How To Figure Out If You’re Dating the Kid of a Celebrity

Right before Christmas I met a boy in a bar. He was tall, adorable, and we immediately started chatting about music. Before the night came to an end, we exchanged information and he took my phone to add me as a friend on Facebook. When I noticed his last name, one that isn’t very common, I laughed and jokingly asked if he was the son of the celebrity with the same last name. His response was abrupt and strange: “No. I fucking hate that guy.” Um, OK.

The celebrity in question would not evoke such a response from anyone. Unless, of course, they knew him intimately and, for a fact, that he’s absolute shit. His on-air persona, although sometimes aloof and douchy, does not make one hate him. It just doesn’t. It was when I asked him what his dad did a couple weeks later that I was able to know for sure. Even then he didn’t say who his dad was; it was just obvious at that point. Maybe he doesn’t know that his father is pretty much a legend in our generation, or maybe he just doesn’t give a fuck.

I let it go. I don’t care who is father is; it has zero effect on how I feel about him. But some people do care about this shit. True star-fuckers, if they can’t score the celebrity, will take the offspring if they can.

As someone who has more than a few friends who have found themselves dating the kids or step-kids of celebrities, unless the kid is a show-off asshole, it’s virtually impossible to know exactly from where the person came. The only time the truth comes out is when you show up for a family dinner and find yourself across from say, Michael Douglas, and you’re forced to play it cool. Michael Douglas was in Romancing the Stone! You can’t be cool around that!

So, how do you know? Whether it’s for family dinner preparation or because you’re a greedy, gold-digging fame whore, there are five easy ways to figure it all out. Because sometimes Google can fail you in these circumstances, especially when you’re dealing with a family that does everything within their power to keep their lives private. (Oh, the famous and their I’m-so-special ways!)

“I fucking hate that guy.” The last name is a dead giveaway, especially if it’s not common. And if you do what I did and jokingly ask if there’s any relation, not thinking for one second there actually is, and the response is something aggressive out of left field, then, well, you’ve got yourself a celebrity’s kid.

Mannerism dissection. A lot of suspicion can be put to bed if you pay attention to mannerisms. Let’s say you’re dating Jack Nicholson’s kid. Now we all know Jack is known for his eyebrows and that Joker-like, crazy grin (even sans Batman make-up), so a lot of questions can be answered if you focus on these details. You’re not staring; you’re appreciating the similarities.

Mild detective skills. If you don’t know what the hell people are talking about when they mention Benson and Stabler, then you need to watch some episodes of Law & Order to truly grasp this maneuver. Where does this person live that you’re dating? Do they just happen to go on a family vacation the same time [celebrity name] was spotted by the paparazzi at the same place? Is their dad “working” at some concert the exact dates that such-and such-band is playing Coachella?

Is their life one of privilege? In NYC, the privileged are a pretty frequent lot. But there’s also a big difference between the privileged and the very privileged. Does this person in question have things in their apartment that others would kill for—like random photos of his mom at Studio 54 with Halston? Did Nirvana play his twelfth birthday? Can he get you into Per Se tonight at 8 PM no problem?

Straight up insult the celebrity in question. Even if the kid is on the outs with their celebrity parents, they won’t put up with someone else talking shit about their mom or dad. Case in point, as proven by a friend of mine: “I was going on and on about how much of a fucking asshole [celebrity name] is. I was criticizing his movies, his style and even his hair, finally D—snapped and exclaimed, ‘that’s my fucking dad! So keep your opinions to yourself.’ I knew it was just a matter of time before he’d have to give up the goods. And his dad does have bad hair.”

Follow Amanda Chatel on Twitter.

Las Vegas New Year’s Eve: To Drink

You may have noticed a significant omission in our last New Year’s Eve story—after all, how could we write a party round-up without including one of the biggest party cities of them all? But that’s only because what’s planned in Las Vegas for 2012 is so big, it required its own day. Herewith, our guide to the best of New Year’s Eve festivities in the hotels on the strip:

For a straight up club experience, the Spectacular Spectacular at The Palms sounds like it will be just that, with Paul Oakenfold playing at Rain, the John Legend afterparty (more on that later) at Moon, Miss Nevada USA hosting at Ghostbar, and a horde of Playboy bunnies taking over the Playboy Club. Naturally we’d suggest the VIP pass, for unlimited access to a selection of top-shelf liquor from 10pm to 1am at all the venues. At the Venetian and Palazzo, there’s a similarly comprehensive situation, with their five combined bars hosting Midnight Mix from 10pm to 2am, while DJ Sam Ronson spins on the terrace at Lavo, in the Palazzo, from 9pm to midnight, finishing up with a major fireworks display.

