Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Club closings

If you've been out and about lately, I'm sure you've noticed some clubs have closed and others are under renovation.

Here's the haps on two spots:

*710 lounge in Gateway Village is closed. No word on what's going to happen there next. Former 710 manager Will Carper is now a manager at CANS Canteen. He promises the food there is going to improve. I hope so.

*Gilda's in NoDa is closed. It will re-open as Giovanni's Bar & Lounge on Dec. 7. New owner John "Giovanni" Koutsoupias plans to turn the lounge into something similar to Tutto Mondo, Sunset Club and Loft 1523. Yes, I'm scratching my head, too -- since that was the same concept for Gilda's. The previous owners brought uptown glam to NoDa, but it didn't do as well as expected. Giovanni, as most people call him, says he can make it happen.

"I'm taking that concept and putting it on steroids," he said.

He's adding furniture, revamping the drink menu to add signature martinis, and changing the music to appeal to a more upscale crowd. Expect theme nights: Wednesday will be cigar night, Thursday will be poker or alternative night, Friday will be ladies night, and Saturday will be a different theme party each week.

No New Year's fireworks

I've just learned that there won't be any fireworks uptown this New Year's Eve. Apparently, last year's setup in Polk Park wasn't all that good, and all the construction uptown means there are no safe places from which to launch the fireworks.

The fireworks production has been progressively scaled down each year, but this is definitely a blow to New Year's revelers in Charlotte. I guess all the partiers will be watching the ball drop in New York.

What do you think about not having fireworks uptown this year? Post your replies below.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Panthers Skinned!

What's up Panther fans! I know you all thought I was crazy predicting the Redskins would beat the Panthers, but we did it baby. We did it. No, we didn't win 30-0 as my scalp predicted, but we went home with the big W!
Panther fans take solace in this: you party way better than Skins fans. I tailgated at Sunday's game, and I don't know if the Orange E section was a bad spot or what, but Skins tailgates were boring. No, diehard fans with turntables and booming speakers, no live bands and only one crew with a TV set up in the rear of their SUV.
Panther fans, you might have lost the game, but you won the battle of the tailgate.
Don't forget to swing by Madison's uptown tonight. I'll be bartending with V101.9's Chirl Girl. All tips go to the Dignity U Wear charity. You can contribute to a good cause, try my special Redskins' concoction and join me in a round of:
"Hail to the Redskins, hail victory, braves on the warpath, fight for old D.C. ...."

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

R we ready for a gay rapper?

On Sunday, Cazwell showed me why it's going to be a long time before an openly gay rapper goes mainstream.

Before his show at the Forum on Sunday, I watched a couple of his videos on YouTube, and I thought he had crossover potential. He looked and acted like a skinnier Eminem, with sarcastic lyrics, a dry delivery and a hip-hop look. In other words, other than the boys in the video and the fact that I knew he was gay, Cazwell didn't act like a queen. Furthermore, he rapped over house beats instead of hip-hop beats, which added freshness to his style.

In person, though, Cazwell discarded his rougher edge and stepped onstage shirtless (he needs to visit the gym) and wearing satin-y black pants. He looked like a queen. If you're going to be a rapper, it's tough to tiptoe between thuggish and tiara, especially if you don't have strong lyrics.

I love the idea of artists taking rap music and creating a sound that reflects their lifestyle, and if Cazwell's goal was to only appeal to a gay crowd, then he would be fine. During an interview, however, Cazwell said he wants to cross over into the mainstream and get radio airplay. He needs to seriously butch up, completely queen out or totally step up his rap game so his appearance won't matter.

Cazwell makes me wonder what will it take to get an openly gay rapper airplay on MTV and BET, and on Power 98 and 96.1 The Beat.

My guess is the person will spew "I'll kill you" lyrics like 50 Cent, or be a super-queen like RuPaul.

