DJ Manero on His Art Project at the New Museum and How He Got His Name

We are always defending the ‘city that never sleeps.” The people who keep it awake, and the bedroom-community types who want it to turn in early and watch Leno, are always at odds. Nightlife supports hundreds of thousands of people, many of which are using their night careers to chase other dreams. There are the classic waitron types trying to be actors and the bartenders who paint up a storm when not swinging liquor. Roman Grandinetti, also known as DJ Manero, has deep club history and is now using all his skills to curate an art project described as Sound Graffiti.

"…the creator of CNNCTD+, Roman Grandinetti. In one month’s time he put together 100 influencers to create playbuttons for the New Museum store on May 1st, created a scavenger hunt series of SOUND GRAFFITI outlets around the city including the heart of the Fashion District and a wall on Kemare with Jason Woodside. This team has created a lot of content over the last month with connections to over 100 influencers including Pharrell Williams, Maria Cornejo, Cindy Sherman, Santigold and other icons like George Lois and other cool fun NY hits like Katz’s Deli and The Meatball Shop.”

On Tuesday, a private party at the New Museum will preview the public opening on the following day. They say the "goal of CNNCTD+100 is to showcase a cross-section of New York City culture that highlights the multidisciplinary connections of contemporary culture. Music inspires fashion, street art inspires fine art, youth inspires establishment."

It will be "Roman Grandinetti (a.k.a DJ Manero) and his team selected 100 heroes and creative leaders from various disciplines to participate in the project.

Participants: Mario Sorrenti, Maria Cornejo, Nanette Lepore, Rebecca Minkoff, Michael Pitt, Cindy Sherman, Pharrell Williams, Scott Campbell, Santigold and iconic NYC personalities and companies including Katz’s Deli, FourSquare, and Ricky Powell…. The complete list of participants won’t be revealed until the night of the event but includes dozens of big names and surprises…The public can buy tickets @ the new museum store online to come see  the show as well. There’s only 100 spots open to the public as well."

I caught up with Roman and asked him all about it:

What will people be seeing/hearing?
I think what people will see in the show is a wide range of talent and the vastness of our creative vision – we have chefs, models, DJs, producers, curators, photographers, fashion designers, creative geniuses, and we hand- selected a few people who we think are next.

Tell me about yourself. Include your journey through clubland.
I’m 25 years old and I’m a Brooklyn-born Italian. I started out promoting and selling tickets at around 13 for every teen night. Later, when I turned 18, I worked for Rob T and later Uriel – who I believe introduced us for the first time years ago. He let me pretty much run my own nights and put me at the door. My family decided it was not a good idea for me to go to school in Brooklyn anymore -and I got into High School of Art & Design. Going there changed my life. It opened my eyes to not only a whole new world, but it introduced me to a whole another world. I stopped promoting, got into the whole downtown thing – graffiti and sneakers.

I was one of the first employees at A Bathing Ape. I met every rapper you could imagine in the place. While I was there I started a sneaker event called Soledout NYC. I put three of them together from what I learned from promoting. The events did around 2,500 guests per event. The money gave me leverage to fully stop  promoting and kinda enjoy nightlife for myself. I started going to PM, Butter, Cain, Lotus all of them while being underage – haha. At that time I started to look into the DJ stuff but didn’t take the leap yet. At A Bathing Ape, Steve Rifkind walked in and changed everything. I started interning at Universal music, servicing records to DJs – which really got my gears turning to become a DJ. I was hired a month later. I worked in the marketing department with Akon, Wu-Tang, Asher Roth and had an opportunity to work with Marc Ecko and Swizz Beatz.

