Several years ago when Kelly Cutrone walked into her west coast office of People’s Revolution on the MTV reality series The Hills, we fell in love. Immediately we recognized true genius woven together with an impeccable style sense and a sharp tongue exemplified by what was obviously passion. Needless to say, it was somewhat surreal to find ourselves huddled over our IPhone on the huge, mahogany dining table which serves as the raannt offices, waiting for her assistant Andrew Mukamal, to connect us for our interview. A few minutes later, we heard her come onto the phone. We had expected, maybe from her industrial candor or her presence on her many reality shows, a tough woman who would want to get right down to business, but she chatted with us for a few minutes, wishing Alex a happy birthday and telling us about her busy day. Her professional resume, including at the top being the founder and director of People’s Revolution; a public relations and marketing firm, is overwhelming and intimidating. Her pop-culture resume includes stints on MTV’s The Hills, The City and her own reality show Kell On Earth. And in February she published her book If You Have to Cry, Go Outside: And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You. It was only when we began actually interviewing her that we saw a true intellectual, kindred soul and artist merge together through the answers she gave to our questions.
In an interview you said that your target audience was “village girls and gay boys”. Why these two groups and how do you relate to them? “Well, that’s who I am, you know. So I don’t really think I pick them. I am a village girl. And as far as the gay boys go I work in the fashion business so it would be inevitable that they would be the core group of people that I would relate to because I’ve spent the last 13 years of my life, every day, with that group of people. So it’s sort of what I know. And it’s really who I speak to, you know. And oddly enough, as it turns out, nobody is speaking directly to these groups really, you collectively together. Musicians do it but they do it with their songs. And there are certain characters on TV but those characters are actors playing roles, you know. And one thing that we really thought with the book was, oh my God there’s nobody talking to these kids. And why do I have to go the empowerment and self help section on the top shelf next to Anthony Robbins to buy your book? It wasn’t intentional. That’s who I employ and that’s who I work with and that’s who I wanted to talk to in my book. I mean, it’s hard when you’re young.”
And the interview continued, as Kelly walked down the streets of New York, buying food and talking to people briefly as she passed them while we sat in our living room in Indianapolis, intrigued.
In your book you describe the magic inside of yourself. What exactly is this magic inside of each of us? “It’s the part of you that’s the dreamer. It’s the part of you that has an idea and gets really excited. It’s the part of you that kisses someone and feels in love. It’s the part of you that wakes up and feels refreshed to do something for the first time and feel renewed, you know what I mean? Like, for me, I went to buy my daughter a bike, right. And I was in this bike store that was like a total, old school New York bike store and I was like, do you mind if I take this bike for a spin? And the guy was like, no problem, and all of a sudden I realized I want to buy a bike because it makes me feel happy inside. And I’m always looking for things will make me feel happy, so for me, riding the bike was like tapping into the magical part of myself. I get to ride my bike around New York City. I get to yell at people who are in my way. I get to do everything. I get to do cardio. I get to scream at people. I get to look at the city and at all these people and that is really fun and magical to me. What’s really not the magical part of ourselves is the part that’s like, uh, I’m really fucking sad or life sucks and life is really boring. You have to find the part that’s still really fun.”
When we asked her if she describes her book, If You Have to Cry, Go Outside: And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You, as a self-help book, she said she doesn’t. “It’s really like a pop-culture book with a little bit of Bewitched. It’s kind of a manual in a weird way, if you’re looking for that, otherwise it’s just a book, because I think it reflects back to what people want or what people need.” She explains that there is a lot in the book, from spiritual guidance, to how to set up a business to what it means to be feminine. “It all depends on what the reader is looking for.” As for us, we found a great read. At some points hilarious, at others informative and inspiring. “Is it a self-help book? You know I don’t really know. The publishing departments don’t really serve the audience well and the departments aren’t really stocked right, so readers don’t even want to go in there. If you go into the spiritual section, you’re going to be lucky if you find Biography of a Yogi, that was written in like 1850 or something. And then you’ll find a few Eckhart Tolle books and Louise Hay. I mean, what 20 fucking year old wants to read Louise Hay? Or Anthony Robbins? Or like, The Power of Now?(at which point, she has us literally laughing our asses off). They don’t want to read that shit. I mean it’s way to heavy and trippy, you know.”
