Last Night’s Var Magazine’s Launch Event: I Got a Tattoo

 A long time ago, there was this club called Palladium. It was my job to fill its 108,000-square-foot space about five nights a week with people that mattered. To give you an idea of how big that is, it is more than two Webster Halls and maybe 15 Marquees. Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager were on top of the pyramid and were really great at bringing in top-tier celebrities to create the shock and awe such gigantic places needed. In this modern era, superstar DJs drive the car. Back then, it was Yoko and Liza and Rick James and Andy Warhol. Palladium never lived up to Studio 54 -Steve and Ian’s previous project – but it did have its moments. We did do 3,000 to 5,000 people, five nights a week. It was a pre-bottle universe but people drank a lot more and most paid admission.

I learned many lessons working for these geniuses of nightlife. The specifics were lost in time, but there was this party, and Madonna was going to be there …she really was supposed to. We were even allowed to say it, but we opted not to. The thought process was that we were going to sell out anyway, but if we said that Madonna was going to host or pass through or whatever then everyone would be focusing on that and not the party. The theory went on that if she does show, then everyone will be energized, as it will come as a great and wonderful surprise. Madonna ended up showing, sitting on the backbar, and reading the magazine that prompted the party. It was a party where the anticipation of the celebrity didn’t squash the fun.

Another event at Palladium was an Elite Model soiree. Again, we opted to limit promotion to the model agencies’ list. We didn’t tell our adoring public about the event. The logic was that model agency parties attracted the worst kind of guys and it would be swell if people came and saw a place packed with long-legged beauties. Without knowledge of the event, they might think it was like that every night. I did a good job.

Another time we produced a Koshin Satoh fashion show. He did clothes for lots of famous folk like Miles Davis and Rick Ocasek and Andy Warhol. Again, we knew Andy was going to show but we left it an undiscovered secret. The crowd that came was pumped up by his presence and the party was off the hook. For me, having the party off the hook was more important than a Page Six mention. He was swarmed by the press, including a TV crew who asked him why he had come for the Koshin Satoh show and he replied "Because Koshin designs clothes for Don Johnson.” The interviewer didn’t understand and said "So?" and Andy deadpanned: "Oh, because I think I look like Don Johnson." I held back my laughter as she went away confused and happy. Andy let loose a small smile as she skitted away.

I was mad about Andy. You can take all your Guitar Heros, DJ Megastars and whose-reality-is-it-anyway TV stars and toss them away. Andy was my reason to be cheerful. My clubs and the great clubs of this day are driven by the great crowds and off the hook parties. Word of mouth, amongst the people who actually got in past the door staff, was and remains more important than housewives reading gossip in the NY Post or other periodical. Most savvy operators realize their revenue streams aren’t driven by mentions in Us Weekly.

Last night I attended the VAR Magazine launch event. In fact, I was the DJ. It was a great party. Everyone had a blast. Sally Shan did a fantastic job. She will be happy when she reads this. She is sleeping now because she put everything into it. At the event there were whispers that Ron Wood, out and about pushing his book, would show and that Adrian Grenier was going to perform. These whispers didn’t become the focus of the event because Sally and the other organizers didn’t let the celebrity or the anticipation of one get in the way of a good event.

The Wooster Street Social Club, known as that tattoo place on NY Ink, was the setting for this bash. One of the highlights of the evening was me getting a tattoo while spinning records…well, CDs. Has this been done before? You can Google it if you think it’s important. You can even call the Guinness Book of World Records or start an event where everyone leaves with a tattoo to remember it. Luke Wessman did my tat. Even though the event was wonderful, in time it will fade in memory for even those who had a blast. I won’t forget it, as the ink will always be there to remind me. What did I get?… Andy Warhol’s signature… of course.

The Gaggle Girls’ Most Memorable Valentine’s Days

When a book comes out that redefines a word and introduces a new perspective on dating, the world takes notice; the book gets written up in the New York Times, covered on CNN, and becomes the bedtime reading of singles everywhere. The phenomenon: The Gaggle: How To Find Love In A Post-Dating World. Written by Jessica Massa (pictured, left), The Gaggle says that because we’re in this post-dating, technological world where everything and nothing is a date, every guy in your life—in your “gaggle” (n.) of guys—plays a role and fulfills a need. From your spontaneous neighbor across the hall, to your intellectual friend at the coffee shop, all of these people, many of whom you’re not romantically involved with—covet some kind of quality that’ll guide you toward figuring out what you really want in a relationship.

