The late-late show in the Leather District
By Jim Sullivan, Globe Correspondent, 01/23/2002
Can a restaurant/club in Boston, open 24/7 Friday-Sunday and until 4 a.m. Monday-Thursday, really be all things to all people? Can it serve breakfast always, with eggs benedict at $6.95 among its 140 or so dishes, and create a cool late-night vibe for the dressed-in-black folks? Can it service the party crowd that doesn't want the night to end when Boston bars are shuttered at 2 a.m.?
News, on Kneeland Street at the old Art Zone space in the Leather District, is giving it its best shot. Open about two months, News, with three lounges and two main dining areas, caters to "so many animals, marketing-wise," says Jamie Giorgio, who joins our table for a bit on Friday. (Along with Il Panino's Frank DePasquale and the Roxy's Lou Delpidio, Giorgio is one of News's main men)
Giorgio continues to click off the clientele: "Neighborhood people, before-work people, office people, a pre-theater crowd, a dinner crowd . . . who sometimes stay all night. . . . The whole concept is an upscale restaurant/lounge." The News boasts five 42-inch plasma TVs, wireless Internet service, and magazines and newspapers galore to peruse (it is called News, after all).
A longtime vet of the Boston restaurant scene, Giorgio says he helped design the spot and do the hammering and spackling. Renovations are 70 percent complete, he says.
Christopher Myers, proprieter of Radius among other eateries, who lives in the area, says News is "the best thing that has happened to the neighborhood since I moved in." Yes, he's smiling. "I have 75 receipts."
What, the food and drink is not all comped?!
No, Myers swears. He considers News a key component to what a city neighborhood should have, but this one didn't.
News is darkly lit, but not oppressively so; stylish, but not intimidating.
Caleb Ho, a forensic psychologist who arrives with his girlfriend, Jacqueline Church, around midnight, is a regular. "The neighborhood has been lusting for a casual place where you can wear jeans or a suit and don't want to pay $25 for an entree," Ho says. He's been known to roll out of bed in pajamas and come by for a bagel.
Adds Church, 41, who is on the board of the Institute of Contemporary Art:, "We don't have to worry about being inundated with club kids. We can come here and just chill."
Yes, but do celebrities like athletes and musicians come by? They do, says Giorgio, but he'll name no names, figuring they'll continue to come if their presence is not flaunted.
And the Boston cop view? Any trouble?
"Positively not," says Jerry Suprey, one of Boston's finest. "This place has been done over so well." He likes the idea that Boston, the city that likes to sleep, has a (nearly) round-the-clock spot like this. "It attracts good people."
Girls night out As it neared 8 p.m. last Sunday, the doorman at the Milky Way Lounge & Lanes politely told to incoming patrons that the evening's entertainment was of an adult nature. Several families with young children moved along, with one kid asking what "adult" meant and a mother cautiously answering, "It's adult . . . bowling," which seemed to suffice.
In reality, the bowling side of the Jamaica Plain facility remained the same as it ever was - G-rated - but the entertainment and edification on the club side was indeed adult-oriented: 90 minutes of spoken-word lesbian erotica, with a dozen or so locals. The main draw was MC and closing writer/reader Tristan Taormino, the New York-based Village Voice sex columnist and author of three books, the latest being "True Lust: Adventures in Sex, Porn and Perversion" (which she assured the comfortably packed house is 100 percent true with names changed to protect the guilty).
As it happened, Taormino - wearing a (faux?) fur coat most of the night, but less during her reading - was battling the flu. She acknowledged, as she chowed down pre-set, "When you can barely breathe through your nose and have aches and pains all over - not sexy, no, not sexy."
But the show must go on and it did, with Taormino advising other readers to wipe the mike with sani-cloths. (Taormino had other appearances/workshops around town Monday and Tuesday.) This program was a XXX affair content-wise, but the crowd didn't blush during the naughty bits - how could you blush for an hour-plus anyway? - or lack for enthusiasm. Julie Levin Russo took a trip back to 16th-century England to create a royal lesbian tryst; Amie M. Evans' depiction of a dominance and submission scene prompted Taormino to say, "That was quite . . . quite . . . something."
Taormino read "Stone Femme" from her latest book, in which she presented a strong case for "knowing what the body and spirit are capable of."
The show was part of a queer-centric Sunday night series the Milky Way has been presenting since November. They've been working with promoter Aliza Shapiro, who runs the company Truth Serum. Shapiro wants to get other queer groups involved, men as well as women. As for now, she's promoting "our grand opening" Feb. 2, with live music, DJs, and comedy. On Feb. 9, it's "drag bingo."
Obscure, coincidental fact: Shapiro's grandfather owned this Centre Street site back in the 1950s.
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