Showing posts with label Club Cumming. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Club Cumming. Show all posts

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Could drink and draws be the new neighborhood draw?

Sketches from Club Cumming’s “The Anatomy Lesson.” At right, an attendee sketches a model from the audience at Book Club’s “Drinking & Drawing” series.

By Kaley Roshitsh 

Approaching a year in December since vaccine rollout began in the United States, businesses have been padding event calendars with higher confidence, and drink and draws may be stealing the spotlight.

The artsy-yet-affordable event is slipping back into repeat favor at two nightspots in the neighborhood. Artists or not, all are welcome with proof of vaccination, or masks, per the state guidelines.

Not new to the drink and draw scene, LGBTQ+-friendly cabaret bar Club Cumming’s “The Anatomy Lesson” has been striking a pose for four years now but since adapted for outside amid the pandemic.

The drink and draw, hosted by freelance illustrator and performer Anthony E. Kieren, happens weekly on Sunday nights from 6 to 9 at 505 E. Sixth St. For $10, attendees get their first drink and entry to the outdoor, socially distant sketch festivities, which include prizes and, of course, muscled models baring it all in thongs.
But to reduce the event to its titillating curb appeal (although many people stop by to see what’s going on) would be unfair.

Kieren’s series has been a way to platform an array of talent and “curate the people in my life,” be it past models such as singer Karen Marie, drag artist and activist Gloria Swansong or recently fitness model Will Hutcheson. Models are compensated and rewarded vigorously with applause. Even bar owner and actor Alan Cumming has shown up to pose.

Giving breezy instructions on a series of 1-minute, 5-minute and 20-minute poses, Kieren affirmed: “You can draw better when you take the pressure off,” nudging guests to pay the incredible bar staff a visit. (A drink helps).

While it’s easy to slack off as Rihanna’s “S&M” plays with model Hutcheson lounged atop a velvet banquet table or holding still in fluffy ears — the diligent artists (many of whom are professional artists) have a prize on the line.

Model’s choice wins once the time is up.

Last Sunday, as is practice, the winners were each presented with a vibrant bouquet. The floral arrangement was skillfully lassoed together in Boy Scout knots by Matt Robinson, better known as “Cookie,” and seemed to capture the idyllic hues in the rainbow that christened the chilly evening. Given Club Cumming’s safe harbor for the vibrancy of the queer community, it seemed natural to begin and end the session with a prism of color.

Booking a weekly series

Next up, a day later and only three streets over, artists of any skill level can cozy up with wine or coffee at Book Club, 197 E. Third St.

Weekly sessions happen Monday nights at 8, and while free to attend, bar visits and donations to cover material costs are strongly encouraged.

For the two-year-old bar, bookstore and coffee hangout, the drink and draw formed quite organically, with visual artist Shani Nizan approaching Book Club with the idea upon moving to the city five months ago. Nizan’s “Drinking & Drawing” series originated in Berlin but launched formally in New York this past July with Book Club.

Armed with a dry erase marker and arms-length board, Nizan kicks the night off with a short demo for the crowd. One lesson involved gesture lines, while another measured out proportions with a thumb and pencil. Afterward, the pencil-clad crew dwindles momentarily as a volunteer from the audience takes a seat for a series of timed poses, increasing in length from a few minutes to up to 20 minutes.

“I’m not this usual artist who can just sit home all day and just paint because I can’t; I like people, I need people, I need attention… I feel like I need this community,” said Nizan, on the importance of the event.

She also, perhaps counter-intuitively, championed the event in a few words: “No new people.” Of course, Nizan wants new people to show but hopes they keep coming back to learn, grow their practice and instill a sense of community.

To that, Eviatar Slivnik, a jazz musician and Nizan’s partner, quipped: “As an artist, it makes you better.” Slivnik is often seen drifting near the back to help Nizan, or as in two sessions ago, taking a seat for a first pose to get the crowd warmed up.