For a loungey experience, the heavenly bodies of Cirque du Soleil will be lighting up the room at Gold Lounge at the Aria Hotel, while the heavenly bodies of the Kardashian siblings will be spread around town, hosting (for better or worse) what are sure to be hot tickets: Kim at Tao at the Venetian, Kourtney and Scott at Chateau Gardens at Paris Las Vegas, and Rob at Tryst at the Wynn. And make room for some nostalgia: Pamela Anderson will host at Studio 54 at the MGM Grand, a big goodbye bash at the 14 –year-old venue, which will be closing early next year, while starlet Taryn Manning will be hosting at Tabu with DJ Kid Jay.

Stay tuned for our guide to Las Vegas’ most lavish eateries, up next…

You Can’t Go Home Again: The Ramones & Studio 54 Revivals

I am so confused! These little pink pills and those beige ones that “they” gave me for my “illness” have me hallucinating and lost in space. Yesterday I dreamed that I was hanging with Diane Keaton back in the day and that we were going to see Michael Jackson at the old Copa. This never happened, but it was vivid and real, and I woke up disappointed that it was just a dream. By the way, I was incredibly charming and suave throughout.

In the real-time world, we are often asked to go back to a time and place and see how it really was. Last night it was Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg, and come Tuesday, SiriusXM will seriously try to create — for one night only — the legendary Studio 54. The Marky thing was a Ramones hullabaloo and the Studio 54 thing will include many of the players that made that place so special.

The crowd at Marky’s thing was either old enough to have been there for the real thing, or way too young to have a clue. Blitzkrieg ran through the Ramones set pretty much as it was. A 1, 2, 3, 4 separated the songs, and there was all the requisite head bopping and snarling faces and hair waving. It was not the Ramones. As I sat with Marky in his dressing room, I told him that if they had tried to imitate the legendary band, it would have been like some moving, loud wax museum. It was merely a glimpse of a time that will not happen again for the Ramones, for the aging crowd, for our universe, for me or you.

Today’s youth is equally caught up in scenes as relevant to them as this show was to me and the other gray beards in the crowd 20 years ago. It took me back for a moment to a time when Punk answered every question I ever had. Blitzkrieg can’t answer those questions for me. No band could anymore. At some point you reach an age where the questions get harder and can’t be answered by pogoing, or even drugs. To the younger set rushing about in T-shirts designed before they were born, it must have felt like a peek at a far-off romantic time of punk perfection. I tried to go back to that place in my clap-trapped brain, but just kept finding myself in 2011, unable to be creative enough to let the music take me. Maybe I forgot too much. Maybe that poet was right. Maybe I was so much older then and I’m younger than that now.

The show was great; the mosh pit told us so. The non-real Ramones guys Marky assembled were their own selves. They understand the legacy and are careful to lean on it but not steal from it. I watched the Dee Dee and the Joey and the Johnny and understood that they were meant to die young with their legacy intact. They left us before their crazy dreams could be shattered. They were way too pure, too punk to age gracefully. Legacy is one of those important words like love or respect or honor. Words worth dying for. The legacy of the Ramones is furthered by Blitzkrieg. It was very strange and wonderful to see Vera Ramone, Dee Dee’s wife, who had flown up from Florida to catch her first “Ramones” show in 21 years. Her book is being re-released soon on kindle in a few languages. She looked great, the eternal Rock ‘n’ Roll wife. I’m having dinner next week with Marky and his Marion. We won’t be eating chicken Vindaloo or hanging out on second avenue as the song suggested. We two know we can’t go back again. So it will ironically be at DBGB Kitchen & Bar, just down the road from the distant past.

The SiriusXM Studio 54 homage thing on Tuesday is promising to be real. Well, as real as it can be, considering Ian Schrager, according to sources, doesn’t want to go backwards, and Steve Rubell is no longer around. Carmen D’Alessio doesn’t seem to be there either, but a lot of the players are on board. How can they recreate an era born in disco that died in fire, disease, and jails? Already there are sides being taken and controversy is popping up. Old rivalries are flaring. The competition is about to begin. This just might be a great party after all. I asked a player to be named later (or never)…

SL) Can you or any of us go back again?

PTBNL) No one can go back again. The climate is totally different: AIDS, DWI, cost of living in NYC. The tolls are six times what they were even 20 years ago. The cost of running a space relative to profit is not worth the effort. We were doing $300k per week in ’81 – ’84, with $20k a month in rent. Someone like Ian is too busy with hotels, and this is small potatoes to him

SL) If everyone was still alive and interested, could it be recreated?

PTBNL) Like i said, i think this is really Marc’s gig. This is his only job. Everyone else is just helping out, and as you well know, there a lot of egos involved.

SL) Why isn’t Carmen mentioned?

PTBNL) Who knows. Marc’s probably afraid Carmen will usurp his gig.

SL) Is this event a pre-cursor to a real rebirth a re-opening?

PTBNL) If it does reopen, it would be best suited as a large supper club. These guys at Sirius have boatloads of dough.

