My Birthday: The Day After

Before I head to B.east tonight to play with DJ Jennifly and her friends at her Hustle party, I will attend the new opening at the Fuse Gallery. The attraction is “Songs,” an exhibition that “features a number of works from a number of mediums. Each work in the exhibition was influenced by the words of the artists’ favorite songs, and how the words impact and influence the work they make.” Among the too-many-to list-here artists are Mick Rock, Steve Powers, Alex Arcadia, Tim Barber, Leo Fitzpatrick, Angela Boatwright, Kembra Pfahler, Anton Perich, and Spencer Sweeney.

Spencer, of course, is one of the fabulous owners over at Santos’ Party House. My phone was ringing off the hook last night as the reOPENed party was slamming. DJs Just Blaze, Micro Don, and my pal Max Glazer were in charge of the music, and there was a birthday party for Downtown Emily Brown. I was under the weather and covers. I wasn’t so much birthday hungover as needing a break in general. I wish I had gone out because my pals say last night at Santos was all that it could be, and with its Jim Toth sound system and multiple levels, it can really move. It’s great to have Santos back and banging. When it is solvent and not harassed by cops, it is one of the places that I must be. Tonight I’ll pop in late to check out the Donuts are Forever 5 gala. Rare Form will present this event with DJ Rich Medina, DJ Spinna, DJ Parler, OP!, Sam Champ, DJ Chela, and DJ Tara.

I will be out and about with my Amanda and StyleLikeU.com’s Director of Events, as well as my regular Monday night bingo partner Dani Baum. She is celebrating her birthday, and a night out with Uncle Steve was her desire. She worships Mick Rock and can’t wait to see his contribution and possibly meet the man at the Fuse thing. She also curates her own blog, The Frogge, and more importantly she’s an actor. She constantly rants and raves about StyleLikeU, and has me as a believer. The Fuse Gallery is that milky white, sparkly clean room situated at the back of my favorite down and dirty hang, Lit. I am constantly at Lit, which reinvents itself continuously with fresh art and the extravaganzas and parties that invariably follow. It’s the kind of joint that’s relevant when it is empty or when it’s full. The staff, the consistently wonderful music, art, and events, have made it my go-to spot for over seven years. I will go tonight.

I received an invitation for tomorrow night to sample the new restaurant Ember Room, from my old pal Todd English. I am looking forward to hanging with Todd, who collaborated with Ian Chalermkittichai on the cuisine. For those of you who don’t keep up, Todd and I kissed and made up eons ago. I think we both acted out and regretted it. I am thrilled with his continued success and will be there to support him.

Lastly, I am thrilled by the article in the January/February Hospitality Design magazine about The Darby. It feels great when your work is recognized in such a prestigious magazine. The magazine quotes me a few times, and my usually swelled head may need a bit of always-handy lube to get through my front door. I must take the opportunity to congratulate my partner Marc Dizon, who was not quoted or mentioned in the article despite his tremendous contribution to the project. Marc is my friend, and more importantly the reason that I can fully bake some of my half-baked ideas. The Darby was one part inspiration, another part perspiration, and many parts Marc Dizon.

Santos’ Party House and the Nightlife Minority Report

Santos’ Party House continues to program incredible and forward thinking music. I visited the joint Friday night with some special friends to see owners Larry Golden and Spencer Sweeney and bartender Sara Copeland because I like their faces but I was also curious how their Friday was doing. It had been known as Q-Tip’s night and I wondered if the night had lost a beat now that Q has moved on. The reclaimed RE-OPEN-ED night now features DJ Just Blaze and DJ Soul upstairs and DJ Gravy, DJ Max Glazer and MC Micro Don downstairs. Just Blaze is a multi-platinum producer who has laid tracks for Jay-Z, Busta Rhymes, Beastie Boys, Mariah Carey, MF Doom, Janet Jackson, Jay Electronica, Kanye West and then some. The night, thanks to such talent, is classic hip hop, house, soul classics, electronic disco and absolutely fantastic.