The sessions were, at first, bi-weekly but moved into a weekly format due to demand. Some sessions have clocked 50 attendees, per Book Club’s count. The seating format also switched to accommodate more artists in a longer row.

Nat Esten, co-owner and manager of Book Club alongside Erin Neary, is pleased with the turnout and eager to fill out the events calendar.

“We’ve been gradually dipping our toe into events, but the response from the community has been enthusiastic and Drinking & Drawing is our first weekly event, so yes, we are very happy with the partnership,” Esten said. 

With the appeal of events and in a bid for being present, the bar instituted a policy of no laptops after 7 p.m.

Book Club also boasts a monthly poetry series hosted by a local poet and playwright, Robert Galinsky, as well as a monthly reading series hosted by author Alex McElroy. 

“We’re slowly adding more to our calendar,” Esten added, referring to Book Club’s participation in the upcoming Bookstore Crawl on Saturday along with McNally Jackson, Bluestockings and other local stops.

Only time will tell if more local businesses follow suit, but for now, artists can log practice in the sprawling drink and draw scene right in the East Village.

Kaley Roshitsh is the first-ever sustainable fashion journalist at WWD. Her work appears on U.N. Women USA NY, Her Campus Media and the independent magazine she founded called ThriftEd Mag. You can find her on Instagram ranting about her latest thrift finds or the importance of knowing your neighbors at @KaleyRoshitsh.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

A visit to Club Cumming on New Year’s Eve

Text and photos by Stacie Joy

Despite the threat of rain, Mother Nature decided to play nice on New Year’s Eve, where one of the neighborhood's more festive events took place at Club Cumming505 E. Sixth St. between Avenue A and Avenue B.

Tonight’s sold-out outdoor cabaret New Year’s Eve Blowout features, among others, Emma Craig as Dolly Parton, Michael T as David Bowie, boylesque artist Richard JMV, the house band COVID Destroyers, kilted singer Anthony Cherry, and headliner Miss Dirty Martini, plus host Kareem McJagger.

I’m there for the 5:30 curbside seating (there’s also one at 8). I arrive to find co-owner Daniel Nardicio holding his puppy Beau...
Attendees are being seated as drinks and food are served, and I head “backstage” to photograph the performers and talk with Daniel about the event, what outdoor event production and livestreaming entails during the pandemic, and about future plans for Club Cumming.
What prompted the decision to create a live, socially distant outdoor entertainment event for New Year’s Eve? 

Well, the decision was simple: Club Cumming is a live venue, known for its performers, and something virtual wouldn’t do. HOW to make that happen was the question. 

Have you seen any reluctance on behalf of people to sit outside during the winter? What has reaction been like to outdoor events at Club Cumming?

No, we had people clamoring to come — if we didn’t have to socially distance, it would have been more packed! Adventurous people were there to have a good time, and a good time was had by — I hope — all! 

Do plan on you sticking with the outdoor space throughout the winter with more events like Doris Day Drinking and Yappy Hour? How has business been with only limited outdoor seating? 

Yappy Hour is a Yappening! I love it so much. Doris Day Drinking is new and I’m sure if its Sammy Jo, it’ll be sparsely attended and mildly annoying…just kidding, it’ll be great! Sammy Jo and Darren (my partner) make a great team and are the Sam and Diane of our Cheers, if Sam and Diane were both bottoms.

You livestreamed this New Year’s Eve event to the general public. How is livestreaming going? Any evidence of livestream fatigue on the behalf of viewers?

It depends, we created a production company and focus more on shooting little films, and creating more of a piece of work, than livestreaming itself. I leave that to the kids. BUT that said, next Friday (January the 8th) RuPaul’s Drag Race’s Nicky Doll is going to be holding virtual drag race viewing parties weekly from Club Cumming and I’m thrilled about that!

Do you think streaming programming might be part of the calendar once rooms reopen to live audiences?

Absolutely! A way to get our performers out to the world, and bring in additional revenue for them —count us in!

