Reflections on 9/11 and How It Changed NYC Nightlife

The attack on the World Trade Center still seems fresh to me. So many horrible moments from that day haunt me. Among the horrendous losses was a loss of innocence. We have never felt secure in our homes or maybe even our skins since. It’s been a dozen years, a bunch of wars and even the killing of Osama Bin Laden has not brought closure.

The club world was changed forever as well. The way people went out, how they interacted with each other (and others unlike themselves) changed and can be linked directly to the post 9/11 psyche. I have referred to this as "SIN" (safety in numbers).

Prior to 9/11, I was involved with the programming and operations of nightclubs. A successful club was defined by diverse crowds and progressive music. Post-9/11 club crowds became more specialized, more segregated as white people tended to party with white people, blacks with blacks, rich with rich. Like-minded crowds embraced mixed format music laced heavily with familiar sounds, pop music and radio tracks or electronic dance music (EDM)—an escapist trance-like stream of unconsciousness.

For the most part, clubs got smaller to handle crowds with specialized tastes, a clientele that wanted to hang with familiar faces. Bottle service—which had begun in earnest in the late 1990s—became a way of life as groups of people paid for real estate that was theirs until the credit ran out or the closing bell rang.

The top clubs prior to 9/11 were places where fashion trends broke and new ideas were exchanged. Creative people were VIPs. These types were banished to clubs where they would mostly hang with folks like themselves. Super trendy parties had few yuppie types or straight-laced patrons visiting. These parties filled with only the fabulous lost the revenue streams these voyeurs provided.

The fabulous folks gathered on Sundays or Tuesdays or on other off nights in off clubs. Saturday nights at the important clubs no longer featured drag queens prancing on bars or dance platforms. It wasn’t cool anymore. It was too different…foreign for the new mindset. The bottle service era which dominated New York City nightlife for the decade after the attack became a worldwide phenomenon.

Bottle service isn’t about the high-end vodka or Champagne. You can get the same swill anywhere for a lot cheaper than it costs in hot spots. Bottle service is about a booth which few ever sit in. It’s a territory where the credit card holder is king. It insulates that king and his minions from anything unfamiliar. Now we are in a golden age of clubs. The rise of Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Bushwick, ghettos of love and trendiness that took the creative types across the moat of the East River. The forward thinkers are now there.

A time traveler from the 1980s would look at Manhattan nightlife and scowl. Sure there are small pockets of wonderful but there are mostly lines of bridge-and-tunnel types and far less "pick-and-choose" from snooty doorpersons. The Box, with all its faults, stands firm in fabulousness. The Standard rises above the standard.

Susanne Bartsch is still doing it and doing it well across the decades. Tonight, she will celebrate Fashion Week at the forward-thinking McKittrick Hotel. Natalia Kills will perform. Everyone who is amazing will attend, everyone who attends will be amazing. There are no great clubs—at least as I define them-post-9/11. But there are great parties and events every night somewhere nearby.

Tonight, I’m staying home to reflect. For me it’s still too soon.

 

image: USAF photo by Denise Gould

‘Limelight’ Documentary Still Brings Back a Flood of Memories

So, I warned you that I’d be whipping this horse, but as far as I can remember this is the first time I’ve gotten an IMDB listing. Yes, I’m talking about the Limelight documentary again, and since I was one of the players at the now defunct club, I am a player now. That statement has so many layers, so I’m just going to ponder it. Celebrity lawyer Benjamin Brafman attended the premiere and was applauded loudly when his name appeared during the credits. He got Peter Gatien off. Gee—I hope I didn’t spoil the ending.

Shoot, he has gotten more people off than Heidi Fleiss. The last dude was that French guy who tangled with that inconsistent maid. We chatted and chatted and I was in awe of him. When it wasn’t all fun and games and nostalgia and lives were on the line, Ben was an honest broker. Gee, I wish I had one of those. The after party was at Westway, that strip club which has now sunk itself morally to accommodate hipsters.

There I hung out and mugged for camera shots with long time friend Moby. I thought his lines from the movie were spot on. He really dealt with the glory of the joint and not all that trial stuff that dominated the final cut .While the feds came to bury Caesar (Mr. Peter Gatien), this movie came to praise him. I can’t object as he, for the most part, got a raw deal. Peter and I disagreed on many things, including his inability to accept any responsibility for the terrible ending. I agree as captain of the ship that he didn’t actually create the iceberg, but he certainly didn’t steer away from it fast enough, nor did he handle the big gaping hole it caused very well.

As I shook hands with the blasts from the past, it was clear that all this happened a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. We also knew that any sequels have always and will always turn out badly. Peter seems to be stuck in a rut of his own making, in glorious Canada, not allowed to come here, while I’m stuck here and not allowed to go there. That’s worth pondering too.

