What started as an intimate party on a weeknight in a small Hoboken bar has turned into an underground movement of artists, rock bands, DJs, and filmmakers. John Vargas' Love Sexy experience is back in the mile-square city after a brief hiatus in Secaucus.His new spot is on the corner of Seventh and Clinton streets. A section of Portofino Ristorante will be transformed into Vargas' vision of tranquil alternative mayhem suitable for the cool at heart and free in mind.
"This is Love Sexy, the same one as before. We're back," he said.
More than a decade ago, Vargas wanted to get together with buddies to mix and scratch solid beats on turntables. They met once a week at a downtown Hoboken club, and eventually their small parties grew. After attracting plenty of people from different backgrounds, Love Sexy settled at an official home on Hudson Street next to the city's police station.
"Whether you are a huge conglomerate or a little indie company starting out, we show much love 'cause that's how we do at Love Sexy," Vargas said.
While on Hudson Street, Vargas proudly introduced several punk rock bands to the mainstream like Ill Nino. The hardcore band is currently touring major tri-state venues in support of their album, which comes out this month. Several years ago, they played on the small stage at Love Sexy in front of no more than three dozen people. The venue has also been a launching pad for DJs specializing in soulful house. Guys like DJ Disciple and Eric Murillo have spun at Sexy, and they continue to garner notoriety in their fields.
"House music is huge in Europe. It had its peak here, but then it went down," Vargas said. "We want to bring more of that at the new location."
The new venue has a 240-person capacity and will be divided into a lounge nightclub and a room for live original music.
If running a nightclub wasn't hard enough, Vargas also worked on a movie, which was screened at Times Square two months ago.
Scattered Limbs is a very indie cinematic production about two brothers who confront mortality, deal with religious guilt and the effects of colonization in a modern American city.
"[The film] is an urban allegory shot on digital video," Vargas said. "It's an art movie about life."
It features the actors Valentino Ferreira as "Louie" and Lorna Courtney as "Margaret." Next month, Vargas plans to screen it at various art theaters in the city.
Vargas had the idea for Limbs five years ago. Without a major budget, he was forced to shoot guerrilla outdoors and at the old Love Sexy. But hard work is apparently paying off for the filmmaker. After the rough-cut screening last month, feedback has been positive and constructive from peers and critics.
"I could've had a production company sponsoring me, but in return I would've lost creative control," he said. "I wanted the film to be my vision."
Indeed, any dark and reticent aspects in Limbs come directly from Vargas' direction, who also can be a quiet enigmatic character. He protects his privacy during interviews, and like a good promoter, he always puts his talent in the spotlight.
Last year Vargas began working on Film Music Fashion & Babes or FMFB, an entertainment magazine highlighting underground independent artists. On its website there is a story about the rock group BonBomb, which is scheduled to perform at Love Sexy's opening party on Sept. 12. It also has a review of Fernando Leon de Aranoa's film Mondays in the Sun, in addition to interviews with "babe" Tiffany Shepis, DJ Johnny Vicious, and Kimora Lee Simmons, wife of Def Jam founder and CEO Russell Simmons.
"Kimora is our current cover girl. She personifies what the magazine is all about," Vargas said. "We shine a light on emerging artists and publish them alongside established artists."
FMFB is a quarterly publication and can be found at various regional locations.
With a movie in the cutting room and a launched magazine, Vargas can't wait to spread the soulful house sounds in his native Hoboken again. For a couple of months he has promoted events at 673 Eighth Ave. in New York City. The plan now is to bring the momentum he has created in the Big Apple to the lounge at Portofino Ristorante, where Love Sexy will make its comeback on Sept. 12-13.
"We are bringing the funk back to Hoboken. Everybody's welcome as long as they're cool," he said.
Performing during the two-day event will be the bands BonBomb, The Alien League and Umanity. Vargas will also showcase clips from Abel Ferrara's films on Sept. 13 at 9 p.m. The films include The Funeral, The Bad Lieutenant, King of New York, and Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Ferrara will be on hand for the event.
"We're doing our own thing. (Love Sexy) is about having the freedom to do what you want," Vargas said.
Love Sexy is located at 700 Clinton St. in Hoboken. For information call (201) 795-1878 or visit www.love-sexy.com or www.fmfb.net. q
On the cover: Vargas (left) with Scattered Limbs actor Valentino Ferreira.