SHE’S BACK: In what is a surefire sign that New York nightlife is on the edge of a comeback, Susanne Bartsch is bringing back her weekly party.
The quintessential entertainer and her production company Bartschland are rolling out a party at Sony Hall called “New York, New York” this week. Aside from charity-driven Zoom events, this will be the first in-person event she has hosted since March 6, 2020. “I’m out of practice. I’m nervous,” she said. “It’s kind of fabulous. It’s from one spectrum to another spectrum — from zero with nobody doing anything to everything. It’s a bit wild.”
The kickoff “New York, New York” extravaganza is set for Thursday night at 235 West 46th Street. From then on, tickets will be available for every Friday night thereafter.
”New York is the city that never sleeps even though we were forced into sleeping. There is always something to do in New York when there’s no COVID-19. This is like a wake-up call. It’s happening. We can go back to feeling each other, getting energy off each other and [from] life rather than a bloody Zoom. It means things are getting better and the light at the end of the tunnel has begun to shine,” Bartsch said.
The cabaret is a mash-up of opera, burlesque, vaudeville, fashion and “you name it — we’ve got it going on,” Bartsch said. There will also be seating. Bartsch staged another cabaret there before for MAC Cosmetics in 2019, but the layout was totally different. “The biggest challenge is definitely the layout and getting people organized according to COVID-19 regulations,” Bartsch said.
Performers will include Joey Arias, Amanda Lepore, Dirty Martini, Julie Atlas Muz, Leonid the Magnificent, Lola Von Rox and Opera Gaga, among others. There will be musical performances by Tommie Sunshine and Amber Valentine. Special guest hosts that have been lined up include Miss Cheng, Karl Allen Griggs, Adventure Dave and Matt Kovalsky. Eager to unite all different types of communities, Bartsch said the crowd will include the house community, club kids, uptowners, downtowners, the Old Schoolers and more.
As for how fashion is changing, Bartsch is banking on some major looks. “People have been pent up. Dressing up for some Zoom party doesn’t really mean the full deal. You don’t really have to wear heels on Zoom. You can have on your pajama bottoms,” she said. “This will be full-on dressing up. People are excited and they want to bring looks. That means fashion inspirations for designers. The types of people that I have as a following inspire designers, including myself. Fashion is art. Looks are art.”
Having recently injured her left foot, Bartsch said her look will depend on whether she can wear heels. “But I have a fantastic entrance that I am very excited about. Whether I have heels or not, I have the entrance piece that is literally going to disappear off my body,” Bartsch said, noting that Casey Caldwell and Kyle Farmers have designed the outfit.
The Queen of the Nightlife has tapped on-the-rise photographer Vincenzo Dimino to shoot the inaugural event. Despite the city’s nightlife having been shut down for months, Bartsch is still a night owl and stays up late. Now though she rises at 9 a.m. instead of 11 a.m. “That’s weird actually,” she said. “I did things. Those Zoom parties were a lot of work. I redid my kitchen. I did photo shoots. I did have stuff going on. But I wasn’t overwhelmed with a million things like is, now.”
Next month Bartsch will host the two-day “Summer Camp: Pride 2021” at the Nemacolin resort in Pennsylvania. She will start her “On Top” summer party in July at Le Bain at The Standard. Bartsch is also planning a Pride event at the Meatpacking District hotel. Potential dates are being discussed for an art dance party at the rooftop club Elsewhere in Brooklyn, she said. Plans are in place for a swimwear show in Miami and a photography project for a museum in Paris this summer. “So I’ve got it going on actually.”
One other pandemic venture was the launch of “Bartsch Bazaar,” an online shop of apparel, accessories and home decor inspired by paintings by the artist Martine, which hangs in a hallway in her apartment. “I just got the rights for a David LaChapelle photo to use for clutch bags and tote bags.…I’m doing that as well. That’s a baby that I had during COVID-19.”