Celebs Behaving Badly: New York City Edition

This is the latest in an ongoing gossip marathon but I’m calling it a memoir, so bite me. Be sure to see Celebs Behaving Badly, Celebs Behaving Badly: CalArts Edition, and Celebs Behaving Badly: Burbank Edition.

Copyright © 2017 SYDNEY SCHUSTER – All Rights Reserved

Glorious Pile of Rubell

I used to go to Studio 54 with my pal David, the handsomest gay man in the world. (Sorry, also-rans. Is what it is.)

David, Copyright © 2017 SYDNEY SCHUSTER – All Rights Reserved

David, Copyright © 2017 SYDNEY SCHUSTER – All Rights Reserved

Co-owner Steve Rubell was always out front, personally cherry picking who could go in. He’d be all “You, you, and you but not you.”

David and I breezed past the eternal line of bridge-and-tunnel losers. Well actually, David breezed by them and I got in too, because Date of Handsomest Gay Man. He coulda breezed into Fort Knox.

One night David and I spilled out of a cab in front of Studio and scrambled straight for the front door. Rubell stopped us.

Well actually, he stopped me. My outfit was something best described as Raquel Welch’s costume in One Million Years B.C. Or as David put it, “Ohmygod you’re not wearing anything!”

He got over it. But Steve, he no likey.

“C’mon!” I said to him. “You always let me in!” which he had no reason to remember. He was totally blasted on … something. He looked me up and down, all bug-eyed and weaving (him, not me). Finally he said okay because a fight was breaking out that he had to go supervise. I think that was the night David and I shared a couch with Lee Radziwill and Jay North.

West Side doorman Steve Rubell - Copyright © 2017 Robin Platzer/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

West Side doorman Steve Rubell – Copyright © 2017 Robin Platzer/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

Lifecycle A-Go-Go

Way back when, I used to write for cycling magazines. They made me attend the annual ritual of mass consumption, Boogerbike or whatever it was called. It was a trade show held at a venue nobody misses now, the New York Coliseum. The Coliseum was less like a place where gladiators would’ve hung out and more like a dirigible hangar. (Later Biketastic moved to the Javits Center, then to Philly, then I stopped going.)

Tedious as these shows were, they did have their moments. I met his highness Eddy Merckx and the delightful Georgena Terry, from whom I bought a delicious custom frame. But mostly Bikegasm was endless displays of fredware and birdseed energy bars. One magazine I worked for wanted me to write up the launch of a stationary bike called Sit-N-Spin. I am not making this up.

As you might imagine, the swag in the vast crapscape that was Bikerteria generally sucked. So I was thrilled the time I scored a huge poster of Connie Carpenter.

She was all kinds of hot that year, having just won the Coors Classic and Nats, and gold medals at the Olympics and World Championships. She was a force of nature, that girl. Also really cute. (You young’uns might know her better as the mom of Taylor Phinney, who rode the Tour de France for BMC.) Someone I knew who raced her told me, “When Connie makes up her mind to win, everyone else may as well go home because what the hell’s the point?”

Anyway, I was so excited to get this great poster with her on it that I had to pee. I ducked into the Bikerama can, and holy macaroni — there’s Connie Carpenter herself! In the flesh! By which I mean buck nekkid!

She’d been biking around town and was changing into street clothes, so she’d look less smelly at the booth of the company she repped. We’re not supposed to see superheroes out of costume. But sh!t happens, especially to me. I was so embarrassed, I spun outta there like a motorized dreidl.

Everything worked out okay, though. A little later I found her at the Cannondale booth, where she graciously autographed my poster and laughed at me for running away. She was adorable! And I still have her poster.

The magnificent Connie Carpenter - Copyright © 2017 Getty Images

The magnificent Connie Carpenter – Copyright © 2017 Getty Images

Haute Cloture

I used to design artsy fartsy fashions. (See Celebs Behaving Badly for a brutal play-by-play.) One of the first places I tried to sell them in New York was Julie: Artisans’ Gallery.