The crowd is a dance crowd, mixed and hot. That’s writers speak to say that there are more nonwhite people there than most of the so-called “great clubs” around town. It is increasingly disturbing to see the segregation and racism that prevails in nightlife’s current state. I commented to an owner the other day that his club had one black person in it while many were waiting outside. He denied this obvious truth as I stormed out. Whether it is a policy or just the prejudices of my doorman friends, the club world offers few places that mix it like we did back then. A black President doesn’t mean much when a black man gets turned away from the door as uglier, poorly dressed, uncool white guys get in faster.

I took a trip out on the town a week or so ago and saw major hotspots with virtually no nonwhite patrons. Sure, there were a few Asian hotties with their frat-boy boyfriends and there were models of all races. Color is just a fashion statement, or meaningless if you’re beautiful. Outside, the average black or Spanish couple are left waiting. It amazes me how patient they remain. Years of abuse has turned into acceptance. My close friend Brittany Mendenhall is a six foot beauty and has her own nightlife column. She’s wary of going to certain places as she has had trouble in the past. I’m saying it out loud but not quite loud enough that this way is wrong and needs to be addressed.

This night at Santos’ is fantastic and I’m going to try to be a regular. I advise you to be there as well. Downstairs I caught my old friend and nightlife mainstay DJ Max Glazer’s act with Micro Don. It was joyous mayhem as girls, who were out of my league, dragged me to the dance floor. My own dance act wasn’t a pretty sight, although it made people laugh, so how can that be bad? Santos’ is what is left of the days of yore and our complaints, laments and our tendency to wax nostalgic are easily answered by this Friday night party.

Good Night Mr. Lewis: Ho Ho Ho!

“The Supreme Court has ruled that they can’t have a nativity scene in Washington D.C…that wasn’t for religious reasons…they couldn’t find three wise men and a virgin.” – Jay Leno.

This will be the last posting until next Monday as the good people at Blackbook break for the holidays. I will be spending mine with many of the people I love, but not all of them. For that I would need a sleigh, some reindeer, and in a few cases, I’d have to sneak in and out undetected. As I shopped for gestures these last few days, I could see the worry on peoples’ faces. The world looks pretty grim and hope is something that seems impotent against the myriad of problems we are facing. Yet, I believe we are blessed, for only in a downturn like this could our nation elect a president who inspires old school ideas like love, decency and fair play. I will say a prayer for him and for all of us on Christmas day. My gut feeling is that it’s going to be all right. So Happy Christmas to all, to all a goodnight and below check out part 2 of my interview with the Santos’ Party House Boys:

What were your careers before you decided to do this club? Andrew you were a musician right? Andrew W.K.: Yea, a performer and entertainer.

And how did you come to the decision that you wanted to have a joint? Andrew: Well, Spencer Sweeney, who’s not here right now, was actually the first guy who ever really invited me to play shows. He saw me play very early on when I first moved to New York. I became friends with him and he had a huge impact on me. Several years ago, watching him DJ and spending time with him in clubs were really the only times I went out. He was always a guide for me when it came to nightlife in New York. So when he told me he was interested in opening a club, I said of course I’ll be involved, just to pay tribute to the full circle of having met him in this nightlife world, and then having it circle all the way back to where we’re now working on a space where we get to make the decisions.

How about you Larry, you came from Pianos right? Larry Golden: I used to work for Liquid Sky; it was my first job. I was Carlos Slinger’s assistant way back when, from there I bartended, and bar-backed my way up and somehow at 23, I became the manager of Fun. So I was the manager there and for a while which was really crazy and I’ve always been in love with it…

You’re a club guy, so it’s an easy transition for you. Larry: Yea, I mean I’ve been doing it for along time, I did Pianos.

Do these guys lean on you for your club experience? Are you the back of the house guy? Larry: I’ve done a lot. I’ve worn a lot of hats.

How do you do that, who’s handling the back of the house, or do you have managers? Larry: We have managers that have taken over that side of the business. So we all just kind of give suggestions at this point.

