Leonora Soft Opens and Wildcat Plays Hard

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I took some time off this week as work got in the way of the joy of writing. I helped co-owner Michael Bregman get Leonora open for yesterday’s opening night party for Phoenix, Julia Stiles and James Wirt’s play at the Cherry Lane Theatre (38 Commerce Street.) Leonora’s other co-owner is the always effervescent Noel Ashman of Veruka, Plumm, and NA fame. Leonora is a smallish, cozy lounge located at 525 West 29th Street. It will preview with parties for a minute, but then open full throttle as the jetset returns from their summer retreats. Leonora is located where the club Secrets used to be. That joint was so secret that nobody is going to miss it. So all the usual suspects from Noel’s bag of tricks were on hand or will be soon. I predict a hit as the neighborhood, once a club mecca with only a revitalized Marquee still standing, is tried and true.

It’s hard to recognize what we used to call “outer” Chelsea as ginormous high-rises are popping up everywhere like mushrooms on a dead, damp tree. Me and mine played a game of what club was here and what club was there? The ghosts of Mansion, Cain, Home, Guesthouse, Bungalow 8, Pink Elephant, Stereo, Bed, and lots of etceteras made the game fun. Nobody remembered where Secrets was. I’ll tell you more when they let me.

Before the Leonora preview bash, me and mine went to Matchless (557 Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn). Matchless has something for everyone. It has its comfortable Brooklyn rustic decor, comfortable Brooklyn comfort food, comfortable downtrodden with great sound band room, and comfortable Brooklyn bar prices, bringing all the hotties and cuties. It’s enough to put Tinder out of business. Well, let’s not get hysterical.

I went to see Wildcat, a buzz band that all my people are talking about all day and all night. Amidst all the blabber about how cute this duo are I heard that they are getting pretty damn good, so we went to see and hear. It’s real hard to pay attention to the songs at first, as the 20-something gals who came out to see them all looked like they were going to faint or scream a la a Beatles concert. I listened and was quite impressed. They have a great deal of great material, all delivered with an effervescence that makes it all charming. An insider told me they are much improved… and I believed her.

Brooklyn is where small bands will grow to be big bands. Manhattan, with its tourist base and credit carded dwellers, will pay for it when it makes it. It was refreshing to see something I hadn’t seen before in a scene rigged for new. New is still happening if you tilt your head and pay attention, and last night Wildcat made me smile.

What to Do this Gorgeous Independence Day Weekend: NYC, Brooklyn, and Beyond

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Fireworks via

There is a lot to do this 4th of July weekend, and of course, lots not to do. Whatever it is that turns you on, please be safe. Drink safely, drive safely, have sex safely, go boating, or bird watching safely. I don’t want to read about you in the papers come Monday unless you hit the Lotto jackpot or something gorgeous like that. I’m not here tomorrow so let me tell you all about it all today. Tomorrow, July 4th the newly opened Haus, (285 West Broadway) there’s Navid Izadi with Jonny Cruz and Orazio Rispo. They are all gushing and foaming about how hot this club is. The place is new. The pace is gorgeous. The staff is enthusiastic, and I’m buying into it. Apparently the real deal, mofu, bon vivant, extraordinaire Mr. Mark baker is in town and will be hosting events. Mark, a legend in NYC with Life, Lotus, Mansion and a bunch of other fabulous clubs and events in his portfolio, has returned for a minute from gorgeous Bali where he owns and operates Townhouse, the best joint in that part of the globe. He will bring his suave, his cool, and his gorgeous crowd to 1OAK (125 Tuckahoe Lane) in Southampton.

If you are there, go there. I will not be Hampton-ing and will opt to stay in Brooklyn and will surely attend the Dances of Vice July 4th Rockabilly Night Market. The gorgeous Shien Lee has invited me and I don’t say no to her. She is on top of things. This event, the 3rd annual one, will feature live bands, a vintage craft market, a ‘50s record hop, a pinup lomography photobooth, a vintage car show, burlesque, food… well you get the idea. It starts at 5 p.m. and goes to 11 p.m. at Srb Brooklyn (177 2nd Avenue, Brooklyn). Performers include Cash O’Riley, The Ownsome Outlaw, Sean Coleman, and The Quasars with burlesque by Bettina May and Raquel Reed. Sei from Rebel Night will DJ.

