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[whitespace] Blood & Butter Photograph by D.F. Raymond

Hot! Hot! Hot! Julie (far left) and Julia (far right) flank someone from their Salon Session coterie at a recent Beauty Bar event.

Charmed, I'm Sure

Best friends and business partners, the Blood & Butter girls promote themselves in style

By Michael Stabile

I don't quite remember where I first met the Blood & Butter girls (as Julie Ann Ross and Julia Lolita Martin have become known)--they slowly materialized and wound their way into my life (though mine into theirs is possibly more accurate). I do remember gleaning the name in overheard conversations between members of certain circles of minimally high regard. A low murmur spread for a few weeks until people were directly mentioning them to me as "you have to meet them" people. (I love people whom you have to meet because you really do--they're almost always worth it even if you end up hating them.) And then one day they were there. And then they were everywhere. I finally tackled them at Beauty Bar's first anniversary party, at which the girls were at the height of their charming selves--corralling free drinks and eating a persimmon from a flower arrangement.

It's difficult to say what the two do, per se, except that it involves a lot of work. They've been best friends for nearly 15 years, having met in a grade-school Spanish class. They don't do publicity or promotion except for things they produce. But what they produce is generally more publicity and promotion with a tad of performance thrown in.

There are various side characters who accompany them in noncelebrity celebrity fashion. DJ Otter, noise producer Reid Maxwell, singer Madeline Minx, ex-star bartender Jack Shamama, sexy cohorts and sometimes B&B hand-lenders Tanya and Karen, couple-about-town Gianni & Wendy and photographer David Raymond are but a few of the obscure but have-to-meet crowd of the new San Francisco. Oh, and of course me.

They control the hugely popular Salon Sessions at Beauty Bar, the Dark Sparkle corsetry shows at Cafe Du Nord and, most recently, the club Candy at the Bohemia Lounge (on Dec. 3) as well as promoting anyone, such as the inimitable band Pushy.

It's difficult tying them down to one subject, so in our discussions we covered boys shared and boys rejected, off-key renditions of Liz Phair's "Fuck and Run" (the off-key quality belonging to me) and declarations of restaurant scandal and hot gossip.

So ... Blood & Butter. What can I say after that phrase?

Julie: Are you going to ask us how we got our name? Well, [turns to Julia] you should tell it because you were actually there.
Julia: But I like hearing it when you tell it.
Julie: Shall I tell as if I were there? [Pauses.] We were at the Black Cat [Reed Hearon's North Beach diner and jazz club] addressing invitations to our first event, a fundraiser called Blaze. So we were simultaneously addressing these invitations and pondering the fact that our company had no name.
Julia: And we're eating that whole seafood platter of oysters and mussels and clams ...
Julie: And so as were eating, addressing and pondering, some butter got onto a few of the invites.
Julia: And at the very same time--I forget which one--one of us gets a paper cut and tosses the invitation with blood on top of the ones with butter on them.
Julie: And Tony Castanelli's brother says to us, "Watch out for the invitations with Blood & Butter on them." And hence ...

I so enjoy soaking up every new trend. Do you enjoy promoting new trends?

Julie: Well ... we don't promote every new trend. We promote what we do. And we don't really do publicity for other people, unless it's also one of those people we promote as well.
Julia: We make up trends. We decide! [Laughs.] Just like Metropolitan.

How do two best friends from Orange County decide suddenly to begin promoting parties in San Francisco? Or, more pressingly, why?

Julie: You've had parties of your own, at your own house, right? And you end up paying a lot of money, doing all the work and spending a lot of time. You have a good time but ... The way that we do it we don't have to clean up in the morning, you get paid for doing it and people want you back again and again.
Julia: Also because we do have such amazing friends that the events are like a forum for showcasing all of the talent we see around us.
Julie: We're, of course, compulsive networkers, and when we see somebody that has something that we think could be promoted better, we can't not do it. "I must help them."

Oh, yeah, when I'm introduced to someone by you, I definitely pay them more attention than normal.

Julie: For you, as an editor trying to create something by doing what you like, I think you're doing the same thing as we are--curating a collection of stuff. I think that what we do is a form of art but really isn't defined.

It's something about the way you integrate the elements of each event, I think. ...

Julie: I've made a pact never to attend one of those San Francisco parties where the "exotic" highlight is some fire-eater or belly dancer.
Julia: And yet you can integrate those into a larger scene but you have to make it something that people are not only entertained by but become part of and contribute to.

That sounds suspiciously like a hippie drum circle ...

Julia [laughs]: It was actually inspired more by this one new wave band in Long Beach that we used to go and see where the audience was as much the show as the band.
Julie: And the right people--or I should say the people who are right for Blood & Butter--know it. They realize that at Blood & Butter parties there's a whole different vibe where you can walk up to someone and say, "Hey, I'm Mike, what's going on?" and not have it sound or be a weird come-on. People seem to trust the other people there. The people who aren't into it are the ones sitting by themselves, talking only to the people they came with, saying, "It's too crowded here."

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From the December 6, 1999 issue of the Metropolitan.

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