Jada Yuan cornered the normally press-shy Simon Hammerstein at City Opera’s spring gala, and among other things he revealed that during his birthday party at his club the Box, he was dragged onstage to have his clothes ripped off (and you thought a shirtless Anthony Bourdain was bad…). What we really love, though, are his musings about what a reporter from the Times of London once called his “Jesus beard.”
Box owner Simon Hammerstein is happy one of his performers spilled a drink on Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher this week. [NYP]
2008 probably won’t be the year that sees the establishment of a large, indoor public market along the lines of London’s Borough Market or San Francisco’s farmer’s market. [NYT]
Related: Batali Shows a Little Leg to Sex Up New Amsterdam Public
Gael Greene puts forth her list of culinary predictions for the New Year, including this gem: “Jeffrey Chodorow and Frank Bruni will have a food fight in Madison Square Park televised by the Food Network. If Bruni loses he will be required to review restaurants in Des Moines for six months. If Chodorow is the loser he will be forbidden to open a new restaurant for three weeks.” [Insatiable Critic]
Cindy Adam's psychic, Wendy, predicts that in 2008, the mortgage crisis will stabilize, Brad and Angelina will adopt some more kids, and Madonna will shave her head. Box owner Simon Hammerstein wrote an e-mail to his club's manager privately applauding a dancer who spilled a drink on Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore ("Bleep] Ashton and Demi, they are so up their own arses … and they spend nothing") but insisted that publicly the performer be "reamed."
When Esquire picked Bar Veloce’s Thomas Crowley one of the “Best Dressed Real Men in America” this month (and posed Simon Hammerstein and David Chang in pricey duds for its “Angry Young Men” spread), we realized that restaurateur style doesn’t stop at Batali’s clogs and Bobby Flay’s mom jeans. Now Us Weekly has posted its list of the “25 Most Stylish New Yorkers,” and we know a couple of the names.
When we last heard about the Box, owner Simon Hammerstein was telling a whistle-blowing auditioner that his patrons are “narcissistic and highly intoxicated. They don’t listen to words.” We can only assume, then, that the cops used sign language when they raided the place on Sunday morning and shut it down after searching random narcissists for drugs (Jay-Z and Cameron Diaz got away safe, perhaps by using the controversial Freeman Alley exit). What kind of substances would be consumed at a place that Hammerstein has insisted is not a nightclub? (A Box rep told "Page Six" the raid was due to a clerical error.) Well, the last time we were there, MC Raven O was doing a rendition of “Cocaine” and dumping white powder all over everyone. So, yeah, there’s that.
Cops Raid Downtown Hot Spot [NYP]
Related:Narcissistic and Highly Intoxicated Box Patrons Want Totally Gross Anthems, Says Owner
The September issue of Esquire is the gift that keeps on giving: Last week it introduced us to the foppish Thomas Crowley of Bar Veloce and his hilarious MySpace page; today it brings us “Angry Young Men,” a “new generation of mavericks” selected to wear $1,500 suits and glower for the camera. Two of our favorite mavericks made the cut: nightlife impresario Simon Hammerstein, looking tough with a burned-down cig and a stripy fall suit, and culinary “It” boy David Chang, mad as hell in classic houndstooth. We can see how running the Box would wear a guy out, but what got in D.C.’s craw? He looks like somebody just told him he had to use Boar’s Head bacon at Ssäm Bar. That said, he does look sharp.
Related:Bar Veloce GM Moonlights as Raffish FopWhat’s in the Box? [NYM]
Starting July 14, the Box will host early dinner shows at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Besides a three-course meal of Jewish comfort food and the chance to spot Scar-Jo, what exactly can one expect for the $125 price of admission? Server Mike Harr, whom we recently interviewed for Ask a Waiter, would say only that the show was “mysterious, very mysterious,” but we have another inside source: Belgian pop sensation Von Von Von, best known for wowing the Apollo, who recently auditioned before owner Simon Hammerstein. We'll let Von tell this in his own words:
In our continuing coverage of Simon Hammerstein's new Lower East Side rich-people-pretending-to-be-bohemian playground, the Box, we've remembered a conversation we had with Hammerstein last week at that Queen Mary 2 party, in which he once again describes a venue that seems almost nothing like its reality:
New York: Everyone's talking about the Box. How are you handling the hype?
Hammerstein: One day at a time. It's too early to smell the roses. We're trying to transform the space every season. The feedback has been remarkable, but that doesn't mean my job is over. It's a full-time job.
New York: How do you cultivate a fun, engaging place to be without alienating everybody?
Hammerstein: It's a job unto itself. For me the quintessential night in New York is a diverse, mixed room: freaks to conservatives. As long as we appreciate all walks of life and we're open to that. People are people.
New York: Ever been disallowed entrance into a club yourself?
Hammerstein: Oh, God, everyone has. I remember being drunk at Marquee and my own friend wouldn't let me in because he said I was too drunk. I threw my driver's license at him and reminded him who I was. Embarrassing.
When Michael Harr applied for a job at the Box, his only previous waiting experience was at a summer camp — he figures he was hired mostly for his look, cultivated in part because he’s a musician in the Scallywag Sideshow. “They had a woman doing costumes,” he remembers. “While [the other employees] were on line getting measured, she came up to me and said, ‘You can just wear whatever is in your wardrobe.’” We asked Michael about the inner workings of the city’s most popular yet enigmatic dinner cabaret — not surprisingly, he kept his answers very close to his vintage vest.
During the year and a half Simon Hammerstein spent converting a former abattoir (and later, sign factory) into his dinner theater the Box, he hauled in an imposing set of doors from an insane asylum using his pimpmobile. We suspected the restroom décor would be similarly eccentric, and sure enough, the door to the wheelchair-accessible ground-floor WC comes from an old public schoolhouse. Then again, we’ve seen that before. The real action lay on the other side of the portals found down a narrow staircase, and at the end of the same sconce-lit hallway that leads to dressing rooms intended for circus freaks, S&M performers, and acrobats whenever the place finally opens, that is.
If you’d rather wait to experience it in person (assuming you can score an invite to the next launch party), you’ll want to avert your eyes from the centerfold-worthy interior shot of the Box in this week’s magazine. William Van Meter’s profile of its primary owner Simon Hammerstein is also plenty revealing: Turns out the Rogers & Hammerstein progeny is a reformed raver. There won’t be any glow sticks at his dinner theater just a twenty-inch-tall woman named Firefly, a G-stringed Russian gymnast, and (why not?) the “Hammerstein Beauties.” Daniel MaurerWhat’s in the Box? [NYM]
Related: Simon Hammerstein’s Personal Pimpmobile?
Last night 205 and neighbor the Box, which opens in a couple of weeks, had a veritable door-off: A 205 list keeper unsympathetically turned away skater types who came to celebrate Vice's “Girls” issue while a doorman at the Box iced down uptowners trying to huff and puff their way into the Me magazine party (sample bluster: “My sister was a model in this week’s magazine. She must be on the list”). Passing both scenes on our way to admire the taxidermy collection at Home Sweet Home, we snapped a pic of the Boxcar (“The Box, 189 Chrystie St.” a decal on the door reads). Is this the personal pimpmobile of Simon Hammerstein, enfant terrible of the theater-owning Hammerstein family and proprietor of the Box? And is that tear in the side fallout from the Freemans–Box showdown? We’ll say this much: If you pull up in front of the place in this hooptie, at least you’re getting in. Daniel Maurer