I'm (Not) on the List

Manhattan clubs are well known for their exclusivity, but when is a door policy racist? Doormen at upscale nightclubs discriminate all the time—letting in only models or celebrities or very rich men. But what if a party—one that had been previously arranged—turned up and was turned away? And what if most of those who came for the party were South Asian?

Nadia Alam, a 24-year-old Columbia University law student, organized a birthday party for two friends at trendy nightspot Veruka on Saturday, September 28. She spoke to the club's assistant manager, Dorian, about holding a private party with 80 to 100 guests in the separate downstairs area. Alam and the club only had a verbal agreement that her party would spend a minimum of $750 at the bar.

However, when she arrived at 11:30, she says she found that most of her guests were waiting outside in a separate line from the regular patrons, and that the other line—mostly white hipsters—was breezing right through. She estimated that only 70 people were in the club—and few were her guests.

Sock it to me: Dirty Martini has a leg up on the competition.
photo: Cary Conover
Sock it to me: Dirty Martini has a leg up on the competition.

When she questioned the managers, they blanched and then canceled the party, asking all of her remaining friends to leave. "When one of my guests asked a bouncer if we were being turned away because we are Indian, the bouncer [who is black] responded, 'Welcome to the U.S.A. I feel it every day.' "

A spokesman for the club insisted that the reason they were shut out had nothing to do with their race. "There was no discrimination. We're so politically correct it is ridiculous."

The club's rep also maintains that 50 of Alam's guests were already inside, and that Alam underrepresented the number of people she had invited (200 people instead of 80).

Veruka's spokesman admitted the club was overbooked that night—with three other parties taking place. "The whole damn street was filled from the front of our door to the end of the block on both sides. We told everybody to go home—not just her people. Everybody."

The incident comes on the heels of another alleged dis of South Asians at a club. Remedy, an upscale spot on East 20th Street, made the local news in July when promoters claimed that their party had been turned away based on race. But like Alam's situation, there is a dispute over the allotted number of guests, and since no formal contract had been signed, the door policy was at the club's discretion. The American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Civil Liberties Union contacted Nikhil Anil Parikh and his co-promoter and are looking into possible legal action. Says Parikh: "I know how New York City clubs work—people don't get in. But not when you have a pre-arranged guest list."


A nurse in a latex dress, a dirty old man wearing a sailor's cap, several well-endowed women with nothing on but tittie tassels, and a male go-go boy wearing black hot pants, sheer hose, and stiletto heels—this was the motley crew assembled last week at the Slipper Room for a benefit performance on behalf of transgender drag king Antonio Caputo.

Caputo was traveling with New York drag king Mo B. Dick as part of the Men of Club Casanova 2002 tour. When the troupe tried to cross the Canadian border—without work visas—they were sent packing to the U.S., but Caputo, who is German, was taken to jail in Cavalier, North Dakota, and put in solitary confinement for 10 days. He says that during his imprisonment, he was refused blankets and caught bronchitis. He was then transferred to an immigration detention center in Elk River, Minnesota, where he was jailed with female prisoners and referred to by his female (and legal) name.

Caputo's supporters—including Dirty Martini, the World Famous *BOB*, DJ Adam, Dee Finley, Amber Ray, and the Dazzle Dancers—helped raise money for his legal fees and other expenses. Caputo was sent back to Germany on October 11; it is unclear when he will be allowed back into the country. In a recorded message from Berlin, Caputo said, "I'm glad this terrible vacation is over now."


You know a band's 15 minutes of fame are up when a cover band is formed. Artsy electro troupe Fischerspooner is getting a send-up courtesy of D.C.'s Fishyspooner. The "band" also consists of a gargantuan number of contributors, including "Casey Wilder, executive producer, writer, vocals, makeup, costumes; Skylark, co-producer, stagecraft, attendant; Poi Flambe, pyrotechnics; and Trojan Horse, music production."

The band will play the Adams Morgan club Heaven on October 30. Their set time? Exactly 15 minutes, of course.


tromano@villagevoice.com

 
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