Actors Playhouse Nightclub Opens & Disappoints

I was invited to the Saturday night opening of Actors Playhouse, a club in what used to be the Actors Playhouse Theatre, 100 7th Ave. South right off of Christopher St. I had first seen the space  a couple of years ago when James Huddleston was considering it. James was hot off being the doorman of hotspot The Jane Hotel when the hip crowd couldn’t get enough of that space. For all the usual reasons, things didn’t pan out, and James found his gold over at Pravda. The Actors space he showed me was ancient wood, and had antique mirrors and a dressing room maze where people could easily get lost and then deliciously  found. At the time I thought it might be a winner. But a new crew has taken over the joint and they’ve paid no mind to the natural beauty of the room, opting to gut it and slick it out. It doesn’t work on any level.

I was told by attendee Joe "Viagra" Vicari that it was designed by Bluarch, which did Greenhouse and Juliet Supper Club. I didn’t much like either of those, but Greenhouse was affective. Juliet looked worn out way too soon. Anyway, design-wise Actors Playhouse looks like a cheap version of those. The biggest design crime was not embracing the assets the space offered; now it’s cold and lit up like a Coney Island attraction, and the flow is just awful. I could go on and on but my mother told me at dinner last night while we were discussing an entirely different matter that if you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything. So I’m not going to say anything.

I will say that Joe Vicari and I have buried the hatchet after many years of wanting to hit each other with one.

Word comes that Matt Levine has grabbed the old Florent space in the Meatpacking. Florent was the in-place for the in-crowd, when they were still butchering cows where high-end clubs, restaurants, and boutiques now flourish.  Back before all that, it was the scenes last stop or – gasp – if you were real in and desperate you might get a bit of vodka in your coffee at 6am. Every ho, bro, and club employee would head there after all the chores were done for a good meal. Tables  werethisclose, and spying on the celeb and his date –  who were almost in your lap – became an art form. It was grand.

Nothing has worked in the space since Florent closed. Matt will come up with something. I have been told by a guy who should know that Matt snatched up the failed Merkato 55 space as well. Everyone in town is pushing and shoving to get an inch in the Meatpacking, and Matt lands two. He either is the wiliest of operators or paid too much. A combination of both is probably close to the truth, but then again what is too much for the area which has more foot traffic than anywhere, save Times, Herald, or Union Square. The Meatpacking District might soon be named the Cheesepacking District, but there still are outposts of elegance to entertain even a jaded old codger like me.

BlackBook Tracks #5: Vive La Fête

Now that you’ve recovered from your Fourth of July celebrations, let’s talk about how tomorrow is Bastille Day. France totally puts America to shame when it comes to partying for the sake of national pride, so it’s time to do it all over again. Here are some coups de Coeur for la fête nationale.

Pravda – “Je Suis French”

The name of the song explains everything in this electro-punk take on national identity.

 

Phoenix – “Napoleon Says”

An old but good one from what the rest of the world sees as the reigning kings of French rock. They’re due for a follow-up to the hugely acclaimed 2009 album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, but the back catalogue is always worth revisiting.

 

Housse de Racket – “TGV”

This Parisian electro-rock duo alternates between French and English lyrics, and this highlight from sophomore album Alésia sees them embracing their mother tongue. They’re also known for incorporating “La Marseillaise” into their live show.

 

The Aikiu – “Pieces of Gold”

This song has gone viral recently, thanks to a music video featuring porn made SFW. The bright and breezy track also deserves it on its own merit.

 

Yuksek – “The Edge”

France’s best-kept secret is Yuksek, electro-pop artist extraordinaire. His latest single “The Edge,” released this week, exemplifies his brand of dance music for both head and hips.

 

We Are Knights – “Tears”

Under chilled-out production and hazy vocals, the beat keeps this song as assertive or laid-back as you want to hear it.

 

Yelle – “Mon Pays”

Despite singing strictly in French, Yelle have always had a healthy audience in America. Even if you can’t understand what Julie Budet is singing about, her tone effortlessly communicates everything against a background of glittering synths.

