Madonna & Maripol & Lino Meoli

There was a time when Madonna was clubbing as a girl with potential. Somewhere I have a Xeroxed blue paper invite with her name on it; we paid her like 500 bucks to play Danceteria … I was upset with her because I needed the dressing room after her gig. She zoomed to the top soon after, and the last time I could talk to her as a human was when she was shooting Desperately Seeking Susan. After that, if I wanted her for an event or to come to an opening, I dealt with Maripol. It was Maripol who got her to the Palladium one night, and a million photos were taken of Madonna sitting on the Michael Todd Room bar reading the magazine that the party was about. It was Maripol who did the famous jewelry that the Material Girl wore in photo shoots and videos. Maripol the documentarian, the creator of underground film Downtown 81. She is club royalty.

It was Maripol who booked the movie premier party for Madonna’s flick Truth or Dare at the Palace de Beauté, where the Petco is now in Union Square. She came through the back door and asked me to help her get Warren Beatty in, who Madonna was dating at the time. Warren was a bit flustered by the legions of paparazzi, but seemingly wanting to talk with every one of them. He had an aura of brilliant innocence. The party was all celebrities, the tightest door I can remember. I talked to Madonna briefly — couldn’t really think of much to say, other than “Wow, have you grown since I last saw you” type crap. I saw my best friend Arthur Weinstein and a pal Nicky D approaching the front door, and I hid a little … Madonna asked me why I was hiding, and I told her “There’s someone at the door I can’t say no to, but I am trying to honor your guest list.” She went out and took them in. She was amazing. Later, Nicky D approached while I was talking to Warren and told him boldly about a film project he was working on. Warren said, “Hey, write down my number, and we’ll talk about this.” I was shocked by his friendliness and interest. I read the tabloids and the scandals and the success and failures of the Material Girl and remember that when I knew her, just a little, back in the day. She was a lady, and despite the swirls and fodder put out by the press, I must believe she is still wonderful. Maripol’s son Lino Meoli and Patrick McMullan’s kid Liam were introduced to me long before they could speak. As babies they were sometimes at the chicest parties, and now both are making their mark. Lino takes after his dad Gigi Meoli and is DJing.

Lino Meoli
, you are the first person that I have interviewed that I’ve known since you were a baby. 
 Oh really?

Your mother is an old friend of mine. We go way back to Fiorucci days, when your mother was designing her Maripolitan Jewelry line. She is famous for styling Madonna and being the art director for Fiorucci. Early on, if you knew Maripol, you were one degree of separation from Madonna. In fact, Madonna is your godmother, correct? Spiritual godmother.
She sends me presents and stuff like that.

Your father is one of my favorite DJs. Your father and Moby were DJ partners at my club, the Palace de Beauté. No! That’s crazy.

You have these dynamic parents — your dad’s a DJ and your mom is a jewelry designer who’s styled Madonna. I saw you at events and in my office when you were a baby. When did you become aware of clubs?
 I had my fourth birthday in a really nice club I used to go to back in the 80s or something. I don’t remember the name of it. It had a Kenny Scharf interior.

 Right, it’s the Palladium. My birthday was at the Palladium. All these celebrities — Lauren Hutton showed up. I was smaller, I didn’t care.

Who were some of the celebrities in your life growing up?
 Kenny Scharf. Patrick McMullan, many others. I didn’t know they were celebrities then

This lifestyle you were born into. You were never going to be a doctor or a lawyer. No way.
I was either into music or art. Or film. 

How did you become a DJ?
 I’m self-taught. Autodidact? We say it in French that way. We had the room with all the equipment I wasn’t allowed into when I was little because dad thought I would break it. I would sneak inside and play with it anyways. I would put on Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.”

Did you hear you dad DJ?
 Yah! I went with him to Crobar in Miami. I’d carry his records and because he had bladder problems — which is a problem when you’re a DJ — I had to help him make sure the next song would come on.

So you were his bathroom fill-in. When he went into the bathroom, you had to press the button.
 Yah, I did that once or twice. That really got me into it. 

So you got the bug. You’re standing in the DJ booth watching your dad.
 Watching my dad. Looking at the crowd. People coming in.

There was something inside … you knew it was something you wanted to do. You DJed at subMercer … the room packed out you killed it. The room really loved your set. The music you played was not a modern or an electro set, but an old school funk, soul, rock, vocal house, which seems to be your direction. I’m really into hip hop too. I was told to play more disco that night, but I played a little of everything.

Your father was a mixed-format DJ long before the rest of the world. When Gigi was on, he was on and was one of the greatest DJs I’ve ever heard. But he was moody. Not angry, but he would sometimes go into a mellow set. I was thinking about that the other day.

But you’re not like that. You’re up, up, up, up, up. Your set is very energetic.
 I felt energy in New York. That really New York energy. Paris is lacking in all this energy. The club scene in Paris is over. 
Musically, Paris seems to be backwards.

In every other aspect of culture they’re ahead of us, but there just don’t seem to be any musical chops in Paris. They like the commercial stuff. They like the electro, electro minimal, minimal music.

Tell me about your career. I’m living in Paris actually. Started DJing there. First gig at Le Baron. I started at this club which was very rock and roll, chic, punk club. It was probably the one club in Paris that reminded me of New York. So I guess that’s where I felt at home in Paris.
In the beginning I was there once a week for two or three months, for the whole summer. Then after that I started playing everywhere. Since I’ve been in Paris, I’ve pretty much played everywhere. And since I’ve played everywhere, I’ve seen everyone. In two years I’ve basically seen all of Paris. I want to come back and mark my territory in New York. 

I was there. I saw they offered you residency at subMercer the other night.
 They did?

Yes they did. Is that something you would consider?
 Definitely. If I could get three or four residencies a week in New York, I would move here in a heartbeat.

Would you live with your mom?
 That’s a trick question. Don’t answer that.
 I would like to live with my mom. She’s so artistic, and there’s so much energy.

So is Gigi in Miami?
 Yah, my dad is in Miami. And my dad told me that back then it was my mom that was hooking him up with all the gigs. You know because she was with Madonna back then. She started doing the same for me.

What do you see as the major difference between Paris and New York? I like that mix of whole different cultures. In Paris you’ll have only snobby white French people with their suits on. Blonde Barbie dolls. And there’s this other club scene — I’d have to say that Le Baron has the most legitimate club scene in Paris. 

How old are you now? I’m 19 going on 20. 
I can work in nightclubs as long as I don’t drink. In Paris actually a lot of young kids go out because the legal drinking age is 18. New York is 21. It’s a big difference. In Paris it didn’t matter. I got a gig like this. I got my first gig on my own, now I DJ all over.

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