The New Year’s Eve Hotel Roundup

Planning on getting out of the house for New Year’s Eve? Of course you are. And if you don’t feel like going home that night (falling into your own bed can be a little anticlimactic after popping bottles all night, don’t you think?) it’s the perfect night to indulge in a hot hotel escape. There are a lot of offerings around the country, but these are come of the most exciting.

For their friends in New England, Boston.com rounded up some great last-minute deals. All Kimpton properties, like the modern boutique hotel Nine Zero are half-off on Jan 1st to make the most of your long weekend, while the upscale XV Beacon is offering a bottle of Taittinger to stay in and enjoy in front of your in-room fireplace, after checking out the city’s First Night festivities or else a reception in their wine cellar and fireworks on the rooftop terrace, followed by brunch at Mooo and late checkout at 2pm. They’re also featuring some deals at the Hyatt48 in New York, and The Joule in downtown Dallas.

Another Southwestern property we can always count on to go big for a holiday is the W Scottsdale, who’s making a weekend of it with their $2,012 “New Year’s Eve Fiesta Bowl VIP Experience.” Football fans kick off the four-night weekend stay with top hats and Champagne in their room, a vintage-circus themed party throughout two of the hotel’s venues (be sure to get onto the terrace for the midnight fireworks) entrance to the Fiesta Bowl block party on January 1, and two club level tickets to the game on January 2. It’s just one of the many W-hosted New Year’s soirees; check out your local location for details on theirs.

The club hoppers at Guest of a Guest have put together a great roundup of parties for the night in New York City, including several hot hotels—it’s showgirls and circus performances before an indoor ball drop at the Tribeca Grand, Debbie Harry hosting at the Standard, and a massive open bar at the Empire Hotel rooftop, as well as other festivities at the Jane Hotel and the Soho Grand.

Steal This Bathrobe: The Best Hotel Products to Swipe (& Buy)

You’re wrapped in a plush terry robe, reposing on thousand-thread-count sheets, listening to a custom-programmed iPod on the dock next to your bed, and feeling as though this is nothing more than the lifestyle you deserve. So who could blame you for wanting to take some of the accoutrements of your newfound bliss home from your luxury hotel? These are top three souvenirs we recommend you swipe.

Toiletries: These are always a safe bet, since they’re there for you to use anyway. We love the Remede toiletry kits given out by the St. Regis, the Malin + Goetz soaps used by the Morgans Hotel Group properties (including the Delano in Miami and the Mondrian in Los Angeles) and the exclusive Hermès bath products at all Sofitel locations.

Slippers: Hotels actually get a certain amount of free advertising from branded products escaping the confines of their hotel, and even the non-branded versions still provide travelers with fond memories of their trip. Our favorites come from the amenity-packed Asian hotels, including fuzzy slippers at the Mandarin Oriental’s multiple locations, and the Havianas at the InterContinental Hong Kong.

Personalized Stationery: Once a standard part of luxury hotel service, personalized stationery is a pleasant enough surprise that these days, you might be inspired enough to actually write a letter. While hotel stationery and pens are always fair game, no one can complain about something personalized going home with you, and you can find it at a surprising number of places, including the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles, the Trump SoHo in New York , the Stafford London, Chicago’s Talbott, and the New World Shanghai.

That said, not all of us want to steal from our favorite hotels (who wants that on their guest profile?) and hotels have of course developed procedures to address this—many sticky-fingered guests will now find their more outrageous grift charged to their room bill. So why not shop their style the legal way? Many hip hotels have added online shops full of items that either appear on property or embody their style, like these three:

The W Store: W Hotels is happy to sell you everything from the bed you slept in to the music in the air, as well as apparel from brands like John Varvatos and Mara Hoffman. We particularly love their collection of statement jewelry and their eclectic blend of home accessories.

Shutters Beach Style: This Santa Monica hotel is one of a handful that are right on the beach, but the interiors are as striking as the views. Known for its impressive contemporary art collection which belongs to the hotel’s owners, their online store has drawings by Frank Gehry and Ellsworth Kelly, as well as stunning homewares like their signature rug and pewter table accessories.