For a fun time… go to Metropolitan Bar (559 Lorimer) where the simply gorgeous Michael Cavadias will entertain those less traveled but maybe a bit more unraveled. You couldn’t ask for anything more.

For those who need to go bump in the night to the thump of House music, the legendary, and may I add gorgeous, Danny Tenaglia will DJ with a bunch of others at Output (74 Wythe Avenue, Brooklyn). If you are out East then surely check out Sounds of Summer:Mambo Lounge at the Parish Art Museum (279 Montauk Highway, Watermill). That’s Afro-Cuban, Puerto Rican music and old school Latin and Latin Jazz from 6 p.m. This event may not be for the model/bottle throw the napkins in the air gorgeous, EDM crowd and that just might be swell.

Saturday, July 5th, things should be slowing down as our brains try to absorb all that energy from the big fireworks show and our bellies try to digest all that BBQ. The thing to do is to head to Coney Island 1301 Boardwalk, Brooklyn where the incomparable Louie Vega with Les Carbonell and Nino Beatz will take it to another level. It runs from noon to midnight. The weather will be gorgeous, 84 and sunny, and I am looking gorgeous in a swimsuit these days, all tatted up and trim. I will have myself a Nathan’s hotdog, a candy apple from Williams Candy and ride me some bumper cars… then swim it off.

Some people go bump just in the night. I never stop. Now if you are in always gorgeous Miami Beach for the long weekend then dash over to The Downstairs of The Astor Hotel (956 Washington Avenue) and wish DJ legend Richard Vasquez a happy 72nd birthday. Richard is famous for his deep underground club Choice but has played everywhere that counts. There will a slew of great DJs and great people and I wish him well.

By Sunday July 6th, I probably will be too pooped to party, too stuffed to strut, too gorged on BBQ to be gorgeous, but I may just catch my second wind and enjoy a cool, cool breeze at Le Bain (444 West 13th Street). There, at 5 p.m., I will experience Été D’Amour in Nouveau York featuring Alice Q and Lono Brazil (Disco Unusual/Cottage Groove) on the roof with Max Pask (Throne of Blood) and Miguel Senquiz (Spectral, Real Talk) from until 3 a.m. This might be a perfect ending to a gorgeous weekend.

But wait, there’s more. Club workers will have served you food, drink and sometimes forced smiles this hot, long weekend and might need a party of their own. Hotel Chantelle (92 Ludlow) wants to fit that bill. Starting this Monday, July 7th, the gorgeous (designed by me) Rooftop at Hotel Chantelle will be open for Family Meal, a brunch party from 2-10 p.m. for the “industry”. This Monday, Andrew Andrew and Lenny Emery will DJ. Brunch menu will be served all day.

Pride and Junior and BPM, Oh My!

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Pride is upon us and we all should be proud. One of the events I am looking forward to is the legendary DJ Junior Vasquez this Sunday at BPM (516 West 42nd Street). Junior has been away and now he is back. We will talk to him next week and let you know all the details. For now he will let his skills do all the talking.

Years ago when I would enter the Sound Factory or Twilo where he was the deity I would ask the doorman “what kind of mood is he in?” Junior was a moody fellow and depending on his mood swings we would be subjected, enlightened, scolded, or slapped. It was his house and he told us what to do in it. We all obeyed. We knew that he was one of the greatest DJs of all time and that we would look back at this time as we looked back at Paradise with Larry Levan before Junior and we would know…

So this Sunday we will once again see what kind of mood Junior is in and see, well hear, what this great artist has to show us. I have goose bumps. Lydia Rhodes and Jason Walker will perform.

BPM is the latest, and, may I offer, greatest incarnation of the Out Hotels nightclub. Susan Buckley is the vice president of food and beverage operations and managing partner of BPM. I asked her to tell us all about it.

With Pride right here tell me about what the Out Hotel complex plans?