So let’s talk about the music, because that’s really what you guys are about. A lot of it is social, but your backbone is music. You’ve got a Jim Toth sound system over here. Jim and I go way back, and it’s unbelievable sound. I guess the most famous night you have is Q-Tip on Fridays. Tell me about the rest of the week. When does the club lead the music, and when does music lead the club? Larry: Well I think it comes back to your original question about whether we wanted to sell out to the money side of it, but I don’t think we technically would even know how to do that. It’s just not something that we’re from; we’re not really a part of that money, bottle-model scene so much. The music scene, if anything, we’ve actually had to tone it down. We would like to leave a lot of the stuff that we would be most into, but it’s really about trying to find that line where it does have some mass appeal but at the same time is good. Derek Ferguson: You tap into what’s happening musically within your particular culture and you’re going to have a popular party, so we want the place to represent what’s being played now, and also the things that set precedence for that music. Rich Medina is really good at that and that’s one of the reasons why that party is so successful. He’s playing this tapestry of music that goes back 40 years and linking it to the present. He’s linking it all together, so people will say, okay he’s playing hot music which came out in 1990 and then he’s going to play the hip hop version of that that came out in 2000; he’s bringing these records together. You’ve got to have a house, electronic, dance night, you’ve got to have the hipster rock side, the avant garde stuff and you’ve got to play hip hop in some capacity, because you just don’t have an urban club in my opinion if you don’t represent urban music through hip hop.

How is this recession thing affecting your crowd? Are you seeing the kids having a little bit of trouble paying their way in? Are you adjusting in anyway? Andrew: We haven’t really noticed anything like that…I mean the admission is $5 dollars, its cheap. I think we’ve been really fortunate because since we haven’t been catering or directing ourselves to one particular lifestyle, one particular crowd, one particular income bracket, or one type of person, we benefit from the cross-over.

Derek: If we were doing bottle-service only we’d be feeling it, but we’re not at all.

Larry: I think on the corporate party side, there is a lot of money December would have brought in. It would have been a lot more lucrative in the past years. I remember Fun when the dot COM thing was booming, everybody was making money, and it was insane. People were just throwing tons of money at things.

With this location at 96 Lafayette, you’re pretty close to the Wall Street area where the money used to be at least, and I would’ve thought you would do 25 or 30 days leading up until Christmas. Derek: That would have been sort of the art commerce thing, we would’ve had them come in earlier and get out before. Because it’s going to be a corporate crowd that’s not really going to mesh with our true crowd.

How are you doing with the community? Andrew: We’ve been so fortunate. We found a great location.

But it took you a lot of time to get legal over here? Andrew: We had one faction of opposition from the Tribeca Community Board, which was a little frustrating for us because we’re technically located in China Town, but they were assigned to us.

Larry: There were just worried about it being a typical cub and we were coming at it like we’re actually not a typical club and we care about the community. We care about what we’re doing, we’re offering something to the community and they probably had bad experiences, which a lot of clubs have in the community, but we’ve been fine. I don’t think we’ve had one complaint yet.

Andrew: This specific location is also very dead. It’s not a bustling street, at least not at night. After 5pm this whole area gets quiet, so we’re bringing business into the area. I just saw yesterday — and I was so excited about this — that a hot dog guy set up outside at night.

Derek: That to me, going back to my 20 years going to clubs whether its in London or outside the Tunnel, when you’ve got a guy set up and he’s got his pushcart and you’re smelling that dirty water dog, that’s the smell of success. Larry: And you know what, China Town itself embraced us. We got letters from a lot of business developers. They see what it does for the neighborhood because they’re a lot more realistic about the economics.

Derek: We got 5,000 signatures.

So where does this brand go from here? You have a brand now. A lot of guys brand and they go out to Vegas, this might not be a Vegas kind of thing. Derek: We’re skipping right over Vegas and going to Dubai, Dubai and Shanghai! But seriously…I’d say that the most natural way to use the brand is to expand into a record label and possibly into TV. Because lets just say that there’s a project we’re working on that I think would be exciting and would reflect the musical community of New York in way that hasn’t been done yet.

I look at this New Years’ Eve poster and you’ve got Lissy Trullie, Andrew W.K., the Misshapes, Gang Gang Dance etc. You’re giving way more to your fan base than is really necessary. Derek: That’s the idea here. When you go to a club you’re getting a DJ experience, when you go to a concert place you’re getting that experience — Webster Hall is maybe one of the few other places where you can have a band play and then you can have a party afterward. And that’s our business model, that’s what we want, so our New Year’s party reflects that. You’re going to have banging DJs downstairs the whole night, and you’re going to have great shows upstairs.

