pursuing all sorts of endeavors that are satisfying his creative needs. Charlie isn’t limited to being a bean counter, although his work does provide him with lots of green beans. He’s married to one of my cocktail servers from bygone days, the beautiful and brilliant Olivia Ma Corwin, who’s a mogul in her own right. She got out of the club biz by creating the pet clothing company Kwigy Bo. All the right pooches are wearing Kwigy Bo. I’ll let Charlie tell you about what he does and is planning to do. Pay attention, you might learn something.

I know you in three capacities: first as a friend; second, you’ve dabbled in the club world in this world of lounges, if you will; and then third as a filmmaker. Tell me about your film career. I’ve always been entrepreneurial in media. My first company was a record label, second an internet company, and I sold both of those and moved on to start Original Media, which is my production company. We started by making television, and then we moved to movies, and now we do both. We have something like 14 series on the air now, all reality, although we do scripted also. Anything ranging from Stormchasers on Discovery to the Ink franchise. We do The Rachel Zoe Project, Swamp People for History, which is our new big hit about the alligator hunters of the Atchafalya Swamp basin in the Louisiana Bayou. And the movie side of things we do sort of Sundance-y independent films. I’ve shot 5 movies in New York, and all of them have premiered at Sundance: The Squid and The Whale, Half Nelson, Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, August, and most recently a movie called Twelve which Joel Shumacher directed.

Let’s chat about your latest venture. I went to a party for New York Ink, one of those parties I thought wasn’t going to be very good, but it turned out to be really great, which is always the best thing. Tell us about New York Ink and the tattoo shop. This all started about 5 or 6 years ago with the first show, called Miami Ink. I was a big fan of Taxi Cab Confessions, and I thought the tattoo paradigm presented a really easy way to tell real stories. In other words, when people typically get tattoos, they typically get them to commemorate crossroads in their lives, be they inspirational or commemorative, sad or happy. And while they’re lying in these chairs, literally and figuratively naked, being painfully and permanently inked by a tattoo artist, they tell the story behind the tattoo to the artist, and it takes on this confessional paradigm, where the artist is like a punk rock priest telling their story to them. After I created that show, it became a hit, and we started to franchise it. We opened New York, which partners with Ami James, who’s also the star of the show. Our shop is called The Wooster Street Social Club, and it’s also the location for New York Ink, the newest installment in the Ink franchise.

Tell me how this space transcends the normal, traditional tattoo parlor, and how tattooing has hit the mainstream. Everyone’s getting one. My Mom told me the other day that she wanted a tattoo! She’s 81! These television shows have made tattooing mainstream in a lot of ways, or they have at the very least helped it along the way. The percentage of Americans that now have a tattoo is staggering. I can’t remember what it is, but adult Americans with tattoos is a number something like 40%. It’s a huge number and it’s gone up since we started doing these shows, it’s infiltrated pop culture, like a Warhol Campbell’s soup can or Brillo pad box. With this space it has become something different—it’s in Soho, so it’s not on St. Mark’s Place, it’s not a dive, a rat hole. You’ve been there, it’s a very beautiful loft. You put a restaurant in there—you put anything in there—and it would be beautiful. The idea of having it in Soho, in the art gallery Soho district, and it being an art gallery itself, is we are now elevating what was considered “down” market, what was considered “street art” into fine art that is worthy of being presented in a gallery environment. So that’s the idea.

One of the themes for the space is it’s a multi-platform artistic venue, it’s an interdisciplinary artist place for artists to create all different kinds of art that will hopefully cross pollinate—that’s the Warholian part of it. But one of the central questions I was faced with, being a reality television producer who was making a show about art, was how to make it appealing—to some people, those are strange bedfellows. Whether or not they’re irreconcilable is up for debate. So it’s the question of whether you can make a show about art, in this case tattoo art, and have it play to the soccer moms in the red states, and also have an artistic venue (like the one I’m describing in the center of Soho), and still have credibility among the artist community. This became the challenge. And so rather than try to solve that riddle, I decided to make it the theme of the space itself.

