A Peek Behind the Bloodstained Curtains of the Blacklips Performance Cult


Lately in Berlin, the city’s fine-dining chefs have been catering more to a local crowd. Take Vadim Otto Ursus, a native of the city whose jewel box of a restaurant, Otto, has been winning accolades for its sophisticated seasonal fare, such as wild boar tartare and grilled local mushrooms served with koji egg yolk, since 2019. On March 3, Ursus, along with his two business partners Eva Alken and Clemens Roesch, opened Trio, a lively reimagining of a wirtshaus, the German version of a pub, in the neighborhood of Mitte. The food is traditional — lentil stew, venison goulash and eggs in mustard sauce — and is made using local produce; the wine comes mostly from German vintners, and there are beers on tap. The interiors (designed in collaboration with the Vienna-based Joyjoy Studio) feature fire-red Formica booths and a curved bar great for solo diners. trioberlin.net.

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In October 1992, before she became the lead singer of the chamber-pop band Antony and the Johnsons, the musician and visual artist Anohni bounded across New York’s Avenue A, near Tompkins Square Park — clad in a wedding dress and shoes with holes, clutching a pile of papers — and approached a passer-by. “Hi, I’m in a conundrum,” she said. “I’m doing a show, and I’m looking for post-apocalyptic drag queen types. Do you know any?” The performer Sissy Fitt responded, “That would definitely be me.” Such were the connections forged at the dawn of the Blacklips Performance Cult, a queer-punk theater troupe that, until 1995, staged a new blood-and-glitz-filled play every Monday at 1 a.m. at the Pyramid Club in Alphabet City. The group’s history of after-hours performance is chronicled in a new music compilation and book presenting photos, scripts, essays and hand-drawn fliers for their plays (“Industrial romance for bruised and battered angels,” reads one; “Be beautiful! Worship the devil!” proclaims another). The audio accompaniment features downtown luminaries such as Diamanda Galás and Divine, plus several early recordings by Anohni, then known as Fiona Blue. The book’s 472 pages of subcultural excavation are part punk zine, part queer avant-garde history, a testament to cross-generational solidarity as the AIDS crisis persisted. Long before she achieved international renown, Anohni and her cohort fortified themselves against a brutally inadequate world by creating their own. “Blacklips: Her Life and Her Many, Many Deaths” will be released on March 14, $75, shop.mexicansummer.com.

Once the Parisian haunt of Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre and Pablo Picasso, today Café de Flore retains its allure. Though it’s no longer the place where de Beauvoir holds court over coffee, the cafe’s delicate dishware and relatively unchanged facade are reminders that history lives on in the objects that remain. This idea is at the heart of a new collection of Café de Flore-themed items created in collaboration with the French illustrator Marin Montagut, known for his painterly celebrations of Paris. Since moving from Toulouse to the city at 19, Montagut has spent much of his career capturing the city’s most charming details through his watercolors and other artwork, which he sells at his boutique on Rue Madame, a short walk away. In his early days in Paris, Montagut would paint the sights of Saint-Germain-des-Prés from the vantage point of Café de Flore. Retaking a wicker seat at the invitation of the cafe this past year, he sketched designs for table settings, décor and accessories in his playful style. There are a set of porcelain dishes cast in molds that replicate the cafe’s original silver; a notebook designed after the menu; and a silk scarf that conjures a table scattered with matches, pencils and a de Beauvoir book. From about $30, marinmontagut.com.

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After sitting closed since November 2020, the 110-year-old Carlton Cannes hotel is reopening this month after undergoing a renovation overseen by the Regent Hotels & Resorts group. An icon of the French Riviera, the hotel has hosted film stars, presidents and royalty; it’s where Grace Kelly’s heiress character stays in Alfred Hitchcock’s film “To Catch a Thief” (1955). The property’s signature bay windows, grand entryway and main door remain intact, while the interiors were renovated and two new wings (home to 37 luxury residences) were added as an extension alongside an infinity pool that overlooks a new courtyard and gardens planted with aromatic herbs. The French interior designer Tristan Auer, known for his work on the Hôtel de Crillon in Paris, worked with the restoration specialist Richard Lavelle to bring the building’s original architecture and contemporary furnishings together. The chandeliers of the Grand Salon were restored by artisans who previously worked on the Palace of Versailles, while their modern Murano glass counterparts hang in the lobby. As an ode to the hotel’s past, the team decided to reinstate the 1913 marquee with the inscription “Carlton Hotel,” returning it to its original blue and using the serif lettering that had adorned it for much of history. Rooms from about $800 a night, ihg.com.

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Within the Amon Carter Museum of American Art’s collection in Fort Worth sits “The Freedman” (1863), by John Quincy Adams Ward, a bronze sculpture dedicated to the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, an all-Black infantry unit of the Civil War. It was erected the same year that the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. Now, 160 years after it was made, the statue serves as a starting point for seven Black contemporary artists to consider the notion of freedom as part of the exhibition “Emancipation: The Unfinished Project of Liberation.”

For the interdisciplinary artist Sable Elyse Smith, this means, as she puts it, placing “images of criminality in plain sight” by reformatting the furniture used during prison visits — in this case, turning stools into giant toy jacks. Nearby, Sadie Barnette’s “FBI Drawings” reflect her continued work with her father’s 500-page F.B.I. file: He was a target as a Black Panther working to secure Angela Davis’s freedom in the 1970s. Barnette deconstructs select pages and adds what she describes as “joyful, loving, queer pink and glitter” Hello Kitty graphics and roses. In her series “Bitter Waters Sweet” (2022), the photographer Letitia Huckaby traces the lineage of Africatown, the community just north of Mobile, Ala., where some current inhabitants are related to West Africans who were enslaved and transported to the United States on the Clotilda, the recently excavated slave ship. In documenting the place and its people, Huckaby hopes to convey that “emancipation is not a definitive idea, it’s a process.” “Emancipation” will be on view from March 12 through July 9, cartermuseum.org.

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For international women’s day, the New York-based jewelry designer Monica Rich Kosann has created a capsule collection with the fair-trade gemstone dealer Anza Gems. Anza, whose mission is to ethically source precious and semiprecious stones from East African mines, in turn partnered with Moyo Gems, a group of female miners in Tanga, Tanzania. Moyo aims to create greater gender parity in its industry by providing gemology training and business education to women. Moyo sourced the jewels for Kosann’s 10-piece collection, including red rhodolite garnets, tourmalines, sapphires and aquamarines that have been used in 18-karat gold lockets (Kosann’s signature item) and star-shaped pendants. As part of the collaboration, the Monica Rich Kosann team plans to provide Moyo’s miners with a new state-of-the-art Ultra Tec faceting machine, and a percent of the sales will support their existing equipment and training needs. From $1,545, monicarichkosann.com.

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