The Ghosts of Bowery Past: CBGB, Greenhouse, & W.i.P.

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Yesterday I took one of my first days off since ’03 and it was grand. Me and mine went to the Bronx Zoo which was a zoo. Apparently, Wednesdays are donation day with no fixed admission fee, which means approximately 1 billion people descend upon the zoo to enjoy the nice day with the pretty animals at no cost. We had a blast, completely captivated by the captivated lions and tigers and bears. ..oh my! Amongst the zillions of people, we somehow found Hotel Chantelle go-go dancer Nicky Delmonico and assured her tonight’s hot “Generation Wild” Rock Party at Chantelle would be cool. The joint fixed its air conditioning.

We got home, washed the day away, and headed to DBGB Kitchen & Bar for dinner with Marky Ramone and his Marion. We were joined by chef Daniel Boulud who bombarded us with funny tales and scrumptious deserts. Marky and I told and retold tales of yore. We talked of Dee Dee, Joey, CBGB, and Max’s Kansas City. I don’t desire to dwell too long in the past, preferring to keep looking forward, but sitting with an old war horse like Marky leads to inevitable digression. Eventually I’ll tell you all about it. 

As he posed for photographs with giddy patrons – suburban people who now live in nearby condos and chic apartments where there once stood burnt-out buildings that punks, bums, dealers, and scum squatted in – we talked about the ghosts of Bowery past. It was inconceivable to us that such folk are now frolicking and enjoying such fine fare where we youthfully played amongst the ruins. Back then, a container topped with aluminum foil filled with chicken vindaloo and eaten with a plastic fork was fine dining.

Marky is still touring, still banging his drums not so slowly, and doing lots of other things I will, as I said, eventually talk about. At DBGB, his gravy… er sauce, is for sale and prominently on display up front. Marky Ramone’s Brooklyn’s Own Marinara Sauce is featured in delicious pasta dishes that we all shared prior to our entrees. We headed to Bantam, side-stepping homeless folks who haven’t quite heard the good news about how fabulous the neighborhood has become.

I saw a petition on Petitionbuzz that was under the banner "ALLOW WIP & GREENHOUSE to reopen.” When I clicked through, I read this:

"As many of you already know W.I.P & Greenhouse are still closed pending a scheduled hearing on Friday. I know that I can speak for many people when I say that this is a big blow to the people employed by the club, the nightlife community, as well as to the party goers themselves. We all loved hanging out and partying at W.I.P and are sad to see that the actions of 2 world renown hip hop artist acting like thugs shut down a place we all love and leave 300 people (including Greenhouse) out of jobs in this depressed economic state.  I Emailed @NYNightlife asking him whether or not he thought this petition would even be worth while / effective. He replied saying that he would contact someone at WIP/Greenhouse and see what they think. 10 minutes later he Emailed me back saying that he was told "it would go a long way", which means that every "signature" counts. The hearing is scheduled for Friday, so until then lets all make it a point to get as many people  to sign this petition as possible and to share it with everyone we know, thank you."

I have been pretty harsh on the players-to-be-named-later over there at W.i.P./Greenhouse, but anytime a club is closed because of the illegal actions of its patrons, I get confused. It’s like closing Kennedy Airport because the TSA caught some joker smuggling some blow or because a couple of schmoes duked it out on a long line. There were a lot of people making a living over there at those joints. I’m hoping that "were" gets changed to “are.”

 

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W.i.P in Turmoil as Artistic Visionary Stuart Braunstein Exits the Picture

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The Camelot that was W.i.P. is over. Stuart Braunstein, half of the creative crew in a joint centered around creativity, has split the club, leaving behind a trail of bad things to say, bitter regrets, and little else… even the art. According to Stuart, that art which has so wonderfully adorned the art-based club, is being removed today, probably as you read this. His partner Rony Rivellini remains and has been joined by man-about-town Thomas Moller. This story is moving very fast and has lots of moving parts but this is what I got in the last few days.

The core of the beef is the deteriorating relationship between W.i.P. co-owner Barry Mullineaux and Stuart. Stuart claims that "most of my days working for Barry were spent fighting for peoples’ money.” He referred to him as a "non-man" and other terms not appropriate for this family-read column. Stuart insists that he is leaving because he must continue to take the moral high ground and "will not stop doing the right thing.” One of the real sticking points was the damage to a sculpture by Adam Grant.

According to Stuart, all the art was to be insured, but management didn’t live up to their end of that basic requirement and refused to compensate Adam for the loss.  Adam committed suicide after the incident. Stuart would not lay that on Barry Mullineaux’s door, but the implication hovers like cigarette smoke in a pre-Bloomberg nightclub.

Another question left unanswered was whether the entire art installation concept was really a sham to get an expansion of the joint at the hip Greenhouse space approved by the community board. There are lots of accusations being thrown around and this promises to get hotter before cooler heads prevail. Since cool heads are rare at Greenhouse/W.i.P. this might get ugly.  But Thomas Moller is an experienced man-about-town and a gentleman and may prove capable of carrying on the Stuart Braunstein legacy.

I asked Stuart Braunstein what the heck was going on. 

Stuart, what the heck is going on?
The owners of the venue have split the creative team behind W.i.P up. A disconnect between mine and the management’s vision of W.i.P has been occurring for quite some time. The original plan was to change the entire room every five to six weeks in the same manner as galleries do. The owners never supported the plan financially, putting a severe strain on my relationship with the art community. My repeated requests and proposals to execute the plan were never allowed to come to fruition either due to lack of funding or shared passion for art.