Larry: I think it’s the general philosophy and that’s what we’ve done with our great parties, we take chaos and just push it just to the brink where it’s just a little bit too crazy.

How are you marketing it? Do your regulars get first shot at it? Derek: There are people, for example, who follow Gang Gang religiously, so they’re already buying tickets for that.

But that’s a venue kind of attitude. Do you have people who come every night who will get taken care of? Derek: Yea, we’re recognizing our regulars… Larry: But what I really like about it is, people say how do we get in? And I say buy a ticket. That’s the great thing about so many of these events. Maybe there’s going to be some nights when its too packed, or the doors are being handled in a certain way, but a lot of the time you can have that nightlife experience just by buying a ticket. When I was growing up here I never got to get into any place, and just being able to buy a ticket, that was always what I liked.

How much is New Years’ Eve? Derek: Its $50 in advance, $65 at the door and we’re open until 8am. We are an egalitarian-minded place, so unless you’re extremely intoxicated or we’re at capacity, you’re pretty much getting in if you’re happy to pay. So when we talk about this place being “cool” — and I’m a little uncomfortable with that term – it’s just real, it’s just good music. Larry: That was the idea, if you stick with music as the focal point, music will change, crowds will change, but it’s not like you’re selling a scene. It’s not the hot spot for a certain crowd for a little while — as long as there are great bands and music here it’s good.

Industry Insiders: Erik Foss, Lord of Lit

Lit co-owner Erik Foss talks about his art, his new bar in Philly with the best name ever, and why the city needs less yuppie cocksuckers.

Favorite Hangs: Max Fish! Max Fish! Max Fish! I also like Beatrice Inn because my bro’s Paul Sevigny and Andre [Saraiva] own it. It’s the first place I DJed. I dig Motor City because they are real there. Otherwise I don’t drink anymore, so my bar days are kinda over. Santos’ Party House is sick too. I love Spencer Sweeney, and he’s a dope-as- fuck artist!

Point of Origin: I graduated from Chandler High School in Arizona in 1991. I never went to college. I was accepted to Cooper Union, Stanford, and Art Center in Pasadena, but I was too concerned with skateboarding, making my own art, and running my T-shirt company (Dope Cloze). I made up my mind to sell the clothing line and leave. I moved to New York on Halloween of 1996. I came to New York because this is where all the artists came to be seen and make the best work of their lives. Once I got here, it wasn’t as easy as it sounded.

My first job here was at the French Roast in the West Village. I got fired from there immediately. Bartending jobs are impossible to get. One of the bartenders who worked at Odessa became my friend … or so I thought. I was dating this crazy woman from San Francisco at the time, and we would go there to drink. She was very sexy and had a flavor for the dark side of things. My bartender friend ended up sleeping with her and felt so bad about it he got me my first bartending job there. I worked the slowest shifts until one of the bartenders quit and I got Saturdays. Boy, shit changed then. I had that place fuckin’ raging! I’ve always been able to get people goin’ — it’s kinda my specialty.

Occupations: I co-own Lit and the attached Fuse Gallery. One day I stumbled across this hole in the wall called Sub Culture Gallery, which became my home. David Schwartz was the grump behind the desk and owner of this wonderful place. David made emerging artist’s dreams come true. He provided us with a space to work and show. He had the gallery till about 2001 before the lease ran out and they doubled his rent. At that point, he looked at me and said, “Do you want to open a gallery?” So we went out and found Lit and Fuse Gallery. We had to raise a retarded sum of cash to do this. So we got partners, and that was a whole other issue. What a nightmare. Oh yeah, we also signed the lease one month before 9/11. Imagine that one.

We worked construction building the bar for six months with the help of our friends. I bartended seven days a week while also building seven days a week. I thought I was going to die. We opened on 02/22/02 and have been killing it ever since. Do-it-yourself is the way we did this: No benefactors, no grants, no nothing. This bar was built by artist, for artists. Call it a throwback, but when we did this, I never heard of anyone else doing this in New York City. I also just opened a bar with David Schwartz and Chicken Head in Philadelphia called Kung Fu Necktie.