Let’s talk about the space. What else is going to be going on in that space besides traditional tattooing and a section for filming? The way I think of it is like the Russian dolls. At the center of it you have the human canvases, the clients, the people that come in to get tattoos on their skin, and that art itself. Around that, the larger circle of the television show itself, where you have producers and directors, camera people, and sound people walking around with shoulder-mount cameras filming a television show—creating a television show. Around that you have the actual walls of the space, where we are curating exhibits from mostly street artists, and other organic urban artists. So we’re going to be doing a rotating mural on the wall, which will then get piped into a projector, and project it onto the wall while you’re in the space. So there will be multiple artistic endeavors unfolding in real time while you’re in the space getting tattooed.

And there will also be events. The events are going to be driven by art, so they’re going to be real avant-garde kind of events. Think—sketching days where you’re just sketching all day during a drawing seminar, with live models. Or we’re planning a kind of 24-hour film festival, where you have to shoot, edit, and deliver a short film in 24-hours. So there are all sort of artistic-driven events.

You were involved with one of the most hard-luck projects of all time, Socialista. It was really a great place, it had a good run, and people really loved it, but it got banged out because of bullshit. Tell me about your role there. I was always fascinated—and still am—with nightlife in New York. I think it’s the stuff of dreams. I had met Armin Amiri, who was one of the owners, and really running Socialista. I had met him originally through my wife Olivia when he was working at Bungalow 8 with Amy Sacoo. I’ve known him for many years. When he opened this place he went and showed it to me and I was blown away by the location. It’s just a gorgeous location with windows onto the river in the Jane Street Hotel. I was warned that that space was cursed, because there had been several other things in that space over the years.

I have that theory, by the way. I passed on the space, personally, for clients of mine a number of times. You actually took it while I was still with the clients who were insisting, and I was saying no. You saved me, vindicated me. You’re welcome. Armin invited me to invest, and at that time it was Armin and his partner Giuseppe Cipriani. The plan had the upstairs as a nightclub/lounge, and downstairs was to be a restaurant. It was a Cuban-themed nightclub, and Cuban-themed restaurant—hence the name Socialista—but the food in the restaurant was going to be run by Cipriani, who obviously has a lot of experience running restaurants. I loved the idea, and I love Armin, so I went out and I brought in a bunch of my friends, including some big names, to invest as well.There was a small group of high-profile investors that opened Socialista, and it was great. Giuseppe never showed up, basically. He never showed up to run the restaurant.

He had other problems. He had other problems. So Armin was left to run the restaurant, and ultimately—

I don’t want to make him sound like he was being flaky. He was distracted heavily. He was under indictment for tax evasion. So ultimately two things killed Socialista: Number one, and I don’t know the details of it so I shouldn’t speak on it with authority, but Giuseppe ended up making a deal with the government.That included him paying a large fine, and as part of that fine he taxed all of his restaurants—including Socialista. That’s how he covered the fine. And we were not up-and-running long enough to be able to cover that. I’ve never told that story before, but that’s the truth.

The other part of it was we had a very unfortunate incident with Hepatitis A. There was a bartender that worked for us who had gone home somewhere in Central America, I cant remember exactly where, for the weekend or something. He came back to work and he had unfortunately brought it back with him, unknowingly. Later he started feeling sick and figured out he had contracted Hepatitis A, which is not a good thing if you’re in the restaurant business serving drinks. It turned out that the night that he had worked also happened to be the night of Ashton Kutcher’s birthday party. Which made for a very awkward aftermath: a lot of phone calls asking people to get tested, which led to news trucks outside, putting microphones in everybody’s face before they walked into the club. You couldn’t come back from that.

No, there’s no coming back. Nightclubs are an addiction. I’m addicted, your wife is addicted. Even though Olivia and I are not in the business anymore, there’s a certain part of our brain that’s tapped in that wants a little bit more. I write about it, I got out that way, and I also design clubs. Did you get hooked? Or are you retired? Oh I’m hooked, I’m hooked. I didn’t lose enough to be scared away. First of all, I don’t regret the Socialista investment. I still love Armin, and I’ll probably invest with him again. I think it was a fantastic experience while it lasted. It ended too soon, and that was very unfortunate, but I had so much fun while I was doing it, and I would absolutely do it again. I have lots of friends, you included, who are nightclub proprietors whom I trust implicitly, and would be happy to go into business with.