In addition, the venue never took out insurance on the work. Several pieces were damaged or destroyed without compensation to the artists. A $40k sculpture by Adam Grant, a talented young artist, was broken in December. Despite repeated requests to make some sort of restitution, none ever came. Rony Rivellini will remain on board as the principle programmer of EMD. Timmy Regisford has invested in a state-of-the-art sound system, which promises to be the best in the city. Kimyon Huggins and Andrew Lockhart, who have worked with Stuart since the beginning, put together a plan for the future of W.i.P. It was turned down.

The work that is currently in W.i.P will be removed since it was entrusted to CH Creations, not W.i.P Management.  The paintings were by some of New York’s greats, Ronnie Curtone, Mike Cockgrill, Rick Prol, Walter Steding, Gaia, Dick Chicken, Spector, Kimyon Huggins, and more. There was at least $500,000 in work in the place; it had the ability to be epic. With Ben Devoe’s help (an artist employed by CH Creations), I financed and built the centerpiece at W.i.P. "The OZ Project" featured a three-dimensional head upon which images were projected, blowing people away. CH Creations would have changed the way that the club and art worlds came together and a lack of any vision from WIP’s management killed that dream. 

CH Creations has a new project in the works that will complete a circle from Collective Hardware to W.i.P. The last two projects were learning experiences, works in progress. The next piece will be a finished work of art. Finally, we will be working with professionals that share our common goals and artistic dreams, a first for the boys from CH Creations. We have had many forces working against our vision for so long… it’s going to feel great to have competent people on our side."

So who’s running the artistic side of it in your absence?
An artist by the name of Thomas Moller, a close friend of a new manager Frank Heidinger, has taken over the creative control of WIP. His first install consists of Brillo pads in the glass display case that is the bar top, replacing the beautiful jewelry by Rachel Brown, which was taken out cause the top of the bar was leaking and would not be fixed by management. Brillo pads are a good answer for an easy fix, just like how all things are handled at WIP. It makes sense to me that this is the direction they would go. I named it Work in Progress but it should now be called NP, No Progress.

How are you taking all this?
I’m in good spirits and relieved that I don’t have to deal with the small penny pinching pettiness of W.i.P management. I just finished my first feature film called Don Peyote with the folks at production company Studio 13 and a music video I directed called "Army of Slaves" for the band PUi just made it to MTV. 

I’m also currently working with Randy Fields to produce a film about Nico from The Velvet Underground. I’m working with Mark Baker; he is producing monthly installs at The Liberty Theater, the first of which was The Best Little Whorehouse in NY; a new one is happening in June. I’ve also just constructed the Highline Zoo with Jordan Betten from Lost Art that has been getting major press. Jordan and I are planning to host performances in the zoo during weekends for all the highline visitors.  I’ve decided to hold a Friday party. I’ll be DJing with Ashley Rae Perry at Danny Kane’s new spot Bishops and Barons, spinning a great mix of new and old cutting edge music for a clientele that is looking for something different. 

Don Hills Memorial Fiasco W.I.P.ped By No More Mr. Nice Guy

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Don’t even read this as I’m so frozen and tired and not ready for months of non-global warming. It’s on days like this that I want to call Al Gore personally and tell him to shut the fuck up! How cold is it? I saw a cabby having a conversation with a pedestrian and his middle finger froze. That’s cold and old.  

Yesterday, in my first post in this new year of the Dragon or Mayan or whatever deity you kneel to, I told you my New Year’s Resolution was "No More Mr. Nice Guy." I’m gonna lose some friends in this process, but Facebook says I have 5000 of those and I feel I can afford to lose a few. Since I am not going out and have nothing new to report on, I will rehash this feud surrounding the Don Hill Memorial fiasco. The players are Trigger who runs Continental, Lyle Derek who throws those Dropout parties over at W.I.P. on Tuesdays, and Michael Schmidt who used to run Squeezebox at Don Hills before he moved to the left coast and broke a thousand hearts. Musto over at the Village Voice has done a great job covering this and I’ve said a few words. My last article lambasted Lyle Derek, the target of numerous attacks from Trigger. Lyle and I have talked in person and I told him he screwed up. I do believe his batty-eyed, plead-of-innocence claim that he thought the Don Hills Memorial at Irving Plaza was going to sell out and his little prequel-end run wouldn’t matter. Some people contacted me saying I had sided with Trigger and that is not the case. Trigger was wronger than wrong and I’m here today to make that clear.
 
I have been swamped with terribly long and grammatically challenged e-mails, texts, facebook messages, and calls about this disaster for about 2 weeks now and I am here to tell you: it’s just lame. As far as I can tell from all the bull-poo sent my way, Trigger completely screwed up what should have been a wonderful night. He dominated, changed his word, miscalculated, badly promoted, and showed the world how not to do an event, and then after weeks of laying low, he began to point the finger at everyone else. People I love and trust tell me that the failure of this gala lays at his feet and you can punctuate this sentence anyway you want.
 