We have a series of FUN events at BPM Nightclub- this Friday CLICK (our weekly party) has three top talents, Tony Moran, Ivan Gomez and Wayne G. spinning. Saturday at THE OUT Hotel we have GRILL OUT, BBQ, burgers, boys and beer on the hotel’s great lawn. At our restaurant KTCHN on Saturday we have a Special Gay Pride Edition of HAUS OF MIMOSA brunch. Then of course we end with a very special set at BPM with Junior Vasquez.

At one point Out was labeled a “gay” hotel, then it was to be considered mixed. What is the deal? Can something be one thing? Are there corporate event considerations?

The hotel is gay owned, but the clientele is a fusion of both straight and gay. In today’s world, I don’t think anything needs to be one way– that would take all the fun out of it! With 14,000 square feet of event space, we host many corporate functions.

OMG OMG OMG. Junior is spinning this Sunday after he took some time off. What can we expect? In booking him are you booking an old school legend or an old school legend who is current, even forward?

NYC can expect one hell of a party that night. Junior is NYC. By far one of the most talented DJs ever. Uniquely New York… He has partnered with BPM to produce a night of music, love and energy. His decades of work and his music genius will be showcased here for Pride once more. He is a legend from back in the day and a legend for the future as well. Junior is so much fun to work with and I am very excited about this collaboration.

 “NYC Pride” is trademarked. Isn’t this a bit strange?

Yes, I have read that it is trademarked. I do not know all the details, BPM did partner with the NYC Pride organization for our Friday CLICK event.

Tell me about the Out, your role and what you have done to keep the property viable and wonderful.

My role is to keep it fresh, make it fun. I have the help of some of the most talented and creative people in the industry. We continue to bring new things to the venue… Cabaret with Billy Porter, Lady Gaga at Club BPM, Grill Out, Summer Share and fabulous art and floral exhibitions in our lobby… much more to come!

Who Owns NYC PRIDE?

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Brandon Voss

As Pride approaches, there is trouble. Apparently the trademarked NYC PRIDE can only be used for Heritage of Pride official events. This has gone to court where a judge has granted a temporary restraining order to prevent promoters of gay parties like Brandon Voss from using ‘NYC’ and ‘Pride’ together in any of his promotional material. The restraining order will be honored, but this case will be decided in court long after the last parade or party –official or not. Brandon Voss has a weekly Saturday party promoted to and attended by the LGBT community year-round. It seems silly to me that there was no way found to include his soireé into the celebration as a whole. It seems unconscionable that something so profoundly based in unity could wallow in this divisiveness. I asked Brandon to elaborate (he’s a great elaborator). 

What is going on here? Pride is upon us and I’m reluctant to use the term NYC Pride in fear of a lawsuit. Instead of unifying, there are lawsuits dividing. I read that you said, “Pride is an inclusive, fluid and intangible movement, especially in its birthplace of New York City. Pride is for everyone and is the property of no one.” Please explain this whole mess.
Sure, Ill try to give you the abbreviated version.  Heritage of Pride (HOP), the organization that, to their credit, organizes the annual pride parade, recently filed for a trademark on “NYC Pride” claiming a date of first use in May 2011. Surprisingly the mark was granted in April of this year. As soon as they received the mark, they demanded we remove the words “NYC Pride” and “New York Pride” from all of our Saturday advertisements as we were infringing on their trademarks. We, as you know, refused and last week were slapped with this lawsuit as a result. Coincidently HOP expanded their “official” events this year to include their first ever Saturday night event, putting them in direct competition with our long running party slate. They claim we were trying to trick the public into thinking our events were official Heritage of Pride events, so they had no choice but to sue us, but if that was the objective we would have used the name Heritage of Pride or its logos… Instead we used NYC Pride and New York Pride as descriptors since we believe those terms to be in the public domain. If we were trying to trick people into thinking we produce the official Heritage of Pride events, I probably wouldn’t be giving you this interview either.

You also stated that with all the “official” events, only a meager amount of money is going to charity. Can you elaborate?
Yes, they give about 10% of net income to various charities (which amounts to a few thousand dollars). The rest goes to operating expenses and salaries. I point this out because they tout themselves as a charitable organization that we are trying to take advantage of. What they are is a non-profit that uses the funds from their events to produce a series of “official” pride events and the parade. Besides the fact that I haven’t self-anointed my events official, their business looks rather similar to mine.