Image: Rudy Archuleta (photographer) from Inked Magazine

Giuseppe Cipriani & Socialista’s Extended Holiday

imageA new generation of young professionals are making their way up the club ranks and will — in the not so distant future — be running things. Jonathan Schwartz comes to mind over at Strategic Group, as well as today’s girl on the spot Ms. Lindsay Luv. For a very long time, creative types were locked out of nightlife as the business boys broke down fun into pie charts and spreadsheets. For many, it was indeed the fun that broke down. Lindsay Luv is upwardly mobile, and as my good friend Voula would sometimes say: unstoppable. But before we get to Lindsay, I’d like to comment on a very big story that’s percolating around town — the “continuing closing” of Socialista.

On the surface, it seems like a minor violation from the Health Department, which would normally be handled quite routinely so people could be spilling Grey Goose on their Christian Louboutins in a matter of days. But it’s not happening, and that little not happening says a lot.

Now, I don’t pretend to know all that’s going on, but there are people hinting that there is a lot more to it, involving the Andrew Cuomo investigation on Giuseppe Cipriani and how he managed to get his liquor license despite the fact that he’s no longer qualified to have one. The cover story floated that it would put all these people out of work, and nobody wants that, etc. etc. But with Caroline Kennedy’s Senate bid floundering in a sea of “you knows,” Andrew Cuomo, the next guy in line, is dying for a headline. But Socialista can’t open, according to a pal who quoted the great Armin, “because Giuseppe can’t come back into the country, so the problem can’t be cleared up with the violation, and the club will remain closed.”

My source says that it’s not the government that Mr. Cipriani has the problem with, because he “played ball” with them. My guy says the people that were mentioned in these conversations between Cipriani and the government are not happy, and they very much want to “discuss” this matter with Cipriani in private — so he’s opted to stay far away. Now, people whisper things in my ear all the time, and often it just doesn’t make sense — but damned if this doesn’t sound real. It could be a cool movie depending on who writes the ending. Anyway, to Lindsay.

What do you do, Lindsay Luv? I’ve worked in marketing and the music business for about seven years since I moved to New York from Boston. My parents were both teachers, and I decided I wanted to go to New York and be a big music industry hustler and DJ and do all this crazy stuff, and they were like … “OK, just pay your bills.” So I came out here, and I originally wanted to do comedy writing on the side, so I worked on Chapelle’s Show the first season.

As a writer? No, I was in PR. I was doing my first internship at Comedy Central, and then I randomly got hooked up with the Raveonettes and their producers and so forth.

Tell me who the Raveonettes are. The Raveonettes are a big rock band. They were on Columbia for a number of years, and they’ve put out five or six albums now. They’re an amazing band — they’ve toured with Depeche Mode, they kind of sound like the White Stripes, and at the time they weren’t as big as they were. They’re playing at Webster Hall on Friday. I met their producer — who was the old producer from Blondie and the GoGo’s, Richard Gottehrer — and he kind of became my mentor. He was the reason I worked in music … he was this old school music producer, and he wrote the songs “I Want Candy” and “My Boyfriend’s Back.” He kind of took me under his wing, and we started working on the Raveonettes. I was helping with the management team for a while. That’s how I started off in the music business, and since then I’ve worked for a number of lifestyle and marketing agencies, throwing big events in New York with top talent like Chromeo, Justice and the Raveonettes. Castles was my last big show with this agency I just worked with. So the Raveonettes kind of started me off, and then I started working for marketing agencies as a business development events-planning kind of guru … booking big talent at venues all across New York for a different brand.

So now you do Tuesday nights over at Ella, one of my favorite places — designed by Carlton Varney, an old school guy, who did the green room at the Oscars last year. And I guess he’s famous because he did Joan Crawford’s house. I’m kind of doing two halves of all these clubs. On one side I’m a resident DJ at some of these places — for example, we just got hired to be the resident DJ at Cain on Wednesdays. I’m going to be doing Saturdays at Webster Hall in the Studio, and then Tuesdays at Ella, and then a lot of other gigs are falling in between. So I’m throwing two hats — one side of it is I’m DJing these parties, and I’m promoting and hosting and all that, and the other side is that I’m actually being hired by a lot of these venues to do marketing consultation, promotional things, booking of the talents. So not only DJing the nights, but also helping them run the nights, hire the talent, and really do the whole campaign.

