The following article first appeared in the October 2013 issue of The Lo-Down’s print magazine.
The return of downtown performance maven Reverend Jen’s weekly “Anti-Slam,” a wacky and fantastic variety show, to a new performance space at 39 Essex brings a glimmer of hope to the sad state of recent venue closures on the Lower East Side. Rev Jen’s show had been at The Bowery Poetry Club for many years but went on hiatus when that venue closed for renovations and became what she says is now a “generic supper club.”
Owner Bill Frazer has transformed his pint-sized space (formerly Sweet Grapes Wine Bar) into a hot dog shack and tavern called Old Man Hustle. Offering a variety of “dogs” to choose from during the day, the shack becomes an “art bar,” with a diverse selection of craft beer and wine, at night.
Frazer has handed the entertainment side of things over to show booker Mike Jarmuz. Jarmuz, who is primarily responsible for the re-vamp of the space and the venue’s new name, spent four years as a music promoter in Arizona before moving to New York. He is packing the weekly schedule at Old Man Hustle with stand up comedy, live music, poetry, burlesque and any kind of variety show he can find.
Shows slated in October include “Amazing Amy The Contortionist,” The Gotham City Beard Alliance’s “Bearded Bar Night” and “local musical legend Brer Brian’s Open Jam Session.” Reverend Jen, who has hosted her Anti-Slam in various incarnations for last eighteen years or so, is excited to be in a more intimate space with her show. She says it’s the glue that keeps a substantial community of downtown artists together, allowing them to continue experimenting and performing in a safe environment.
Here’s hoping this new venue is a sign of more good creative things to come.
You can check out Old Man Hustle’s calendar of events – and sign yourself up to show off your true talent here.