What events are you hosting? Is the beef that your long running party is competition to their special event?… and while we are here, inquiring minds want to know, are you donating part of your proceeds to a charity?
I have an entire weekend of events. Our popular Berlin party Friday night, Saturday afternoon’s Matinee party on Governors Island, Supreme at Capitale with Azealia Banks and DJs Chus and Ceballos, a Sunday afternoon with one my favorites Candis Cayne performing at the Dream Downtown, and a closing party Sunday night at Liberty Theater with a surprise performance by a Grammy award winning artist. Details on all these events can be found here www.VossNYC.com

A percentage of our profits from both the Matinee and Supreme parties go to Life Ball. I can’t give the exact amount until after the event, but suffice it to say it will most certainly be more than the few thousand HOP gave last year.

This is a temporary injunction and the dispute will be settled in court long after the last Pride party of this year. Are you going to fight this ruling?
Yup.

New York City Pride has been celebrating since 1970. Why is this an issue now?
That’s precisely my point. HOP has no business claiming ownership of NYC Pride. It’s a holiday that the community has celebrated for 45 years. To me it’s akin to claiming ownership of Black History Month or St. Patrick’s Day.

Tattoo Convention and Snarky Show

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This weekend has me headed to The Westchester County Center For the Arts (198 Central Avenue) for the Empire State Tattoo Convention presented by Inked, which runs today through Sunday. Of particular interest to me is Megan Woznicki, aka Megan Massacre. Megan has over a million Facebook likes and is known as a tattoo artist, fashion designer, and alt model. I met with over tea at Grit and Glory a while back and found her to be a fascinating gal. She is an animal rights activist / vegetarian, and is also doing an Internet series on Cruelty Free Beauty for Peta2 . I will talk about her more a later date, but urge you to head to the Convention and say hey from us.

A must-see is this Monday’s An Evening With “Friends” at Liberty Hall at The Ace Hotel (20 West 29th Street). It starts at 8pm and Tickets are 10 bucks. DJ bon vivant Miachael Cavadias—a fine actor as well—will join Dave Hill, John Early, Cole Escola, Kate Berlant and my favorite actress from Girls, Jemina Kirke, in this “variety, talk show, therapy session for all the family.” It will be snarky fun and I will be there.

Where You Should Go Out in New York This Week

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Wednesday, June 18

Feel Up! at Gilded Lily (408 W 15th Street) with Susanne Bartsch, Christian Alexander, Paul Sevigny, Erik Foss, Simonez, and many, many more fabulous hosts. 11 p.m.

DJ Rob Nitro spinning punk, new wave, power pop, dark wave, glam and rock at Ding Dong Lounge (929 Columbus Avenue) at 10 p.m.

Songstress Lizzie Thomas returns to Flute (205 West 54th Street). Live Jazz every Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Thursday, June 19

STEVE’S PICK OF THE WEEK: The Lower Eastside Girls Club is raising money to send 75 girls to Camp Girls Club, a week in the Adirondacks where girls learn to kayak, go on nature hikes and experience the wonders of sleep-away camp. Open Bar and DJs from DubSpot with a $25 donation at 6 p.m.  

Why Vinyl Weighs a Ton, a screening at the Wythe Hotel (80 Wythe Avenue, Brooklyn,) followed by a discussion, followed by an after party at a “nearby lounge” then an after, after party at Brooklyn Bowl to enjoy DJ Biz Markie. From 7 p.m.

Starlite Thursdays presents Dyke March Dance Party with DJ Natalie Lopez at Friends and Lovers (641 Classon Avenue, Brooklyn) at 9 p.m.

Friday, June 20

Grand Opening of Lose It Fridays, with a DJ set by Lil Jon + Vice at Pacha (618 West 46th Street) at 10 p.m.

Punch Drunk Love with Bob Moses, Frank & Tony, Livio & Roby, Jon DaSilvia, and more at Output (74 Wythe Avenue, Brooklyn) at 10 p.m.

Anthea & Franklin De Costa, Spektrum: Brendon Moeller & Craft at Sankey’s (29 W 36th Street) at 10 p.m.

DJs Uncle Mike and Uncle Steve (me) at Rooftop 48 (605 West 48th Street.) Eclectic mixes and food from 5 p.m.