Snowy Walk Down Memory Lane with Studio 54’s Bill Jarema

I, like so many of you, am snowed in. I left a design meeting in the late afternoon yesterday only to be pelted by stinging sleet. Amanda and I ducked into the movie theater on Union Square, caught The Kings Speech, and warmed our toes and minds — The Kings Speech makes True Grit look like soggy oatmeal, Black Swan like an ugly duckling. We exited and got hot chocolate at Max Brenner, and canceled all our plans for the evening. We said “welcome homes” via texts to people who sat on tarmacs for hours and never got anywhere, and told our commuter friends they could crash at our place rather than risk a crash on the road. I had crashed down some icy subway stairs earlier in the night and popped out my shoulder.

I’ll spend today in the hospital seeking some sort of cure or relief, but yesterday, I sucked it up and had dinner at Juliette off Bedford Avenue. Our scraggly, exhausted band of others thought it felt like an episode of Survivor, only with great food. We needed two extra chairs to handle the volume of clothes we are all wearing. Winter is winning. Somebody out there messed with mother nature, and mother nature is acting out. All the parkas, mittens, 8-hour hand and toe warmers, and sensible shoes aren’t keeping us sound.

Events that mean a great deal to some people are drawing no crowds after months of preparation. Acts of God have us wondering if the act we wanted to see at a venue actually made it into town. Are big DJs stranded in foreign airports? This winter of discontent is a game changer. For years to come, event planners who already thought twice about booking an event in the winter will think 3 or 5 times. Hospitality workers will hoard their holiday cash, thinking January work will not pay the bills. Waitrons and bartenders are applying for food stamps, and door policies all over town are being relaxed. The January blizzard of 2011 is affecting us all on a deeper than just “it’s cold and wet outside tonight” level. It has snowed before, but not like this. Never so many days with so much accumulation. Here we are talking about the weather, and that’s never a good sign.

Nightlife veteran Bill Jarema is turning, well, I don’t really know many years, but he’s really old. Not Steve Lewis old, but old. He’s one of the players who didn’t get as much recognition as some because he was too busy working to jump in front of a camera. Bill worked the door of over 20 nightclubs. He is a Studio 54 veteran. He started as a bathroom attendant, moved on to day crew, mailroom, then worked his way up to assistant promotional director, and then managing doorman. Ultimately he was doing his own parties 2 to 4 nights a week at Studio until it closed. He actually locked the doors at Studio 54, the final night. He did some “heavyweight” parties for peeps like Madonna at Studio, Depeche mode at Palladium, and U2 at Limelight. He was really known for his “pay the bills bridge and tunnel” crowd and for capitalizing on his experience from Studio and the “brand name” it had.

How did the Studio 54 experience help you?

It gave me a lot of credibility making deals. After Baird Jones did his thing in the early to mid 80’s, no one did the numbers I did. I did Magique, Cat Club, 1018, 4D, Mars, Area, Quick, Xenon, Octogon, exclusively and primarily on Saturdays as the drinking age transitioned from 18 to 19, and then to 21. My 3 partners and I had a network of distributors, and a mailing list that was ginormous. Probably 60,000+ names. We got paid much more from the newer spots VS Studio, because these clubs were willing to pay. What are the differences between the old days and the modern clubs?

The crowds are not as mixed, gay/straight and the sexual energy is missing. The crowds are not as cultured. Many of the trend setters have moved to Miami and LA, cutting things down things in NYC to about 1/3 of what it was. The joints themselves are run by less professional people, who do not take their jobs as seriously, and have no creativity. Area was redesigned every week it seemed! And today, it takes 5 minutes to get a watered down drink! We used to be so busy, we didn’t even ring the register! Any Steve Rubell or Ian Schrager, Studio 54 memories?

I wasn’t that close with Steve and Ian because I didn’t work for them at a high capacity. But Ian did teach me how to keep my tip jar filled in the bathroom. He was usually gone early, and I could never make any sense of what came out of Stevie’s mouth if I ever ran into him. On my very first night as a busboy, I did run into Stevie on the balcony. I had just seen two guys going at it while sweeping up cigarette butts at only 10:30PM, Stevie said I looked like I had seen a ghost.

You claim I went to 54, but I honestly don’t remember. I used to go and hang outside and Steve would invite me in, and I always declined which pissed off Mark Beneke, and of course those who had waited for hours. I was a punk back then, and uninterested in Studio, but loved the spectacle. I was always at Max’s Kansas City.

Even though you don’t remember going to Studio, you definitely did. You came to the door on a Saturday, saying you were from Limelight or some such, wearing this really cool deep brown hoodie thingy, kinda like those little midget scrap dealers in Star Wars? Anyway, Benecke was inside and I let you in, even though I wasn’t supposed to. He went nuts when he saw you inside saying, “We don’t let his type in here, and we don’t have club courtesy.” I never did that again, needless to say, and that is the first time we met.

Other Studio stories?

One night, there were so many people outside, probably six thousand or so. The crowd was swaying back and forth, and an Asian kid’s spine broke. Chuck Garelick (head of security) swept him inside and out the back. I knew this was the place to be.