 

Anoraak – “Long Hot Summer Night”

This song sounds exactly like its title, all lingering warmth and hints of romance.

 

Justice – “New Lands”

The latest single from the irreverent Parisians was just graced with one of the best music videos of the year so far, if you’re into futuristic sports.

 

Make The Girl Dance – “Tchiki Tchiki Tchiki”

The trouble-making dance production duo takes on surf-rock and it totally works.

 

Joe Dassin – “Les Champs Elysées”

Pourquoi pas?

Striking Up Friendships

A working weekend kept me hot, bothered, and a little short on steam. But I was able to attend the Carrera Sunglasses party on the fabulous roof at 505 West 37th Street. The roof—some 40 stories over the Javits Center, train yards, and the Port Authority Bus complex—is so high that it made those places seem romantic. A pal asked me what that place across the Hudson River was, and I replied “America.” New York did seem far away from America this week, with the World Cup bringing so many accented tourists to the haunts I hang in. The Carrera event had a slew of downtown types who followed GoldBar honcho John Lennon and downtown PR flack Dana Dynamite uptown. I chatted up a very nice Whitney Port, who I was told is in that show The City. Watermelon, cold cans of Café Bustelo, and clear views of places I rarely want to see up close kept me happy for hours. I visited an apartment downstairs where they hid the swag, and I was told that the one bedroom with those views goes for $2200 a month. Almost cheap enough to forget the $15 cab fare to anyplace I’d like to be. Still, I think there will lots of fabulous events at this sweet spot.

An expensive yellow limo returned me to downtown where I belong, at the behest of Fuse Gallery/Lit bigwig Erik Foss. I attended the art opening The Hole Presents Not Quite Open for Business, “A conceptual group show of unfinished art, unfinished poems and unfinished symphonies.” When Jeffrey Deitch split to be the director of MOCA in L.A., it left the presenters confused as to what to do next. Some funding problems and an artist not quite ready to show was turned into a positive thing, as artists were asked to show their work in the stage it was in, a caught-with-your-pant-down approach to curating. The result is a fun, thought provoking, and unpretentious good time. I joined Erik Foss over at Lucky Strike and watched him have a snack. Erik is just back from Mexico City where he brought his Draw show. I hadn’t been to Lucky Strike in a long time. A friend of mine who used to work there was killed in his apartment many years ago, and it stirred up bad memories.

Mike “Seal” used to be my head of security over at Life, and his untimely death under mysterious circumstances made me wonder. When you go out to eat or play, you don’t necessarily need to be reminded of sad things. Lucky Strike wowed them back in 1989 when it first opened. Like all Keith McNally joints, it has an energizer bunny type of energy and the basic bones to last forever. The service, the staff, the design, and the fare are timeless and I felt good to be back. I still visit Pravda, Odeon, Pastis, and Balthazar from time to time, and his other entries Minetta Tavern, Morandi, and Schillers are magnificent machines. I am currently building in his old Nells space, trying to create something worthy of its lore. Pulino’s opened in my hood a little bit ago and although it wasn’t reviewed well by one prominent critic, the crowds have voted it a winner.

I will be DJing at the other Lucky Strike, the bowling alley and lounge on far West 42nd Street. The occasion is the birthday bash for Noel Ashman, who was at one point the operator of the Nells space when it was Plumm and NA. The invite reads “National Academy of Television, Arts and Scienes… Emmy Awards along with…” And it goes on to list Chris Noth, Patrick McMullan, Damon Dash, and a slew of others. Grandmaster Flash, Jamie Biden, Ethan Browne, and DJ Reach will join me on the wheels of steel. In the left corner is the logo for adult entertainment company Wicked. There’s hosts like Richie Romero, Brandon Marcel and Matt de Matt listed as well. Every time I write about Noel, a slew of haters come out of their holes and hovels to spew dirt. I am always asked why do I write about him. Noel has made a ton of omelets over the years and I guess in the process has broken his share of eggs. I personally have never had a bad experience with him and the naysayers are always of the suspicious variety. The diversity of the people on this invite and the crowds that will attend speak well of him. I am always asked why do I write about him. The answer is short and sweet. He’s my friend.

