Kevin Warnock

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Archive for the ‘DNA Lounge’ tag

Richard Lefrak

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San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee with Richard Lefrak

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee with Richard Lefrak


Yesterday, August 9, 2015, I attended the memorial service for Richard Lefrak, a man I met while I was still in college. I met Lefrak only two times, but I remember him well. He was the best friend and husband of Dee Dee Russell. I photographed Russell while I was studying photography in school, and Lefrak came along to the two shoots I did, both at my parents’ house in San Francisco, California, USA.

Russell introduced Lefrak as her business manager, not her boyfriend, but eventually they began dating, and after a couple of decades they married last year in 2014.

I have only seen Russell a handful of times. She used to go to the same nightclubs I went to, including DNA Lounge, which is still in business and is thriving, and the I-Beam, a shuttered notorious dance club on Haight Street.

But since Russell is a celebrity in San Francisco, and had her own public access television show on cable TV for some twenty years, I have been aware of her all these years. I started following her on Facebook perhaps two years ago. I saw her wedding pictures. I was so happy for her. Then, just a short while later I saw Russell’s sad post that her husband had died! I was shocked as there was no indication he was not well on her two profiles on Facebook. Facebook is the leading social network for much of the world at the moment.

I was so impressed with Russell and Lefrak that I attended the service for Lefrak. Even though I am currently sporting the caveman look with long hair and a full beard, Russell recognized me, but perhaps only because I told her my full name. She had only seen me as a clean cut young college student.

Here is the obituary for Richard, as published in the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper, the main paper for San Francisco, on August 2, 2015:

“Richard “Rick” Lefrak passed away in San Francisco, Sunday July 26, after a courageous three-summer battle with mesothelioma. He was born in New York City and graduated from Stony Brook University. He was a legendary, innovative lighting designer working with The Who, Lou Reed, Jeff Beck, Ian Hunter, Mott the Hoople and many others then switched careers serving remarkably in executive retail at Ross, Target, The Luggage Store, HMS Host and Emporium Capwell. Some of his proudest moments were creating art and mentoring others. Richard was preceded in death by his parents, David and Loretta. He is survived by his wife and long time arts collaborator, Dee Dee Lefrak nee Russell; sisters, Jeane Petro, Virginia Lefrak, brother Harry Lefrak and loving nieces, nephews, in-laws and many long time friends and co workers. Family will receive friends at a visitation from 3pm until 5pm and a time for reflection from 5pm until 7pm on Sunday, August 9, 2015 at Halsted N.Gray -Carew & English, 1123 Sutter Street., San Francisco CA.

Lefrak was clearly in love with Russell when I met them. They were together for some three decades. Together they created amazing art and entertainment. My heart goes out to Dee Dee, now a widow without her business partner, best friend and husband.

Written by Kevin Warnock

August 10th, 2015 at 12:38 pm

Ellen Campesinos! says that female rock musicians rarely get laid on tour

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LOS-CAMPESINOS! the band. Photograph from WikiPediA.

LOS-CAMPESINOS! the band. Photograph from WikiPediA.

I have been thinking about the life of musicians. I just finished writing a post about the band Peligro.

Peligro is D.H. Peligro’s current band. I’ve known D.H. for over twenty years, having met him through my good friend from high school Willy Lipat that was in a band with him.

Peligro always had gorgeous models or model types around. I was a painfully shy photography student that hoped to become a fashion photographer so I could hang out with beautiful women. I was envious.

I imagined that rock stars got a lot of sex while on tour. I still imagine that.

Thus, it was with surprise that I learned touring is not a sex fest — at least not for female rock musicians.