This was a tough year for New Yorkers. Any positives to come out of an awful 2020 for Club Cumming? What’s next for the bar?

Trump is out in 20 days, NYC rents are plummeting, I say, “kids, get your asses back and snatch up these cheap apartments, and start a mom-and-pop shop as this is a once in a lifetime chance to ask not what NYC can do for you, but what you can do for NYC. Be a part of the new New York. This city is magic!”
You can keep up with events at Club Cumming via Instagram.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

SLA says live music and DJs can return to Club Cumming

The live music and DJ programming are returning to Club Cumming starting tonight.

Yesterday, the State Liquor Authority (SLA) signed off on a license alteration for the bar-cabaret on Sixth Street between Avenue A and Avenue B.

Alan Cumming, one of the bar's owners, announced the news on Instagram:

We just left the State Liquor Authority meeting and they ruled in our favor so @clubcumming is allowed once more to have live performances and DJs!!! Rejoice!!! Thanks to everyone who supported us. We have only tried to comply and make good since we discovered the license error, and finally we have been allowed to go on as before.

Ironically our dealings with our community board — us wanting to protect and preserve the @clubcumming community — has made us all realize just how passionately people feel about our little bar and the inclusive, non-judgmental merriment we try to create.

As previously reported in March, the SLA was investigating Club Cumming for its live music programing, including piano and cabaret nights, which was happening without the proper permits. The bar suspended its live music and DJs until they could apply for the appropriate license.

Last month, CB3’s SLA committee (four members present) unanimously voted to grant the license alteration, though with stipulations — "provided they are not scheduled and that there are no ticket sales or entrance fees."

However, a few weeks later, the full CB3 board voted to recommend a denial of Club Cumming's alteration. This is where it gets a little granular.

We'll let The Villager explain from a recent article:

Susan Stetzer, the district manager of CB3, said at the SLA Committee meeting ... that DOB issued a statement to her explaining that the club was in Use Group 6 — a specific zoning group that does not allow scheduled performances, ticketed sales or events with cover fees, according to Stetzer’s statement in the meeting minutes.

But a DOB spokesperson told The Villager otherwise. Because the building was constructed before 1938, it does not have what is known as a “certificate of occupancy” — which is what sparked the whole debate after a 311 complaint was lodged over the club lacking a valid “C of O.”

The building also has a so-called nonconforming commercial use, specifically, a commercial use in what is technically a residential zone — in this case, a bar on a residential sidestreet. However, because the building is pre-1938, it does not need a certificate of occupancy, according to DOB. Additionally, the “nonconforming commercial use” is allowed because of the building’s age, according to a DOB spokesperson. A 311 complaint about “no C of O” led DOB to send an inspector to check out the address on Dec. 22, 2017. The department found no violation that day. A spokesperson added that the department has no jurisdiction over issues related to live-performance ticketing.

However, despite DOB’s finding of nothing amiss, the SLA issued a violation at the end of February. That, in turn, sent Club Cumming to the community board for approval of a liquor-license modifcation.

In any event, the SLA apparently sorted through the various DOB bureaucracy and approved the amended license for Club Cumming, which opened last September in the former Eastern Bloc space.


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

CB3 commitee OKs upgraded license for live music and DJs at Club Cumming — with stipulations

It was standing-room only — even on the sidewalk outside — at Monday night's CB3-SLA committee meeting at the Perseverance House Community Room, 535 E. Fifth St. between Avenue A and Avenue B.

The main event: a license alteration for Club Cumming to include live music and DJs. As previously reported, Club Cumming on Sixth Street was under investigation by the State Liquor Authority for its live music programing, including piano and cabaret nights, which was happening without the proper permits. The bar-cabaret between Avenue A and Avenue B suspended its live music and DJs until they could apply for the appropriate license.

Several dozen supporters showed up at the meeting — so many that CB3 reportedly asked people to wait outside the Perseverance House Community Room...