There really was a Julie — Julie Schafler — and there really was a colon in her store’s name. It was on Madison Avenue in the 60s. I don’t think it’s there anymore, but here’s a Groupon. Let me know.

Julie Artisans' Gallery - Photo Copyright Julie Artisan's Gallery

Julie: Artisans’ Gallery – Photo Copyright Julie: Artisans’ Gallery

The store was famous for wild one-of-a-kind artisanal clothes and accessories. I introduced Julie to my already-made stuff, which she liked but not enough to buy any. Instead, she wanted me to custom-make something just for her: patchwork leather gloves slathered with beads. Like an idiot I said okay.

Meanwhile, the only customer in Julie’s store did want to buy something I’d brought in: the fancy leather suit bag I’d made to transport samples to buyer meetings. I was happy to sell it to her. I was happy to sell anything.

I really wanted into this store. It got lots of publicity and the prices were crazy stupid high. Assuming Julie would double my wholesale price for her hapless customer as is customary in retail, I asked her for an economical $700. “That’s not enough,” Julie said and marched away.

Not enough? What the actual f⊔⊏k?

While she was off doing who knows what, I met the customer she’d been yapping at  through a curtain about her “jet-setting husband,” as if she had no money or identity of her own. Not that there weren’t shoppers like that in Manhattan. But blow me down! Out of the dressing room stepped Ann Turkel, one of the hotter-than-a-rope-burn supermodels of the late 1960s.

She was on the cover of every magazine I ever loved. She’d just begun acting (soon to star in one of my fave guilty pleasures, Humanoids from the Deep). And only tangentially interesting (to me, anyway) was that she’d recently married Richard Burton’s beer bro Richard Harris, who’d just won a Grammy and a Golden Globe.

Ann Turkel - photo Copyright © Conde Nast

Ann Turkel – photo Copyright © Conde Nast

I’ve seen lots of models in person, and way too many are totes skanky. Not Turkel. OMG, so gorgeous! And funny. And so not snobby. She said she had to attend a stuffy, old-money formal event for which she needed suitable attire. She wanted to look special, she said, “not like all those old ladies in their crappy chiffons.”

She tried on a boho frock that was… interesting, I guess. But in the end she left with nothing. As did I, with the exception of my assignment from Julie that I should’ve gotten a contract for but didn’t.

A month later I returned with exactly the unique, labor-intensive creation she’d requested. She greeted it with “No! Needs more beads! And feathers! And fringe! Go crazy with it!” Stylewise, she was still shaking off the brown acid at Woodstock.

I left with my gloves and never went back.

Art & photo Copyright © 2017 SYDNEY SCHUSTER – All Rights Reserved

Art & photo Copyright © 2017 SYDNEY SCHUSTER – All Rights Reserved

Steal This Suit

Back when Barney’s New York had just the one extraordinary store on 7th Avenue, I practically lived there. This was before it became McBarneys, moved uptown, and morphed into the Men’s Whorehouse franchise that went bankrupt.

Barney’s men’s suit department was the bomb. I got a lot of stuff there, because a) it fit me better than women’s clothes, b) Barney’s tailors were aces, and c) they never gave me any crap about being a girl and/or using the men’s dressing room. They were so utterly cool!

One day as I rapturously rifled Barney’s suit racks, a great commotion arose from the dressing room. I hadn’t gone in yet, so it wasn’t my fault this time.

Presently a disheveled old fart shambled out, ranting and confused, wearing a fine Italian suit with a hopelessly rumpled shirt and the pants around his ankles. A coterie of handlers hustled him off the sales floor, but not before the whole store recognized him. Even with the plastic surgery you could tell it was acquitted Chicago Seven superstar Abbie Hoffman.

Hoffman needed elegant attire for his upcoming coke trafficking trial. He was convicted for that one, but received a commuted sentence. See? Barney’s rules!

