Micah Jesse: “You’re the King of Nightlife, I’m the King of Nice Life”

A while back, I named three people as the "next big things" in this little world I write about. The Dual Groupe twins Derek and Daniel Koch have been a steady force in New York nightlife and day life as their ongoing brunch party "Day and Night" remains the standard. They get tons of ink here and everywhere. Jordan Fox and I ran into each other the other night and I promise a follow-up on his genius activities, Micah Jesse was my third pick. Micah and his MicahJesse.com have been described as the East Coast’s version of Perez Hilton. Micah’s approach, however, contrasts with most media. He focuses on the good news and the positive things in their lives. I caught up with this busy bee and asked him a few questions.

What have you been up to lately? Still working on my website and it’s rapidly becoming a full-blown brand. I’m doing a lot more television and I’m able to lend my name and my presence to causes that I’ve cared about all along. For me, anti-bullying is huge. I was severely bullied growing up, to the point where it was almost tormentous, so it’s exciting for me that I’m aligning with The Bully Project. I’m going to be raising $5,000 for the five-year anniversary of my website on a site called Crowdrise, which is co-owned by Edward Norton, so that’s exciting. Being able to finally use my name to do good really means a lot to me.

I was joking with you before, like saying you’re the king of nightlife – I’m the king of nice life. I’m really loving being able to give back; that’s always been my goal when I moved here – yes, to have a public platform, yes to be a public figure of course, but to be able to do that for causes that I’m actually passionate about. When I first moved to New York, I felt that people were constantly putting me into a category of like a socialite, but socialites to me are just that: social. There are a whole group of them that are doing good but there are a whole group that just go out to get their photo taken. For me, anti-bullying and gay rights are huge so I’m working with GLAAD and I’m working with The Bully project so I’m excited.

So in the last year, using your platform and all that, who are some of the people you’ve run into at the events? I like covering red carpet events. I get media alerts all day long and I have to sift through them and consider what’s going to be interesting to my reader, interesting to tweet about live. It’s pop culture, it’s reality stars, the Kardashians just in general – they’re amazing. Jersey Shore…I don’t know how much longer that’s going to last but…they’re getting spin-off shows.

I think the Jersey Shore has been around forever, it wasn’t invented by Snooki or whatever. I think the world should become obsessed with Snooki…in my relationship, she’s my "celebrity exception." I think the reason the Jersey Shore is successful is that it really hits on a weird sexual desire in us. I’m good friends with Sammi "Sweetheart" Giancola and I happen to think she’s super hot and I’m an openly gay male. These kids, both girls and guys, they’re out there partying their tooshy’s off, taking off their clothes. They have no limits; they’re still living as if nightlife is still what it was 20 years ago, just like partying ’til the break of dawn, fist pumping all night long, just making it seem fun again because a lot of people have lost that sense of allure of nightlife. I feel like a lot of people are criticizing it and saying that there’s no nightlife anymore. Well, not for the Jersey Shore.

As a nightlife writer, I disagree with that statement. I end up at great parties every single night. There may not be one great club in NY by the standards we set back in the day, but I think every night there’s something great going on. Nightlife is just less confined by walls; it’s everywhere and, sure, you really have look around. You must draw lines where you’re not going to talk about something. Sometimes I don’t tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth because it’s not important. The brand that the person is trying to establish and the individuals’ needs could be negatively affected unnecessarily. I see a lot more than I write about. Tell me how you personally draw these lines. I’ve always looked at celebrities as my best friends since I was little. Now that they actually are my friends, why would I want to hurt your best friend? I have celebrities that I know that are gay and out in public are straight; there are celebrities I know that claim they’ve never had plastic surgery and I know exactly which body parts have been altered, but I’m the king of nice life. I’m the one who’s out there keeping that hush-hush like you said and respecting people’s feelings but also keeping them public. They want to be public but they don’t necessarily want their private life public. 

