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Section: Lower Manhattan
Neighborhood: The Bowery
Address: Bleecker and Lafayette
Owner/Operator: Mr. Black
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Méliès Description

Sandwiched into a store front on Bleecker Street and Lafayette in the Bowery is a small independent theater that has hosted off-Broadway products for decades. Recently the interior has undergone vigorous renovation, and the new name of the theater, Méliès, has been raised above the doors. Named for the French illusionist and film pioneer, the modestly sized establishment has quickly earned a reputation as a counter-culture scene where new faces, fresh acts, independent plays, and experimental films vie for the spotlight in front of the hippest and most discerning of audiences.

Upon entry into the lobby, the visitor is stuffed in a small lobby that has that cramped feel that many Manhattan establishments boast. Yet it still manages to be warm and inviting despite this short coming or possibly because of it. Memorabilia from the early days of cinema; antique posters for Lumiere Brothers and Edwin Porter films flank framed advertisements for long defunct showings along side pieces of abstract art of local artists. Stacks of flyers in a rack with Village Voice newspapers sit next to a small box office. At the other end of the lobby is a concession stand opposite cramped restrooms.

Those in the know (Streetwise 2 and above) can go to the box office and pay for a ticket to Trip to the Moon. The price is only $20.00 and it is well worth it as it opens the patron to a world far more interesting than the one in which he is accustomed. Turning to the concession stand, just past it on the wall opposite the box office is an unassuming door that is most easily missed. Approaching it, the patron hears a buzz and the click of a lock opening and the door pops ajar an inch or two.

Once past the door, the patron finds himself in the back hallway at whose far terminus is an iron staircase winding down to the basement housing a bustling speakeasy. The decor remains continuous with that found upstairs; the walls evoke the spirit of discovery, invention, and innovation both technical and artistic rife in the Gilded Age mixing with the modern in a steampunk spectacle marked with a rare touch of sophistication, class and glamor from the 1930s and 1940s. Patrons range from all walks of life and whether they are dressed in the latest couture or the most avant garde street wear, everyone is in their very best. Floor managers and their imposing security staff are all in expertly tailored dark suits poised at key vantage points while waitresses are dressed in little cocktail outfits resembling Josephine Baker's showgirl corset of embroidered pearls. They weave amongst the beautiful and enigmatic patrons in a graceful ballet of smiles and cocktails which are served by bartenders dressed in vintage black trousers, a crisp white shirt and a fitted black vest with a black garter banding their upper arms.

The main bar at the foot of the stairs is adorned in copper paneling and fixtures which reflect off the flickering glow of lights made to imitate the visuals of gas lamps or lit candles. From here it is easy to access either the game room from which the sounds of billiard balls cracking against one another occasionally issues, or, the row of card tables just beyond a window with the house bank where one can almost certainly find a high stakes game in progress.

This bar area also acts as a hub to the other four main sections of the club; the Baker Room, the Tesla Lounge, the Verne Room and the Curie Lounge. Each possesses pocket dividers capable of turning the room into a separate venue from the main club, and, the Baker and Verne rooms both feature stages where one can hear a wide variety of acts from a number of different genres. It's not uncommon for a group engaged by the latest independent film craze to find themselves below the club afterward, watching a local DJ debuting a cutting edge sound.

Passing the entry and continuing on past the main bar towards the Curie lounge is an imposing brick structure with copper industrial appointments houses a second set of stairs keenly watched over by imposing looking security in suits and ties. At the bottom of the stairs is the lower basement level which is decidedly more open in its space. At its center is an MMA style fighting cage. Patrons gather in the shadows to watch the fights, exchange tips, relax with a game of pool or swarm around the betting cages and large bar.

