June 27, 1988 | Vintage Insatiable
The Joys and Sorrows of Nightcrawling

        The success bitch is a tramp…whimsical and cruel, especially to clubs and restaurants. Tonight it’s love. Tomorrow, a frenzy of adulation. Next week, Chapter 11.

        Scooting around town between eleven and midnight on a Friday night in June is a lesson in flimflam and caprice. Eighteenth Street encapsules the drama:
Caffe Roma, torrid for a season, is shuttered. Il Palazzo, having obliterated the once-steam Cafe Seiyoken, is nearly deserted. The action has cooled at America, but there’s bustle at the bar. Joanna’s—earliest of the Hot—is abandoned and forlorn.

        A few blocks away,
Café Society yawns, its once-sizzling balcony barren. Canastel’s steams along, perhaps partly as a refuge for the rejects of Café Iguana across the way. Studio 54 is virtually deep-sixed by the savvy. Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager have left the Palladium behind. Savants of the Night snub Nell’s, where wistful whippets leap out of limousines direct from the prom to be bounced off the ropes.

        What’s hot? And is it worth the humiliation? Remember, a Long Island teenager’s thrill may be a Euro-twerp’s poison…my favorite frisson could be your migraine.

***

Café Iguana : Kids Just Wanna Have Fun

       Why Café Iguana? It looks as if somebody’s cousin slapped it together with scissors and paste, fake wisteria, tinsely stars, a jungle recycled from Banana Republic, a couple of stuffed iguanas—nothing like the millions poured into splashier canteens a few blocks away.

        Tex-Mex, it seems, is still a lure. After a couple of margaritas—these are actually made with tequila—the sleaziest enchilada tastes wonderful. The crew that runs the place is downright sweet. Café Iguana just looks like fun.


        Vast as Newark’s Terminal C, with a horny Richard Burton monster above the door and a stylish Ava Gardener iguana in her rhinestoned Norell flying over the bar, Iguana stretches endlessly, full of promise. Even with its 300 seats and a brace of bars, there’s no room to pack the crowd in. So they stand outside…even in tonight’s freezing thunderstorm, huddled without umbrellas…waiting sometimes till the last call at 3:45 a.m.


        Neighborhood families and dazed grown-ups, anthropologically curious, gather early. As the night ticks on, the crowd gets younger. Mama Iguana (as owner Joyce Steins thinks of herself) slithers through the crowd, using a linebacker to clear the way, kissing, reaching out, stepping into the hugs of her loyal brood. Summer weekends, they come from Long Island. “Not the Five Cities,” someone corrects Steins, “the Five Towns.”


“Hot, hot, hot” goes the song. Someone leaps onto the bar or the podium. A bartender. Joyce herself. “Let’s Twist Again.” Everyone drinks and jumps around. Young men with sweaters tucked in. Crew-cut females with trapezius muscles that ripple, Shimmying in place, cautious voyeurs exchange phone numbers but mostly go home alone.


        From our tiny round on the balcony, through the sweep of turquoise-framed glass, we can see the taming of Canastel’s across the way and what must be homeless offspring dashing into the street to beg for money at the stoplight.


        If you’ve guzzled the prescribed margaritas, you may not notice that Iguana’s food is fiercely ordinary (entrees, $8.25 to $19.50). Nachos could earn a niche in my Junk Food Hall of Fame. These don’t. And the tacquitos are tightly rolled and anonymous. Shrimp, stuffed into spicy pickled jalapenos that are girdled in cornmeal and then flash-fried, is a disaster. But a balloon goblet of seviche tastes fresh and piquant. The grilled shrimp is buttery, the chicken only slightly dry in its tasty crust of skin. Just wrestle a morsel of grilled-chicken fajita from where it lies trapped under a rubbery melt of fundido. It will be lovely on a splendid tortilla with some beans and rice and a dab of minced jalapeno from the tray of garnishes.


        Stick to the brownie, preferably a la mode. But let’s not dwell on culinary backwaters. Food snobs and fashion snobs and people snobs will not love Iguana. It’s a funky grotto, a sanctuary to burn off anxiety, to feel hugged and wanted even if you have to wait for an hour in the rain. That calls for a certain innocence.


        Mama Iguana says they’re begging her to bring her magic to Paris, to London, to Tokyo. Maybe she will.

