Pulling Back the Curtain

A look at New York City’s most current—and crucial—arts and culture entities.

Relapse Magazine

All photographs by Cole Barash

Gene Kogan - Director, Men, DNA Models

The fashion industry is known not only for clothes, but also the models that wear them. And behind any successful model is a thoughtful and talented agent—the facilitator of opportunity, the choreographer of career. And for Gene Kogan, Director of Men at DNA Models, that can be a creative process. “Every decision is based on creating an image—the kind of books you put out, the kind of models you take on, the overall vision of the agency,” explained Kogan, who oversees roughly 130 male models. “From minute details to change of direction requires a creative element.”

Kathy Grayson - Founder, The Hole Gallery

If you’ve ever been, then you’ve probably met the dog. His name is Bert. An energetic one-year-old, he doesn’t have a favorite room of The Hole, Kathy Grayson’s budding Bowery art gallery, in which to play fetch. He merely follows around his master, waiting for her to toss the ball. “Art should be as important a part of people’s lives as music or theater or fashion. It doesn’t need to be this rarified, sanctified little moselem of things that have been deemed important,” said Grayson, who left Deitch Projects in 2010 to start The Hole and whose ambition, above all, is to showcase art she feels will make a difference in New York. “Maybe galleries just need to go with artists that they love,” she said. “If they really love it, that passion will communicate to the collectors. Or the art itself will win over the collectors and then it can shape a trend instead of just following one.

Mina Soliman - Doorwoman, Up & Down Nightlcub

In New York, nightlife is a big deal. “I love being out and about. I was really drawn to the newness of everything that happens every single night—meeting new people and everything,” said Mina Soliman, doorwoman at Up & Down in Manhattan, who helped open the popular 2014 hotspot. “For me, it was being able to work at the door and stay in tune with what’s going on,” she said, reflecting both on her previous post at Boom Boom Room as well as Up & Down. “Sure, you have the upstairs doing one thing and downstairs doing another, but on the perfect night those two things merry and you kind of forget who you’re with because you’re just meeting new people,” she said. “And that’s what nightlife is about.

Casey Nicholaw - Theater Director and Choreographer

Casey Nicholaw recently lined the entire southside wall of his new Hell’s Kitchen studio in mirrors. It’s where he writes his dance numbers and holds rehearsal sessions for his clusters of plays. “It’s the storytelling of it—keeping the momentum of the show going through dance and just entertaining people,” Nicholaw said, who, in 2011, won a Tony Award alongside Trey Parker for co-directing Book of Mormon. “To see [a character] dance is such an expression that we don’t do in real life,” he added, beaming with enthusiasm. “We don’t sing and dance in real life, so to be able to carry that out in a character that the audience is rooting for is incredible.

Todd Patrick - Founder, Market Hotel

A pioneer in the underground music scene of New York City, Todd Patrick is almost done with renovations to Market Hotel, which will reopen this fall after four years of repairs and code-related upgrades. “The possibility of super underground, illegal venues is not what it is used to be,” said Patrick, who has been throwing concerts and opening venues in New York City since 2001, including legendary 285 Kent, which shut down in 2011. “I have a sense of obligation. I would probably regret it for the rest of my life if I didn’t open these types of spaces and do what I do,” he said. “Putting on shows is not hard. If you put your mind to it and have heart it in and have a taste level...you will find others that appreciate that. I do this because it is something that I believe in.

Joyann King - Digital Director, Harper's Bazaar

A formative figure in the solidification of Harper’s Bazaar online, Joyann King came to the 147-year-old fashion publication four years ago with big plans for its digital presence. “My outlook when I first came to Bazaar was to be experimental, but also respectful [to its heritage],” said King, who grew up in Texas and has been reading the magazine since she was young girl. “We definitely wanted to be a part of the conversation.” And their voice is being heard loud and clear. Their audience has risen from 1.5 million visitors per month to 5 million visitors per month in just the past year alone.

Nick Catchdubs - Co-founder, Fool's Gold Records

Spearheading the confluence of hip-hop and electronic music, Brooklyn’s Fool’s Gold Records stands as the leading tastemaker of genre-bending artists, founded by DJs and close friends A-Trak and Nick Catchdubs. “Fool’s Gold has been doing the same thing for seven years,” explained Catchdubs, who acts as A&R for the label, “which is basically releasing the music that our friends make and reflecting the artistic community that A-Trak and I are a part of.” And the overall purpose, too, stands unchanged: “We always wanted to be successful and we wanted to be smart and savvy about our business, but the goal is less about purely making a profit and more about capturing this art that is around us, for posterity—making products that we are proud of."

Tom Mylan - Founder, The Meat Hook

Tom Mylan has been covered in blood for the better part of seven years. The young king of Brooklyn butcherdom got his start in 2005 as a meat sourcer at Marlow & Sons and soon became, in 2007, their in-house butcher. “I either wanted to quit and do food writing or become a butcher,” he said. He took a six-week training course upstate to jump-start his new position, saying, “that [the course] was just enough information to make me dangerous.” He helped launch Marlow & Daughters in 2008 but left soon thereafter to open The Meat Hook in Williamsburg, which shares its space with Brooklyn Kitchen. His dream of writing about food, however, never died. “A book on butchering was always part of the plan,” he said. His new book, “The Meat Hook Meat Book” released in May under Artisan to glowing reviews. “I have a half-ass English degree, but writing has always come naturally for me, especially about food."