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Despite being only 27, Eric Weiss is a seasoned veteran of the music industry. He's already been involved in the business end with bands like Electric Frankenstein and The Misfits. He's also helped run the Florida punk label Kado from his Bellmore home, published a fanzine and is currently singer and guitarist for the rock 'n' roll band Rocket Blast Fury. With his mom, Eric also runs Ground Zero, nestled at 1894 Newbridge Road in Bellmore (516-826-9395). The venue is one of the few venues in Nassau County that regularly allows kids of all ages to see hardcore and punk bands like Yuppicide, Shutdown and Jones Crusher.
Ask any pub owner, and he'll tell you that running a bar is tough work in a competitive industry, where more severe drinking 'n' driving penalties (like vehicle confiscation, most recently) have helped push revenues down in the past few years. For Ground Zero, which doesn't serve alcohol to its underage punk patrons, it would seem that the business is even tougher. But Ground Zero has an additional problem: Some Bellmore residents want it shut down.
"The reason I started that place is because those people needed a place to go," Eric explains. "It's not all about sports bars and Irish drinkin' jock places."
Complaints to police about the noise recently resulting in the club being fined for exceeding its legal occupancy limit have been a constant thorn in Weiss' side.
"They don't want music past a certain hour. We try to keep it as low key as possible," Weiss explains.
The confrontations between the venue and neighborhood residents have been escalating steadily as the club nears its one year anniversary in October, but in a match of wits, some are unarmed. A petition to close Ground Zero was even mailed directly to Weiss' home by mistake.
Then there's his neighbor who's quick to call for tows of the vehicles of straying patrons, not to mention the constant noise about the bar's noise. But Weiss seems to almost admire the men of the local police precinct.
"The cops are actually the coolest ones in the whole situation, because they only come when they get a complaint," he says. "If people would stop complaining, there would never be a problem because the cops know perfectly well that we don't serve anybody underage and that we're in total control of the situation."
Well, not in total control. Besides a court date this week regarding the occupancy fines, Weiss says, "we're in the process of getting a cabaret license, and they could revoke it. Then we'd be fucked. That's what I'm up against now."
Though Ground Zero is pulling in less revenue than needed to cover expenses, he says, "we're just taking things as they come."
On a different note, consistent with his need for excitement and to try need things, Weiss is launching a website, www.devilgirl.net, which mixes punk rock, porn, and a rock 'n' roll design, complete with leopard skin and go-go girls.
"You'll be able to get porno, all big stars, kinky, fetish, midgets," Weiss says. "I'm doing a back-to-school special, with all sorority girls and college-themed pornos. You'll also be able to get Real Audio tracks and MP3s as you're browsing the site."
The site will feature labels like Kado, Coldfront, and Daddy-O, but Weiss also plans an exclusive online label.
"I'm just going nuts trying to stream the Real Audio. It's a real pain in the ass," he laughs. But punk rock and porn are a natural.
"Most people who are into punk rock love porn," says Weiss. "Rolling Stone just did a huge article on the rock and porn connection. Most big rock stars have always dated porn chicks, so there's a big market there that's not being tapped. Basically, you can buy your porn and your rock in the same place."
It's truly one-handed, one-stop shopping. With a soundtrack.