Café Iguana, 235 Park Avenue South, at 19th Street

***

Canal Bar: When Black Was the New Black

       Finding the newest late-night lair is like living in a Hemingway novel. It’s always raining. The streets all run one way, the wrong way. Is this dump it? That first winter night at Canal Bar, there is already a hint of divine smugness in the air. Rumor is right. A new territorial imperative has been claimed by the nocturnal nomads. How can you tell? Everyone is wearing black: minis and turtles and tribal kimonos, granny shoes and bootees, bits of black that look like underwear.

        Brian McNally can do no wrong, it seems. His
Odeon pointed the way of TriBeca, and Indochine has survived the curse of chic. McNally can take a tacky joint on the edge of nowhere splatter paint about, and open. He doesn’t even have to hang the name outside. Tout New York will find it.

        Canal Bar—nowhere near Canal Street, to be provocatively perverse—was an exercise in making do. A trio of rooms, each looking like a different decade. Fuzzy brown spots in walls and menu, a suggestion of calfskin, perhaps. A luncheonette-into-bar leap. A stripper, topless, in the mural. The blue room, with its fifties fixtures and suburban air. And the wait crew, equally improvisational. I have to believe that the baggy trousers with dangling braces and socks showing (sported by our waiter) are crazy fresh in somebody’s Zip Code.


        A decade ago, Bianca Jagger would have celebrated her birthday at Studio 54; five years ago, it would have been the Palladium. This year, Bianca’s bash lures even Sly Stallone, plus the usual conspirators, here to the wilds of Greenwich Street. Keith Haring, Tina Chow, and Lauren Hutton celebrate Julian Schabel’s Whitney retrospective. Spot Philip Johnson, Caroline Herrera, Claudia Cohen with Steve Rubell. Ken Aretsky almost nightly, in the see-and-be-seen booths of honor.


        “I don’t understand it quite,” McNally admits. “I’m astonished people come.” Looking ahead (”We can only be trendy so long”), he had walls knocked down this spring. Now everyone can feed at the same salt lick. No one can have a fit about being marched off to the kitchen, too, hoping to draw lunch trade from nearby Saatchi & Saatchi and other ad-world émigrés.


        Somehow, the crowd never gets too bridge-and-tunnel-esque, neither too preppy nor diluted by too many middle-aged, overweight curiosity seekers. You can be middle-aged. You can be fat. You can be nobody. But all three at once --- it does tacky up the place. These are not my rules. These are
the rules.

        Now it’s the time of the spring monsoon. At midnight, the place is frantic, five deep at the bar. And chef Matthew Tivvy of the late, doomed
QV keeps the clan content with his uncomplicated cooking.

        The food makes no demands. You don’t have to take a class at Berlitz to pronounce it, or genuflect to its dazzle. If you’re down to your last twenty, you can have a good steak sandwich and a beer, hitch a ride home with a friend, and have enough left over for tomorrow’s lunch.

        Some pastas work and some are gluey. One night, the lamb is tasteless. Next time, the four little chops with grilled eggplant and mashed potatoes are truly good. Fine mozzarella and red peppers in zesty vinaigrette, a crisp little cheese-less pizza, basil-scented fennel salad, crispy leek tart, or mellow fish-and-corn chowder could lead to buttery prawns, tremulous salmon rosy from its steaming, or that tasty steak piled high with a sweetness of caramelized onion on an admirable roll. (Entrees, $8.50 to $24.)


        The hot apple tart is from sugar city. Better choices: nut-studded chocolate cake with ice cram, or tangy lemon tart.


Canal Bar, 511 Greenwich Street

***
Il Bianco: 15 Minutes of Heady Fame

       Il Bianco is a summer fantasy…the cool porch of some swell’s Southampton cottage, a veranda in Kentucky or even on Mackinac Island. Everything wicker and painted bamboo with lovely flowered chintz and lazy white fans wafting in the breeze.

        There aren’t that many uptown social imperatives as pretty as this.
Mezzaluna is a Bellini gone slightly flat. Ciaobella still jumps—if you don’t mind dinner in the clatter of a tin can. Il Bianco is unique: a sprawling space that seats 400, yet so cleverly designed by Haverson/Rockwell that puckered cotton on the ceiling mutes the noise and pillars and ells create intimacy. For its flower-decked terrace alone, Il Bianco should sizzle this summer. Who could resist camping out with a long, cool rum punch?

