Downtown Celebrities Gather for Mudd Club Tribute

Mudd Club Rummage Sale for the Bowery Mission at the Roxy
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We’re generally not given to New York nostalgia. The best way forward, surely, is not going backwards. But history marks out monumentality – i.e. the Renaissance, the Golden Age of Hollywood…and also a time when NYC nightlife was both a refuge and incubator for the most creative talents in the entire universe.

The Mudd Club, which ran from 1978 to 1981, epitomized that anarchic, anything-is-possible ethos. And Thursday night, may of those who were there, and many of those who wouldn’t be here without it, gathered for the Mudd Club Rummage Sale at Tribeca’s Roxy Hotel – not to pay sentimental tribute, but to honor the life force that emanated from one of Gotham’s greatest and most thought provoking nightspots ever (and also to raise money for The Bowery Mission). Co-founder Eric Goode, Downtown music legend Lenny Kaye, Blondie’s Deborah Harry and Chris Stein, journalist Leggs McNeil, artist Roy Nachum, as well as Tavi Gevinson, Tara Subkoff, Kate Pierson, and BlackBook’s own Hunter Hill were there to represent everything that was, and hopefully will still be, great and inimitable about the city’s creative spirit.


Mudd Club Rummage Sale for the Bowery Mission at the Roxy

Mudd Club Rummage Sale for the Bowery Mission at the Roxy

Mudd Club Rummage Sale for the Bowery Mission at the Roxy

Mudd Club Rummage Sale for the Bowery Mission at the Roxy

Mudd Club Rummage Sale for the Bowery Mission at the Roxy

Nine Ways To Switch Up Your ‘Friendsgiving’ Dinner

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Okay, sure – Thanksgiving dinner seems just fine the way it is. But haven’t you ever thought to yourself, Candied yams??? Again???

And especially for those doing “Friendsgiving,” it’s your chance to break free of the chains of tradition, those that have kept you for years from complaining about dry, boring stuffing and banal green beans. So we tapped into the epicurean acumen of Gourmet Garage founders Andy Arons and Adam Hartman (whose products have been jazzing up Thanksgiving tables since they opened their first store in Soho back in 1992 – and who have recently opened a splashy new outpost in Tribeca) for a few flavorful new twists on the annual feast.


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Something Different To Do With The Turkey

Every year we try to offer an alternative to a traditional turkey dinner through our catering kitchen. This year we’ve had a lot of interest in Asian cuisine, so we’re offering an Asian Spiced Turkey fully cooked and ready to heat. To cook at home from scratch, there’s a great recipe from Epicurious that is similar to ours.


An Alternative To Traditional Stuffing

Our Chef, Georges Masraff, makes a wonderful gluten free stuffing. We get so many requests for gluten free products these days, we thought it would be a good idea to offer a stuffing for the holidays that would fit into that type of diet. Food Network also has a great recipe for it.


Something To Serve Your Vegetarian Guests

There’s the obvious vegetarian lasagna and tofurky. But a favorite from our catering menu is vegan quinoa loaf with a spiced carrot ginger sauce.


Something To Drink For Those Who Don’t Do Alcohol

PlanTea is brand new and delicious. And a new local product called Cham is incredibly good, brewed with imported Greek chamomile leaves. If your guests do drink alcohol but don’t want the hangover, we highly recommend the new Spiked Seltzer drinks.


An Interesting New Salad Suggestion

We’ve done amazing things with Satur Farms salads, which customers have loved. You can choose your own salad components and create your own mix, then pair with a simple homemade vinaigrette. We like a blend of the hearty and flavorful leaves like frisee, arugula and tatsoi, an Asian green. Satur Farms is on the North Fork of Long Island and owned by our good friends Paulette Satur and her husband Eberhard Mueller, who was the Exec Chef at Le Bernardin and then owned Lutece. They are all about the flavor and freshness, our favorite local farmers.


A Good Alternative Side Dish To Mashed Or Sweet Potatoes

People love the traditional, but we like to add a side of root vegetables for a little variety and color. Parsnips blended with golden beets and Jerusalem artichokes has been a very popular choice.


A New Way To Prepare The Cranberries

Last year’s big hit was a spiced cranberry-clementine relish. Add serrano peppers and their seeds, and whip it up in a food processor.


