So recently NYU Nightlife and I had the opportunity to chat with one of New York’s most notable personalities, Cody Pruitt. He’s the hair behind one of the most wildly successful event and party planning companies in the city, The Bespoke Group. Taking a break from preparing for the launch of the new open format party at Pink Elephant, Cody was able to sit down and answer some of our questions.
To the untrained eye you would think that Cody, Doug and Brooks simply promote. You couldn’t be further from the truth. Aside from throwing parties they each have side projects that they are actively involved in.
Cody: I do have some fond memories of chasing girls around the schoolyard, but I have a pretty strong feeling that I was doing that as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle (Michelangelo, to be exact).
NYU/NYD: What was it like growing up in the Pruitt household? You come from very storied roots and your parents seem pretty supportive of everything you’ve done.
Cody: I really lucked out with my upbringing and background. Having two ‘theatre-folk’ as parents (my father has been an actor for over 40 years, and my mother was an actor and dancer until she decided to focus on other ventures) and growing up in the middle of Manhattan definitely added a sense of maturity and a wide perspective to my childhood.
I was a Ford child model for 5 or 6 years, as well as having acted in some commercials, and a few small parts in tv shows (nothing memorable at all). Being in auditions and on gigs several days out of each school week definitely helped me learn how to speak with adults, as well as to understand professions that weren’t 9-to-5.
I attended Stuyvesant High School, and very early on in my time there, I began my involvement in music, first by just playing guitar in bands, and soon expanding to interning and eventually working in a wide variety of recording studios as engineer, session musician, producer, writer, etc. I’d started going out around the same time, with kids older than myself, so my first exposure to nightlife was definitely on the early side.
NYU/NYD: At what point would you say you were getting actively involved in nightlife and not just music? Some people would say that attending NYU only to end up promoting venues is not only a waste of money but a waste of talent.
Cody: Professionally, I was involved definitely before I was “supposed” to be, but I guess that’s par for the course for native Manhattanites. I was lucky to meet some really great people in nightlife early on while I was still in music, and although we didn’t stay in touch, when I got into the industry full-on, those relationships came right back.
When I went to NYU, I started out still 100% focused on the music industry, on becoming the next big producer, etc, but soon the need for immediate spending money necessitated working at local downtown and NYU-area bars and restaurants, and ended up doing everything from waiting tables to bartending to managing, and went from the lowest-end spots, to fine dining, to hotels, and back to my favorite dive bars all over again.
I remember freshman year of college going to the same spot *every single night* for three months in a row with a variety of my dorm-mates, and on the 3 month anniversary of us going there, being offered a job because I “already drink for free and know the menu.” Thus was the beginning of my illustrious hospitality career. I ended up becoming more and more focused on restaurants, hotels, and clubs by my junior year at NYU, and spent the majority of my available remaining credits on classes related to my newfound industry.
NYU/NYD: The Bespoke Group has two other prominent members – Doug and Brooks Rand, two brothers from Canada who lived in various parts of the US. How did you guys meet and how did you know they were the right fit?
Cody: Doug Rand and I met in 2008 at a party he promoted very early on in his promotional career. He’d worked for and been mentored by Roy Liebenthal at Pop for years, giving him a very strong foundation in the industry in terms of connections and know-how. After spending a few short months hanging with him and his crew, we ended up working together on a few parties, eventually growing into what is now an ironclad partnership, and was named The Bespoke Group in 2009.
At that point, our performance and production grew rapidly, and for a period of 6 or 7 months, I was promoting 7 nights a week. Brooks, Doug’s younger brother, moved to NYC from New Mexico about a year and a half or so after that, and while it took some time for him to get his bearings in the city as well as in the industry, he became an indispensable part of Bespoke, so Doug and I made him our associate partner. Everyone not only gets along, but each of us brings something different to the table (physically and conceptually)… We trade off responsibilities and positions within different parties of ours throughout the week depending on where we are, and so far, it’s worked like a charm.
Cody: The earliest Bespoke involvement was probably at Le Royale, before we ever even conceived of The Bespoke Group. Thanks to Terry Casey’s guidance, we not only had a blast there, but also were able to meet hugely influential industry people, and throw some memorably forgotten parties along the way. Our first real residency as promoters, I guess you could say, was at RdV, where we threw a weekly red glasses-themed party called ‘Libertine Thursdays’ – it was definitely the first time we’d been recognized as a brand instead of just table hosts, and it felt great. We still had a ton to learn, but working for Corey Lane and Patrick Cabido Ericsson at that point was definitely something not worth ignoring.
The biggest Bespoke Group-branded weekly party was definitely XIX FRIDAYS, which many people remember and know us from. Working with our close friend Ruben Rivera to throw one of the only weekend parties that had any musical or crowd integrity, on an empty block, bridging the gap between the downtown/hipster spots and the mainstream bottle service boites, was an amazing experience. Bespoke and Ruben did everything from design the flyers, to book the DJ’s, bring in and host celebrities, as well as just throw one of the craziest weeklies we’ve ever been a part of, and we’re so grateful to have been part of that.