        So far, the Zimberg brothers, Seventh Avenue’s Bruce and Arnold, have failed to draw the flighty fauna that gave their
Il Palazzo its fifteen minutes of heady fame.

        Quite deliberately, they discourage ceremonial idling at the bar. That bouncer on the steps isn’t checking for pedigree or fashion attitude, just making sure you’re hungry and pass the dress code (relaxed on Sunday, when anything goes). When the mercury drops and the ficklettes move on, Il Bianco will need the neighborhood’s affluent hungry to fill all those chairs. Of course, Il Bianco could simply self-destruct from the stumbles of the kitchen and the bumbles of the serving crew.


        On a quiet Sunday, with hard-core fifties pop on the stereo and Eli Zabar’s great sourdough lifting your spirits, our lively threesome is pleased to discover a gathering of perfectly poached sea critters in the Brodetto Calafuria and  crisp, garlicky chicken that is not my idea of pollo all diavolo, but good even so.


        Quite frankly, we’re so pleased by the summer-garden look and Little Richard blasting overhead that we’ve forgotten the soapy-ricotta eggplant rolls, the banal crostino ripoff, undistinguished hot antipasto, and over-cooked risotto.


        And what greedy tariffs. Pasta can cost $19.95, a few mundanely crumbed clams or those little rolls of eggplant for $8.95; entrees from $15.50 to $24.95. Tofu has more personality than this mozzarella. String beans and mushrooms in a strait jacket of cheese is a joke. A breast of chicken has been similarly abused. Water logged salmon carpaccio is inedible. One evening, I am convinced the chef left early. Everything arrives undressed or unseasoned, but our cute cheerleader waitress—assisted by a somewhat  primitive robot—provides oil and vinegar so we can jazz things up.


        Oh, how she tries. Reciting the deserts, she is adorable, passionate, naughty, a blur of Shirley Temple and Bernadette Peters. Perhaps she is auditioning. If you love the cakes of Sant Ambroeus, drown your sorrows in dessert.


        It’s not that you can’t get something good to eat here: Just understand that nothing is the least bit Italian and tonight’s triumph might be a loser tomorrow.


Il Bianco, 1265 Third Avenue, at 73rd Street

***
M.K.: Eating Up the Scene

        You fool people with your veneer of sophistication, but you’re still hopelessly wowable, a bumpkin from Detroit. So you try to look properly indifferent, ever so slightly jaded, when, silly urban rube, you are thrilled out of your Ace-bandage mini to be sitting wedged into a VIP booth in the gurgling heart of volcano-M.K.’s deck of a dining room.

        Imagine yourself, you Motown Mouse-burger, you—inches away from Mick Jagger, Fred Hughes, Steve Rubell, all those nocturnal barracuda and titans of the literary brat pack -- Jay McInerney and Bret Easton Elli. You shiver (pretending it’s a chill, not the thrill), thinking if the food takes much longer you’ll just not eat, and get thin enough to dress like Tinker Bell across the way—in her pink tulle tutu—or in something black and spandexy with a few inches of bare thigh above black stockings. Oh, to be a trendette again, capitalizing on one’s fine form before fading at 24.


        People here are eating up the scene. You just eat. And you can’t help noticing that once dinner arrives—four plates now, two more five minutes later—the food is surprisingly good. Downstairs, a steel band cranks into full blare. It never occurs to you that all this is yours because a famous American beauty has joined you for dinner—and you were sufficiently savvy to let her book the table.


        Now we’re on our own. “We don’t take reservations,” the voice on the phone informs my date a few days later. Never? “Well, we do take reservations from people we like,” “Do you know anyone M.K. likes?” he asks me. “Tell them we were there with Margaux Hemingway Saturday night,” I say. “and loved it so much we must come for dinner tonight.”


        It’s pouring rain and no umbrella. I dash from the taxi, unhook the velvet rope, and race for cover when suddenly a Marine sergeant barks: “Where do you think you’re going?”


        “We have a reservation for dinner.”


        “You’re not even supposed to be inside that rope,” he growls.


        Cringing, I retreat, expecting to be atomized, when a second doorman, confirming that we do indeed have a reservation, escorts us into M.K. Of course, M.K. is eccentric. What do you expect from Eric Goode and Serge Becker, two of Area’s creators? A pair of stuffed Dobermans guard the fake Miro. Coats get checked in the vault of what was once a bank, with the graceful marble grand-entrance stairway.


