Fake Friends?

 David Rabin, the controversial president of the New York Nightlife Association, may soon no longer helm the city's most powerful nightlife political organization. But depending on whom you ask, Rabin is either being pushed out or is leaving of his own volition. A NYNA board member told Fly Life that Rabin is getting the boot in part because many members don't feel he's the right representative for the organization—Rabin is the co-owner of the upscale lounge Lotus and is an outspoken advocate in favor of the cabaret law that bans unlicensed dancing in city clubs. NYNA is also restructuring its leadership positions, resulting in a full-time executive director who will run the organization.

According to the NYNA member, Dave McWater, an owner of such watering holes as Nice Guy Eddie's, Opaline, Library Bar, Tapis Rouge, and Doc Holliday's, is currently serving as co-chair with Paul Insalaco, president of BF9 Media, a marketing firm. But, says the NYNA member, Rabin is behaving as if he is still top dog: "Rabin is no longer the president, but for some reason he is still talking to people as if he is," says the source. "And everybody is too scared to challenge him other than in the meetings because he might report one of us." In October of last year, Rabin notoriously squealed on Serafina, Pangaea, and Rehab to the New York Post for allowing unlicensed dancing. The three venues, it could be said, served as direct competition for his own business.

But Rabin maintains that he is still president and hasn't been kicked out ("Fuck your source," he says), and that he's willingly moving out of the position to concentrate on new organizations to benefit the nightlife industry, including a publicity firm created to represent businesses in the meatpacking district, of which he'll be president. In addition, Rabin is forming a new coalition to fight the smoking ban at the city and state levels, and is pushing for paid police units to work at city clubs (currently under consideration at City Hall and with the City Council).

In fact, says Rabin, for months he's been "begging" NYNA lawyer Robert Bookman to let him quit. "I've been dying to stop because I can't stand the fact that these unlicensed cabarets are still out there," says Rabin. "I just have too much to do and I'm exhausted." Bookman, who is also Rabin's personal lawyer, says, "No one is forcing him out." He adds that Rabin is still president and that McWater and Insalaco are co-vice presidents, and have been for a long time. "Rabin," says Bookman, "may be controversial at times, but we love him and his energy."

While a gathering of club owners is more unpleasant than a gaggle of girls in a bathroom, there is one place where everyone plays nice: Friendster. As usual, I am three months behind the trends—in this case, I just joined the newest time-sucking procrastination tool. (A true measure of cultural success and popularity: There are already several anti-Friendster sites, including Fiendster.) Much to my surprise, you can go on Friendster and see all the same people you see out every night of the week in noisy nightclubs, except now you can have inane conversations without the loud music! This would be my idea of a total nightmare, but it's a good pastime for the sharp-eyed who can spot all the famous and semi-famous DJs on the site. However, there are tons of "fake" profiles, too, including ones for Adolf Hitler, Jay-Z, and Moby. The latter's page is pretty convincing since the techno star is a known Internet presence (he always posts diary entries to his Web site, moby.com). "Moby" 's profile lists his occupation as "Rock star/tea peddler/professional vegan" and under "About Me," it says: "I live in a sleek apartment. It's the reason I've been able to date half the straight women in Manhattan." But the real Moby says it's not him.

There is one real profile for a techno jock whose page features a picture of the budding musician with a birthday cake made in the shape of a turntable. I won't give away the identities of him or other famous people because then they will un-Friendster me and I will never get a date through them.


tromano@villagevoice.com

 
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