Motherhood is…“Mind blowing. There’s all different kinds of motherhood, you know. For me, being Ava’s mom, is the most fantastic experience I’ve ever had in my life. There’s nothing more fantastic than loving Ava and learning from Ava and teaching Ava, you know. I had a baby because I felt like I had a lot to give and a lot to learn.”
What do you look for in someone when hiring them to be part of your team? “A skill set. A basic, common sense skill set, you know, which is really hard to find. So if it’s an entry level position, someone who knows how to take a message. Essentially I look for someone who has their own sense of style and is an individual. Someone who is not a player. I tend to go for the freaks, to be honest. Usually someone who is very well spoken, very creative, has a very strong skill set, is an independent thinker. You know my office is run way more different than people think it is on the outside. People’s Revolution is a very free-thinking, collaborative place. And if you’re a self-motivator, you’ll do very well there. If you someone who needs to be micromanaged you will not do well there. Because, (a), I’m not fun to be micromanaged by and (b) I hate to micromanage so if you put me in a position where I have to manage people day in and day out, they don’t like it and I don’t like it and those people just don’t do well there.”
Is your all black rule only for fashion shows or does it apply to all PR duties? “You know, that’s not a rule, actually. It only applies to fashion shows and it only applies to assistants and interns. And the reason for that is that someone’s idea of what is fashionable at 19 and what one of my client’s think is fashionable may not necessarily be the same thing. I mean, I think we all know, we’ve all been there, looking back when we were 19 that we were totally jamming. We weren’t totally jamming. (She laughs, while ordering some peanut butter cups.) A lot of kids can’t afford it. We have some kids that come from really poor families and we have some kids that come from really rich families, you know. We have kids that come from immigrant parents and single parents and they really don’t have a lot of money. And black makes it very easy for everyone to look the part. It kind of levels the playing field, and I can ID my employees when we go somewhere. It’s kind of a physical uniform.”
What would you do if a close friend stole an idea of yours to better themselves? “Um, let them.” she laughs. “If they really needed it because they had no skills and no ideas, which is the only reason why they would to begin with.” she continues laughing. “I’m not that attached to ideas because I get them all the time. I’d probably be like, do you really think that was right. I don’t know, I guess it depends on the friend. If it’s a close friend I guess I’d be like, yeah, I hope you’re happy. I hope that worked for you.”
What would be your theme song for your life? “The theme song for my life? Oh my God. Um, I have to come back to that one. I have to think about that one, because I’m a music freak so I can’t just answer that lightly.”
You are referred to a lot as a “bitch”. Do you think if you were a man in your same industry you would be seen the same way? “Definitely not. But if I was a man in the industry I wouldn’t be having the fun that I’m having. I mean, come on. It’s just different industries. But we’re the life bringers and a lot of women on the planet are still treated like shit. They’re raped and beaten and abused. And that’s sad. Because we’re the life bringers. We bring the life to Earth. Mother Earth. It’s like what I said earlier. There’s all different kinds of motherhood. And to attack women is to attack our world. It’s just been going on forever and it needs to stop. And women fucking let it happen all the time, you know. It’s just pathetic. I mean, if you’re a woman, why would you bring your children to a church where they’re not even allowed to speak? How can you bring your daughter that discusses the birth of Christ but they’re not even allowed to speak? People don’t find that strange. I mean, think about it. And how can you go there as a gay man, knowing that like 80% of all the priests or preachers are gay but they don’t condone homosexuality. What the fuck is that? It’s sounds like they’re more like hypocrites but people have accepted this and it’s part of their daily life. Women have got to put a stop to it.”
