In an article appearing on his Clubplanet blog, Justin Ross Lee named the “Top Ten Most Hated People in New York Nightlife,” a list in which he includes himself. I like the idea of this list, specifically the idea of identifying who the biggest assholes and bullies are. I just think Justin’s list is a little too narrow. With the exception of Strategic Group honcho Noah Tepperberg, he names the puppets and not the puppeteers. I became aware of the list when promoter Sally Shan, who made the list, asked me what she should do about it. I had just written about Sally, and she told me it had reinvigorated her haters, which is odd since she is certainly not a bad person. In fact, she is hard working, moral and somewhat pleasant. Promoters like her are motivated by many things — money, glamour, excitement — but the need to feel loved is at the core of it. This is especially true for Sally, since her big heart doesn’t take criticism well.
My advice to her was not to worry. “I was on the top of lists like that for years!” I said, “If you don’t have a few haters, you’re doing it wrong. Promoters are generally people who, besides the money, seek admiration. Those going down that road will have haters throwing dirt at them. The bigger you get, the bigger the target you become. Feel sorry for those who find satisfaction in hurting others … they are merely moths to your flame since they have no light of their own. Otherwise they just live in the darkness of their own making.”
This seemed to cheer her up, and as any good promoter would do, she proceeded to publicize the mention proudly. Others on the list include Matt Lipman, a promoter who flies under my radar, so how bad can he be? Adam “The Glove” Glovsky is another promoter I can’t see harming a fly or doing anything except annoying people to come to his events. I’m sure Glovsky and the other promoters disturb people with texts and Facebook invites, but that’s part of their job. Jonathan Schwartz is harmless — unfortunately, way more harmless than he himself thinks. He is brighter than most and has risen quickly through the unwashed promotional ranks to become a promotional director. Although snarky at times, he is never malicious, and this “hated” branding is uncalled for. David Jaffee, like Adam, considers annoying an art form and is so good at it that the art form becomes fun. Mathew Assante is a puppy, not a pit bull. He is always a gentleman that travels with a polite and pretty crew, and I have never seen him do or say anything that would warrant an emotion as strong as hate.
Now as Justin Ross Lee described them, “the rope rats.” Aalex Julian and Rich Thomas stand in front of clubs that hold about a tenth of the number of people that want to enter them. Saying “no” a few thousand times a night will collect haters. To the people who know them and are deemed worthy to enter their spots, they are a pair that is loved: both are professional and both must be defined as people who have a lot more going on than standing in the cold and rejecting the Justin Ross Lees of the world. The only really big fish on this list is Noah Tepperberg. He is described by Justin as “Dr. Evil.” I’ve known Noah for over 15 years and have never seen or heard of him going back on his word. His success is undeniable, his list of friends expansive — he supports thousands of people with his vision. Noah loves what he does and has quietly been a friend to so many in need. Running an empire is not an easy task and if sometimes he seems distracted or indifferent to the small talk of people he doesn’t know, it should be forgiven.
In a business populated with real assholes, Justin Ross Lee seems to have named none except himself. Out of the 10 he lists, only he remains without my defense, which is ironic since Justin once told me that he was going to try to be the most hated man in the business. To do that one has to actually be in the business and be important enough to be noticed, which means one has to target the real players and creeps rather than point out the people who deign to kiss one’s ass. I certainly am hated by many and accept that as part of what I do. I’ve always felt that If some people “like” me then I must be failing. I like Justin a great deal — he’s smart, witty and I consider his antics a unique branding ploy. But he throws spitballs, not rocks, which doesn’t really earn him a spot on my hated list. There’s plenty of real live jerks out there who need calling out, and Justin seems to be flailing about and screaming like a three-year-old trying to get the adults’ attention. I’m an adult, Justin Ross Lee, and now you have me listening. Did you have anything important to say?