Abbie Hoffman makes a public appearance in his Barney's finery. Copyright © 1981 Ida Libby Dengrove

Abbie Hoffman makes a public appearance in his Barney’s finery. Copyright 1981 Ida Libby Dengrove

 

Another Kind of Suit

There was a club on Fifth Avenue at 13th Street that I liked a lot, the Lone Star Cafe. It hosted a steady parade of unrepentant Stetson-wearers and big music stars (Willie Nelson, Roy Orbison, Albert Collins, The Blues Brothers), plus a 40-foot iguana. The humans worked the inside; the lizard had the roof.

The Lone Star Cafe

The Lone Star Cafe

I once saw a performance there by The Suits, a rock band fronted by New York City slumlord Jay Weiss. Weiss owned the Happy Land Social Club, a Bronx venue burned down by an arsonist while 87 people were inside. In case you’re wondering: Yes, Weiss was as good a musician as he was a landlord.

Happy Land Social Club - copyright New York Daily News

Happy Land Social Club – copyright New York Daily News

Anyway, pre-show I ducked into the can. I was shocked to be competing for the vanity with Kathleen Turner. Yes, that Kathleen Turner.

Turned out she was The Suits’ singer. Also Weiss’s wife. Yes, she acts better than she sings. No, she wasn’t really bad, it’s just that I wouldn’t have paid to hear that. The Suits were the opening act for the band I actually did pay to see. They probably got the gig because they owned the building.

I was pretty sure the Lone Star had private facilities for the talent. Whatever. Dressed in her best rock chick outfit, Turner bounced off every hard bathroom surface — people included — while emitting a nonstop look-at-me rap. I fled the restroom mid-plea.

Sadly, the Lone Star burned down in 2006. Probably just a coincidence.

Kathleen Turner rocks out.

Kathleen Turner rocks out.

Copyright © 2017 SYDNEY SCHUSTER – All Rights Reserved

I make no money from this blog. If you find it interesting or useful, please buy my book Dead Spot. The Kindle version’s only $5 and you’ll love it! Thanks.

DEAD SPOT on AmazonSydney Schuster and Dead Spot neither approved nor endorse any third-party advertising that may appear below, nor do we derive any income from it. Feel free to ignore it.

It’s Here! | DEAD SPOT 3D

If you order my cool novel DEAD SPOT, here’s what you’ll get:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Yup, this is a 5.5″ x 8.5″ quality paperback, professionally printed, with laminated color cover and 255 pages of salty goodness within.

You know you want it! Get it on Amazon. (Also available there as an ebook.)

It’s super easy, and you can pay with a credit card. You’re just a few clicks away from being the envy of your friends!

Let’s Make a Deal | Bicycle Guide

I’m proud to say I used to write for Bicycle Guide, the world’s greatest sports magazine. It broke every mold by being irreverent, funny, and always on the mark. It was like Top Gear (the fun UK one, not the clueless US one), except for being a magazine instead of a TV show, and about bikes instead of cars. Bicycle Guide never wasted editorial space sucking up to superstars or advertisers. I don’t know about them, but every other cycling freak loved it!

The magazine was run by Ted Costantino, the coolest editor of all time. His own writing was so astute and witty and flab-free, it made me laugh and cry at the same time. He had as many fans as Madonna and looked way better in Lycra.

I had a huge crush on Ted. I even saved all his letters, including the first one in which he doubted I had anything special to offer his magazine. (This was before the Internet, when people communicated by killing trees.) I wrote regularly for Bicycle Guide for the next couple of years.

This was in the 1980s, a truly exciting time in the sport. The US hosted Olympics and (for the first and only time) the World Cycling Championships. There were spectacular pro events like the Coors Classic and Wheat Thins Series. Greg LeMond became the first, second, and third American to win the Tour de France. Women were finally allowed to compete in Olympic events involving bicycles, so I got one.

Back then I spent roughly three hours a day on my bike, and I do mean roughly. I rode it to my job in Manhattan, through the slums of Brooklyn, and over busted glass and potholes to do a few laps in Prospect Park before dusk or D races on weekends. My daily misadventures involved cabs, crack heads, thieves, cops, flats, furious building supers, antifreeze spills, and unleashed dogs. And that’s what I wrote about for Bicycle Guide.