Ellen Campesinos! of the indie-pop collection Los Campesinos! (sic) wrote a powerful piece for Nerve magazine that shattered my illusion about the sex life of traveling musicians. Before I get into what Ellen wrote about road sex, have a look at what WikiPediA has to say about her band, for context:

“Los Campesinos! are a seven piece indie pop band from Cardiff, Wales, formed in early 2006 at Cardiff University. Although the band formed in Wales, none of its members are Welsh. They released their debut album, Hold on Now, Youngster…, in February 2008 and followed this up by releasing a record titled We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed, in October that year. Whilst many consider it to be an album due to its length, the band have always referred to it as a ‘record’ or EEP (Extended EP)[1] due to contractual and artistic reasons. Their second official album, entitled Romance Is Boring, was released on 1 February 2010. Their fourth full-length release, Hello Sadness was released on 14 November 2011. The band has announced US & UK tour dates for 2012.[2]

All of the members use the word ‘Campesinos!’ as their surname, even though the members are not related. The exclamation mark is part of the last name. The real name of Ellen Campesinos! is Ellen Waddell, and I will refer to her as Ellen in this blog post, even though I usually refer to people by their last names once I first identify them by first and last name. It’s too confusing to use Ellen’s last name when all her band mates use the same last name.

Ellen quickly catches the reader’s attention in her Nerve article with this eye opening paragraph:

Neko Case recently claimed via Twitter that “Ladies in bands don’t get ANY action,” and as a female musician with a frustrated libido, I can sympathize. I’ve been playing bass in a touring band for five years, and I’ve had intimate relations on the road four times. (I class intimate relations as third-base-plus, but even if I counted kissing and over-the-clothes fumbling, it would still be a pretty low number.) I’m lucky enough to be in a job where I get to tour the world and meet interesting people, but in my experience, musicians  especially females  get a lot less then you’d imagine.”

Ellen colorfully boils sex on the road down to these four points:

  • Time and space are limited on tour since tour vans and buses are cramped and really are there for the band mates to work in, not play in.
  • It is awkward and unsatisfying to seduce a fan from the audience because fans put musicians on uncomfortable pedestals.
  • It creates workplace stress to seduce the musicians from bands touring with your band.
  • Friends of fans that are attending the show out of their support for their friend rather than their knowledge of the band make the best targets for lustful connections.

Why am I writing about Ellen’s provocative story?

Ellen is an actual rock star. Ellen is beautiful. Ellen is young. Ellen writes well (she studied journalism). Ellen is a founding member of a well regarded band that tours the world. I would not expect that she would have any trouble in the sex on tour department. I would expect that she could point out to a roadie a guy that she is interested in, and that roadie could do the tough work of approaching the guy and explaining a deal of quick sex with Ellen in exchange for not stalking her or trying to attach long strings to her. I would estimate the success rate of such an approach would be around 90% or greater.

Ellen Campesinos! playing bass guitar. Photo from

Ellen Campesinos! playing bass guitar. Photo from

But Ellen is shy, like I am. And shyness just sucks. It has messed up a good part of my life. I am absolutely determined to not let it mess up the rest of my life, and by writing about sex and Ellen, I am drawing your specific attention to a subject dear to my heart these days.

When you really get down to it, I left UCLA for Brooks Institute because I was shy. UCLA is a big school, and the second year, when I did not get a slot to live in the dormatories, I had to live about a mile off campus in a soulless apartment building without any other students. Most of my classes had 500 people in them. There were no cell phones or texting. It was difficult to ever see the same students even twice.

Friendships were difficult to form.

Brooks at the time seemed so much better. Classes were small, at around 20 students, and I made and kept a lot of friends.

Trading the opportunity at UCLA for friendship at Brooks is not a trade I should have made.

I deeply regret leaving UCLA.

I regret it so much that I am seriously considering returning, especially since I recently learned I do not have to go through the admissions process of a new student, because I properly withdrew and I have the original stamped paperwork in my fire proof safe. I have learned that all I need to do is fill out a one page form, send in my Brooks transcripts and I am in.

I have lost most of my shyness, but not all of it.

I still am hesitant approaching women for dates. I can approach them painlessly for anything else, including to model for me. I can handle a roomful of women. I can direct one or more women in front of the camera with confidence and authority.