A New Take On Dessert 

It’s fun to take the traditional and give it your own spin. We’ve tried pumpkin pie with fresh ginger blended in; or cranberry-agave shortbread.


Spice Up Traditional Dishes

We find that by challenging our imaginations and adding one or two new ingredients to the traditional menu, it gives an exciting twist to the meal. Try adding maple glazed bacon crumbles to the yams, or edamame to a traditional succotash recipe. It’s a great way to modernize traditional favorites and keep everyone happy.


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Iconic Mudd Club Experience to be Revived at New Roxy Hotel

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Photography: © Marcia Resnick from her new book, “Punks, Poets and Provocateurs”

This Thursday, everybody who’s anybody will gather at the new Roxy Hotel, 2 Avenue of the Americas, to relive the Mudd Club experience. The event, put together by former Mudd Club owner Steve Mass, will benefit the Bowery Mission Women’s Center and feature co-hosts Glenn O’brien, Maripol and my pal Paul Sevigny.

Paul, who’s Paul’s Baby Grand is the best joint in town, no comparison, no debate, usually avoids the spotlight, but he enthusiastically told me all about this event. I asked him why he was involved and he spoke to me in his usual “one hundred words per second with an in-between chuckle” manner. He said something like this: “Everybody knows the Mudd Club was the best place ever. Even Donald Trump would say that. Everybody says it. My father went there and told me all about it.He said it was the best place ever.”

Maybe it was. When nightlife writers offer those “best clubs ever” lists, the Mudd is always top tier. The host committee includes Victoria Bartlett, Richard Boch, Jeffery Deitch, Eric Goode, Kim Gordon, Deborah Harry, Kim Hastreiter, David Herskovitz, Darryl Kerrigan, Humberton Leon, Debbi Mazar, Patrick McMullan, Robert Molnar, Lisa Rosen, Lola Montes Schnabel, Kate Simon, Anna Sui, threeASFOUR and Linda Yablonsky. There will be live performances by Kate Pierson and Pat Irwin of the B-52’s and Lenny Kaye of the Patti Smith Group. Special unannounced guests are also promised and I think its going to be historical. Tickets are $200 and can be purchased here.


I shouldn’t have ever been allowed into the Mudd Club—I was’t that cool, but my friend’s drug dealer was there and we had to meet him; he got us in and I’d never seen anything like it. I worked every angle and every connection to be part of it, until suddenly, I was. I don’t know why I was chosen, but the door people saw something in me that I wasn’t aware of and years later when I was at the doors of my clubs I looked at the unlikely with more forgiving eyes.

The music from David Azark, Anita Sarko, Johnny Dynell and Justin Strauss was everything I ever needed and little that I had ever expected. Steve Mass and his cohorts curator Diego Cortez and no wave scenester Anya Philips were always changing the game—the look, the feel, the sound.  It was an era when you didn’t need to know what was going on. You came for the club and crow—not the famed DJ of the moment.

The girls were all “it” girls and the dudes cooler than any I  knew back in Queens. I’d say “hi” to Keith Haring; I’d chat up a distraught Jonny Lydon in the bathroom, I watched a stadium level rock star have sex, not in a corner, but right there in the light of night; I scored with women way out of my league; I’d leave and come back, rinse and repeat. I was always confused whether I was cool and therefore allowed into the nightclub or cool simply because I got into the nightclub.

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I never slept again; I had most meals within walking distance of the White Street joint. I slept with a different person every night. It destroyed me; it made me. Suddenly, I had to get upstairs, since that was where everyone in my world clamored to be. Chi Chi Valenti womened the ropes and my best clothes didn’t work. I couldn’t sneak in with a more worthy person, so I dressed the way I dressed normally: ripped jeans, Keds and a Ramones tee. I brought a perfect red rose and bowed my head as I acknowledged the goddess Chi Chi, and I was hooked in nightlife forever. That was the moment when I became Steve Lewis and Chi Chi always laughs when I remind her.

Richard Boch, one of the door persons who let me in, described the Mudd to me: “I’ve always referred to the Mudd Club as the ‘scene of the crime’—always meant as a term of endearment. It was the night that never ended, the day before never happened and the day after—a long way off. There was nothing else like it and I wound up right in the middle.”

