Barring Bars


Spring has sprung, and so has the War on Fun. A bill sponsored by New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver that would freeze liquor licenses has already passed one assembly committee. The legislation would put a halt to new applications where there are three or more existing licenses within a 500-foot radius (approximately two blocks) in cities with a population over 20,000 (yes, we qualify). This would make it difficult to have even three restaurants that serve liquor on a strip like Clinton Street.

Robert Bookman, the lawyer for the New York Nightlife Association, which opposes the legislation, says, “We aren’t a podunk town. We have buildings with more than one liquor license in them, let alone a block.”

Additionally, the proposal would prevent an owner with a license issued after November 1993 from transferring the license—unfairly lowering the market value of the business.

Ironically, the result will not be the one residents complaining about “too many bars”—like saturated Ludlow Street—actually desire. “If you are a too-many-bar person, this is a terrible idea, because it will lock in the existing locations forever, so they will never have a reduction in the number of bars,” says Bookman.

A hearing will be held May 5 at 250 Broadway, starting at 10 a.m.

But all is not lost. Spring has also sprung for all our local bands, parties, and a club. Last week, Elefant played a surprise guest gig at the Annex, in support of their new record Black Magic Show, to a crowd that included long-lost Hollywood “It” girl Leelee Sobieski. Current “It” girl Scarlett Johansson and her puffy lips and pillow tits watched TV on the Radio at the Bowery the following night. Later in the week, every gay man in New York converged to see the Scissor Sisters play at two concerts at the Bowery, where they debuted some of their new songs. And Axl Rose showed up at MisShapes—and left when DJ Jess spun “Welcome to the Jungle.” Oops.

In clubland, Scenic is re-emerging with a carnival theme and is now called Club Midway. After a nearly two-month break for renovations to both its interior and its programming, the space will relaunch the scandalous party Rated X, thrown by Michael T and Theo, intact, starting May 6. The duo decided to stay with the venue after dealing directly with owners Oliver and Kenai Sehgal. Michael T says he asked the two brothers whether or not they were comfortable with the gay and risqué nature of their party: “We brought it up briefly the very first time we met with them in late Febuary, and they were more concerned with the sexual antics than anything gay or straight per se. We really haven’t felt it was a homophobic issue,” he says. “We’ve certainly told them many times, we don’t plan on changing our party.” The club’s booking agent, J.C. Scruggs, says Midway will be focusing on “up-and-coming indie, mostly local bands, but we hope to snag the occasional national act,” and that Rated X is their only weekly dance party thus far.

Some of the old staffers are still on board, but not all. At least one has followed Spencer Product and the other popular weekly at Scenic, Hot Fuckin’ Pink, to the Annex, where it’s been reborn as the Ruff Club on Fridays. Product’s got his old posse on board, including Sophia Lamar and Denny from Hot Fuckin’ Pink Phoenix. He’s bringing in bands, including bad boys A.R.E. Weapons , in May.

Product is still doing his Tuesday-night party at Happy Ending without his DJ partner Stefan Lockdown, who died last winter. “It’s definitely weird. It’s kind of like Stefan church in a way,” Product says. He’s also helping with the Lockdown Fundraiser, held on the last Monday of every month. The money goes to an art scholarship fund set up by Lockdown’s parents. It takes place, not in a church or a community center, but at Stefan’s favorite bar, Sweet’N’Vicious.