Jacob Stovall: Nightclub promoter or model pimp? An evening with an elite NYC club promoter as he brings his model angels out.
When you first look at them all you can think is that you’ve just entered ‘Rembrandt’s’ studio, full of ‘Raphaelite’ like models destined to forever embalm their image, their countenance, their cheek bones on your conscious and desires. When they dare to swivel, pout their cheeks or pop a ‘Marlboro’ between their lips you are suddenly made conscious that the ‘Times Square’ billboards that you pass by everyday are right here in front of you….but in so many ways beyond you.
These of course are Jacob Stovall’s angels. They are the young darlings, stewardesses, aspiring socialites, working models, Norwegian bohemians checking out a scene as much as you want in that scene. This is what Jacob knows and in so many ways plays into but not without deftness, chivalry, grace, integrity and infinite amount of debonair.
He is the courtier of beauty and the conductor that brings it to you, plants it in front of you and when it’s time to go, takes it away from you…. until the next outing.
SCV caught up with Jacob and his angels one recent evening as they dined and drank and ‘existed’ like pre- Raphaelite like models at ‘Buddha Bar’ and ‘1 OAK.’
It’s 10.40 p.m. and my photographer- Mark and I are running late, walking around in circles until we come across a small throng in front of a velvet rope abode called ‘Buddha Bar.’
Introducing ourselves under the weary eye of the doorman we are escorted inside to that part of the world where nubile beauties, plush ruby chairs and over flowing champagne exist.
Looking for Jacob our host, one of the hottest club promoters in the city (but what he’s really promoting is more than clubs as we shall soon find out…) I am told that he too is running late, stuck at some other engagement that requires his presence, his patronage and entourage. Nonplussed Mark and I cordially introduce us to Jacob’s partner, the equally debonair Ricky, who then begins to introduce us to the girls –
“This is the guy from the magazine who’s running a story on us.” he says.
Of course the girls barely flinch, and I glibly smile before delicately claiming a seat amongst the young darlings. Barely flinch but with the exposure of a self-effacing smile we are soon engaged in discussions of sort.
I begin to find to out as much as these girls are the perceived denizens of icons in our consumer world they are less pretentious than one would ordinarily perceive them to be.
“Look,” says the young Anna “We are just everyday girls who have feelings, lives no different from anyone else. In so many ways it’s an accident to be here. After all we are no one special.”
“Special enough that you are beautiful.”
“Define beauty for me. What does it mean? I don’t know? We are lucky, happy and having a good time.”
Nevertheless there is no illusion, these girls know they wouldn’t be here, the courted guests of an image starved, soaked and unsatiated world if it wasn’t for the way they looked.
Asked about this one of the girls’ replies;
“I just think it’s the way of the world, has been and probably always be. It’s human to want to be around beauty, to touch it, to see it, to feel it.”
SCV; “But don’t you think that sometimes we give it too much importance?”
“That’s neither here nor there, go somewhere else and you’ll find something that’s more valued than what’s valued here. The Vatican, do you think they care about the way you look? No, they care about how much you believe, your faith.”
Jacob Stovall finally arrives, and to see him walking in is to see a ball team one shy of a world series greeting their coach. He makes his way around the couch (by now there are 14 girls and there are at least another 3 or 4 still yet to arrive) giving each girl a warm embrace and a hug, an extra private minute of acknowledgement.
Jacob finally sees me and like the print model of Milan and Paris he used to be this young man walks the plank before embracing me as well;
“Wow, so glad to see you!”
It’s 11.05 p.m, and according to Jacob the night is still very young, young enough that we are still waiting for the team at Buddha bar to seat us in the epicenter where they will feed and dine Jacob and his guests to the glaring eye of a public a velvet couch away.
It’s an arrangement that Jacob, Ricky and Ryan (another partner who I will not meet that night) have come to finesse between themselves and the restaurant. Ricky who had once had worked in the financial sector on Wall st, had now been operating as a promoter for the last three years (as I would later find out he had other ventures too, such as guaranteeing entry into world wide exclusive venues for a yearly retainer) whilst Jacob had joined him just over a year ago now.
I later find out the real fees are earned at the clubs, which Jacob and his partner promote via their presence. It’s a perverse promotion in a sense, but the hottest one in town, whereby the crowds are encouraged to turn up to be lucky enough to be invited by the doormen to participate in their revelry. In the past, promotion smacked of inclusiveness but these days it revolves around exclusiveness and the gated court.
“I know what you’re thinking,” Jacob finally turns and looks me in the eye, “but these girls are my friends, we talk everyday on the phone, catch up for coffee, watch movies. It may all look like it’s a show, but it’s not, we really like hanging out with each other.”