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Richard and all the other door people were curators of a mixed bag of nuts that included a sprinkling of celebrities: Bowie, Lauren Hutten, Basquiet, Debbie Harry, Alan Ginsbug—you get the idea. The fashion designers were there, the rockstars, the hookers, the druggies and the pretty ones. The door people had to be ruthless; for every person that got in, three or four did not, yet when you got to know them they were the sweetest of souls. If I close my eyes I can see Marianne Faithfull singing through Laryngitis, while I balanced another rock star who was standing on my shoulders and hanging onto a pole.

The Mudd Club experience is also a Rummage Sale, featuring the coolest downtown things all donated by the coolest of downtown royalty to help the Bowery Mission. I think it’s going to be the downtown event of the year and that’s saying a lot. The generation that made Mudd and Danceteria and Area don’t gather en masse very often, but when they do watch out. They know how to party like it’s 1979.

Some fortune cookie once said, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Well, photographer Marcia Resnick has been snapping thousands of pictures for a minute or so, and offered us these words: “The Mudd Club years were enchanted, endangered and unrepeatable.”

Gareth Emery on the Sold-out, New York Launch of his ‘Electric For Life’ Tour

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Just a day ahead of his Terminal 5 gig this Saturday, English producer and DJ Gareth Emery can confirm the show’s pretty much sold out. This is a major feat for the progressive trance artist who’s rapidly earned a top-roost status for his melodic and uplifting interpretation of EDM. The Saturday show in New York is also the official launch of his Electric For Life tour and will precede stops in both Los Angeles and London.

“I’ve never played Terminal 5 before, so I absolutely cannot wait for the show,” he marveled to BlackBook in a pre-concert exclusive. “It’s sold out, so [there] will be an absolutely incredible atmosphere.”

(For those who missed out on tickets, he’ll be at Pacha tonight for a pre-party).

Emery’s four-hour set promises to pack a punch, though the larger venue is a departure for the DJ as a solo act in New York.

“I’m playing an all night set [with] lots of different genres,” he explained. “EFL represents the best of electronic music—it’s a celebration.”

The Road to EFL, a sold-out, warm-up tour which took Emery everywhere from Miami to Toronto, Chicago to San Francisco, was already met with overwhelming success.

“We have loads of fun extras like face painters, glow sticks and custom visuals to really give the crowd an amazing experience,” Emery promised. “Fans should also note that the tour will be somewhat of a departure from just trance music, representing ‘a full spectrum of dance music, while breaking down the boundaries of genres.”

The Terminal 5 show is in support of his new radio platform Electric For Life, which can be heard on Sirius XM’s Electric Area Channel 52 in North America.

It will take a flashy turn at the tables for Emery to truly impress the Terminal 5 crowd, but our past experiences tell us this should be no problem.


The Romanian Club Fire Has Happened in NYC, and Could Happen Again

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Photo via Fox News

The club fire in Romania’s Colectiv nightclub is anything but a hot topic and that’s the last pun you will find here today. 51 people are dead, more lives lie in the balance and many others will be scarred for life, both physically and mentally.

The incident mirrors the Providence, Rhode Island, Station Nightclub fire of 2003, where 100 people perished. Then, as in Romania, a rock ‘n’ roll band set off pyrotechnics, which ignited illegally installed and highly flammable soundproofing foam. The fire that swept through the club caused a panic and most died from being trampled to death trying to escape. Subsequent prosecutions in Rhode Island have put owners and others in jail; Romania’s government resigned and heads on the lower levels will roll. It happened there, it’s happened here and it can easily happen again.

The 1990 Happyland fire in the Bronx changed the way clubs are required  to operate. Sprinkler systems, automated fire alarms and many other regulations were ordered to ensure public safety. But is the public safe? The answer is an emphatic “no.” Throughout the city, clubs, bars and restaurants operate in unsafe conditions and the potential for disaster is real.

The city’s permitting system is thorough. Inspectors can fail a space over minor infractions, causing costly delays. Architects and designers work hard to ensure compliance. Fireman often visit and become familiar with spaces that have high occupancies. Clubs are required to have fire safety-trained staff members and fire suppression systems with multiple unblocked exits. Materials, like curtains and upholstery fabrics are required to be flame resistant.  The layers of precautionary rules of prevention seem sufficient, but they are not—human factor trumps all attempts for guaranteed safety.