Trigger, it is a crime to take on a big challenge like this and fail so badly. It is a bigger crime to blame others for what you created. The captain goes down with the ship and the responsibility. The failure of this event comes from your attitude, which permeated the atmosphere of the production and promotion. Many people involved did so reluctantly or dropped off because of this atmosphere. You claim to be a great friend of Don’s and I do not doubt that, but your behavior was extremely un-Don Hill like.
 
Here is a quote from many that underscores how people involved felt about the event going in. The name has been left out, and not because they could ever feign innocence:
 
Trig sent everyone an e mail saying no one was to do covers as He, (Trigger) was playing covers… again very odd behavior for a promoter, to feature himself instead of, jesse Malin, Bebe Buell, Richard Butler, Dave Johansen, & Manitoba. he’d pissed off EVEYONE by this point. Most had agreed to just fucking play the two songs & forgo any payment after Triggers insane whining.
 
The show didn’t sell because the love wasn’t there. Don Hill was all about love. Your attitude sabotaged the good feelings, the vibe necessary for success in these types of endeavors. This memorial did not have a Don Hills vibe to it. It had a Trigger "5 shots of anything for $10" vibe.
 
Lyle Derek is no innocent. He did an atrocious thing stealing a bit of thunder from Trigger’s imperfect storm, but there is no way that his action throwing a pre-Don Hill event at his Dropout weekly event caused any real damage. You knew before that Tuesday night party that your Thursday affair was not getting traction. You sent out emails discussing lowering of performers’ fees in the event of low turn-out. I spoke to the honchos over at W.I.P. where Lyle had his pre-party. A few hundred of the "I never pay for anything types" attended. Your insistence that this in-crowd could have bailed you out is at best naive.
 
The Don Hill event at Irving Plaza was ill-conceived. Charging a crowd like the Squeezebox crew $35 or the $25 or even $10 is not going to happen. First of all, the Squeezeboxers who would pay would have come early to see many of the acts on the "early" bill. A 1:30am start time for a club event in a venue that has never been club-friendly was an awful idea. Throwing $6,000 at an awful idea is an awful idea. To blame the late-night debacle for your failure to generate buzz about an event that was such an easy sell is ridiculous and callous. I hung out with Lyle the other night and he has moved on; Michael Schmidt and all the players are to be paid later as well. Don Hill too. Time for you.
 
Lyle shouldn’t have done what he did, but you, Trigger, are way out of line blaming him for your own abject failure to generate real interest in an event that could have been so much realer. The vibe wasn’t right, and looking around for a scapegoat and then blaming and indeed threatening a club hustler like Lyle isn’t justified or in any way worthy of a real-deal player. Trigger, you played way out of your league and your continuous attacks only alienate you from the crowd you so seem to want to embrace.
 
Worst of all, you attacked Michael Schmidt, one of the nicest, most honest guys ever to grace our scene. Without knowing who you were talking about, you blasted him with words and phrases that crossed the line into libel. He warned you about his ability to draw late and with pays. He has lived 3,000 miles away for many years and told you he didn’t know how many people he would draw. In your own words:
 
all of Michaels concerns were valid and i knew intuitively that i’d never take in the 6 grand i had invested in the SB part of the night alone,  to honor Don but I had made other such moves for this night like flying Frankie Inglese in to DJ cause Beavher and Soul Kitchen were also such a huge part of Don Hills. There was no palpable return on that financially but it was my intention to make this a night to honor Don in every possible way and to be as inclusive of everyone as possible.
 
You also stated that one of the reasons you went public with these attacks was: "honestly I simply need to vent!"
 
So Trigger, you have vented to Michael Musto, to me, and to everyone who would listen. As each vent came, you sounded more and more like the real reason for your real mess. You didn’t understand that the legacy of Mr. Don Hill was to lead not to bully, to learn not blame, to make better not criticize, to love those who didnt understand how much you need to love. Don wouldn’t have been squealing to the press, pointing fingers, or counting pays on his fingers and his toes. He had many nights fail and many succeed. He took them all in stride. His legacy is too strong to be tarnished by your bad behavior. Buy yourself a mirror and look at it for a long time. Then, apologize to everyone and we will all move on. I can imagine you reading this and saying "Steve, I though you were my friend!" I am, Trigger, thats why I’m telling it to you straight. Don Hill was a man and Trigger, it’s time for you to man-up and, as I said to Al Gore up top … just shut the fuck up.
 
I am DJing Thursday at Hotel Chantelle or I wouldn’t leave the house. Maybe if I were out I’d check out this Caden Manson/ Big Art Opening at Abrons Arts Center Playhouse (466 Grand Street) Thursday night. It figures to be a hot enough crowd to keep me warm. Heather Litter invited me for the performance she is in of Broke House:
 
Broke House is a new group performance from Caden Manson / Big Art Group and follows a narrative about the residents of a house and their hanger-on, once a documentary filmmaker arrives to capture their lives. On a skeletal set webbed with video cameras, the characters try to recall their given roles as inevitably the foundations of their dreams collapse, and they are thrown into the desert of their own futures. Part comedy, part ritual, part love spell.
 
I hope their landlord gives them heat in that Broke House.