But my preference would be to see the emergence of an openly gay who's intellectual -- in the vein of Common, Talib Kweli or Mos Def -- or a pop rapper like Sean Combs. He cranks out hits that make it on the radio and MTV's TRL. In interviews, this gay rapper talks about his male lover, and at the Grammys, he's sitting next to his man.

What do you think? Will we ever see an openly gay rapper? Post your replies below. NO profanity.

Party Cancelled

Elevate's Kats for Kids event tonight at the Sunset Club has been cancelled because of some kind of contractual drama. It's not a weather related cancellation, so don't let that stop you from going out to the Turkey Trot at the Wachovia Atrium or barhopping elsewhere.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Shaken not stirred

In honor of the new James Bond movie Shud “movie” go here? , I went searching for a few places to have a good martini (besides the usual Cosmos, Therapy, Blue and Loft 1523). Although most establishments feature fruity, Kool-Aid-ish martinis, the classic – with TINK vodka (or gin),ENDTINK vermouth and an olive – is still one of the most popular. Here’s what I found:

6902 Phillips Place, 704-556-7730
The deal: Martinis are served in a short glass instead of the typical long-stemmed, wide-mouth version.
Sampled: The Upstream (Blue Curaçao, champagne, vodka and pineapple juice).
Yum factor: 8 out of 10. Not nearly as sweet as I anticipated.
Providence Café
110 Perrin Place, 704-376-2008
The deal: A lot of places use blue cheese-stuffed olives, but Providence uses Gorgonzola.
Sampled: The Classic (vodka, vermouth and an olive).
Yum factor: 8 out of 10. Not too dry, not too dirty, and strong enough to put hair on your chest.
Carpe Diem
1535 Elizabeth Ave., 704-377-7976
The deal: Martinis are served with the olives attached to cute little giraffes that some customers collect.
Sampled: The Classic made with gin (the bartender loves gin) and the French martini made with vodka, pineapple juice and Chambord.

Yum factor: The Classic – 0 out of 10; either you are a gin drinker, or you’re not ¼ I’m not. The French martini – 5 out of 10; it was sweet, but not cavity-inducing.

What your favorite martini bar and your favorite martini? Post your replies below.

Monday, November 13, 2006

What's up with K-Ci?

When I walked up to Tempo nightclub at about 10 Thursday evening, I was surprised to see there wasn't a line for the free K-Ci (K-Ci & JoJo) show. The lack of people inside the club was even more of a surprise. In the past month, I've been to free Bobby Valentino and Ruben Studdard concerts at Tempo, and both were packed. The line for Valentino’s show stretched down the building. I assumed the same would happen for K-Ci.

After all, K-Ci can actually sing, and he, his brother JoJo Hailey and their group Jodeci are from the Charlotte area. They have a catalog of hits; some have been couples' wedding songs, others are directly responsible for countless babies.

After watching K-Ci climb on his bodyguard's shoulder and walk through the sparse crowd while singing the Bobby Womack classic "If You Think You're Lonely Now," I realized the people who didn't spend their Thursday night at Tempo were way smarter than I. Every time I see K-Ci or his brother perform, I hope the next show will be better than the last, but it never is. During the 25-minute set to promote his long-awaited solo debut "My Book," the rail-thin K-Ci took his shirt off as usual and screeched out the Womack tune, "Freakin' U" and other songs. His voice was ragged.

He sounded better a few hours earlier when I interviewed him after sound check. He was slightly more sober. During the interview, K-Ci talked excitedly about the tour, his solo project, and the even longer-awaited upcoming Jodeci album. He was personable and polite. When his cell phone rang, he answered it, turned it off and apologized profusely for being unprofessional.

A ringing cell phone is the least of K-Ci's worries. If he really wants to be professional, he'll dry out and put on a concert worthy of his talent.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Racism or reflection?