The bad guys on screen were proud about their badness. They all told tales to save themselves the jail time and some were more successful at that than others. At this point, a decade and a half later, it’s all good too. I wish them all big mirrors to better look at their despicable selves. Many of them thought that they were indeed victorious in that ancient rat race. The thing about rat races is you’ve got to be a rat to win, or even place, or show.

Michael Alig, of course, was not at the premiere as he is still busy entertaining up at Southport Correctional over that little murder thing he copped to. I hear he was surprised that the film dealt with the trial so much and dwelled little on how fabulous it was when he called the shots. Baby Joe Uzzardi wasn’t there either. He DJs now, here in the Big Apple, under a new name to protect and fool the innocent. Although Frank Owen and I have had some spats—a bit too publicly over the years—I respected his insight and found myself missing my old friend.

Jen Gatien, my long-time friend, was all smiles with her child, this film that she produced that is finally ready to fly (this Friday at Sunshine). I sat next to the Baroness Sherry von Koerber-Bernstein an old-school club fixture who told us she was “90 and a half.” Her now adult niece Carrie, her constant companion when she was 15, is now married with a couple of non-club kids. Much of the crowd was unrecognizable due to age and my addled memory. Some of it has never grown up. I said hello to everyone, with ancient squabbles now forgotten or lost in space and time. The movie opens in the big cities where Limelights were and then the Miamis and such. I’m sure it will get some traction but doubt it will play in Peoria.

I dodged raindrops as I walked to The Box all the way East. It was a glorious night and I couldn’t help but think, having just flashed through the past, how in retrospect I had dodged a lot of bullets both metaphorically and in reality. I arrived at The Box and was greeted by gentleman doorkeeper, Giza, who whisked me inside to join the beautiful people. Giza had texted me to join him for Genc’s birthday. Every time I go to The Box I find it to be wonderful. I know some say its day has passed, but I see it differently. Maybe it has changed, settled into being something different. Maybe it’s a little tamer, though maybe it’s a little less forced. I think it’s sexy and now it feels like home. To me it feels like one of those clubs that people say don’t exist anymore.

The crowd last night is the type that can get in anywhere. Hell the crowd left out in the rain can go to most places. The Box was great. I stayed for a minute glad handed all the players, chatted up a very frisky Erikson Wilcox and headed into the night. The night always seems darker down there. There are no more beach days and the coolness and rain and the noir of it all was my element. The dame on my arm and I didn’t need to chat. An evening like this is made for people like us.

This Sunday, if you want to serve me with papers or whack me I will be dependably at home watching Boardwalk Empire’s season premiere. I love Atlantic City. I’ve been going there for decades. It used to be Limelight-like, dangerously fun. I admit to hanging there in questionable places with questionable people doing debatable things. Somehow I survived, except for maybe a few brain cells. The old A.C. was charming while the new one spearheaded by the delicious Borgata Hotel Casino is more fun than a barrel of club kids. Their Boardwalk Empire promotion sounds like wow! Here’s their pitch:

Tale of a Few Empires

“Nosh Like Nucky at The Metropolitan at Borgata The second season of Boardwalk Empire starts on Sunday and to time with the famed HBO series, The Metropolitan is introducing a 1920’s menu recalling the days when Enoch “Nucky” Johnson ruled the town. Executive Chef Ron Ross created an authentic three-course selection inspired by actual menus from the decade that made Atlantic City legendary. Guests can feast on items like Lamb Chops with Mint Jelly or Scallops Mornay for $29.95 per person every Sunday. An Old Fashioned, Bronx Cocktail or Side Car can be enjoyed.”

I’m heading down next month for Duran Duran. Although the summer is famous for the hordes that come for the beach fun and games, the city is truly beautiful and exiting this time of year. I prefer it a little less crowded and crisp.

Foster the People Downs the Demon Water at LexBar

It’s 6:40 on a damp evening in New York when Mark Foster, Mark Pontius, and Cubbie Fink arrive at LexBar, a posh lounge in the St. Giles – The Court hotel frequented by a certain gaggle of raven haired sisters whose names all start with K. The three young men are known collectively as Foster the People, an LA-based indie rock band that rose to prominence last summer with “Pumped Up Kicks,” an addictive party anthem about a guy looking to blast away at some fancily-shod kids with his dad’s six-shooter.

They’re in town to play a few gigs at local clubs The Box, Mercury Lounge, and Knitting Factory in support of their debut album, Torches.

Tonight is an evening to relax and sample rum cocktails by the venue’s head bartender, Drew Maloney, who boasts 25 years of experience and a master’s grasp of flavor, balance, and presentation. As we settle into the black banquette and chat about the new record, the cocktails start arriving, one after the other. What follows is an inspired, scientific, and somewhat poetic take on a decidedly tropical evening in Manhattan.

