News & Politics

Strokes Are Stoked!


They look poor and shaggy, but we know otherwise. We hear the Strokes nabbed a cool half-million (350,000 pounds) for their big gig at next weekend’s Reading Festival in England. Their manager, Ryan Gentles, wouldn’t divulge the price but said: “We’re getting paid the same as the other festival headliners,” the Foo Fighters, Prodigy, and Jane’s Addiction, who are playing their first U.K. show in 10 years. The rest of the Reading lineup looks like a New York best-of list, with local stars like Princess Superstar, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Andrew W.K., the Moldy Peaches, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, and the Rapture slated to perform.

If the government has its way, promoters and club owners could face up to $250,000 in fines and up to nine years in jail for throwing dance events. Under the guise of fighting the war on drugs, Senator Joseph R. Biden‘s (D-Delaware) RAVE (Reducing Americans’ Vulnerability to Ecstasy) Act specifically targets club culture. The bill hits the Senate floor in September.

The RAVE Act attempts to streamline the “crack house” statute, used last year to indict New Orleans party promoter James D. Estopinal, a/k/a “Disco” Donnie, and club owners Robert and Brian Brunet. Created to bust drug dens, the 1986 law targets venues where owners “knowingly and intentionally” allow drug use.

While the Brunet brothers’ business pleaded guilty and was fined $100,000, the charges were dropped against Estopinal, and no one did time.

The feds have retooled their strategy. Unlike the “crack house” statute, the RAVE Act includes language that zeros in on dance events: “Each year, tens of thousands of young people are initiated in the drug culture at ‘rave’ parties.”

But as Graham Boyd, of the American Civil Liberties Union, said: “Instead of targeting the drug use, they’re targeting the community.”

Biden claims promoters “exploit American youth” by charging chill-room entrance fees (unheard of) and $5 to $10 for bottled water, an absurdly high price—even in NYC. “If it passes,” said Boyd. “It’s going to scare every legitimate promoter so badly most of them will just get out [of the business].”

Originally slated for the Senate’s consent calendar, tens of thousands of letters sent to Washington protesting the bill have given them pause. To voice your opinion before the bill is voted on next month, go to

You can still get a cheap bottle of beer at Plant Bar, something that pleases Jeannie Hopper immensely. “I can drink English boys under the table,” boasts the Milwaukee-born DJ.

Hiding under a fake Kangol from Fulton Street, she checked out DJ/Rupture‘s d’n’b, hip-hop, and dancehall mash-up last Wednesday night. Hopper—whose Saturday-evening Liquid Sound Lounge show has been running on WBAI for nine years—relishes the anonymity of radio, adding that her listeners “think I’m some 6’2″ Cleopatra Jones black woman. I love it!”

A stalwart of the local underground dance music scene, Hopper has a strong opinion of the RAVE Act. “One word: wrong!” she said. “You can’t be responsible [as a promoter] for everyone’s behavior.”

One of the only politically minded DJs in the city (maybe, even the country), she regularly uses her show to educate the masses, which should come as no surprise: Hopper was a war reporter for seven years, covering everything from the U.S. invasion of Panama to the guerrilla insurrections in El Salvador to early peace negotiations in the Gaza Strip.

(Don’t) Stop the Presses: Rumors abounded among industry insiders that J Records head and media mogul Clive Davis was upset with The New York Times Magazine‘s recent profile on the label’s up-and-coming artist Amanda Latona. Lynn Hirschberg, a pull-no-punches reporter, wrote a scathing article that depicted the singer as easily manipulated and not a little dumb (Latona frequently punctuates her sentences with “Yay!”).

Lois Najarian, J Records publicity honcho, denied that Davis was unhappy with the article or that he had tried to squelch it. “We knew we weren’t going to get a puff piece,” said Najarian, adding, “We wished Amanda didn’t look so malleable.”

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