Sky Room’s Angel & the Bono Joke Heard by God
Nightlife is full of characters. Peggy Millard is rolling out Sky Room, a Midtown West aerie where bottles will be popping to romantic sunsets. I have worked with Peggy and I have always adored her—loved her to death, even when I hated her and wanted that death to come immediately. Tall, ginger-haired and flamboyant, she is now in her 40’s and still owns any room she walks through. She’s a combination of Ethel Merman, Gypsy Rose Lee, and Bebe Buell. To the young, not only at heart, that means she is hot, hot, hot, and loud. When she was the wife of Psychedelic Furs co-founder and bassist Tim Butler, she was rock n’ roll hootchie-coo. As a general manager of the club Spa, she was always bringing rock stars that she had befriended over the years. I met Bono and Jimmy Page and dozens of others through this gal. She once had me tell a very bad joke about Bono to Bono. It really isn’t funny at all except that I stood in front of him, his band members, and his entourage, and had the balls (or is it rudeness?) to tell it.
Contrary to Peggy’s recollection, Bono didn’t laugh. He looked at me and said, “I heard it.” The looks on the entourage’s faces were very recognizable to me, as I see it all the time: shock and ‘why are you still here?’ starkness. I’ll tell the joke after the interview. She was my dearest friend when the powers up above threw shovel after shovel of rock and dirt on me. She stood by me and never talked about it and was always there to support. I leaned on her more often than I have ever said. It was the strength of people like her, people who have been through it all, that helped me not only survive adversity, but to thrive within it. Peggy has been there and done that and now opens Sky Room and I will sip a diet coke with her at sunset real soon.
I first met you at the Palladium on New Years Eve when I booked your ex- husbands band, the Psychedelic Furs. In a thousand words or less (joke) describe your rock n’ roll roots. Wow, that’s a lot to remember. Rock and Roll was my life. I met a lot of great people, did a lot of crazy things, and I can still remember it. Some of those people are still very much a part of my life. Yesterday I came across Steven Lupino’s book, The World, which is where I discovered nightlife. Didn’t you manage the World? Oh, what beautiful decadence it was. I fast tracked when I got married at 20 on New Year’s Eve in England’s oldest walled town, with some of the Smith’s in tow. I don’t think I will get into that party but the town of Malmesbury never knew what hit them (The fire department did).
I spent the next 10 years traveling the world with a band of brilliant characters and musicians. Festivals, concerts, film premieres, and long periods in the recording studio. All of these things allowed me to meet fascinating people. Not just musicians, but writers, painters, and performance artists. It even allowed me to pose for Chuck Close. The 80’s were such a different world than today. I listen to bands that sound like they are from the 80’s, the fashion I swore I would never again wear is from the 80’s. It’s a bit bizarre. When I came to New York in the mid 80’s, it was to model and, like so many girls you and I have known, I preferred the nightlife. I guess it wasn’t too bad since it has taken me on a long and broad road revolving around music.
We worked together at a couple joints, Spa and Plaid, where you were the GM. What’s different about clubs these days? Well Spa was different than Plaid. Spa was part of that beginning of bottle service and celebrity clientele, I think we had every sports team at least once. For the past 2 years I’ve spent the summer at Pink Elephant Southampton, which had a similar vibe with less celebrities and more Wall Street and Businessmen (yes even with the recession). I also see the cocktails slowly rising from the ashes. It seems to me that people aren’t as protective of their staff as before. I don’t know if it is all the lawsuits for tips, harassment or security having to be a separate company, but we seem to have lost the family.
You have a couple of companies with your boyfriend Thierry: P.M. Hospitality group and SPI. Tell me about what you do, and what its like working so closely with your significant other. We actually have 4 companies, 3 related to Nightlife. Service Professionals Intelligence (SPI) is a consulting company geared towards nightclubs and other hospitality ventures. We do everything, from financial forecasting to setting up new clubs for openenings. We focus mostly on operations, and people usually call us when they have some serious challenges on their hands. Then there is PM Hospitality Group, which was formed primarily as the management company to run Sky Room. The third company is Inspirevents, an event company that deals with corporate and special events, as well as large concerts and promotional parties. Oh, and P.S., he’s my husband now. This ties into your question about us working together (now there is no need to put your rubber or Wellingtons on), it’s great. I know what that man is thinking from across the room and vice versa. I’m a fire sign and Thierry is water. I get a bit hot under the collar and he’s there to put me out. Wouldn’t some of our old staff like to hear that! It’s actually exciting because, when we go into a new project, we each get to focus on our specialties and know that the other one is doing their job right. No worries, it just gets done. Beautiful!