Cocktail #1, Rum-Two Punch: 1 ½ oz. Don Q Cristal rum, 1 ½ oz. Bacardi 8 rum, 1 oz. fresh guava juice, 1 oz. fresh pineapple juice, 1 oz. fresh cranberry juice, ¼ oz. fresh lime juice, ¼ oz. agave nectar. Garnish with orange slice and cherries. Mark Pontius: I like it because it’s kind of bitter, like grapefruit, which reminds me of my grandmother, who ate grapefruit every morning. It’s good in that way, but I could go sweeter. Cubbie Fink: The initial blast on the palate is tropical, like sitting on a beach, but there’s a tart aftertaste. A tropical drink should be smoother. Mark Foster: When I drink this I think about naked female pirates holding me captive and pouring it down my throat.

Cocktail #2, Strawberry Mojito: Muddle in rocks glass: 2 medium strawberries, 3 lime wedges, 1 tsp sugar, 5 mint leaves. Add ice and 2 oz. Bacardi Limon rum, splash of soda water, splash of fresh sour mix. Garnish with strawberry. MP: The strawberry is awesome, except I just tried to sip it and a mint leaf got stuck in the straw. CF: I can’t get any drink, my straw’s clogged. Okay, I’ll sip it. I’m definitely not a sweet-drink drinker, but this is really tasty. MF: It makes me think of Aunt Jemima jumping up and down on a huge stack of pancakes and tossing strawberries into the air.

Cocktail #3, Mandarin Delight: Muddle in rocks glass: 3 sections of mandarin orange, 3 lime wedges, ¼ oz. agave nectar. Add ice and 1 oz. Mount Gay Eclipse rum, 1 oz. Cointreau. Shake vigorously and top with 2 oz. Piper-Heidsieck Champagne. MP: My least favorite because it’s too sour, and I’m not a sour drink person. Good for one sip. CF: It’s kind of a shock to the senses, which I like. It has bite and good flavor. My favorite of the three so far. MF: It’s something I think Mark Twain would have loved. Even though it has mandarin in it, it still feels like a man’s drink.

Cocktail #4, Lexcolada: 2 oz. Bacardi Light rum, 1 oz. pineapple puree, 1 ½ oz. pineapple juice, 1 ½ oz. coconut milk. Garnish with pineapple slice. MP: This hits my heart. Before I was 21, I used to order virgin Piña Coladas, the kind from the machine. This is better than that, and boozier. CF: It’s as if I bored to the center of a coconut and somehow found alcohol and other ingredients in there. It’s like chewing on coconut milk. Definitely the best Piña Colada I’ve ever had. MF: I could wake up and have this with cereal.

Cocktail #5, Mai Tai: 1 ½ oz. Mount Gay Eclipse rum, ¼ oz. orgeat syrup, ½ oz. pineapple juice, ½ oz. lime juice, ¼ oz. grenadine. Garnish with lime. MP: This is actually the first Mai Tai I’ve ever had, and it’s great. My first thought was of a chocolate bar. CF: It’s a Mai Tai that’s been brought to the city. It has some edge that a Mai Tai on the beach lacks. There’s a creamy aftertaste that’s really interesting. MF: The first thing I thought of when I sipped it was Freddy Mercury, because he was so tough on the outside and tender on the inside. Actually, my first thought was leather, and that brought me to Freddy Mercury. It’s an S&M drink. It’s a muscular man that likes other muscular men.

Nice Guys & Womanizers: Nightlife Morals

The twins Derek and Daniel Koch of meatpacking’s MPD just celebrated their birthdays. I can’t remember which one is older, but when I talked to the Baskin twins the other day they told me that the twin with the bigger head is usually the eldest. You figure it out. A little while back, I highlighted the Koch dynamic duo as “the next big thing” in clubland, and I’m still thinking it’s true. Some disagreed, but it’s easy to talk about people doing it well in the present, and quite another to recognize the tools that will mean success down the road.

I was talking to a major hotel player yesterday, who said, “That’s what we do,” when talking about hiring or recognizing budding talent. The Koch twins aren’t exactly new to the scene, and are doing quite well right now, but I see them owning this town in just a short while. My track record on this sort of “predicting success in nightlife” thing is pretty good. Quite a few of the major players in this town were brought up through my joints. Some have forgotten where they came from, but I haven’t.

For many, working in nightlife was the best way to get away from where they came. Some were selling buttons and some were tending bar or picking up a few extra bucks at night as promoters. Some were just chasing skirts before they realized they could make a good living. Most were simply trying to be something else, have a good bar rap, or were just throwing a birthday party for a friend before I lured them into the evil empire. If I’m going to get blamed for so many things, I’ll take some credit too.

