Fred Baum wasn't pleased. In addition to the reports he was receiving about the late night parties, he also
was concerned about the lax manner in which his partner pimp was running the business. The complaints
being filed by the female staff members were becoming increasingly frequent. One of the big complaints
was Sylk's sleeping habits. Keeping such late hours he would invariably stay in bed until 11:30 A.M. or
later. This posed a serious problem for a business that was supposed to be on-line around the clock. When
Sylk was still in R.E.M. time the girls for the 9 to 5 shift would be camped downstairs outside the door,
laying on the buzzer until he came down to unlock the door. The other problem was drug use. Sylk's
preferred drugs in order of preference were: grass, coke and exstasy. And it seemed that he was doing
one of the three (or a combination) during every waking hour. Glasser, an inveterate cocaine addict
himself, was more tolerant of Sylk's substance abuse. The two even shared a bump or two together on
occasion. But Baum couldn't stand being around people who were using. In one incident right out of Up
In Smoke, Sylk and his entourage of Rasta visitors created such a volume of dope fumes during the day
that when Mag Editor Richard Renda appeared he protested to Baum. Lee turned the ventilation system
on to to suck out all the pungent air but he hit the wrong button and circulated smoke throughout the entire
building. Customers in the Payless shoe store on the ground floor began making comments to the manager.
Ensconced in his beloved bachelor pad once again Sylk threw himself back into his work with a vengeance.
In addition to shoring up his rigorous schedule of fashion world meetings, publicity planning, and employee
interviews, the con man embarked on a new career as a party promoter and nightclub impresario. As a
litmus test he began throwing parties at Veruka. "Jason wanted to see if he could bring people down to
places," says Veruka owner Tim Spulches. "The problem was if somebody came and brought people who
he didn't think were attractive enough he would just turn on them, scream, and throw them out." Satisfied
that his drawing power was sufficient he decided to use the Baum Multimedia space in the evenings to
host an exclusive after-hours club. The original idea was to generate some much-needed income so that
he could have a decent meal at Downtown Cipriani once and a while. He was going to charge $30 at the
door and $10 for drinks. But when someone told him he'd wind up in jail if he followed through with his
plans to open an unlicensed nightclub he reconsidered. In the end he decided to do the after-hours club
but not to charge anybody. After all, Sylk really just wanted to have fun. "He turned Baum Multimedia
into a full fledged after hours club for six weeks" marvels Tim Spulches. "We went over there once after
the clubs were closing. The elevator comes down, the door opens, and Sylk is the elevator man ! He had
a D.J. blasting music on a good sound system. He and other people were partying and doing drugs in the
cubicles with the girls. He wanted so badly to be a social leader."
Baum exhales heavily, as if Sylk is some ponderous burden he's been hauling up and down the Jersey
coast for months. Asked how he assessed him as a business partner, Baum replies, "I never had a partner
who changed his name in the middle of a business deal." Sylk is far more direct when he discusses his
business dealings with Fred Baum. "I don't like Freddy at all" he says venomously. "He's a control freak
and nasty. When I met him his arm was broken." I said, "What happened ? He said, 'I punched out my
partner.' So I knew what was coming. He's a nightmare." Despite their differences, though, the two men
were reunited only two days later. Mike Plaza and his tough love management style wasn't working out.
More importantly, Glasser and Baum, computer illiterate to the core, didn't have the faintest idea what
type of business they had bought themselves into. They both felt that they needed Sylk on board if they
were to have any chance of recouping their investment.
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