Good Night Mr. Lewis: Pink Elephant’s Rocco Anacarola Speaks Out
I’ve avoided the Pink Elephant story that’s been developing in the blogosphere because I don’t really like to gossip. I ran into Shawn Kolodny at a meeting, and after we chatted for a few minutes, he asked me if I heard what went down. I said I heard he was now at Kiss & Fly and asked if congratulations were in order. He thanked me, and I asked him if he wanted to comment for this blog, but he told me that until he got the go ahead from his lawyer, he couldn’t speak about the circumstances that had him leave Pink Elephant. He said next week would probably be OK. I got home, kissed the dogs and cats and the little woman, and I got a call from my old pal Rocco Anacarola.
Rocco is always a gentleman, and yet I could sense that he was agitated. He too asked me if I had heard what was going on, and I said only to some extent; I told him I had chatted with Shawn, and that I intended to call him for comment next week when he was free to chat. Rocco felt that the stories running around the blogs did not portray the circumstances as he knew them and asked for an opportunity to tell my readers the Pink Elephant version. Initially, I was going to do an interview, but decided instead to let Rocco tell it to you directly, so here we go with the Pink version, verbatim:
“Pink Elephant was born four years ago on 8th Avenue and 14th Street on the outskirts of the Meatpacking District in a defunct bar/club known as GO, owned by Shawn Kolodny. After many years of hard times, Shawn got together with David Cabo and brought in myself, Rocco Ancarola, (Ciaobella, Boom, Rocco’s A La Playa, Nocturne), David Sarner (Chaos and Spy Bar), and designer David Graziano. With only one year left on the lease, and a great team, I thought that we could build a brand that would knock people’s socks off. We would also be the first club to concentrate only on house music — Ibiza-style — and with all the gimmicks of the big clubs but in a VIP situation. The fact that it was a tiny space with a strong team like we had … it seemed crazy to open such a small venue when we could have filled a stadium! But that was the part that I liked — going against the grain of the normal things that people would expect. I also believed that if we did well and were successful, we would be able to attract investors, and we would have half a year to find another larger space and move. “I wanted to change the going name game of a ‘one word’ name for a club (Chaos, Spy, Marquee, Cain, Pangaea, Rehab), and so I opted to mimic English pubs with two names instead. We started with the ‘White Poodle,’ the ‘Red Parrot,’ and so forth, until one day David Sarner came up with ‘Pink Elephant,’ and we all said yesssssssssssss!!! It was based on the Disney movie Dumbo, when little Dumbo drinks champagne, gets drunk, and sees pink elephants. Hence the name stuck, and Pink Elephant was born. “We moved to 27th Street — a strategic move at the time, as 27th Street was the hot location for a club. I wanted to be there so badly — Cain, Marquee, Scores, Home, and Guesthouse were there, but no more spaces were available, so I went to the Crobar guys and pitched the idea of taking over their VIP room with an entrance on 27th Street. They loved the idea, so we brought in Robert Montwaid, Sarner’s partner from Cabana (Hamptons), who is an expert in construction and an investor, to do the job. And Pink Elephant was born again. We had three years of great success, being known for a beautiful crowd, hailed as the best music club in New York, and attracting top DJs from around the world. We were a great team, and we went on to host and set up satellite clubs around the world, from St. Barths to Sundance and Miami during the Super Bowl. I became the brand’s international ambassador, throwing Pink Elephant parties in the international arena at the Cannes Film Festival, in Croatia, Italy, Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, Rio de Janeiro, Punta del Este, even the World Music Conference in Miami — always bringing along the worlds top DJs from Paul Oakenfold to Pete Tong and David Guetta. “This year things seem to be changing as we are growing and taking the brand to other levels. David Cabo, for one, decided that he had a new calling in life to follow his religious roots, attend religious retreats, and maybe go back and try the priesthood, his one-time ambition. And a few months later, Shawn was feeling lost in the company, and two weeks ago approached us and told us he was not happy and needed to move on. I feel that with the market slowing down months and months ago and money being tight, they needed to move on to new pastures; so Shawn hit the road following Cabo’s footsteps. Cabo has not been seen or heard of, and Shawn, we hear, has joined the Kiss & Fly, owned by another ex-partner, designer David Graziano, who defected a year ago due to differences with us. He took along with him a lot of our staff from Pink Elephant to form Kiss & Fly, which has copied our format. I am glad that we trained and helped to assist people in their new ventures. “For now, Pink Elephant continues to be successful and to introduce new ideas and new ventures worldwide, and as we expand the brand to new horizons, I am sure that many will follow suit and copy our ideas once again. For now, we hold the record sales ever in a club in one night: $226,00.00! We have partnered up with a design studio from Milan, and we will be launching our new Pink Elephant clothing line with fashion shows scheduled around the world next year. We are gearing up to open Pink Elephant in Sao Paulo in a few weeks on December 19, as well as a beach club in Puerta Vallarta on December 25, and next year we will see a Pink Elephant Hotel at the same location. Next year will see Pink Elephants popping up in Chicago, Los Angeles, London, Egypt, Turkey, Rome, and Punta del Este. With Pink Elephant Hotels scheduled also for Miami, New York, Sao Paolo, Rio de Janeiro, who knows what other surprises might spring up in the coming new year. All I know for now is that Pink Elephant is running and not walking; too much champagne cannot make this Elephant drunk!” — Rocco Anacarola