Saturday, June 21

Chuckie and Yellow Claw and surprise guests DJ at the Life In Color After Party at Pacha (618 West 46th Street) at 10 p.m.

Jennifer Blowdryer Band at Make Music NY Summer 2014, located at 14 Meadow St, Brooklyn. Make Music New York #mmny2014 6 p.m.

Fiona Silver opens for The Bottom Dollars live at the Mercury Lounge (217 East Houston Street) at 7 p.m.

Sunday, June 22

Le Bain presents Blkmarket Membership featuring Taimur and Faha and guests at Le Bain at The Standard, High Line (444 West 13th Street) at 5 p.m.

Richie Romero invites you to Revel Super Paradise brunch and dinner with DJs Kris Graham and Stephanie Blanding at Revel (10 Little West 12th Street) from 3 p.m.

Monday, June 23

An evening with friends! John Early, Dave Hill, and Michael Cavadias are going to try and patch things up onstage at the Ace Hotel (20 West 29th Street). Cole Escola, Kate Berlant, and Jemima Kirke are special guests, at 8 p.m.

Tuesday, June 24

Suspended Animation at Lit Lounge (93 Second Avenue) with JT Moss and special guests at 10 p.m.

Secret Pop Ups and It Girls: A Seriously Great Tuesday Night Out

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Amanda Lepore at Westway by Marco Ovando

There was time when one could visit NYC and there would be a single club that was number one. Everybody knew it. There were two or three or four other joints that certainly held their own, and a bevy of after hours spots and underground one-offs that entertained. Today there isn’t a dominant club, a be-everything-to-all-types like back in the day. Clubs have become more specialized, maybe a bit homogenized, and certainly less fun for those who celebrate differences rather than commonality. In this environment of one-offs, obscure weekly parties in otherwise less exciting environments and pop-ups are a great answer to the question of where to go.

Tonight there’s a good one. It’s a semi-secret pop up in the basement of Louie and Chan (303 Broome Street). It has a theme “RED” and so everyone will be wearing a bit of red in some creative way. The fabulous Linda Lightchaser is curating this event so I expect the music and fashion flock will flock to it. DJ Pazel will provide the tracks. If this one is a hit, 12 more will follow at various locations, each with a new theme and sound. I want more of these.

My friend Demetra Songs has been lamenting the loss of everything wonderful here in beloved NYC and is actually threatening to banish herself to L.A. OMG NO! Demetra is a musician who also DJs and promotes parties all around town. If a club was great, she would work there and be important. Alas, she finds herself at a different joint on a different night promoting the heck out of it and providing great music, curating DJs and promoters and flyers and all that goes into making the work actually work. Her parties are fun. She’s having one tonight with live music at the almost always great Bowery Electric (327 Bowery at Joey Ramone Place (2nd street)). Acts slated are Steve Conte NYC, The Cringe, The Nuclears and Broken Guru.

Another hot choice for this “must go out” Tuesday night is Suspended Animation: Bottoms Up at Lit Lounge (93 2nd Avenue). Lauren Holden who is an It Girl of sorts invited me and she always ends up in the same room as me, so I expect a friendly yet eclectic gathering. Virginaire is involved with this fabulousness and she will spin a set that’ll include, as she says, “Duo, Deep House, Nu Disco, Original Beats, Collective Death Conscious, Dance Routines and pretty little things.” DJ Jeremy Alisauskas will pop in for a late night set.

Then there is STRUT, Pout, Put It Out this week starring Paper magazine’s maelstrom Mickey Boardman and the legendary Sophia Lamar and a ton of other hosts including top gun Deryck Todd. The DJ is Andrew Andrew. This ginormous gala will occupy ACME (9 Great Jones Street).

All this! and Susanne Bartsch, who consistently brings those who are consistently inconsistent to ON TOP at Le Bain at The Standard Hotel Highline (444 West 13th Street). But wait, there’s more! Frankie Sharp who always stands and delivers at Westgay at Westway (75 Clarkson Street). Tonight there is too much going on to print here, but you can find out more on Facebook.