Four Years Later: Remembering Michael Jackson Tonight and Forever

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Yesterday, the streets were filled with people with pride and I was proud to live in a city that has traveled so far since I was a youth. Sure there’s a long road ahead, but yesterday the past I grew up in seemed as long ago as Howdy Doody. I was happy that W.i.P. got reopened for Susanne Bartsch and Kenny Kenny’s Gay Pride party. It will be interesting to see if W.i.P. stays open. I wish I had made it to the Mermaid and Gay pride parades but, alas, I was torn to many other elsewhere’s and must do’s. I did manage to get to the roof of the Standard with interior design icon Karen Daroff and her son Robert. Although it was dead summer and "the" crowd wasn’t supposed to be around, we found wonder in this wonderful place. I texted the manager Emily Rieman after, thanking her for her and the entire staffs’ brilliant hospitality. I told her Le Bain was an "oasis of classy fun in a world of soccer-hooligan saloons.”

Earlier in the evening we caught Lady Rizo’s act over at The Darby. It was classic songs sung with intelligence and grace over coffee, dessert, and some Beau Joie Champagne. We glad-handed all the unusual suspects before hoofing it west to Andre Balaz’ anything-but-standard oasis, dodging desperate suburban youth being hustled by bottle hosts at the joints along the way.

Tonight, after BINGO at the Bowery Poetry Club and after the Inked Magazine soiree at Lit Lounge, me and mine will head over to The Darby for The Fourth Annual Remember The Time Michael Jackson Tribute.

On the night of the day Michael Jackson died, we all headed to the clubs for some sort of reconciliation and grasp on the situation. Some use the expression "it will all come clear with the light of day" and I guess for many things light works, but for some concepts only the dark will help. Many tried to find answers by looking at the bottom of newly-emptied shot glasses…others in the eyes or chatter of friends or strangers. I got an education from DJ Cassidy at 1OAK. Tonight he’ll do it again, offering a barrage of Michael and I won’t miss it.

The day after Michael Jackson died I wrote a piece. It may be a little short on the facts we later learned, as it was written in the confusion of the tabloid headlines and lingering grief of the next morning, but it describes my mood and the love of precious life I found at 1OAK the night before.

Blackbook Magazine Goodnight Mr Lewis, June 26, 2009:

Michael Jackson: The Best Club Songs Ever

An autopsy may reveal it was pills or something similar that shut Michael Jackson down, but the heart really gave out because it once was loved by the whole world and wasn’t anymore. My emotions roller-coastered through a day of death and rumor. A great sadness consumed me as allegations and innuendo, tributes and music bombarded me through open windows and closed doors. From beat box radios and every TV in the neighborhood, I was told to remember, condemn, forgive, or just listen. The complexity of understanding the meaning of Michael Jackson’s death personally and on that grander scale became harder by the hour. I was enlightened by Jesse Jackson, Quincy Jones, Cher, Paul McCartney, and even Celine Dion. Everybody except Elizabeth Taylor was getting into the act — it is an act we and they will find impossible to follow.

From the point of view that I write about – the never neverland of clubs – Michael Jackson’s passing immortalizes the best songs I’ve ever heard on a dance floor. The music will live on as pure and wondrous and as perfect as the man himself was confusing. I won’t dwell on the bawdy stuff; plenty of others will milk that cow. I’ll just say flat out that "Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough" or maybe "Billie Jean" are the best songs I’ve ever heard a DJ offer. To this day they still blow a dance floor up.  Years ago, there were Michael Jackson club rumors. Some claim that he visited from time to time, unrecognizable in prosthetic makeup or with a face wrapped in scarves. The only place I know he went for sure was Studio 54. I asked Carmen D’Alessio about Michael at Studio 54, and she told me, "I of course remember him coming to Studio, 33 years ago. He was a kid releasing his first album. As the VIP hostess, I met everyone my dear, and I do recall clearly a 17-year-old Michael Jackson. He was nice and friendly, and I remember thinking he was very good looking." A quick Wikipedia read finds Michael listed first in a list of Studio 54 attendees. He led over Nureyev, Mick and Bianca, Elton John, Truman Capote, Mae West, Gloria Swanson, Jackie Onassis, and Elizabeth Taylor. Ironically, fair Farrah Fawcett was also listed.

I went to 1OAK, as a tribute was hastily put together with superstar DJ Cassidy only playing M.J. hits to a packed house of the beautiful. O’Neal McKnight danced and lip-synched to tunes, and Robin Thicke sang "Human Nature" in tribute. Cassidy asked over the mic, "Michael, why did we lose you this night?" When I arrived I was skeptical, thinking the idea of this tribute was almost cheesy — and it might have been if not for the sincere efforts by the 1OAK family. We were swept up in Michael’s massive talent as every single impeccably-produced tune held the packed house and dance floor. What other artist could have a catalog of songs that would hold a floor for hours?

I stood with Scott Sartiano and Ronnie Madra surrounded by a stunning and smart crowd. Sparklers announced bottles, and Cassidy offered, "We are here to celebrate the music and the life of Michael." The crowd roared and the waitrons poured, and I became a corny mush. I thought of the immense sadness that must have been consuming him at his end. I wondered if he indeed had just ended it, if he indeed had stopped cause he had enough. I thought of that traffic song, "The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys" — the lyrics, "If you just had one minute to breathe and they granted you one final wish, would you ask for something like another chance? Or something similar as this, don’t worry so much it will happen to you as sure as your sorrows or joys."

I wondered what Michael would have done with another chance. What would he have changed? What did he want that he, with all the fame and riches, never got? "We Wanna Be Starting Something" whipped the beautiful crowd into a frenzy, and the scope of our loss drove me to leave and find some summer air. It’s impossible to measure the wattage of the light that went out yesterday.

