Though you would never know it by the title or lead image of this post — actor, singer, DJ and performer Michael Cavadias is not, in fact, old. He is young, he’s fucking beautiful and he’s FULL OF LIFE. Michael aka Lily of the Valley (to some from a certain era) is one of New York’s most treasured gems, and we’re honored to both know him and host him on the decks in our lobby on a regular occasion. Never were more seductive tracks dropped mere inches below such a winsome mug. At long last, we asked Mister Cavadias to tell us a bit about his life story and his work. Catch him tonight in the Ace New York lobby and come bask in his glory yourself.
I spent a few years in the 90’s performing and working as “Lily of the Valley.” This name came from an improv when I was living with Antony (of…and the Johnson’s) when were were at NYU theatre school back then. Lily was a delusional woman who believed that dozens of angels were living on her toes and giving her messages. But the character changed considerably after that and Lily became an umbrella character for many different creative pursuits. She performed weekly at the Blacklips Performance Cult at the Pyramid in dark little plays and then at Squeezebox with a rock band many many times. It wasn’t traditional drag in any sense but a bit of a natural femininity and etherial presence. It was a great time exploring that character and working with so many inspiring people like Antony, Page (who passed away in 2002) and Dean Johnson (passed away in 2007). People who taught me so much about how to be your authentic self.
As an actor my favorite job would have to be working with Michael Douglas, Robert Downey Jr. & Tobey Maguire in Wonder Boys. I played Tony/Antonia Sloviak who was Robert’s date to a faculty party but he ditches me for Tobey and then I have a couple scenes with Michael Douglas. It was an amazing experience. I learned so much and met some wonderful people like Jane Adams (Happiness, Hung) who is one of my closest friends to this day.
I can’t say I’ve had any truly nightmarish auditions — I suppose just times I was called in for things I just wasn’t right for. In the past few years, I’ve been concentrating on producing more of my own work. A show I wrote called “The Mystery of Claywoman” (directed by Rob Roth) finished a successful run in 2012 at Abrons Art Center and I performed as Claywoman at The Meltdown Festival in London in August, which Antony curated. Rob and I are also finishing a film called “The Doctors” where I play an evil physician. Other than that I’ve been working in other people’s projects a lot lately. There is a great scene of performers and actors, writers Downtown right now like Cole Escola, Erin Markey, Stephen Winter, WIll Janowitz, Antony & Rob Roth. All of whom I’m really excited to be working with.
DJing is actually a great way to tie everything together. I’ve always been obsessed with music. I’ll fixate on an artist and play their songs over and over again like a meditation. I’m fascinated by the progression of artists through their careers and how they change. I love looking at a DJ set as almost a score for a historical documentary on music, trying to weave the songs together so that the relationship between different songs of different eras and artists can sort of comment on each other as though there’s a narrative flowing throughout the night. Not that the listener would necessarily pick up on that, but it’s a fun way to put it together in your head.
We love you Michael, Lily and everyone else on your toes.
We are not afraid of pixels. We do not fear them nor do we dishonor the good, hard work of their tamers, charmers and stewards. But we do love an ink-stained fingertip on a Sunday morning and the smell of real paper. You can’t read Arthur Magazine online. It is just a real newspaper. It’s beautiful and big. It folds out huge and confident. It takes up the whole fucking table. And it’s a really good read. This is their first issue in four years and it’s on real flesh and paper and paper only. Get one here.
Jordan Hufnagel is not only our friend and one of the raddest people on the globe, he is also a top shelf bicycle crafter. Before setting off on a homemade motorcycle toward South America this summer with no possessions and no plans, he made a fleet of four beautiful Hufnagel Cycles for Ace Hotel Portland with his bare hands. We caught the process on film, and rode them all over to the hotel from his workshop in SE one late summer’s eve. Along the way, we met cop horses, innocent standers-by and a long-lost part of ourselves, it seems.
When you’re staying with us in Portland, you can rent one for the day and roll in style. They have a nice rack on the front (not that kind!) so you can pick up loot and local goods along the way.
A short vignette about the new Rudy’s Barbershop at Ace Hotel New York — all their beautiful old doors and shit. We love them. If you’re staying with us in New York, you have exclusive rights to reserving a cuttin’ chair and a solid deal on products. You can go home a changed wo/man….
Celebrating a decade of incredible work, Roman and Williams' Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch signed copies of their new book Roman and Williams Buildings & Interiors : Things We Made with some friends and a gallery of shots in the lobby at Ace Hotel New York last week — you can grab signed copies of this beautiful tome on our shop. We’re old friends with Robin and Stephen, and our studio director, Eric, and interiors maestro Loren worked on the Roman and Williams team when Ace Hotel New York was taking shape. They had a chance to sit down with Stephen and Robin amidst the mayhem to ask about the book, their work together and the subconscious.
