Photo Credit: Bogdan Teslar Kwiatkowski Hair & Makeup: Alexandra Kwitakowski
Less than five minutes within meeting up with Liz Vap at the Bowery Hotel’s Gemma restaurant for a late lunch, she’s bumped into THREE familiar faces who are super excited to see her: curator Peter Makebish, Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt of Miike Snow, the latter chit-chat which quickly morphed into biz talk for a potential collab. She better work! Saying Liz Vap has got the New York State of Mind and the charisma of a rock superstar is the understatement of all understatements. Let me (try to) explain: Vap has officially been downtown Manhattan’s (and now the planet’s) rocking ruler since the launch of FeralCat Productions in 2007, her very own company which boasts a downtown clientele including a diverse (but perpetually cool) bunch of game-changing rockers, designers and lauded artists. And, duh, FeralCat is notorious for throwing the most bananas A-List bashes like, EVER. Basically, if you’ve been to an event which involved you moshing to Yeah Yeah Yeahs at [insert hipper-than-thou downtown boite here], or rubbing elbows with Debbie Harry, The Strokes, Boy George, Kings of Leon, John Waters, Zoe Kravitz, etc etc… And, ALSO, you know, Kate f’n Moss (!!!!)… then you have Vap to thank and/blame for your most brutal hangover(s) of all time. FYI – FeralCat productions is the PURRRFECT name, which Vap explains best: “I don’t hang only with the cool cats; I hang with the feral cats.” (I am proud to say/brag that I am totally the insane, crowd-surfing to Iggy Pop type.) It’s clear that Vap is the same hustling workaholic/rock super fan/goth glamazon since her formative years in Connecticut — she fondly recalls those days of escaping shit suburbia living via cray eye-opening trips to the city with her older brothers whilst rocking her meowtastic fashion numbers and killer cat eyes. (Are y’all catching the cat pattern?) It was her “who’s that goth-glam girl?!” looks and crazily charismatic personality (see also: hilarious, cheeky, bold) that made iconic rock photographer, Mick Rock, take serious notice (PS – she was only 14!), and he’d eventually become one of Vap’s first of many awesome clients. The rest is history… but I can confirm that it’s in no way slowing down anytime soon for the feral-est (hehe, had to!) of them all… Read/rock on for our (seriously amazing) chit-chat with Galore’s bestie babe known as Liz Vap!
How long have you called NYC home?
Since before there was a Starbuck’s on every corner!
You’re a Connecticut good girl gone wild! 😉 Did you make lots of trips to the city while growing up? Where’d ya hang?
When you’re a weird arty kid in the burbs of CT, NYC is like your promise land. Not till I moved here did I realize it’s really the land of the misfit children. My family is first generation traditional Greek so they were actually very strict with me — I couldn’t date or go over friends’ places for sleep overs. But I had two way older brothers who’d let me go out with them, so I was always around a lot of older people. I learned to adopt to what my environment was which made me more mature than kids my own age in some ways. My brothers were of the age of going to concerts, R-rated movies and clubs so along with them I would go. I was this punk-rock geeky kid and I saw a lot of things I probably shouldn’t have seen at thirteen, but there’s something about being innocent that makes you unfazed by what was negative. I learned the dark side much later, but to my brothers’ credit, they were always protective and kept an eye out for me… Well, for the most part! Sometimes they’d get side tracked by a pretty girl or two while we were out.
How did you manage to meet/kick it/work with so many rock icons?