One night I was up on Benecke’s old spot on the fire hydrant. We had Alisha performing, another 3-4,000 peeps outside, and up walks Hank Pisani from Crisco Disco/Page Six, along with his entourage of young lads. I had no choice but to let him in, and as he did, he grabs my balls and says, “Billy, you look so yummy tonight. I wanna @#$%& you up &*%$#@ until your %$&(# turns orange.” The crowd went silent

Who were the nightlife legends that most influenced you?

The 3 most influential legends for me were Benecke who taught me how to keep it brief, firm, yet polite, and a few catchy phrases like, “Not with those shoes.” Rudolf taught me to keep it simple, and that this was really an easy business. John Blair, who taught me how to have a good time doing this, and not to take it so seriously, but most importantly how to make a deal, and that the owners needed to make money or you won’t last.

On My Radar: A Roundup of Events

Those who say nightlife is dead invariably point to the lack of artistic types running joints. For example, we interviewed Rudolf Piper last week from his nightlife empire hideout in Brazil, and remembered his joint, Danceteria. It was a joint where creativity trumped the chase of money. Danceteria was arguably one of the best joints ever, but it owes a great deal to two spots that preceded it. The Mudd Club and Club 57 were places run and inhabited by the creative types who have mostly abandoned today’s club culture. Born out of the punk chaos of the late 70’s and early 80’s, they were hosts to what I refer to as the “lost generation” of clubs. AIDS devastated this scene, taking the best and scaring the rest. For me, they was my Wonder Bread years, the years when I was just starting to go out in earnest. I was a moth addicted to the light they were casting, and I gleaned life lessons from wunderkinds Joey Arias and the late Klaus Nomi, who took the time to corrupt me to happiness. On Thursday, October 28th, a reunion will be held at The Delancey. Everyone will be there. While “special guests” are still to be announced, the confirmed performers are a who’s who of the era: Ann Magnuson, Richard Lloyd, Tina Peel, Sic F*cks, Marilyn, Bush Tetras, Walter Steding, Comateens, and Phoebe Legere. The list of MCs and DJs is lengthy as well.

Mc’s and DJ’s include L Anita Sarko (DJ), Dave Street (MC), Ivan Ivan (DJ), Mark Kamins (DJ), Tessie Chua (MC), and Dany Johnson (DJ). John Kelly will perform. There will be photos and video from Allan Tannenbaum (photography), Harvey Wang (photography), Marcia Resnick (photography), Merrill Aldighieri (video), Nightclubbing (video), Robert Carrithers (film, photography), Marty Abrams (video), Linda Dawn Hammond (photography), Frank Holliday (video), and Francine Hunter McGivern (video, photography). There will be tributes to Patti Astor, Lisa Lost, and Deb O’Nair. The Mudd Club, Club 57, and Danceteria were the the counterbalance to the 800 pound gorilla of clubs like Studio 54, which dominated the scene and dominated that time. I wouldn’t have been caught dead at 54, but I did anything to get into these joints. The reunion is a must.

I am also fascinated by the Art Guitar Auction being held this Thursday at BB King. My friend Erik Foss of the Fuse Gallery, which is that fabulous art fortress at the back of my favorite haunt, Lit, is telling me all about the event. His DRAW co-curator, Curse Mackey, has produced this charity auction, which features Fender Stratocaster art guitars that have been painted by celebs, rock stars, and Fuse Gallery favorites. “The auction includes guitars painted or drawn on by Kenny Scharf, Travis Louie, Rich Jacobs, Slash, Stephen Colbert, the legendary Stan Lee, Lou Reed, Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, David Stoupakis, DRAW guest curator and artist Miguel Calderon, Stanley Mouse, Gene Simmons of KISS, actress Juliette Lewis, James Hetfield of Metallica and more.”

You can attend or buy online. The proceeds go to Little Kid Rock, an organization that transforms the lives of children by restoring and revitalizing music education in underfunded public schools. It’s free lessons and instruments for underprivileged children in US public schools with over 1,000,000 students served to date in over 1,200 schools in 24 cities nationwide. Little Kids Rock honorary board members include Bonnie Raitt, Slash, Paul Simon, B.B. King, Ziggy Marley, and other famous friends in the music industry.

Also on my radar is P.J.S. (a gallery on 14th and 8th), which is hosting the Paper Spaceship and CMJ Music Marathon & Film Festival. It’s an exhibit of 30 years of CMJ photography. I try to avoid most CMJ stuff, but now I can see everything I’ve missed over the decades in one place. I guess CMJ is about listening, but I’ve never been too good at that. Running October 19th through the 31st, CMJ 30 will kick off with a huge opening reception on Thursday, Oct. 21st from 7:00pm to 10:00pm, with complimentary beer from Porkslap. The gallery will be filled with black and white prints—wheat-pasted on the walls—from over 20 different photographers. “We’re incredibly thrilled to work with Paper Spaceship and CMJ Music Marathon for this upcoming exhibit,” says Patrick Sullivan, owner of P.J.S. “Band photography has always played such an integral role in sharing the live music experience.”