Camille Becerra’s Moveable Feast

They’re calling it The Hunger, but the friends, family and press that showed up at Grotta Azzurra restaurant last night knew nothing about skipping a meal. The Hunger is a moveable feast that’s parked itself at Grotta for the next few days. Top chef alumni and dearest friend Camille Becerra has teamed up with Sky Group’s Alan Philips and Josh Shames and her unusual suspects including Erickson and Eli to dazzle us with this “pop-up” restaurant concept. Camille has taken over the kitchen and basement dining room located eight feet from the door of Goldbar. The Hunger team plans to move this event to various restaurants in coming weeks.

A press-heavy crowd representing Urban Daddy, Downtown Diaries, Paper magazine, Grub Street, The New York Post and Gothamist were on hand for good conversation and free food. The Voice’s Michael Musto chatted up my lovely lady friend, and there were way too many smiles and laughs for it to be a pleasant conversation. Top Chef guru Tom Colicchio was on-hand as was warring waitron Tarale Wulff and Double Seven/Lotus/ Los Dados/Union Bar mogul David Rabin. Call me fickle (or maybe I was a little pickled), but I had a real positive interaction with old friend-turned-enemy-then-back-to-friend (I hope), Todd English. I used to really love Todd and it was great to put the silly hate behind us. The food was great, the crowd interesting and chatty, and my only criticism is the place itself. The basement dining room has brick, stone and ceramic tiled walls, hard floors and low ceilings. The result is a cacophony of music and talking that had you leaning in to hear what your neighbor was saying. As a designer, sound in a dining room must be a consideration. They must soften the surfaces here with either curtains or padding or people will never enjoy the experience.

Word comes that Collective Hardware, that art gallery/performance space/hotbed of downtown culture has been shuttered. I spoke briefly with co-operator Stuart Braunstein, who was in the midst of shooting his movie who confirmed this tragedy. He was not depressed over what probably was an inevitable occurrence and told me they have “things” in the works. I’ll find out more when he wakes up today. With my two favorite haunts La Esquina down for the count and now Collective …moving to BK seems like a plan for this man.

My man Travis Bass is hosting dinner tonight @ Pravda (9pm). From 11pm to 4am is ‘Skuze-Moi’ Soiree, hosted by Travis and Simonez Wolf. Travis’ dinner parties at White Slab last year were legendary fun. I highly recommend befriending my man.

Last night, after dinner I was off to subMercer to spin my unusual concoction of ‘A’ sides, ‘B’ sides, and ‘CU later’ sides to an adoring public. A couple of Belgian tourists air guitaring to Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child” was my highlight. I shall return tonight at the request (demand) of sub’s Gabby Meija. Says Lady Gabby:

“Basically, tonight we’ll be doing something totally fresh, electrifying and fun! We’re bringing back some theatricality and a lot of whimsy to nightlife by transforming subMercer, for one night, into a glow-in-the-dark fun house. We’ll be hosting knitwear line Krel Wear’s DiscGlo fashion show and party. Miami-based designer, Karelle Levy, is a textile artist and knits designer who experimented and spun an entire collection out of glow-in-the-dark threads. She has now hosted a series of unconventional and interactive fashion shows and parties with this line, in which the models interact, dance, and party with the audience. She has successfully thrown such events in Basel, Switzerland for Art Basel, NYC and the Hamptons, Miami and most recently in LA. It is also her birthday party, so it’s going to be especially wild. Citizen Kane and Camp Gabby (that’s me!) will be DJing and playing disco, funk, soul and house gems all night. Doors open at 10pm and the show will start at 11pm, so we advise you get there early, as seating will be limited.”

