February 13, 2005


Well, I was on my way to Lincoln center to catch a panel on Disco featuring Studio 54's pr goddess Carmen D'Alessio, sweetheart promoter Michael Fesco (Flamingo/Sea Tea), disco dj pioneer Nick Siano, Mel Cheren (of Paradise Garage/West End Records) and Chi Chi Valente of Jackie 60 fame (didn't know she did the door at the Mud Club!) and Kervyn Micheals, who made the dj culture film MAESTRO, which is NOT the one that interviewed me--that one is LIQUID VINYL! Writer David Noh made a charming moderator. Here are a few tidbits.

First Choice once performed at Studio 54 and entered through a specially built tiger's mouth brandishing switchblades--it's the "cutting up", sugar!--while singing DOUBLECROSS. "Love-stealin', double-dealin', two-timin', low-down son-of-a-gun!" Heaven! Why can't club promoters think of anything impressive like that today? The boring chi-chi dumps popular now have never dreamt of changing decor, much less costumes with switchblades. These bores make former uber-promoters Michael Alig and Suzanne Bartsch look like complete geniuses! They are too busy worrying about bottle service, which these panelists all booed. (And I ain't talkin' about a bottle of poppers, neither! God it used to be enough to sell you a few over-priced drinks--now you're pressured to buy a ridiculously-priced bottle for 10/15 times their retail value? I've brought plenty bottles to clubs before, but I didn't buy 'em there, ok?)

Nicky, who seems like such a hoot, mentioned that all the djs used to share records or if there were only a few left, purchase them for their dj friends. Now, he said, djs blot out the labels so that no other dj can scoop what they are playing. (I guess that's what happens when there is a much larger paycheck at stake.)

Someone mentioned the famous DISCO SUCKS movement when tons of disco records were burned at a football game. Why did straight guys react so strongly against disco? Nicky said that their wive/girlfriends would ditch the husbands (who couldn't dance) and go out with their gay friends (who could). So the poor straight guys felt left out. I think it also has to do with the essential fagginess of disco music's soaring strings, wild, hedonistic, latin percussion, grandiose crescendos and dramatic breakdowns. With the Village People and Sylvester topping the charts and queeny confections like LAST DANCE and IT'S RAINING MEN (written by Paul Jabbara, who did bridal drag on one of his album covers) ruling the dancefloors, the gay sensibility came so far to the fore that I think these straights wanted to smack it down. Then they could escape the swirling disco strings and black female vocalists and return to their pump-your-fists-in-the-air masculine, aggressive rock songs. I recall the palpable disappointment/betrayal of rock fans when even Kiss went disco with I WAS MADE FOR LOVING YOU. Of course, I will admit, as the panelists did, that when everything became disco disco disco, there were a lot of shitty jump-on-the-bandwagon disco records. DISCO DUCK was mentioned in this context.

A pig that was in a cage as part of an installation at Flamingo died due to the drugs that party-goers had shared with it. (Note to toay's party-goers: this HERE pig can handle her drugs so please share!)

In the disco days, djs "broke" records in the clubs and made them hits without mass-marketing, payola to radio, slick videos, etc. So you actually could experience music on the radio which was hand-picked by music-lovers, not the marketing exec's who see only $ signs. I know one multi-platinum recording artist from back then who claims that MTV killed music, cuz it placed the focus on how a song looked as opposed what the focus should be--how it fucking sounds. (Close your eyes during the next Britney or Enrique Iglesi-ass video to test this theory.)

This panel was in conjunction with the Lincoln Center Disco exhibit which featured outrageous costumes by Amii Stewart, Gloria Gaynor (Norma Kamali fringe!) and Labelle (Larry Legaspi!). I'm going back and will give you a full report. It's up until May 14th and she's free.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The straight men weren't man enough!!

7:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Disco is great.

Love the Grace Jones Tom Moulton Stuff and the two Asha Puthli Disco Albums L Indiana and 1001 Nights of Loive - pure magic!

6:29 AM  
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7:54 AM  
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