I remember watching James Brown’s funeral on TV and seeing Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton manipulate a frail Michael to the mic for a speech that was brilliant and eye-opening. He eloquently spoke of the soul icon’s love, contributions, and forgiveness as the Brown estate vultures loomed all around. The world that seemed to be tearing him apart will now fight for his bones, and it won’t be short or pretty. None of them will stop until they get enough, yet Michael Jackson’s life and much-talked about excesses leave us with a great lesson.

Is there ever enough? Can you ever stop? Is it human nature not to be happy with what you have and to keep pushing and fighting till the heart eventually bursts? If there is anything I’ve learned, it’s that all you have can be torn from you in an instant.

Rest in peace, Michael Jackson.

The Legendary Debbie Harry Will Host Dropout’s Fashion Week Party

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A smart, sharp, beautiful, successful friend asked me where she could entertain her out-of-towners. Not knowing anything about these tourists I sent her a list of the A-List places. This list included joints as diverse as The Darby, Avenue, Provocateur, Electric Room, Le Bain, Le Baron, and W.i.P. There are of course many other choices and places closer to the edge but as I said they are strangers in a strange land and these felt safe to recommend. After describing each place in a couple of sentences they opted for W.i.P. W.i.P. is satisfying the needs of a downtown art/fashion/mixed crowd that had been forsaken for so long. Their Tuesday night soiree’ Dropout continues to service the Post Jackie 60 scene. Tomorrow night in honor of Fashion Week they are offering up the amazing Debbie Harry. I caught up with Dropout honcho and man-about-town Lyle Derek and asked him all about it.

What does it mean to you/Dropout to have Debbie host this Fashion Week party?
Debbie is in a class all on her own by her doing this show for us. It confirms yet again how cool she is. Debbie is giving back to New York nightlife culture. With some of these pop stars that pretend to care about the NY scene and the underdogs, Debbie put her money where her mouth is and she doesn’t have to keep proving anything to anyone. We all know some of these girls can sell out the Garden, but what is really cool and a real feat in my book is doing small club gigs and keeping NY alive and exciting. Since we announced Debbie’s show we have gotten hundreds of emails from people saying how much this means to them to get a chance to see one of their heroes in an intimate setting like this. She is the real deal – not only one of the best pop song writers, but one of the sweetest people in show business.

Debbie is a rock icon/star. How do you interact with her? How hard is it to be a friend without the cloud of celebrity?
Debbie and I met when I was in film school, while I was producing the documentary about the legendary ’90s nightclub SqueezeBox, and we have remained friends. She makes me feel totally comfortable because she is so human and so real. Her beauty is the only thing [that’s] a little spooky. I mean that face! She is even more stunning in the flesh!

How did the Dropout concept begin?
Dropout was an idea that my pal from Texas – filmmaker Jonathan Caouette – and famed Dutch actor Noah Valentyn had. We wanted a new party that celebrated live performance and what New York City was when we started it almost a couple years ago. We did it at Don Hill’s, and there was nothing like that going on. Noah Valentyn came up with the name and we all created a night from the heart. Jonathan’s new movie took him to France and then sadly Don passed away and Don’s closed. We were shocked when we discovered our little art party had captured the imagination of the city and of the club worlds as we got calls from six club owners to move it to a new venue.

How did end up at W.i.P.?
We held off for a bit as most club owners do not support parties like these and don’t see the big picture of what this could grow into. The only owners in town in my book that get that are Barry M. and Noah Tepperberg, but none of Noah’s clubs have stages and we couldn’t do the party without a stage. Barry wanted the party and said he would put a stage for our nights and we started back up at W.i.P a few months ago and it was the best move we made. It was our first time working with Barry, and he cares about NY nightlife the way we do, and after our first meeting we were sold. His new venue W.i.P. was one of the best; Noah Valentyn and I discovered and it being new and fresh and letting us have a stage was the right fit. Stu [Braunstein] was also someone we worked with in the past and he gives W.i.P. a sick gallery of artwork and that helped make Dropout the perfect venue, ’cause Don Hill’s was a hard place to replace with its stage and feel. Barry also gives us the resources to bring on our hosts from Don Hill’s: the cool Darian Darling, Kiss, and Tommy Hottpants, and some new ones like recent PS1 curator Tim Goossens, upcoming designer John Renaud, and cutting edge art producer Michelle Tillou. And one of the best club DJs in New York ever: Miss Guy! Guy is one of our close friends and gave us the idea for a mannequin DJ back at Don Hills when we started because we couldn’t afford a real DJ! It was our way of downsizing. So having Guy on board to DJ was key and all that helped the night in blowing up. New York is very excited about this party cause we are giving artists an outlet they didn’t have otherwise ,and there is a real scene and community happening like many folks haven’t seen in a decade. We get calls from bands everyday – well known and new young artists that want the chance to play in front of an audience that celebrates new music and risk-takers. Artists feel safe coming to play Dropout and that why it works so well.

Dropout is really growing and has already garnished a great reputation. There is a lot going on these days – mostly good in nightlife. Have we turned a corner? Is nightlife back?
I think we have for sure turned a corner for the better and this show with Debbie Harry on Tuesday, which will also feature guest DJ Nick Zinner and a debut music video for the Miss Guy album, out next month. It will go down in the books as a night that helped spark a true happening – the kind you only have in New York City!