Congrats on the nuptials. You’re involved with the opening of Sky Room. What is your role? Our role, Thierry and myself, will be to act as managing directors and run the place for the owner. It should be an interesting challenge, considering the fact that we are sitting on top of two hotels and that there are two other hotels adjacent to them, as well. A little more corporate than what we usually do but definitely exciting. I can’t wait for you to come by, you’ll see a few familiar faces—a bit older now, but the suntan on the roof will keep them looking young!
When will it open, and what is the concept? The venue should open anytime now. We are going through the usual permit dance. You know how that goes, so we are playing with a couple of tentative dates. Don’t worry, your invitation is in the mail. The concept is more loungy, based on the location and the roof environment. We want to provide an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, right in the middle of it, an invitation to travel. We’ve kept this theme throughout our cocktails, our food menu and our uniforms. As the Gang of Four once said: “I love a man in an uniform.”
You once introduced me to Bono, and other rock gods, on occasion. Tell me about why you would even think of introducing me to Bono? And after that, were you guys still friends? First off, you’re not as bad as you think you are. Maybe I should take that back! When we came in, I saw that you noticed him. I sat him down and you told me this politically incorrect joke about Curt Cobain and Bono and God. It’s been a few years but it made me laugh so hard I told Bono that he had to hear it. I dragged you over and, of course, you told the joke in the way only you can. I’m really glad, with him being Irish, that no one was offended. He did laugh and had a great time and, I pray, he never remembered it once the night was over. Sorry Steve, but friends are friends and all of us make mistakes and are forgiven!
You have worked with some club legends, David Marvisi, Neal Cohen and others. What are the common threads of these types, for good and bad. Both of these men were good to me. Both of these men are megalomaniacs. Until you asked, I never really compared them, although I should have. Both needed to be the top, and both of them were there. When it comes to Neil Cohen, I was very young and he sort of looked after me a bit. One time I had a certain situation arise and he took me to the old Cat Club (which became Spa) to have the Hell’s Angels meet with me to take care of that situation. Just like David Marvisi, giving me a security guard because of other certain situations that arose. I worked with Neil at the Ritz and Downtown, both live rock and roll venues. When I was getting my divorce, I wanted to go somewhere that no one would know me: Mirage. David and I worked together through 7 clubs. Both men were very generous. Neil took me back whenever I left for tour. David threw me these incredible birthday parties, flying the whole staff of Exit to Miami as a surprise party. Really Steve, I believe you have witnessed David’s generosity over the years.
Is it still fun? Of course, each club or each night is like a giant birthday cake that you cant wait to see what will pop out of the top of it. Good or bad, it’s a laugh!
Have you missed me? Missed you? Remember some of the things you used to do to me for a laugh? Do you remember tossing all the invitations on the phone lines, and my credit card system would go down every night? You would smile blankly while I ran around like a chicken with my head cut off. It took me a month to get a lock on that door. I miss the great debater, or laymen, the arguments! Oh and Arturo. Fish says he misses you also.
Do you miss rock and roll? Tell me a story? The celebration of my 21st birthday on April Fool’s day. My ex decided to teach me the experience of Champagne slammers. We bought a case of DP and a bottle of Tequila. Invited The Thompson Twins, Some of the Smith’s, and Ian McCullough. Oh, and the some of the Sisters of Mercy were there as well. Who ever came later, I wouldn’t have known as I was passed out. Woke up in the morning and the first thing I notice is a wad of cash gone. Decided I needed a cup of tea and went downstairs in our flat, where the whole band was staying. The chandelier is on the floor, a guitar is in the TV and the sliding glass door was broken. Nice birthday party I had. I’m a professional now, and a bit nervous talking about people under a roll out couch fighting for the worm!
I have no idea what that story meant. Love you, Peggy. The Bono joke, as told to Bono and a large, not so amused entourage, went like this:
Curt Cobain dies and he wakes up in heaven. The angel says, “Curt, come walk with me.” And so they walked.
Angel: Curt, you didn’t expect to wind up in heaven. Well God is all knowing, all powerful, and all forgiving and he has this special place for people just like you
Curt: “Oh wow, this is amazing, wow look over there Janis Joplin!”
Angel: Yes Curt, Janis can’t wait to meet you and sing with you.
Curt: Janis Joplin knows who I am? Oh wow, this place is amazing. Whoa—that’s Jim Morrison!
Angel: Yes Curt, Jim and you are going to be roommates. Similar lives, untimely deaths, poets both. You have so much in common.
Curt: Wow, that’s Elvis! the King! Wow, this IS heaven!
Angel: Yes Curt, Elvis, we don’t call him “King” here, but he did tell me to tell you that after you settle in he’d love to hang with you.
Curt: Wow, Elvis wants to hang! Wow, look over there, it’s Jimi Hendrix and Bono. Whoa, I didn’t think Bono was dead?
Angel: No Curt that’s just God. Sometimes he thinks he’s Bono.