By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Swenson
On a recent Wednesday, The Bitch checked out an event called the Lo McXimo de la Música concert series preview at Studio A. Why? Because she wanted to see Natalie and Nicole Albino, the teen identical twin sisters from Queens who sing under the name Nina Sky. In summer 2004 the Albinos put the Coolie Dance riddim on the pop charts with "Move Ya Body," and the duo's much-anticipated album drops in September.
The "concert series preview" ended up being a slickly packaged promo for a McDonald's-sponsored road show. Though the gimmick of the Mickey D's program is that it's all for the kids (three dollars from every ticket sale will go to help sponsor higher education for Hispanics), there was barely a Latin veneer on the event. Not one word of Spanish was uttered during the entire showcase. Singer Jeannie Ortega a Christina Aguilera wannabe meets Pink plus butt-shaking had a Nuyorican accent, and that was about it.
The Bitch chatted with Ruth Gamble, who is taking a break from Chicago's famed Second City comedy sketch group to go from Big Mac event to event in a Streamline motor home, interviewing vapid doofuses and urging audiences to "keep givin' it up for McDonald's." She seemed very stoked about the whole thing they must be paying her in gold. As the golden arches were projected onto the mesh that encloses the VIP area (making for an odd juxtaposition) and the strangely familiar hors d'oeuvres (fried chicken bits with a honey-mustard sauce) filled the air with the clinging aroma of fried grease, a claque of chicas gave it up for thin-voiced Luis Fonsi.
The Bitch, unhappy with the abundance of meat and a promotion that essentially made a Happy Meal out of Miami's dominant culture, decided to depart without seeing Nina Sky, but not before ordering for the first and only time in her life a Johnny Walker Black Label from a guy in a McDonald's visor.
Seeing Studio A go for such a low-rent stunt made The Bitch ponder some rumblings she'd recently heard about the place. The whisper campaign began when Pedro Mena, Miami's nascent live-music venue production manager, announced via a cryptic e-mail blast last week that he was returning to his hometown, the Big Apple.
Mena's abrupt departure the club just opened in March seemed to back a rumor already circulating that Studio A, the Eleventh Street live-music venue and a rarity in these parts was having financial trouble.
Mena whose experience includes founding Shout!, one of NYC's longest-running underground dance parties has struggled, he says, to lure touring acts such as the Stills and the Editors down from Orlando. Those bands and others did play Miami, but the effort proved expensive and difficult.
Georgie Seville, the club's self-proclaimed co-owner and ringleader, called Mena down around six months ago to get things running, but said there's no drama to his departure. "He is getting married in September in Spain," Seville said. "Apparently his old lady was giving him a hard time about being out for the marriage preparations."
Mena mentioned to The Bitch that "the investors" would be launching Studio B, Studio A's "sister club" in Brooklyn. Seville, however, said Mena would be taking time off and would have nothing to do with Studio B.
What about the persistent rumor that hip-hop collective Definitive Juxtaposition (Def Jux if you're nasty) has had some doings with Studio A? The wayward Mena was flummoxed by rumor control: "Def Jux? Are they from New York?" No one at the Studio liked the sound of it at all. The Bitch wondered how anyone in the music business, let alone from the New York indie scene, could lack awareness of the label whose artist roster includes Cannibal Ox, Mo Mega, Cool Calm Pete, and, um, Murs.
Hmmm. Just when it seemed it was time to throw in the underground hip-hop towel, Amaechi Uzoigwe, founder of World's Fair Management Group and co-owner of Def Jux, sent The Bitch a lightning bolt of an e-mail containing some amazingly good news: Another live-music venue is coming to town early next year. Uzoigwe, who will finance the operation, wrote, "Our spot is not a South Beach thing but very much a place for top-quality alternative and indie artists, a place for local acts as well, and hopefully a nice and new dimension to the musical landscape down there."
Uzoigwe wouldn't confirm or deny any prior Def Jux interest in Studio A, but maintains no one at the label has any investment or ownership of the club now.
Meanwhile Uzoigwe and his partners are still awaiting the green light from permit types in the City of Miami before they announce where the new club will be located, but they anticipate no problems. If problems arise, rioting will, of course, be in order.
The War on Tara
Life as a tabloid urchin is rough, and no one is immersed in the sea of bitter gossip as often as sometime South Floridian Tara Reid. Or so the bicoastal movie star and known party lover reminded The Bitch during cocktails at the Delano on a recent Tuesday. But Reid, who looked slammin' and rested in a black pareo and freshly trimmed white-blond bob, had something of her own to report. "I just got the news that I've booked a film opposite Robert DeNiro. [It was] the first part I've had to audition for in years," Reid enthused. "I had really been wanting this film."