How The Club Handled The Chris Brown-Drake Brawl

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Everyone is asking me about the Chris Brown/Drake thing at W.i.P. I’ve taken enough pot shots at the changing scene over there. I won’t further the gossip about how the seating was done, despite warnings to management not to do it like that. The ensuing brawl, I am told, was "inevitable.” Multiple sources told of the seating "roped off the way it was resembled a boxing ring.” I won’t talk about the report of a young gal needing and getting multiple stitches but reportedly not being helped by club security. My source said "she got 16 of them.” A couple of people talked of art by photog Scott Alger valued at 10K+ being destroyed. One employee texted me that "it was late on a good night and that Mary J. had left and it was all good"…until it wasn’t. They added: "it isn’t nearly as rough as Sunday". Since the NY Post and the big news organizations are all talking about this, and me and those W.i.P./Greenhouse guys are getting along after a bit of a rough spell… there is no need for me to even mention it.

Man-about-town Terry Casey will be celebrating his gazillionth birthday at La Zarza, that wonderful little spot on First Avenue and 10th Street. This is turning out to be a big deal, not because it’s Terry’s birthday – God knows he’s had lots of those – but because of the talented DJs who will be on hand. Stephen Luke the LIV Miami resident will join Xander Phoenix and innovative DJ Kris Graham. Kris was one of the originators of the now-everywhere House Music brunches. Back in 2002 Kris was doing Diva on West Broadway and joined forces with Roberto Burchielli who helped bring the European programming to Provocateur

Travertine Blowup Brings Out the Lawyers, Mark Baker Swims with Dolphins

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So this Travertine/XIX piece I posted Friday seems to have stirred the pot. I think that metaphor is a little weak — it was more like the chubby kid doing a cannonball and drenching the sunbathers by the pool. There’s even a lawyer involved now, although who he represents isn’t clear to me. The weekend was spent conversing through various media with the players involved.

Mark Baker is out in Bali working on some events and swimming with dolphins. Actually, the last correspondence had him too upset to swim with dolphins. Ruben Rivera is off working at W.I.P. and planning moves that will eventually have him on top of the nightlife world. Owner Danae Cappelletto communicated with me via Facebook, which indicates she is back in Australia. So this conversation involves people in exotic Australia, Bali, Lower East Side, and Williamsburg. Now that’s sexy.

Danae was very upset with me, but I gave her the "don’t shoot the blogger" rap, and she apologized and said she was going to send me her side of things today for publication. I did get a letter from a lawyer for "Travertine LLC":

… we insist that you immediately remove the article from your web site and then issue a public retraction.

Had your staff done even a minimal level of fact checking before printing the unfounded and libelous accusations, you would have learned that the content of the article is false. Mr. Rivera, who as his own agenda, resigned from his position in advance of his imminent dismissal for unprofessional conduct and a matter that is being investigated. His quotes are merely the ramblings of a disgruntled, former associate.

Your reported insinuations about Travertine are not only untrue, but have caused and continue to cause damages to Travertine. Worse still, by being a conduit for the public defamation of Travertine, you are effectively interfering with the ongoing operation of the Travertine business.

Danae wasn’t talking lawsuit; she was just asking for her piece to be posted in the interest of clarification. So who knows who’s behind this letter.

Mark Baker has told me he has decided to get out of the project. He seems to be taking the high road here. I love Mark and have always known him to try his best to be a gentleman. I hope he and Ruben kiss and make up. Ruben is out and working and happy. Emails and texts from him are focused on the future and a lesson-learned attitude. I asked Mark if his partner Artan Gjoni was also out. He replied that he hadn’t spoken to him in a few days: "He’s obviously upset surprised and as confused as I am."

Mark wanted to clarify that Ruben quit. I thought that was clear. It said it right up top, first paragraph: "We learn that main man Ruben Rivera has quit and moved over to W.i.P". This is a game of "he said, she said," and as I pointed out to Danae, if everyone would just stop talking to me, I would have nothing to say.

Mark Baker issued his own statement for publication:

Hi steve … After having this distress on my mind for 2 days now I want to respond..so "After reading the piece about XIX steve, I feel there are a couple of things that need to be clarified..I would never normally have this dialogue in a public forum as its just not necessary and usually gets misunderstood., but I have to address your piece as it was incomplete not entirely accurate and insinuated that ruben was kicked out of the deal..WRONG. To start with artan and I were asked to come in by the investor to revamp and relaunch the reataurant and club after a renovation. Artan and ruben to be the 2 lead owner-operators and me in supporting and marketing role…. This was to take place during january and re open for february..we were forming a partnership between us and the current owner was to step aside from operations .BUT , there was so much bad blood between ruben and the current owner dustin, we (artan and I ) tried to bring everyone together to work together , but the daily fights and mistrust between them was insane and apparantly irreparable, I advised ruben to take a break and come back energised and fresh so he could be the partner and operator he always wanted to be.. get his commission on the sale and own a piece of the venue, the attorneys were drawing up the contracts on dec 30th !! On jan 3rd ruben announced he was quiting and would pull the promoters out and sabotage the deal. I guess he just didn’t want to deal with the current owner anymore…he had had enough.. .Let’s be quite clear on THE FACTS… Ruben was NOT pushed out of the deal .. HE QUIT OF HIS OWN FREE WILL.. While we were drawing up a management contract for HIM,ARTAN and MYSELF… He walked away from it and was not cut out of anything.