And what has attracted you to club business — are you in it for the money, the boys, the combination of these? I think a little bit of both. I think I just really like the hustle. I love hustling, I love just moving quickly, I love the speed of the nightlife business. I’m definitely not a daytime person, I sleep until 11 o’ clock every day. But I really like the hustle and I like the idea of traveling. Nightclubs, they’re all over the world.

So where are you going with nightclubs? Where can you go? Are you going to be an owner one day? Or PR, is that something you would do? I don’t really like PR. I hate girls in PR — PR girls are just way too girly and intense, especially the fashion PR girls. They all sit around and just squawk all day. I can’t deal with that. I think I’d like to be a nightlife entrepreneur, just opening lots of nightclubs and running the show. More on the marketing and promotional side than anything else would be my ultimate goal.

And the music industry? I would want to work with venues that are really involved in music, not venues that are just there … not that this is a bad club, but like Tenjune is a little more just about selling bottles. I like the clubs that are really focused on music. I’d really want to be booking great talent, that’s why I like it at Webster Hall.

I was surprised when I first became aware of you, which about six or seven months ago. I hit it off with you, I liked your energy, and when I started talking to people about you, trying to do my research, I found out that everybody knows who you are. You’re this girl about town, and you’re branding yourself — is that something you’re very conscious of? Very very conscious. I think that perception is reality, meaning it’s important for me to just keep my face out there. Sometimes people think I’m way more fabulous than I am; they’ll call me and ask, “Can you get me Madonna tickets?”. And it’s funny to me because a lot of it is perception, and I’m OK with that, as long as it keeps moving me in the right direction. A lot of it is reality too. I have worked with some great artists and done amazing things, and some of it is me just throwing myself out there and getting my picture up all the time, and calling people like you and just hustling hard. I’m up every day taking meetings, doing interviews, scheduling photo shoots, whatever it is I have to do to keep getting to the top.

An example of this is this interview — you were non-stop. I told you that today I’m completely booked, and then I had about 15 minutes between 2:30 and 3 p.m., and you said, “Let’s do it!” No matter what, you’re unstoppable. Yea, I remember I watched Alicia Keys’ True Hollywood Story, and I don’t want to be famous like that. It’s more that I just see the people that are really driven make it the best. I’ve had at least ten really top-trained DJs saying, “Lindsay, can you manage me? How are you getting all these gigs? You’re not as good of a DJ as me.” And I said it’s because I’m up every day, I’m hustling my shit, I know people, I work my contacts. All these people, they sit around waiting for stuff to happen, and I don’t think you can wait for anything to happen. You have to really keep on people and keep yourself out there without being obnoxious and annoying. You have to be likeable, but you have to work hard.

You’re unstoppable. I have a lot of energy. I don’t sleep. I’m probably like you — I sit up all night downloading music, listening to tunes, and making music and doing weird shit. It’s like you can’t stop for a minute in this business, or you get walked right over and somebody else is taking your spot.
The Raveonettes Tickets Music Hall Of Williamsburg Tickets Brooklyn Tickets

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.’

New York: Top 10 Celebrity-Owned Hotspots

Scott Weiland’s Snitch is now Citrine, Tim Robbins is no longer behind the Back Room, De Niro’s Ago was critically panned, cholesterol problems await at Justin Timberlake’s Southern Hospitality, and Arnold Schwarzenegger & co.’s Planet Hollywood is a tourist trap, all’s not lost — here’s a list of celeb-owned spots worth looking into.

10. Bowery Wine Company (Bruce Willis) – “All for wine, wine for all” — it’s their philosophy, and we agree. 9. Angels & Kings (Pete Wentz, Travis McCoy) – Not short on cheap thrills; sex in the bathroom is encouraged. 8. Michael Jordan’s The Steak House NYC (Michael Jordan) – Though business may temporally be cooling, it remains the quintessential rich man’s cafeteria. 7. Nobu (Robert De Niro) – We hear it’s a bargain compared to the Nobu’s London outpost. 6. Santos’ Party House (Andrew WK) – Music aficionados looking to pick up oddball scenesters, look no further. 5. Haven (Bershan Shaw) – Like an old rich man’s study cum cigar bar (minus the cigars, but with the scotch), the dimly lit spot is a welcome relief amidst the midtown beer-guzzler bars. 4. The Box (Jude Law, Rachel Weisz, Josh Lucas on the board) – Love it, hate it, or simply grossed out by it — there’s no experience quite like it. 3. Waverly Inn (Graydon Carter) – Given that you basically have to know the Vanity Fair editor to get a table, may we suggest brushing-up on your networking skills to avoid missing-out on a fireside truffle macaroni and cheese dinner? 2. 40/40 Club (Jay-Z) – Cigars, cognac, swinging leather chairs, 50-plus flatscreens, and VIP rooms aplenty — in other words, the swank hip-hop sports bar has Jay-Z written all over it. 1. Cutting Room (Chris Noth) – Sure, the crowd’s not the hottest, and the space could use a facelift, but catching at least one Joan Rivers performance should be considered a Manhattan must.

