Industry Insiders: Oz Gonzalez, The Mayor of Milion

Actor-turned-restaurateur Osvaldo “Oz” Gonzalez and his partners managed to transform a run-down mansion in Buenos Aires into one of the city’s most distinguished spots to grab drinks (or a foxy Scandinavian). Witty, charming, and well-versed in the city’s art scene, Gonzalez can usually be spotted roaming the building, where he’s apt to know at least half of the clientele at any given moment. In 10 years of Milion—an eternity in a city known for its tumultuous economy—the sprawling Parisian-style mansion has seen decadent attic parties, countless art shows, and live performances by Juana Molina. More on the story of Milion after the jump.

On the beginnings of Milion: I’d been working as an actor for six years, doing TV and theater. There had come a point where I felt I was going to become a public employee on television. When I was almost 40, I said no, and went to work as a cashier at Club 69, which belonged to some friends. Silvina, my business partner, who was a Club 69 partner, calls me on the phone one day and says, ‘Diego has this house, we’d like it if you’d come to work with us.’ I said, ‘No! I’ll be a partner.’ I was living with Carla Peterson, who is an actress friend of mine, and had no money. It’s not like I planned on being a restaurateur at 40. It just happened, and I adore that. This place taught me that freedom doesn’t have to do with money. I didn’t have money. I lived here alone for eight months, when the house was in semi-ruins, and it was fantastic.

On the building’s lengthy history: When we first saw the space everything of value had already been sold and all that was left was the history of the house. There were newspapers from 1913 until 1992, it was like the history of the world. Articles on Nixon and Watergate, travel diaries from the twenties that said, ‘Well I’m in New York, in truth it’s very boring, I’m going to Buenos Aires.’ Wow! What was the world like? New York today and Buenos Aires tomorrow, during the Belle Époque. The other day, someone came in from London. Her grandmother was married to one of the original owners and she’d visited the house as a child. In London, she’d heard about Milion through her friends. When she came in, she realized it was the house she’d come to when she was little.

On the house’s energy: It’s very magical, super powerful. I think the protection that it has with us is because we love it very much. Sounds like a movie about the house that talks, doesn’t it? But it’s got a lot of love. I think it has the energy of having been inhabited by only one family, and it’s rare to find that in Buenos Aires. They’re all remodeled like schools and banks.

On handpicking DJs and musical criteria: There’s Lea Lopatín, Lea is more of a rocker, but I think he has a very elegant touch when it comes to playing music. I met this guy called Monsieur Julien, who sent me a set and I found it so exquisite. You also do things I like, I met you here through friends, you brought me a record. When I play music, I say I’m a musicalizador. Right now, I’m very very crazy with everything that comes from Denmark, Sweden. I hate the term “dance,” and when DJs say “I have dance music.” “Chill-out” is another term I hate. I don’t like playing the dance music typical of the clubs in Miami, those cheap clubs. I detest that. It has nothing to do with the house.

On the resident cat: Emilio’s a mix, a street cat with a Siamese cat. He lives here, he grew up here, he’s loved here. He protects the house. He gets on people, he gets on the bar. He’s the most loved among all the people working here.

On the clientele: Everything good about Milion is love stories. Many people marry here. They fall in love, marry, they have children. Then they split up, but oh well, it’s okay. Milion is very much love, it always was. I have a large gay audience and I have a large foreign audience.There will be a couple of boys holding hands next to an elderly couple. I like to see Finnish women six feet tall at the bar. Europeans die when they see the house because in Europe, there’s no place like this. Because the rent is impossible. It’s incredible what it would cost. The media over there always treated us better than the local media, too.

Favorite spot besides Milion: A club I visited in Prague that was marvelous. It was like an old-fashioned house, I went three times. There were people dressed seductively, and they would sometimes offer you fruit. It was gay, but there were a lot of boys and girls who weren’t. That was great. There was the bar and then you’d move to the next room for dancing, then you’d go and there was a porno movie theater and it had one of those mazes that lights up. The name is indecipherable. It’s like Cjwklskzyk, I swear. I want to look it up, but it’s a whole lot of consonants all together.

Other pursuits: Apart from Milion, I’m making a project with pornographic photos.

Translated by Christine-Marie Andrieu Photo by Oz Gonzalez

LA Openings: Soho House West Hollywood, Drai’s, Industry

Soho House West Hollywood (West Hollywood) – Members-only club for trendy people … can’t say it’s a sure-fire success in L.A. ● Drai’s (Hollywood) – The most exciting thing going down in Hollywood this week. ● Industry (West Hollywood) – Burgers! Stripper poles! Okay!

Industry Insiders: Gaby and Martin Modex, The Hardest Working DJs in Buenos Aires

On starting out as a band: MM: We met 10 years ago, more or less. Through friends in a different band, but then we started to make music together. Modex is five years old. GM: We have one LP, one EP, and the remix album. The first tour, we went to the UK, Scotland, London, Europe, Berlin, and Barcelona. We’ve been to Europe three times. And also Russia. Moscow, St. Petersburg. MM: We’ve played in Chile four times. In Mexico, too. In Tijuana, it was a crazy, crazy time. And of course, in Argentina.

On getting from Argentina to Europe and Moscow: GM: The first time, we paid our tickets to Europe. And then the second time, we went with our tickets paid for us. So it was a good connection made the first time. Our first EP was out in Europe on PIAS, the label that started with Front 242 and now they have Felix the Housecat and Tiga. Because of that, we went to Russia.

On their favorite places to play in Buenos Aires and beyond: GM: I like house parties the most. Or parties in general. For me, it’s not so much the club, but the party. Julio Fernandez’s Creme de la Creme parties in Voodoo and Kika are great. MM: We like Undertones. And Tsunami Party, too. Parties that we still go to, even when we don’t play. Also, Club Evol in Liverpool. It has two floors. It was like a dream, that bar. The sound, the people. It was great. Ladytron hosted us. GM: In Europe, Mondo in Madrid. Razzmatazz and Fellini in Barcelona. Barcelona has a lot of places. We like Barcelona. Moscow was extremely cool. But playing in Liverpool, that was something. I am playing in Liverpool! The Beatles! I can’t believe it. And the people liked it very much. And that was our first time in Europe, and we were with Klaxons.

On the beginning of their DJing days: GM: We started for fun, and now it’s another part of Modex. We always did it, but now we do it a lot. Usually for our DJ sets, we play some remixes of our own songs, too. When we DJ, we change our style a little. We like to make people dance like crazy!

On other DJs: GM: I don’t have problems with them, because they’re not musicians! For DJing, there’s good taste, and there’s timing.

On the bands that made them want to play music: GM: Gang of Four, Devo, the Fall. PiL. Siouxie and the Banshees. The Rolling Stones, Let it Bleed, Sticky Fingers, Exile on Main Street. MM: The Cure! The Velvet Underground. The Kinks. The Clash. GM: Also, The Stooges. MC5. Suicide. The Talking Heads. Richard Hell and the Voidoids. And The Slits! And X Ray Spex. MM: I think PiL and Gang of Four are very close to what we sound like.

On how seriously they take shopping for records: GM: When we travel, we go to the record store and ask, ‘do you have something like this?’ And we listen to them. MM: We love buying records. We are like kids with toys. GM: We went to the market in Mexico and and I passed by an old woman who had a blanket with records, other things, just a bunch of everything. I saw something yellow, and it was the first B-52s record. I’d been searching for it since I went to Europe, but I couldn’t find it anywhere. So there it was! I was so excited. MM: An hour later… GM: An hour later, I’m getting robbed. They took my wallet, they took my money, but I kept my record!

Photo Credit: Juliana Boragina