Robin and Stephen, you still appear from time to time in Eric and Loren’s dreams. Do you find that creative collaboration spiked with a sobering dose of real business tends to dye the subconscious in this way, and do all the collaborators and team members you’ve had continue to affect your psyche?
Well everything that’s difficult tends to dye the subconscious and work itself into dreams, and we are and always have been difficult. We are proud of that tradition. Easy things are forgettable and have no impact –- no staying power. No dream or haunting qualities ever came from something easy.
The title Things We Made speaks to a sort of portfolio of finished products, however we know how important the process of design is, and how imperfections in that process go into your work, aka “fucking things up.” Will readers get any insight into this rebellious stance?
We hope so! We really put so much work into creating a book that would give insight into our ethos –- where readers could get a sense of us as people, not just our projects. We included hundreds of drawings –- we even drew on the drawings. And the text is a series of conversations, rather than just descriptions.
The book celebrates a “decade of design” — what do you hope the next decade will bring in terms of your studio and practice?
Even more humanistic, careful and unpretentious design. We hope to spread the warmth that the Ace embodies. We’d love to design an airport or a hospital in a way that would move people. The International Style, and what it has bred, and benign contemporary design have made for boring, dreary places that need to me be made more interesting –- interesting for everyone, and not just for architects and designers.
We love your beautiful spot in Montauk — how did the garden do this year? For the green thumbs out there, what’s your favorite vegetable to grow?
It was a hot summer and the garden was absolutely prolific. This year, we built eight-foot tall towers for our tomatoes and we grew eight different varieties. We have been harvesting them well into late October. We never thought they would grow that high – but they did –- they could have grown another few feet even! Our peppers also did well this year because of the heat.
We love growing cabbages, artichokes, and brussell sprouts -– vegetables that take two years to harvest. It is fascinating to watch the process -– how the vegetables grow over one summer, how they retract over the winter and then explode the following spring into super vegetable power.
We’ve also love growing medicinal plants like Angelika, Wormwood and Echinacea, which we like to use. We could go on …
In the act of making things there are many people involved in the process, especially with international projects internationally. In your experience, are Americans still good at “making things”?
Absolutely. American manufacturing almost disappeared — another price of the post-war obsession with cheapening architecture and design. It focused on zero craft and lack of detail. American manufacturing is known for being meaty, strong, simple and good. Things we love. We try to support American craftsmanship as much as we can. It is hard to convince developers and owners to pay more for things made in this country, to pay for things that last longer, but we do the best we can. Whenever we build something for ourselves, this is always the case.
We blessed to call you family and we’re honored to call you friends — excited to see what the next decade brings.
We feel the same about the Ace team. The world is a better place with Ace in it. Thank you. So proud to have had our book party in the Living Room! It’s the project that’s closest to our hearts. Thank you!
Reggie Watts performs tonight at Ace Hotel New York with The Dance Cartel at On the Floor in Liberty Hall. He woke up early to do his hair and found a few moments to talk to us about life, love, luxury problems and Comedy Bang Bang.
How is your morning, er afternoon, going?
Uh, it’s going good. Not out of bed yet, but I’m getting there.
You’ve just been taking interviews from bed? That sounds pretty good.
It’s not bad, it’s fun.
You’re a busy man. Last week when we were having technical problems you were like “Okay you have ten minutes. I have another one in ten minutes, then ten minutes before that.” That doesn’t sound like very much fun for you. Or maybe it is.
Well sometimes it can be. It’s just a matter of it lining up or not. Sometimes people will not call or they will forget. Something like that. Then sometimes they will call a little bit later and then the whole thing is derailed. “I’ll call you ten minutes later, then ten minutes later.” That can be weird, but it’s fine. Literally almost everything is worse than that.
They are first world problems, it’s true. Have things been kind of blowing up since Comedy Bang Bang premiered?
Yeah. Yeah, I think so. I think I definitely noticed people a little bit more. I mean people notice me more is what I meant to say. Ha.
You and Alex (Calderwood) are old friends from Seattle.
Yeah, I’ve known him probably since, I’m going to guess like 1996 or something like that maybe. He was throwing parties at — I can’t remember the name of the club, it was right under the monorail. It was the only thing in town that really had any elegance or sophistication to it when it comes to parties. They were killin’ it. But yeah they were cool guys, I’ve known them forever. I love the Ace.
I interviewed Vijay Iyer recently when he was coming to Portland for the Jazz Festival. We were talking about jazz being this democratic wildland where anything can happen. And I was watching some videos of your work on YouTube and various places over the last week, and thinking that jazz and comedy feel kind of related. Especially the sort of performance you do — it’s pretty singular — you have peers in the comedy world and peers in the music world, but what you do with them is sort of unprecedented. I was wondering if you feel like there is some feedback loop with how you approach comedy and how you think about improvisational music, and if they feel related to you in any way?
Yeah, they are definitely related. I mean, if you can improvise in music and if you have a love of music you can just transpose that to being more lyrical. It’s the same technique, it just depends on what you understand. Improvisation is inherent in any art form.