New York: The Hottest Weekend Party Nights

imageAbout damn time.

Friday 1. 1Oak (Chelsea) – Cool rules the door at this lavish new hot spot. 2. Ella (East Village) – Deco blacks and whites glamming up lower Avenue A. 3. GoldBar (Nolita) – Gold is the new black.

4. Mr. West (Chelsea) – Snug, stylish hotness in the middle of gallery-ville from Danny Divine and DJ Jus Ske. 5. Little Branch (West Village) – We’ll go out on a limb and say it’s cocktail heaven.

Saturday 1. Merkato 55 (Meatpacking District) – Crazy-dancing-on-the-tables-brunch at this Addis Ababa market inspiring latest MePa grazing. 2. Santos Party House (Chinatown) – Big, sweaty, hot bi-level boite with sick sound and killer acts for dancing downtown darlings. 3. subMercer (Soho) – Submerce yourself in max exclusivity deep in the bowels of the Mercer Hotel. 4. White Star (Lower East Side) – Chase that flighty Green Fairy thanks to a clever loophole in the trade laws. 5. Cain Luxe (Chelsea) – Revamped hotspot amps up the system, add some design touches, focuses more on electronic music.

Sunday 1. Freeman’s (Lower East Side) – Hunting lodge chic pioneer, newly expanded to better display animal head and stuffed bird collection. Booze-fueled brunches are the best here. 2. Sway (Soho) – Moroccan-themed rocker. Share in the angst with La Lohan on Sunday night Morrissey fests. 3. Le Souk (East Village) – Fezzes, hookahs, belly dancers, hotties, and oglers. Indulge your ADD. 4. APT (Meatpacking District) – Not-so-secret cooly-skooly dancing spot. Likely scene of future iPod playlist war. 5. Socialista (West Village) – Cipriani team brings Cuban hotness behind the handsome face of Bungalow 8 doorman Armin Amiri.

Good Night Mr. Lewis: Sizing Up the Blog Competition

imageTime for a sit-down with Brittany Mendenhall of popular nightlife blog Chichi212.com. Brittany and I met at the L Magazine nightlife awards where we were both judges. We constantly talk now, exchanging information following events and stories. Her youthful look at the scene gives you what’s happening, while I’m more involved in the why’s and what-may-happen’s.

So you’re the writer, publisher … I’m the editor-in-chief.

Editor-in-chief, you’re the publisher, and at the end of the day you sweep out the joint. What do you write about? It’s not really a nightlife blog … it’s more social news, events and gossip — that’s what it is.

But it’s club-centric. You write about what happened in clubs last night? Yes, yes. I also write about sample sales. That too.

When I read it, it reminds me of Gossip Girl in its mentality, that it’s very light and fun and a little bit gossipy. I’m a light and fun person. I never put gossip under my name. There’s a name for gossip — it’s the Cheshire cat. That’s not me, that’s “the other people.”

So basically Cheshire cat on your blog is you really, but it’s your alter ego? Yeah, its like when people say “a little birdie told me …” I hate that, I think it’s lame. So I have a Cheshire cat, because it’s cooler than a bird.

Are you referring to Down by the Hipster? Everybody says that though. Guest of a Guest uses it too, and I think it’s stupid.

I use it too, but I use it because the other people do it … I guess it’s kind of fun. You go out a lot, you hit all the clubs. Do you come from a specific clique, or do you travel in a lot of circles? I travel in a lot of circles. I have lots of friends that are promoters, I have lots of friends that are models, I have lots of friends that are DJs and club kids, so I really go wherever I’m invited for the night.

