Interview: DIYer Alaina Stamatis

March 18, 2010

23-year-old Alaina Stamatis is as busy as she is creative. Besides working on several writing and fashion projects, she helps organize some of the most energetic D.I.Y. shows New York City has to offer. She recently took some time out after a show to talk to Converse.com.

alaina

When did you move from your native Long Island to NYC?

I lived here during the summers while at school. After school I moved to Bushwick. Then I left town and went to L.A. and France. Now I’m back.

Why did you move to L.A.? Isn’t the conventional New York wisdom that L.A. sucks?

My family lives in L.A. now…I really like it there. I can’t drive, but I take the bus everywhere with all the people who’ve gotten DUI’s and stuff. It’s the only city in the world that’s comparable to New York in terms of culture. And there’s a lot of accessible nature that does not exist here.

How does the D.I.Y. scene there compare to the one here in Brooklyn?

I would say the scene is pretty comparable…the real difference is the D.I.Y. venues don’t have a serious bar set up or they’re not as tightly run as they are here. There are more volunteers, and that’s why they’re not tightly run. It’s really hard to meet cool people at all-ages shows in L.A., but it’s so beautiful and fun there that I don’t really care.

What was it like living in Paris?

It’s a really beautiful city. I was friends with mainly French people and they’d take me to parties and shows and stuff and that was fun. I helped promote shows there and I had a great time. It’s got a smaller scene and there are fewer popular French bands, mostly it’s Americans who are in town.

Why do you think that is?

Subculture is ingrained in our culture since the fifties and sixties. For us, it’s more normal and our subculture is really rich, but in other countries it’s still underdeveloped. I think Berlin has a really good creative scene, though.

How did you get involved in throwing shows? How long have you been doing this crazy thing?

I would go to a lot of shows, and in January of ’07 I started working for [D.I.Y. promoter] Todd [P]…if he went on vacation or something, I would sometimes organize shows of bands he wasn’t that interested in but who I thought would be fun. I’d pick bands that were local and put something together.

How’d you come to live at Market Hotel?

I wanted to move back to New York and I wanted to move to Sunnyside. I really like Queens ’cause it’s the only existing melting pot in New York, but I didn’t know anyone there and it’s hard to move somewhere when you can’t meet the people. Then through word of mouth, [Market Hotel dweller] Ric found out I was looking for a place to live and got in touch with me, so I emailed Todd. I said, “maybe someday I’ll join the coast guard and take you to Antarctica, but in the meantime I can live at market hotel.”

What’s it like living at Market Hotel? What do you like about it?

I live in a nightclub and I work from home! That’s my joke. I’ve written a bunch of joke letters to major celebrities, like, “Dear ____, I live in a nightclub. Please come to Market Horel to DJ or do an inspirational speech while we do yoga. Love, Alaina.” I haven’t gotten any replies yet.

What are your typical responsibilities during a show?

I generally do bartending…I mix drinks and open beer and compliment people’s clothes for a tip. It’s really fun I really enjoy it a lot.

You organize stuff too, right?

Yeah, but when you work at these things it’s more watching over it. You have to walk from room to room and make sure people are doing the job that you hired them to do, and make sure people aren’t doing mass amounts of graffiti or hurting each other.

What was yourr favorite show in recent memory?

The last thing that I super loved was Shams at Death By Audio…I think he’s an incredible performer and that was super awesome. He was so sexy and I was so impressed…it’s really Goth. So evil. He’s a bad man.

What advice to you have for people who want to get involved with throwing shows?

They should listen to music that they like and then pursue seeing those bands…contacting people you admire in a music scene will help you work in the music scene. More than being on the street team for a big label or whatever and handing out flyers for a $40 show. Pursue the artists that you’re interested in.

What other projects do you have going on?

I do a lot of bizarro creative writing. “Gonzo memoirs” or something. I write my fashion blog and my friends and I started a lifestyle blog called “body actualized control” which is about cosmic living and healthy hedonism. And I’ve been recently writing for underscore quarterly…I’m writing something about the effed up apartments I’ve lived in. I lived in an effed up apartment in Paris…it was basically an apartment they wouldn’t have been able to rent to anyone who wasn’t desperate for housing…weird childish wallpaper…it looked like a children’s room but a 22 yr old couple had lived in it for 2 years. Then I lived off the Gates stop in an apartment that was pretty bizarre. It was between a women’s shelter and a recycling plant. I’d wear an opal ring so when men followed me home I could say, “oh, I’m married!”

I’m also writing a romance novel for teenagers…it’s a series called Summers Abroad where all these rich Manhattanite girls go to Paris or Costa Rica or New Zealand…going to these countries for some sort of summer abroad and meeting these hot guys and in the end they get back with their boyfriend since childhood from New York because true love is forever. Whenever I go to the bookstore, all I look at is romance novels for 13-year-olds…I kind of want to write it as a guide for girls who are going to do those things…and all those countries have hot men, so it’s really believable.

What exciting things are next on your agenda?

I’m extremely excited to go to Monterrey, Mexico…I’ve never been to Mexico so I think its gonna be really fun. I’m gonna be the night bartender at the tent village. I think most of the people will be from Mexico and making a pilgrimage to Monterrey if they don’t already live there. I think the lineup is incredible, and next year will be even better.

Info:
The Market Hotel

Comments (1)
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