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Q&A with Kelly Cutrone: My elevator has a secret life

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Kelly Cutrone is the founder and CEO of People’s Revolution, a full service public relations firm and 360-degree branding agency with offices in New York, L.A. and Paris; the author of a New York Times best-selling memoir, If You Have To Cry, Go Outside: And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You; a TV correspondent on the Dr. Phil Show and the adoring single mother of an eight-year old daughter, Ava. In addition, her own MTV show will debut next year.

These days ensconced in a 32,000-square-foot live/work Soho rental that used to be an African drum studio, Cutrone tells BrickUnderground about her first place in NYC, her “Tower of Terror” elevator, as well as her views on food delivery and raising kids in the city.  

I know you moved to NYC in the ‘80s. What was your first apartment like and how did you find it?

My first apartment was a 500-square-foot sixth-floor walk-up on Avenue C between 10th and 11th Streets, which was so small I had to have a loft bed in order to have ample floor space. I found the apartment through Ken Rosenblume, the cousin of my college friend Leslie Sloan, now a well-known publicist.  I took the apartment sight unseen.  It was $600 a month and required two months security deposit upfront. The area was terrifying; it was full of pit bulls and M-80s, and crack and heroin dealers.

How has the city changed from then to now? What has it gained/lost?

New York continues to be a fantastic, vibrant source of energy and promise --- then and now. Today it is still dangerous, but just looks prettier. 

What is it about the area of NYC that you live in that you find alluring? How did you find your current apartment?

 I rent 32,000 square feet of space in Soho. The building used to be a thread factory, a yoga studio, and an African drum and dance school. I heard about it through a friend and have never worked with a broker.  To be honest, I am not so crazy about living in Soho; it’s too touristy and industrial. I like the old-school feeling of a neighborhood, whereas Soho is more predictable. But I do love loft living. 

How does living and working in the same space impact your life? Obviously it saves you time commuting, but does it also have drawbacks?

My home and office operate separately. Living in the same building that I work in enables me to make breakfast for my eight-year-old daughter, Ava; take her to school in the morning; and collect her from school at 3pm quite easily. She can work on her homework in my office and I get to spend quality time with her on a daily basis, which is not common for working parents, particularly as I am a single mom. 

What is the one thing you’d like to change most about your current home?

I am happy to have the home I have.  If I had to choose one thing, a bigger kitchen would be amazing, but I am really so grateful to live in my apartment. If I could live here for the rest of my life I would be thrilled.

I know you also lived in California; where else have you lived and how did those places compare to NYC?

I have a house upstate; it’s the complete opposite of NYC life.  It is a proper, healing sanctuary. I go to re-center and re-fuel.  I also own a small apartment and office in Paris, but I’m not there often. The office is headed by CEO Alexandre Boulais.

Do you have any wacky NYC living stories? Maybe an odd roommate or weird apartment feature?

I have a weird feature for sure – the elevator does what it wants and has a secret life. It is like Disney’s Tower of Terror. It goes up slow but who knows how fast it’ll bring you down. 

What is your favorite delivery place and what do you order?

I rarely ever have delivery. I prefer farmers' markets and insist on buying from local farmers. I also cook all the time. In fact, while upstate I cook all weekend long and on Saturdays frequently have a huge gathering of local friends for dinner.

What’s your favorite neighborhood and why?

My favorite neighborhood is Little Italy.  It feels like the heart of New York to me.  It has maintained its original flair and flavor.  Who doesn’t love fresh mozzarella, basil, and cannolis? 

What's the best neighborhood to discover the latest fashion?

Paris! 

It seems lately this city is overrun with bed bugs. How worried are you? Do you take any special precautions while traveling? Do you know anyone who had them?

There are so many things to be afraid of.  I’d rather have a home invasion of bed bugs instead of an actual home invasion.  They are not my biggest concern. I have a child, and I’m happy to say I haven’t had bed bugs or lice.  Maybe my friends have had bed bugs; we just don’t really talk about such things 

Do you have apartment envy? What’s your dream home?

My dream home is any house I live in with my daughter and one that I can afford.  I’m not an envious person.  I just go with the flow--go where feels right.  I guess my dream home would be a brownstone with a library and parquet floors, a big elevator and peacocks on the roof.

Which is more important: space or location?

Both.  You could have a great space in a dangerous neighborhood or a quaint space in a great neighborhood.  You have to stop convincing yourself it’s one or the other.  Both are equally important.

How is it raising a child in NYC? What are the pros and cons?

New York is a city where people will always have more or less than you.  It’s interactive and highly stimulating.  Children are exposed to so much at such an early age.  They become instant citizens of the world.  They are so international and have the privilege to meet and interact with various races and cultures.  In a way, I feel like living in the city is safer for children than residing in the suburbs or country because in the city they are always with an adult. Still, no matter where we are, I am vigilant about my daughter’s safety and well-being. 

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