Ugh. I just heard that Sugarland Nightclub in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is closing. The place where I first broke into performing in the gay nightlife scene, which ultimately changed the course of my career and life, the place where I made so many of my nightlife friends, the place with no pretention but plenty of warmth and magic, the place that was easiest to make friends with strangers, the place that held on for years after the goddamn condos went up all around it, is finally on the chopping block because yet another group of people don’t give a fuck what a neighborhood and community institution means to a community of artists and friends.

I never fully understood all the old New Yorkers who talk wistfully or bitterly about the city they love having disappeared, or why anyone would ever say they might give up on New York, until now. I’m still not going to leave or give up on the city I love and have lived in all my life. But man, it just keeps testing me.

Every inch of the block surrounding Sugarland has been developed into wildly expensive condos full of assholes and their stupid babies and noise complaints and lack of recognition of the fact that THEY moved in next to a NIGHTCLUB, not the other way around.

For everyone who has ever pulled this annoying shit, let me explain something to you.

NO ONE LOVES NEW YORK FOR ITS BABIES OR SCHOOLS OR INVESTMENT BANKERS.

PEOPLE LOVE NEW YORK FOR ITS NIGHTLIFE AND ARTISTS AND WEIRDOS. People love New York because it’s a place you can have fun and go on adventures and meet people who don’t exist anywhere else, because all of them moved to New York so they could be who they are without getting beaten to death for it.

People don’t spend thousands of dollars to come halfway around the world to New York so they can wander aimlessly around quiet, residential neighborhoods that used to be fun and interesting. They come so they can go to the neighborhoods that STILL ARE interesting.

And another thing. There are about 10,000 neighborhoods in NYC that are perfectly nice, close to or in Manhattan, and full of amenities that will NOT be ruined by you coming in and starting your stupid family and going to bed at 10pm and getting upset when other people put on weird clothes and dance and laugh in the street until 6am. If you want to be a boring, bossy, fun killing piece of shit, go there. They’ll love you.

But there are about 5 neighborhoods in New York that are still even the least bit fun for people who enjoy meeting new people, having fun, being interesting and contributing to the vitality of this city. And yes, they’re loud. BECAUSE THEY’RE ALIVE, AND THAT’S WHAT LIFE SOUNDS LIKE. So when your life is over, don’t come to the party zone to settle down.

Some of us are still trying to keep New York interesting, and this city will always be what it is because of us, not because of you. Your lifestyle is what the suburbs are for.

JC Cassis performs at The Trash Bar 9.15.10

Last Wednesday was show two of the Week of Too Many Shows, a one-hour set at The Trash Bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Man, does this place live up to its name! But it’s such a great dive/punk rock bar. I love it. For this show, I had two special guests: JJ Japanime, and Dan Freeman of Comandante Zero with 0H10 M1ke performing their song, Wake Up in New York, which is one of my absolute favorites of theirs. I played synth and did backing vocals on that song, which is always fun to do. “Icedick” KILLED again, which is great, and the whole audience was standing up and dancing with me the whole time, which made it so much fun to perform. Yay!

JC Cassis and JJ Japanime perform at The Trash Bar 9.15.10

So last Monday I did my Make Music New York mini-tour of Brooklyn, hitting the insufferably hot Vox Pop at 1pm and the somehow less hot outdoor setup at Bread Stuy at 4pm. It was such a hot day that I decided to forgo wearing my usual wig, thinking that it would only make me pour sweat even more, to the point where it would be dangerous to be using electrical equipment. Somehow, though, I feel like I sweated more without a wig while performing at Vox Pop than I ever could have in Hell with a wig on. It was gross. Funny and ridiculous, but really gross, too. Also, I learned that a sleepy coffee shop at 1pm is not the most suitable place for me to perform my music. I just wanted to be part of Make Music New York, and I did get some new fans out of it, which is always the most important thing, but I think next year, if I can’t get a nighttime slot in an appropriate venue, I’m just gonna skip it.

The show at Bread Stuy was hilarious because it was at a simple DJ setup outside, so I was literally standing behind a table with a PA set up on it, just standing and singing my songs. People on the street generally seemed to enjoy it, except for this one old lady who came by and seemed to be unpleasantly surprised that there was loud music playing right next to her apartment. She was like “What’s going on here? When are you stopping?” Then she watched me disapprovingly for my next two songs. SO awkward. But again, I did make some new fans and sold a CD, so it was worth it.