Side Hustle: I am an artist. When I came here I wasn’t of a pedigreed art background, nor did I come from money. So I showed my work in bars like a href=”http://bbook.com/guides/details/max-fish/” title=”Max Fish”>Max Fish, Luna Lounge, and Life. I work 7 days a week and have since I was 15 years old. I paint and make art in my studio, which my bar pays for. I curate and show artists I like, and that’s it. I buy art I like. In fact, I spend all the extra money I make on other peoples’ art. I do have a solo show in San Francisco in November this year at Gallery 3. My website is erikfoss.org. I know it’s a nonprofit URL, but hell, I never sell my work anyways!

Industry Icons: Steve Lewis is one of my heroes. For a while I had a job at the Bowery Ballroom. They hired me with no résumé. I put the first dollar in that register and worked for the Bowery family for almost five years. They run the best-run venues in New York City. I learned most of my club knowledge through them. Michael Winsch [owner of the Bowery Ballroom] is kinda my surrogate dad in New York.

Known Associates: I am very protective of the celebs that frequent my place. I believe in protecting them because they want to hang with us and come up to our level. That’s rad! I say let ’em and leave ’em be. My whole staff rules! They are all artists and musicians; creative people.

What are you doing tonight? Hangin’ out with my boys Carlo McCormick and Daze then going to the studio to paint a cop arresting a clown. I think the city is going through a transition, and it’s going to get real fun now that the economy is shit. Bye-bye yuppie cocksuckers. I just want our neighborhood back. Oh yeah, my favorite band is Slayer!

Photo: Leo Fitzpatrick

Gang Gang Dance’s Lizzie Bougatsos on Making Music in NY

Sometimes when you’re interviewing somebody, and they laugh, to evoke such a primitive, unconscious expression of amusement in the transcript, you might throw down something like this: [laughter]. For the following interview with Lizzie Bougatsos, lead singer of the New York experimental music fixture Gang Gang Dance, just imagine one of those laughter markers at the end of each answer. In her spacey, makes-you-wanna-pinch-her-cheek voice, the Long Island native was in great spirits, despite fighting off the flu. I’m not sure if she’s just super jazzed that her band’s new album Saint Dymphna is coming out soon, or giddy about their upcoming tour with Of Montreal, but Bugatsos couldn’t stop herself from giggling. It was endearing as hell. Here she is reminiscing on the New York music scene, the global appeal of her band’s new album, and getting hit on by Hasidic dudes in vans.

Are you going to France? Yes, Brian has an art show there, and then they’re flying out a member of my other band to play the opening, so everyone is going to be there for my other musical project. Its called I.U.D.

What’s that stand for? Well, we put periods in between it. An IUD is one of those methods of birth control that you use to block the sperm. It’s a really horrible method of birth control in the 1970s that they used … its terrible and I don’t know, a lot of girls use it.

So are you excited about the new album? Yes!

When can we expect it? It comes out October 21, but we have some singles that have come out before.

I read an article that called your last album, God’s Money, an “almost-masterpiece.” Have you guys made a masterpiece this time around? I was worried because so many people loved God’s Money, and I feel like they wanted us to — everyone was expecting this follow-up album, but you can’t really plan how music is going to sound. You can’t really say like okay, let’s make a pop record, or you know, we’re going to make like an ambient, fuck-noise album. You can’t really plan out music, just like you can’t plan out life.

Did you go into the studio with a specific idea of what you wanted to create? I think we tried to go into the studio with pretty loose expectations, because you can’t pinpoint something that you didn’t even create yet, you know what I mean?

And so what kind of record do you think you ended up making? Let me see. I think we made like a global awareness record

Sounds like a genre that I’ve never heard of before. I know, I just feel like it’s a really universal-sounding music, and I think that people from all over the world can relate to it.

Have you done something new on this record that you haven’t done before? Well, we had an MC spit on it, like when you rap, its called spitting, so we had this really cool young MC on it. His name is Tinchy Stryder. He’s my little prince.

So were you born in New York? Yea, I’m a Long Island Lady.

And when did you move to the city? Well, I was kinda coming in all the time. But I guess in 1997 I got my first apartment in Williamsburg. It was very, very different then.

