Mister H Is Not a BrothelFebruary 17, 2011 By: Sean Evans
By the time Kanye West’s silver Maybach pulled up at one in the morning Wednesday, the VMan bash at NYC’s Mondrian Soho was in full swing. Guests wildly cavorted around the unfinished hotel’s lobby, barely noticing they were traipsing over and leaning on taped up pieces of cardboard protecting recently installed marble floors and walls. No one cared there wasn’t really furniture to sit on; stairways sufficed.
While hundreds of dollar bills came flying down from the lobby ceiling, sending revelers frantically scrambling to snag some cash, a smaller more intimate bash was happening behind a non-descript door off to the side. Beyond it lies Mister H, a sultry and sexy Asian-themed lounge. Its construction and décor are nearly complete, well in advance of its official March opening. Small touches are all that remain to be completed, such as adding the latticework to ceiling.
So into Mister H came select members of the chic crowd seeking refuge from Kanye’s packed bash. Lounging on throngs of pillows atop oversized banquettes, they admired the Alice In Wonderland rabbit murals, the ornate birdcages and the funky red lighting fixtures. And of course, they all took cell phone shots of the soon-to-be famous neon sign adorning the wall of the private room in the back. The one that glows “This is not a brothel. There are no prostitutes here.”
“That’s from our designer, Heather Melanie,” grins Armin Amiri, partner in Mister H, as he gazes at it. “We absolutely loved it. We worked together to create a lot of elements in the room, but she came up with that on her own.” Amiri’s no stranger to haute spots. The original velvet rope sentry at Bungalow 8, he later went on to open Socialista in the West Village. And now the culmination of his nightlife prowess is evidenced in the subtle flourishes of Mister H. Right down to the 150-person lounge’s backstory.
“I want this to be a place that Humphrey Bogart would stop off at for a nightcap,” he explains. “It should evoke this feeling of being a Westerner in a Shanghai bar. And Mister H would be your host for the evening. He’ll take care of every detail, all of your needs.” The atmosphere does give that feel; from the Chinese characters on the walls to the delicate silk outfits the waitresses wear. “We’re near Chinatown, so we had plenty of places to shop when we were decorating,” Amiri says.
The 15-table room is all about the mood. “I don't want a dark place. This should be a happy place for vibrant, fun people to come and mingle,” he shares. The lack of minimum spends should put a grin on guests’ faces, as should the absence of “Reserved” signs atop the tables. “If you see an open seat, sit. Enjoy it. There’s no need to force your wallet out as a result,” Amiri says, adding that while bottle service is available, they’re going to push cocktail culture.
The flow of the room will be crucial, and given its coziness, Arimi plans to employ the rigidness of Bungalow 8’s door policy here, noting that it’s not intentionally pompous; it’s just a byproduct of keeping the intimate feel just right. “We won’t be doing any promoter nights, or image tables. We want to market this organically, relying on word-of-mouth to create the buzz.” It doesn’t hurt to soft launch during Fashion Week with fetes such as the VMAN party, or the Prabal Gurung afterparty. Or tapping top talent to get the room grooving. “We’ve already had Paul Sevigny spin here this week,” Amiri says. “And we have more big DJs lined up. Once you’re in here dancing, you won’t want to leave.”