Sevigny and Khan Try to Keep Bathroom Sex Alive in Manhattan, While Looking in Brooklyn
Paul Sevigny and Nur Khan reopened Don Hill's this week, bringing their devoted fashion clientele along with them. Under their co-stewardship, the Soho space is now adorned with graffiti penises, stills from Sasha Grey's best works, risqué photos of fishnet stockings, Harif Guzman's street art, video installations by Sante D'orazio, and text reading "Sick Pervert Ruined My Life!" The club hosted the Proenza Schouler after-party and a Yeah Yeahs Yeahs concert, bringing in bold faces like Gwen Stefani, Courtney Love, and Mary-Kate Olsen. But outside the venue this week (and over the phone), Sevigny told us that luring celebrities is actually not his aim, and the two are already weighing spaces in Brooklyn for their next project. Below, he and Khan sound off on their interest in Williamsburg and their weariness with luxury hotels.
How's your New York Fashion Week been?
PS: Hell week. I'm just trying to fucking make it through. It's great for spaces, but Fashion Week is a necessary evil. [Laughs.] I used to enjoy Helmut Lang shows in the nineties, but he's not there anymore. I liked Fashion Week when I was new to it, I guess.
NK: I haven't gone to a single show yet.
So, do you think this space is a deviation from past projects or are you building a consistent Sevigny-Khan vibe?
NK: This has kind of a Sway in the nineties vibe. But there's been a void for this in New York for so long. It's just like everyone here is trying to outdo each other with money and build a better, bigger, strong place. But at the end of the day, it's about the essence of the space and the people there; that's what makes it fun.
Do you want people to actually be having sex and doing drugs here? Seems that way from the interior design.
PS: The sex theme isn't permanent; we're going to change the interior quarterly. But as opposed to something with a chi-chi-er artist, we've got a down and dirty theme at the moment. It's the opposite of the times. There were spaces in the seventies — Max's, CB's — they weren't glamorous, they were just fun. New York City wasn't all about supermarkets and retail outlets, and that's what hotels here are kind of turning into. We want people to get laid in the bathroom.
Do you think peoples' behavior at parties is more prude now?
PS: Oh, for sure.
NK: There used to be an actual uptown and downtown, but now it's more homogenized.
Is Brooklyn versus Manhattan today what uptown versus downtown used to be?
NK: Downtown kids got higher rents and they're all in Williamsburg now and we kind of lost them. We lost a lot of artistic people, and those are the people who make things happen.
PS: This space isn't about the person who can roll into town from L.A. with a black card and afford an $18 cocktail. That's not who we're trying to attract.
But how much is a cocktail going to be on a regular night?
NK: I don't know, maybe ten dollars.
PS: There's going to be a Jägermeister machine, too.
Would you open a space in Brooklyn?
NK I'm looking at a space out there. It's a really great location. I'd love to open a space in Williamsburg. But it's about the space, and we need to both get out and see it.
PS: The Brooklyn scene is great and young and hip. People are interested in actually fun things. We're going to try and do Sunday matinees here to draw some of that crowd in. But it's not dead in Manhattan. There are certainly some holdouts. There are things going on. I moved here a long time ago, and I love the East Side, still. You know, if Varvatos had saved CBGB's and put his boutique in the fucking basement, he'd be a hero right now. So this is one of the last spots left in town with real history to it. Everyone has a story from Don Hill's.
You sound a bit bummed about Manhattan changing in this direction.
NK: I honestly feel obliged to change it. This is the direct opposite of the Manhattan luxury-hotel scene. Things have gone one way for so long; we want to go in completely the opposite direction. Just old school, downtown, gritty New York.
PS: We're not fucking packing up and moving to L.A.
Do you think this place will attract a different crowd than Beatrice, though?
PS: I hope so. I'm sick of those Beatrice fuckers.