How was it different? It was very barren then, there were no shops, and it was scary. There were all Hasidic men driving around in vans late at night, trying to pick me up. It was horrible! I looked kind of arty then, a lot of people think I look arty now, but I really looked arty then. I looked like a Beastie Boys backup dancer. Like I had a bowl haircut, and I was dressed in a lot of fluorescents, like very new-wave. I feel like a lot of people would egg people that looked like art kids.

And now everyone looks like that? Yea, everybody does. I don’t fee like it’s eggs anymore, maybe water balloons, or paint guns. Or maybe machetes, which is really scary.

Has New York inspired your music at all? Yeah, I would say so. There’s a lot of activity, and I feel like things really fly in New York that don’t fly other places, you know what I mean? You can get away with a lot, and I think that’s inspiring.

Do you see yourself as part of the long lineage of New York, experimental, underground artists? I do, yeah. Because we did form in New York, and at the time when we formed, we shared a practice space with two other bands that also formed here, and there was very much of a community at this time, and now it still exists, and we still meet here in New York and see each other play.

What are some of these other bands? TV on the Radio? For sure, they are really old friends of ours.

What’s it like coming up with these bands, getting your starts around the same time, and finally seeing everyone get the recognition they deserve? I remember the first show I ever played in New York. Nick Zinner was in the front row, from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and that was in Williamsburg. Josh, my guitarist, used to work at the Pink Pony, a coffee shop next to Max Fish, which is still there, but it’s totally different now. It used to be owned by the woman that owns Max Fish, and it was very much a bohemian, beatnik hangout kind of place. Taylor Mead was always there, and a lot of really rare, free jazz music. It was a really intense, poetry, music hangout. And that’s where guys from TV on the Radio would work, at Max Fish. So that’s how we met them; we were really really close.

What about Animal Collective? I love Animal Collective. They’re probably one of the only bands that I listen to in New York.

Have the art and music communities changed in New York? We don’t have Tonic anymore. It was this club that a lot of experimental acts could just like wail out and go crazy. It would be like a member from Animal Collective with a member from the Brazilian Girls. Like very random collaborations, people playing together. And it was really the only place in New York that you could really see that. Before that there was this place called the Cooler that was kind of cool, but Tonic was the coolest. But it’s changed in good ways too. There’s this new club called Santos’ Party House. I love it. My best friend Spencer Sweeney opened it up.

Are you able to support yourself on your art now fully? When I make work, yeah. I feel like sometimes I don’t have that much time to make work, so when I do make work, I have to pop it out really, really fast. But I’m doing okay, individually and with the band. I mean, a lot of people don’t believe me, because a lot of the times we’re extremely broke and its really, really hard because we’re perfectionists, so people don’t believe that we’re broke. But we actually really are. Really broke. But that’s only because we live in New York City.

So what’s your favorite venue to play in New York? Right now, Santos.

What do you like about it? I didn’t play with Gang Gang Dance, I played with I.U.D. But I really can’t play anywhere else now, we’re addicted to the sound system there.

That’s what does it for you, the sound system? It’s so good, its wall-to-wall sub, and it’s the sickest bass I’ve ever heard in my life. For Gang Gang, I like Bowery Ballroom, and I like Webster Hall a lot. I like the balcony, cause then like my family can come and sit down and have table!

Do your parents like Gang Gang Dance? Yeah, they love it.

Are they also music, art people? Well, my mom’s a writer and my dad, he’s a cobbler. He fixes shoes for a living, but he was a singer before he had me. He wanted to be a singer, and his dad made him play professional soccer. So … he like booked himself at a nightclub, and they bought him all these suits, and he came home with this suit one day, like a white suite, and he had big hopes that he was going to be a singer, and then his dad said “No, you’re going to play soccer for a living”, and then he became a professional soccer player … but my roots go deep, you know.

So what are you doing tonight? You’re going to stay in and recover? I’m going to do my laundry, and then I have to go to my gallery. Yeah, I’ll probably be drinking some whiskey later on.

Yeah, that’s the best way to get over a flu. Yeah, I dunno, we’ll see.

Where’s the gallery? My gallery is in Chinatown, close to my house.