Jessica—along with Rebecca Wiegand (pictured, right), her longtime best friend and co-founder of The Gaggle bloghas classified the gaggle into 10 distinct, highly-recognizable types of guys, from The Ex-Boyfriend Who Is Still Around, to The Ego Booster, to The Prospect You’re Not Sure Is A Prospect. And of course The Super Horny Guy Who Happens To Be Around A Lot. When you really take a step away from your interactions and take an honest look, it’s simple to pinpoint each of these men in your life.

The best part about The Gaggle: it makes dating—even simply hanging out with guys—fun again. As a single, 24-year-old girl living in NYC with a gaggle, I can attest that this book has powerfully transformed once pressure and expectation-laden experiences with guys, into carefree, “just enjoy what makes you happy” moments of glee.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, Jessica and Rebecca share their most memorable Valentine’s Days ever, from middle school on. And these girls delivered. From black lipstick, to messages on AIM, to psychic predictions, these experts on love have lived and learned. Here are their stories.

Jessica Massa:

1996: Valentine’s Day was a VERY big deal at the middle school that Becky and I attended. Within the hot and heavy world of 7th grade relationships, various school clubs had a tradition of letting students order roses and candygrams to be delivered to their admireree’s classes. This, of course, added an air of popularity, competition, and stress to the holiday. Every time the gift deliverers would interrupt a class with a rose, all the girls’ faces would light up in nervous anticipation: Is this one for me? Who could’ve sent it? Wait, no, why is Marissa getting another one??

That year, a few friends and I decided that we were going to rebel against the oppressive tyranny of Valentine’s Day. So we did what any other middle school girls would’ve done when Alanis Morissette was popular: we dressed in all black, piled on layers of black lipstick, and carried around bouquets of dead black roses. Take that, Hallmark.

Of course, this lasted until 5th period, when it turned out that a very sweet guy friend had sent me a flower to be delivered in math class. I couldn’t contain my huge smile. I conveniently left my dead roses back on that math class desk and walked around with my blooming red one all day instead. The black lipstick got rubbed off pretty quickly, too. I guess this was the year when I discovered I wasn’t quite the raging, idealistic, anti-love feminist that I’d been selling myself as.

Mid-2000s: God bless AIM. This year, I was sitting in my cubicle at work with no plans. By this time, Valentine’s Day was really a take-it-or-leave-it holiday for me—and with no serious relationship in my life, it felt like barely a blip on my radar. 

But then a guy who I had a little crush on IMed me. While we chatted about nothing, it came up that I’d be running a work errand right by his office later in the day. Cool! He’d come downstairs for a minute and say hi!

So he did. We ended up meeting for a drink, and then seeing his friend’s show, then getting food, and then wandering around the East Village, and getting another drink…it turned into one of those epic, aimless, unplanned nights where you find yourself enjoying each other’s company not really wanting it to end, so it doesn’t. No, we didn’t kiss that night. But we kissed later, so that was okay. 

This became one of the memories that I always looked back on, especially when Becky and I were first exploring the idea of a post-dating world. Had I wanted or expected dates, flowers, and proclamations of love, that night would have been a let-down. But by being open to any sort of fun, positive way to spend the holiday, I ended up with a really special memory of a great night with a cute guy.

2010: At a certain point of adulthood, you find yourself at peace with Valentine’s Day—relationship or no relationship. One of my best girlfriends and I decided to celebrate our utter lack of caring and concern for the holiday in 2010 by throwing ourselves a traditional little date night. We got drinks, saw the movie Valentine’s Day, ate a classy dinner, and then went back to her place to watch Up and eat a lot of candy. The night was fun and lovely.

But what sticks out to me was our experience at dinner. We were having the best time—talking, laughing, gossiping, sharing food. And then halfway through dinner, the hostess seated a beautiful couple right next to us. "Okay," we communicated to each other through a series of raised eyebrows, "here is the part where we have to watch a couple be in love on this most ‘romantic’ day of the year. We’re ready for it." 

But then! They barely said two words to each other throughout the entire meal. They spent the whole time on their phones. We were actually pretty sure they were eavesdropping on our conversation, simply for lack of better things to do or think about. And both my friend and I were reminded that the very act of being in a relationship doesn’t earn you a prize, or a higher station in life. You make the best of whatever your romantic situation is. And that year—even on a day meant for couples—my friend and I were so happy to just have each other.

