Steve Lewis Hangover: Tearists, Korea, Jon Waters
I’m really feeling it this morning. Mixing Jameson and wine last night has given me a very special morning glow. I should know better, but with Amanda in San Juan I have been left without adult supervision, and I’m running amok. It all started innocently with a trip to Korea Town to catch up with an old friend who’s moving west. In my youth I tended bar on 32nd Street at a Korean bar/restaurant. It was a great gig for a young guy. I made great money, and was surrounded by beautiful young Korean gals who wanted to learn the ropes. There was always something strange going on:
Innocuous doors leading to shady places. It was a whole different world. You can almost hear Jack Nicholson repeating, “It’s Korea Town.” Last night I started at a hard-to-find joint called Baden Baden. The lobby is plastered with signs in English and Korean. It looks like the wrong place, but then I saw a little hidden sign that said “Baden Baden Second Floor.”
I took a shoebox of an elevator, outfitted with signs screaming about a 6 person max. The doors open directly into a full-blown joint. My special friend got me an Irish Whisky and commented on how gorgeous the bartenders and waiters were. It was true—hot staff, well appointed and professional bar. We exited and went next door to eat BBQ and Bibimbop. Then it was off to a nearby office building where a security guard read a newspaper at a desk with huge signs stating that all visitors must be announced. He didn’t look up from the sports section as we hustled ourselves to another elevator. This time she pressed “3” and we arrived at an even bigger full-blown restauarant/club/lounge/bar, cleverly named the Third Floor Café. We had more drinks and watched table service unfold everywhere. It was here, at the Korea Town bars, Club A, and the euro bars, that bottle service first began. They do it with huge fruit plates and other options.
At the Third Floor there are beautiful well-dressed waitresses. At Baden Baden and the huge Korean nightclub Circle it is snappily dressed, handsome young men delivering the goods. Circle is a large nightclub, with international DJs and a 95% Korean crowd. They offer the usual sounds heard at all the mainstream clubs, but every so often the DJ will throw in a 10 minute set of Korean pop, and the crowd goes wild and sings along. Last time I was there they had the requisite Karaoke rooms downstairs.
Then it was a yellow limo ride to Madame Wong’s where a huge crowd was clamoring to get inside. It was an RSVP-only affair and the poor door people explained to the desperate that everyone outside had to be listed Patience was asked for. The party, hosted by Interview Magazine, was for a documentary called Blank City, which I told you about yesterday. I was whisked inside without having to tell people “I used to be Steve Lewis.” There inside, a great party was peaking. I chatted up old friends, the stylish and beautiful Maripol and Victoria Bartlett. I still call Victoria by her English nickname, which I will never reveal. She is Victoria now, and has her VPL line and new Soho boutique, which I promised to visit. Victoria and I go back to the Kensington Market days when I traveled to England for a haircut and a night at the Wag with my new Facebook friend, Chris Sullivan. I chatted with my old partner-in-crime, celebrity rock photographer Mick Rock, and then to Steve Buscemi. I had a new date, as the Korean gal was all sake’d out. The newbie couldn’t believe I was chatting up John Waters. It was Buscemi, I corrected her. I guess at a certain age, we skinny weird guys all look alike. Madame Wong’s was amazing—a testament to a determined nightlife making the most of cracks in the walls and abandoned dreams. We stopped at the Mondrian SoHo and popped into Mr. H to say hello to door dude Disco and DJ MSB, but then hurried to Home Sweet Home, where I was to be educated.
My favorite band in like 5 years hit the stage. Tearist is a “Witch House” or “Haus” act . If I were to open a joint this week, they would be my choice. We met Jonathan Coward, who performs as Shams, the group who coined the term “Witch House.” We spotted the host of this Filth party, Lauren Dillard, who is one half of the band Creep, another band of this genre. My super-intelligent friend said that “it’s a goth meets hip hop sound, like Cocteau Twins meets 3 6 Mafia.” I found a great deal of 80’s in the songs. I am told that Salem is the big band of this genre. I missed the last Witch House affair, called Pendu Disco, near my home in Brooklyn. Todd Pendu and Harrison Owen DJ this event. The next event is this Friday, and is called Planned Work. Jonathan Coward (of the Shams) will be performing at Santo’s on April 22nd. Tearist is an amazing act. The super beautiful and hip crowd rushed the stage. It was all very familiar to me—déjà vu all over again—like a Liquid Sky party from the very early 80’s. The room was packed with great haircuts, and very few that wouldn’t understand. DJ Joseph Quartana was blowing up the crowd. I’ve known Joe since he was a baby.