“Going Out” is a column celebrating the legacy of our founder, Andy Warhol. Long ago, in the disco ball-refracted days of The Factory, Warhol’s Interview chronicled the comings and goings of the downtown scene, spotlighting its ever-eccentric populace in their favorite dimly lit haunts. For our inaugural edition of “Going Out,” Ernest Macias followed Susanne Bartsch across the Williamsburg Bridge to experience Level 6 of Bartsch’s monthly video-game inspired fête, Play Now!
This magazine was founded by a person obsessed with interesting people, famous faces, and parties. Interview has chronicled, over the span of 50 years, the birth, and rise, of NYC nightlife. Going through a 1988 issue featuring George Michael on the cover, I came across a photo of Bartsch in a disheveled blonde wig during her days as hostess at the infamous Copacabana. It only seemed fitting to kick off this nightlife column with one of her parties. Although much has changed since the Copacabana days, one thing remains: Bartsch’s adoration for all things weird — and the will to have fun. Of course, Saturday night’s alien-filled Play Now! 6 at East Williamsburg’s 3 Dollar Bill was no exception.
I’ve thought long and hard about how to describe the monthly party hosted by Bartsch, along with self-described downtown “it” girl Linux. But then again, attempting to describe a Bartsch experience is like attempting to describe how sand feels under your feet at the beach. Her parties are the type that make people say, “you had to be there.” And it’s true; you did have to be there to get the full Play Now! experience. How to explain nightlife icon Amanda Lepore stretched out in all her glamour, posing for the eager iPhone cameras of today’s Club Kids, dressed in latex and tule-wrapped dresses? “That’s what’s so cool about Play Now,” Brooklyn-based designer Jamil Moreno, told me. “Obviously we’re not celebs, but for a moment we get to feel that. It’s not ego, it’s a high.” How to explain Fecal Matter (“Matieres Fecales”), the Montreal-based high-fashion alien couple who gave a dirty DJ set to a roaring crowd? How to explain all of that, especially after, at one point, the evening’s guests were asked to hold off on recording or taking pictures? What followed was a performance, that simply put, was a handful to watch. Bartsch knows a thing or two about parties; after all, she’s been throwing them for three decades. As the world keeps evolving and transforming under our very feet, the patron saint of nightlife, has made it her goal to provide spaces where creative souls, ghouls, and small town kids from Texas can throw on a pair of heels, add a little glitter, and express themselves. Interview went out and captured the night — with Polaroids of course. Because what else would Andy do?