Richie Akiva at his 46th birthday party.
Photo: Jocko Graves
“Kristen Stewart is coming,” a leather-clad publicist whispers to Richie Akiva. It was around 9 p.m. on a Saturday night at the Ned, a new private club and hotel in Nomad, where Akiva, 46, was hired and has been part of the bottle-fed, model-packed nightlife of Manhattan since the late 1990s. Face. Akiva knows a lot of beautiful and famous people, and he’s sure to get them here. Sure, an hour later, there’s Stuart in the candlelit shade of a rooftop dome, smoking cigarettes and talking to pretty little liars Actress Ashley Benson for her age twilight co-stars. “Anything you need, let me know,” Akiva said to Stewart. She replied, “Thank you very much for everything, Richie.”
Akiva has been a professional superstar in human publishing and an influential cowboy for decades now. This magazine put him and his adventurous friends on the cover in 1998 under the headline “Makes Moves, Blow Up, Get Paid” and wrote about them cruising around the club with the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, JLo, Mariah Carey, Mark Wahlberg, and Mark Ronson. Over the years, Akiva has thrown birthday parties for Rihanna and Naomi Campbell, hosted the illustrious Met Gala, and hosted international parties for jet-setters everywhere from Southampton and Miami to Monaco and the Maldives. He owned Up & Down, Darby, and, in particular, 1Oak, a meatpacking mainstay. But the pandemic did them all. Now, Little Ritchie is trying to bypass the nightclub’s VIP section and re-emerge in this new era by taking advantage of what’s trendy: members-only clubs. He definitely looks more mature.
“We worked hard to get me out of the nightclub personality. For many years, I was The king of nightclubsAnd the Impressario nightclubAnd the Nightclub Emperor. Nightclub, nightclub, nightclub, he told me. “I am a hotel owner now. I am sophisticated. Never mind the fact that he’s still recovering from “exploitation” in the box last night. The Ned, in the former NoMad Hotel, is the first American outpost of something that started at the members’ club in London in 2017, It is owned by the same public company as Soho House (they have plans to open another NID in Doha later this year and inside the New York Stock Exchange building in 2024). Akiva is the coordinator and creative director – the face.
“I don’t want to drop the name,” Akiva said earlier in the evening at dinner in the club’s sumptuous dining room, chatting with me in brief intervals between phone calls and other seemingly urgent inquiries from boys in heavy-looking suits. It’s a brief moment of reserve. When a tight-fitting woman in a camel coat walks in to recommend a girlfriend, Akiva replies, “I wish you were of age. If you tie me to a wife, I’ll owe it to you forever.” (He is rumored to have once dated Rihanna and Heidi Klum.)
Then, more phone calls and text messages. The first is from his “accounting”, although it’s about 11pm, and another is either directly or indirectly – not clear based on what I can observe – from “Leo”. As in DiCaprio – at least one of Akiva’s friends since our cover story. You could tell that they refused to grow up together. He’s looking for a place to watch tonight’s UFC fight, and Akiva is happy to oblige him. But first, some prep. Room needs cleaning. Someone needs to find a TV. (“Take my car. Ask the people in the dining room if they know who the black Porsche is,” he says to one of his suits.) Also, someone needs to know how to turn on an Apple TV or access cable TV, and maybe someone else should invite Kristen and Ashley to the viewing party. In the end, Akiva comes off the roof without saying goodbye much. So does publicity, and leaves me with another, more junior publicist. According to a scoop from E! News, the party lasted until 4 a.m., with Drake and Kevin Durant joining Kristen and Ashley. I was not invited.
Akiva is now bald, but at one point, before he “getted old,” he said he was a long-haired skater boy who worshiped graffiti and hip-hop and spent his time in the bleakest Tribeca. It was what journalist Nancy Jo Sales called it, in an earlier 1996 cover story New York“a middle school gangster,” or “private school students who live the life of a wannabe gangster.”
“I’ve been hanging out with a lot of thugs. You know, Street children. New York City kids from all walks of life.” Akiva’s mother died when he was three, but his father made money importing sportswear. Dwight attended on the Upper West Side, where he was friendly with the offspring of celebrities Liv Tyler and Rafael De Niro.