Oh, and another usually reliable source confirms the rumor I heard about The Box opening up in London, and tells me it’s headed for Vegas too. I’m digging deeper and will let you know.

Freddy Bastone: Master DJ and Jack of All Trades

Diving into the nightlife business is way easier than climbing out. Waitrons need to score a rich husband, or land that career-making role, or finish school, or move up to management. Promoters need to become owners, or use their new-found connections to do what they learned in school. The “who you know” factor often kicks in and these types often enter the real biz world higher up than they would have if they had plodded up the corporate ladder. Knowing hot chicks, and having access to swanky clubs is good for gooses, ganders, bosses and clients. Some top tier ex-promoters now run things in that straight world. Bartenders must open a joint, become management, or land that role, or finish school, or start to sell those fabulous metal sculptures that they make in their spare time. Clubs put people through school, but are also a school of their own. Many make a good living in clubs, but many can’t get out, and find themselves too old to really be there. My path went this way. I was able to get to a top tier position, but then circumstances—that were in and out of my control—spun me out and into another direction. I didn’t have one more second in me at a club when I segued into other careers. I write this little column and am a designer of joints. My club experience gave me the tools I needed to get out. In the design field there are thousands of people who can choose fabulous woods, or simply gorgeous fabrics, but few—if any have actually ever sold a beer. I’ve sold lots of beer, and I know where bars should be and banquettes, and so on. I had an exit strategy and I tell everyone in the club world to devise one.

DJs are the rockstars of clubdom. The technology of the modern world makes almost every sound, twist, and remix available to every one of them. Their art relies heavily on their personality and love for the music. The best ones know how to listen to others, exchange ideas, and grow. Those stuck in their own schtick often get stuck in the mud, and end up spinning in the uncool parts of the outer boroughs, or not at all. The modern DJ has a suitcase packed, a management team, agent, PR, website, and maybe even a bobble head of his likeness. Freddy Bastone and I worked together back in the Danceteria days and beyond. He is still out there, strutting his stuff. I had the pleasure of hearing him play recently, and was amazed how skillful and relevant he remains. When I was doing fashion shows for a living, Freddy did my music. We made sure that the hottest new rags were accompanied by the hottest new sounds. I caught up to my old pal and asked him about how to survive and thrive in an industry where youth has almost as many advantages as experience.

Hello, Freddy. Good evening sir. First of all, thanks for this lil interview, and sorry getting back to you so late. I’ve been working 12 hour days, acting on a ABC pilot “Proof of Guilt.”

Great to hear from you, and it was great seeing you the other night. Great set. Tell me about your musical journey. What were you playing when you started? What are you playing now, and all the time in between? My musical journey started at home with my father who was a jazz musician. He and I had drum battles: me playing John Bohnam beats, and my dad doing his Max Roach. So I was surrounded by music, day and night. I put my guitar and drumsticks down in my last year of high school. I was fascinated by my Latin friends, and dance music, which was disco, and the very beginnings of hip hop. I was the only white boy playing parks and house parties, doing the disco and my partner doing the salsa, but I always had my rock ‘n’ roll ears going, so I always added the punk, or new wave to my sets. The Clash, Yello, Kraftwerk, The Jam. I continued that style of being able to mix all those elements flawlessly, which I believed set me apart from the rest of the DJs at the time anywhere in the world. You either did this style or that style. I remember starting to work in a club, no names, and the clique of DJs were like, who’s this kid think he is, mixing beats for new wave/punk into funk and disco? They got over it quick ‘cause they needed to learn the trade or they’d be out. I still very much enjoy taking people on a musical journey from deep house to soulful house to a old reggae into real rock and roll, without the dance mixes that are usually terrible. Back into electro to funk then go into classic disco. And when done, these days—even more than before—people are just blown away, because people expect the washing machine effect when entering a dance venue .

What clubs have you worked. The best? The worst? The best club to me, by far was Danceteria. It didn’t have the best sound system, but it was the atmosphere created by the people who worked there. Everyone had a following, from the DJs, to the bar backs, and everyone in between. The Palladium and Studio 54 were also huge to me, because I was playing live on the radio every Saturday night. That made me a good amount of mulla with the record companies at the time with remixes. The best sound system was The Hacienda, and Space. The worst has to be the two strip clubs I played at. You would think: what fun, but no. The girls do not want to be there dancing for these pathetic men. They’re mostly in the locker room fighting, and getting high to get through the night, very sad really.

Tell me about producing and how that started. I really started my producing by being the club ears of big name producers. They would ask me to come in the studio and want to know what would work and what wouldn’t. I learned a lot from them but I was like, wait a minute, I got to do this for myself! So I made my own label, I named it Metropolis, which was distributed by Emergency Records, who, at the time I was doing my second A&R job—my first with Profile Records. I had my first #1 record with my alias, Corporation of One “The Real Life,” which really made me a wanted man in the UK. I’ve always been someone to take chances and I think the UK is more receptive to that, which is probably why all my favorite music comes from there, and they like my thing. I have had many top ten records and many # 1’s. I’m currently working on the first 2 singles for P Diddy, also Cassie, and I’m doing a 2010 version of the Real Life.