Here's a recap via Bedford + Bowery:

Ultimately, CB3’s SLA and DCA four present committee members did vote unanimously to grant the license alteration, which would allow live music and DJs “provided they are not scheduled and that there are no ticket sales or entrance fees.” The committee stated this was because the bar’s zoning “does not provide” for them, and they lacked the power to change that.

According to CB3 officials, the situation with Club Cumming had more to do with compliance rather than complaints. (And it wasn't reported if anyone spoke against the upgraded license.)

“The bottom line is how [the Department of Buildings] interprets it,” stated District Manager Susan Stetzer. Historically, [committee chair Alexandra] Militano added, the DOB has not allowed scheduled performances and ticketed events to exist in a residential area, even at spaces licensed to have live music and DJs. Club Cumming’s address, 505 East 6th Street, is in zoning area R7B, a type of “residential district.”

It will be interesting to see how CC's owners, Daniel Nardicio and Alan Cumming, revamp their schedule once the license gets the final OK via the SLA.

Cumming, an East Village resident who spoke at the committee meeting, later thanked the Club's supporters on Instagram yesterday:

Last night our community board approved the change to our license so that live performance and DJs can happen again at @clubcumming. Now we just have to have the actual license changed by the State Liquor Authority and the show can go on again! It was a truly humbling and beautiful thing to see so many people turn up and show their support for our little bar, and to hear those who spoke express how important it has become as a safe community gathering place that both nurtures new talent and celebrates the artistic and cultural legacy of the East Village.

Club Cumming opened last September in the former Eastern Bloc space.

You can read coverage via Patch here.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Club Cumming temporarily suspends live music

Back on Thursday, Page Six reported that Club Cumming on Sixth Street was under investigation by the State Liquor Authority for its live music programing ... which was happening without a live music permit.

This is part of what an SLA rep told Page Six: "The SLA opened an investigation after receiving complaints from the local Community Board that the licensee was not complying and charged the bar with failure to conform on February 23, 2018. Club Cumming can submit an application to change their method of operation to allow for live music/DJs."

In a statement to Page Six, CC partner Daniel Nardicio acknowledged the error, chalking it up to a "rookie mistake" on the SLA paperwork.

At the start of the weekend, the bar-cabaret between Avenue A and Avenue B announced it was temporarily suspending its live music and DJs until the issue was sorted out...

A post shared by Club Cumming (@clubcumming) on

The bar owners, including actor-author (and East Village resident) Alan Cumming, are currently collecting signatures in support of the updated license with the SLA.

Club Cumming opened last September in the former Eastern Bloc space. Since then, the CC's small curtained stage with a piano has hosted to a number of events, including a variety show featuring Amanda Lepore ... a piano night in which Paul McCartney and Emma Stone stopped by and sang a song from "The Little Mermaid" and a birthday tribute to Liza Minnelli...

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Club Cumming debuts tonight on 6th Street

As previously noted, actor-author (and East Village resident) Alan Cumming was teaming up with the Eastern Bloc owners to turn the bar on Sixth Street between Avenue A and Avenue B into Club Cumming.

And tonight marks the opening night... there are a variety of events happening in the space, as you can see from their schedule (find more details via Instagram)... there are jazz nights, book readings, duets with Michael Musto, a Crisco Disco night, and so on...

Cumming described the Club on his Instagram account as "a home for everyone of all ages, all genders, all sexualities, who all enjoy letting go and making some mischief. No judgments, no attitude, no rules, except kindness, acceptance and fun."

Here's a mini preview via the Times the other day.

The East Village storefront, previously home to the popular gay haunt Eastern Bloc, is being transformed into a Weimar-inspired cabaret bar ... The modest space will have illustrated murals of New York night life personalities including Joey Arias, mismatched chandeliers and a small curtained stage with a piano.

Beyond debauchery, events will include book releases, “stitch and bitch” knitting classes and tantric sex workshops. “To have a local bar that is home for artists and those who love them, that’s important to me,” Mr. Cumming said. “I’ve always wanted to make people talk to each other instead of looking at their phones.”