Tuesday, July 16, 2024
HomeHealth and LifestyleOn Tuesday Night, She Goes Out

On Tuesday Night, She Goes Out


It was a Tuesday night in June, and Sabrina Fuentes, the frontwoman of the band Pretty Sick, was about to make her usual Tuesday night rounds in Lower Manhattan. That meant hitting a bar or two with the idea of ending up at Studio 151, a sushi restaurant above the nightclub Nublu.

As the night got started in earnest, Ms. Fuentes, 24, was having a glass of orange wine at a sidewalk table outside Time Again, a bar on Canal Street co-owned by the Queens rapper Despot, né Alec Reinstein. Ms. Fuentes was wearing low-cut Issey Miyake jeans, a black tank top and Repetto ballet flats. On her right shoulder was a temporary tattoo featuring a butterfly and the words “Bite me.”

The actor Reza Nader joined her at the table. He mentioned that he had recently filmed a scene for an episode of “Law & Order: SVU.” Then he asked her for some advice on a problem he was having in his romantic life.

Mr. Reinstein stopped by to ask Ms. Fuentes if she needed anything before turning his attention to the rapper Lil Yachty, who had arrived with a group of friends in a compact SUV.

Ms. Fuentes is a lifelong Manhattan resident who lives with her parents on the Upper East Side. She formed Pretty Sick when she was a teenager, and its first album, “Makes Me Sick, Makes Me Smile,” came out in 2022. Pitchfork had nice things to say about it, though it took a slight dig at Ms. Fuentes for doing very little to disguise her musical influences (Nirvana, Hole, the Breeders, Blondie and Iggy Pop, among others).

This month Pretty Sick is releasing an EP, “Streetwise.” At the same time Ms. Fuentes will put out a limited line of clothing, P.S. by Pretty Sick, to be sold on a website and in several Heaven by Marc Jacobs stores.

Ms. Fuentes was younger than the men she was hanging out with at Time Again, but she came across more like the experienced Willy Wonka than the wide-eyed Charlie Bucket in the chocolate factory that is downtown New York.

As a teenager, she was a regular in Tompkins Square Park and the city’s nightclubs. She interned at the fashion company VFiles and did some modeling for Stüssy, Alyx and Opening Ceremony when Pretty Sick, with its original all-female lineup, was putting on its first shows.

“In every venue, the sound guys would assume we didn’t know how to set up our amps and pedals,” she said. “They gave us a hard time because we’re chicks.”

Kenna Hines, a model from Laguna Beach, Calif., arrived at Time Again wearing head-to-toe Adidas Yeezy. She said she had followed Ms. Fuentes’s lead during her early days in New York.

“Sabrina was the kid you wanted to have in front of you walking into any social setting,” Ms. Hines, 24, said. “She’s a quintessential city kid.”

A young man who appeared to be Lil Yachty’s assistant took hold of the yellow bars of a pedestrian signal attached to a street-corner pole and attempted some pull-ups. After Lil Yachty scolded him (“That’s not a full pull-up!”), Ms. Fuentes left for Josie’s, an East Village tavern.

“Josie’s, that’s home,” she said.

She added that she preferred it to Sophie’s, a similar bar where she tends to run into people she would rather avoid.

“I get in a fistfight every time I go to Sophie’s,” she said.

Once inside Josie’s, Ms. Fuentes downed a tequila shot and headed to the jukebox with her longtime friend and bandmate, Ben Arauz, 23. They chose the Replacements’ “Unsatisfied.”

“We’ve been coming here since we were 17,” Mr. Arauz said.

Ms. Fuentes finished her teen years at Goldsmiths, University of London, emerging with a degree in popular music and a deal with the British record label Dirty Hit. The first Pretty Sick album, she said, was “my way of processing all this crazy stuff that happened to me while I was growing up too fast.” The band made the new EP with the Swedish electronic producer and D.J. Arthur Nyqvist, who goes by Woesum.

“Working in a rock setting is sometimes just so self-serious,” Ms. Fuentes said. “With this album, we get to move forward. You can laugh at yourself.”

Two men were hogging the pool table. After a while Ms. Fuentes decided it was time to move on. On the way to Studio 151, with her bandmate Mr. Arauz at her side, she conducted a brief Pretty Sick walking tour: “On this corner was Sidewalk Cafe,” she said. “It’s where we played our first show.”

“You have a raspy voice,” Mr. Arauz said.

“I’ve been smoking since I was 12,” Ms. Fuentes said. “Heavily.”

It was a little after 11 p.m. when they entered Studio 151. They ordered drinks and settled into a couch with a few other friends. A woman told them to take their feet off the table.

The dining area had been cleared for dancing. Tasmin Meyer Ersahin, a D.J. and photographer, stood at the two turntables in the corner, ready to deploy her collection of vinyl rock LPs and 45s.

In a cluster of friends Ms. Fuentes danced — furiously, playfully — to the Strokes, the Sex Pistols, Amy Winehouse and Oasis. Her partners included: Lily McInerny, a 25-year-old actress and a face of Celine; Dusty Rose Ryan, a 26-year-old model; Malachy O’Neill, a 24-year-old musician; and Rick Rocha, a 26-year-old film director.

At 2 a.m., Ms. Fuentes was back out on the sidewalk, leaning against one of her dance-floor pals. The temporary butterfly tattoo on her shoulder was almost gone.

“I’ve been invited into some of the darker parts of the music industry, and I just avoid it,” she said. “I’m lucky. I have really good friends.”


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