Rebecca Wiegand:

Circa 2003: "I don’t need a designated day of the year to buy you flowers!" my then-boyfriend said to me. He was on a roll: passionate, European, an ambivalent capitalist. I adored him and basically agreed with his assessment that Valentine’s Day was a manufactured holiday thrust upon us by greedy Hallmark. Still, I managed to squeak out, "Really? When was the last time you bought me flowers?" Dead silence in the room between us. It turned out that maybe a yearly reminder, courtesy of the Romantic Industrial Complex, wasn’t such an offensive idea after all.

2011: "GET YOUR GAGGLE ON!" Jess and I announced at our signature, Gaggle Valentine’s Day party, and I’ll always remember the damn important lesson I learned that night. We and our team wore white dresses and circulated the room as modern-day cupids, introducing men and women who wore nametags that said things like, "I Need a Career Booster" or "I Need a Hot Sex Prospect" for women and "I’m Your Career Booster" or "I’m Your Hot Sex Prospect" for men. The concept was that you should use Valentine’s Day to explore and expand your gaggle – not focus laser-like and neurotically on finding "The One." 

I had showed up at the venue stressed out of my mind, anxious about the party and—as always—thinking ten steps ahead to everything I felt I had to accomplish in the next six months (and in my life). I scooped up the nametag that said "I Need an Ego Booster" and started ranting about how I needed some guy, any guy, to be nice to me, lend a sympathetic ear, support all my goals and ambitions, and tell me I was doing alright. I was fed up and tired of playing games via text, via email, in person, over the phone, with men in general, and the one man in particular whom I really liked, but also knew it was never going to work out with. Why couldn’t he get his act together? Why couldn’t anyone give me what I needed?

Minutes later, my brother ambled up to the bar; quite my opposite, he is calm, self-assured, and reserved. He was wearing the nametag that said "I’m Your Ego Booster."

When I saw him before me, I almost cried and laughed. There he was, not only supporting me and our project, but also putting himself out there to the single ladies present as the sweetest of all the gaggle guys he could be. I was humbled: I had the world’s greatest friend and supporter right there, but I hadn’t thought to look outside myself and beyond the realm of my fucked up love life. Having gotten over myself and my self-created psycho-drama, I was able to have fun at my own party.

2012: "You’re going to be very fertile this time of year, but I just can’t tell if it’s with a book or a baby!" The astrologer shook her head apologetically while also grinning. I was with two of my girlfriends at our local bar, where they were giving out love horoscopes. I crossed my fingers and prayed the stars were aligning to bring about book success; The Gaggle was being published in hardcover that June. Yet, another part of me wouldn’t have minded if the other b-word came about. I had just entered into a relationship with a man who brought more happiness into my life than I could ever remember having before. A desperate, hopeful part of me wanted him to stick around forever. Later that night, he met us at the bar, two big bouquets of tulips crammed into his backpack. He hadn’t known they were my favorite flowers. I took it as a sign—whether we ever had a baby or not – that he was the man for me. Once again, I found myself thankful for unexpected lessons learned on Valentine’s Day.

The Gaggle

Follow Bonnie on Twitter here.

‘Sh*t My Dad Says’ Author Justin Halpern On Sex, Growing Up, and His New Book

For Justin Halpern, it all started with a break-up. Blind-sided by the end of a three-year-long relationship, Halpern moved back home with his parents in 2009, made an office out of his living room couch, and started jotting down his dad’s brutally honest, sage, and expletive-ridden advice on a Twitter page called shitmydadsays. Within two months, the site had over half a million followers, a book deal, and a TV deal. After Sh*t My Dad Says topped the New York Times bestseller list, Halpern started working on his next book: I Suck at Girls

In I Suck at Girls, we follow the now-married Halpern as he recalls some of the most life-changing, awkward, and embarrassing misadventures of his life – from losing his virginity to a waitress he worked with at Hooters, to having explosive diarrhea on the first-date with his wife. In this follow-up, Halpern’s own wisdom shines through. 

But if you’re worried about losing his dad’s signature insight – don’t – it’s in there, with a bunch of new colorful characters too. And although Halpern’s dad warned him that he "better make this better than the last one, people will wait to shit on it," his dad returned to his son with the highest praise after just one reading: "This will be difficult to shit on. They’ll find a way, but it will be hard." 

I Suck at Girls has been described as everything from a coming-of-age story, to a romantic comedy mystery, a memoir, and a confessional. How would you describe your second book?
It’s a story about growing up and exploring the opposite sex, for most people. There are a lot of books, like The Game and Tucker Max’s books, that are about sleeping around and they have a bit of misogyny in them, and then there’s a bunch of books on the other end of the spectrum where the people are social outcasts. I didn’t really see anything for the in between – and that’s who I was. I wasn’t popular, but I wasn’t a total loser. I was awkward. I wanted to write a series of essays that relate to universal stories everybody had. Most importantly, I just want to entertain people and tap into that thing where you read something and you say, “Ah, that happened to me. I had something like that."