Micah Jesse, who I also anointed in that article, will be celebrating the 4th anniversary of his celebrity-centric blog, MicahJesse.com, at The Box next Tuesday. The Box bash will have Hennessy Black as a sponsor with Marla Joy performing. Micah, of course, invited his friends and those who have helped his career. He thanked the helpful in his mass invite: “In some way, you have helped me grow over the last four years. You either offered up your invaluable insight/advice, or gave me a good spot on the carpet, or believed in me when I was just getting started, or helped spread my message of positivity—and for all that (and more!)—I am thankful.” It’s a super nice gesture, and shows the kind of thought that will take him to the next level. He added “When I started MicahJesse.com in April ’07 as a college sophomore, I had no idea that it would (or even could!) lead to all of this…” Jordon Fox was the third predicted winner. He is killing it over at B.E.S. and is being courted all over town. All four are nice guys destined to finish first.

Arty Dozortsev, hot off another diner success, is pushing his Sant Arturo wines—this time at the Darby. He is inviting his pals to Capitale for a birthday private dinner for Seth Greenberg this Thursday. The gala will be in the Peter Tunney room of the brilliant hall. Capitale was designed by the great architect Sanford White, who was whacked by a jealous husband back in 1906. (Recently, a mansion he designed was sentenced to be whacked to make room for a half dozen less fabulous places.) It was all in the news, as you recall, because it supposedly was the inspiration for The Great Gatsby. Baz Luhrmann is readying a new movie inspired by the tome.

Like Capitale, the mansion was the location for innumerable celebrity-packed parties. Sanford White’s work helps define our city. He did the Main Post Office building on 8th avenue, the Arch in Washington Square Park, and many others. His death should be a lesson of some sort. Not sure what that lesson is. Maybe it’s to make a lot of money, be famous and have fun, die young and beautiful—or at least desired—or don’t do any of that ’cause you’ll get in trouble. He used to lure young women to a circular mirrored room with a single swing hanging in the middle. They would disrobe and then carry on. One day, a young model (yes they had them back then) who had a swing/fling with the architect got married to a rich and powerful man. That man couldn’t live with the thought that Sanford White had exploited his bride, and decided that Sanford shouldn’t live. He shot him in the face, and a jury didn’t convict him. They thought Sanford got what he deserved. Promoters and designers beware.

I’ve known Seth Greenberg, the birthday boy and owner of Capitale, since his Boston days when he had M-80 and 10 other places—including the super chic restaurant Mistral. Seth is a living testament to that “nice guys finishing first” theory. I will attend his birthday bash, and while I’m there, I will look up at Sanford White’s deliriously magnificent ceiling of ornate moldings and stained glass, and cross my fingers and count my blessings.

On another note, I am saddened by the spectacle surrounding Lawrence Taylor. His fall from great heights is a lesson as well. Convicted of sleeping with an underage prostitute, it underscores the problems of successful men following their dick to their doom. Clubland is so full of these types. Lawrence loved the nightlife, and was frequently seen at hot spots around town where all were happy to see his big smile, and of course big bankroll. When I saw the news my mind flashed back to a night when he arrived at my joint, the Palace de Beaute, where the PetCo now sits in Union Square. He was with O.J. Simpson, and the two hit the bar upstairs hard. They were surrounded by admirers, including the dames. After getting them situated I went back to the door to tighten things up, as it was real good inside, and I didn’t want to blow the vibe with too many more people, and wanted only A-listers to get past the velvet rope. Three girls showed up asking for the football greats. They were hot, but decidedly suburban. I told them to wait as “I didn’t know if the guys were still here.” I walked up to the great players, who were now surrounded by female greatness, and asked if they wanted the suburban girls to be let in. They looked at the girls surrounding them, looked at each other and said “Nah’ at the same time and laughed. The suburban girls never got in, and the football giants eventually met their demise via other girls. I’ll let you write your own moral to my little story .

A History of The Bartenders Ball

Circumstances beyond my control prevented me from attending the 2011 Jameson Bartenders Ball, which was held just a hop, skip, and a jump away from my abode, at the Knitting Factory in beloved Brooklyn (like me, the Knitting Factory used to have a home in downtown Manhattan). The idea of a Bartenders Ball has been around for a while. The RSVP for this event had a short application that asked which venue you worked at. They were keeping it real, keeping it industry.

Previous incarnations of this type had corporate sponsors like Camel cigarettes–when they were allowed to be smoked in clubs and restaurants–and were held at mega spots like Roseland Ballroom or the Hammerstein Ballroom. Thousands of club employees attended and drank and ate for free, while being entertained by incredible entertainers. I wrote about this in June 2009 as I produced The New York Nightlife Association’s Nightlife Preservation Community event, which was held at the now defunct M2.