Good Night Mr. Lewis: Lesly Bernard, Yakitori, and the Penguin Joke

imageLesly Bernard (see part one of interview) and I once opened a place called Peace down on Bleecker Street. There were a few investors, and we didn’t see any money, as it was short-lived. The whole buildout cost about fifty grand. Hell — I think we painted vinyl furniture we found on the street. Walter Vee was our DJ, and he promoted a little too — and as my old pal Arthur would say, “It was a hit!” Everybody came, and in its brief run, it was the best joint in town. As I said, it didn’t last long. I think the landlord had other plans for the space, but what we did impressed him, so later on he hired me to run the new club he built in that space. It was called Life, but anyway, back to Peace. I came in late one Saturday night as I still had obligations over at the Palladium, and Walter Vee introduced me to a pretty blonde gal at the bar. He asked me to tell her my famous penguin joke, and so I did. The small crowd lost it at the punchline, and she begged me to tell it again to her boyfriend John. I agreed, and John was brought over, and I started to tell my joke, but after the second or third line I realized that John was John John Kennedy, and the pretty blonde gal was Darryl Hannah, and I became a babbling idiot.

Even a guy who hung regularly with uber-celebs was stunned by the kid I saw saluting the coffin of his father. A few weeks later I noticed the couple waiting on line with the crowd at coat check at the Palladium. I checked their coats for them (the only coats I’ve ever checked). They thanked me quietly — either they didn’t recognize me or were maybe afraid I’d tell another joke. If you see me around. ask me. and I’ll tell you the world-famous penguin joke … or not. Meanwhile, back to my interview with Lesley Bernard.

You made a transition. You were this great promoter — my right hand at Palladium. Do you consider yourself a promoter now? I call myself a producer.

And you decided to get into restaurants. Was it an age thing? I decided I didn’t want to promote anymore. I was tired; it was a combination of that and the lack of creativity that I could put into it.

Thursday is my favorite night, and you’ve always had a lot of success with that night. What does Thursday mean? Why Thursday? Actually, in those days I was doing a party almost every night, but Thursday was the anchor. On Thursday night in those days, people went out; people went out every night of the week, but Thursday was the hottest night because anyone who was worth their salt was probably doing something entrepreneurial. In those days, the guys that filled the clubs were the artists, writers, and photographers; it wasn’t the yuppies that clubs are full of now. So on Friday they weren’t working. You were your own boss; nobody was looking over your shoulder, so Friday if you went in hungover, who gave a shit?

So one day you woke up and nightclubs weren’t filling you anymore, so you decided to be a restaurateur? I didn’t know what I was going to do.

So how you became a restaurateur? I stopped doing promotions and nightclubs, which was my second life. My first life had been finance, after I graduated from Georgetown, then I did the whole promotions thing. After awhile, I realized that I didn’t want to promote anymore, and I didn’t want to go back to banking, so I lived in San Francisco for awhile until I got a call from one of my idols, Keith McNally. He said, “Hey Lesly, I’m opening up a couple of places and I’d love for you to come back and do them for me.” So I came back, and he had just signed the lease for Pravda, and he was thinking about signing the lease on Balthazar.

You made Pravda hot. Yeah, Pravda’s still running, and Clementine ran for seven years. The places that I do stick around, they don’t disappear. Clementine was sort of a knee-jerk reaction to all the French bistros; there’s more French bistros here than in all of Paris. As a Haitian guy I love Americana — it’s so sexy to me — so Clementine was my homage to Americana. This is what I love now, maybe because I’m older, but sometimes I don’t want to be in a restaurant — most of my place are not restaurants, they are places with great food, great service, great ambiance, but they’re not restaurants.

So your work with Keith led you to open your own places? Yes, I came back and worked with Keith, and he’s a genius. I can talk to him for ten minutes on the phone, and I’m going to learn something for nine of those minutes. When he’s snoring, I’m taking notes! I learned so much from him, and after I worked with him, I decided that I could do this — I couldn’t do Keith, but I could do Lesly Bernard. So now I have Tillman’s and Mr. Jones, and I’m opening up three more places in New York. The Village Tart will open in about four weeks on Mulberry, and it’s going to be an adult desert café lounge: frozen yogurt, gelatos, great savory tarts, and other deserts. Then Premier Brunch will be on First Avenue later on.

