A Weekend's Phantasy
The Phantasy Theatre & Nite Club is a name that must appear at least a hundred times on this website. It is also a name that is synonymous with the "Who's Who" of Cleveland musicians, and has been for over 30 years.
It all started with a Myspace message and a phone call. Before we knew it, it was Sunday morning we were in a cab on our way to Detroit Ave in Lakewood, OH to see the fabled Phantasy in person.
We're supposed to be there at 10:30, but it's clear we're going to be early. Not a whole lot to do in the area on a Sunday morning. I imagine the area's more alive during a club night. I throw my bag by one of the entranceways & Caspar, camera in hand, starts photographing the marquees of the clubs.
Shortly there after, Michele De Frasia pulls up in front of us. Michele has been the manager since 1980, and the Phantasy "cluster" is owned by her father, John. She's an art major/music enthusiast and all around awesome person, if I do say so myself. A brief introduction and some keys rattling and we're on our way?
The first thing that hits you when you enter the Phantasy Nite Club is the Beatles mural on the wall painted by Michele. She says that George & Paul could have come out better, but it's really John that mattered most. I think it's fantastic. You can be the judge.
From the main hall, you've got to go up a staircase to reach the actual Nite Club. Hanging on the walls are framed posters from tours past (Duran Duran's Rio & Supertramp's 1983 tours, respectively).
At the top of the stairs, you're greeted by a giant pirate ship. It's a replica of the mutinous HMS Bounty that has been cut into two sections; one for a DJ with a (now closed) VIP den beneath it, and the other for the soundboard. It's been said that the Pirate ship is the one thing you'll never forget about the club, and I wholeheartedly agree. Michele told us of one night she caught a shadowy figure up in the rigging on the aft of the ship and in screaming at him to come down realized it was Al Jourgenson in a drunken frenzy. She also told us various debaucherous Red Hot Chilli Peppers' stories involving the small and innocent looking VIP ship's aft. Stories too ugly to repeat!
Walking between the halves of the ship, you come into the main Nite Club floor. The seating areas are made to look like island shelters, which naturally goes perfectly with the ship. Smack in the middle of the ceiling is a giant, bright, chandelier, which had been yanked off kilter in a rather piratical fashion due to a recent wrestling match that had been held in the club (that must have been an interesting night for club hoppers!). The stage, unfortunately, was bare as it was not set up for any acts that would be playing there, but it still had that magic feeling. Naturally, we had to jump up on it and stand in the same place that Lucky Pierre played most of their shows.
Michele then unlocked the ever coveted band area. There's just something wonderful about being able to go where no clubgoer has gone before.
The red leather studded door swings open and you're immediately overwhelmed by 30 years of graffiti? sharpie testaments of the artists who've wowed audiences from the Phantasy stage. We got a small glimpse of this before from the Broken Man photos sent to us by Paul Kompier,
but it's quite something else to be surrounded by it in person.
If I had a sharpie on me, I would have written something small on one of the walls somewhere, but unfortunately, I didn't. Next time we'll have to leave our mark.
Now, onto the Phantasy Theatre?
Michele leads us through the kitchen, and down a long flight of stairs. A door at the bottom leads us into the main entranceway of the Phantasy Theatre. Taking a right, we're standing in the foyer where tickets are sold & collected. On the walls, more of Michele's paintings, this time of the Beatles' Ringo & Paul.
To the left, the main bar area for the Theatre. On the back wall, 3 more De Frasia originals hang for the viewing pleasure of the patrons.
Directly in front of the bar is the Theatre itself. Concrete floors and rows of red chairs as far as the eye can see. The stage itself is very large? which it would have to be to appease the 1200 people who pack into the Theatre.
Above the theatre is a projection booth. We were going to go up, but the prospect of lurking spiders was a bit much for me (sorry!). So Michele then took us to the Symposium, another section of the Phantasy club network and we wound down our adventure leaning against the bar in there talking about how in the hell we should get back to the airport on a Sunday from Lakewood.
And there you have it; The fabled Phantasy. Our sincerest thanks go out to Michele De Frasia for taking the time to meet us & open up the club in a Sunday morning (after working Saturday night) to let us run around and pretend we were rock stars.
For more pictures, check out our photo albums on Flikr or Myspace.