What are you working on besides DJing? I’ve been acting the last 12 years here, and in the UK, TV, theater, films, all the major NY shows like the Law & Order, Sopranos, and I just finished a four-month run of a one man show on Lenny Bruce, which was directed by the wonderful and talented Susan Batson. I have a one-man show on Tennessee Williams coming up, and doing all this as a single dad. That’s funny they look after me more. Haha, no, they’re my kids, and my best friends, and they’re not kids anymore.

What’s in a Name? Akiva & Sartiano’s New Supper Club Plays the Name Game

This week the world celebrates the baptism of William Shakespeare on April 26, 1564. He was neat enough to pass into immortality on April 23, 1616. This was actually before my time. I looked it up. Among the many sharp things the famous bard said, this one is found in Romeo and Juliet: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” With that in mind and to answer quite a bit of my “fan” mail, I will offer that the 14th Street supper club Marc Dizon and myself are designing for Richie Akiva and Scott Sartiano does actually have a name. It isn’t “14SSC” or “2oak” or “Better.” When they tell me I can tell you, I will. It is a wonderful name. The place actually has an approximate opening date and, as of yesterday, we were on schedule. Again, I’ll let you know when I’m unleashed. I was strolling last night with my gal pal and stopped in Butter to say “hey.” It still impresses me. I asked Scott Sartiano if I could tell you guys but he said “No, not yet,” quoting Shakespeare, I believe (or was it Al Capone?) “You say anything and I’ll kill you.”

Yesterday I spelled Marc Berkley’s name wrong. I was reminded that I always did. On ancient fliers I had it with a “k” and Berkley was always an adventure. It didn’t matter how I spelled it as everyone knew that a good time would be had by all. Marc will be remembered at a memorial service at Redden’s Funeral Home. The service will begin at 7pm on Wednesday April 28th. Redden’s is located at 325 West 14th Street in Manhattan, between 8th and 9th Avenues and can be reached at 212-242-1456. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation in Marc’s name to the GLBT community charity of your choice. A celebration of his life will be held in the near future.

Naming joints isn’t getting any easier. Every week something opens and must “DBA” as something. Everytime a place uses a name that name becomes less available in the future. Sometimes a name is used again or is changed a bit to protect those guilty name-thieves. There was more than one “Arena” and more than one “World.” A few were called “Home,” there’s a “Continental” and there was “The Continental.” Boom Boom Room couldn’t call itself that because someone way out west already had the rights, so they changed it (but everyone still calls it Boom Boom Room). It’s just too much fun. Studio 54 lingered in name if not in spirit and relevance for decades. There was even a Limelight many years before the infamous Limelight. Most owners spend months racking their brains to find something that isn’t too embarrassing. The desperate ones use numbers from the address. I love the name SL, by the way, even though they claim it wasn’t named to get me to write about it. It’s great when a great place has a great name. Even if they didn’t call it Rose Bar it would still be sweet. The observation by Billy Shakespeare over 4 centuries ago is still valid. If it’s hot, we will come no matter what they call it.

Night Muse: Boom Boom Room as Modern-Day Studio 54

The Spot: Studio 54 defined an era of all out excess. It was a celebration of having it all during the 70s and 80s — a discothèque that became a home for some of the most glamorous people of the decade, en masse. The gilded look of regulars like Bianca Jagger, Liza Minnelli, Jerry Hall, Diana Vreeland, Halston and Brooke Shields defined the aesthetic — white horses and all — have inspired makeup trends for recycled years to come. Despite nostalgia, 54 will never be reincarnated, but the look of it does pop up in some Manhattan scenes. Put a Face on For: Boom Boom Room (Meatpacking District) – The Standard takes the hotel bar to a whole new level with lush design, dark wood and gilded chairs to cushion the models, artists and anyone who happens to be in the scene — or at least looks the part.

Ambiance: The floor-to-ceiling windows that look out towards a twinkling Manhattan and privileged vibe hearkens the glitz of another era. Studio 54 was known for hedonism — sex on the balconies, a dance floor decorated with the infamous Man in the Moon using a giant cocaine spoon — but with today’s crackdown on smoking and all things sanitary, at the very least the Boom Boom Room draws a group that try to harness the glitzy look of Bianca Jagger, Brooke Shields or Liza Minnelli.


Lohan: a wannabe Hall

Night Muse: Jerry Hall’s impossible bone structure and flowing hair — her natural beauty enhanced with contouring and highlighting makeup. It’s the look that inspired Dynasty and all of the makeup in the late 70s and early 80s. The over-the-top glamour of that era is hinted at on a modern face that takes cues from the former Mrs. Jagger.