What are the trends you’re writing about? Is bottle service a thing of the past, or is it here to stay? How do you feel about it? I think there will always be people who enjoy bottle service. It’s because we’re accustomed to it. I want to go to a club, I want to be able to sit down, make my own drink and not have to fight everybody at the bar. And I won’t go somewhere unless I have a table — I will not, that’s just me. But, you know, times are tough, people aren’t buying bottles like they used to. So pickings are slim, but I think people will always want bottle service, just because we’re used to it.

What are your five favorite clubs? I like Ella, I like Socialista, Bungalow 8, Pink Elephant, and, oh I don’t know … what’s the other one … Southside.

Five most hated — clubs you don’t like the most. Well, not necessarily hated, but that you don’t go to? Marquee, Tenjune, Mansion, Mr. West. Prime. Those are my five.

What don’t you like about the five worst, and what do you like about the five best? The five worst, mostly their décor. I think Marquee is ugly, I think Mr. West is so ugly. I don’t like the colors in Tenjune. That’s pretty much what it is … a lot of it is size, I don’t like large clubs. I don’t want to spend four hours in a place that’s ugly.

You are aware that I designed Marquee? Yea, and I don’t care. It’s still ugly.

Do you like any of my work? I do, I like Aspen. Aspen Social. I think it’s beautiful, but Marquee, not so much.

That’s fair. It’s a very functional club and most people like it. But I understand … I think Marquee has a certain look, and I’m very proud of it. It’s done very well for me, but I can understand you want something a little more flamboyant. In the clubs that you like, what do you like about them? I like the atmosphere; most of them are places I can dance. Oh! The other one is 1Oak, love 1Oak! Yes, yes! I like places I can dance. I’ve become very big on DJs, like I’ll follow a certain DJ where he goes every night because the music is good. So that’s pretty much what it is — it has to be pretty, it has to have good-looking people in it, and it has to have good music.

When did you start writing? Well, I’m a journalism major, so I kind of shelled out a lot of money to write. And then I had a job where I didn’t write at all, so that’s how I started my blog. I was blogging when I should have been working. I had to feed the creative side of my brain.

Are you getting rich on the blog? No, I’m going into debt on the blog … no, I’m not really going into debt on the blog. The blog doesn’t make any money — I mean hopefully it’ll make money soon. I haven’t really had time to focus on that.

So why do you write? Oh, because I love it. I love it and it comes with great perks. I get to go to openings, people know who I am when I go places, I get lots of free stuff, I don’t have to wait in line, it’s great.

Are you looking for scoops or gossip, or are you just sort of reporting on the feel of the scene? I mean if people send me gossip and it’s good, of course I’ll post it. But I’m not out looking for the scoop. If it comes to me, great, but I pretty much just give my take on what’s going on and say a lot of things other people don’t.

In a perfect world, what would you want to get out of your blog? In a perfect world, I’d like my blog to pay my bills. I’d like to stay home all day and blog and then go out all night so I have stuff to blog about and then my bills would magically be paid because my bog generates revenue. That would be nice.

We were sitting here before, and we were talking about my blog, and you said that basically everybody has a blog. And I admitted that seven months ago I didn’t even know what a blog was, and I started writing for Joonbug, and now I’m over at BlackBook. Is everyone getting a blog? Is it getting too crowded in the nightlife blog culture? I don’t think it’s too crowded … every blog has their own voice and everybody has their own selves. Down by the Hipster is very different from Guest of a Guest, which is very different from my site and most people read … oh and its very different from Good Night Mr. Lewis. And a lot of people who read my site read the other three, and a lot of people who read the other three also read my site. People just want as much information as they can get, I guess.

How many blogs a day do you read? Between 20 and 30.

And do you use them as sources, or just for fun? Certain ones like the celebrity gossip blogs I read for fun because I don’t post any of that on my site, but the other things, usually just to see what’s going on, what’s opening, what other people are talking about, and making sure I don’t say the exact same thing as someone else.

Good Night Mr. Lewis: All the Week’s Parties

imageI was asked by my editor to compile a list of the best joints on any given night — i.e. Mondays at Butter or Tuesdays at Rose Bar. As I travel in and enjoy many scenes, I answered the question as where you might find me on any given night. As has been pointed out constantly in the comments section, I am a flaming schizophrenic, so what I feel like doing one night might not apply a week later. That said, here are my choices, with explanations and alternatives for the left side of my brain.