I believe there’s a major flaw in the relaxed regulations on dancing without a cabaret license. The dance crowd once celebrated when then Mayor Bloomberg declared the police would not police dancing—bars, lounges and restaurants began to employ DJ’s in great numbers; dancing was everywhere. Nobody wants to be a party-pooper, but there were and still are reasons to require a dancing license and they all center on public safety.

First, the license calls for the installation of a system that notifies the fire department directly, without a manual 911 call. This system, placed near the entrance, tells arriving fireman where the fire is located. Sprinkler systems are great, but fires get out of control fast. Fireproofing materials is a great precaution, but it’s often clothing and hair that get engulfed. When people are dancing, they’re more likely to never realize the place is on fire. Dancing, loud music and moving lights can easily confuse patrons and delay their exit in times of need.

At a bar—even a crowded one— it’s much easier to realize whats going on, depending on the amount of alcohol consumed. That is why occupancy is calculated differently if patrons are standing (dancing) rather than sitting. Many bars don’t have sprinkler systems because they are deemed too small and the cost of installing sprinklers is prohibitive. The same is true of automated fire alarm systems, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Dancing in bars—now the norm—can be dangerous.

The city is enjoying a bar boom with new places springing up every week; tax revenues from liquor sales and jobs are created for many in the arts and people paying increasingly high rents. It’s a win, win. On a Saturday night, however, most successful places are packed far exceeding any occupancy codes. Everyone turns a blind eye, since money ultimately needs to be made. Many owner operators change their furniture layouts, adding extra tables and chairs to accommodate crowds. It’s common for untreated curtains and materials to be added “after inspections are done.” Rooms listed as storage eventually become private rooms with “service bars” added. Neighbors will complain about noise and compliant owners install fireproofing materials like foam and curtains; these are rarely flame retardant.

We are  enjoying a lucky streak—a fire can occur at any time in an ill-equipped bar. Maybe a table simply blocks a secondary exit, which wasn’t considered a problem because it was “moveable;” just like in the Collective,  Station and Kiss fires, the great majority of the patrons will panic and try to exit through the doors they came in. The bodies will pile up among a few extra chairs and tables that didn’t move as they were supposed to.

I was in a fire at the Great Gildersleaves Club on the Bowery, a forgotten rock ‘n’ roll venue, where a pyrotechnic display went wrong and about 10 people went up in flames. Everyone except myself and my cousin, whom I grabbed, stampeded for the front door. It all happened so fast. I lost my eyebrows, many were hurt very badly.  In the decades since, I’ve made sure to locate the secondary exits when I enter a joint.

There is a solution besides increased inspection, fines and finger pointing. It’s about time the city recognized the importance of nightlife to its bottom line—nightlife pays for a lot. For the larger spaces, it’s time to rethink the NYPD’s ban on “Paid Detail,”  an NYPD program where a private business is allowed to hire a cop.

In today’s world, where nightclubs are often soft targets by evil doers, allowing an armed presence seems prudent. Uniformed cops are a deterrent to crime—they can be the first line of defense against a disaster. They wouldn’t cost the taxpayer any money, as spaces would pick up the tab. The small bars, where I believe the problem is profound, need a new set of rules, maybe thorough staff training and a vigorous Fire Department visitation program not meant to punish, but to inform. The deadly fires keep happening and something needs to be done.  I’d hate to have to say, “I told you so.”

Celebrity, Culture Cognoscenti Descend on Annual Whitney Art Party

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For art world types (and those who love to be around them), the Whitney Museum of American Art‘s annual and pithily titled Art Party is a must on the autumn social calendar. But this year’s fete, sponsored by MaxMara, was extra special – it was the first in the museum’s spectacular new Renzo Piano designed Meatpacking District home. And that a headline-grabbing Frank Stella retrospective just opened only added to the allure of the evening.



The klieg lights glared as the fashion and culture glitterati were out in force, amongst them DJ Chelsea Leyland, Misshapes’ Leigh Lezark, models Alina Balkova and Andreja Pejic and actress Gina Gershon (notably decked in MaxMara). The art world was well represented by Chuck Close, Talia Chetrit, Liz Magic Laser and countless others.

