Simon Hammerstein and Randy Weiner's Purgatorio, a two-week haunted house nightlife experience is the most beautiful venue in New York right now. It's scary all right: witness the horror of New York's nightlife elite rubbing elbows with the public.
Purgatorio is a three-level nightclub that is brilliantly conceived and elegantly executed. Every nook, cranny, hallway, and bathroom is designed with the theme in mind and no detail has been over looked. However, it is kind of like partying in the world's classiest PATH train station, because the crowd is the worst in New York. Guys in untucked button downs and their girlfriends drunkenly wobbling on heels that are too high and in tops that are too tight abound. Even at the VIP opening reception, things weren't any better. Overly boozey broads caused trouble in the stairwells while the well-heeled and hip tried to stay out of their way.
The clash was even evident in the night's celebrities. Official host Perez Hilton may have been a draw for the targeted crowd, paying $39.99 and up, but he couldn't get celebrity guest Jude Law to hang out with him.
And it's a shame that the crowd may turn people off to the joint, because it is really something to behold. Viewers enter through a Victorian-themed funeral parlor that is staffed by a bunch of freakish-looking extras from the last Addams Family movie. They are then transported down to hell, the venue's first level. The path is one of the scariest and brilliant things I've ever experienced. In hell, a lounge-themed bar full of ghouls and gorgeous girls, a creepy show awaits before everyone graduates to Purgatory above. It is like the world's classiest S&M club, full of raunchy go-go dancers and several vocal and acrobatic performances. Attendees are then free to travel up to Heaven, a space dominated by a gorgeous chandelier looking device and dirty dancers dressed as angels. There's also an outdoor lounge for smokers and such with a great view of the Midtown skyline. There is nothing about any of it to improve upon, except the door policy.
Hammerstein and Weiner, the pair behind Lower East Side hotspot The Box know something about creating a unique space that is full of provocative performances. They also know something about the velvet rope. For the few who can get past the doorman at The Box, they'll find a paradise of beautiful people, crazy acts, and a devil-may-care attitude that is far too wanting in post-Guilliani hot spots. If The Box is a high end restaurant, then Purgatorio is that same restaurant during Restaurant Week, when it's more affordable and open to the rabble.
And isn't that the problem with Halloween in general, when the zombie denizens of the city's nightlife are forced to cede their exclusive realm to the spirits of girls in slutty costumes and the boys trying to get them drunk and out of those tiny little outfits? It's become an even bigger amateur night than New Year's Eve, and no matter how classy you may be, you're going to have to make room for the less qualified.
[Image via Getty and Thom Kaine]