Shop The Standard: They’re on the cutting edge of urban hotel style, so it’s no wonder that they’d have a quality online presence. The covetable goods include everything from RK Ripper fixed-gear bicycles to limited-edition art prints to the kissing puppy salt-and-pepper shakers on the table at the Standard Grill—so stealable that they’re listed for purchase right on the menu.

The New York City Late-Night Chow Guide

Visitors to the Big Apple (and residents too) depend on 3am pizza and anytime delivery like nowhere else in the world. But our idea of late-night eats extends far beyond drunk snacking. After all, in one of the great food cities of the world, why settle for anything less than the best? Here is our roundup of the best late-night eats, divided into street food, restaurants, and special late-night menu additions worth staying up for.

Food Trucks: We’ll take breakfast food any time of the day (or night), and Wafels & Dinges, the Belgian waffle truck, is indulgent enough that you might have trouble justifying it the following morning. The best way to find them is on Twitter at @waffletruck. Hungry Brooklynites and those who’ve crossed the river for a night of revelry on Bedford Ave, fortify their stomach linings for the subway ride home at the Endless Summer taco truck. Located at North 6th St and Bedford, it’s open until midnight during the week and until 2am on weekends. But we can’t end our night without something sweet, and the Dessert Truck has stepped up our post-bar sugar game significantly. Find them on Twitter (@desserttruck) and pick up their rich, sweet cakes until 11pm.

24 Hours: Visitors to Chelsea’s Cafeteria love the trendy vibe and modern take on comfort food, not to mention a chance to continue the party with a cocktail list any time of the day or night. You can’t talk about late-night eats in New York without mentioning an old-school, greasy-spoon diner, and the Moonstruck Diner in Chelsea is our favorite. Expect to be comforted with fry grease and you won’t be disappointed. An East Village institution, Veselka’s pierogies, hot meaty stews, and burgers have been stuffing late-night partyers for decades. Hot coffee and cold borscht will set you right any night of the week.

Late-Night Specials: Gabe Stulman’s restaurants have quickly become neighborhood institutions in the West Village, and he likes to hide late-night specials on the menu for those in the know. At Joseph Leonard, the burger that’s only available at lunch (with tomato jam and ricotta cheese) reappears late-night, while at Fedora, it’s the pressed pork sandwich making an incredibly savory guest appearance. The Dutch in Soho has as lively late-night scene as any restaurant in New York, and top-notch, incredibly high quality food at all hours of the day and night. While it’s definitely worth it to try to get in for dinner, don’t fret if you happen to arrive closer to last call. That means you have a chance at the cheeseburger that’s kept off the dinner menu, as well as adorably delicious baby pancakes, and a few other surprises as well. And from the tip-top of the Boom Boom Room to the depths of the Beer Garden, locals and visitors alike quickly embraced the Standard Hotel, and the Standard Grill is a delicious part of its appeal. There’s an extensive late-night menu of delicious, stomach-friendly basics, like fish and chips, spaghetti, and their famed “end of the night” omelette.

Two Patricks, One Birthday Party at Macao

Tomorrow night at Macao (a venue that’s quickly becoming my favorite late night haunt), I will join a birthday celebration for two of my three favorite Patricks. Mr. McMullan and Mr. Fahey are at least a year older, and are clearly having episodes of senility, as evidenced by the decision to have me supply the music. They are both living fantastic, successful, energetic lives, underscoring the concept that 50 is the new 35, a line I used a lot when I was dating.

Patrick McMullan is that fabulous photographer that has spent a lifetime taking so many shots of celebrities that he has become one himself. He has one of the great eyes in the business but his hearing must surely suffer, as he asked me to return as a DJ for this fete, after enduring me at his St. Patrick’s Day Bash at Pacha. Patrick Fahey is that debonair ex-model who has run some of the best saloons in town including, but not limited, to Naked Lunch and Sugar. Sugar of course is now Macao and he is a partner. The crowd at Macao will be adult, hip and fun, a rarity in today’s nightlife universe.