        Behind the bar, fish swim in giant aquariums, no less aimless than the crowd, a marvel of attitude and ennui, seemingly sexless, waiting for…impossible to guess. From the catwalk, the privileged stare down at the gathered hopefuls bobbing in the shape-up, waiting for the signal of approval. Who gets in? No projudice here—the young, the old, the ugly, wrens and peacocks, a stylish toreador, a lout in powder-blue Bermudas, a tall dude in a do-rag. But not necessarily you. “It’s whimsical,” in manager Howard Schaffer’s words.


        There is usually a modest match at the pool table in the library, with its high school lab cases of dusty skulls and bones, beetles and stuffed animals. The decorous chat on the pink velvet canopied bed. Only a few people are dancing in the smoky dim of the cellar, supposedly a private club.


        You have time to explore, practicing scream suppression, waiting 90 minutes for your 10:30 reservation. Don’t bother using the phone to arrange an escape. It costs 50 cents for each disconnect. And don’t complain—or ask for a receipt for your entrance tariff. The clown at the door with a monocle screwed into his face gives a new edge to supercilious.


        If you don’t give up, you’ll get to know the maitresse d’—long legs, long neck, long wait. Tonight you’re nobody. From your table below deck, you can barely catch sight of Sly Stallone at one table. Bianca at another. And you’re not sure why you’re eating dinner at midnight, but the spring-vegetable soup is good, the Ceasar salad tangy and fresh, the sea scallops silkily caramelized on the grill.


        Chef Rick Colon, once a fixture at Hawaii 5-0, paints splendid chicken with a peppery-hot-chili-sage-butter, grills salmon still pink at the core, and turns out an excellent filet in a sparkling, tarragon-touched tomato coulis. His lamb chops are shaggily un-chic and good, the crisp fries an addiction. When I send back the trout because it smells odd, he comes out himself to say it is just the balsamic vinegar marinade—and delivers an excellent burger in it’s place, tasty and rare. For dessert, there’s a fine apple tart with cinnamon ice cream and strawberry shortcake with a cookielike biscuit.


        Summer weekends—when anyone with a shred of dignity who doesn’t have a house in the Hamptons will stay home pretending he does—are for you. A 15 percent service charge is automatically added. Don’t tip twice.

M.K., 204 Fifth Avenue, near 25th Street

***
Au Bar: Hungry for Humiliation


        America still clings to that Wasp obsession with out-Englishing the Anglos that seems to gild the aura of the club that won’t have you. Amazing that a nation so indifferent to bondage could be so hungry for humiliation.

        What is a doorman, anyway? Just someone who isn’t smart enough to get a real job. Are you going to grovel to the lumpish Cerberus? Why, he’s spent more time on then street than the trash trucks. Or are you hopelessly addicted to the nasty taste of humble pie?


        The come to
Au Bar. It doesn’t matter who you are if your name’s not on the list. Families are torn apart. Two get the nod. The rest are rejected. Dashed, the unwanted wave good-bye. The elected two seem dazed by the horror of the moment. Torn, they hesitate. And then they enter. After all, they are The Chosen.

        Perhaps there’s no other way to fuel the heat. Chroniclers of the Night think Au Bar lord Howard Stein is smart. He got out of Xenon when disco-mania succumbed to restaurant madness, and he made a fortune at Primadonna till he tumbled into Chapter 11. He must know our secret terrors, our unspeakable desires. Au Bar satisfies both, terror, and need.


        Tonight, we’re on the list. “No, you’re not,” snaps Cerberus. Yes, here we are. “Which one you is so-and-so?” he asks with a menacing glare. “Well,” grudgingly…” all right.” The rope unclicks.


        If you’ve bought a VIP card ($350 for a year), you and a guest may enter. Everyone else pays $10, $15 Fridays and Saturdays. Preferably cash. “”We don’t take credit cards,” the cashier insists, even though there is a pile of credit chits in front of her. “You mean to say you don’t have $30?”


        She sends the card downstairs for approval. Anyone less stubborn that I would be flinging twenties at her feet rather than suffer such scorn.


        And for what? There’s no one here. Not yet, anyway. Even so, we will take the worst table in the house without a murmur, grateful to sup in this vast basement stage set—Ralph Lauren from the Bloomingdale’s catalogue, with side trips to the thrift shop. We needn’t worry about dribbling tomato sauce on the damask cloth. It’s glass protected. And we won’t steal the books from the faux bibliotheque -- the encyclopedias by the yard and leather book fronts without pages.