A long time ago, a very bright guy named Jon Deitlebaum over at KBA Marketing sat with me, and together we came up with the idea of an end-of-year party for club/bar personnel. The Bartenders’ Balls were not just a magnanimous gesture from R.J. Reynolds (of Camel Cigarettes fame) and the liquor brands that sponsored them, but rather an attempt to project positive thoughts about specific brands into the minds of those pushing them on the street level. Even though the balls–like all corporate endeavors–were rooted in greed, the enthusiasm from corporate executives trying to make the event better each year was simply unreal.

The first Bartenders’ Ball was held at the ancient Roseland Ballroom. I remember going with Michael Blatter to see the ancient venue. Gray-haired couples slow-danced to ancient music as we did our tour. The first Bartenders’ Ball also featured Grace Jones and Run DMC. In later years, Debbie Harry performed, plus Ru Paul, the B-52s, James Brown, and Lenny Kravitz. These affairs were eventually held at the Hammerstein Ballroom as the acts and crowds got bigger. Open bars and free food made this annual post-Christmas affair a must-attend soiree for club staffers that hadn’t had much of a break during the preceding holiday season. In time, however, they kicked cigarettes out of the clubs, and the Bartenders’ Ball faded away. Every so often somebody does an event and they use the name, but these were the winners.

The M2 Bartenders’ Ball-inspired event of June 2009 was designed to show invited political figures the faces of the people in the nightlife community, which at the time was under tremendous pressure from enforcement agencies. Joints were being harassed out of business, in what was seen by many, including myself, as an attempt by real estate interests to reclaim neighborhoods. The formerly derelict hoods that had been set aside for nightclubs were now attractive to the co-ops and condo development crowd. The dream — now turned reality — of The High Line was invigorating areas traditionally interesting only to whores, pimps, scum, and the people who find those types interesting. Ironically, M2 fell victim to this assault. The area which it anchored — the West Chelsea club district — has little of the vibrancy that it did at that time. Gone as well are Cain, Bungalow 8, Home, Guesthouse, Pink Elephant, Bed, and Stereo. All of these joints had their moments — and sometimes years — in the sun and moon. While the negative types out there will say “good riddance,” I say that they were good businesses directly and indirectly employing thousands of people. In a city where jobs are often as scarce as good manners, the virtual closing of this hood to nightlife was a painful game. Only Marquee still stands of the relevant places. Its location just off the main club strip on 27th Street and the uber-diligence and professionalism of its staff weathered the imperfect storm that devastated its’ neighbors. It still makes money, still packs them in on weekends. Rumors abound that the whole hood is about to make a comeback of sorts. The Home/Greenhouse/Bed/Spirit building is to be a Box-related, performance-based joint. There are maneuvers up and down the block with the Cain space transforming and even action over at Marquee. The economic downturn is a seam in the real estate bubble that gives new life to previously licensed places that aren’t going to be made into housing …in the short term anyway

Throughout Manhattan, and in Brooklyn and Queens, nightlife has learned to live within communities for the most part. Although everyone complains about how impossible it is to get approved for licensing, people still manage. It takes more time and costs more money, but in many areas it certainly seems easier than two years ago. Places are still popping up. Every week this or that writer speaks of a new joint launching. The process surely favors the pros and the deep pocketed, but even the adventurous have adapted and many just give new birth to failing joints. The people who hosted that one-off at Jobee this past Saturday told me yesterday that they’re coming back for more, probably a weekly. All of a sudden a place we never heard of is a viable choice for the creatures of the night.

The event I produced with the guidance and support of so many others at the ill fated M2 in June 2009 had thousands show up to celebrate the idea that nightlife is an integral part of the city that never sleeps. Nightlife has renewed Vegas and Miami, where the local politicos recognize it as a driving force behind their brands and their economies. Alas, a city like New York built tall on an island has had little tolerance for the noise and litter that party animals create. I, and others, asked a bunch of the city’s most talented DJs to play that summer night so long ago, and they all showed up and were impressive. Among them were Louie Vega, Danny Krivit, Junior Vasquez, The Martinez Brothers, Peter Rauhofer, Q-Tip, The Misshapes, Paul Sevigny, Jus Ske, Mel DeBarge, Alex English, Eve Salvail, DJ Berrie, Marky Ramone, and Funkmaster Flex. Chloe Sevigny hosted. A good time was had by all. One of my many beefs with the New York Nightlife Association and New York State Restaurant Association, which sanctioned and benefited from this bartenders ball-inspired gathering, was that no one ever thanked these performers or the interns or so many others that worked so hard to make it possible. I have asked a dozen times and they always mean to get around to it. The Jameson Bartenders Ball stirred my memory and gives me the opportunity to say thanks.

The Box, Juliet Supper Club: Fashion Week Madness!