Labor day melts into Fashion Week, which will officially begin this Thursday September 8th, and end next Thursday the 15th. There will be a million parties to go to and very few cabs. The fashion lemmings will be their usual unbearable selves and I will retreat to dive bars and rock clubs for safety. If not for the gift bags I might just stay in Brooklyn. Tonight, the fashion queens will bring it before the week of mayhem starts at “On Top,” that Susanne Bartsch extravaganza on top of The Standard Hotel at Le Bain. All the unusual suspects including Desi Monster, Kayvon Zand and Manny Norena will be all dressed up with someplace to go. Music will be provided by Will Automatic and my hero Johnny Dynell. I’ll stop by to chat with door maiden Andrea and step inside to see the fashion that will hit the runway in about five years. It’s like that and always has been.

Photo Credit: Guest of a Guest

Getting Illicit with Natalia Kills

There’s something deliciously illicit about Natalia Kills. Even if the English singer’s name didn’t evoke a villainess from some outtake of The Avengers, one gets the impression the lass would be just as comfortable running a con or plotting a heist, as she is pulling a Machiavelli on the pop world. Then there’s that whole murderous girl thing she’s got goin’ on; an explicit lethality which can be found in both the sound of her single “My Boyfriend,” and the visions of her Love Kills xx video series, in addition to the very name itself. On the terrace of South Beach’s Catalina Hotel on Thursday night, just hours before Kills took her stand at Mansion, it was all I could do to not ask her if she’d like to go knock off a bank.

But Kills is far too single-mindedly determined to be sidetracked by something that could keep her outta circulation for even a couple moments, let alone a few years. See, that might foil her plans for world domination. And make no mistake, this unequivocal young lady is definitely going global—or else.

While where Kills is going may be clear, it’s a lot harder to pinpoint where she’s come from. Born to a Jamaican father and a Uruguayan mother, and raised primarily in the Gunshine State (Miami and Jacksonville), she’s spent the last couple of years lighting fires around LA. Her “wish,” though, is to move to the Big Bad Apple, and soon. “There isn’t anything wrong with Los Angeles,” she says. “It’s just time for New York.” Perhaps she simply needs a bigger city to core?

When prompted, Kills calls herself “English.” Noting her heritage, however, she may just as well claim citizenry of the wild world she seems so keen to conquer. Like many a bright mind, Kills is the kinda Benetton kid Tibor Kalman undoubtedly had in his head when he created the incomparable Colors. A cross-pollination of creed and culture as compelling as it is adroit. Otherwise known as: our future.

In other words, Kills has got it goin’ on, even if her Wiki page has it all wrong. She does NOT share a name with her mother, nor has she been in a succession of British soap operas. Kills isn’t from Persia either, though she “has great respect” for the people and the place.

The last time Kills hit South Beach, she opened for Robyn at The Fillmore. This time, as mentoined, she soloed at Mansion, one of the most renowned dance emporiums on The Strip. Prior to that, there was a mad two nights in New York, where she pulled off appearances at both the Standard and Bowery hotels, as well as an exclusive on the 48th floor of the Atlas. By the time you read this, Kills will be in arenas opening for Katy Perry before she crosses back over the pond to retake the continent.

Face to face, Kills is forthright, forthcoming and utterly assured. Yes, “My Boyfriend” is about a real someone. No, she didn’t kill him. She is “grateful” though that their six-year relationship turned out so badly. Otherwise, her album “would be all rainbows, and who the hell wants to hear that?” Kills is also extremely grateful to French director Guillaume Doubet, the Love Kills accomplice who taught her the tricks of the the cinematic trade and gave her the opportunity to be on both sides of the camera. “I learned so much shooting that series,” she says. “Mostly, I learned that I could direct too. I just had to do it.”

Forget for a minute Nike’s now-overexposed slogan, because before there was such a thing as kicks campaigns, there were people for whom “just do it” was simply who and what they were. Count Natalia Kills among that worthy roster. Or else.