        Seen from our designated Siberia, the pets who hug the big round tables next to the bar seem happy enough. Stick to chili—it could be hotter in temperature as well as in taste, but it’s pretty good. Boboli are ready-made pizza shells for restaurants without a pizza oven. Au Bar’s are soggy, but they suit a late night, junk-food hunger. The swordfish may very well be overcooked, perhaps not quite fresh. If you’ve forgotten how bad a hamburger can be, this one may remind you. Try spaghetti carbonara, rich and satisfying, or a good curried-chicken salad. In fact, dessert and champagne might spare you bouts of indigestion and regret. There is sinfully lovable mud cake and fudgy frosted brownies with heavenly-hash ice cream. Fifteen percent service gets tacked onto the tab automatically.


        Eleven o’clock. Now the crowd pours in. It only seems that most of the men here are aging playboys between wives. Scandinavian manequins or not so wide-eyed twinkies in tow. There’s a real sexual tension in the air -- something you don’t feel at M.K. Men and women
do go home together.

        On the dance floor, there’s a rash of dirty dancing. It’s not Nell’s. And it’s a far cry from Xenon. But Au Bar is just around the corner from where most of its VIP’s live. And for the rest of Manhattan’s masochists, it’s easily worth the trip.

Au Bar 41 East 58th Street

***
Mezzogiorno: Rome Without a Passport

       As spring’s chill gentles into summer, the crowd at Mezzogiorno overflows onto the sidwalk, even next door to La Dolce Vita and down the street into Rocco and His Brothers. With the white dots of light woven through the trees and along the edges of Rocco’s awning, the whiffs of espresso, and Mezzogiorno’s sound system blasting Italian rock-pop, this corner of Spring Street feels like an exuberance of Rome.

        Mezzogiorno has never had quite the precious urgency of its Third Avenue prototype,
Mezzaluna. But its tiny green-and-white-marble tables unite the uptown and down, actors after the curtain, the relentless night stalkers in their chauffered kiddie cars, and that crowd that is deeply into how they look, passionately involved in their alienation.

        They are sharing pizzas the size of a Frisbee ($10 to $12), sometimes soggy or a bit bland, from the huge ceramic wood-burning oven. They are loving crisp fried risotto pancakes or the lasagna of the day, from a menu ($8.50 to $15) that concentrates on antipasto and salads, pasta, and carpaccio, cold or hot, everything served on charming country pottery.


        Mezzogiorno means midday, a theme explored by artist friends of the house in whimsical plastic boxes that line the walls. The kitchen can be equally whimsical. On on off-night, the risotto pancake had an almost chemical dose of saffron. Sometimes, the gnocchi are gummy and good; often, they’re just gummy. Is that candied lemon peel in the Cornish-hen salad with raisins? Definitely not for me.


        But the room feels cozy. The music makes you want to dance. The waiters sway and dodge with such charm that even the Brazilian seems seductively Italian. The good country bread is a promise…mostly fulfilled. The minestrone is a real, robust and hearty. Grilled radicchio with scamorza cheese tastes of smoke and perfumed oil. A luscious crostino piled with vegetables under a melt of cheese is fragrant, too, and I can’t stop eating this celestial mush of Parmesan-topped polenta. The waiter dribbles fruity olive oil on a tasty veal carpaccio strewn with wild mushrooms.


        There is a peppery zest in black linguine swirled with tomato. Shrimp and radicchio and what tastes like a sea of butter glorify thin homemade noodles, and a rich béchamel layering of lasagna is “a party in my mouth,” a friend announces. To skip dessert is no big loss. Raspberry-cream-filled crepes under a mud slide of chocolate are especially offensive. My first choice is vanilla ice cream with a splash of whiskey, or vodka-spiked lemon and tangerine sherbet.


        I must admit I am upset when the waiter refuses to understand my modest Italian. I’ve never met a rude Italian waiter. The next shock is the check—often far more than expected. No credit cards accepted. If you’re overly plastic-dependent, you may have to jump into your kiddie car and head for the nearest cash window.


