Miami nightlife baron Antonio Misuraca on recession-proof nightlife, club doormen as neurosurgeons, and revering both Bill Clinton and the Pope.
What is your weekly schedule? I am one of the local promoters here in South Beach. And the nights I do are as follows: Monday night at Bed’s “Secret Society,” which has been going for about seven years. It’s like an R&B and hip-hop party. Wednesday night at The Forge, which is like an international night and has been going for about 15 years; Thursday night at the Gansevoort roof deck, I do a party called “Plunge”; Friday night at Set, which is like a house music night. It has been going for about three years. My latest is “Vanity Night” at LIV in the Fontainebleau Hotel. We just launched that, and— to me— it’s a success.
What is your favorite night? My favorite night is Wednesday night at The Forge. It’s a great mixture of people. You have Europeans. You have high-net-worth people from around the world, and you have the society crowd from Miami— the locals, and a lot of younger people from colleges and universities in the area. So it’s a very eclectic group of people that enjoy it very much on Wednesday nights. We have a variety of music. We have house music. We play rock. We play hip-hop, and we play Latin music. It basically fulfills the need for every sort of age group and different group of people from different societies.
Where do you go when you’re not working? What I do when I’m not working is I usually go to Randazzo’s Little Italy in Coral Gables. It’s like a real homestyle Italian restaurant. The food is brought out in tremendous portions, and I enjoy it with friends. It’s a really laid back, casual spot. I don’t have to be Antonio Misuraca when I walk in there. I go in a T-shirt and blue jeans. I will kick back and enjoy a bottle of wine. I don’t have to entertain. I don’t have to deal with the lines and the aggravation of the nighttime spots in South Beach. And it’s the finest Italian food in Miami. I also spend a lot of time in the Standard Hotel. There’s a spa there. It’s a unisex spa. I will go do a sauna or steam bath and just relax on the hammam, on the hot rock, on the hot marble and just relax near the pool and have lunch.
Who are two of your industry icons? Michael Capponi, because he was the one who actually introduced me to the business, and I guess you could say I was sort of his protégé. Michael and I have had a friendship for 15 years now, and he’s one of the people who showed me the ropes and brought me to where I am today as far as making stuff happen. The other person is Shareef Malnik of The Forge, who is one of my best friends and mentors. He also did the same as Michael and showed me the ropes of promotion and marketing business and how to be a very great host to the wealthy around the world.
What are some positive trends that you’ve seen lately in the nightclub industry? The positive trends are that the nightclubs here in Miami have not really fallen into the hands of recession. What I mean by that is the ultra-rich, although they are affected by the recession — it’s nominal. If you have a guy that’s worth a billion dollars, and he loses $200 million, he’s still going to have $800 million to have his toys and go out enjoy fine wines, spirits, and some of the finest restaurants, hotels, and nightclubs in Miami Beach. So, when you’re dealing with people on the level that I deal with, the economy doesn’t affect them, which is a positive for being in the type of business I am and catering to the kind of people I do. You also have a lot of people who are enjoying the bar scene a lot more, because I guess they are trying to drown their sorrows. While our table service might be down, our bar service has really gone up.
What about negative trends? Well, the negative trends are the lack of customer service at some these entities. By that, I mean the aggression at the door, the non-cohesion of the staff, and the mannerisms of some doormen. Their demeanor is unacceptable. When people go out, they don’t want to be harassed. When I go on vacation, I want to be greeted with open arms. I want to be kissed on both cheeks when I walk in and hugged by the doorman if I’m going to be spending an absurd amount of money. Here is South Florida, you have doormen who act like they are brain surgeons, like they go into an operating room every day and save lives. However, their ego gets involved in the business and it’s a shame, because you have a lot of good people — quality people — that are willing to spend money and create good atmosphere in the venue, but because of the ignorance and the ego by some doormen, it makes it very challenging for these people to go out and have a good time.
What is something people might not know about you? What they might not know about me is that I’m very reserved, and I’m very much into my religion. I’m a devoted Roman Catholic. I go with my little bad boy crew. On Saturday night we’re chugging champagne and spending ten thousand dollars on bottles of Cristal between my friends and myself. But we’re up by 10:30 in the morning with bloodshot eyes and smelling like cigarettes, and by 11 o’clock we’re at St. Patrick’s no matter what. I will share a funny story with you that I shared with my good friend DJ Tiesto. My monsignor saw me one day nodding off during the service, and as he left the mass, he said to me, “Did you enjoy the service today, Antonio? You look a little out of it. Did you have a late night last night?” And so I said to him, “Father, to be quite honest, it was the music. I’m not used to this type of music.” And he laughed and said, “Don’t worry next week we’re going to book Tiesto for you.” So he put me on the floor with that one.
What’s coming up in ’09? I’m doing a big Rolls Royce party in Tampa the Friday night before the Super Bowl at a 40,000 square-foot home, and it will be invitation only. It’s hosted by Rolls Royce Motor Cars of North America and Budweiser Select and, basically, will have a quarter of the billionaires in the US attending, along with about 50 different models from the different agencies and probably 30 different celebrity friends of mine. It always goes off really well. We did one last year in Miami, and people were very pleased with it. It’s a very high-end event. Also, April 4th is my Bay Point School event (www.theblacksannualgala.com) at Canyon Ranch which is my main charity that helps juvenile delinquents learn how to survive in challenging environments and become productive citizens. I sit on the executive board for almost 10 years with Leah & Roy Black, and it is a black tie blow out. Few years ago we raised over $2.25 million in a single night with a super A-List crowd. Celebrities that have performed or attended include Barry Gibb, Alex Rodriguez, Pamela Anderson, Gloria & Emilio Estefan, Lennox Lewis, Bernard Hopkins, and Vince Neil— who got so drunk before his performance he fell off the stage.
Who is your favorite celebrity that frequents your parties that you’ve hung out with? Well, I will tell you, my favorite celebrity, believe it or not, is President Clinton. He is beyond an idol for me. What he has accomplished for this country, and what he has done with his global initiative — I revere him. And he is someone who is very near and dear to my family. Someone that I really care about. The only other person who I hold on the same celebrity level is Pope Benedict.