231 minutes with … Susanne Bartsch
New York magazine|June 06 - 19, 2022
Still entertaining the “adventurous straights”—now at midtown’s most mega of new megaclubs.
By Brock Colyar

Oh, mandy, let me get you a chair,” says legendary Swiss nightlife hostess Susanne Bartsch to also legendary New York nightlife fixture Amanda Lepore as the latter slowly struts into a dressing room shortly before midnight on a recent Saturday. We’re backstage with Bartsch and her club-kid crew, most of whom were not born when she started throwing parties in 1986, at the most mega of new midtown megaclubs, Musica, where she was hired to provide some freaky atmospherics on Thursday and Saturday nights. “Basically fashion meets opera meets vaudeville meets burlesque meets show business, you know?” is how she explains her shtick. Lepore, who arrives with a chipper twink in tow ready to fetch her a shot of tequila, is always invited.

Musica is located in a blocky building beside the West Side Highway that you can’t miss because it’s painted with massive white letters that spell out musica. It’s just one of several new dance halls that have popped up in the past year or so to meet the city’s post-lockdown hedonism needs. It was opened in part by the same people who own Cipriani (musica means, uh, “music” in Italian) and in some ways is a return to form for a kind of big-box flashy nightlife that the Bloomberg era drove out of Manhattan or into the underground. In other ways, it’s something entirely of this decadent moment we’re in or just leaving. And it still needs Bartsch and friends to give it that carnivalesque touch.

Bartsch, in three-inch eyelashes and a silver chandelier-shaped dress, is zipping around the room like a pixie putting finishing touches on various nudish, glitter-and-latex-covered performers. “This crotch is way too big. But it’ll look fine in the dark,” she says to one. To another: “Look at those titties!” One member of her tribe, in a headpiece larger than his actual head, tells me he spent a lot of time with Bartsch in her apartment at the Chelsea Hotel for part of the pandemic. What was that like? “Like Mercury always in retrograde.” Across the room, I hear Bartsch coo, “Get prepared for pussy!”

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