Meeting Nightlife’s Scott Lipps of One Management

On the Cool Jobs list, Scott Lipps nears the top – somewhere between shortstop for the New York Yankees and President of the U.S. of A. As president of One Management, he guides the careers of some of the most beautiful and interesting people in the world, while still finding the time to be a rock-and-roll drummer and go out most nights. He’s sought-after by every party promoter and club owner in town. Every joint wants him (or at least the people he manages) to show up. We’ve been nodding hellos to each other across rooms for years, so it was nice to finally sit down and get to know him.

Briefly, tell me what you do. We’re a really high-end luxury brand fashion agency, where we represent a lot of supermodels. I have arms in music – one’s called One Music – and I represent some actors, too. The idea was really to do branding for a lot of the supermodels, really become one of the first management companies in fashion that also had arms in entertainment, because ultimately, I think everything is sort of merging into one right now. So we have musicians we rep, we rep some actors, and we obviously rep a lot of the supermodels, from Claudia Schiffer to Bar Rafaeli to Helena Christensen to Iman.

Advertisers are often looking for something a little offbeat. Rather than a pretty face, they want a hard personality. Tell me about some of the Rock or other types of people that you represent. We’ve done deals for a lot of different artists, and if you look at our site, it lists a lot of them. We’ve done a lot of covers for, let’s say, L’uomo Vogue, for bands like the Horrors and the Living Things, which are really off the beaten path in terms of the mainstream music that’s going on today. The Horrors was a great band out of London that was happening like two years ago, but they never really broke in the States. We’ve done stuff with everybody from Anthony Kiedis to P. Diddy to MGMT. Some are endorsements, like The Virgins doing the Tommy Hilfiger campaign, and some are editorials like the New York Dolls in a magazine called Cover. We worked on something called the Rose Sessions, which was something I did with Nur Khan. It was basically a series of concerts at the Rose Bar that was taking really big acts and putting them into really great, intimate spaces. We’ve had everyone from Guns N’ Roses to the Black Key to Velvet Revolver, and Nur has carried on the tradition. We manage a few acts, so we manage Matt Sorum’s (from Guns N’ Roses) new band, called Darling Stilettos. All girls. It’s like a rock and roll Pussycat Dolls kind of band. In fact, Ace, the singer, used to be in the Pussycat Dolls. I think the idea was to bring advertisers a niche. In the way that Steve Stoute has always done really well in the Hip Hop branding world, we wanted to be a sort of rock n roll/pop version of what that is and service a lot of the rock bands in this fashion space.

You’re a drummer, which makes me wonder: Is the agency play? Is it fun? Is everything you do fun? I wouldn’t say everything’s fun. I think that I’m still very, very much inspired by music, but I think fashion’s been an incredible means, as a conductor, to so many different mediums. So when you represent supermodels and some of the most beautiful and interesting people in the world (interesting sometimes, not always), you can parlay this into a lot of different businesses. So now, thankfully, I’ve been able to sit with the heads of all of the record companies and movie studios, brands, and what not, and all of these worlds kind of mesh. That’s interesting to me, to be creative. The spreadsheets and the excel sheets aren’t really my thing, but I do it.

How do you deal with the different personalities? You have to be like Switzerland – it’s really about not taking sides, and it’s hard. Sometimes we’re dealing with kids, and then we’re dealing with moms and dads. There’s a lot of dynamics there and not everyone is really on the same page, but you really have to learn to try to relate on every level. When people have corporations and they’re a full blown business, and there are a lot of players involved in their own business, you really do have to become like Switzerland in the sense that you have to just try and appease everyone and try to make it work. I can’t be too strong-willed; I have to find ways to mesh.

PUBLICIST ALAN RISH: To interject, Scott doesn’t lose his temper or anything. He’s very even-tempered. Scott: And that is because I’m very protective of my talent. So much so that I will go to great lengths to make sure that they are well-insulated and nothing gets let out that shouldn’t be. I’m not interested in getting them press about something that doesn’t benefit them just to get press. There are a lot of celebrities these days that just want to get in the media because they think that it will further their careers, but I think that if you protect people’s careers, there’s a lot of longevity there.

You seem to have more celebrities than other management companies, why do you think that is? Steven, I wasn’t coming from fashion when I first started this business. I was a drummer, I was managing my bands, and I tried to give it a bit of a fresh approach in the sense that I wanted to be honest, I wanted to have some integrity there. Not everyone in this business has tons of integrity. I was trying to do something a little bit different. Honesty is a big part of what I do. I really do like protecting the people I work with, and not over-exposing them or cheapening what they do. We get a lot of jobs. It’s not about taking every job that comes in just so you can make a quick dollar. I think a lot of girls came over because we were also interested in managing brands and hopefully with them maybe doing a fragrance deal, or a clothing deal, licensing deal, and building up their brands to become more so than only modeling.

Is nightlife a business for you? Should it be? Yes, because I’ve done a lot of things in the space, and ultimately I feel like I do help people build their brands. It’s about relationships for me. So a lot of the guys that you probably know that I’m friendly with, we’ve looked into bigger picture things, and maybe we will. Maybe a hotel one day or a restaurant.