The whole thing stinks and everyone looses.ruben expects everyone to quit also and walk away or everyone is" NOT LOYAL" .. The staff, the promoters artan me and everyone has to "quit" because ruben has.. I think its crazy as there is always a middle road and ruben for once could have owned his own place, albeit with partners.. Well..welcome to the real world of nitelife where everyone has to have partners.. And you have to work with them and compromise.. Everyone else has to anx does…. That’s life. "My way or the highway" doesn’t work. So EVERONE looses here, I have decided to step away from the deal also at this moment as its just too much drama.. And we don’t want to upset ruben do we.. That’s my piece…. How sad. Could have been great.

The space is still great and most of the players are as well. I suggest that a real-deal sit-down is in order when everyone can be gathered in the same hemisphere. Mark Baker is a gentleman, as is Artan. I have always found Ruben to be wonderful and more than capable. He was doing very well by any standards in a small basement lounge after the restaurant failed. He kept that place afloat and was anxious to continue with Mark and Artan running the restaurant above. Then, this implosion happened. Danae is a sweetheart and a great chef who isn’t the first operator to have a problem getting traction with a restaurant in NYC. We await her statement and are aware of the time differences. Mark Baker and I have been talking as he is getting up and I am crashing and vice versa. He’s swimming with dolphins while apparently some people want me swimming with fishes. Déjà vu all over again.

Tuesdays Rock: See Two Bad Girls and Legendary Photographer Mick Rock’s Exhibit Tonight

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Yesterday I told you guys that Tuesdays in this town are off the hook. I can never decide between Frankie Sharp’s Westgay party at Westway and Lyle Derek’s Dropout bash at W.i.P. Westgay is beyond, beyond for those who are in the know –  and I guess that now includes you. Tonight, resident DJ maniac Jon Jon Battles is joined by JD Samson. Amanda Lepore is there as well doing…well, Amanda Lepore things. Lyle Derek has Lady Starlight at W.i.P. in her first live show in …well…ever. There will be a DJ set by CREEP.  I just must be there or there but alas, I will be elsewhere.

I’ll be DJing tonight at Avenue from 12:30 until 1:30 and I am pumped. Avenue is a great place to spin, from a DJ perspective. The professionalism of Tao/Strategic Group organization manifests itself on every level, including a user-friendly DJ booth and a staff that enjoys helping you feel comfy on every level. DJ Price will take my humble offerings to the next level. He will entertain me and everyone else in the always-packed-with-a fun-crowd room while I work the room after saying "hey" to not- seen-enough friends. I’ll buy a couple bottles of Beau Joie Champagne, as bubbles are always fun. I don’t drink very often but do adore that bubbles and sparklers combo. It makes me want to shout "Wheeee!" On the invite for tonight, I got a relatively huge billing over DJ Price, an apparent nod to age before talent.
 
Amanda Lepore
 
I will be in a seriously fabulous mood because, before all that mayhem, I will be at the wonderful The Bowery Electric (327 Bowery @ Joey Ramone Place, 2nd Street), at 8pm, to catch two bad girls I’ve never been cool enough to catch. It’s Zoe Hansen and Mary Raffaele presenting TWO BAD GIRLS (GOOD BAD), described as "A Night of Rock and Roll Attitude and Outlaw Hilarity" featuring readings and performances by REVEREND JEN,PAULINA PRINCESS OF POWER,MARY "RAFF" RAFFAELE, ZOE HANSEN, HEATHER LITTEER aka JESSICA RABBIT, FACEBOY, THE PRETTY BABIES (FEATURIING MONY FALCONE, LINDA PITMON, DEBBY SCHWARTZ, TAMMY FAYE STARLITE, JASON VICTOR), HANDSOME DICK MANITOBA with JP "Thunderbolt" PATTERSON, on percussion (Mr. Manitoba’s first ever, onstage, public "RANT!")"
 
Zoe says:
"This night has been a constant work in progress between Raff & myself. We wanted to not only have a reading, but a show. A tribute to the New York EV life, & years gone by, literature, comedy, burlesque with a splash of Rock N Roll all over it. We wanted real talent, which is most of our good friends, so it was hard deciding who we could scramble together to fit in on our bill. I am honored to say that we are truly proud of our all star line up. Raff & I promise you a real outlaw, loud, music inspired, hilarious bunch of performances, really entertaining, & all you have to do is just show up!"
I asked Raffaele a few questions:
 
Tell me about the event.
Zoe and I wanted to put together an event that would showcase our own talents as well as our friends’. We are writers primarily, but watching a series of people read off of pages can be dead-boring, so we decided to mix it up. We have a stellar line-up of very interesting, creative people who will be singing, performing spoken word, and doing plays, and we’ll have one really fun band. I am honestly excited about the people we’ve chosen and I’m glad I’m going on first so I can focus on really watching what they’re doing. I am really proud of all of the acts.
 
Tell me about our dear friend Zoe.
Zoe is my partner in crime: she calls me Patsy, I call her Eddy. She is whip-smart, super-creative, and very hard-working. She can do absolutely anything she puts her mind to. With her, anything is possible. I am very slow-moving in certain ways and Zoe is very good at lighting a fire under my ass. Plus, she’s easy on the eyes and no matter what kind of trouble we are in, she always makes the adventures seem classier with her accent.
 
