Yesterday's article about Stuart Braunstein leaving the cozy confines of W.i.P. has whipped the good people running the art-based night spot into a frenzy. In the spirit of there-are-two-sides-to-every-story, and almost everybody in the business is at times a two-faced, bold- faced lying con artist, I had numerous conversations with W.i.P. ownership, management, and employees to get their version of the absolute truth. Absolute truth is rare in clubdom. Everybody is often a little right and a little wrong. Sometimes both parties or multiple parties can be correctly labeled as incorrect or shady.
Lets get this straight: Stuart Braunstein can be difficult. Hell, he prides himself in it, but he is a talented creative type and that is becoming rare in the club business. The fact that he ended up leaving over beef with the bean counters comes as no surprise.
The club, after many backs and forths and ups and downs, decided to take the high road in their response. In other words they didn't dwell on the fact that Stuart does spend a portion of his time on Earth high and acting like a wacko. If we scolded every club honcho who got high we'd be doing nothing else today and through the glorious weekend ahead. If we reprimanded every player who acted like a wacko we'd miss the summer. W.i.P. ownership sent me their Disneyfied version of the story. They chose to issue this as "W.i.P. ownership".
"Regarding Stuart- he was fired for numerous reasons including a physical altercation with a female employee. There were ongoing verbal and physical disputes between him and employees of the venue as well as with talent.
Thomas (Moller) was brought in to curate a true work in progress evolving art program that would include well know artists, non for profit art associations, emerging artists and galleries as well as private collections. He wants to expose the wide range of visual arts that are currently being created by young artists. Thomas Moller is excited to be on board and will be releasing the names of the artists exhibiting in the next show in the coming weeks. Currently wip is featuring a collection by Ryan Keeley. He is happy to announce that WIP will be working with Sarah Walko and Triangle Art Association for this upcoming show.
Along with other business improvements WIP has just made significant improvements to its lighting and sound systems. We will continue to work with our existing art partners such as Projekt Gallery to produce early evening art related events and are committed to exposing a greater number of people to New York's emerging art scene."
Others were less Disneyfied. I got "Stu was an asshole" and "since day one super difficult" and "his energy sucked every night". I got "he was always high and had many physical encounters including throwing Jessica Rosenblum to the floor." My favorite call from a good friend described Stu as a "mutt drug addict." The crazy thing about these comments is that Stuart will be grinning ear-to-ear when he reads them.
A comment to yesterday's column demanded an apology from me to Barry Mullineaux, an owner to be named later, as he didn't want to be named here along with CH who semi-autonomously sent this in.
"Adam committed suicide after the incident. Stuart would not lay that on Barry Mullineaux's door, but the implication hovers like cigarette smoke in a pre-Bloomberg nightclub." This has to be one of the most irresponsible and idiotic instances of "reporting" that I have ever read. The fact that an artist (who is not the subject of this article) committed suicide, while very unfortunate, is completely irrelevant to any of the subject matter. This is confirmed in your writing ("Stuart would not lay that on Barry Mullineaux's door...") but by including it you are creating and perpetuating a completely unacceptable accusation. Someone who considers themselves to be a writer (and constantly refers to themselves as a gentleman) should be completely ashamed at including this sentence in an "article." You owe an apology, in writing, to Barry for even the slightest insinuation of something so terrible. If you want to write an article about a talented young artist whose life was cut short, do that. If you want to create tasteless drama for the purpose of getting more readers, go get a job at The National Enquirer."
I Disneyfied Stuart’s statement yesterday with his permission. I will not apologize because that is what was said. I didn't know Adam and was unaware of his suicide until it was brought to my attention a couple of days ago by Stuart. He felt it important to mention and so I did. I am sure that Adam's death was caused by a string of unhappy events and things and that the destruction of his work and failure of the club to do its part by insuring it was only part of it. Stuart also agreed that there were obviously other issues and that's why the suicide shouldn't be left on Barry's door, but he was also clear that Barry had lied about the insurance for the art work and that Adam was distraught over the drama.
I consider Barry Mullineaux to be one of the worst characters in nightlife, a business filled with shady characters.I don't have to talk to him so I don't. I don't have to deal with him on any level so I won't. Apologizing to him is a joke. He's an asshole and I'm using my full name and I'm out here saying it. If he didn't insure the art and that caused grief to a grief-stricken suicidal artist, he shouldn't be arrested or accused of whacking poor Adam, but that's where it stops. Stuart's claims are unsubstantiated and put forth by him and he didn't object to my wording in yesterday's article even if I "Disneyfied" his actual statement ...a tad. Conclusions are up to the individual and CH can come to his or hers.
A good friend defended Barry to me saying that he "isn't the anti-Christ" and that he “holds it together.” He told me Barry pays those who "fulfill their promises and produce.” My friend added that "there are so many low lives in this industry we would need a year of articles to expose them all". So Barry is respected by some and I bet even liked by others, and Stuart is hated by some and disrespected by others. Barry and Stuart worked together at W.i.P. and W.i.P. was, for a minute, wonderful. Such is nightlife. It takes two and often a few to tango. It needs artists and bean counters and people to sometimes behave badly to make it work as well as WIP did. I hung out last night with the fabulous Thomas Moller who's stepping in to fill the power vacuum left by Stuart’s departure. Thomas, as I told you, is a gentleman. I have seen him crazed and behaving badly. We work in clubs. We sometimes lose it - even the gentlemen amongst us.
For the record, Stuart Braunstein can be a prick, especially when he is high which happens too often.He fucks up, he gets physical, and is sometimes a hot mess when a cool head is needed. I sometimes hate him...but I love him more often. At times I think he's a joke and at other times he's a genius. He and I have had some serious beef and now we are friends. We'll have beef again... and then we will be friends... again. I absorb the beef and chalk it up as club stuff. He uses the excuse that he's artistic to cover up way too much bad behavior but hey...he's an artistic type, an avowed trouble maker who also often makes magic. Now his bad behavior has kicked him to the curb and the cycle starts all over again. I can't wait to see what this wacko and high prick comes up with next. I'll cut the long line...thank you.
Even the beef I have with Barry is merely club stuff.He's never insulted my mother or ripped me off, and being a low life doesn't make him a bad person in clubland. Shoot, I have friends who say him and I should hang. Maybe his art is playing the role that turns me off. Maybe being "one of the worst characters in nightlife" is an art form. That's my Disneyfied version of it. Have a good weekend.