My artist brother, Ioannis, would take me along his job-hunting trips into Manhattan, then we’d head to Bleecker Bob’s record store and Rebel Rebel to buy British Punk and New Wave imports. I’d also ask him to take me by CBGB — I wanted to see where all of my favorite bands at the time played like The Ramones and Blondie. That’s how on one of these trips I met Mick Rock [legendary rock ‘n’ roll photographer], and where he gave me my start of sorts. I was sitting in a waiting room with crazy hair and crazy makeup while my brother was in a meeting. And then Mick came out of an office and asked me if I was a makeup artist. Being 14 where ignorance is bliss, I said ‘yes!’ He gave me his card and said he wanted to hire me. My brother was suspicious at first when I told him what had happened, but when he saw Mick’s name on the card, he was in as he wanted to meet Mick too. My brother became my ‘bodyguard’ of sorts and would bring me to all of my make-up jobs with Mick, which I winged, of course, as I was self taught from “how to” tips from fashion magazines. That’s pretty much how I met the icons via my work with Mick through the years and my brothers early on who are still in the business. Some I met even before they were icons while working with Mick.
What else were you up to before launching FeralCat productions? And why did you decide to get it started?
Mostly creative things but everything from art directing to catering to working at record labels and in various capacities of the entertainment and event industries. It took me some time to cultivate what I wanted to do. I was also growing up in a time where things were changing and computers were taking over. I saw a lot happening as to how information was going to affect how and who we would get creatively out into the world. The world of music, fashion, film, art and entertainment were all going to collide more than ever with the wild, wild west of the internet. It’s why I started to connect all these various elements together in the right way and in the way these artists and clients wanted to be out there.
To me, it seems like your company is super unique in NYC which says A LOT because, duh, NYC runs the world. How do you feel FeralCat sets itself apart from the others?
I work with some wonderful people and only people I like to work with. I never take on anything that doesn’t make sense to what I can deliver for them — integrity is a big part of what I do. In the last few years, FeralCat has been partnering with my amazing associate and friend, Lisa Raden at Blank Canvas, on a lot of projects. We try to offer a unique experience in the entertainment, music, fashion, art, events, hospitality publishing, nightlife and charity industries. We have a motto that we create the buzz that drives the public relations and press for the best results. We also live by the words of “under promising and over delivering in the end.” We want to do the best we can for each and every one of our clients. I have grown and learned a lot from working with Lisa. I’m always learning on the job and from clients. I never want to stop growing and improving — that’s one of the beauties of life. Otherwise I’d be bored!
Okay, so, this is a totally tough one! Tell me about your favorite FeralCat-produced events! 1, 2, 3… GO!!
– Kate Moss hosting Mick Rock’s launch for his book Debbie Harry photo book, ‘Picture This,’ at Hiro Ballroom with Har Mar Superstar performing. It was voted party of the year by many and people still ask me about it. We had an amazing crew of people in one room… from Debbie Harry, Boy George, Alexandra and Theodora Richards, Danny Masterson, Rain Phoenix, Adam Green, photographers Bob Gruen and Mario Testino, Courtney Love, models Anouck Lepere and Frankie Rayder, Johnny Knoxville, Norman Reedus, director Michel Gondry to Miss Guy on the decks. Har Mar stripped down to his underwear on stage and kept trying to make out with Kate Moss and Frankie Rayder who were dancing in the front row. That was one really, really wild party!
– Jimmy Fallon’s birthday party at Rose Bar a few years back with Nur Khan was one of the funnest nights ever with a crew that included Bruce Willis, Jack Huston pre-‘Boardwalk Empire’ and half of SNL in attendance.
– The re-launch of Raybans in New York with Mick Rock’s new campaign. The Eagles of Death metal performed and we did it again in London with everyone from Kelly Osbourne, Primal Scream, race car driver Jenson Button to Kate Moss coming out for it.
– Mick Rock’s documentary which I’m an executive producer on with an incredible director at the helm named Barnaby Clay (who’s directed videos for the likes of Santigold, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and TV On The Radio). I’m very excited for what the end result will be with the entire talented team’s combined efforts who I am lucky enough to work with on this project.
– But what I’m most proud of is a lot of the charity work and events I have worked on throughout the years, especially with the Lunchbox fund, who are dedicated to providing a daily meal for extremely poor and at-risk school children in South Africa.
