One of NYC nightlife’s most innovative event producers, engaging party hosts, diverse artists and fashionable personalities, Suzie Hart brings an archaeological approach to the business: constantly studying behavior, while digging for truth and treasure. Thotyssey gets to the heart of Ms. Hart!
Thotyssey: Suzie, hello and thanks for chatting today! How was hosting STRUT at Acme the other night?
Suzie Hart: It was a blast! Everyone there is always so friendly and fun; plus, DJs William Francis and Vito Fun had my friends and I dancing all night long!
Scenes like STRUT seem to be your element when it comes to nightlife: lots going on, lots of people to meet, lots of great music.
Yes, definitely! I’m a bit of a Jack of all Trades. I host, promote, curate. I’m currently a bartender at VBar, a cute wine bar in the West Village. I make jewelry, accessories, and perform living installation art. I love throwing events because you get to celebrate with people after they’ve had a great day, but you also are there to help cheer them up after a bad one.
That’s a lot going on! And there’s a lot to talk about, but we’d best start at the beginning: where’s your hometown, and what kind of things were you into, artistically speaking?
I’m from a rural town, Standish in Maine. When I was growing up, I lived for fishing and exploring the woods behind my house. We even tapped trees for our own maple syrup. Sometimes, I really wonder how that little girl grew up to become such an urbanite!
That said, I was always very creative. My dad had carpentry tools in the shed, and I was always trying to build things. My mom loved fashion, and encouraged me to push the boundaries there growing up.
After college, I got a job working on an archaeological dig in Kenya, which was amazing. But I had some problems, ethically, with aspects of the work. I ended up leaving after a few months, confused about what to do with my life. With maybe $1000 to my name, I found a tiny room in Queens and a job in a society coat check.
That’s quite a journey!
What was your first impression of New York’s nightlife?
When I first moved here, I didn’t go out much. I taught social studies, and completed dual masters degrees in History and Adolescent Education. There just wasn’t any time. The first time I really went out was after finishing that chapter of my life, and again was trying to figure out my career path.
A friend brought me to The Box late in 2012, where I met Kayvon and Anna Zand: larger than life looks, feathers and glitter, gorgeous charming people, crazy performances. I felt like I was in a fantasy story, and these new colorful characters I met were actually faeries, vampires, or other mythical beings! I’m a bit of a nerd at heart, if you couldn’t tell!
Nightlife is as close to living in Narnia or Dungeons & Dragons as possible, isn’t it?
Yes, it definitely is! I think many people use it for escapism, but it becomes even more fascinating when you really start to talk to people and get to know their stories. Like we are doing right now!
How did your own sense of style evolve since those early trips out?
For awhile, I wore mostly black–or nothing. Or if drape myself in white and pearls. I used to draw off the New Romantics. Now, my looks have become a lot more complex and coordinated. Headpieces, vivid colors, or a 90s high fashion lean.
Speaking of the 90′s, there was a time when there weren’t a gay and a straight nightlife–it was all the same, in the era of the big clubs. There was a lot of terrible stuff happening at that time too, but do you think it’s a shame that we can’t all come together like that now?
Well, I think back in the late 20th century our identities were much more restricted and less explored. It was harder for queer people to live openly queer lives, and that’s why nightlife was more mixed. I definitely agree that it’s a shame today that we can’t all come together. Our community itself is very fractured right now. I hope we can get over some of our differences and support each other more.
I did have to chuckle a little when you posted some clips on Facebook of what was happening in the straight parties at Webster Hall while you were hosting Kayvon’s weekly Metropolis on a different floor. Like, it was just guys in t-shirts jumping. It seemed so strange!
Right!? I do sometimes feel like an anthropologist when I’m at straight clubs.
It’s sad to hear about Webster Hall closing, though–or I guess not closing per se, but rebranding somehow. Is there any word on what will happen to Metropolis?
I know! Metropolis is a great party. But Webster Hall is over 100 years old, and needs some renovations! I really can’t speak for Kayvon on whether the party will continue or not. But, I’ve got some pretty cool projects on the horizon!
Yes, CVNT at The Cock! It was a lot of fun.
Do the more cruisey scenes in nightlife ever put you off in any way?
I have mixed feelings about cruisier places. On one hand, our society creates a lot of problems by being so sexually prudish and not open about sex and sexuality. I admire sexually open spaces.
At the same time, as a woman who hosts and promotes many events aimed at gay men, I’ve experienced a massive amount of misogyny in cruisier spaces–everything from unwanted physical/sexual attention and the assumption that I’m straight just because I’m female, to attempts to physically or verbally bully me out of the space.
In general, I can imagine there are a lot of challenges being a woman who works in queer nightlife. But you’ve been very successful as both a host and promoter regardless.
I see you have something coming up at Eastern Bloc, soon to be Club Cumming. I was wondering what your feelings are about the re-purposing of this location? I interviewed Daniel Nardicio, and he does have some really interesting plans for the space.
Again, a question that I have mixed feelings about. On one hand Eastern Bloc is my favorite bar in the city. I love the quirky decor, and the fact that they play porn in the background. Every member of the staff is amazing.
On the other hand, it’s been a lot slower in recent years… and I believe Club Cumming will breathe some new life into that space!
Tell me about the Crisco Disco party you’re hosting there with DJ Steve Cunningham – which is actually a throwback to parties past–on Sunday!
I am so excited for Crisco! The party Crisco Disco started in LA in 2015 (two years ago) by DJ’s Steve Cunningham and Brian Novy. The concept was to create an homage to this legendary New York disco that lived at 408 West 15th Street from 1977-1986.
The music for the event has been curated from set lists of the great DJ’s from that time, including legendary DJ’s Robbie Leslie (Ice Palace, Studio 54), Frank Corr (Crisco Disco) and Nicky Nicholson (The Anvil). Added to the NY event will be a funkier New York Disco groove, along with visuals that will highlight the New York of the 70’s.
The event has been well received in LA as a monthly Sunday tea dance taking place at one of LA’s hidden gems, The Bullet in North Hollywood. Now, Crisco Disco finds its way back home to NY as we premiere the event on Sunday, June 23rd at the new Club Cumming (currently Eastern Bloc) from 5PM – 10PM.
Crisco Disco is not meant to duplicate this legendary club, as how does one duplicate an experience? Instead, we hope to give the crowd a small taste of what once was.
Sounds amazing, can’t wait! Anything else in your date book coming up?
It will be! Oh yes, this is a bit of a whirlwind weekend for me. I’m headed upstate first to perform a living installation at Queenston Homo Disco on Friday night, then to host Susanne Bartsch’s Bartschland at The Spiegeltent on Saturday night!
You can catch me hosting On Top this Tuesday!
A productive summer indeed! Okay, last question: what is something that all potential party promoters need to understand about how nightlife works in this city, in order to be successful and to create interesting events?
The best piece of advice I can give is that you will have ebbs and flows, low points and high points in your nightlife career and not everyone is going to like you, or respect your art. Don’t be discouraged! Also, always be open-minded and kind. As a promoter your role is to provide people with a great night out!
Words to live by! Thank you, Suzie!
Suzie Hart is constantly hosting and producing nightlife events all over New York City and beyond; check here for scheduled events and appearances. She bartends regularly at VBar in the West Village. Follow Suzie on Facebook & Instagram.