SCV; But can’t one argue it’s all just an elaborate production, friends or not to give some place hype, a certain glorified feel that we’re all supposed to want in?
Jacob; Maybe, but who doesn’t enjoy glamour, seduction, the red curtains? We’ve been doing it for years, look at the glamour of the 1930’s, 40’s with Bette Davis, Joan Crawford. All that’s different is that we’ve moved it from movie premieres, Monte Carlo to the city.
Asked where he finds the girls he tells me, it’s all about networking, one of the girls will tell her girlfriend “Wow, we went to Marc Jacob’s after party, or a Hugo Boss opening etc and the next thing I know they’re asking me if they can bring their friends along too.”
Turning to a sprightly Britney (who originally hails from San Francisco) I ask her whether this somehow alarms her, being invited to a party on the basis of her looks.
Britney; After a while you forget about that, you become amazed by the wonderful people you get to meet. After all, I just got myself a p.r internship at a magazine company. See if you’re smart you don’t play into your looks, you play into your brains. Your looks only help in getting you in the front door, the rest is up to you.
SCV; Unless the front door is all you care about.
It’s 11.45 p.m. and we are now being finally seated for dinner not before the manager insists on checking i.d’s before serving alcohol. Until now you could’ve been forgiven for thinking you were dealing with high society, but watching management insist on checking i.d’s gives the evening a moment of sobriety, a moment that even if we are all living this very desirable life we are somehow a little too young or out of context to enjoy it. Such thoughts quickly pass though when the millionaire mojitos and cosmos finally make it to the table.
11.52 p.m. We have begun snacking on edamame and at is this point Mark, my photographer has been warned for the second time for taking pictures, resigned that he’ll have to wait for the girls to descend to the waiting limousine outside (an expense that Jacob and Ricky share between themselves) he puts away his roving ‘octopus’ to work on his mojito.
11.55 p.m. Having made sure his angels are enjoying himself Jacob now returns to sit next to me as we begin to dig into the sushi display.
SCV; So how did you get into promoting?
Jacob; I had moved back to Los Angeles and things weren’t working out there, so I came back to New York to further pursue my acting career and that’s when I came across Ricky, who convinced me I would be a natural.
SCV; So how would you describe what you do? After all there are some people who would take the view that what you do is an exercise in vanity, or at worse a glorified pimp.
Jacob; It’s not the way I see it at all. It’s like any other business, public relations event. See, these girls, they’re all my clients. I’m here to serve them, to make sure they have a good time, to take care of them, to take them to some of the hottest events where they sometimes meet the most wonderful people.
And maybe by turning up we make a place ‘hotter,’ have more people want to come by. But really I think we are living some dream, and it may look easy and glamorous, but that’s the trick. Just because you see an actor on TV and think yeah I can do that too, become my own movie star, you have to remember that there’s a lot going on, a lot of hustling, a lot of running around, and it’s not often really as glamorous or as easy as it looks.
SCV; When you say we are living some dream what do you mean?
Jacob Stovall; That indistinguishable thing that motivates us all.
SCV; ….what we sometimes mistake fantasy for reality.
Jacob Stovall; And reality for fantasy.
SCV; So in a way as much as the restaurants, clubs are all creating a performance you too are part of that performance.
Jacob Stovall; Yeah, in so many ways I’m a casting director, and these girls are the leads.
SCV; Leads that everyone is stumbling to see.
Jacob Stovall; Isn’t that the way Hollywood works?
It may not be Hollywood, but in some kind of surreal way everything has become an extension of Hollywood, the tabloids, the venues, the debutantes, the celebrities, the make up artists with their own reality shows and the ‘Copacabana’s’ and ‘Studio 54’ of yester year the parables.
12.02 p.m. Turning to the Swedish Rebecca sitting next to me I wonder out aloud;
SCV; If Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan weren’t so beautiful or celebrated would they be getting away with the hoopla that they do?
Rebecca; I think everything feeds each other, these girls know they are beautiful so they have found out along the way, because of their beauty that they can get away with things most people wouldn’t normally get away with. But also, the media, they come to them and dare them, ask them to behave this way, and yes they do it because they are in show business and in show business you always have to give a show.
I now notice Rebecca playing with her cell phone.
Rebecca; I’m always having people, club promoters texting me, inviting me to come to events. But I only come with Jacob. I like him very much, he really has the best parties but also for me I think he really looks after us and yes I think he cares about us.
Asked how she feels about being part of the scene Rebecca responds;
Rebecca; I come from a small town in Sweden, and for me this is very interesting, for us we don’t make such a big deal, a show. But I think if you want to go out and party and have fun you should, just maybe not to take it too seriously.