While I was there, Steve was a huge supporter of mine and helped me out a lot. I published my first magazine’ it was this 6×8 FREE pocket-sized magazine, dubbed connected – it had Swizz Beatz, 50 Cent, Pharoahe Monch, and Mark Ronson on the cover. I soon left Universal and worked on connected, which is now "cnnctd+”. I became very close to DJ Vitale and Sal Morale, who opened the door to the DJ world to me. They introduced me to the model promoting world. Vitale and Tommy Virtue taught me pretty much everything I know and made sure I knew what I was doing before I even played in a club. I worked with childhood friend Gezim for booking help and Uriel gave me the name "Manero” because everyone used to call me “Young Travolta” since I looked like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. Also, I grew up in Bensonhurst/Bay Ridge and walked the same blocks he did in the movie.

So your DJ career took off…
DJing became my main source of income. Vitale continued to push me to get better at DJing. I truly feel he’s one of the most talented DJs in this city, and I would spend hours watching him and Sal. I’d listen to all of DJ Riz’s mixtapes, trying to develop my own style, which Vitale and another big help in my career (Mel Debarge) told me would come in time. I had the opportunity to play every venue in the city, was handed money to play a record, and played for countless celebs. Some of the celebs I was allowed to talk about and some I was never allowed to.

I tried the traveling thing and, for a short period of time, really was a career DJ. I was traveling weekly and ending up in rooms I would NEVER step foot in and it kinda made me see a clear vision of what I want to do and what the life of a traveling DJ is. So I started to save a bit, get a bit more into music production, and really focused on creating a career. I fine-tuned the gigs, did what is a right fit for me as a DJ / trying to mold myself. I bought an office/studio space in Chinatown. I started out just doing remixes and slowly looked for some interesting work to work on during the day to stay creative. Got cnnctd+ rolling again and my girl’s father introduced me to the owners of playbutton to maybe help out with some marketing stuff.

Since the day we met, I have done a collaboration with HBO and How to Make it in America, created one of the first interactive street murals on Kenmare between Bowery and Elizabeth (across from the recently-opened Ken & Cook), and now I’m producing a show of 100 influencers at the New Museum on May 1st. Thus far, I have Cindy Sherman, owners of The Meatball Shop, Mark Borthwick, The Fader, Mario Sorenti, Illesteva, Andre Sariva, Katz Deli, and Scott Campbell – all showcasing works alongside myself. My girlfriend Bibi Cornejo who is a major help and supporter of cnnctd and Sal Morale.

What’s the New Museum event going to be like?
The point of the show is built off of what NYC nightlife used to be – a collective group of influential people all in the same room at the same time, all looking for an interesting time/conversation. Hopefully everyone leaves inspired, creates an idea for something new, and everyone gets to meet some interesting people

Los Angeles: Top 10 Japanese Fashion Boutiques

Shopping for Japanese fashion in Los Angeles is not new. Nonetheless, it’s fair to say that these days, Japan’s innovative style is taking LA by storm a la Godzilla vs. Tokyo. Comme des Garçons, Junya Watanabe, and Issey Miyaki are must-have designers for every West Coast girl-on-the-go. Whether it’s the heavy use of black, reshaping of the female form, or bright graphics, Japan’s looks have become practically iconic. And lucky for Hollywood, there’s no army to take down this monster.

decadestwo (Hollywood) – Wham, bam, thank you decadestwo! Only the best vintage collection of the best designers to ever walk the face of the planet. Nothing says Saturday night like a rockin’ vintage Comme des Garçons skirt and ensemble. ● Opening Ceremony (West Hollywood) – Charlie Chaplin’s old dance studio transformed into a futuristic boutique where designers are separated into different rooms by country. Using geography to shop makes finding killer Japanese lines a no-brainer.

