SUSANNE BARTSCH ”Bartschland: Tales of New York City Nightlife”


The highly anticipated history of iconic parties and diverse events will be revealed shortly in Susanne Bartsch’s new book, “Bartschland: Tales of New York City Nightlife”, for the wider world to celebrate. Susanne has dreamed dangerously and lived outrageously since the decadent 80’s to now and beyond. 

Her legendary events continue to attract an extraordinary convergence of people from all around the world, including queer performers, visionaries, artists, sex stars, fashion designers, go-go dancers, drag queens, bodybuilders, twinks, lipstick lesbians and pretty much anything else you can think of. Referred to as “New York City’s patron saint of transformation and inclusion”, she tells of the moments that shaped her legacy and the parties that have provided a safe place for all types of people to express themselves. 

Once referred to by fashion guru John Badum as “Mother Teresa in a glitter G-string”, I found Susanne to be kind and caring during a recent conversation. The avant-goddess of the nightlife spoke about her book, her life and her ultimate party….


Hello, Susanne. What inspired you to write the book?

It wasn’t really a decision…like, “Oh, let me do a book.” It was one of those things I do in life that was very organic. I don’t plan stuff. I go with the flow. I went to a dinner at the end of the pandemic for the opening of the graphic artists on Park Avenue South. The publisher was there and said, “I want to do a book with you”. I said, “That’s great. Who are you?” He said, “I would love to work with you.” I said, “Let’s do it.” It was that simple. He came to me. He was really loving and I loved his energy. He is a great publisher and I thought, “It can’t be better than this.”

How did you become involved with the nightlife in the first place?

When you look at the book, you will see I was in fashion while I was in London. I was involved in a lot of different things.

I would go out to the clubs. When I came to New York, there weren’t that many. I missed the constant changing and the variety of things that happen in London; it was in the late seventies. I came here for a love affair. And I really love New York. I missed the looks and the different elements of nightlife. At the time, I came to see my boyfriend and I ended up staying here and I opened a store in Soho. I brought all this English fashion that was never seen here before, designs from designer houses behind the scenes. I had this store and I was like, “What do I do now?” There was a club next door and again, I didn’t plan it, but I saw they were building a store next to the Chelsea Hotel. It was a 1970s disco, which was perfect for the mid 80s. I walked in and asked the guy what he was doing. I was trying to promote my store so the people that were shopping would be members and other people could pay to come in. The whole idea was to sell these looks that I was selling and then the people would have some place to go with those looks. I wanted high energy and lots of fun night things. Everything was very beautiful. With a French European dance floor, that kind of gay club with the guys with their shirts off. Very colorful and campy. It happens the club was called Savage and didn’t have a liquor license. So I thought, “I can’t do a night without a liquor license. I can’t be a part of that,” so I walked away from it. Then I actually got a phone call from him saying, “I have a liquor license.” I took a week off and I left my store. I left the company and it was perfect because they had like no money and I lost everything and I didn’t want to work with these people. It was like a #MeToo situation. 

It was perfect timing. I needed a job and I went down there and I started on a Tuesday. Weekly Tuesdays. The doors opened and people started coming in dressed up from head to toe. It was an incredible energy. That’s how I got into the nightlife. 


What is the most exciting party that you can remember having, and who attended?

I don’t really have one party per se. The thing about the people that attend is I’m not so into the names. I’m not into the VIPs. Nowadays, more than ever, it’s the cash hubs that like names. I like people and I like the mix of people. That’s the most important thing for me. I don’t want to just have one type of people. I like all types–young, old, rich or uptown, downtown, Black or White. People from all walks of life. I don’t have a regular famous person that comes. I don’t pursue those people, but they come. They do come. I do all the designs. People come for fashion–these are people that like my work. When they are in town, they often show up. There are no regulars that I could say are famous.

What are you hoping people will get from reading your book?

I would like to inspire people. I like the book a lot. It’s great, I’m happy. I have had this incredible life and still am having an incredible life. I’m so grateful. I made this all happen myself. I didn’t want to be ruled by time. I’m hoping to inspire. I’m hoping to show some history. I hope people enjoy it and that we can unite and we can make things happen. I didn’t have a sponsor. I just went with my gut. I like money, but it doesn’t run the show. If there’s a bright spot on something, I do it for the hell of it. I’ll do it if it’s right and if the money is good too, then perfect.

Eileen Shapiro

Best selling author of "The Star Trek Medical Reference Manual", and feature celebrity correspondent for Get Out Magazine, Louder Than War, and Huffington Post contributor, I've interviewed artists from Adam Ant, Cyndi Lauper, and Annie Lennox to Jennifer Hudson, Rick Springfield, LeAnn Rimes, and thousands in between. My interviews challenge the threat of imagination....

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