Point of Origin: I was born in Senegal and grew up in Paris. That’s where I studied and went to school at the National School on the Rue Blanche that trains for acting. But I was studying engineering [at] the only Tiada school that has about six aspects of show business.
Wait a sec: the saloon-keeper is an actor/engineer? It was a great school because we had an account that let us see all the shows in Paris: Tiada music halls, concerts, everything but the Paris Opera. Since I did engineering training, after school I went on the road with a couple of singers. I had the hang for traveling, and Club Med was hiring to set up sound and light all over the world. So, for two years I used my engineering degree to wire Club Med.
After leaving there, I went to live in the States for a while, and moved to New York, then to San Francisco and Los Angeles. In order to make money, I started DJing in a club in L.A., and I did really well, got into a great scene in a club in Century City. I went into marketing and created events, and from there I decided to get my own club – but where? I traveled to the Caribbean and started a club in the northern part of the Dominican Republic. I understood quickly that in this business, you have to have a little money to start, so I started a little club and bet on the tourist trade with Americans and Canadians. I did really well, and I sold the club after a year and made my money back, plus, and came to Miami. There, I opened a club, Bash, and ran it for eight years, partnered with Sean Penn and the lead singer for Simply Red. We created the whole South Beach scene. I got tired of the nightlife and decided to find another opportunity to work in the day time. I wanted to create a beach club so I did with Jack Penrod, and it became Nikki Beach.
Any non-industry projects in the works? I like adventure, travel, and my life has changed in the last three years because of a beautiful lady who has given me a great kid, this little thing in my busy life. I still enjoy music, new sounds, and I’m always curious as to what’s out there in terms of style and design, but I’m more and more attracted by Africa and what can be done there, in terms of what I can give back, so I’m looking at charity there. My father is an activist in Senegal.
So after giving years and years to a lot of people, doing all this social networking, I like spending time with my family, something I really, really appreciate
Favorite Hangs: I’m in Paris at the moment, and it’s a great place. There’s a little scene here that mixes a little bit of old and contemporary. I’ve got a little organic, bohemian feel at a place called Hotel du Nord, and I just visited ChaCha, a little more loungey feel late in the night. In St. Tropez, I like the little old part of the city, where everything happens.
Industry Icons: I think there are men such as Ian Schrager and Steve Rubell who did Studio 54, and following that, getting into the hotel business – a great example.
Who are some people you’re likely to be seen with? Bono is a great example of somebody’s who is giving back, setting the tone for our century, our era: You can do well, but there’s a lot you can do better. I’ve been on the computer all night with my lady, and I’m getting in contact with more people, networking about what we’re going to do in St. Barths for the winter, getting organized in Marrakech and Ibiza for Nikki Beach.
For me, that’s next
Projections: More and more activism, developing the country and expanding into the hotel field, so we’re diversifying a lot. More of an eye to philanthropy in Africa. I have a kid that’s looking up to me as a father, so I want to teach him real values by setting an example for him. There are great places out there with great money and success, but he has to understand values.