I"ve always seen you as a rock star, always been a fan of Cycle Sluts From Hell. Tell me about that career and the other one with Patricia Fields.
I prefer being seen as a rock star! I got into daytime work after working in clubland for many years. Giuliani broke my heart – it was just too hard to continue trying to fight the good fight for decent nightlife. I was tired of getting screamed at at 2am by random task force fruit fly police, so I moved into day jobs. I have been with Pat for about 10 years; I take care of the money-end of things for her. But I am leaving in two months – I want more time to write a book and I burnt out on office work. It is an amicable parting and I’m helping them to find someone new and I will train the person, as my position is complicated. I am probably going to get back behind the bar. I’ve already started doing a Friday happy hour at Bowery Electric in preparation for my departure.
 
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Mick RockAs if this evening were not already too packed with wonderment, legendary photographer of all things rocked and rolled Mick Rock will show for the first time ever his artwork, "based on his iconic rock ‘n’ roll photographs… The show is presented by CATM Chelsea with a private after-party to follow."  The "expected to attend" list includes Mick and friends " Lou Reed, Todd DiCiurcio (Artist), Scot Lipps (Owner, One Management), Amanda Ross, Chelsea Leyland (DJ), Ben Pundole, John & Joyce Varvatos, Timothy White (Photographer), Alberta Cross (Band), Gary Graham (Designer), Paul Johnson Calderon (Reality TV Star), Michael H., Nur Khan, Mazdack Rassi (Founder, Milk Studios), Rebecca Dayan (Model), Clem Burke (Blondie), Tennessee Thomas (Actress, Drummer for The Like), As Light Takes Over (Band), The Ravonettes, Cory Kennedy (Model), Jessica White, (Model, Actress), Jamie & Daisy Johnson (Daughters of Jets Owner)".
 
 
It’s a 7pm to 9pm thing at 500 West 22nd Street at 10th Avenue. If you don’t know who Mick Rock is, this is a good time to find out. Chances are you have seen his brilliant work on album covers and such for decades. Yeah, he was the guy who took that Bowie/Ziggy Stardust shot and that one of Iggy you thought brilliant, that Blondie photo, and thousands of others – one more iconic than the next.  It’s 40 years recording and making rock history. Look him up. He Googles well.

Saying Good Night to 2011

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2011 rushes into history taking some notable strangers, a few friends, and some cherished concepts with it. I can’t complain about the way it treated me because it seemed to have treated a whole world of people worse. The world seems harder and more dangerous and less forgiving than in years past. Every minor conflict that we were worried about seems to have been worth the worry. The news is rarely good news and we seem to be accepting mediocrity as a nation. A recent trip to Virginia took me past town after town of similar malls and cookie cutter architecture. My New Year’s resolution is simply to still give a damn.

Nightlife has become more of a means to escape for most. There are still wonderfully creative and ambitious people pushing the envelope — celebrating creativity, but a solid decade of reality TV has unfortunately exposed us to our reality. "Boob tube" used to describe the instrument, when now it clearly describes those who find escape or answers or life watching it. I will be out and about tomorrow night popping in here and there, seeing the sights, kissing cheeks and telling bad jokes. I will DJ the last desperate hour of 2011 and a few moments of the virginal 2012 at Goldbar before heading into the streets where I always find comfort.

My first stop will be Stash, my wonderful creation on 14th and 8th. It is now ready for prime time players, and I will gather with a few friends and owner Matthew Isaacs for a toast to what was and what could be. It’s intimate, colorful confines will do the trick. I will miss GaGa at Times Square for the ball drop and probably Debby Harry at The Boom Boom Room (yes I still call it that). Nur Khan’s soiree at Casa Le Femme might catch me passing through for a second as I believe that the celebrators there will be gorgeous and fabulous. These terms are often mutually exclusive. That is a concept sometimes misunderstood in nightlife. W.I.P. seems to be a place to be with legendary producer Scram Jones Djing. If I am still awake I will head to Pacha for the tomorrow it always delivers. Pacha always is fantastic on New Years Eve. Webster Hall as well. If size actually matters (and I do thank God everyday that it does), these two joints are answers to your what-to-do? questions.

If you still don’t know where to go to find your place in the universe maybe it is best not to do it. The desperation of New Year’s Eve is sometimes a downer. Get some sleep and gather with friends for breakfast. If you must hit the streets realize that most places have been rented out until 2am with four-, five- and six-hour open bars as part of the package. By 2am there will be millions of not-so-hot messes walking and driving. Subways are reliable, packed and therefore safe at all hours. I tell everyone to hire a car and driver from your local car service for your peak hours. They charge 40 to 50 bucks but will wait for you anywhere and whisk you around and take you home safely. Split this with a few friends and it’s very affordable. Taxis will not be an answer. Places like Lit and White Noise, which are essentially mom and pop operations — saloons run by saloon keepers with panache — will often be the best place to enjoy the ride. They will be affordable and usually controllable. Anything goes in the big clubs, and if you don’t believe me ask any experienced security worker or company operator. They dread NYE.

Be careful, have fun and most of all don’t try to pack a whole years worth of partying into a single evening. Carry hand warmers and power bars and a small bottle of water. Stash some extra cash and only use it for an emergency. I worry about you.