How real is reality television? “Well my show is all too real if you ask me. I think I’m the only person to make a real reality show. And I knew what was going on and I was like calling people going, are you fucking serious? Am I the only person in reality television to make a real show? I mean, what is this? Like I literally would leave my office and be like, I’m going to get my dry cleaning, and there would be like four guys following me while I got my dry cleaning. And I would be like, oh, please dear God do not follow me down the street. It’s the most uncool thing in the world to be followed around with a bunch of cameras. I mean who cares about the dry cleaning. I mean, let’s go ice skating in my home town or something fun. The crew wouldn’t even talk to us. They did this thing called ‘fourth walling’ which they do on shows like Survivor where the cameras aren’t allowed to interact with the cast because they don’t want to tamper with the situation that’s actually happening. But nobody makes a reality show with a fourth wall because you’re basically all living together, but our crew fourth walled. So there were no retakes. We didn’t redo anything. Our show was so real that I had to literally pull our crew off of our designers because our crew were all like straight guys and they didn’t understand the fashion industry at all and when I would call the executive producers and start screaming going like, what the fuck is going on these guys are bum rushing Jeremy Stalling after a fashion show and instead of being respectful they’d be like, ‘did you like your show?’ ‘are you happy to work with Kelly Cutrone?’ And I’d be like, are you fucking being serious? And they’d have on like Abercrombie shorts and this girl would have big, gold hooped earrings asking people to sign releases, and I’d be like, you can’t do that. And you need to be wearing black. What are you doing? And they’d be like, ‘well we did Project Runway’. Oh, God! You know, this is ridiculous. Straight guys that didn’t know anything about fashion that just wanted to get their interviews. It was kind of hysterical. What I want to do is the making of a reality show. Like a scripted show about the making of a reality show.”
We love that you said, let’s go skating in my home town or something. If you had your vision for what that show would have been like, what would it be? “Da da da dum.” followed by thunderous laughter. “Apocalypse? Cryptic? Foreshadowing? Maybe that’s coming next?”
New York Fashion Week…love it or hate it? “Love it. You know, come on. I’m not going to be doing a ton of shows because there’s a lot of other parts of our business. We only do shows for our contractual clients anyway. I think we’re going to do the first show, of the first day at Lincoln Park at 9am on September 9th. That’s what I’ve been on the phone about all day today. It’ll be fun to have one of our clients be the first person to be up in Lincoln Center.”
Would you ever write a children’s book with your daughter? “Yeah, I actually would. You mean like Madonna? I actually have a very cool idea for a children’s book but I won’t be doing it anytime soon. I want to write a book for older women who are divorced or widowed or have never lived alone. These women who have done all of this amazing stuff for all of these other people, like their kids and their husbands and no one is looking after them and they don’t know how to take care of themselves. They don’t know how to be alone. It’s really sad.”
What is something that scares you? “Government. And radical people scare me. It’s really, really scary living in New York City now. I think it’s really the most dangerous city in the world. And most people live here by choice and it’s really expensive to live here. And I think this city is going to get blown up again. I really do. And the reason I do is that I was having lunch last week and this girl came up to me and she said, I’m a huge fan of yours and she was in the military and she said that all people like at West Point and all people in the military have survivalist backpacks because if it happens they think the damage will be so great.”
Well, Kelly, we have a room here in Indianapolis just waiting for you if New York gets too scary. “Oh, thank you, but the thing that’s really funny is that I asked if LA was dangerous too and they said no, because LA has no landmarks, so I can go out there too.”
Sexiest city in the world? Sexiest Club? Sexiest hotel? “Sexiest city in the world? Paris, France. Sexiest club in the world? The bar at the hotel Le Meurice. Sexiest hotel in the world? Best hotel or best hotel to have sex in?” Either. “I’d have to say the penthouse or the Clark Gable/Carol Lombard suite at The Hollywood Roosevelt is where I conceived my daughter.”
Boxers, briefs, jockstraps…or nothing at all? “In bed nothing at all. During the day, boxers.”
Did you think of the answer to the theme song for your life? “Oh, God. I’d like to say Brand New Key by Melanie. I don’t know why. Because I ride my bike everywhere instead of taking a car.” She starts singing, “I drove my bicycle past your window last night.” She laughs, asking someone in the background what would be the theme song for her life and they answer Born to be Wild. “Oh wait. Bad Reputation by Joan Jett! There you go!” She starts laughing, talking again to whomever she’s with. “I was so afraid you were going to say,” and then she begins singing, “If I could turn back time.” and laughs again. She’s quite humorous, this one.
Your book is about living your dreams and taking risks to get them to come true…what are some risks you never thought you would take? “Opening People’s Revolution. Also stopping doing drugs was a huge risk I took which actually helped me out a lot.”
What do you do with all of the gifts you’re given by designers? “I give them away. I think I probably give away about 90% of everything I get.”
Who are three people, dead or alive, that inspire you? ” My mother, my daughter and Amma, the Holy one.”
Anything else you want us to include in the interview. “That I’m sending you made love from New York City and I love your support! And if New York City blows up, clean the apartment, I’m coming over.”
Eyes Open, We’re Watching!