Mezzogiorno, 195 Spring Street at Sullivan. 212 334-2112

***
Trixies is Not for Picklepusses

       Any minute now, Trixies threatens to explode onto West 47th Street, spewing a lava of silliness and good cheer. True Trixie fans are young -- downtowners lured uptown, uptowners on a detour, calculatedly laid back, tricked up at a secondhand shop a la Trixie herself: voice gravelly, hair flying, a twisting dervish, snapping her Polaroids for the family album. And what a family! Maud Frizon at a window station. Madonna. Me throwing a birthday party and infiltrating the kiddie crusade with grown-ups—all of them dazzled, loving the madness -- Mr. Spoons raping his beat on your arm, eightyish Ada Love trilling happily off-key.

        The waitresses -- a casting call for the next Fellini epic -- boogie between dashes to the open kitchen for mountains of Trixies’ irresistible sweet-potato fries, homey fried chicken, a whole bird plump with spicy corn-bread dressing, good sliced steak, and desserts made by fantasy moms of the fifties. The food may look weird, but mostly it’s fabulous.


        Want to yodel, rap, or croon? Grab the mike. Wednesday is amateur night, but every day is Wednesday at Trixies. Unless you’re a picklepuss, you’re probably going to love it.

Trixies, 307 West 47th Street

***

Bistro du Nord: Uptown Dollhouse

       Six people spilling into the street outside Bistro du Nord looks like a crowd. A trio of aspirants at the bar is a mob scene. One tipsy reveler stumbling on the stair is a bacchanal. It’s that  small…a dollhouse with tables in the crawl space, claustrophobic but bearable if your head doesn’t brush the ceiling.

        Even shut in on a nasty day, Bistro has bandbox charm -- it is beautiful, lovingly hung with clever mirrors that tilt not just to extend nonexistent space but to give you a voyeur’s eye on the room, painted in clotted cream and hung with photographs by Atget, Avedon, and Horst. Of course, the waiters are shortish: form fits function. And if Karen Jean, late of
Primadonna, seems trapped as she waves from the step, smile…trapped she is.

        With its handsome doors flung open, it looks like
Le Relais North. A covey of Euro-twits alight, putting early friends of the neighborhood on edge. Could Bistro du Nord’s civilized niceties get swallowed up in a Golden Youthquake? Tonight, the sidewalk tables are pushed together so that a gathering of uptown sprouts can sip Champagne and keep and eye on their ’62 white Corvette convertible parked at the curb.

        Sip the $12 bottle of house wine with lovely herb-stuffed chicken and tiny pan-fried potato balls, sharing a fragrant toss of endive with Roquefort and walnuts, and spend $55 to feed two, tax and tip included. But three courses at the high en -- softest scrambled eggs served in the shell, topped with Sevruga, and a tenderness of salmon in lukewarm vinaigrette, or a good entrecote in a red-wine-shallot sauce -- could set the two of you back $110.


        Neither the smoked salmon nor the salmon tartare that flanks it is first-rate. Warm eggplant caviar has the texture of toddler food but good, smoky red and yellow pepper by its side. A trio of crudités needs more zip. And though it’s too hot tonight for pea soup, this thick peasant porridge is heavenly. Asparagus, smoked goose, and cream are rich and good on fettuccine. Lotte the way we like it -- rare inside -- swims in an aromatic saffron-fennel-tomato-scented buttery broth.


        Dessert choices are a good, warm, apple tart or an intense block of chocolate, dense and dark in even darker chocolate sauce inscribed with white-chocolate doodles.

Bistro du Nord, 1312 Madison Avenue, near 93rd Street

***
Drex: Strange Homage

      In about fifteen minutes, everyone will be talking about Drex. No one will say exactly what the name stands for, but pals of clubmaster Peppo Urbanowitz say it is homage to Harvard’s president, Derek Bok.

        Urbanowitz, who took the rap for his partners when the Feds found $9 million stashed in Bloomingdale’s shopping bags in the cellar of his disco, the Ratched Masses, has another triumph in Drex.


        The phone is unlisted. No one knows the actual address. Just watch for a blindfolded doorman behind a teal-blue rope somewhere on West Street. He is flanked by two mute mutants. Once you establish your credentials, you are blindfolded, too, and trucked on a rolling cart around the corner to an unmarked door where an elevator whisks you to a catwalk.


        It’s dark, Don’t trip over Bianca. Don’t miss the fruit-salad pizza.


Drex, West Street.


        Note: Of course I invented Drex as the ultimate magnet for masochists/  But I was an amateur compared to profressionals yet to surface.  Several readers called and wrote begging me t tell them the actual location.

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