At the end of the Oscar-winning flick The Bridge on the River Kwai (which won 1957’s Best Picture of Year award), a British officer stands on a hill and repeats “Madness!” while making a funny face. I can relate to him. Fashion Week is madness, and as much as it’s usually a “must avoid” for me, I am swept up in it like flotsam on the River Kwai. So many events, so many friends in town, and the weather is giving me a bit of spring fever—yes, even at my age. Madness! I was swept to The Box for it’s 4th anniversary. The dapper, debonair door principal (and all around nice guy), Giza (Gizaselimi), kindly invited me down, and as I have always depended on the kindness of gentlemen, I decided to go.

All the Boxers were there: Simon Hammerstein, Serge Becker, the Jakupi brothers (Genc and Binn), and all the bells and whistle blowers that have made the joint famous and infamous.

Walter Durkatz introduced me to a beautiful gal who spewed economics and politics at me like I was back at Stuyvesant High in Mr Irgang’s 12th-grade class. Madness! I nodded at the passers-by, shook a hundred hands, air kissed the unbelievably decked-out and gorgeous (I mean, how does she do it?) Suzanne Bartsch, and eyed Adrian Grenier and his very hot posse—er, entourage. I even smiled a couple of times. So I was told.

The stage was a-flutter with guys, gals, and those where gender doesn’t matter, performing their hearts out . Then the Scissor Sisters came out and raised the ante. 4 years ago, The Box raised the ante, and last night it was undeniable. One of the best rooms in the city: it is amazing when it is amazing. A smart guy with a funny hat whispered in my ear, “It ain’t what it used to be.” I told him neither was he. 4 years in clubland is like 15 in dog years—100 in human years. Too few joints can boast relevancy after even 2. Sure, there have been ups and downs, and scandals, and madness. But it’s a club, not a boutique.

While the Scissors were doing their thingy I looked at the mixed bag of socialites, queens, socialite queens, movers, shakers, spenders, debutantes, sluts, playboys, and street candy that packed the place. The people who say it can’t be done are just the people who don’t know how to do it, and those that follow them follow everything, and follow everybody else. Imagination was once a major part of nightlife, and these folks understand that, and have proven it for 4 years— and long before. There’s talk of a mega-move of talent, dreams, and energy to the vacant 27th Street shells of Home/Guesthouse and Spirit, and this coo-coo-cooler-than-cool (so cool crowd that sways to the beat of different drummers, and last night the Scissor Sisters) will surely enlighten us still more.

I had so much fun. Absolute madness: with and without a funny face. I just wanted to add that, from the moment I rolled up to the door to the moment I popped into the cab back to BBurg, I was treated like a king by a staff— who largely didn’t know me. Everybody smiled, and when I couldn’t find the coat check (I rarely check stuff) I was taken there by a busboy rather than pointed in the right direction. Everyone smiled and said ‘hello’ or ‘welcome’ or ‘goodbye.’ Everyone was sharp and sexy. That is the service I hear about from the operators of the moment, who don’t know what the word means. Great service all the way down the line is actually, really, truly found in places that survive and thrive for 4 or more years. I’m thinking inside The Box at least once a week, if they’ll have me. My pal Mark Baker, the Energizer Bunny of nightlife, may just be in the right place at the right time (after all, this is the year of the rabbit). Nice guy Mark has been inviting me to the new, post-sloop/Jon B Juliet Supper Club for all the fashion week thrills they have in store. Jon B has indeed left the building, and Mr. Baker (don’t say that 3 times fast) is ready to step up and bring madness and mayhem to the spot. I’m wondering, since Juliet was named after Jon’s Mom (and he’s gone singing Viva, Las Vegas!) shouldn’t they change the name? If they’re changing the game, maybe a new name would be in order? I’m suggesting Madness!

Mark is uber excited by tonight’s Mackage official after-party, with Ladytron performing. Mark loves Ladytron, and insists I go. The dilemma is my very own BlackBook is hosting a soiree for Siki Im this Wednesday, and I actually got invited by them, which means I have to go to that. Then on Thursday, the love of my life (save for Mom, my dachshund LuLu, and my darling Amanda) Devorah Rose, is having her Rosa Pusher fashion presentation there. Could I possibly go to Juliet Supperclub 3 nights in a row? Would they bar me form Brooklyn if I did?