It’s 12.35 p.m. and the desserts have yet to be served, and it’s at this point that Ricky gets a little fidgety. After all they have to be at ‘1 OAK’ soon and if dessert has to be sacrificed then that’s what they’ll do.
The table starts to get a little wound up, and the girls, including me start with the pre occupation of texting the world over. Dessert and the bill finally resolved (although the meal is gratis Jacob and Ricky see to it that the servers are tipped well) we begin to make our descent to the waiting limousine outside to the short ride to ‘1 OAK.’ This is where it turns out to be where the real ‘acting’ comes into play and the audience ogling comes into full view.
12.48 p.m. and we are being led into a black cougar the size of a quarter block, isn’t life great when you can fit into that frock?
12.52 p.m. The sing a long starts in earnest; “Smack that ass,” the song goes over and over everybody laughing and singing to the hilariousness of it all. And for a moment we can all pretend we are super stars even all we are doing is traveling 4 blocks up the road, looking and feeling like the ‘Ginger Rogers’ of yester year.
1.03 a.m. If one wants to appreciate any sense of royalty one need only step out with Jacob and his angels onto the massive throngs already lining up to plead their case with the ‘uber’ doorman. It’s a staged entrance but a magnificent one. The oceans part back forty feet, and if you aren’t wearing sunglasses or designer attitude you’re likely to get a hang over before you even (hopefully) make it inside.
1.07 a.m. We are led to that part of stage where all the action is to take place, where all the dreams, drinks, cigarettes, revelry will be done in one whole big take. It’s a plush white felt enclave on the periphery of the dance floor, decked with disco lights, thumping house beats, silver ice buckets, orange and cranberry carafes, rocks glasses and ever replaceable Belvedere and Grey Goose bottles.
1.21a.m. We are more than three quarters through the first Belvedere bottle and there is no respite, the cigarettes are gently flowing and the ‘hanger ons’ are suddenly making their way over. The girls are thumping their designer pouts, pumping the air with their fists and there’s Jacob cool as a cat, standing there, anticipating it all, somewhere there but in so many ways so far away, his eyes rehearsing the second act climax. As much as it’s our show, in so many ways it’s his show, his very brilliant show.
1.45 a.m. We’re way into the second bottle and there’s Britney Spears courtesy of ‘Doug Grayson,’ seasoned maestro of sound effects and crowd spontaneity.
1.46 a.m. And the lyrics go; “Gimme, – you ‘wanna’ piece of me…” gimme, ohhh
1.51 a.m. I notice a distinct smell of cigarillos. What’s that I ask? ‘Black,’ replies one of Jacob’s angels. “Fifteen dollars a pack,” she coolly replies. “Why not,” I think, “ If you’re flying in heaven, you might as well smoke what they smoke in heaven…uber heaven that is.”
2.07 a.m. He’s still there but not really, running around making sure his angels are enjoying their heavenly experience, motioning to his partner Ricky (who has just returned with a new string of beauties from Marquee), making sure everything that the girls are feeling good, making sure I’m feeling good.
Jacob Stovall; What do you think?
I nod my head, Mark once again being harassed as he spins his octopus into the void, clicking and shutting, clicking and enrapturing.
Matthew, another big cat in the scene then clinks glasses with me;
“Jacob,” he says, “he’s really one of a kind, a rare kind. Those that don’t change for the world last in the world, you get me.”
2.11 a.m. Then it’s Bob Sinclair’s turn; the French dj over the loudspeaker;
“Feel the love generation, yeah, feel the love generation, c’mon, c’mon,” chorus in double play, the angels in synthetic video play, the audience beyond foreplay, Jacob in minor ecstasy……
SCV; What’s it all about Jacob? I finally ask.
Jacob; It’s about bringing joy to people.
The sweat beads beginning to form around the angels are beginning to resemble gold glitter and we are moving into the ardent finale. The text phones are flying, the promoters are finally smiling, the crowd booming, the Belvedere and Grey Gooses, still a’ coming.
3.01 a.m. As I look around me I begin to wonder what the scene is all about, the stage play grinding into heightened photo fantasy, the music stellar discography, the girls, the girls and the men and women beginning to sway in unison to them. What’s it all about?
Where am I? Three quarters of the city is asleep, tossing and turning in fear of repossessions and here I am with the vanquished and beautiful celebrating a life that at some point most of us have wanted or were once part of. How did this come to be and why couldn’t we put it away?
3.39 a.m. Jacob Stovall finally reaches over to me, embraces me and tells me it’s finally time for him to leave, and as I watch him saunter out with flock I realize that like all stage plays, heroes, archetypes, we will always be drawn to that which inspires us, transposes us and glorifies us, if not directly at least by proximity.
Jacob finally gone, I reach over to something stuck at the bottom of my shoe and realize it’s the empty box of ‘Black.’