Ted gave me my first publishing break in 1985. But more important, he encouraged me to cruise on the edge and never look down.

———

The following article originally appeared in the November/December 1986 issue of Bicycle Guide.

LET’S MAKE A DEAL
Copyright © 1985 © 2011 SYDNEY SCHUSTER – All Rights Reserved

Racing? she asked. Who’s got the time or money? Then somewhere along the way, I decided tread marks would make a great conversation starter and a few new enemies wouldn’t make an appreciable difference. I took the bait.

Once upon a time, I was a mere twit in art school. Painting was then the fashion and so was unbearable pressure on all us art twits to paint. I preferred constructing weird fetishes out of garbage. Frankly, smearing colors around a canvas that took two weeks to prepare was beyond my attention span.

I did eventually bow, ever so reluctantly, to administrative intimidation. Surprisingly, I didn’t mind painting so much. The results were even kind of likable. A good thing, because otherwise I’d still be there. But there were some unexpected bonuses: lessons in lightwave theory, timber framing, and creative b.s. techniques. All served me well in subsequent endeavors.

Likewise, I once detested Star Trek, Mexican food, most of the Rolling Stones, brassieres, New Yorkers … the list is endless. The only reason I mention this is because I seem to have developed a pattern regarding tastes that are acquired, a category into which bicycle racing fits neatly.

I certainly liked the idea of it, but my early impression of racers was that most were overbearing jocks who I didn’t care to emulate, and I didn’t know any women who raced. Then I started accompanying a friend who competes in local events. To my eternal gratitude, there were women there. Fast women.

One weekend the 7-Eleven team was in town. They made an appearance at a New York City training race, and my friend got dropped by national champ Cindy Olavarri. He was only impressed. I was dazzled.

Meanwhile, I graduated to a “serious” bike. I rode it briskly to watch the races.

One day I inquired as casually as possible of my competitive friend whether I might make a good racer. I figured he should know, having personally been used and abandoned by the 7-Eleven women. He gave me The Look. I dropped the subject faster than Olavarri dropped the weenies.

But at the park and on my way to work, I noticed cycling women crawling out of the woodwork. I initiated as many conversations as possible, most of which gravitated to what we perceived as pressure to compete. I kept hearing this whiney voice grousing about being run down by speed demons half her age, or making new enemies for being too bossy. The whiney voice turned out to be mine.

It was convenient to let it convince me that waking up at 4:30 a.m. to train is demented, and redirecting beer money to replace crashed bike parts is sick. I heard you need an Italian bike just to train, and a custom job for the real thing. Who’s got time, much less the funds?

But somehow, somewhere along the way, I conceded that bicycle tread marks on my face might make a fine conversation starter, and a few new enemies wouldn’t make an appreciable difference. I’d heard that nothing enhances one’s sense of immortality quite like crashing and spending. I could always live on credit cards.

The bottom line was this: Could racing be any worse than painting, or jalapeño peppers, or William Shatner?

I decided to accept the challenge. That Saturday I traded the week’s grocery money for a team jersey, the promise of high-speed thrills, and a blurry newsletter. In short, I joined a road racing club.

I was pretty sure I knew what I was getting into. Fabulous prizes! Juicy gossip! Tight pants! Deal me in.

My new club’s D riders were a particularly desultory group. I fit right in.

I wasn’t expecting to win, of course; there are more important things in life than winning. By now I’d been making circles alone in the park for so long, what really mattered was the prospect of camaraderie, meaningful conversation, and a wind block.

The big day, as they say, had arrived. My wheels were true. My new cleats finally pointed in more or less the right direction. Even my two bikes were almost paid for.

The Ds lined up for the gun. The race was launched! Up the first hill with Herrera, Argentin and Muffy! Around a series of treacherous curves I stuck with the pack! Okay, so I was at the back, but I was there.

