Lessons of a Lounge Lizard

Oh, sweet youth! The pain, the suffering, the heartbreak. The champagne, the nightclubs, the women.

"Boomerang ended, Gary was back in Miami opening The Spot, and I needed something to do. I did one night on my own at Warsaw, 'Pure,' which didn't last A the Warsaw regulars didn't want a straight night then. That Boomerang crowd had nowhere to go, so I suggested to Gary that it might be a good idea to start up Avenue A again, the parties he used to do with Louis Canales, somebody I really respect. Anyway, I teamed up with my man Gary and we did the first one at Les Violins, and then everywhere else: the Institute, Society Billiards, 'Lush' at the Butter Club, which was my big hope, the best of the Sixties and Nineties. Now we're still doing Avenue A stuff, 'Lush' again, and of course 'Bohemia,' which has really hit. Gary has all my respect. If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be where I am today. He's taught me so much."

Capponi reaches into his bag and pulls out one of the ambitious, surprisingly arcane invitations that he prides himself on creating, a full-color booklet from a night called "The Origin of the Wooden Drum," with quotations from scholars Joseph Campbell and Curt Sachs. This particular theme involved a tracing of mankind's roots through music, featuring Cuban Santeria drummers, belly dancers, and slides of primitive men beating drums. On other "Bo-hemia" nights, he's used sumo wrestlers, slides of Martin Luther King, Jr., juxtaposed against Ku Klux Klan parades, and choral music at Halloween.

"This quote from Jean Cocteau just sums up clubs for me," Capponi continues. "I'm using it for one of my nights. 'One of the qualities of the dream is that nothing in it surprises us. We agree to live in it with strangers, completely cut off from our habits and friends.' If I couldn't do stuff like this, I wouldn't want to be in the business. I spend $500 to $800 more a week than I need to on invitations. It doesn't help business; it's just something I want to do. Ideally a club could encompass all the arts, and be a subconscious learning experience. When your mind is softened, through music or visuals or whatever, you're able to see beauty. It's frustrating sometimes when I talk to people the day after a party and they don't even remember the visuals. I put my heart into that stuff.

"The Nineties could be better than the Sixties, a mix of that early Sixties love music, the late Sixties revolt things, and Seventies just-have-a-good-time disco. There should be a balance of all three; too much of anything is boring. I'm interested in a movement where everyone could tolerate everyone else, without the separations of the Sixties, everybody thinking they're cooler than other groups. It's an impossible thing, but a little is better than nothing. Now it's all VIP rooms and conversation A dancing and freedom is out, which is something I'm always fighting. When you get a certain beat in a club, it should transcend everything. We have to compromise, use songs like 'Deeper Love,' but sometimes I'll play something strange quietly beneath the music, like choir music or something, just to change the rhythm of the room."

Capponi gets up from the table and demonstrates the power of dance, ignoring the stares of other patrons while quoting form his own writing. "Dance should be in you consistently, you should be able to discover parts of yourself. It's the art in which we ourselves are the true ingredients. It is no mere transition or abstraction from life; it is life in its purest form. When you get the right beat going, everyone should feel free."

He sits down again, fidgeting like a school boy. "It's all a science," he explains, "what music to play, when to turn down the lights, who to let in, how to make people dance without feeling they're being watched, creating a vibe. The darker the room is, up to a certain point, the wilder the party. When one cannot see, one cannot judge. When the self is drowned, freedom is born. And models are like bringing Jesus into the room. The music can suck, the energy can suck, but if you have 50 models, you have a party. Woman is goddess, girls make the power, that's just the way it is. When I first kissed my girl, I walked around Paris until dawn, singing in the streets. My love is so strong. I'd marry her tomorrow. She got me off Ecstasy. Up until then, I could have been watching a sunset with Claudia Schiffer and still wanted to drop some X. People want love; it's not just sex. I hear guys in clubs say stuff like, 'I could marry a girl like that. Look how sweet she is.' It's not a hopeless world.

"The world needs myth, though, and it's unfucking unfortunate that the myths for the youth of today are pretty much rap and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I listen to both myself, but that shouldn't be the sole source of mythology. Clubs can create myths, put people together. I fell into this, and maybe in a few years I'll be making films, writing books, living in a cabin with my love. But for now I choose to live in the heart of pain, trying to create happiness, saying what I have to say through clubs."

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