The Look: Makeup that achieves all-out glamour while referencing a the era means perfecting the contour. It’s sculpting cheek and brow bones, adding shadows and shading, highlighting and adding a bit of that disco gold. Nude lip tones should match nude shadow and blush — it’s monochromatic with a bit of shimmer. Hair should be luscious, as should lips and lashes, while not getting too preppy; it should have an element of cocaine couture, or a punk album cover.


Runway Odes: Alessandro Dell’ Aqua and Chloe’s glamorous and sculpted faces on the Fall 2009 runway, Jaeger London’s Lauren Hutton face on the Spring 2010 runway.

Get the Look: MAC Cosmetics:


Sculplt Powder in Emphasize and Light Sweep Sheer Tone Blush in Gingerly Eye Shadow in Cork Lip Pencil in Hodgepodge Lip Erase in Dim Illamasqua Cosmetics:


Liquid Metal Highlighter in Enrapture Eyebrow Cake in Warm Taupe

The Legend of Vegasmas: Spending Christmas in Sin City

Good ideas are often spontaneous and usually involve booze. Starting a new holiday tradition called Vegasmas was no different. Three days after Thanksgiving, there was still leftover Tofurkey in the fridge and already I was bombarded with imagery from that otherwise miserable holiday called Christmas. A few beers deep, I was on the living room couch watching the Lakers when my girlfriend Kelly came home with what she thought was terrible news. “I have to work Christmas,” she said sorrowfully, as if I was destined to burst into tears. After nine years, I thought she would have known what a terrible person I was because to my ears, this was like getting a free ticket to hear Jimi Hendrix jam with Keith Moon, John Entwistle and Eazy-E. An early Christmas present, if you will. Maybe it was the Pabst Blue Ribbons talking, but I couldn’t pretend to be upset because for twenty-eight years, I had been at the mercy of either my girlfriend or my mother when it came to Christmas. Kelly’s inability to celebrate gave me the courage to stand up to my mom and do what I’d flirted with doing since the day I turned 21: Go to Las Vegas for Christmas.

Like a reliable neighbor with a fully stocked bar always willing to share, Sin City had a track record of making bad times good and good times great. Christmas, I figured, would no different. Instead of decking the halls, I’d be getting hammered at a casino, blowing money on me, not shitty presents no one wanted. Years past I woke to the sounds of children rummaging through boxes, wrapping and bows, but something about the thought of getting up at noon in a strange bed with a hangover and only the sweet sounds of slot machines seemed to fit me much better than watching A Christmas Story while faking a smile when my family asks if I like my Army green sweater.

When I was younger, I’d make the six-hour trek to Vegas without a hotel reservation because when you’re 21, sleeping in your car is a totally viable option, one that saves more money for debauchery. But I had no idea what I was in for regarding Christmas, so like a responsible adult (my two least favorite words) I called ahead and found two nights at the Excalibur for approximately $100. One debit card number later, it was official. I was going to Vegas.

The original plan was to fly solo, but one mention of Vegasmas to my friend Chip — whose girlfriend was flying home to Ohio for the holiday — and he was in. So was our friend Deryck, a Trinidad and Tobago native whose girlfriend was also leaving the state for a few days. I had no qualms about partying by myself, but with these two on board, Vegasmas was transforming from some stupid word I made up to escape Christmas into an actual event that required its own greeting card section at the corner market.

A major curveball nearly derailed Vegasmas before it began, but nothing can stop the proverbial train that is three guys in their late 20s and early 30s who decide they’re going to Vegas. My girlfriend had to recognize this when, on Dec. 15, she told me she got someone to cover her shift so we could spend the day together. That was fine by me, as long as she understood our day together was going to be spent in Nevada, not Long Beach, Calif. She wasn’t thrilled, but similar to the power that Santa gets from all them cookies and milk, Vegasmas was marching along and wouldn’t be denied.

The best part of Vegasmas revealed itself the week prior to that other holiday the rest of the world was celebrating. Every conversation I heard was about people being stressed regarding long lines, parking lot traffic jams, not being able to find the proper gift and insufficient funds. Not me. Because I wasn’t making a familial appearance on December 25, there was no need to buy presents. While the world sweated holiday bullets, I was doing the only thing I’ve ever been good at, which is relaxing.

Deryck and Chip left at 9 a.m. Vegasmas Eve while I stayed in Long Beach with Kelly until noon. My friends traveled lightly and wanted to hit the road to not only avoid traffic, but to take full advantage of the pot of gold that awaited us at the end of the Interstate 15 rainbow. But with a female traveling companion, rolling out of bed and getting behind the wheel wasn’t happening for me. We (i.e., she) had things to do in the morning that prevented us from getting a quick start, even though she packed her bags three days prior. How a woman can be packed for days and still take three hours to get ready on the day of a trip is beyond me, but even with a late start, nothing could stop Vegasmas.

Nothing, that is, except traffic.