Photo by Jeffrey Delannoy.

Hayley Atwell Is About to Conquer Hollywood in ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’

In the sure-to-be summer blockbuster Captain America: The First Avenger, Hayley Atwell plays Peggy Carter, girlfriend to Chris Evans’ revered comic-book hero. It won’t be the first time she’s been cast as a romantic lead—the 29-year-old actor has batted her lashes to great effect before, in the televised miniseries The Pillars of the Earth (for which she received a Golden Globe nomination earlier this year) and in her breakout role as Ewan McGregor’s conquest in Woody Allen’s Cassandra’s Dream.

But, she insists, her stories are seldom boy-meets-girl fairy tales. “I never see myself as a typical love interest,” she says. “I see myself as embedded in complicated triangles.” To wit, she’s also embodied “a manipulative, manic-depressive lithium abuser” in the BBC’s adaptation of the Man Booker Prize–winning novel The Line of Beauty; “someone incredibly calculating and scheming” in Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park; and “a suppressed, complicated woman who didn’t get much love” in 2008’s Brideshead Revisited. It’s hardly Hallmark territory.

Peggy Carter is no less complex, which is surprising, given her Marvel-sidekick origins. According to Atwell, the fictional heroine and WWII soldier has her own set of issues, which aren’t immediately obvious onscreen. “Deep down, she knows that if she were a man, she’d probably be Captain America. But because she’s a woman, that will never happen,” she says. “That’s a bone of contention for her.”

Given her fast-encroaching Hollywood stardom, the London native has entertained the idea of relocating Stateside, and admits that her biggest challenge this year will be elevating her laid-back look into Grauman’s Chinese Theatre–ready glamour. “When you walk into a room wearing Louboutin heels, with your hair and makeup perfectly done, you’re being stared at, but also completely ignored because you’re less approachable,” she says. “My everyday style is anything I can wear while jumping on a bus, climbing a tree, or running down the street. I move very quickly.”

image Bra by Deborah Marquit. Slip by Boy by Band of Outsiders. Shoes by Lanvin.

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Photography by Mark Squires. Styling by Rich Aybar.

Top photo: Top by Lanvin. Bra by Deborah Marquit.

Hair by Rob Talty @ The Magnet Agency.com using Sebastian Professional. Makeup by Gita Bass @ Exclusive Artists using Dior. Retouching by Dippin’ Sauce. Photo Assistant: James Stone. Stylist’s Assistant: Eva Lick. Location: The Standard Hotel, New York City.

With ‘Horses & High Heels,’ Marianne Faithfull Is Finally Ready to Be Amused

Considering Marianne Faithfull would rather forget all about the ’60s, the decade that witnessed her transformation from flicker-voiced ingenue to addicted ex-Rolling Stone muse, it’s funny to find her puffing a Marlboro Light on the downstairs patio of New York’s Standard Hotel, a building whose design and retro-futuristic flourishes pastiche that agitated decade. “It’s full of wild activity, though I am quite quiet,” Faithfull says (other verbs that could be used instead of ‘says’: boils, growls, quakes).

A few weeks ago, Faithfull released her 23rd album, Horses and High Heels. Recorded in New Orleans and produced by Hal Willner, it’s a mix of unexpected covers — Carol King’s “Goin’ Back,” the Shangri-La’s “Past Present and Future” — and new material. Sure, there are songs about wrestling with demons, wasted love, and apocalypse, but Faithfull insists she’s in a good place – the best ever, maybe. Mick who?

You recorded Horses and High Heels in New Orleans. Were you trying to channel something of that city’s musical heritage?

I didn’t go to New Orleans to record a New Orleans record. I was never going to make a Cajun record or a Zydeco record. I went there because I wanted to work with these great musicians. They don’t travel, you know. It’s like Memphis. If you want to work with them, you go to them. Otherwise, great food, great clubs, and very hard work.

You recorded the album in an incredibly short amount of time.

