More More More (Than You Ever Wanted–or Cared–to Know) About Andy…Without Going Into Embarrassing Detail.
Above: Liz Torres* & Andy shortly after meeting at The Fridge, Cleveland, OH, 1990, where he was guest DJing (up from Cincinnati) before and after her live concert with Master C&J.
[imaginary “soundtrack” titles are inserted in brackets. Some links need to be updated since this was originally written in 2009.]
Disco Done It
In high school Andy discovered Disco [“Disco Nights” – GQ] but it wasn’t until the triptychal epiphany that was 1/3 Albert Goldman’s scriptural book Disco, 1/3 “A Night At Studio 54” (Casablanca) and 1/3 Interview magazine (back when Richard Bernstein did the covers), that he instinctively knew that Manhattan was where he was meant to be. [B52’s – “Planet Claire”] After struggling with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at Miami University of Ohio , he fled to Cincinnati where, after a brief department store stint in Men’s Fragrances (from which he was booted to the Siberia known as Sporting Goods), he became the manager of DJ shop, Culture 7 Records. There, he picked up DJing and was soon spinning special parties throughout the state requiring an authentic House DJ (rare outside of Chicago and New York at the time). It was at a gig in Cleveland that he met The Queen of House — Liz Torres — with whom he’s been friends ever since. Subsequent New Music Seminar visits to New York City (and clubs like The World , Sound Factory , The Choice ) only intensified his desire to move to New York.
It was also at Culture 7 that he hatched the fetid, fetish-oriented, Xerox-art hell that was the shop newsletter, featuring the aptly christened, “Da Shit.” Reading it became an industry-wide guilty pleasure and, scarily enough, eventually it landed him the position of editor/creative director of venerable trade magazine Dance Music Report (DMR). (The magazine was overhauled as the result of a new joint publishing deal between Tom Silverman and Vince Pellegrino, who hired Andy.) Within weeks he moved from Ohio to Hells’ Kitchen, and never, ever looked back — not even at his cat, Sweetness, yowling, vomiting and shitting up a storm in the back. .
D Mess R
.A few botched DMR covers (“who knew that Ultra Naté would print as a purple stone drag queen — I’m telling you, the original print was fierce!”), a little sparing with just about everyone even remotely involved with the magazine, a mess of open bars, numerous nasty nights at Limelight (“I think he’s up in the Helen Keller Room”), and as many ecstatically brilliant moments at Sound Factory (more punch, please) were the order of the day/night/whatever. The magazine rocked until Streetsound Magazine assimilated it — firing everyone except Andy who quit six months later.
He was then rescued from the clutches of self-unemployment hell by shining knight Gianni Ruberti, at the time, the General Manager of the New York office of Italian label, Irma Records. (FYI: Irma was named after a WWII madam in whose former establishment the label had their first office: Casa di Primordine.) He was hired to do retail sales, which he loathed, but endured due to the labels’ fabulous catalog (Soft House Company, Kekkotronics Ensemble, Don Carlos, etc.) [“Alone” – Don Carlos]— a catalog so fab that it inspired him to put together four lovely Irma Classics compilations that, though never released, clearly awakened his love for every aspect of album production. (He also wrote the liner notes to the first Don Carlos album.)
Claudja Barry’s Make-Up Table
From Irma it was off to Radikal Records after being snatched up by the label’s owner Jürgen Korduletsch, the producer of the first LP Andy ever bought, the Disco Circus album. [“Over And Over” – Disco Circus] (Andy had been a fan of the label’s innovative and aggressive licensing of European product since he interviewed Korduletsch for a regular DMR feature, “Executive Exposure.”) He went in on the ground floor — literally–starting off working in Jürgen’s basement with only a clipboard, a phone and Claudja Barry’s old make-up table. Acts like 2 Unlimited, Eve Gallagher (left), Rozalla, Gloria Gaynor, France Joli (rare Fire Island 1979 home movie), Dolce & Gabanna, The Porn Kings, Sunscreem, the very same Liz Torres (for whom he orchestrated and designed the “Set Urself Free” single cover) and many others of various dance genres followed. Five years later Radikal had become Popular, Andy had become General Manager and everyone was sittin’ pretty in the label’s fabulous full-floor Times Square office. Then, due to some critically unscrupulous activities on the part of their distribution liaison to BMG, the label folded, sadly disbursing a hysterically close-knit staff of maniacs throughout the industry.
Ooh, Work That Basement
While, er, “exploring other options” he heard Taana Gardner‘s comeback record, “I’m Comin'” on Jeannie Hopper’s influential Liquid Sound Lounge radio show. He called Jeannie up, begged a promo copy, and submitted a small feature to Dance Music Authority magazine. The review brought tears (literally) to the eyes of West End Records label owner Mel Cheren and, one day before New Year’s Eve 1998, he and label president, Kenton Nix called Andy up and offered him the position of General Manager of West End Records. At West End Andy burrowed/created a, er, unique office space in the basement of Mel Cheren’s Chelsea neighborhood bed & breakfast hotel, Colonial House Inn. Funky, yet functional (with a fan, a space heater and a little therapy), the office was the label was home for three and half years, until a changing of the guard made the dream that was Penetration, Inc. a necessary reality.
Fueled by the need to control the destiny of his career, call the shots, and the freedom to take on — and in some cases create — projects simply because he likes them he create Penetration, Inc. in the Fall of 2003. Though eyes may have rolled, the name was initially chosen for its literal meaning (“penetrating the media, market”) — as opposed to well, you know, what you were thinking.
Popular Publicity 2010 brought a new decade and with it a new name, Popular Publicity. With an eye toward a wider variety of projects and media, it felt right. While many–mostly longtime clients and friends–missed the cheeky punch of “Penetration, Inc.,” those who’d had more of a clutch-the-pearls reaction to the name, sighed in relief, put down the bottle, and happily stuck with Popular Publicity for their media needs.
A 2011 freelance project (Gay In America: Portraits by Scott Pasfield) lead to an inhouse position as VP Marketing at Random House-distributed independent publishing house, Welcome Books (sold to Rizzoli in 2014) from 2012 – 2014 where he handled publicity campaigns on all titles. Sadly, the position only lasted two years due to downsizing, so once again Andy is happily busy DBA Popular Publicity, representing a broad variety of clients. Go to the homepage to see the lastest lineup.