Tell me about Tillman’s. Tillman’s is a sort of slice as Harlem; it’s my love of Americana, and what’s more American than Harlem or jazz? What I love about the Black-American culture is the richness and the soul. Its sort of gotten usurped by the T.I.’s and that whole crowd, but there’s so much more to it. I wanted to build this soulful little piece of Harlem, and as a result, when you come to Tillman’s, you’re going to see a crowd that you don’t see in New York anymore; a real mix. Even on Mondays, I have cool, funky, live music playing.

I have this theory that places don’t get tired; I think that the energies of the people who run them get tired. I think that a place can run forever. The new guys, they don’t know what work is. They think work is to surround themselves with girls and sit at a table. You will never catch me doing that. You’ll never catch me in my restaurant sitting down. I’m always working, and I tell this to my staff also — it’s a service industry, whether it’s a nightclub or a restaurant. They’re the waiters, but I’m the headwaiter. I’m there to cater to my clientele, so you’ll never see me sitting down with a bottle like a big shot. I have to make sure that my guests are taken care of … I’m just a glorified waiter, and that’s what’s lost in our industry now. Take bottle service for example — the one thing wrong with bottle service is that there’s no service. They slap the thing down, and then they walk away.

The not-so-great model drops the bottle, and that’s called service. And then they want 20 percent tip!

So I’m having dinner with you here at Mr. Jones, and I love the food. Can you explain what it is? I’m proud of this place. The funny thing is that in Japan, yakitori is very commonplace; it’s on every street corner; but in New York, most people only know sushi. In Japan, yakitori is street food, and I fell in love with it. The thing about yakitori is that the Japanese love their cocktails, so it’s basically drinking food. They have these light portions so they can drink more.

And you have two of the best bartenders in the city. They’re the sickest guys in New York. When I built Pravda with Keith, originally it was going to be a vodka bar, but I pushed for this cocktail thing. At the time, in downtown New York, in any club you went to, the fight was whether you were going to have an Absolut and tonic or a Stoli and tonic. That’s what people drank, but I thought we needed something softer, more feminine, because I was always more about the ladies. So I started doing cocktails at Pravda with Keith, and when I opened up Clemetine I created a whole other slew of cocktails: sidecars, mojitos etc. I sort of made mojito a word in Manhattan. If you look at old articles about Clementine, they would say, “They served this Cuban drink called mojito.” Pravda and Clementine spearheaded the whole downtown cocktail culture.

Industry Insiders: Unik Ernest, Nightlife Philanthropist

Unik Ernest, owner of Merkato 55 and Bijoux, blazes the path from Haiti to South Beach to New York nightlife don, stays grounded in a world where champagne bottles could feed entire villages back home, and dishes on his hot Art Basel party and the star-studded Inauguration Day event he’s cooking up in Washington DC.

What are some other places you like to hang out at in New York? Cipriani Upstairs, I like to go there. Sometimes I go to Pravda, because I live next door. I like to go to the gym. If I’m not working out then I’m listening to music. Or I’ll travel to Paris, to Hotel Costes, Plaza Athenee. I go to Barcelona a lot, but mostly I just like to walk around and not go out that much when I’m there.

What are some other places you like in the rest of the world? I like Brazil. I like Argentina. I stay at the Faena Hotel in Buenos Aires. I love London. I enjoy the south of France, from Cannes all the way to St. Tropez. Sometimes I’ll drive from Monaco to Milan. So pretty much that’s it.