Things were going smoothly — too smoothly. On the next hill I shifted up to honk; everybody else shifted down and spun merrily away.

Well, I didn’t win my first race. Someone said it’s not whether you win or lose that counts, it’s how you lay the blame. But hey, who cares? Didn’t I meet a swell bunch of new people, get treated with more respect than usual, and get dropped by some first-rate tushies? Not a bad rush for a pink-cheeked pledge. Think I’ll go back next week.

All content Copyright © 2011 SYDNEY SCHUSTER – All Rights Reserved

Sydney Schuster and Dead Spot neither approved nor endorse any third-party advertising that may appear below, nor do we derive any income from it. Feel free to ignore it.

To Preserve, Develop, and Administer, Sort of | Bike Racing in the ’90s

I used to be a bicycle racing junkie. I was a Category I USACycling official on road and track (and a Cat 4Q2 racer). For you non-bikies, that means I was licensed by the US Olympic Committee to officiate professional racing, which I did for many years.

USAC is the current incarnation of cycling’s governing body, previously called the USCF (and before that it was the ABLA, founded in 1920). There was always a lot of blather in their handbooks about preserving, developing, and administering stuff. Everyone’s still waiting.

During this time I wrote for several cycling magazines. One was The Bike. My editor there was Doug Roosa, formerly of the late, lamented Bicycle Guide. Roosa’s too cool for school. Working for him was a gas. We tested anything and everything bike-related — equipment, socks, coffee table books and the mugs that loved them. Here’s a column I wrote for The Bike in 1992.

TO PRESERVE, DEVELOP, AND ADMINISTER, SORT OF
Copyright © 1992 © 2011 SYDNEY SCHUSTER – All Rights Reserved

Lower New York State is the sixth largest USCF district, with 1441 licensed riders and scads of racing. That’s where I live. Our district is eternally overadrenalized and understaffed, so one of the many hats I wear is that of USCF official. Scary, but true.

We probably have more racing than any other state. This is good. Most of it is low-budget track racing at dusk and circuit racing at dawn, without photo equipment or bathrooms. Not so good, if you can’t pick sprints in the dark or pee standing up.

Once I was the chief judge at this flavor of circuit race, one in an interminable training series. A spectacular crash had just capped off the citizens’ finish. In a Big Apple display of free expression, a casualty with a bogus number started chasing another on foot, pounding him with a log. (To be fair, all the other fresh meat had their numbers on upside down or on the wrong side, if they had them on at all.) My assistant and the chief referee tore off after the fleeing pounder, leaving me alone with the poundee (who was energetically threatening to sue me) and the entire Cat 4 field as they sprinted 50 abreast across the finish line.

I did my best to pick eight places by myself, with a fist in my face. To tabulate the results in peace, I repaired to a picnic table that doubled as a bum’s boudoir. Why, you may ask, do I do this?

The reason is obvious: Officiating is glamorous.

Another case in point is the ’drome. We’re lucky to have one of the country’s half dozen right here in Nueva York — our own superglam, built-on-sinking-landfill Kissena Velodrome. The Track With A Hill.

I worked over 50 races last year, mostly track, so this year my district rep rewarded my effort and loyalty by assigning three high-level officials from Upper Uranus to run our state track championships.

Assisting USCF brass is a special treat for us drooling locals. The Cat I had worked track once, so he brought his computer to modernize our championship. He was too busy typing to see the races he was supposed to be judging. Five more people crammed onto the stand to watch them for him, including his two ultra-helpful Cat II toadies who’d never seen track racing before. I was handed three pick cards for a 70-lap points race with 14 sprints, and ordered to monitor them through five heads and a computer screen.

The big guns picked sprints on wrong laps and missed others altogether. They ignored district officials who came to help — stalwarts who were at our quaint, weedy velodrome every week for years, manually judging competitions among state and national champions. The riders basically were furious, because the bigshot officials basically wrecked their state championships.