Three weeks. But that’s long for me! Easy Come, Easy Go was done in 10 days.

There are four original songs on the album and the rest are covers. How did you choose the cover songs? [Producer] Hal [Willner] came to Paris. It’s the same as we usually do, from Strange Weather on. We get together wherever we are – in this case it was Paris – and he plays me some songs and I play him some.

What does collaborating bring to your music?

Oh, a lot. I have a gift for it. For collaborating and choosing who to collaborate with – I’m good at that, too. It’s a great gift, making it so nobody feels unequal or less.

You’ve been in the music industry for so long. You must have a very unique perspective on how it’s changed.

I don’t think I work according to the music business. The way to always make money in the music business is to make very disposable records, unless you are a genius. Like the Beatles or the Rolling Stones, though I wouldn’t call the Stones genius. Only a very few people can afford to do what they really want to do. Somehow, I’ve managed to do that, probably because I’ve never really been in it for the money. I wanted something else – I wanted what I got, which is a body of great work behind me, just carrying on doing great work.

Horses and High Heels is your 23rd album. How many more do you have left in you?

Well, certainly another one. I might stop after that.

You just wrapped filming on Belle du Seigneur, due out next year, alongside Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Natalia Vodianova. How do you like the experience of acting compared to making music?

I don’t have any control over filming. With records, I do. I can personally make sure they’re good. With a film, I just have to hope the director’s good. But I like working with a group. I like – I really like – that it’s not all on me. I’m not the main thing; I’m not the main attraction. I mean, I starred in Irina Palm, but in these two I have a nice supporting role. And it’s lovely.

Is that why you collaborate so much?

I like a bit of the attention to be deflected, yes. I hadn’t heard a lot of the original versions of the covers…

Well, you wouldn’t. They’re very obscure.

How did you find them?

Well, I knew already “Past, Present and Future” because I’m old enough to remember when it came out, which is in 1962, when I was listening to it under the covers of my bedroom in Reading. So I remember that, and I remember “Going Back” – I wanted to do that. Hal came up with some wonderful ideas. “The Stations” was Hals ideas and “That’s How Every Empire Falls.” Beautiful, beautiful song.

“Unconventional” is a word you use often.

I’m trying to sort of make sure that everybody knows that. I don’t have conventional expectations [laughs]. But it’s very rare now. It used to be that everyone I knew was unconventional, but it’s really changed. It’s got very much more conformist. America is going back to the ’50s.

What about France, where you live?

France is always France, as you know from Strauss-Kahn [laughs].

The album art for Horses and High Heels is so wonderfully kitsch. It is kitsch, I know. I just got sick of always having these really tasteful beauty shots. I mean they’re lovely, but I’ve been doing it for so long, and I thought this once, I’m going to do something different. I always had wanted a psychedelic cover, but I never did get that together in enough time. So we found this picture on the internet, and we asked him [artist Jim Warren] to put high heels in it. And he did. He’d do anything we wanted, actually. And I liked it. It’s funny.

It’s so literal.

Very. There are even high heels in the tree. And there are seven horses! There’s one in the sky, three in the trees, there’s two coming out of the water…they’re all over the place.

Amusing cover art – is that an indication of your overall mood these days?

I’m feeling very, very amused. I’m having a very good life. I don’t feel moody and tragic at all – and you know, I’m not. But now I realize that the fans really were shocked. So shocked.

By the cover?

Yes! Yes, man. They weren’t pleased. They wanted a Marianne Faithfull cover. A proper, normal Marianne Faithfull cover. And they got something they didn’t expect. But the songs are still very dark.

Not dark enough. They’re a bit pissed off. But they do love the record – they just were surprised at first. They thought the songs were too bright. They thought “Why Did We Have to Part” was too cheerful.

Really?

Well it is. It’s a bouncy little song with a lovely tune. I don’t really sound that devastated, do I?

Is it frustrating that people want to keep you in a dark corner?

Well it is a little bit, but I’ve got over it. I understand. I mean, it’s always been a problem for me – I will never stay where people want me to stay.