The greatest attention was on New York artists Jared Madere and Rachel Rose, both of whom have been honored with their first solo exhibitions at the Whitney – a preview of the shows opened the event. Also featured was the work of Veit Laurant Kurz, Joseph Geagan, Jake Cruzen and Valerie Keane, the latter of whose work we were particularly taken with.



And where there’s art and fashion, there’s top shelf booze. We skipped the early VIP dinner, preferring a few rounds of the particularly delectable Nocturnal Splash bourbon concoction, the evening’s signature cocktail – and then grooving to the vibes from model/entrepreneur Harley Viera-Newton, who deftly DJ’d the proceedings.

But lest we forget the Whitney’s towering and immeasurable position in contemporary American art…it must be noted that, for the all the glitter and glamour, the proceeds all go to support the museum’s significant and very important educational initiatives.




Thanksgiving Staycation: SIXTY SOHO

Gordon Bar (2) updated
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Once the bleeding edge of art and fashionable nightlife, when the galleries left for Chelsea at the Millennium’s turn, Soho pretty well plunged from its trendoid perch. But for all the overamped retail encroachment that followed, what remained was its architectural majesty, owing to its history as a turn of the Century industrial hub. And you only need steer clear of Broadway and (most of) West Broadway, for the aesthetically striking neighborhood to actually make for the perfect Thanksgiving staycation, one spent definitively athwart all that Downtown cool posturing.

And should you not be spending the holiday with family, you should consider spending it with SIXTY Soho – the genuinely gorgeous revamp of the once 60 Thompson hotel. All that reserved, mid-century style of the former has been replaced by a more classic European elegance, with rich fabrics, plush sofas, fireplaces, and large windows framing the neighborhood architecture. Snazzy new rooms have hardwood floors, patterned rugs and impressive attention to detail.

As for the annual feast, its Sessanta Ristorante - one of the most buzzed about openings of 2015 – will be serving a special 4-course traditional Thanksgiving feast, but one with a decidedly Italian twist…and staring at just $75 per person. Retire to the hotel’s sexy Gordon Bar afterwards for Brandy Punch or a Jerk Drum Toddy.

And, of course, stay the weekend – Soho is especially lovely in autumn. And rather handy for a Black Friday spree.


SIXTY SoHo_Shot4_SIXTY Suite Lounge



IF Soho New York

For lovers of all things avant-garde, deconstructed, Japanese and Belgian in fashion. Indeed, they carry Margiela, Yamamoto, Comme des Garçons, Dries Van Noten and Junya Watanabe. And both men’s and women’s collections.


Amarcord Vintage

Euro-centric vintage shop stocks Gucci, YSL Missoni gems from the 60s, 70s, 80s – as well as more approachable but no less gorgeous items.


Cool design shop for those whose tastes skew Scandinavian. Lots of blond wood tables and chairs, fanciful objets d’art and their own Matter-Made line.



Il Mulino Prime

The newest, smallest and perhaps sexiest Il Mulino. Where else can you indulge in a great Italian steak against such a strikingly minimalist backdrop? Brunch is a sexy scene – and who could resist something called meatball benedict?


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In the old Jean Claude space is Matt Abramcyk and Akiva Elstein’s groovy little seafood spot. Cozy and chic, it’s a date night charmer for oysters and bay scallop ceviche.


The meal won’t come cheap – the bass oreganata will set you back $40, the veal marsala $64. But this Torrisi hotspot is for those who like their Italian with a side of pomp…and are willing to pay for the fab people watching.



La Esquina

This Mexi-playland is still one of the buzziest Downtown scenes. Grab a quick taco upstairs, but head quickly down to the dark and sexy subterranean club for tequila flights and pretty people.

The Handy Liquor Bar

The basement bar at Matt Levine’s Chalk Point Kitchen is a decidedly classy affair, all chessboards, Chesterfield sofas and cool jazz. Excellent cocktails nod to the classics.

La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels

Those Parisian monsieurs who brought us Experimental Cocktail Club opened this classy little wine bar in 2014. All very French – it looks plucked straight from The Marais. And yes, they’re as serious about their wine as their fun.


compagnie de vins surnaturels - new york, ny