Mondays at Butter: After seven years, an intelligent, hot, mixed, fun crowd gathers in what might just be the city’s must-be-seen/-scene party. I love Antik as well; although the place has lots of issues, it really feels good on a Monday, especially downstairs in the “dive bar.” Tuesdays at Rose Bar: Although I actually never go there, I hear only good things from the bestest of peeps. My New Year’s resolution this year is to be there very often, if the fabulous Nur Khan doesn’t tire of me.

The left side of my brain gravitates to the undeniable Beige party at B Bar. It’s been around since the birth of cell phones. This institution is still my kind of place. And I hear Bungalow 8 is becoming seriously fabulous as well. Oh, and Beatrice Inn. Wednesdays at Marquee: A mix of everyone, and a lot of people normally not there, keeps this night vibrant and relevant. This is the only night many Downtowners makes the trek to outer Chelsea. Thursday at 1Oak: Richie Akiva, Scott Sartiano, Jeffrey Jah, and Ronnie Madra have the best joint in town, period exclamation point! The Eldridge is also mighty nice on this night. I wrote about the Eldridge the other day, and they felt I had unfairly bashed them. I totally support young Luke Skywalker, er, Matt Levine — he just can’t rest on his laurels. If this small LES joint is to live up to its potential, then it has to keep working at it.

Friday at 1Oak. (OK, by now you’re getting the picture.) I went this past Friday and was stunned by the relevance of the crowd. When Bill Spector, one of those guys around town who often says something bright when he opens his mouth, told me it was not their best night, I looked around and thought, “Wow!” 1Oak is the wow factor that’s been missing from clubs for quite a while. It’s Butter Mondays on steroids and you will find me there. There are too many small, great, alternative places to mention here, and I am so optimistic about Ella. Saturday I hit 10 joints. Santos’ Party House is the place I send people when I want them to have fun without B&T entanglements.

With Rose Bar, 1Oak, Beatrice Inn, and sometimes Socialista, there’s continued vibrancy at the top of the heap. The modelista scene is banging. The hipsters have a zillion joints and an entire neighborhood or hoods in Brooklyn. Yet the fabulous fashionistas are having a harder time finding purity in clubdom. I have high hopes for Webster Hall, which I am renovating, or shall I say, “restoring” to its incredible historic grace. Talk of a Suzanne Bartsch/Kenny Kenny night with all the unusual suspects attached will surely fill that cavity. The necessary lowering of prices bodes well, coupled with a need to embrace and mix opposing crowds to fill recession-emptied rooms. We are on the verge of a rebirth of club culture. The ingredients are all here, with masses of people looking for good clubs. As the broker jokers are economically rendered second-class citizens, a more creative element may indeed slide into that void.

1Oak, often criticized by the haters (defined as those who can’t get in), has a crowd that is so cool and sharp that making money comes easy to them. It isn’t Lehman losers drooling over the models. It’s stylists and creative types mixed in with the rich and the upwardly mobile, fabulous, successful, and sexy people who are making their mark. It also has just enough street edge and music props to push it past the pretenders. There are many gay people, there are many people of color, young and young at heart. These labels aren’t as relevant for the smart set that merely needs to know that you offer something. As I was hanging outside the joint the other night talking the talk with owner Scott Sartiano, his partner Richie Akiva joined us. As Richie exited, a couple of well-dressed girls snuck in the back door in a power move. Security politely removed them, but Richie enjoyed their daring and asked them in. The poor cuties, not realizing the owner was trying to help them, said some unfortunate words — and still Richie tried to help them. With a line of people waiting hopelessly to get in. A line, by the way, full of people that would be welcome at any club within a mile of the place. Richie still took the time to know his customer and do the right thing. It is this one-on-one dedication that is so lost on the current crop of operators who think of themselves as being above the “common people.”

The only thing preventing a golden age of clubs is the continued harassment by what appears to be an out-of-control and corrupt police force, and the power trip of old buddies on community boards. We may be facing tough economic times, but a vibrant club scene may be the result of this mess. If the bottle service glut of the last 10 years has ruined the club scene, then the demise of the boring stockbroker set might be just the ticket to get us through the depression of the recession.