Kelly and I were stuck on the State Route 91 and going nowhere fast. We had already been gone for nearly two hours when the Vegasmas spirit caused me to squeeze my Toyota Corolla between two plastic dividers into the 91 Express Lanes, a toll road used to bypass all the schmucks in the congested lanes. A light but steady flow of cars sped past and once I saw an opening in my rearview mirror, I went for it. I careened into the lane and narrowly avoided hitting a Mercedes in the passenger door. The jerk honked, but I deserved it and let it slide. Besides, it was Vegasmas Eve and when you’re starting a new tradition, it’s of the utmost importance to make sure you get the first one absolutely perfect because no one needs the annual car accident as part of their holiday to-do list.

Four hours later, we rolled into Excalibur and I was surprised to see the parking lot at three-quarters capacity. Not since “Seinfeld” introduced the world to Festivus had I felt like maybe I wasn’t alone in my hatred of all things Christmas. I stopped for a beer before checking in, then got another round before getting to our room. After ditching our luggage, Kelly and I met Chip and Deryck at an Excalibur lounge where an ‘80s cover band was playing.



Two vodka-cranberries later, someone decided we should make the short walk to Bar at Times Square at New York, New York and there was no disagreement from me. During our stumble through the casino, I noticed the family-friendly crowd often found at Excalibur huddled around a man in a Santa suit, but these weren’t the same Midwestern families I was accustomed to seeing at the hotel. I’m no linguist, but I swore I heard Indian, Hebrew and Chinese spoken before we hit the exit. This unusual array of languages didn’t register until we braved the cold rainy night and walked over the bridge to New York, New York, where I overheard an Irish family, a Scottish couple and group of Japanese in their early 20s.

The piano bar was half full when we arrived just after 10 p.m., which was fine by me because that place is absolutely the worst spot in Vegas to get a drink when it’s at capacity. The lack of crowd allowed me and my girlfriend to discuss what I perceived as a trend.

“Have you noticed anything about the people here?” I asked.

“You mean how everyone is from somewhere else?” she replied.

“Yeah, you noticed that too?”

“It’s pretty cool. Like we’re getting some culture with our vacation.” At that moment, I knew Kelly was knee-deep in the Vegasmas spirit and wouldn’t regret leaving our friends and families to get wasted in Sin City.

A group of seven Canadians proudly sporting t-shirts and hats with their country’s flag huddled around us and sang at the top of their lungs to “Purple Rain” while two Asian businessmen in suits stood against the bar, raised their beers and shouted the two-word hook each time the pianists got to that part of the chorus. My front-row view of the United Nations of drunken sing-a-long was interrupted by Chip, who tapped me on the shoulder with important news.

“Dude, look at Deryck,” he said. “Then look at the guy next to him.” I did as I was told and saw that my friend and this stranger were wearing the exact same shirt, so Deryck turned toward the guy and we pretended to take a picture of our friend at the bar. But what we really did was make sure we got both of them in the picture because this magical Vegasmas moment had to be captured on film.


Unfortunately for me, the fun would not last. Somewhere between the beers at Bar at Times Square and the margaritas at the nearby Gonzalez y Gonzalez, I realized I lost my phone. This was a bummer; thankfully, if not for the Vegasmas cheer, I might have been more upset. Kelly and I looked around the casino for spots where it might have slipped out, but after a half hour of searching, I decided to call it a night. Vegasmas Eve was a party, but I needed something left in my tank for Vegasmas day.

The next morning Kelly suggested I call Excalibur security to ask if they had my phone. This was Sin City and there was no way anyone would find a phone and return it, but I did as she said because that’s what boyfriends do. Five minutes later, we were downstairs retrieving my cell. A Vegasmas miracle!

I celebrated the return of my phone by calling my parents with a mini-hangover to wish them a Merry Christmas. For the first time in longer than I could remember, I actually meant it. Kelly and I bought bagels, then threw on our scarves to walk the ghosttown-esque Strip, where the sole reminder of the holiday was a Christmas tree atop a structure being built at CityCenter. The iconic image didn’t bother me and I understood that, when not hit over the head with people ringing bells outside grocery stores, the pressure of having to explain that what I really want for Christmas is nothing and being subjected to David Bowie and Bing Crosby sing while I’m on a treadmill at the gym, Christmas really ain’t half bad. It’s the idiots who overdo the decorations, the cheesy songs and pressure to be happy all the time who ruin it for me.

Thanks to copious amounts of booze, the remainder of Vegasmas Day is kind of fuzzy, but I’m almost positive it was the best Christmas I ever had.

Neither my girlfriend nor my mother knows this yet, but Vegasmas ‘09 is in the works. With a $50 Christmas brunch featuring five spiced glazed duck, pan roasted Alaskan salmon and warm apple cobbler at DJT at Trump International Hotel Las Vegas, an average nightly rate at Planet Hollywood of approximately $100 that includes a free bottle of booze and two packages at MGM Grand that include access to Studio 54 or Tabu Ultra Lounge and tons of credit, Vegasmas the Sequel is destined to be even better than the original.