As usual I was majorly sleep deprived and partied-out to the nth degree. But after downing one or two generous G&Ts, putting on my glad rags and slathering on the makeup, I’m always ready to go out and shake some tail feather.
The text message was brief, “It’s at Julius’.” That’s the location of the monthly party hosted by John Cameron Mitchell, creator of Hedwig and Shortbus. Julius’ is a gorgeously grungy dive bar on W. 10th Street and Waverly Place dating back to 1867 and reputed to be New York’s oldest continuously operating gay bar. The Mattachine Society, the first gay rights group, held a “sip-in” here on April 21, 1966. Can you believe in the old days, it was illegal to serve alcohol to known homosexuals? No way the queens would do without their booze for long, and the stuff’s been flowing like a river ever since.
Mitchell selected Julius’ for being the quintessential queer bar, and though nowadays the place quiet and frequented by the gray haired set, on the nights of his party the delightfully dingy dive bar is packed to the gills with a blend of art kids, trannies, dandies, a few fabulous fag hags (like me) and some Julius’ regulars.
The music is a big draw, since DJs DeBoy and Amber Martin play “vintage vinyl from queer yesteryear” and not the same old tired tunes. And tonight Mitchell was honoring music biz legend Danny Fields, A&R man for Elektra Records and mentor of the Doors. And then there was his little discovery of Iggy Pop and the Stooges, the MC5 and even the Ramones. Fields was Edie Sedgwick’s roommate and hung out with the Andy Warhol crowd at Max Kansas City back in the day, along with his friend photographer Lee Black Childers, who was sitting right next to him here at the table.
I spotted a few other movers and shakers wedged in the jostling but friendly crowd, including the boyish smiling Mitchell. Ms. LEZ Glenn Marla, sporting a new curly Mohawk hairdo, was sitting with the chartreuse-garbed DayGlo-wigged Sequinette. Author and illustrator Ian Falconer introduced me to Fields, who I discovered hated being photographed—but then, he was a photographer himself. "All these angles!" Field said. "If you’re photographing the white whale, send it to National Geographic. Otherwise, don’t shoot me from below!"
For no apparent reason, singer Lady Rizo was dancing around with a bottle of French’s mustard. Julius’ has an old-fashioned indoor grill where the short order chef whips up burger after burger and doesn’t forget the fries. When I went outside, Fields hid his face behind a colorful bouquet of flowers. Those celebrities! Don’t they ever get used to fame and fortune?