Once again the ghetto culture that black entertainers have glorified and so many young blacks have adopted is causing national controversy.
Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore is grappling with the aftermath of a Halloween party called "Halloween in the Hood."
Sigma Chi fraternity threw the party on Oct. 28. According to a Baltimore Sun article, the party invitation, posted on Facebook, encouraged attendees to wear “regional clothing from our locale’ such as “bling bling ice ice, grills” and “hoochie hoops.” The party included a skeleton pirate dangling from a rope noose.
Predictably, black students at the school were upset, and administrators quickly launched an investigation. Administrators suspended Sigma Chi. Black students are demanding more faculty of color and an African American studies department, among other things.
I’m glad the black students are demanding change, but suspending the fraternity was too harsh. They were reflecting a culture glamorized in entertainment and adopted by so many blacks.
The outcry over the party reminds me of one three years ago when an Asian American hip-hop fan created Ghettopoly. The objective was to go around the game board (or the ghetto), buying stolen property and making money. In the middle of the game board is a black man with exaggerated features holding a gun and a bottle of malt liquor. Game pieces include a marijuana leaf, a crack rock, a pimp and a ho’.
"Halloween in the Hood," like Ghettopoloy, reflect the ghetto culture that entertainers have romanticized through music, TV and movies for decades. Blacks who buy that music or dress ghetto fab reinforce those negative images.
Halloween in the Hood is no different than the Pimp & Ho’ parties I’ve attended at Charlotte nightclubs. (Yes, there are white pimps, but pimps depicted on television are typically black.)
Heck, the black-owned Faces nightclub off Freedom Drive had a grillz party and people were encouraged to wear their gold teeth. Plenty of black promoters have held Timbs and Stillettos parties. Yet, I don’t hear anyone protesting those events. We support the negative images of ourselves and then get angry when whites make it their own.
(BTW: Listen to the re-mix of “Walk It Out” featuring Andre 3000. He’s got a great line telling men their oversized white tees look like dresses, and they should do their mothers proud and get the shirts two sizes smaller.)
Think I’m tripping?
Let me remind you that one in three African Americans who watched television on Oct. 15 watched the season finale of “Flavor of Love.” That show is insulting, yet I know so many blacks how flocked to their televisions to watch it each week.
If BAR Charlotte had a grillz party or a Timbs and Stillettos party and white people showed up wearing gold teeth and long chains, would the NAACP demand blacks boycott the club? Would the city investigate?

What do you think? Post your replies below.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Pouring drinks again

Don't rush home after work tonight. Stop by Madison's on Fifth Street for Skirt Monday's. It's a charity event featuring guest bartenders whose tips, from 6-8 p.m., will be donated to charity. Tonight FOX Charlotte anchors Beth Troutman and Morgan Fogarty will be guest bartenders. Their tips will be donated to Girls on the Run.

I'm bartending with V101.9's Chirl Girl on Nov. 27. Tips from our night behind the bar will go to Dignity U Wear. Other featured charities are Room at the Inn (Nov. 13) and Second Harvest
Food Bank (Nov. 20). Along with being served by celeb bartenders, you can eat food from Coco Osteria and have a shot at getting a rub down. Zen Massage Center in
Dilworth will be raffling off two massages each week.

Hail to the Redskins!

Photo by: Non-Redskins fan Peter Weinberger.

Yeah baby, we beat Dallas so I dyed the hawk and I'm celebrating all week long. And if you think I'm being obnoxious now, wait until we play the Panthers. I'll be at that game at Fed Ex field. If you're going to the game let me know., I'll be tailgating with my brother and looking for some Charlotte folks to party with.

For those of you stuck in Charlotte that weekend, I'm looking for recommendations for good Redskins bars. I'm already familiar with Picasso's. Anymore out there that I can include in a box that will run in E&T on Friday Nov. 24? Post your suggestions below.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Black, white and fun all over

The Black and White Gala is my new favorite annual party.

It's a Make-A-Wish Foundation benefit organized by Young Affiliates of the Mint Museums. Last night's event was the first at CenterStage on North Davidson, and except for a slick floor, it was a good and spacious location.