But when I ask a woman on a date, I feel vulnerable because I am signaling to her that I find her sexually desirable. I am in effect telling her that I want to have sex with her, even if I am a perfect gentleman asking her for coffee with her grandmother. I should not feel awkward. I feel less awkward about asking women for dates now than at any point in my life, so I am making progress. But for me to be most effective, I should dispatch all fear and nervousness, for I fear that women pick up on that and are less likely to accept an invitation.

I thank my lucky stars that I have taken care of myself and am only 10 pounds heavier than I was at age 16 when I got my driver license (155 then and 165 this morning, in pounds). I feel attractive and sexy which I think women are also good at decoding.

I will conclude with a crazy story from my youth.

I used to love DNA Lounge. It’s still there, and it’s still cool, from what I can tell from afar. It’s open late. When I was a regular, it closed at 4am.

I had been there dancing by myself at about 3am, and found myself dancing with a solo woman, as often happened. We danced together until closing, but didn’t exchange numbers or keep in touch. It was fun but she was one of many women that I had ‘met’ and danced with late at night. She did tell me a bit about herself, including that she worked at Levi Strauss.

About two months later I was at DNA for a concert. The bar was in the center of the main room, about 15 feet from the stage. I was standing facing the stage and leaning against the bar. It was extremely loud because the band was playing.

A woman slid in next to me at the packed bar, to my left. I glanced briefly at her and it was the woman from the 3am dancing the other month. We hadn’t kissed or anything when we met, but I thought she was very attractive. At the bar at the concert, I wrapped my arm around her shoulder and she immediately, within five seconds, leaned in towards me as if we were a couple. We watched the show like this for at least ten minutes, not speaking, as that was essentially impossible since the huge speaker columns were just 15 feet away.

Live music at DNA is much louder than the recorded music the DJ plays.

At this point, it was around midnight. Without worrying about anything, I leaned to the left and kissed this woman. She kissed back. Soon, we were upstairs on one of the couches making out. This is before the days of bottle service where the nightclubs charge big dollars to sit down.

After about an hour of making out, still comparatively early, I asked her if she still worked at Levi Strauss. She replied that she didn’t and had never worked there! This woman was a complete stranger, and I had not danced with her for an hour some two months earlier!

She was a student at UC Berkeley.

I still wonder what she thought of me being so bold with her that I put my arm around her and start kissing her without even saying hello or asking her name.

I have never done that again, but I sometimes wish I could. No, I don’t want to kiss women I don’t know, but I would like to be able to be so confident that I can attract a woman so powerfully that she would agree to kiss me, even if we never did so in such haste.

Ellen of Los Campesinos!, talk to strangers after your rock shows. Don’t wait for them to get up the courage to say something. You’ll be waiting a long time most of the time, as a guy alone at the bar upon seeing a hot band member is extremely unlikely to approach you because he’ll assume your boyfriend is going to be by your side any moment. You don’t look like the type to want to have casual flings either, which particularly works against you.

I am not interested in picking up women in nightclubs or bars, and I haven’t been out dancing by myself since 2005. The woman I am looking for is not likely in a nightclub or bar in any event, so I don’t feel that I am missing anything. But I did want to share this outlandish story from my past as I think there is much to be learned from it.

You might be wondering why I write this blog. I don’t make money from it. It costs me a lot of time and a little bit of money.

What I am doing here is making my own luck.

The women I want to meet are much more likely to be reading this blog than to be looking for me in some dark nightclub at 3am.

By sharing my life, dreams, secrets, ambitions and ideas, I am also setting the stage for my next marriage and starting a family with children, since I am single now.

Stay posted to learn how my life progresses.

You may subscribe by leaving your email address in the upper right corner. I also encourage you to friend me on Facebook, where I post status updates for each blog post.

And if you’re a woman you think I might like after you’ve read a dozen or more of my blog posts, please introduce yourself to me, OK? Remember, I’m still a little shy.