Volume 79, Number 13 | September 2 - 8, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

2Scoopy's Notebook

Balazs whips bondage bash: Talk about ironic! The Standard Hotel, which has become synonymous with exhibitionism, as its naked patrons have been sexily steaming up its floor-to-ceiling, untinted-glass windows — in full view of parkgoers on the High Line — has now forced a leather festival to move off of W. 13th St. Robert Valin, executive director of the West Village Leather and Bear Street Fair (that’s bears as in hairy gay guys who like Bud and sports, not Yogi and Smokey) said, “The whole thing has been a complete nightmare for me.” The leather fest, planned for mid-October, won unanimous approval from Community Board 2 last year for the spot, and had been assured by the board that they would be grandfathered there and allowed to keep returning for years to come. But Valin said the Mayor’s Office recently informed them that W. 13th St. was “not an option,” because the Standard Hotel doesn’t want the festival there, plus the Food Network is planning a big event in the Meat Market the same day. Valin said the Standard doesn’t feel the flagellation-friendly fest “fits the image of the hotel”; yet the leather group isn’t passing judgment on, and in fact supports, the hotel’s policy of “having sex in the windows — which is cool, which is fine with me, which I think is great,” Valin said. Meanwhile, the Mayor’s Office is treating the leather event quite roughly — some might even say, sadistically. “They’re putting us on streets that are totally invisible,” Valin complained, “but this is about visibility for the leather community.” The group’s goal is simply to educate folks on BDSM — such as proper rope-tying, whipping and basic spanking techniques — and that it should all be safe and consensual, he said. Alas, the bondage bash may be whipped, he said, noting, “To date, we don’t have a street — and the fair is six weeks away. We don’t have enough time to publicize and promote it. We don’t think it’s going to happen this year — and it’s because of the Standard Hotel.” Asked if the leather lovers would like to mete out some punishment to the hotel’s owner, Andre Balazs, Valin eagerly said, “I think we’d like to do a lot more to Andre Balazs at this point. I think a St. Andrew’s cross would be involved.” (F.Y.I.: That’s a special restraint rack that spread-eagles its, umm, users so that they can get the full “treatment.”) The festival’s first annual installment was held on Weehawken St. two years ago, but was met with a storm of protest from some more conservative neighbors, and Valin subsequently picked W. 13th St. as the new location. It’s important for the event to be near a place with some “leather history,” he said, such as W. 13th St., where the Mineshift, an infamous gay bar, used to be located. A Standard Hotel spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

New School takedown: The New School is getting ready to move ahead with asbestos abatement at and demolition of its embattled building at 65 Fifth Ave., between 13th and 14th Sts. It’s probably not a bad idea from the administration’s standpoint, since the building is a favorite for anarchist student protesters to occupy while screaming ultimatums for Bob Kerrey to resign immediately as school president. According to spokesperson Jane Crotty, the work will start within the next couple of weeks and be done in a couple of months. One minor detail: There’s no plan for a new building yet, but The New School probably just wants to get this baby down to the ground as quickly as possible. “We hope to have a plan by December,” Crotty said. 

Disciple of Soul...of Seward? Councilmember Alan Gerson filled us in on what’s up with Steven Van Zandt and the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area, which he had let drop at our recent Council District 1 candidates debate. Gerson said Van Zandt, a.k.a. Little Steven of the E Street Band, a.k.a. Silvio Dante of “The Sopranos” fame, recently toured part of the site, specifically the old market buildings along Essex St. south of Delancey St. Gerson said Van Zandt was interested in creating a “recording-studio complex” at the location, but then the stock market crashed, and everything got put on hold. Gerson said, in addition to eyeing the renewal area for cultural uses, he’s pitched the area to the garment industry as a place for fashion manufacturing, design and retail. “We actually have a formal proposal, not for that site, but it can be used there,” he noted.

Matt’s back: We hear that, about two months ago, Matt Dillon moved back into the East Village, which he forced himself to leave years ago because he was trying to cut back on his partying. Word has it he’s on Avenue B, right near St. Brigid’s Church, which he prominently helped save from the wrecking ball. Dillon’s back all right, but he’s reportedly not into partying anymore, just his Mets — which, on second thought, could lead even a teetotaler to hit the bottle. 

Crumb’s with the band: Eden Brower and John Heneghan, of the East River String Band, who The Villager profiled in June 2008, have cut a second CD of early rural blues, “Drunken Barrel House Blues.” The couple recently played some shows in Europe and spent two weeks with legendary underground cartoonist R. Crumb at his French chateau. Brower is friends with Crumb’s daughter, Sophie, and Crumb drew the cover of their first CD, and also did the one for the new disc. R. Crumb, in turn, will be coming stateside shortly to promote his hotly anticipated illustrated “Genesis” book. While he’s here, Crumb — who is a huge early blues fan — will sit in with Brower and Heneghan when they perform at Steven Talkhouse in Amagansett, on Long Island’s East End, on Oct. 23. “He plays the mandolin and he’s very good,” noted Brower. On the new CD cover, Crumb depicted the petite Brower in his typical mongo, zaftig, “Crumb woman” style, making her, well, pretty enormous. “He asked me, ‘Are you happy with the way I drew you?’” Brower recounted. “I said, ‘I’m very happy with it.’”

R.I.P. Tompkins Square mayor: Nathaniel Hunter, a.k.a. Junior, who was known as the “Mayor of Tompkins Square Park” when he lived there on a bench in the 1980s, holding forth with one and all, recently passed away. When the homeless were swept out of the East Village park, Hunter landed a job with the Parks Department, and helped run the crews at Washington Square Park. A memorial will be held Sat., Sept. 12, from 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., at Judson Memorial Church, at 55 Washington Square South. There will be poetry, music, reminiscences and a reception. For more information, e-mail to info@tribes.org .

Quiet cafe — what a concept! Walking past Theater 80 Sunday night, Bonnie Rosenstock, who had just finished writing an article on The Pearl Theatre’s departure from the place (see article on Page 7), noticed a workman outside, sprucing it up with plaster and paint. Inside she found Lorcan Otway staining the wood trim around the bar. On Sept. 10, the theater’s concession area will reopen as the nautically themed William Barnacle Cafe, in memory of Barnacle Bill Scott. A large, model sailing ship, which Otway built, was hoisted on the wall. It will be a cafe during the day, serving until around 6 p.m. There will be no TV, no loud music. “It will be for talking and thinking,” Otway said. In the evening, there will be quiet acoustic folk music and other relaxing activities. “My intention is to be the holdout, to grow the East Village as an arts community, the way it was in the past,” he said. Photographs of his late father, the Broadway actor Howard Otway, and of the theater’s speakeasy days, will grace the lobby walls.

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