What’s the gallery called? It’s called James Fuentes Gallery. And there’s a great show there now, it’s Agathe Snow? You should go see, it she’s really great, she’s one of my favorites.

How long is the show on for? I think a few more weeks.

Industry Insiders: Spencer Sweeney, Your New Santa

Spencer Sweeney, artist and one of the forces behind Santos’ Party House, talks community boards, sketchy after-hour clubs, and why he’s changing his name to Santa.

Point of Origin: I came to New York about ten years ago from Philadelphia where I was an art student. I started DJing when I moved here at a sketchy after-hours spot on Ridge Street. Looking back, it was a pretty significant place culturally. My first party there was with Eugene Hutz of Gogol Bordello. The club was basically some guy’s apartment, and he got arrested every weekend. I think he had an incarceration fetish. There was this party at Standard Notions on Ludlow, which was a big hangout. Every week you’d have the guys from A.R.E. Weapons, Chloe Sevigny, Ben Cho. That’s where we all came together. At the time, DJing was very genre-driven. If you went into a record store, everyone would ask what you spun, and you’d have to be like “Organic Deep House,” you know?

Occupation: I co-own Santos’ Party House with Andrew WK, Larry Golden, and Ron Castellano. I had been DJing at the Hole, and the owner was basically raping me, paying me in pennies. And I thought how cool would it be if we could have our own space. It took us three years to build out Santos. Part of the impetus behind the club has to do with the Dadaists and the Futurists, which were artistic movements that had very strong social legs to them. We started with the stage and sound system, getting the best we could. And the idea of calling it Santa’s Party House was to try to make the most radical departure from nightclub naming as it currently exists. It was originally Santa’s, and then we were advised by our lawyer not to go with Santa, because if someone really wanted to fuck us, they could say it’s like Joe Camel trying to appeal to young children. So Andrew came up with the shift of Santa’s to Santos. But I found a way around it. I’m actually legally changing my name from Spencer to Santa. Really. I will be Santa Sweeney. It’s gotta be called Santa’s. It’s perfectly absurd.

imageSide Hustle: I’m an artist. I have solo show coming up at the Jack Hanley Gallery in San Francisco. I was in a performance art troupe called The Actress with Lizzi Bougastsos of Gang Gang Dance and some others. I wanted to move into visual art. I had just quit my job as an artist assistant — I was a terrible assistant — and I was walking down the street, I had heard about Gavin Brown and the bar Passerby and I thought that would be a good place to do parties and performance. We had a lot of good stuff — Fischerspooner and Andrew WK — it worked out great. Then I did a solo show for Gavin.

We’re going to be working with a lot of artists at Santa’s, have more live music and a theater group too, that Kembra Pfahler of The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black is going to direct. Our liquor license took a year. Our neighborhood didn’t have a community board, so we were thrown to Tribeca by default. We were like “we won’t even be in your neighborhood,” and they’re like “we don’t care!” It was a bunch of angry old ladies. We had all our friends at museums write letters on our behalf, saying it would be a place for artists and culture. The board was like “what kind of artist is gonna be up at two in the morning have a drink?”

Favorite Hangs: I liked Lit on Mondays and Wednesdays. And I like … uh … I guess that’s the only place I go. Erik Foss, the owner, is a nice guy. Of course there’s also Max Fish which has been a great place for 20 years now.

Industry Icons: I don’t want to emulate anyone else’s career. But there’s definitely inspiration. Mickey Ruskin at Max’s Kansas City. I mean everyone went there. And Steve Paul who owned a place called the Scene. And the biggest inspiration was Arthur Weinstein, who I was very good friends with, who just passed away a few months ago. He owned one of the first discos called Hurrah. They were really hot for a season, then Studio 54 opened up. I learned a lot of lessons from him.

Known Associates: I’m collaborating at Santos’ Party House with a great choreographer named Maria Hassbi. Who else do I want to give shout-outs to? Andrew WK. Gavin Brown. Elizabeth Peyton. Agathe Snow, Carol Lee at Paper magazine, Ben Cho, Chloe Sevigny, Meredith Monk — we hope to have her perform. Will Oldham — him too.

What are you doing tonight? Going to a reggae party. I’m excited.