Where are you in your career?

I’m in the best bit. I’m very disciplined, having a very good time, not having a problem with it. I think this is what I always wanted. And I’ve felt like that for a long time now. But I have actually put my foot down now – come, come…

Are you always trying to write new songs, or is writing something you approach in fits and starts?

I’m really trying to write more songs for the next one. That means I have to stockpile. You know, I won’t be starting it [the next album] for another two or three years. I’ve got six weeks off in summer, and then I go back to work. I’m not crazy about the airplane. But I love performing, so I have to pay the price.

Your voice has changed so much over your career. Do you choose to cover songs that suit your voice as it is now?

Oh, I’m very good at that.

Do you ever feel limited by your voice?

Sometimes a little bit – I have a few regrets. But then I honestly do think that I’ve got the right voice for me, that it will say what I what it to say. It’s not pretty, but I don’t want pretty.

Your career has been long and varied. Looking back on it, what are some of the most significant milestones you’ve marked?

As Tears Go By” is a milestone. Writing “Sister Morphine” is another one. Broken English is a milestone. They all are. Strange Weather was a huge difference. Then doing the Kurt Weill stuff was really interesting. And then coming back to my own songs has been great.

Are you at all frustrated that people focus on your life story so intensely?

I think it hasn’t helped my music at all. I’m really a working musician. That’s it. The 60s is not my life – at all. And I find that people don’t want me to move one, but I have anyway. [Trying to light cigarette in the wind] Fuck it. I’m going to go light it indoors.

A Chat with the Fabulous Amanda Lepore

This coming Tuesday is the first day of summer and the beginning of a fabulous new weekly, Amanda Lepore’s Penthouse. The gala will be at the ever adaptable Ganesvoort Park. Joey Israel and Kenny Kenny will add to the magic, and Marco Ovando will host. The rooftop pool deck and penthouse will be the scene of the action for a crowd that loves nothing more than to dress up and be seen. The amazing Joey Arias will perform. This is a can’t miss event for the fashionista, gay, and fabulous crowd, which is finding a renewed resurgence in the new hotels we talk so much about.

Susanne Bartsch, the grand dame of this world, is of course doing her “On Top” thing over at the Standard on Tuesdays, so everyone will be all dressed up with at least two places to go. For a while, this crowd was pushed to the fringes as bottle service bucks pushed these fabulous ones to off-nights in irrelevant clubs. Now, the new world of nightlife is embracing this clan again, as they want their guests to have a true New York experience to tell all their friends back home about. Today’s interview is with Amanda Lepore, a true NY experience. She has an album coming out and a huge soiree slated at the Highline Ballroom to support it. She seems ready to expand her brand and re-re-re-invent herself.

I’m sitting with an old friend of mine, Amanda Lepore, who has worked with me many times. I don’t wanna say ‘worked for me,’ because in nightlife everyone has their roles, and my role might have been a director or whatever, and Amanda certainly was part of the entire circus that we tried to create. She’s a brilliant persona and has created an international brand with her appearance, performances, and parties. I’ve learned so much from her. Talk to me about your gender and how you became what you are today. Well, I started out in life thinking I was a girl, and my parents and stuff and everything would cut my hair and not buy dresses for me. And I didn’t even understand what they were doing. I just thought they were punishing me for something. And then, you know, slowly when you like get older, you realize, oh well, I’m stuck with this guy’s body. I did everything I could to change it, because I was really disturbed by it. I definitely have a female mind, I took hormones when I was 15, and I started getting breasts, and I saw talk shows, and people getting sex changes, and heard that it was possible, so I did it as soon as I can. I met a boyfriend that was supportive, and his father paid for my sex change, and I became a girl and didn’t really have any ambitions, I just wanted to be a pretty girl and maybe work in a mall doing makeup or something.

