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CBGB's landmark fight; East Village freaks, live and on film

One venue struggles to stay in business and another finds a new home (sort of). While the "new Fez" gears up for its big debut, KABI JORGENSEN, a Web programmer, has teamed up with DONNA GAINES, former Voice writer and the author of Teenage Wasteland, to get the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission to grant CBGB landmark status. They've already gotten support from CB's vets ARTURO VEGA, LITTLE STEVEN of the E STREET BAND, TOMMY RAMONE, director JONATHAN DEMME, and FAB 5 FREDDY, among others.

While landmark status may not affect whether or not owner and founder HILLY KRISTAL and his landlord, the Bowery Residents' Committee, can come to an agreement regarding this August's rent hike—reportedly from an already whopping $20K a month to $40K—it would put a public seal on the venue's importance in New York history. "We want it made official because it is a landmark," says Jorgensen, who took it upon herself to pursue the cause. "The way it's been featured in ads, in the NYC 2012 campaign—everyone seems to recognize it. It should be official."

Kristal, who is not involved in the preservation efforts, says that if the club were landmarked it might make it more difficult for the BRC to remove him, "but it'd also be a lot more difficult to rent." Ironically, my hometown, Las Vegas, is actively courting Kristal to open a space in the city of sin. Anything, it seems, will do. "How 'bout that?" chuckles Kristal. "They are out to make Las Vegas the entertainment capital of the country. They'd love me to be in downtown Vegas or Fremont. I've had offers for licensing in the casinos. I don't know if I am going to do it. I started in New York, I am from New York, and CB's belongs in New York. If I do something there, it would be secondary."

Lola (bearing her cross) and Heidi
photo: Tricia Romano
Lola (bearing her cross) and Heidi

The same week that supporters of CBGB announced they would seek landmark status for the beleaguered club, Spin Cycle, the booking company that brought performers like JACKIE BEAT and MURRAY HILL to Fez, announced it'd found a new home for its popular cabaret shows—right across the street at the club formerly known as Under Acme. Now called Ace of Clubs (shows start June 3, in time for Gay Pride Month, with the NELLIE OLESONS), the venue sports a few improvements over the old Fez. For one thing, there are more exits: "It's less of a firetrap!" jokes Spin Cycle's RON LASKO. For another, no more subway rumblings—which means no more bad jokes about it. Sigh.

Proving that it's best to never go above 14th Street or west of Broadway, I went to old friend LOLA ROCK'N'ROLLA's film premiere Sell Out at the Anthology Film Archives on Tuesday night. The movie stars every East Village freak (and I mean that in a good way) you can think of—including G-SPOT (best known for his exploits at the Cock), HEIDI SJURSEN, GINA VOLPE (formerly of THE LUNACHICKS), the WORLD FAMOUS *BOB* (who is stellar as an icy, murderous, diva beyatch), DIRTY MARTINI, MISSTRESS FORMIKA (as his boy self, MICHEAL FORMIKA JONES), and Lola. Other East Village lovelies not in the movie, like Murray Hill, THEO, and FRITZI COLLINS, were there for the screening. The flick features the kids doing what they normally do—Gina's in a band, G-Spot's an aspiring actor-performer, Lola's trying to make a film, and Misstress Formika is a boyband pimp. It got a little too real though. Heidi told me at the after-party at Arlene's Grocery that, just like her movie character, she likes to grab strangers' butts. One day after filming, they were eating at a sidewalk café on Avenue A and she grabbed one strange girl's butt, who was not amused and had her arrested. She spent the night in the slammer wearing a one-piece white jumpsuit that made her look like a high-class hooker with a fetish for JOHN HUGHES movies. Talk about realness!


tromano@villagevoice.com

 
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