It just isn’t possible for every lounge act to become the next Lady Gaga, or every mixed tape MC to emerge as a Jay-Z. The desire to succeed as an entertainer may be rich, but unless you make it big time, the money is elusive.
There’s more to the entertainment and nightlife industry than being the one on stage. There’s a whole litany of small businesses that come together to make the bright lights and big city glitter and shine. To get some perspective, we spoke with Andy Boose, who once performed onstage as Rene Risqué, and is currently the owner of events company AAB Productions and restaurant business AAB Nightlife. He's managed to not only sustain, but also reap success in a volatile and emotional business.
The key to Boose’s success has been diversification. He’s always been a musician performing as the lead singer to the New York theatrical rock act Mommy. Meanwhile, he kept a day job connected to the industry. For a decade, Boose produced fundraising events for amfAR in the US and Europe before starting AAB Productions. Now he produces events for amfAR as a consultant in New York, Cannes, Milan, Dubai and Vienna, working with the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Gucci, Hugo Boss, Richard Gere Foundation, the Gap, The Weinstein Company, Fendi, Louis Vuitton, L'Wren Scott and more.
“After leaving amfAR, I started AAB Productions and expanded from fundraising events to fashion shows, film premieres, concerts, art exhibitions, large parties,” says Boose. “I basically targeted anything having to do with a party, fashion, music and film. Now I'm doing restaurants and bars, which are all very similar, actually.”
Boose recently opened the comfort food restaurant Interstate Food and Liquor in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. He also is a part owner in the Mexican restaurant Los Feliz and burger spot Spitzer’s Corner.
Combining the restaurant and entertainment industries together under the nightlife umbrella was natural for Boose as a performer.
“Events and restaurants are kind of like performances,” says Boose who doesn’t hide or broadcast his lounge act past. “I don't ever deny it, but I also don't usually bring it up. There is actually a lot of crossover between the world of Rene and the events world. I have never involved my personal performance in an event that I was hired to produce. I like to keep them somewhat separate."
Boose has a few rules for staying in the game: “Try to be nice,” he says. “Don't burn bridges, be open to things, and try new things.”
He attributes much of his success to not giving up on one passion to do another. “Open yourself up, and look for a niche. I always try to do something that no one else is doing, or do it in a different way."
When he decided to prioritize working more locally to be around his family, he was able to focus on new endeavors. “One of the reasons I got into the restaurant bar biz is because I live on the Lower East Side with my family,” he says. “I had been traveling all the time to China, the Middle East and through Europe. I decided I didn't want to do anything outside the US and Europe and focus on more local things.”
In the Lower East Side, the main industry is restaurants and bars. He joined forces with Rob Shamlian, a neighbor in his building and owner of restaurants and bars: Spitzer's Corner, Fat Baby and Spritzenhaus.
“We both have kids, and we decided to try to collaborate on a new restaurant/bar which became Los Feliz,” says Boose. “It was a huge learning experience, but I found it was much like events. So two years later I opened Interstate Food & Liquor on my own. It’s two blocks from my home and two blocks from AAB Productions.”
This year Boose’s biggest triumph was raising $10 million for amfAR in Cannes. It was a record high win for his production company and especially important because it was proof of a surviving company during the recession.
“I was able to start two new businesses during that time,” says Boose. “Entertainment is a good business in a recession, so long as it is reasonably priced.”
Image credit: Flickr