Your look is iconic. It’s a Marilyn Monroe caricature. What are you trying to say with your look, and when people you don’t know see you, what is their reaction? Well, I think at first I actually didn’t even have breast implants, I had little hormone breasts. And it was a wave. I’d always watched movies and stuff, and I really liked the Hollywood bombshells. I always liked like hips and breasts and all that, and I always thought it was the most feminine body type. So I wanted to look sexier, and I would buy clothes, and try on a top and I wouldn’t fill it out, so I could only wear certain things. I got more fascinated with girls in Playboy, so I got my breasts done, and I got lips.

You also have a persona. You always are classy. You are always on. You are always performing, if you will. Is there a time when you go home at night and turn it off? Is Amanda Lepore a 24-hour thing? It’s a 24-hour thing. I mean of course, I do errands and everything and I’m not made up. I’d like to think that people don’t recognize me, but people recognize me and say hi and treat me exactly the same. I’ll be insecure about it, but sometimes I’ll meet guys I went out with and they’ll say, “Oh, you look pretty and don’t worry about it.” But I feel better made up.

Well now you have a record coming out and you are doing an event, which coincides with this record. This is really important to you. Tell me about the production of that record, which has involvement from some of my old friends: Roxy Cottontail, Larry Tee, Cazwell. Your life is a performance art piece, but now you’re actually performing as an artist, a different step altogether. Now you have put out records before, but this album is different. A lot of people are talking about the legitimization of Amanda Lepore as a music artist. Well, it was a slow kind of a thing. Around the time we worked together at Life and Spa is where it all started. I would have those birthday parties once a year, and I always admired the scene, like there was the electro scene with Larry Tee and Cazwell—he was one of the best, we really liked his music. We would hire him for my birthday parties every year and he would perform. And then one day, he saw me partying with champagne. And he said, “I wrote this song ‘Champagne’ for you, would you do it?” And I said, “Sure, that would be great.” It took me a long time to learn it and do it well, but it was a success.

Tell me about the songs on the new record. “Turn Me On, Turn Me Over,” is I guess a sequel to “My Pussy.” There’s “Convertible” and “All I Wanna Do Is Get My Nails Done.” Roxy Cottontail does a rap on it with Cazwell.

Sounds like so much fun. Yeah, it’s a lot of fun.

So, the Highline Ballroom. We were just there for the Night of a Thousand Stevies, the Jackie Factory tribute to everything Stevie Nicks. It’s becoming this very legitimate venue for the fashion and gay set. Yea, Lady Gaga had her record release party and me and Cazwell performed at it, so it was really cool.

Did you talk to Lady Gaga that night? Yea, she knows who I am.

What does Lady Gaga talk to Amanda Lepore about? She just said, “Hi Amanda.” She was busy.

You didn’t talk about hair. Well actually, one time, when David LaChapelle was photographing her for Rolling Stone, and we went to her house and she cooked dinner for her boyfriend— it was at her boyfriend’s house at the time—she just talked a bit about getting up in the morning, she seemed like just a girl from Queens, kind of, she had her Jersey Shore kind of friends, you know, they were calling her Stefani, and you could really tell that it was Lady Gaga in the making.

Your relationship with David LaChapelle has been famous. You’ve been called his muse. We know David from the beginning, he was hanging out at the clubs when he was younger. He was this great up and coming photographer who became this mega photographer. Has your relationship changed with David over time? We’ve been friends all along. I didn’t see him as much when he moved to LA and then to Hawaii. He wanted me to come to LA but I don’t drive or anything, I’m just used to being in New York. We’ve been really close friends over the years, he’s great.

Where is the connection between you and him? Where do the minds meet? I think that we see things that other people don’t see. We’re kind of perfectionists, we’re both narcissistic, you know, he was attracted to me. He’d seen me in a club and was attracted to me because he actually used to draw girls that looked like me when he was like 15. They were always naked with big boobs, big lips and cheeks, and always had different hair. He actually showed me the pictures at his mother’s house once. It was really wild. They looked identical to me.

Why are you shy? I think from being harassed in school. I wasn’t an outgoing person, you know, when I first left my husband. I worked as a dominatrix, and they would really tell me not to tell guys that I was a transsexual. But in nightclubs, we were sort of celebrated for being a transsexual. I really related to these kids, they came from other cities and grew up being harassed and had the same kind of thing.