Additional Info for Streetwise Characters

  • Only PCs with Streetwise 2 or accompanied by a PC or NPC with Streetwise 2 or more will know how to access the speakeasy. Alternatively, a character must know the exact entry procedure. Those who fail to meet that criteria need to make a Perception+Alertness roll at -5 dice with a target diff of 10 and threshold of 1 or they will not notice anything amiss and will simply take the venue at face value; a normal playhouse theater.
  • Méliès is a speakeasy or underground venue. It is a venue, and a club. People from all walks of life come to this watering hole on the dark side of the moon because it's an exotic place to rub shoulders with all segments of society. You can find street scum hanging out smoking cigars and drinking scotches with city officials; Hippies and debutantes sharing the same space on the dance floor.
  • Méliès space is for rent to the enterprising PCs and NPCs. Rates vary depending on the deal struck with Mr. Black.
  • There are facilities for PCs and NPCs to host: Underground fights, card games, casino games, dance clubs, concerts, exhibits, plays, film screenings, chef's tables, private parties, special events, and any other event that one might require discretion and no red tape.
  • What makes Méliès special is that it is a place where anyone can rent the space and have a place to host their own event without having to worry about providing security, getting licensed by the city, dealing with authorities, or having to pay protection to nefarious factions.

Some Rumors from the Streets

  • Some guy known on the streets as Mr. Black runs Méliès.
  • The place is known to be class, and welcomes anyone needing a little space to rent. Makes a lot of sense too. If you don't have the roll to back you in the legit world or are new to town, it's a great way to get started. It's not often some guy just off the boat can come into town and hold a backroom card game without worried about getting shanked or busted.
  • No bullshit, just profit. That's what Méliès is known for. You want bullshit? Mr. Black'll make fertilizer out of you, no problem.
  • So who the fuck is Mr. Black? He's this pretty cool guy, real chill and friendly most times. Just don't fuck with him.
  • You want to ply your trade in Méliès? You're going to have to get Mr. Black's blessing. See if he wants a piece of the action for the use of his establishment. You know - pay your respects.
  • Word is that he has some muscle behind him.
  • Again. Don't fuck with Mr. Black. Not unless you want to end up as chum in New York Harbor.

Setting Notes for Everyone

  • This is an underground venue. It doesn't card, but it's not going to let kids in. It's not going to bust people for drug use or smoking (but that's a filthy habit).
  • There is access for those that prefer subterranean environments from a hidden tunnel in the subway system. This access leads to the lower basement where the cage fighting takes place. There are security personnel there to help usher people inside and cover charges are still required.
  • There are no visible metal detectors in Méliès and the staff does not wave metal detecting wands over guests. That's just so low class. Any character can come in discreetly armed. Those that come packing an arsenal will be turned away.
  • Unsanctioned violence in Méliès can be fatal to a character's life. Be warned. It's always better to check with Mr. Black before embarking on any violent schemes.
  • All of Méliès isn't always available because they aren't rented out to PCs or NPCs. Check with the people in scene to see what parts of the venue are dark and which areas are running. When there are no DJs on, the house music is usually an eclectic mix of vintage music from the 1920s and 1930s and some vintage inspired music from the Jazz, Blues, Ragtime, and Big Band genres with some noir inspired saxophone pieces.
  • Event hosts are their own promoters. PCs and NPCs are responsible for doing their own promotion within the chat on the forums or on the forum calendar. Mr. Black doesn't give a shit if a character can't fill the venue (Show up to run the event and the scene for everyone else). The character will still owe.
  • The theater is the main business. NPCs and PCs can rent that space out without having Streetwise. There are flyers in the theater lobby with rental information as well as business cards. Typically to rent out the theater a prospective client needs to call the box office during business hours or fill out a form on the theater's website and request a quote for a booking.
  • Default difficulty modifiers for Alertness rolls are +1 for the theater and speakeasy when there are no acts on stage or dancing (during those times it's +2), +2 for the lower basement. There is no modifier for the theater lobby but it is difficulty 10 threshold 1 to notice the door without knowing the procedure to get into the club below.
  • Use of Heightened Senses or any similar power in this setting is not recommended and will stun the Player Character for 2d10 minutes real time.
  • Check with the conditions in the setting for current roll difficulties. For example, if there is music and a lot of activity going on, Alertness rolls may be adjusted further.

Méliès Image Gallery

Click on any image to start a slide show. Note that the lighting is dimmed during operating hours. The pictures of the club devoid of people are with the house lights on. They are not typical of operating hours.

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