His boy gang named themselves SKE, “See Know Evil,” until then notorious for their egos and partying at places like Lot 61 in Chelsea. One of the SKE members was gorgeous fashion photographer David Sorrenti whose brother, Mario, also became a photographer and introduced the boys to his model girlfriends, according to Akiva: “We’ll play video games at David’s house, and you’ll see Kate and Linda and all of them come, like, Hi Richie Hi David!SKE also got into streetwear, selling “Models Suck” T-shirts under the Danucht label. Of course, they were joking – they were actually obsessed with models. Naomi wore the shirt in Spike Lee girl 6And Akiva is eager to post a picture of me on Instagram.
David Sorrenti, who is credited with helping usher in the “heroin chic” era, died of a bloody, complicated drug use case at the age of 20 in 1997. Akiva went to school at Northeastern University, and when he returned to town, he became The “nightlife manager” of two clubs that were popular at the time, Spa and Life. His two biggest accomplishments came while he was still in his twenties: First, he opened Butter Restaurant in 2002 with Chef Alex Guarnaschelli, and also appeared on The OG gossip girlAnd, in 2007, the nightclub 1Oak opened, which over the years has hosted all of the late-life icons (Lindsay Lohan and Justin Bieber are the only two who’ve had a few problems there).
Akiva seems to think those days when velvet ropes and tough doormen—”like quarterbacks, calling all the plays”—are over. “You can’t do that anymore because it’s not with time. You’re going out or something. You’re biased or racist or this or that,” he told me, probably upset by the age of “Safer Space” policies and woke up from the scrutiny. Actually , in 2013, Lure Published ten rules for entering into 1Oak. Among them: “Reveal the body” and “Do not make eye contact.” Akiva won’t say anything negative or, for that matter, much of anything positive about his colleagues in the industry, but he will admit, “No one makes fun of it.” It hit me as the rare club kid in the past who’s just going to come out and admit this guy: It was better at the time.
So now it’s time to double down on exclusivity; Membership to Ned costs $5,000 per year plus a $1,500 start-up fee—expensive for sure, but it’s not clear how exclusive that is since that’s a studio apartment rental these days. Since it opened in June, they tell me it’s attracted more than 700 members, new parents A$AP Rocky and Rihanna on a date, and parties they’ve hosted Vogue magazinePuma, Dior, Kid Cody, and Kendall Jenner. After two nights of dinner with Akiva, I got a last minute invitation to his birthday. Although he told me he would probably celebrate an intimate dinner or perhaps a party in Paris during Fashion Week, by the time I arrived at midnight Monday, after a rooftop dinner, the party had filled with smoke, Jay-Z’s voice, and a number of mixed listeners, including In it Kevin Durant, Drake, Lil Nas X, Je-Eazy, Scott Disick are in sweats, and a somewhat puffy Leo. In the corner, a guy puts his fingers on both Courtney Love’s looks just then sniffs his fingers, licks his fingers, and returns them to the source.
Drake at Akiva’s birthday party.
Photo: Jocko Graves
This celebrity debauchery puts Akiva in competition with his former 1Oak business partner, Scott Sartiano, who has drawn the same amount of attention to the members-only Zero Bond Club, which opened in 2020. (In 2014, Sartiano sold his share of the butter from the group. to Akiva, but soon after, he sued him for $15 million, claiming that Akiva “was underreported and underpaid in the deal,” according to the New York Times. times.) Significantly, Zero Bond has become a nightlife spot for Kim Kardashian and Pete Davidson as well as the “mayor of nightlife” favorite food and drink. Like the mayor, Akiva has taken advantage of crypto this year and also launched Societe, a concierge service that requires an exclusive $30,000 NFT (how 2021!) purchase for membership. It’s how he says he’ll share (with those who can afford it) the perks and pleasures – restaurants, parties, wine that tastes like Sasica for “half the price” (but shouldn’t that audience be happy to pay full price for bragging rights to extravagant real things?) – “his way of life Global”.
But cosmopolitan or not, he’s a city kid at his core. He sees Ned as a gift to his hometown. “That’s the only reason I do these things: New York,” he said. “I feel like New York needs me.”