On Sunday, when I might have been at the Zinc Magazine affair at Juliet (OMG, Madness!) I was trying to DJ at the Catherine Fulmer aftershow party. It was nextdoor to the Bowery Poetry Club, through some weird door at what used to be that joint, Crime Scene, but now sports a giant red neon sign that says “LOUNGE.” It was to be Michael S. Baltra (DJ MSB), glamorpuss DJ Paul Sevigny, and then me. I love PSev opening up for me! Anyway, there was major equipment malfunctions on a Janet/Justin level, but the three of us had a blast anyway. We had 3 mixers, 2 turntables, 2 CD players, and a Serato—none of which worked at the same time. There were wires everywhere. Oh, and we didn’t have a working headphone jack. Try mixing without one. Some said I was better than usual. We were sliding tracks in and out while tech guys with flashlights in their mouths only made things worse. They tried, and we scrambled. At one point I tried to put on “Pop Musik,” and Hendrix’s “All Along the Watchtower” came out. Madness—and a much better track. DJ MSB just took charge with his Serato, which allowed him to work. Paul is one of the last DJs to still use vinyl, and I use CDs. We all agreed to try again real soon. As I was staring at malfunctioning equipment and frenzied techies I did notice that the crowd was wonderful and forgiving of our madness.

Santos’ Shutters Just Before Halloween & Other News

This is an unbelievably frantic Friday. Good news or bad news first? Lets do bad. Yesterday, the governing powers swooped in and shuttered Santos’ Party House. I spoke to sources within and they spoke of a couple of marijuana buys and an undercover being offered cocaine in a bathroom. These events, according to my mouthpiece, happened a few months ago. The police have been sitting on the Nuisance Abatement Order for a bit, I guess waiting for the most damaging time to serve it. Like I noted before, Halloween is an important revenue source for clubs. Santos’ is not a wealthy club. They make their money on admissions. Their crowd isn’t a monied bottle crew, it’s a couple of drinks—if that—kind of place. They have eked out a living, sometimes barely surviving. They can’t afford to be closed, and their staff is hurting without jobs in this rough economy. Santos’ attracts many events that cater to people of color, and I can’t help but wonder if the recent spate of late-night violence happening around town has not led to a racially motivated crackdown. From my experience, there are few color-blind cops.

Again, maybe it’s just a coincidence, and race is not the card being played. However, the order to close Santos’ could have been served, according to my guy, anytime. It seems like they held the order to close until a time came when it served them to serve it, sort of like a get out of jail card in Monopoly.

The monopoly the cops have is rarely challenged. The NYNA, which has been patting itself on the back since their victory in killing the paid sick leave bill, does little from where I write to squash the unfair and possibly illegal way the Nuisance Abatement Law is used as a punitive weapon against clubs. A shooting occurs at a diner that caters to late-night revelers, or a melee happens in a Chelsea club that caters to people of color, and other places that deal in black and white and yellow and brown instead of just white get hit hard. If you close down every place in town where drugs can be found, we’d be a small town—think, Peoria Has anybody been in Madison Square Garden during a concert? Drugs are in schools, playgrounds, offices, parks and, quite possibly, every building—commercial or residential—in town. Nobody thinks of closing these places down, only the clubs. Bust the dealers, not the joints. Santos’ exists in a seam neighborhood, far away from most residential buildings, and has enjoyed solid relations with its neighbors since Day One. Santos’ attorneys will try to get the order overturned or delayed for trial at a court hearing today. I can’t recall an order of this type actually being served on a Thursday, giving the club recourse on a Friday. They are invariably served on a Friday, effectively closing the club until the next court calendar day, Monday. Maybe the powers know something I don’t know or just made a mistake on the day, with all this frantic Halloween confusion

Patrick Duffy texted me announcing that he will be leaving his Tuesday night weekly at The Box. It was so much fun, and I hope it was a rash and irrevocable decision. I was there this past Tuesday and the place was jam-packed, although it did seem a bit straighter, rather than the gayer ambiance I recall.

Last night I DJed the after-party for that Dos Equis/Andrew W.K. “Most Interesting Show in the World” event. I brought in my old friend, ex-Bungalow 8 mainstay Uncle Mike to DJ with me at my favorite spot not named Lit, White Noise. I love the Uncle Mike/Uncle Steve concept. He played one track, and then I the next. We played well off each other. For me, it was a strong set after I stunk up the place on Wednesday. I still let fools distract me when I spin. The pros learn to ignore. Tomorrow I will be DJing at the Library at the Hudson Hotel, opening up for my bon vivant pal, Paul Sevigny. I’m stoked to kill it. I missed the Mudd Club/ Club 57 reunion at the Delancey, but honored it by playing songs from that creative time all night long. I’ll go to the next one, 20 years from now. Hopefully I wont still be doing this. After the debacle at District 36 the other night it was ironic that they got the much needed Certificate of Occupancy the next day—just a bit too late for the Humane Society Benefit event that got canceled. They adopted a cat in penance. Maybe a donation to the cause would be the right thing to do.

The good folks over at Provocateur, one of the best joints in town, are excited as can be over tonight’s activities. Only my mother and my landlord call me more than them. Tonight’s bash features Swedish House Mafia. They will celebrate “the release of their highly anticipated behind-the-scenes look into the electronic music scene music documentary, Take One.” Tonight is an exclusive screening party. Michael Satsky and company have produced a six-figure extravaganza called “Masquerade Motel” named after the infamous Ibiza party. 

