Extreme Makeovers

The Fine Art of Picking a Shtick

MISC./NOTES: Keep up with the latest in government and corporate malfeasance by reading reader-reported Indymedia.org, Mother Jones, The Nation, and of course The Village Voice.


THE BASICS: Fancy hairdos. Shined shoes. Record players. The understated elegance of a more refined era (1920s-50s).

illustration: Nathan Fox

VENUES: The Slipper Room (167 Orchard Street; 212- 253-7246) hosts the longest-running burlesque night in New York on Saturday nights, with saucy vintage striptease and vaudeville acts. La Belle Epoque (827 Broadway) is a gorgeous art nouveau restaurant perfect for jazz brunch. The Carnegie Club (156 West 56th Street; 212-957-9676) boasts waitresses in cocktail dresses and pearls, and a weekly Sinatra tribute, complete with an 11-piece orchestra.

FASHION: Religious Sex (7 St. Marks Place; 212-477- 9037), as the name implies, errs on the fetishy side of retro, but stock includes white gloves, brocade coats, and corsets. Williamsburg's the Girdle Factory (218 Bedford Avenue; 718-486-9599) carries a wide selection of sincere vintage. Though expensive, Cheap Jack's (841 Broadway; cheapjacks.com) is worth a try for hats.

PREREQS: The Retromaniac always has a specialty, be it golden-age Hollywood musicals (Top Hat, Singin' in the Rain); early jazz (Louis Armstrong's The Complete Hot Five and Hot Seven Recordings, Bill Evans's Sunday at the Village Vanguard); or even literature (Steinbeck, Hemingway). Choose wisely, as once acquired, you will probably have these tastes for the rest of your life.

MISC./NOTES: From August 15 to September 4, the Film Society of Lincoln Center (165 West 65th Street, between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue; 212-875-5600) is running The Whole Wide World: 50 Years of Widescreen Moviemaking.


THE BASICS: Strange creatures with noodles. Techy gadgets. Anime.

VENUES: The Japan Society (333 East 47th Street; 212-832-1155) has lectures, exhibitions, and a lovely waterfall. The Wild Lily Tea Room (511-A West 22nd Street) and the smaller but equally charming Wild Lily Tea Market (545 East 12th Street, both at wildlilytearoom.com) are oases consecrated to teas. M2M Market (55 Third Avenue; 212-353-2698) is a wonderland of a "convenient store," offering all 500 flavors of Pocky.

FASHION: Takashimaya (693 Fifth Avenue; 212-350-0100) is a full-service Japanese department store. Prohibit (269 Elizabeth Street; 212-219-1469) has a section of Japanese imports, including the hard-to-find Hysteric Glamour clothing and accessories line. The super-friendly stylists at Hair Kuwayama (214 East 10th Street; 212-529-6977) will give you the feathery, layered, or asymmetrical cut of your dreams. Kawaii!

PREREQS: Japanese film stretches from canonical favorites (Rashomon, The Seven Samurai) to current horror imports (The Eye, Juwan) and, of course, to anime (Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke). Takashi Murakami: The Meaning of the Nonsense of the Meaning, (Harry N. Abrams, 2000) is a monograph on the hot pop artist.

The Wannabe

THE BASICS: Unironic hipsterism (see Williamsburg). Unapologetic pretension. Celebrity-stalking in stilettos.

VENUES: (Caveat: these are subject to change every six weeks.) Hipster division: Pianos (158 Ludlow Street; 212-505-3733), the Lower East Side bar/club that hosts hot local underground acts and a weekly comedy show with David Cross; Verb Café (218 Bedford Avenue; 718-599-0977), the Williamsburg soy-latte house/pickup scene.

Celebrity division: Bungalow 8 (515 West 27th Street), Plaid (76 East 13th Street), and APT (419 West 13th Street; 212-414-4245) are tiny clubs in, respectively, Chelsea, the East Village, and the meatpacking district, that you probably won't get into, but where you might see Puffy, Britney, or Chloë Sevigny on line.

FASHION: H&M (51st Street and Madison Avenue, and other locations), in case you haven't heard, has all the rage in ugly-beautiful and sexy-sexy threads for men and women, like tiny tennis skirts and engineer caps, at outrageous single-digit prices. Century 21 (22 Cortlandt Street; 212-227-9092) specializes in actual designer names on clearance. Pricey Marc Jacobs (403 Bleecker Street; 212-924-0026) has, besides the Winona connection, a boho-esque Marc by Marc Jacobs fall line including plaid shirt-jackets, seriously distressed denim, and yes, a trucker hat.

PREREQS: King of the "hysterical realists" (the literary style of our age, also covering Zadie Smith, Jonathan Franzen, David Foster Wallace), Dave Eggers, has released his novel You Shall Know Our Velocity! in an extensively revised paperback edition. Check out The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things by JT Leroy, rock star/Gus Van Sant screenwriter/ambiguously gendered person-about-town. Sex and the City (HBO, sixth season) is always good for a vicarious shot of glamour. Ken Park, by Kids director Larry Clark, is the teensploitation art flick everyone will be talking about this fall.

MISC./NOTES: Your best bet for hanging out with celebrities may be . . . English class! Look out for Jake Gyllenhaal and Julia Stiles at Columbia, and the Olsen twins starting this fall at "a New York college." The blog Gawker.com also logs celebrity sightings, so you can be hot on Anna Wintour's trail.

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