With the whole bottle-model era, how do you protect your talent when they go out? The bottle-model thing that you’re referring to, that’s not what I do in the sense that I don’t even hang out in that dynamic. You can only spend so much time with your clients. I have a life, I’d like to go home and sleep occasionally—the few hours that I get. And I play drums, I play music, I write music – you can police it as much as you can, but ultimately you can’t be with people 24/7. I think that our girls are smart; we are very particular in who we take on. We try to take on girls that have personality. You don’t see tons of our girls at that kind of really tacky nightspots. The girls that are in those clubs until late at night, those really dance-y places, those are not the girls that are working every day. If those girls were working, they wouldn’t be out until 5 in the morning every night.

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Do you get harassed by promoters? I wouldn’t say harassed. They know that I’m a different sort breed than a lot of the guys in this business, so I’m cool with all of them. There are some guys like Scott [Sartiano] that I’m very friendly with, so they’ve always been cool with me. I know what the relationship is about, but it’s not really my thing in a lot of cases. People know that I hang out at Kenmare and Don Hills and the Rose Bar when it’s open, and that’s more my scene. I do have good friends like Scott who are in the business of yours, but it’s not his approach with me. He’s like, “Do you want to bring someone to dinner? If not, we’re happy to have you by yourself.” He doesn’t care.

We were talking earlier about The Social Network movie… I think it was the best movie I’ve seen this year. That and probably Kick Ass, which is weird. I’m interested in this whole social media thing and where it’s going in fashion: building brands in fashion through social media and things like that. We represent Birdie Bell for instance, and Birdie Bell is someone that’s obviously building a great name through social media. So she’s a girl that’s blogging, she’s tweeting, she’s using Facebook. The girls that want to become brands these days, they really have to understand how to utilize that.

Isn’t what you’re doing threatened by social media? I’ll give you a great example. There is a reality star that came to me not so long ago and it didn’t fit our brand so we didn’t end up going forward with everything. But that person, who shall remain nameless, went on to make quite a lot of money. I think for us it’s about keeping the credibility, and I’ve always wanted to work with actors and musicians, so it’s just about finding the right fit. But you’re right, when you look at the current state of advertising, it’s all 60% actors now, and 30% models, and maybe 5% pop stars.The whole idea of One, when I started, was I wanted to represent celebrities, albeit supermodels or actors or rock stars.

Drummers are the most insane people in the world—how did you do it? How did you end up owning a modeling agency? Well, I was born in a car, so when I hit my head I think that’s where it all started.

You were actually born in a car? I was born in a car in Gibson, New York, and that’s my middle name. It’s a weird, strange, but true fact. Long story short: I moved to LA when I was 17, I told my dad I was going to PIT and he said, “That’s amazing, you’re going to the Pittsburgh Institute of Technology to be a scientist!” He already knew I was a drummer at that point, I was playing in bands since I was 12, and in nightclubs since I was 14. I started playing at L’amour when I was 14 – L’amour in Brooklyn. They had to sneak me in. I opened up for Steve Marriott’s Humble Pie. Steve Marriott from the Small Faces. I mean, he was in a band with Rod Stewart, he’s a legend. I played with Robbie, who is actually still in my music division now. So when I told my dad I was going to PIT, it was actually the Percussion Institute of Technology, a drumming school in LA where my classmates were the guys from the Black Crowes and from Metallica and wherever. I joined this band and we did really well in Hollywood, we were probably one of the top 15 bands in Hollywood for a bunch of years. We were one of the top bands out there in that Guns N’ Roses/Faster Pussycat/LA Guns scene. But all of the guys in my band were unfortunately caught up in the wrong substances and it scared the label. They had already been dealing with Guns N Roses, and I don’t think they wanted to deal with that on top of everything else. I was playing with a band that’s now called Steel Panther, that’s actually a very pretty popular band on Universal. They’re like the real life Spinal Tap, like a parody of being in a heavy metal band, and they were really popular. I think they just got nominated for a Grammy actually. We were called the Boogie Nights at the time. It was like a disco-70’s show which then became a heavy metal show. And that was on tour. I hurt my arm playing drums, and my mom said to me, “Call your second cousin, he owns a modeling agency, maybe you could do something there for a few months until your arm gets better. “ And I was managing my bands, and also working at record labels, and managing companies when I wasn’t on tour. I wanted to own a label, but being a 25-year-old guy, all the labels looked at me as like this musician-punk-kid. They probably never let me progress as much as I should have at record labels, so I was doing very low level assisting and tape-listening and whatnot. And I got a job interning at another agency that my cousin owned in LA which is a big agency, and I was driving girls around and all of a sudden, all of the models, we became friendly because I was a musician and they weren’t petrified of me. And a lot of models switched to the agency I was working at and things happened very rapidly.

One last question: Who was the first model that you signed and what is she doing now? Well, a couple of the models I worked with years ago are people like Padma Lakshmi from Top Chef, and I don’t know if it’s okay to say it, but I did work with January Jones back in the day. Those were my clients back then because it was in LA and they weren’t really like model-models, they were like models transitioning to acting. Lauren Santo Domingo – I actually discovered her years ago.

Photo Taken by Terry Richardson

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