The latest Swedish House Mafia song, “One,” was written with Pharrell Williams, and he called them “necessary rock stars.” 
I hear everybody will be there, and I may go just to prove that statement true.

On Sunday, Halloween night, as I have mentioned before, I will DJ at the Hollywood Standard. I will be joined on the decks by my buddy, Ethan Browne, and by my bestest friend, Christine Renee, who moved to the left coast a few years back with her man. They have a beautiful baby I have yet to see. My old club crew – Patty Doria, Robert Escelera, MaryAnn, Sandra,Kelly, Carlisa, Mary, Jeremiah, and the rest – have set up shop in Venice, and I can’t wait to see them. I will be there until Wednesday. It’s a BlackBook affair, and very exclusive, but please come. You have always been good to me and I’d love to see you.

My DJ Antics & Other Things to See

I’m late writing today because I have been trying to clone myself all morning. I am getting so busy as a DJ that I may have to give up my pottery or my vegan cooking classes. Tonight I am double-booked by people who must be tone deaf. First off, I will DJ a birthday bash for my pal Greg “The Smile” Brier, who is also celebrating the 2-year anniversary of his restaurant/joint Aspen Social Club. This Times Square affair starts at 5pm for the locals and goes real late for the loyalists who love the joint. My name is listed on the invite along with other DJs, but appears 3x bigger than the rest, who are absolutely 10x better than me at making music. But I am pretty, and sometimes that will get you through the night. Shoot, it got my ex’s through years.

Real DJs Tommy James, Billy C, Justin Strauss, and Lizzy Lee will undo the damage I’ll do with my 11pm to midnight slash-and-burn set. Tommy has promised not to disconnect the equipment after my second track, as he did the last time we worked together. I guess it was a bad song. Aspen Social Club thrives in the middle of the mayhem at 47th and Broadway. To paraphrase that brilliant philosopher/poet Yogi Berra: That area has so much going on that there is nothing happening there. It is not exactly a scene-friendly location, yet Greg has thrived there and at his other joint nearby, Highbar. He is, despite what many say, one of the real gentlemen in the business. I will absolutely strive to embarrass him tonight.

After that I will whisk down to White Noise to join Goldbar guru Jon Lennon on the 1’s and 2’s. Jon is another one of those real DJ-types who must tolerate the insanity of my musical offerings. I had fun last week.

Also tonight – I send my regrets for not attending – is Music Maestro…Please, presented by NY-LON and Spontaneous Underground. My bestest friend and another real DJ, Jennifly, will host this. It’s a Brit-centric dance-a-thon, and one of my favorite parties. It is at my hallowed haunt subMercer, and I may sneak in late.

Last night I judged a mini ball hosted by Princess Xtravaganza at Patrick Duffy’s Tuesday night soiree’ at the Box. It was rad, mad mayhem, as strutters walked the walk, and vogued, and all that. The crowd screamed in delight as pretty and talented folks bent all the rules and their body parts in an attempt to sway the judges. The ball culture, which has been around before even me and my dad, is readily enjoyed by the masses that packed the room last night, and so many other nights. It is often a cult-culture, with its own rules deities, and even gods. It has a deep history of over a hundred years. Pattrick Duffy and Princess are proving that the brilliant spectacle that is “a ball” should be seen by more people—a broader audience. How to do that without diluting its purity is a question, and an opportunity. It’s real deal fun and creativity, and I try not to miss any of them.

Friday Good Units will host the 6th Annual Halloween affair hosted by Yoni Goldberg, Damon DeGraff, and their DJ talent firm dGi. Yoni chastised me for not showing up last year, even though I did. I was in my super-realistic old, fat Elvis outfit, and he must have thought I was the real thing. I hope he didn’t tell his friends. I will try to attend again this year and enjoy the real DJs he and Damon have slated for the event. The Misshapes, Rev(run) and Ruckus will be on hand with some promised—wink,wink—surprise performers.

Last but certainly not least is the charity affair my friend Unik is hosting this Saturday. An A-list crowd, which may include: “Gerard Butler, John Legend, Rhianna, Petra Nemcova, Wyclef and more.” The crowd will limo:

“To Ajna, the old Buddah Bar, as a prelude to the annual New York City Halloween parade, which has chosen to promote Haiti’s cultural roots as the 2010 parade’s prominent theme. Haitian Artist Didier Civil was invited to bring his Voodoo flair. Prominent charity organizations Edeyo and LakayPAM are leading this Haiti rebranding project, and will benefit from the $25.00 entrance fee. Time: 10:30pm Place: Ajna Bar, 25 Little West 12th Street”

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.