When I’m with my straight friends (which I try to keep down to a minimum), sometimes the conversations get around to some celebrity being gay or straight. I might say to them, "I had dinner with him and his boyfriend in 1986 when he was gay before he made it and for image purposes they’re no longer gay." But I would never write about it. I would never bust someone. How do the PR companies work to keep down that sort of story? Let’s take the example of Anderson Cooper because he’s more local. Anderson Cooper is a news personality whose sole responsibility is to report the news directly and straightforwardly and honestly, so it’s a double-edged sword. At the same time he’s trying to be relatable to all of America, but at the same time there are reports that say he’s been with a man for many years now, and he’s seen in public with this one particular guy walking around NY and things of that nature. It’s tough because as much as I’d like to see him come out, if he is actually gay, I don’t know if that would be the responsible thing to do just because he’s a public figure. If he wasn’t a public figure, he would only need to tell his close friends, so why would he share that with the world?

Many people believe that it is the responsibility of gay public figures: they need to come forward or be outed. Conceptually, if America knew how many public figures and athletes were actually gay, wouldn’t it accelerate the acceptance of gay people into our lives? Absolutely, I’m on board with GLAAD’s messaging of making sure filmmakers and writers are putting in gay storylines into films and media. I think that it’s absolutely the way to do it, but when it comes to people’s lives, I’m not necessarily sure I agree with pushing people out of the closet before they’re ready because I know, for me, it was really important to come out on my own terms. Now, I’m so happy that I would never in a million years ever think of going back, but it needs to happen on one’s own terms when they’re 18 or even 14 or when they’re 65 and they realize they love their wife – if they have a wife – and realize they need to finally be true to themselves. I’m so pro that. I’m so pro coming out on your own terms. 

Your job comes with a lot of responsibility because you’re openly gay and covering a lot of gay and straight people and events. How is it building up trust with your readers? Tell me about that word "trust." Trust for me is huge because I feel like I’m a trustworthy person. I don’t know if everyone can say that about themselves. I know everyone would like to say that about themselves, but for me especially – when it comes to celebrities – developing a relationship with them, that they know when we’re off the record and the mic’s not in their mouth, we’re just having a good time. They can tell me about their relationships, but what I ask them to do is perhaps let me know first what they are ready to share and I would hope they give that to me. I do the same things in my life. Nowadays, everything is tracked online, whereas years ago, people would get their media through print newspapers or magazines. You could read a magazine and throw it out and it’s like it didn’t exist. But now everything is online. Bloggers that are out there bullying celebrities online – it’s unfortunate because there’s a track record out there forever. There’s no real way of taking that down. For me I feel a big responsibility to not bully online and always highlight people’s good.

Last plug? My five-year anniversary party coming up on May 3rd with DJ Cassidy. I’m really excited about the party because it’s at an exquisite space that’s really about to take over and it’s only been used for high-fashion photo shoots. It’s called Canoe Studios. I like to think of it as like the Boom Boom Room event space. It’s almost like floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the whole Hudson and it’s really exquisite. I’m so excited to be the first person to have the event there.

Nice Guys & Womanizers: Nightlife Morals

The twins Derek and Daniel Koch of meatpacking’s MPD just celebrated their birthdays. I can’t remember which one is older, but when I talked to the Baskin twins the other day they told me that the twin with the bigger head is usually the eldest. You figure it out. A little while back, I highlighted the Koch dynamic duo as “the next big thing” in clubland, and I’m still thinking it’s true. Some disagreed, but it’s easy to talk about people doing it well in the present, and quite another to recognize the tools that will mean success down the road.

I was talking to a major hotel player yesterday, who said, “That’s what we do,” when talking about hiring or recognizing budding talent. The Koch twins aren’t exactly new to the scene, and are doing quite well right now, but I see them owning this town in just a short while. My track record on this sort of “predicting success in nightlife” thing is pretty good. Quite a few of the major players in this town were brought up through my joints. Some have forgotten where they came from, but I haven’t.

For many, working in nightlife was the best way to get away from where they came. Some were selling buttons and some were tending bar or picking up a few extra bucks at night as promoters. Some were just chasing skirts before they realized they could make a good living. Most were simply trying to be something else, have a good bar rap, or were just throwing a birthday party for a friend before I lured them into the evil empire. If I’m going to get blamed for so many things, I’ll take some credit too.