Comedian Ardie Fuqua is in Our Prayers

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Ardie Fuqua is a terrific comedian and a friend of mine and many. Last Saturday, June 7 at 1 a.m. he was in a limo on the New Jersey Turnpike with Tracy Morgan and others coming back from a gig in Dover, Delaware. A Walmart truck struck the limo, killing comedian James McNair. Tracy Morgan was severely hurt and is recovering. The condition of Ardie is unclear. Ardie is a fixture in the NYC comedy circuit but also a regular in New York nightlife. He was always good for a laugh. Hellos were replaced with “did you hear the one about the…”. Even if the joke was awful, which was often the case, he would sell it with wide eyes and a wide smile and you would laugh at that, if not the punch line.

Ardie’s situation is no joke and we don’t know the punch line. We wait to hear, long to hear, even a bad joke soon. He has had a tough ride even before the Turnpike, and his recent success was a result of picking up the pieces once again.

My love and prayers go out for Ardie Fuqua and his family. I asked one of Ardie’s many friends, Tiarra Mukherjee to tell us more.

   “I met Ardie in 1992 or so through a mutual friend. He was just starting out at the Comedy Cellar then, and we’d get giant smiles our way when he’d see us sitting in his audience. I think he was a bit nervous back then, not like now–the mayor of that place that he is. The ritual back then was always Olive Tree Café upstairs afterwards for a bite and drinks, and he always treated. Ardie was always so grateful and still is. (As Tracy Morgan’s opening act for almost two years now, Ardie was overjoyed that Morgan took him to Australia last year.) Sometime in ‘96 or ‘97, Ardie met up with me and a crew of my girls and hit if off with a friend named Gina. Quickly, they went into serious relationship mode, so we were lucky to have Ardie around more often. There was certainly a lot of fire thrown back and forth in that relationship, but even during their crazy fights, he’d somehow diffuse things with a joke. It was obvious then that he was going to make it big one day as a comedian–he was funny as hell and embodied the words of screenwriter Robert McKee: “the comic mind is idealistic, intelligent, and angry.”

And if comedy is, in fact, the “angry art,” Ardie certainly has the material. He overcame a lot over the years–struggle after struggle: issues with alcohol and drugs, banned from seeing his young kids as much as he wanted to, heartbreaks with women, persevering in the comedy world, where you work so hard and make so little, year after year. But he always fought hard, and kept moving. Because despite the dramas, Ardie stayed strong and let his gift of humor take the front seat. There is much to be said for Ardie’s growth from one year to the next.

After quite some time, Ardie and I reconnected when I produced a few year-end clip shows for BET and we hired Ardie as talent. It was so great seeing him again, still the same humble, hilarious guy. A few years later, we reconnected on a deeper level, when he faced yet another enormous struggle–the loss of his 20-year-old son in 2012. His grief was overwhelming and it touched me very deeply, having lost my baby brother, who was my best friend and like my son at the same time. Ardie and I started talking regularly via Facebook, text, phone. I hope I brought him some comfort because he certainly did for me, just by understanding how incomprehensible the world can be. I was going to have him and my mom meet for lunch to talk about the sons they lost, but even though he was in terrible shape, Ardie didn’t want to bother my mother or risk making her more upset. So we talked. And Ardie fought hard. He’d ride his bike out to his son’s grave often, spent a lot of time with his daughter, his nephew and his son’s friends; went to a support group for parents and siblings and invited me along. And he kept performing right through it, putting smiles on everyone else’s faces, while he was crying inside.

There’s a book Ardie and I talked about. It’s meant to be inspirational in many ways and people were telling him to read it. I looked it up and though it’s not for me, I thought it might help Ardie, who was suffering so deeply, and expressing it so fearlessly via social media and to his friends. The book was tricky to find, but eventually I came across it and got it for him. But it’s still sitting on my windowsill. I told him I’d come by the Comedy Cellar one night when he wasn’t on the road to hang out and planned to give it to him then. And I’ve been meaning to. But as I sit here, without much news of how he’s doing, except that he’s in very bad shape, I fear that I took too long. I refuse to believe that, however. Ardie, you’ve gone through too much for too long and you’ve come too far, my friend. So, it’s still here on my windowsill waiting for you to read it, and I can’t wait to give it to you.”

