A long time ago, there was this club called Palladium. It was my job to fill its 108,000-square-foot space about five nights a week with people that mattered. To give you an idea of how big that is, it is more than two Webster Halls and maybe 15 Marquees. Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager were on top of the pyramid and were really great at bringing in top-tier celebrities to create the shock and awe such gigantic places needed. In this modern era, superstar DJs drive the car. Back then, it was Yoko and Liza and Rick James and Andy Warhol. Palladium never lived up to Studio 54 -Steve and Ian’s previous project – but it did have its moments. We did do 3,000 to 5,000 people, five nights a week. It was a pre-bottle universe but people drank a lot more and most paid admission.
I learned many lessons working for these geniuses of nightlife. The specifics were lost in time, but there was this party, and Madonna was going to be there …she really was supposed to. We were even allowed to say it, but we opted not to. The thought process was that we were going to sell out anyway, but if we said that Madonna was going to host or pass through or whatever then everyone would be focusing on that and not the party. The theory went on that if she does show, then everyone will be energized, as it will come as a great and wonderful surprise. Madonna ended up showing, sitting on the backbar, and reading the magazine that prompted the party. It was a party where the anticipation of the celebrity didn’t squash the fun.
Another event at Palladium was an Elite Model soiree. Again, we opted to limit promotion to the model agencies’ list. We didn’t tell our adoring public about the event. The logic was that model agency parties attracted the worst kind of guys and it would be swell if people came and saw a place packed with long-legged beauties. Without knowledge of the event, they might think it was like that every night. I did a good job.
Another time we produced a Koshin Satoh fashion show. He did clothes for lots of famous folk like Miles Davis and Rick Ocasek and Andy Warhol. Again, we knew Andy was going to show but we left it an undiscovered secret. The crowd that came was pumped up by his presence and the party was off the hook. For me, having the party off the hook was more important than a Page Six mention. He was swarmed by the press, including a TV crew who asked him why he had come for the Koshin Satoh show and he replied "Because Koshin designs clothes for Don Johnson.” The interviewer didn’t understand and said "So?" and Andy deadpanned: "Oh, because I think I look like Don Johnson." I held back my laughter as she went away confused and happy. Andy let loose a small smile as she skitted away.
I was mad about Andy. You can take all your Guitar Heros, DJ Megastars and whose-reality-is-it-anyway TV stars and toss them away. Andy was my reason to be cheerful. My clubs and the great clubs of this day are driven by the great crowds and off the hook parties. Word of mouth, amongst the people who actually got in past the door staff, was and remains more important than housewives reading gossip in the NY Post or other periodical. Most savvy operators realize their revenue streams aren’t driven by mentions in Us Weekly.
Last night I attended the VAR Magazine launch event. In fact, I was the DJ. It was a great party. Everyone had a blast. Sally Shan did a fantastic job. She will be happy when she reads this. She is sleeping now because she put everything into it. At the event there were whispers that Ron Wood, out and about pushing his book, would show and that Adrian Grenier was going to perform. These whispers didn’t become the focus of the event because Sally and the other organizers didn’t let the celebrity or the anticipation of one get in the way of a good event.
The Wooster Street Social Club, known as that tattoo place on NY Ink, was the setting for this bash. One of the highlights of the evening was me getting a tattoo while spinning records…well, CDs. Has this been done before? You can Google it if you think it’s important. You can even call the Guinness Book of World Records or start an event where everyone leaves with a tattoo to remember it. Luke Wessman did my tat. Even though the event was wonderful, in time it will fade in memory for even those who had a blast. I won’t forget it, as the ink will always be there to remind me. What did I get?… Andy Warhol’s signature… of course.