I attended a Young Affiliates beer tasting a few years ago, and found the group to be a little stuffy. Last night, women kicked off their heels and par-tayed. Men and women dressed in tuxedos and ball gowns grooved -- and I mean grooved -- to the Maxx, an Atlanta-based cover band. Women in the audience jumped on stage and took over the microphone to sing Beyonce's "Crazy in Love" and Nelly's "Hot in Herre." They also freaked the band members, who rolled with it by inviting them to do the "Lean Back" dance. Less-crazy dancers stayed on the dance floor, twirling themselves and each other about. Women outnumbered guys 2 to 1. So fellas, next year, grab a tux or a fly suit, and make your way to the gala.

Along with current hits such as Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" and older hip-hop hits, the Maxx performed a disco set that included Donna Summers' "Bad Girls," and they took it way back to Martha & the Vandellas' "Heatwave." If you ever get a chance to see the Maxx, it's a band not to be missed.

The gala has to be the best deal in town. For $35 (advance tickets), you can get your eat and drink on with an open bar of beer, wine and malt beverages. Fresh oysters, pasta, mini-sandwiches, cupcakes and all kinds of dips were available to soak up all the alcohol partiers consumed.

I woke up this morning and sent text messages to friends telling them to put the Black and White Gala on their calendars for next year -- assuming the Maxx performs again. It's a dress-up event, with get-down flava.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Happy Halloween II

The minute Ricky Bobby, wearing a Dickies style jump suit, started singing "Hound Dog" at Cans restaurant and bar on Halloween night, I knew Elvis would come. As if summoned by an ancient ritual, Elvis, wearing a white outfit, dark glasses and a red scarf, sprinted to the stage. He looked at Ricky Bobby as if he were confused. What was a racecar driver doing singing his song -- his song? Elvis tried to take the mike from Bobby.

Bobby, who towered over Elvis, bent down good-naturedly and shared the mike with Elvis. The racecar driver and singer were two of the dozens of different costumes parading around Cans on Tuesday for a special of edition of Live (I mean Dead) Band Karaoke.

The main floor was crowded but not overwhelming and most people wore costume. Neel Jadeja of Sunny Ledford dressed as guitarist Dave Navarro and Whiskey (former 710 owner) wore boxers, wifebeater and a suit jacket. I, looking innocent in my Girl Scouts outfit, saw several female police officers who could arrest me any day. I also saw Superman, Spiderman, catwoman, and two guys dressed in '70s gear who I thought were supposed to be Flava Flav.

After hanging at Cans for an hour or so, me, L-Boogie and Kitch headed to the Men's Club for Fetish Fest, a party coordinated by Joffe and Single Cell Productions. Downstairs was more like a dance party with live stage fetish performances. During the performance we saw, a dominatrix bound two guys and poured hot wax on herself. I'm not sure why she tied the guys up to pour wax on herself, but I'm obviously not schooled in the world of fetish.

I walked upstairs to visit The House of Intrigue. On my way up the steps, a guy stopped me and asked who was I supposed to be? I held out my arms incredulous. I wore a green jumper, a matching white shirt and I had pins on my dress. (By the way, I haven't worn a dress since I was in college. I really don't understand how or why women wear them. They don't have pockets and it's hard to ride my motorcycle wearing one.) Obviously, I was a Girl Scout.

“The Mohawk threw me off,” he said.

I shook my head. Like Girl Scouts can’t have Mohawks. Upstairs, were two shackle racks in which people stood with their arms locked above their heads. On the right near the entrance, a man wearing leather pants and no shirt lay strapped to a table. A woman whipped him. My favorite attraction in the House of Intrigue was this electric shock gadget. Joffe touched some kind of electric prong. Anyone else he touched got an unpleasant, but not overly painful shock. Once he shocked you, however, you could shock him by touching him. Neat.

So, party people, who had the best Halloween party and what costumes did you see over the last few days that stood out the most to you? Post your replies below.