Micah Jesse, who I also anointed in that article, will be celebrating the 4th anniversary of his celebrity-centric blog, MicahJesse.com, at The Box next Tuesday. The Box bash will have Hennessy Black as a sponsor with Marla Joy performing. Micah, of course, invited his friends and those who have helped his career. He thanked the helpful in his mass invite: “In some way, you have helped me grow over the last four years. You either offered up your invaluable insight/advice, or gave me a good spot on the carpet, or believed in me when I was just getting started, or helped spread my message of positivity—and for all that (and more!)—I am thankful.” It’s a super nice gesture, and shows the kind of thought that will take him to the next level. He added “When I started MicahJesse.com in April ’07 as a college sophomore, I had no idea that it would (or even could!) lead to all of this…” Jordon Fox was the third predicted winner. He is killing it over at B.E.S. and is being courted all over town. All four are nice guys destined to finish first.

Arty Dozortsev, hot off another diner success, is pushing his Sant Arturo wines—this time at the Darby. He is inviting his pals to Capitale for a birthday private dinner for Seth Greenberg this Thursday. The gala will be in the Peter Tunney room of the brilliant hall. Capitale was designed by the great architect Sanford White, who was whacked by a jealous husband back in 1906. (Recently, a mansion he designed was sentenced to be whacked to make room for a half dozen less fabulous places.) It was all in the news, as you recall, because it supposedly was the inspiration for The Great Gatsby. Baz Luhrmann is readying a new movie inspired by the tome.

Like Capitale, the mansion was the location for innumerable celebrity-packed parties. Sanford White’s work helps define our city. He did the Main Post Office building on 8th avenue, the Arch in Washington Square Park, and many others. His death should be a lesson of some sort. Not sure what that lesson is. Maybe it’s to make a lot of money, be famous and have fun, die young and beautiful—or at least desired—or don’t do any of that ’cause you’ll get in trouble. He used to lure young women to a circular mirrored room with a single swing hanging in the middle. They would disrobe and then carry on. One day, a young model (yes they had them back then) who had a swing/fling with the architect got married to a rich and powerful man. That man couldn’t live with the thought that Sanford White had exploited his bride, and decided that Sanford shouldn’t live. He shot him in the face, and a jury didn’t convict him. They thought Sanford got what he deserved. Promoters and designers beware.

I’ve known Seth Greenberg, the birthday boy and owner of Capitale, since his Boston days when he had M-80 and 10 other places—including the super chic restaurant Mistral. Seth is a living testament to that “nice guys finishing first” theory. I will attend his birthday bash, and while I’m there, I will look up at Sanford White’s deliriously magnificent ceiling of ornate moldings and stained glass, and cross my fingers and count my blessings.

On another note, I am saddened by the spectacle surrounding Lawrence Taylor. His fall from great heights is a lesson as well. Convicted of sleeping with an underage prostitute, it underscores the problems of successful men following their dick to their doom. Clubland is so full of these types. Lawrence loved the nightlife, and was frequently seen at hot spots around town where all were happy to see his big smile, and of course big bankroll. When I saw the news my mind flashed back to a night when he arrived at my joint, the Palace de Beaute, where the PetCo now sits in Union Square. He was with O.J. Simpson, and the two hit the bar upstairs hard. They were surrounded by admirers, including the dames. After getting them situated I went back to the door to tighten things up, as it was real good inside, and I didn’t want to blow the vibe with too many more people, and wanted only A-listers to get past the velvet rope. Three girls showed up asking for the football greats. They were hot, but decidedly suburban. I told them to wait as “I didn’t know if the guys were still here.” I walked up to the great players, who were now surrounded by female greatness, and asked if they wanted the suburban girls to be let in. They looked at the girls surrounding them, looked at each other and said “Nah’ at the same time and laughed. The suburban girls never got in, and the football giants eventually met their demise via other girls. I’ll let you write your own moral to my little story .