[Editor's note: Over the holiday season, SonicNet is looking back at
1998's top stories, chosen by our editors and writers.
This story originally ran on Wednesday, May 13]
NEW YORK -- "All Stevie All The Time."
The guy decked out in Stevie Nicks drag and standing on the stage recited this mantra over and over in an eerie, monotone voice. But he needn't have bothered.
No one would have any trouble realizing that Tuesday night was the eighth
annual "Night of 1,000 Stevies," the yearly tribute to Fleetwood Mac's
gypsy-woman singer held at Mother, a club in this city's meat-packing district of Greenwich Village.
There were Stevies of every shape and gender. Tall, manly Stevies. Soft, feminine ones as short even as the 5-foot-1 Nicks herself. Stevies with noses that dominated their hard features. Black Stevies. Asian Stevies. Bartender Stevies. Stevies as striking as the legendary singer, who was recently named one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world by People magazine.
In a crowd of 500, you could count about 200 look-alike, sound-alike, dress-alike Stevies. Not 1,000 by any stretch of a fan's imagination, but a hell of a lot of Stevies nonetheless.
Adding to the bewitching atmosphere, tambourines hung from the ceiling with frilly pink lace dangling off of them. Dozens of black capes flowed throughout the jam-packed dance room. And a veritable Stevie jukebox pounded away as DJs dressed as the Welsh witch spun sides spanning her 25-year career.
Mother features "Jackie 60" -- a sort of dress-up, anything-goes night -- every Tuesday, and this week's honoree was the flighty rock heroine. During the night, for which people paid a $10 entrance fee, participants -- some who stayed to 4:30 in the morning -- competed to see who could best capture the spirit of Stevie Nicks in performance. Other Jackie events include Hollywood Madams night and "Riverdance: Lord of The Gas." Not your ordinary bar, but definitely something to see. And hear.
"Stand back ... in the middle of my room I did not hear from you ..."
blared the Nicks hit "Stand Back" in the section of Mother decorated as a Versailles sitting room. Meanwhile, "Enchanted" (RealAudio excerpt), the title song from Nicks' recently released box-set retrospective, had the crowd spinning a la Nicks on the dance-floor area.
Chi Chi Valenti is a short, attractive blonde who opened Mother in 1996
and who, along with her husband, DJ Johnny Dynell, is the mastermind
behind the "Night of 1,000 Stevies."
On Tuesday, as she stood dressed in her Stevie best, she could hardly contain herself, staring out at the surreal sight of so many Stevies gathered together. "My favorite thing [about the night] is the performers who come from so far away and who completely rock us with their [Nicks] interpretations," said Valenti, who lives in New York City.
When her turn came onstage, Valenti wowed the crowd by lip-synching to
the Fleetwood Mac classic "Gypsy." "I didn't find Stevie with Fleetwood Mac," Valenti later explained. "I got into her [music] about the time of 'Stand Back' in '83."
Between acts, the audience -- filled as well with non-performing, mostly female
Stevie wannabes and cliques of macho men dancing wildly with
tambourines -- was entertained by Dolly and Eliza Domination, dancers
dressed as Stevie in flowing capes, black body suits and high boots who
fondled and kissed each other erotically while they gyrated to Nicks'
"White-Winged Dove" ... "Nightbird" ... "Lindsey Buckingham" ...
"Gold Dust Woman" ... etc. recited emcee Hattie Hathaway repeatedly to
keep everyone in the mood between introductions of the various Stevies.
Not all of the performers chose to lip-synch. When it came time for her
turn, Hathaway offered a fevered vocal to Tom Petty's "Free Fallin' " (which Nicks covers on the box set) as guitarist Frankie Bragg (dubbed "our Waddy Wachtel" by Valenti in reference to Nicks' frequent guitarist) strummed away passionately. The orange-haired Hathaway even took a stab at the harmonica during the number.
Nicki Sixx, a.k.a. Enchantress, who looked more like a cross between Loni Anderson and Nicks, was a clear crowd favorite as she gave an emotional
reading of "Has Anyone Ever Written Anything For You," a melodramatic
ballad off Nicks' 1985 hit album, Rock A Little. As Sixx aped
the track's recitative coda ("And sometimes they ask her about the men
in her life ... ") wearing a black bustier with silver sparkles, the crowd went wild, as if they were listening to the real thing.
"I love Stevie ... her voice ... her fashion sense," Sixx said. "I drove all night long from Iowa. This is my third year."
There was even a German existentialist Stevie, who would give Icelandic pixie songstress Bjork a run for her money as far as way-out performances go. This Stevie, in silver horn-rimmed glasses and blond, straw-like hair, spoke the words to "Rhiannon" accompanied by a fat fraulein, looking like something straight out of a Wagner opera, on accordion.
But not everyone out that night was there to honor their favorite singer by doing his or her best Stevie impersonation. For 29-year-old Melanie Gilbert of Westchester, N.Y., who is a member of two online mailing lists dedicated to Nicks, Enchanted and Rumours, this was a first.
"Stevie has a gift for capturing the mystical side of life," Gilbert explained. "It's amazing but cool that so many people seem to understand what it's like to be a Stevie fanatic."
Gilbert's friend, 30-year-old Tanya Kukucka, elaborated: "Stevie's got this weird magic about her that envelops you, especially when you see her in concert."
By the looks of the people -- spinning wildly in their frocks, singing to Stevie Nicks classics and looking completely at home in their Stevie makeup and hairdo -- it's a magic that could only be the handiwork of a real witch.
But, despite all the impostors, the real Stevie was nowhere in sight.