Above: photo of Kiersten Rickenbach Cerveny with her husband from her Facebook memorial page
Nightlife can be a fantasy world where patrons put their outer yin aside and embrace their inner yang. It can be a masquerade, a dress up game replete with fake accents and eyeliner. It can be a place to thrive in a well conceived alter ego, a creative caldron of vice verse’s. It often serves as a playground for individuals to explore their darker or different sides. There was Charlie the Asian businessman who would remove his pants and shoes and dance on go-go boxes at fashionable clubs wearing fishnets and stilettos. Sometimes his matronly wife and small child would come along to watch. There was the well-healed dandy who lived in the Bowery Mission. He returned to the Salvation Army for breakfast and his bed after a night hobnobbing with the A-list. It’s the kids pretending to be older and the rest of the crowd trying to look younger. It’s the irrelevant feeling relevant because they’re all in the same room. It is a million confusions and magic tricks in warehouses and former garages fixed up with smoke and mirrors to be the coolest places on earth. In the dark, with the music loud, the lights flashing all around and all sorts of ways to cloud ones mind, nightlife is an imperfect escape from reality.
The tragic death of Kiersten Rickenbach Cerveny aka “Dr K.” has hit my circle of friends hard. Kiersten, a dermatologist, a mother of three, and a wife of an adoring husband, seemed to have it all, but wanted a bit more. According to “friends” she sometimes liked to go out with the girls and party hard in cocaine fueled binges that ended up at one apartment or another. A source who asked not to be named told me, “she liked the East Village/Lower East Side haunts because it was unlikely she would run into anyone from work, her other life. When she had an opportunity to go out with the girls she did and it’s strange she was around those two guys at the end of the night, her girlfriends must have left.”
Above: a photo of Kiersten Cerveny and her husband taken from Kiersten’s Facebook page.
Indeed, another close friend offered that Kiersten had a naive streak, only seeing the good in people. This friend said Kiersten and a girlfriend that no one else really talked to anymore ended up in an East Village bar which often serves as a last ditch place for people needing to score. My source can’t understand what drove this wonder woman to leave with these questionable men. My source made me swear to tell you that Kiersten was not an alcoholic or a drug abuser and that this was a once in a while thing. All were in agreement that she could fit in anywhere, had no airs about her, and that she was always a great friend.
One person who would go on the record is Teal “DjTeal” Camner, who has a double life as a DJ and a freelance reporter and coincidently lives across the street from where Kiersten died.
According to Camner:
“First we thought it was a homicide…and she was going INTO the building, but actually she was being carried OUT when she stopped breathing in the doorway. Supposedly, after partying in the LES, they came to Chelsea (to get drugs and whatever else) and were up in the apt for a few hours, and then video shows them carrying her out…at 8am or so. Seems she OD’d somehow. The story being told is she was having an affair (MAYBE) with this HBO Producer (Marc Henry Johnson). He is not being charged because he tried to give her CPR and dialed 911. The alleged drug dealer, (James ‘Pepsi’ Holder) has not been found yet, he took off…but lives in the building, his nick name is PEPSI, and he deals COKE.”
Another friend observed that Pepsi “is like 60 years old and this shit has been going on for years. The whole neighborhood has become sketchy with the meatpacking thing, you know”. The amazing Caron Bernstein a good friend of mine and Kiersten observed “R.I.P. My beautiful friend, Kiersten Cerveny or rather Saint Kiersten. She works tirelessly with children whose parents barely paid her but rather helping them was what filled her heart. A doctor in the true sense of the word. Not a drug addict. Her death was a senseless mistake and she’s now irreplaceable. May she be remembered for who she really is…Saint Dr Kiersten.”
That’s the shame of it all; Dr K. will be remembered for her pointless end and not her meaningful life.
Most of nightlife is doing something else while the after dark gig pays the bills. Most bartenders, waiters, or coat checkers are actors, artists, or students. Wass Stevens who celebrated a birthday at Avenue the other day has a major role in the Ed Burns, TNT series Public Morals and is seen regularly on the big screen. Wass has been at the door of major clubs for decades. I DJ’d the event and surely I’m no DJ. Writing and hospitality design pay my bills. I was advised, often, not to quit my day job.
Another person living a double life is Mark Dommu who was the Nightlife Editor of Next Magazine. Apparently Mark hosted a monthly party at Lovegun the venerable Brooklyn boîte as well. Well when Mark heard that the infamous Michael Alig was geared up to form his web series The Pee-ew at the club he supposedly threatened to “drag the club trough the mud” or something like that. Faced with such a threat the Alig show was canceled only to record outside using cardboard boxes for a set. Well, Next magazine Editor in Chief, John Russell though that what Mark Dommu did was an abuse of power and fired him. So Alig was back at Lovegun this past Saturday with local favorites Hand Job Academy. He will be back again this Saturday.