What’s the biggest lesson you learned that you hope others will too?
That love and relationships are just a bunch of really embarrassing losses and failures that happen to you and hopefully, at the end of the day, you get one win. You get the person that it works with. So when you have all those other things – all the failures and break-ups – don’t take them too hard. They need to be there.

Which loss, in particular, had the greatest impact on you and your perspective on relationships?
I dated this girl Simone, and it was the only casual sex relationship I’d ever had. I didn’t have a big emotional connection with her, and when it ended, it had the biggest effect on me because I realized I didn’t want that kind of relationship. I wanted a relationship where, when it ends, I feel like shit. Because then I know it meant something. Guys always talk about sleeping around and sowing your oats, but I feel like at the end of the day, we’re all like pack animals. You want to be with somebody who wants to be with you, that you give a shit about. Any guy or girl who is okay with having lots of casual relationships and never wants to settle down, there’s something else in their life they’re compensating for because we are genetically coded to be with at least one partner. So if you’re fighting that, there’s something else going on.

I feel like a lot of the time they’re hiding that there is that one person they want to be with, they can’t be with, so in order to try to get over that person they try and get with a bunch of people.
Yeah, and isn’t it weird? Because you’re meeting people in all different parts of that journey. So you can meet the perfect person but they’re up here and you’re down here and it’s not going to work. You have to meet the right person who is at the same place, at the same time.  That’s why it’s so fucking hard to meet somebody and make a relationship work.

Which moment in the book might surprise or even horrify your readers?
During the time I was working as a cook at Hooters, I lost my virginity to this girl Sarah. I was 19 and it was especially bad because it was my first time, not hers. The next day, she broke up with me over the phone while I was at work. She called the manager, and after she was done breaking up with me, she asked me to put the manager back on so she could get the rest of her schedule and tell him where to send her last check since she was quitting. It was so bad. You think about how inconsequential you are in someone’s life when they have other business, besides breaking up with you, to take care of. There’s an agenda and I’m at the bottom.

Now that you’re married, did you have any reservations about including the casual sex chapter in the book? What does your wife, Amanda, think of it?
I talked to her before I wrote about it and asked if she was okay with me doing it, and she said that it was fine. She really likes the book. It’s sort of about her, like a love letter. There’s all these failures and she was the one that worked out. I love her to death. To me, it says, “All that stuff that happened? That’s so that I could be with you.”

It’s kind of an inspirational story.
Yeah, someone else said that! This guy, 22 years old, was like, “This gives me hope!”

It’s basically saying, “You’re going to go through a lot of crap, but it’s going to work out.”
You learn something during every shitty thing you go through. They’re not just useless experiences. It all leads up to something.

We’ve heard so much from your dad. What about your mom? Does any of her advice make its way into the book?
She has tons of great advice, but none of it makes its way into the book because she didn’t want it to. She’s more private then my dad, and asked me to leave her out of the book as much as possible, and I did. She’s amazing and the smartest person in our family, for sure.

I Suck at Girls

I heard that I Suck at Girls is already going to become a TV show.
Well, we’ll see. I sold it and I’m developing it. This guy, Bill Lawrence, who created Scrubs, Spin City, and Cougar Town, he’s overseeing the project with my writing partner and I. We sold it so, hopefully, fingers-crossed, we’ll make it. It’ll be set in the early ’90s, kind of like The Wonder Years. It’s about a 14 to15-year-old kid living with his family.

You’ve said that so much in your life has changed since the success of Sh*t My Dad Says. What has stayed the same?
The people around me have all stayed the same. I have the same friends, my wife was my girlfriend. That’s the beauty of being a writer; nobody knows what you look like and nobody cares really what you do. You get this lovely anonymity, even if your projects are successful. The people closest to me have stayed the same, but the rest of my life has totally changed. My wife loved me when I was waiting tables.

A lot of people become more and more like their parents as they get older. Do you think you’ll become your dad? 
I think I’ll be completely different, but I hope I’m equally as good. I don’t think I’ll ever turn into him cause he’s just a crazy guy, but I hope that I’m able to connect with my children the same way that he connected with me. I hope my kids will love and respect me as much as I love and respect my dad. And to do that, I have to be as good a father as he was.