That clash of wills was not long in coming. A few months later, Jimmy’s period of saloon exile was over; he landed the exec chef gig at the Supper Club, a huge restaurant/nightclub/disco on West 47th Street, and began hiring cooks. I was one of the first to get the call. It was a plum job to be executive chef at the Supper Club. Hell, it was a plum job doing anything at the Supper Club. Perk-o-delic. The main dining room sat about two hundred, with private banquettes and booths along the walls, a dance floor and a stage from which a twelve-piece orchestra played forties swing music. There was an upstairs mezzanine—a holdover from the club’s previous incarnation as a Broadway theater—which sat another hundred and fifty or so, with a second bar, and off to the side, also on the second floor, was a smaller venue, a cabaret-cum–VIP lounge called the Blue Room, which sat another eighty. It was a pretty swank place, what they used to call a “rug joint” back in the thirties and forties—a big, glitzy operation with plenty of cracks to fall through, a place where you could easily picture a young Burt Lancaster (just out of the joint) returning to find a young Kirk Douglas (the club owner) counting the night’s take in one of the private banquettes. Dinner and dancing to swing music went on from five to eleven, after which the smoke machines would start belching chocolate-smelling fumes, the laser intellabeams would kick into action, the mirror ball would begin turning, a DJ would take over and the Supper Club would become (for a while) the hottest dance club in town.
Every night there was a different crowd with a different promoter: Chicks with Dicks Night featured towering transvestites and preops tottering around on high heels to house and techno; Soul Kitchen featured predisco seventies funk, with early blaxploitation films playing silently on the big screen and forty-ouncers and chicken wings for sale; Giant Step had acid jazz and fusion; Café Con Leche nights had salsa nueva and Latin funk; Funkmaster Flex attracted a hip-hop crowd; Noel Ashman attracted Eurotrash and the face-lifted, well-dressed crowd . . . you never knew, there was every variety of nightlife madness as each night people lined up down the street and around the corner onto Eighth Avenue, waiting to get past our metal detectors and our thirteen burly security goons so they could rip up our bathrooms, crowd around our three bars, smoke weed, snort coke and copulate like bunnies in every nook and cranny of our cavernous pleasure palace.