The racers around here take their sport seriously. A lot of them are my pals, and one especially noisy one is my spouse. They’ve seen placings forfeited and races cancelled, they’ve plowed into everything from dogs to tractor-trailers, all due to inadequate staffing. That’s how I got sucked in one day in 1987, when Hall of Famer Al Toefield drafted a spectator to herd rampaging Cat 4s on her motorcycle.

Typical bikie headbanger that I am, I just kept going back. Eventually official emeritus Emily Miller of New York kneaded me into a judge-like mass.

Fingers freezing and noses running and rain soaking us at a wobbly, soggy card table, I ask Emily why she does this. She just laughs, and jots down 80 numbers as they blast by.

Emily is a class act who makes the job look easy. But at best, the gig is a cacophony of bad music blasting in your ear while racers, coaches and road-deprived joggers bark in your face. It’s standing in the sun for ten hours with carnivorous bugs while old-timers guilt trip you about how they officiated for free. Except they didn’t have to buy $50 stopwatches, $80 pocket recorders and $300 uniforms, drive 350 miles to get to a stage race, and 350 miles back, and pay their own restaurant bills in between. Yeah, yeah, yeah, racers do too. But officials don’t get prizes, or get interviewed by VeloNews. Yo! Lemme at those support hose endorsement deals!

So why do I continue to officiate? Too many head blows, I guess. But the velodrome show on Wednesday nights beats the hell out of watching Doogie Howser. And I like hanging around racers — at least they have a reason to live. The judge’s stand at track is the greatest seat anywhere. Elbows in noses and cute buns in Lycra definitely get points. Racing is just the best!

All content Copyright © 2011 SYDNEY SCHUSTER – All Rights Reserved

DEAD SPOT on Amazon

Sydney Schuster and Dead Spot neither approved nor endorse any third-party advertising that may appear below, nor do we derive any income from it. Feel free to ignore it.

Yeah that’s right. Me, blogging.

So what’s this here blog gonna be about? Probably writing. And journalism. And the business side of being a marginally celebrated hack. And shameless promotion of my new novel, Dead Spot, available on Amazon. I’ve already done everything else.

Fine Verbiage for Two Millennia

Whaddya mean, who the heck am I? Well, for decades I wrote columns and features for medical and sports and business magazines and websites, along with a ton of general mass market content — the Village Voice, Medical Imaging, New England Home, WomensBiz.US, Allure, Bicycle Guide, Film Threat, and too many more.

Web writing per se isn’t new for me, just the interactive part is. Before, when any reader whined about my literary endeavors, my editor would forward their mail for my comment, and I’d ignore it. It was a good system. But I see I can delete blog comments if they’re stupid, so that’s a plus.

But what if the only readers my blog attracts are stalkers and spambots and relatives I was avoiding? Will they buy my book?

BTW, it’s awesome — a mystery with motorcycles, music, beer, and a kinky love story. (Dead Spot is available on Amazon.)

Everyone says a blog is the best way to promote … um, anything. We’ll see. I already sent out countless press packets. One editor informed me that my book (which he never read) wasn’t good enough to cover in his tabloid available for free in stores that sell Night Train and rubbers. Dead Spot did get a great write-up in a men’s motorcycle mag, but it turns out biker gangs don’t read so much.

Advertising? Can’t afford it. And it probably wouldn’t matter. Facebook is humping my leg to buy ads that’ll cost me 70 cents every time some technowonk clicks it because they think it’s the same as “liking” stoned pet videos.

So this is my latest desperate ploy for exposure. But enough about me. Buy Dead Spot, available now on Amazon. Hey, I’m just trying to drum up some interest here. And maybe make people laugh. And think a little.

Yep, this is my blog, dogs. Welcome!

Copyright © 2011 SYDNEY SCHUSTER – All Rights Reserved

DEAD SPOT on AmazonSydney Schuster and Dead Spot neither approved nor endorse any third-party advertising that may appear below, nor do we derive any income from it. Feel free to ignore it.