I’m excited for my show tonight at Sugarland at 10:30pm, (221 North 9th Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn), because that show always goes great and has a great audience that loves what I do. Also, bacKspace and Comandante Zero will be playing the show with me, so it’s gonna be a really solid lineup. After that I don’t really have any solid shows booked, although there are some things floating around in the ether for July and August, and I may well be performing at Burning Man in Nevada, which would be awesome. But without a lot of shows, I’m going to focus on online promotion and networking with industry contacts to write and sing with/for more people and try to get my songs licensed. I need to start making some real money and stronger contacts with this and really get things moving towards where I want them to be. Wish me luck and send me ideas!

Yay!

I meant to write this chain of events down right when it happened, and then four days passed. Oops! But check this out:

1. Many weeks ago, I went to see my friend Anna Haas play a show at an event called Drinking for a Change.

2. At that show, I met one of the D4AC organizers, Peter Dunn.

3. I went to a Songwriters Hall of Fame networking meeting where I met a singer/songwriter/producer.

4. This singer/songwriter/producer was also in the Songwriters Hall of Fame New Writers Showcase at the Bitter End.

5. Peter Dunn hosts karaoke on Tuesday nights at Barracuda sometimes.

6. Peter invited me to do karaoke at Barracuda with him.

7. I went to Barracuda to do karaoke with Peter.

8. At Barracuda, I ran into the singer/songwriter/producer.

9. He introduced me to the owner of Barracuda, who had been to the Songwriters Hall of Fame show and loved my set.

10. THE OWNER OF BARRACUDA ASKED ME TO PERFORM AT BARRACUDA AND ELMO LOUNGE!!! These are both totally awesome gay venues. Who else came up in gay venues, you ask? Madonna, Bette Midler, Lady Gaga, the list goes on. VERY exciting.

11. At Barracuda, I sang my favorite song ever, “Show Me Love” by Robin S.

12. Mimi Imfurst, the host of karaoke that night, loves that song and all the 90’s songs I sang there.

13. I won the karaoke contest  and $100.

14. Mimi Imfurst asked me to sing with her on a future project she’s concocting, as well as BE HER SPECIAL GUEST this Sunday at Posh, where she wants me to sing “Show Me Love” and an original song of mine.

15. Posh is another fun gay club in Hell’s Kitchen, and I think this show is going to be REALLY fun and effective for expanding my fan base and proving that I can be a great entertainer for a gay club crowd, which will hopefully lead to more gigs and more fanbase expansion!

I’ve been wondering how and wanting to break into performing in gay clubs for a long time, and assuming that it would be really hard, when really, it’s just like anything else: once you’ve done the work to get good, it’s who you know. I did the Songwriters Hall of Fame showcase because I knew Peter Bliss. At the networking event and showcase, I met the singer/songwriter/producer. At Barracuda, he introduced me to the owner and I got to know Mimi Imfurst, who hooked me up with the show on Sunday. It’s also the old adage: 90% of life is showing up. If I hadn’t gone to Anna’s show or the networking event, I wouldn’t know Peter or the singer/songwriter/producer. If I hadn’t gone to karaoke, I wouldn’t have met the owner of Barracuda or Mimi Imfurst. Once I was there, all I had to do was be friendly and sing well, and from that I booked three gigs. Makes me wonder what the hell would happen if I went out to these kinds of things every single night! Maybe I should!

Also, I am VERY excited about the fact that the following chain of events also happened recently:

1. I went out with my dear friend Elijah to Sugarland in Brooklyn.

2. Sugarland is an AWESOME little gay club that is the perfect size, has a great crowd, plays great music, and has live performances on a little stage on the dancefloor that are very similar to what I do.

3. I asked someone how I get to perform there. He told me to talk to the bartender.

4. I talked to the bartender about what I do and asked how to perform there.

5. He booked me into the once-monthly showcase, Street Smart, on April 25th, from which he often culls acts for the dancefloor performances. If I impress him there, I’ll get to perform again at Sugarland!

So, the awesome news is that it seems if I just get out there and do what I do best (singing, performing, talking to people, chasing the opportunities I want), the results can be really amazing, easy and quick. Hoo. Ray.