Do you do events and parties all around the world? Definitely. In Paris we did a Diesel a party a few years ago. I just did a party for Ungaro this past Fashion Week. Sundance we’ve done events. We did a party for Lionel Richie in London after his concert. I took my friends out [after the concert] to a friend’s home, and it was like 100 people, really nice. I did a party in Cannes for the premiere of Ocean’s 13. A party for Denise Rich in St. Tropez on a boat. I did a beautiful party for aSmallWorld in St. Tropez at somebody’s house, right next to Club 55. I’m going to Miami for Art Basel [this week]. I have a party there, and David Bowie and Naomi Campbell will be showing up for that. And I’m doing the election party in DC on Inauguration Day.

Tell me more about the Washington DC event you are organizing. As we all know, this is the most historic event in America in many, many years. An African-American guy in the White House is incredible. I’m putting a committee together with will.I.am, John Legend, Spike Lee, Usher — many people will be involved in the event, and it’s going to be very VIP. It’s going to be two nights, the night before Martin Luther King Day and then on Inauguration Day, a closing party to celebrate the inauguration of our new president.

Are you inviting Obama? Well, I am working with a lot of people in his camp, but I’m pretty sure he’s going to be busy! Then again it’s going to be something really meaningful. So we’re going to do something like New York invades DC, tastemaker-meets-celebrities-meets-politician party. It would be great to have Obama there, but I doubt it. I’m being realistic. He’s the President. He could have come to my party two years ago more easily I think!

Where did you get your start? South Beach, Miami. For four years I was a bar back, and when I would finish working, I’d go out almost every night in South Beach. So one of the club owners, whose partner was Mickey Rourke, asked me and my friend Dimitri [Hyacinthe] if we wanted to do the Wednesday night party. And I didn’t have any idea about promotion — I used to just go party. So next thing I know, we were doing the party, and the party was packed. What I did was I took to the street and just told everyone to come to my party, and it worked.

Yeah, pre-text messages. Old school. Yeah I didn’t have a fax machine, I didn’t have any technology, it was pure hustle. It was based on if people liked your personality or they liked your energy, and they just show up. And it worked. We did the party for like a year and a half, two years, and at one point I said to myself, “What am I doing in Miami?” Every day you wake up, go to the beach, and then you do the parties, but there’s nothing to show for it — there’s no career, there’s no tomorrow. So I said, you know, I’m gonna go to New York. I always had this thing for New York. It’s the place to be. So I said, you know what, let me give this a shot.

So my boy — who’s a big talker, used to be a promoter at Nell’s and Supper Club [in New York] — and he said, “I’m running shit in New York. If you guys wanna come, I’m gonna put you up, and I’m gonna put you under my umbrella.” So basically when we came here, because we were from Miami, we were already kind of ready, because of the way it works with the model scene. The season [in Miami] is over in like April or May, then everyone clears out. By the time we came to New York, everyone had already come here. So when we were getting on the street, we would come up with the most beautiful girls. We had our first New York party in June. By September, we had a big party going at Tilt on Varrick Street, where Culture Club is now. We had Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes. And eventually we had [the Wednesday night party at] Serafina in 1999/2000.

You guys owned Lafayette Street. Exactly. It was a dead street besides Indochine. I was already doing a massive party at Chaos on Wednesday night, and my business model was Bowery Bar, so I went to Serafina restaurant [on Lafayette Street] and decided to do dinner in the front and take the back room and turn it into a lounge. We did that for two years, and it was the most successful party seen to this day in New York. That party pretty much gave us the recognition that we needed to move to ownership. Even back then, Serafina wanted us to be partners with them, but we weren’t too sure. Then we got the offer from my previous partner at PM. He told us he had this space in the Meatpacking District, so why don’t you guys come in and be partners and we’ll help raise the money and we’ll help do the concept together. PM lasted for like five years. And when our lease was almost up, we got a good offer to get out, so we sold the lease, and kept the name if we ever want to do PM again. That’s what happened, then afterward we move to Merkato 55.