Who are some dream rock stars to work with? Stevie Nicks, Led Zepplin, Tom Waits, Nick Cave, Richard Ashcroft (the Verve), Mike Patton, Kate Bush, Slayer, Depeche Mode, Trent Reznor, Father John Misty, Graveyard, Die Antwoord, Gary Clarke Jr and too many more to mention.
As a crazy hard worker… what would you say is your spirit animal?
A FeralCat by day, an owl by night and a wolf on the job.
It’s time for Liz Vap’s *Oprah Voice* favorite thiiiings!!!
Favorite concert experience ever: Jesus, we are talking over 20 years of gigs! Ok, well here’s three… Bad Brains’ reunion gig for the closing of CBGB on the Bowery. It was their first time back since they played in 1982 — I almost lost my leg in the mosh-pit! Then there was Nirvana at this tiny odd club called The Moon in New Haven, Connecticut with like 50 people which I snuck into because I was underage. Also, Iggy Pop at Don Hills a few years back was an insane night before it closed. RIP Don Hills — what a great man. Some great times and killer parties and shows at that venue.
Favorite rock ‘n’ roll fashion designers & clothing brands: I love McQueen pre and post. I also love Vivienne Westwood, Jean Paul Gaultier, Hedi Slimane, Pam Hogg, John Varvatos and All Saints to just name some. But there’s a lot of really cool new clothing lines pushing the envelope with quality rock ‘n’ roll flair lately. What my friends like Mandy Coon, Katie Gallagher, Obesity & Speed, who are all from New York, and Belgium’s Eat Dust are doing is really cool and worth checking out if you’re not familiar with their lines. I also wear a ton of vintage, like Zandra Rhodes who did a lot Freddie Mercury’s stage wear, and I collect vintage Holly Harp and Norma Kamali. Clothes were just made really well back then and seem to work best on me.
Favorite album cover art: This is a hard one because this is what I did after doing make up with Mick — I designed album covers with my brother for most of my teen years. I have so many books on album cover art. It’s hard to name a favorite; of course all of Mick Rock’s covers and The Damned’s ‘Phantasmgoria’ is an all time favorite by the late fetish photographer, Bob Carlos Clarke, who I had the honor of working with once before he passed. Maybe I’ll name the artists behind the covers! I love all of the works of photographer Wlliam Claxton for Jazz, Peter Of Saville for Factory Records, Jamie Reid for all his punk work, Roger Dean for his fantasy work, Andy Warhol for the Velvet Underground, Nico and The Rolling Stones, HR Geiger for the Dark & Twisted, Derek Riggs for Iron Maiden’s ‘Eddie,’ Nagel for Duran Duran’s ‘RIO’ and everything Hipgnosis (Storm Thorgerson) ever did and does… Hipgnosis were the kings of it all!
Favorite rock memorabilia: My limited edition co-signed copy of ‘Psychedelic Renegades: The photographs of Syd Barrett’ by Mick Rock that Syd signed before his death — it was the last thing of his past he ever signed and there’s only 320 copies. Also, a Mick Rock photograph numbered and co-signed by David Bowie. And a pair of drum sticks given to me by INXS as a kid that were in the “I Need You Tonight” and “Mediate” videos!
Favorite guilty pleasure: Hmmm, again too many to name, but just to name a few: Watching ‘Mob Wives,’ monthly facials at Mamie’s skincare — Iman’s also Mamie’s client… need I say more?! Also, saying ‘Child Please!’ and expensive shoes — boots in particular.
Favorite “I need to relax!!!” after a huge project drink!!! Several Moscow Mules.
Liz Getting a Smooch from Bono! Photo: Mick Rock
Becka Diamond, Liz Vap, Mick Rock & Krystal Simpson at a Ray-Ban party. Photo By Aaron Gonzalez
Liv Tyler and Liz Vap at Liv’s birthday (thrown by FeralCat Production!) at Jane Hotel. Photo by: James Gardner.