The Way We Wore (Hollywood) – The odds that you’ll be the only one rocking these legendary vintage and designer pieces at the club may as well be State Farm insured. Japanese designers are hidden pearls throughout this massive collection. ● M’ouments (Downtown) – The Comme des Garçons guerilla pop up store may have closed its doors, but M’ouments picked up the love where they left off. Same owners; same collection of this iconic line. ● H Lorenzo (West Hollywood) – There’s another reason to hit the Sunset Strip besides catching a show at the Viper Room. H Lorenzo has Shared Spirit plus other yummy Japanese lines all for the taking. ● Confederacy (Los Feliz) – Cute, hipster staff in matching designer uniforms makes us feel like we’re at fashion boot camp. Japanese line ato (made famous thanks to Kanye West) is a major force in the fashion weaponry. ● B By Aperire (West Hollywood) – Japan’s solution to late night sore feet after getting your boogie on: high-heeled running shoes. ● A Bathing Ape (West Hollywood) – Apes have rights too. They deserve to dress in fresh urban Japanese street wear. ● Japan LA (West Hollywood) – Number one place to score limited edition Japanese art toys and Hello Kitty gear without the 15-hour flight. ● Popkiller (West Hollywood) – Vintage treasures, trendy Japanese kitsch accessories, and other necessary gear exclusive to Popkiller.

One-Day Tour: West Hollywood

imageWelcome to the gayborhood. Known as one of the most notable gay villages in the country, WeHo is also home to some of the best bars, restaurants, and shopping in all of Los Angeles. The vibe is friendly and the streets are walkable — this is one spot in LA where you can get all you need within a few blocks. The 90069 is filled with hot young things walking their dogs — due in part to the tight rent control in this area (cheap rent!) and the extremely dog-friendly landlords. For the first-time visitor, here’s your primer.

Stay: Chateau Marmont This beautiful, strange, matchless castle on the hill pulls stars for private bungalow overnights and rock-star debauchery. This is the spot to work your kinks out: relax, get wild, hide out, get noticed, anything goes. With all this rock n’ roll wrapped neatly in luxury linens, you may never leave the grounds. You should. But you might not.

10 a.m. Breakfast at Hugo’s. There’s a good chance you’ll sip coffee next to the latest hip producer/director/actor/creative in Hollywood. One of the top spots for power breakfasting in LA. Try the pasta Mama, it’s award-winningly delicious. Tea-lovers: You’ll be delighted to browse the several pages of offerings.

11:30 a.m. Head over to the Pacific Design Center. Browse the 130 design showrooms and the latest offerings from MOCA. Admire the oversized art surrounding the way-modern building.

1:30 p.m. Stop by Ariya and fill up on sushi. Sit in the covered back patio, and definitely order the OMG roll — it lives up to the name.

3 p.m. Put your chucks on and get ready to shop. First stop, Book Soup. This funky labyrinth of books is littered with staff recommendations and rocks an authentic creaky wooden floor. Once you’ve had your fill of the written word, pop over to Fred Segal. Trendsetters rule the roost here. The shopgirls are likely too cool for you, but admire the goods anyway. Next up, Resurrection: Vintage gowns, swoon. In case vintage isn’t your thing, check out A Bathing Ape down the street — hip hop sneakers on a conveyor belt. Then stroll over to Kidrobot and pick up the latest in limited-edition art-tastic “toys.” Whatever happens, make sure you end up at Wasteland, a Melrose institution, filled with the best vintage clothes in the city.

7 p.m. Go see the latest film at The Arclight (you are in LA for fck’s sake). See our list of the top theaters in Los Angeles.

9:30 p.m. Dinner at Comme Ca. Unpretentious French bistro. Try the steak frites and the risotto.

11:30 p.m. Roll out. Have a beer at Barney’s — and don’t be skerred if someone gets loud; the Bean has a penchant for lite bar fights. Wanna chill? Head to Bar Lubitsch, the red Russian lounge with top-shelf vodkas. Wanna people-watch? Head to The Abbey — the hottest cruising spot in town, boys who like boys who like girls who like girls, it’s all here. Wanna dance? Head to Area, of The Hills fame. Bottles, tables, dancing, preferably all three at the same time.

Bonus Round: • In town on a Sunday? Check out the Fairfax Flea Market, it’s a sure bet for funky jewelry, boho dresses, and other awesomeness. • Up late night, err, early morning? Irv’s Burgers opens at 8 a.m.