How did you get involved over here? The landlord always liked us. When the previous place was open, they weren’t doing good business. And the owner asked Aramis, our door guy, if we wanted to take over the place. Since we had to sell PM, we had to do something right away. Basically we came in, and we were looking for people to partner up with, and thinking about what kind of scene would be good for this place, what kind of concept we could do here that would be different, so we came up with the idea for African.

How did you get in touch with Aquavit chef Marcus Samuelsson? Marcus was looking at this place too at the same time as us. But Marcus didn’t have money to put into this place, so we brought Marcus in as a consultant. He gave us the concept. So we went ahead and did this place. It is challenge to do something at this time, of the year especially with the economy. We’ve been getting a lot of good response, people calling from all over the world to see us here. So we’ve got a great lounge downstairs [Bijoux], and we use it for events, and also for people to come and relax. It’s been good.

You have the rights to PM? Are you gonna try to do it somewhere else? Yeah it’s been less than a year since PM has been closed. We have another space that we own, and we may take PM there.

Who are some people that you admire in this industry? I love the guys at Serafina. I love what they have accomplished and their brand. Paola Pedrignani who was gutsy to take Amaranth over to the Upper East Side. Of course you have the old school guy like Ian Schrager. Anybody in this business wants to become like that guy. He set the bar so high, so if you eventually want to become a hotelier or own a resort, you definitely have to look at the blueprint he’s laid out for all of us.

Is that a career path you see yourself going on? I love my business, to be honest. Sometimes you get tired, because you have to work at night and during the daytime. Anybody who has to work at night has to work during the daytime. You have to entertain people. I wake up early in the morning to make sure everything is prepared for the day. In the afternoon, I have lunch meetings, book events, preparing for like two or three months from now. And at night, people want to see you. My friends are like lawyers, doctors, they have a tough day at work, they want to let off steam out. So I have to see them, which means I have to be there at night. I stay till like 4 a.m., but sometimes I sneak out at like 2. But that can take a toll on you. You can call me 24 hours a day. If I can’t talk to you, I just won’t pick it up, but you never know who is going to call. I know sometimes you have to make time for yourself and your family. But if you choose to be in this business, you are married to it. The good thing about me is I don’t drink and I don’t do drugs. But if you are on this schedule everyday, it doesn’t matter if you drink or not, it’s still tough.

Is being sober a big advantage? Oh yeah, 100%. I’m sure there are some people who are smart, they can drink, do drugs, then drink coffee and they are still good at what they do. But I feel if you have a clear mind, your thoughts are more together. But besides doing nightlife, I have a charity, so that gives me perspective.

Tell me more about that. I took a school in my country [Haiti]. There’s 172 kids to be exact, and we give them a meal every day, as well as all the materials they need for school, including uniforms. The organization has been around for one year, and it’s called Edeyo. It means “I will help them” in Creole. So we have two big events coming up, an art exhibit by the kids, to enjoy some of their beautiful art. We have some photographers and other artists giving us some beautiful pieces. So we’re doing that here on December 9. And also in January, we are doing a big event on January 8 with Milk Studios, with Nigel Barker, who went with me to Haiti and we took pictures. I came from Haiti to America to having this good life to throwing all these parties and all these dinners. If you come from my background, forget about anything else, you have food and a roof over your head and anything else is just icing on the cake. There’s people right now, all over, that don’t even have anything to eat. I always tell people I’m not doing this thing to get recognition, I’m not doing it for gratification. I’m doing it because I came from that situation. I’m the guy that’s lucky.

Known Associates: If someone knows me, they know I am a solo guy. So whenever I can take time out by myself I gotta do it. But the people I do business with are Francois who is a guy I met in Miami, and he came to New York to start working for me. My brother Kyky [Conille] who is my partner. Dimitri Hyacinthe, my partner. Michael Pradieu is the co-founder of the foundation. Those are my core guys.

What are you doing tonight? I’m going to cook at home. I love to cook. I’m making rice and beans probably like with veggies. I love to eat out, but when you have your own place you have to eat food you cook yourself. Just to get ready for the night you have to cook at home. So I’ll do that and then come to Merkato 55 to work.