Author Juliet Escoria Talks Nightlife and Writing

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Nightlife for many is a means to an end. Most truly do not want to be bartending or waitressing deep into middle age, although both are rewarding and noble professions. The business is full of dancers and singers and actors and artists and writers and even an Olympian or two. The hours and cash allow aspiring nobodies to cast, practice, and hone their skills on their way to becoming somebodies. The list of important cultural figures who worked in the biz before they “made it” runs from Dustin Hoffman and Debbie Harry to Bruce Willis and Lana Del Ray…and so on.

The thing about working in nightlife to become a star is that you have to enjoy the trip as the percentage of those who have their names put up in lights is unfortunately small. Hospitality employees need an exit strategy, a plan B. Juliet Escoria, or Julia to those who worked with her in clubdom, was always a writer but now she is a published writer, with a new book and a reading tour which has brought her back to NYC. She will read from her collection of short stories Black Cloud along with Shane Jones, Julia Fierrro and others tonight from 8 to 10pm at the Franklin Park Reading Series (618 St. Johns Place) and again Friday, June 13 at Mellow Pages Library (56 Bogart St, 1S). Readings are the polar opposite of EDM, although both require listening—you sit and open your mind to the author’s ideas, and have the opportunity to meet and discuss after. It’s all very civilized… a welcome change from club banging.

I caught up with Juliet and asked her all about it.

So what’s your book about?

It’s a collection of short stories. I mean, like short-short, as in you can go through them in a few minutes, and there are also pictures. So I feel like people who don’t read all that much might even enjoy reading them. The stories are about drugs and mental illness and bad relationships and feeling alienated from yourself and the world around you. They’re more true than I’d like to admit to my parents.

I’ve seen some of your videos. How do they relate to the stories?

I started the project because I had this idea in my head of a music video, but for stories. At first I was just going to make a couple, but then it morphed into what it is now, which is a video per story (I’ve made nine so far, and have three to go). I liked that idea because I hadn’t seen it done before, and also because it seemed ambitious in a way that appealed to me. I see them as an extension of the stories, in that they are able to expand on emotions or themes that the stories can’t do on their own. There’s a truth to the axioms “A picture speaks a thousand words” and “Words can only say so much.”

What is your history in nightlife?

I moved here, went to grad school, graduated, and got a job doing adjunct work at a university. The thing is though, I couldn’t pay rent. College adjuncts get paid shit, which is pretty fucking sad. I got a job waitressing at a nightclub in addition to the teaching. I had waitressed all through undergrad and I’d enjoyed it, but it was different now that I was older, in that I didn’t have the patience to deal with the customers anymore. I quickly got fired for having a “bad attitude.” In the winter, they needed help with coat check and took a chance on hiring me back. I loved doing coat check because it was all the aspects I liked about nightlife — leaving work with cash in hand, the music, getting dressed up, the late nights — without any of the bullshit like having dumb drunk girls screaming at you about how they want their Patron. And in coat check, my “bad attitude” was helpful. When people lose their tickets they have a tendency to get really belligerent about it, so it’s useful to be assertive.

How’d you leave the industry?

I went through a bad break up, which forced me to reevaluate my priorities. I loved living in New York, but I was working all the time and I ended up deciding that being a writer was more important to me than being a New Yorker. My reality is that I could be one or the other, but not both. I ended up moving back home to California and really forcing myself to dig my heels into the writing thing. It was a sacrifice, but it seems to have paid off.

What can a person expect from a literary reading?

There’s all types, and in New York there’s generally multiple going on a night. Some of them are terrible—boring, pretentious, lifeless. And some are great. I’m fortunate enough to have two going on this week that I feel fall into the latter category. I’m doing one tonight in Crown Heights called the Franklin Park Reading Series, which is probably the best-known reading series around right now. It’s run by Penina Roth, who has been able to put together great shows every month for several years now. The readers she selects are really diverse, and the audience is big (like 100-200 people) and generally on the younger side and very supportive.

On Friday, I’m reading at Mellow Pages, which is a lending library and reading room that’s run out of an art space in Bushwick. This place came around after I left New York, but it has quickly become essential to the indie lit community. The space is really warm and down-to-earth and welcoming. They have readings there several nights out of the week, and it’s a good place to find books that you might not normally hear about.

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