Cody: Ruben Rivera and my close friend/godfather/long-hair role model, the one and only Mark Baker. Meeting him years ago and having him tap me for amazing party after amazing party, spending some truly memorable experiences with him while watching and learning from him has been really special. The way he works a room is fascinating and when you watch him in action, you can’t help but smile. Both his and Ruben’s guidance and support have repeatedly proven invaluable, not to mention the fact that they’ve introduced me to people I respect and now love as close friends.
NYU/NYD: Enough about the past. Our readers want to drink right now (or at least tonight). What are you up to these days? Any big projects coming up?
Cody: Currently we’ve pretty much maxed-out our week in terms of regular parties. We’ve been at Stanton Social on Mondays for a few years now, and it’s still one of our favorite spots and parties to work and attend.
We’ve also been really lucky over the past year to have been brought in to work for Strategic & Tao Group at Avenue and PH-D Rooftop at The Dream Downtown Hotel, where we host and party twice a week. Strategic has been really supportive of us, and their organization is INSANE… I’ve never seen a business and/or party run the way that they do. I can describe it as professionalism and pure hospitality without ever feeling stuffy or corporate. The Dream Downtown’s become like our second home, between partying at PH-D Rooftop, hanging out at the pool, grabbing drinks at Electric Room, or having a dinner at Marble Lane (the chef, Manuel Trevino is *really* talented), and we’re still just as excited to be there as when we started a year ago, something quite rare in the fickle nightlife world.
We’re also really happy to be hosting the Friday party at The Double Seven, which is easily one of my top three favorite rooms in the city. It’s whatever you make of it – if you wanna dance and go hard, go for it; if you want to sit back in a dark corner with one or two of the most beautiful people in NYC (of whom they have no shortage of there), you can do that just as easily. It also doesn’t hurt that the owners are legendary: Mark Baker (mentioned earlier), Jeffrey Jah and David Rabin, none of whom need any introduction.
Our newest project is something Bespoke is really excited about… We’re psyched to have been brought in as part of the team behind the new open format Wednesday party at the brand-spanking-new Pink Elephant. Doug worked the Wednesday party at the previous 27th street incarnation, and as anyone will tell you, that night was many a clubgoer’s weekly staple. Bringing that to the new spot is something that the entire team is really excited about, and we personally couldn’t be more honored to work with the Pink Elephant guys. Wednesdays will not be something to miss!
NYU/NYD: That sounds fantastic; well have to make sure to stop by tomorrow night. Apart from the places you work at already, what would be your Ideal venue?
Cody: Well, ideally speaking it’d just be a combination of all the spots I just mentioned, but I guess, speaking vaguely, I prefer working at venues that don’t try to play the number game with promoters and other staff, pitting them against each other like some kind of competition. There have been venues that we’ve worked at that basically have 10 different mini-parties in one room; each table being in its own bubble, with the promoters clutching onto “their” girls nearly as hard as they have their hands around their bottles. I like venues that allow a REAL party.
We’re all coworkers, co-partiers, whatever you want to call it. Why wouldn’t we want members of one promoter’s crowd going over to another’s table to say hi? It might be a job, but it’s still a party. Once we make it only about how many girls this guy brings versus this other guy, then we’ve lost why everyone should want to be there from the get-go. My ideal venue is one that allows for what I just said, has killer music that’s different from the club around the corner, with a crowd identifiable to that venue and that specific night, with that palpable energy that occurs when *that one song* comes on, at a certain minute of every night (or hopefully every night), where no one but the most jaded ask the question “where are we going next?”
NYU/NYD: Do you have any future non-club related projects or am I going to see the bespoke club opening its doors soon?
Cody: As far as Bespoke goes, Doug and I want to expand our brand into marketing and branding, while continuing to cultivate and grow our intensely loyal family of clubgoers and friends, who we love dearly. I don’t think we’ll be opening a club anytime soon… We’re not at that point yet, and the way the city treats nightlife these days, I feel like I’d end up pulling out my hair if we did try it anytime soon. However… I am in very early talks to possibly open a restaurant, something, which has been a goal of mine for a while.
Outside of Bespoke, I’m slowly getting started on an art and fashion project called ‘The Most Toys’ with frequent Bespoke collaborator Nick Rouner and our ridiculously talented close friend, artist/photographer Sascha Mazzucco. Stay tuned for further details on that… it’s something entirely new and refreshingly different from what people have seen from us so far
NYU/NYD: How would you use nightlife to rid some of the worlds problems?
Cody: Hah! Get everyone drunk, dancing, and laid, and hopefully some problems will sort themselves out.
NYU/NYD: Do you plan on getting a drivers license soon?
Cody: I’m still waiting for a certain someone to teach me how to drive a car in his Ferrari… Who know who you are. (editors note: hes talking to you Mark Baker).
NYU/NYD: Last and possibly most important question. Your hair seems really soft. Do you or do you not deep condition?
Cody: My secrets stay with me to the grave.
This interview with Mr. Pruitt is the first in a series of exposés on notable nightlife figures and their views on what the world they live in.