by Dane Huckelbridge, B&W photos by Ksenia Tavrina
Spend as much time as we do trolling for good times in the bars of New York City’s Lower East Side, and sooner or later, you’re bound to run into Lüc Carl. Frankly, he’s hard to miss. Local hero, cultural icon, atavistic remainder of a more glorious and hard-rocking age, he can be seen prowling the town’s bad-assiest nightclubs, sporting a leonine mane and a love-panther’s physique. But there’s more to this enigmatic man than an awesome head of hair and a hero’s liver. Lüc Carl, in defiance of odds, and possibly reason, is something of a health guru, as demonstrated by his wildly popular blog DRUNKDIET.COM, and similarly titled memoir The Drunk Diet, due to be released in 2011. GUTFIRE! caught up with Lüc recently at his own nightclub downtown to chat about just what, exactly, the Drunk Diet entails.
GUTFIRE!: So Lüc, from what we can gather, the Drunk Diet is a way of reconciling two lifestyles that are seemingly diametrically opposed: the healthy lifestyle, and the rock and roll lifestyle. Is that statement accurate?
LÜC CARL: I’d say that’s about right. I’ve always been a partier, and I don’t think I can ever stop partying. But at the same time, I fell in love with working out. So I try to do both, I work out all day, and I party all night. I mean, I party for a living, I own a nightclub, I’ve been in this business for ten years, and I had to find a way to counteract the negative physical aspects of my job. Specifically, the drinking and the hours, which aren’t healthy in any way.
GUTFIRE!: Would you say it’s an equilibrium of sorts, the two lifestyles balance each other out, like a yin and a yang? Or do they work in concert with each other?
LÜC CARL: I think both, actually. Sometimes I’ll go on a bender for two weeks, and then I’ll go a week without drinking at all.
GUTFIRE!: So the yin is the bender, and the yang is not drinking for a week. We like that.
GUTFIRE!: And in terms of this Drunk Diet lifestyle choice, was there a moment of clarity, or something that made you say “Holy shit, I got to shape up.”
LÜC CARL: It was being fat.
LÜC CARL: Yeah, I went to the Caribbean with a couple friends of mine who work at the club, we were out at the beach one day, and I was like, “Man, I’m fat.” I decided to get some running shoes, read some books, and start getting healthy before it was too late, because I was pushing thirty, and I said, “This is it, I’m done being fat, and I’m done being tired all the time.”
GUTFIRE!: And when did you start to chronicle this experiment in good living that we know as “The Drunk Diet?”
LÜC CARL: Well, when I first starting getting in shape, I read a bunch of related books, because I wanted to educate myself on how to do it. And all the books said that if you want to lose weight and get in shape, you can’t drink more than one alcoholic drink a day. So I said, “Fuck these people, I’m going to do this my own way, and I’m going to write my own book.” Because, you know, nobody wants to be told what to do. Because all these books tell you what to do, they’re written by doctors or yoga instructors–
GUTFIRE!: We don’t trust either.
LÜC CARL: No, I don’t trust either one. But all these books are telling you what to do, do this, do that, and my book never does that. It’s about me, it’s my story, my journey, what worked for me.
LÜC CARL: Nothing that I miss now. When I first started . . . (Georgie walks in door) Georgie! Get yourself a cocktail! Where were we? So, if you were to go back in time 18 months to when I began this journey and told that guy my lunch menu now, he would have laughed at you. He would have said, “Fuck that, I’m gonna eat french fries all day.” But I did give up beer altogether in the very beginning, but only for a few months. Now I drink beer whenever I feel like it’s ok to drink beer. Not all the time, you know, try to curb it a little bit. And I gave up dairy altogether, gave up caffeine altogether. Gave them up on the same day and never went back.
GUTFIRE!: No Arby’s Jamocha milkshakes with a shot of beer in them?
LÜC CARL: Nope. None of that. So yeah, there’s been some sacrifices, but I don’t miss them.
GUTFIRE!: But you did mention benders. Have you had any lapses since this started? Moments of cigarettes and chili fries?
LÜC CARL: Well, I gave up cigarettes four months ago, now. I did smoke two cigars, one in Vegas . . .
GUTFIRE!: Cigars are good for you, that’s a medical fact.
LÜC CARL: Yeah, well cigars don’t go in your lungs, which is a concern because I run constantly. Cigarettes impair your running ability. And everything else.
GUTFIRE!: But general relapses?
LÜC CARL: Of course every now and then I get stupid with food, or drink a shit load of beers, because for the six days before I was a health Nazi. So it’s ok, cut loose once in a while, but five, six days of the week, you gotta take it easy. Or I do, anyway.
GUTFIRE!: But working at a nightclub doesn’t present you with temptations?
LÜC CARL: No . . . well, every now and then it will cross my mind to eat a bunch of shit when I’m drunk at four in the morning, but generally, no. Well, other than the booze . . . that’s the only temptation that I give in to. The only one I’m interested in, really.
GUTFIRE!: We know. Lady Liquor is a harsh mistress.
LÜC CARL: It’s true.
GUTFIRE!: Any good drinking stories over the years?
LÜC CARL: Yeah, but most of them are in the book. And if they’re not in the book, they’re on the blog. I’ve been getting a lot of texts and emails about the squirrel story.
GUTFIRE!: The squirrel story?
LÜC CARL: Yeah, the one where I get bit by a squirrel in the nightclub. Somehow a squirrel made its way inside and got in the corner. The security guy came over and said that there was a rat in the corner. I went over there, and it was a squirrel. It was injured and it couldn’t move. So I used a trash bag to pick it up and take it outside, but it bit my finger through the bag. It was bleeding and I had to call the doctor and a veterinarian – they both told me to go to the hospital and bring the squirrel with me … you got to read the story.
GUTFIRE!: Definitely. What about the neighborhood here in the Lower East Side? Has it changed since you came here?
LÜC CARL: Yeah, things are different. The nightclubs aren’t what they used to be. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one still holding on to the real rock and roll Manhattan roots, because all these rock and rollers, whether they’re real rock and rollers or not, have gone to Williamsburg, and to me, that place is a bunch of bullshit.
GUTFIRE!: Yeah, we tend to agree.
LÜC CARL: There’s just not a whole lot of places left in the neighborhood where you can go for that. You can come here, of course – I shouldn’t say the name of my place, we’re crowded enough as it is . . . that’s a joke, by the way.
GUTFIRE!: Yes, here at T.G.I. Friday’s . . .
GUTFIRE!: So one last question: If you could sleep with Brigitte Bardot, or spend the night drinking twenty-three Black Russians with John Bonham, which would you pick?
LÜC CARL: Brigitte Bardot now, in 2010?
GUTFIRE!: No, in her prime.
LÜC CARL: That’s a good question. I guess I’d probably drink with John Bonham. But I’d be texting Brigitte all night, telling her to wait up . . .
GUTFIRE!: Rock on.