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Do You Know this Man?

June 2, 2009

IMG_0756Kelly Cole, still alive and spinning tunes, last night at Thompson Hotel LES

(photo and text by Susan M. Kirschbaum)

“What would Jesus do?” I remember some little Southern girl asking, hanging off the bar at Kelly Cole’s former East Village restaurant last century. (It was a restaurant then; now it’s a bar.) I could not answer this chick, who was waiting tables, talking about Christ. “Who the hell cares what Jesus would do?” I said.  Then, Kelly explained to me that all the Christian rollers down South asked that from behind the pulpit to behind cars on bumper stickers. Before B&W, Cole had made his mark in NYC as co-owner and front man for Spy Bar, pit stop to the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Smashing Pumpkins, Moby, models, and weirdo artist types all swaying into each other’s circles on velvet cushions, REALLY. It remains in my quasi adult lifetime, the bar with the toughest door policy. (“King,” the famed doorman, now joins me in classes as my yoga buddy, but that’s another story..)

Now Cole has  risen again, just like Jesus. When I first landed in this town and fell into a cool circle, I recall being shoved into a taxi, taken to some loft around Canal Street, then  greeting the sunlight in a circle of faces that included model Shalom Harlow and Mick Jagger. That was Kelly’s place and anyone who landed there remembered it  like  the last of the New York underground.

Fast forward a decade. Half the crowd moved to LA, including Cole who got sober, following his NYC icon, the late designer Stephen Sprouse. Now he’s a coveted spin master (he oversaw the music at Kate Hudson’s birthday), plus he’s got an old school manly cut jeans line called Lofi. Metrosexuals need not apply. Cool, like in old school, when people slid back into their seats, eased into the moment,  and no one snapped their pix on cell phones or webcasts. Always nice when people keep it real.

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