Tonight I will celebrate a zillion years of enjoying what I do for a living. I am so much a creature of the night that I just may toast to my eons with Tru Blood, warm and straight from the bottle. I am having my birthday gala at Avenue, where I have many friends... where my friends are family. I will DJ for a few minutes some songs you will Shazam and know forever. The world is still filled with amazing stuff, yet undiscovered. There are some things I am sure about, and that includes the love and respect I am honored to have from many people I will see tonight. One of my oldest and dearest is Wass Stevens, who just a few days ago was totally wrecked in a motorcycle accident. In the surgery that followed, he received four screws, two in the heel, two in the ankle, and three pins etc., etc. Somehow, he will be at the door tonight greeting my friends. I asked him Why, how, wow? and he replied, "Nothing - not a bike wreck, broken bones, nothing - could keep me away from the honor of working your birthday. Besides, we are two of only a handful of veterans left in this biz," and that "No one else would know four decades worth of your friends and night life acquaintances." Our friendship is one built on thousands of unique nights, with boredom never a factor. We have helped each other through trying times, and seen things in each other that few have ever suspected. He has guided me when I wasn't listening to anyone and appreciated and supported me when the world was determined to extinguish my flame. I asked Wass about his recent tumble and what else is going on. He'll - we'll - be at Avenue tonight if you are so inclined.
O.K., so you got wiped out. When did you realize you were going to live, and did your whole life flash before your eyes? What did you see in that flash?
As soon as I hit the ground - my elbow and a bone in my neck broken, and my foot crushed on impact by an SUV (6 more broken bones) - my first three thoughts were: 1. Fuck, that hurts; 2. Fuck, my bike is wrecked; and 3. Fuck, I think I might be late for work tonight. My life didn't flash before my eyes. Although, I did have a few interesting flashbacks and visions once the morphine took effect...
You're mangled, and yet nine days later you are back at the door of Avenue in time to work my birthday bash. I'm sure it wasn't me that rushed you back. What is it that pulls you to door work?
I don't like to miss work. I never take a night off. Never. I actually emailed Noah from the trauma center at the ER the day of the accident to warn him I might be late that night. It wasn't until the x-rays were completed and they were checking me in that I admitted to myself that I may be a little more than late. But I set a schedule and actually came to work several days sooner than I originally planned, nine days after surgery. Wasn't going to let this keep me from Avenue, or my tattoo shop
, or my acting career
. Just wasn't an option. Why the rush? I love Avenue, my crew, our regulars, the people I work with. I take pride in how I do what I do, the reputation of the place, and I've worked hard, along with the rest of the team, to create something. It's very difficult to relinquish control of "my" room - even when I'm lying flat on my back, banged up. I'm very fortunate. I spend my days either auditioning or actually on set working, or at my shop, Rivington Tattoo N.Y.C., surrounded by a great group of incredibly talented artists. I spend my nights at Avenue. Comparatively speaking, staying home waiting to heal wasn't an attractive option.
Tell me about your tattoo shop.
Rivington Tattoo N.Y.C. is amazing. I literally came up with the idea while getting a tattoo from Ethan Morgan, my partner in the shop. The space is beautiful - think steam punk, turn-of-the-century bank (sort of), with tin ceilings, granite counters, and walnut and steel cabinets. We only do custom work- no books or flash art in my place. And the guys are amazing. Ethan is world famous for his portrait work. New addition to the team Dana Helmuth is also world-famous for his traditional Japanese-style work. All the guys are incredibly talented, and it's a no-attitude environment. Because of my other careers, I know a lot of different types of people, from actors and musicians to athletes to hipsters to preppies to billionaire businessmen. The idea behind Rivington Tattoo N.Y.C. was to create a place where they could all be comfortable exploring their wild or artistic sides. Create a memory or two that lasts forever.
The acting career has legs. What is your best work so far and what do you have in the pipeline?
The acting career has also been very busy, although my inability to walk right now has put a damper on things. Pilot season is on the way, with all kinds of new possibilities. I was very happy with the work in The Wrestler
and Brooklyn's Finest
and am anxiously awaiting the release of Goat
, with Ice-T, Ja Rule, Armand Assante, to name a few. The ultimate goal is a steady television gig, two or three movies a year when on hiatus, a few nights a week at the club, and a few afternoons at the shop.
You are a clotheshorse, a bon vivant, well-heeled, dressed to kill. What makes you so passionate about clothes?
If I may, I'd broaden my love of clothes to a love of style, in all things. Anything worth doing should be done with style. And I mean personal style, not what the media tells you to do, or wear, or eat, or drive, or sit on. Create your own unique style. My mom came to New York after the accident - yes, I love my mom - and thought I was crazy for wearing a sport coat with a pocket square to the hospital for surgery. Why not? Although, it has been difficult finding pants that will fit over this cast...
It's my birthday. Tell me a favorite Steve Lewis story.
My favorite Steve Lewis Story. Jesus, I've known you too long to have one. Although the grand re-opening party at Palladium, with you and I standing on ladders to see over the crowd that was 30-deep on 14th street comes to mind. Nuts. Oh, and I have fond memories of our weekly Wednesday night four hour conversations at Marquee
...Happy Birthday my brother.