One-Day Tour: Intro to New York’s West Village

Stay: A quaint neighborhood calls for an equally quaint hotel. Abingdon Guest House has the vibe of a small-town bed and breakfast — it’s not for everyone, but its location is ideal for the atypical visitor.

10 a.m. Regular patrons of ‘ino appreciate the dim, cozy bar for an evening glass of wine, but it’s also a perfect breakfast destination. Sit by the front window, read your paper, and order the famous truffled egg toast with a strong shot of espresso.

11 a.m. Set off on a walking tour. Stroll along Bleecker Street for a taste of the neighborhood ‘s eclectic vibe — Marc Jacobs boutiques (there are three of them), record shops, and antique dealers all peacefully coexist. Stop in at Cynthia Rowley for quirky tailored skirts and sweaters. Later, find your way onto Barrow and Morton for picturesque, tree-lined streets and brownstones.

1:30 p.m. For lunch with pretty scenery, head to neighborhood newcomer Kingswood. Aussie-inflected fare, like the Bronte burger, is served within view of blooming magnolias at the nearby Jefferson Market Garden. During the winter months, the interior is enough to keep the eyes pleased — butterflies and an ostentatious taxidermy peacock decorate the space. Or, for a local favorite, try Pearl Oyster Bar. Established by Rebecca Charles in 1997, it’s widely considered the best New England-style seafood shack in town. Sit at the counter for a skate sandwich and crisp glass of white wine.

3 p.m.. Move on over to Greenwich Avenue and get all of your shopping done on one street. Stop at the Christian Louboutin Boutique for a pair of decadent, bejeweled shoes, or Otte, for the latest from Loeffler Randall and 3.1. Phillip Lim. Jonathan Adler for whimsical home decor items like a playful giraffe-shaped sconce or ceramic squirrel ringbox. Finally, pop into travel shop Flight001 for the newest carry-on by Orla Kiely — you’ll need it to lug home all of your loot.

5 p.m. Skip the dreadful line at Magnolia and have sweets with a clean, green conscience. City Bakery’s Maury Rubin is also the owner of Birdbath — an organic bakeshop that‘s sustainable in every way, from its interior (the walls are made of wheat) to its food (organic and local, naturally). Portions are enormous, so share a chewy gingerbread cookie; or, if you’re vegan, go for the banana sesame agave cake.

5:30 p.m. Sports enthusiasts should check out the West 4th Street court, otherwise known as "The Cage", for some amateur basketball. Players can get aggro in such close confines — it just makes the games all the more interesting.

7 p.m. Have dinner at Mas, where acclaimed chef Galen Zamarra changes the menu daily based on what’s in season. Whatever is on the menu du jour is likely to be exquisite, as is the farmhouse meets townhouse vibe of the place.

9 p.m.. For something divey minus the stench of beer and puke, grab a brew after dinner at the Rusty Knot. The nautical-themed bar is a curious juxtaposition of high and low: an evening of 99-cent cans and tiki drinks command a surly doorman and long wait times, while a borderline trashy bar menu (pretzels, pigs in blankets) is cooked up by a talented, pedigreed chef.

Midnight Rev up your evening at the ultra-exclusive Socialista. Its breezy, tropical décor and sexy cocktail menu successfully evokes an evening in Havana. But be warned: Getting in can be a crapshoot.

Late Night Cap off your night with a late visit to Beatrice Inn, the speakeasy cool spot that keeps downtowners buzzing.

Stalker’s Guide to ‘Gossip Girl’

imageAs ardent followers of Gossip Girl, we really don’t mind the plot inconsistencies, Chace Crawford’s limited acting range, or just how increasingly unwatchable all plots not even tangentially associated with Blair Waldorf have become. In fact, those three million of us who watch the show regularly are willing to overlook these discrepancies (and the kids’ nominal non-drinking age) so long as their nods to Manhattan nightlife are nothing short of sharp. Tracking the show’s eternal romp through the city has become something of a cottage industry.

Thanks to the New York Post, you can now follow (or perhaps fact-check?) the melodramatic BS. of B and S downtown, be it at pierogi hotspot Veselka, VIP club Socialista, or the ever posh Tory Burch on an interactive map. Wow, if only we’d thought of that … oh wait, we did! In fact, we did it twice.