I’ve talked to the Mother of the House of Xtravaganza, Carmen Xtravaganza, a dear friend of mine about how difficult it was for her to find her true self, make the change, and to move forward with her life and have a productive life. You are, in a sense, a leader, an icon, and you are an example to a younger generation. It must be easier nowadays, but still impossibly difficult. The surgeries are easier, more accessible. And certainly, your gender, or your definition of gender, is more acceptable than it was 20 years ago or 10 years ago. Talk about how you feel about that responsibility to people and how young people approach you and talk to you. I think it’s a great responsibility, you know, it’s really hard for them. It’s a struggle to come up with the money, it’s very expensive, and the main problem is the bullying.

What do you have to say to that? The key to overcoming that is to feel proud of who you are.

Checking Out the New Downtown Dream

The culture of nightlife and the culture of hotels is about to change. For years, we have discussed the advantages of nightlife finding a protective home in the bosom of a hotel, with all its services, amenities, insurances, lobbyists, lawyers and all that expensive stuff that operators in non-hotel-based joints need to pay for on their own. Hotels are more than ever before driven by their food and beverage establishments. Plus, they come packed with rooms filled with guests who have the best money there is: vacation money.

Vegas has taught everyone that vacation money flows faster than the local variety. The rebirth of Nevada’s desert paradise was built on a shift from hawking gaming to emphasizing the attractions of their clubs and entertainment.

In New York, Ian Schrager drove home the concept of boutique hotels. The Gansevoort took it to new heights with its roof pool and exclusive Provocateur lounge. Food and beverage was driving its whole shebang. Andre Balasz took it all to the next level with The Standard. But lately, Morgans Hotel Group, with its new Mondrian and re-energized Hudson, has upped the ante.

The collaboration between TAO Strategic Group and the Chatwal father-son team of hoteliers redefines the art and the business of both nightlife and hotels. It is a game changer. The Chatwals, fronted by the fabulous Vikram, have had success with their Dream Hotel uptown, the Stay, and many others. They have pushed their nightlife/restaurant program to drive their places. Greg Brier operated Amelia and Aspen Social Club, designed by me and mine. He has had some success with Aspen, which is still under his control. Greg is my boy, but he isn’t TAO Strategic Group. To list all of TAO Strategic’s properties would require that second cup of coffee, so I’ll just offer some: Marquee (NYC and Vegas), Lavo (NYC and Vegas) Tao (NYC and Vegas), and Avenue. They are entwined in Beauty & Essex, Stanton Social, and even Artichoke Pizza. There’s projects everywhere that are hush-hush for a minute. Now, the Chatwals, with all their connections and experience and desire, have turned to them to make the food and beverage drive for their new Dream Downtown. It will take a dozen articles to describe what I saw when Noah Tepperberg showed me the place yesterday. Construction workers for contractor Carlo Seneca, who for my money is the go-to guy for this high-end construction work, were scurrying around to get it done. Private events start early next week, with the magnificent roof due on the 15th. Carlo will finish. His team takes pride in their work and he’s a guy who says “I’ll make it work” far more often than “I’m not sure I can.”

Noah told me about players to be named later, to help sell the place. He doesn’t need them. I’ve heard these names on the street, even though Noah wasn’t talking, and they’re all major, but the place is the perfect place at the perfect time with the perfect operators, and in the perfect location.

The pool is unreal. Noah says it’s perfect for at least 5 hours a day. The staff was being trained as I toured, and were all bright and eager. The design is genius. The one thing that was emphasized to me was that it wasn’t the attached-at-the-hip Maritime Hotel. Both places have those unique porthole windows. The dream team of designers/architects at Handel chose to clad the building in super-chic metal and bring back the ‘hole’ theme throughout. Most noteworthy are the holes at the bottom of the swimming pool, which has lobby-goers looking above. It’s the place the stuff that dreams are made of.