If it’s good, Max Heusler probably knows about it. If it’s good, Max Heusler will over-indulge in it. Back in the mid 90’s, he had many huge boxes filled with mix-tapes of all the hard-to-get underground Hip-Hop songs real fans would kill for. None of them were labeled so there was no way of identifying the thousands of tapes, but that’s Max. Almost as many cassettes he had, he has shoes. Cologne. Hair products. Clothes. Movies. All in abundance and all within arm’s reach. And all good quality. You would think he was hiding and wanted to live it up.
The Good Life. Few live it. Even fewer would know what to enjoy in it. To live this way, Max Heusler genuinely does not care what other people think or say. Take note, this is not some Facebook picture that frustrated people share, stating “I’m strong and I will follow my heart” or some nonsense like that. No, he actually, physically, emotionally, and mentally does not latch on to others’ opinions of him. I admire that.
He’s always one of the first to put people on to new foods, tech items, and any other thing most people desire. He could still tell you what he had for dinner at Esca 10 years ago, how much it cost, and what went wrong. His memory and attention to detail are almost unmatched.
We caught up with the Fund Raising Manager for a few laughs.
1) You are one of the biggest TRUE hip hop heads? Tell those who don’t know, what it was like staying up late for Stretch and Bobbito. That rush of putting together a mix-tape
Well, I hate to sound like a snobby dick head, because I hate people like that, but when it comes to hip hop, I have to be that way. Mainly, because I know so many people who think they’re a 90’s hip hop head because they went to Fat Beats and/or saw a show at S.O.B’s. From like 91′ – 01′, hip hop was my life. I came to school on Friday’s, tired so many times because I stayed up late trying to catch that new Cage or Mobb Deep demo. And catching it was one of the most thrilling things in my life at the time. What was crazy was back then, is that Stretch and Bob were playing so many joints, that you could just hit record, flip the tape, stop it when it was done, and have one of the dopest mix tapes ever.
And the thing is, is that as much as I was into hip hop, I knew I wasn’t shit, because I met a dude at Hofstra where I went to college (what’s up Susu) who had Phillie and Dutchmaster boxes filled with Stretch tapes. So I just can’t stand dudes who think they’re “from that era” because they liked Prodigy or used to go uptown to buy weed. Shut the fuck up. It’s so different now, you can just google whatever and any idiot can download it. By the time Stretch and Bob broke up (pause), the whole scene was done. Don’t get me wrong, I always love hip hop and there are new acts that I like (mostly my homey Johnny Shipe’s artists on Cinematic), but it will never go back to what it was prior to it’s total commercialization. It’s sad. As a quick side note, everyone gives Stretch and Bobbito the props, but there used to also he shows on 89.1 (the NYU station) that Eclipse, DJ Riz, Martin Moore and Mayhem did on Wed and Thurs nights from like 10-1 that gave 89.9 a run for it’s money. Also future flavors and Underground Rail Road.
2) When you do something, you go all in. I sell wine and liquor, but when it came to liquor, you would put me on to all the new things. You stopped drinking and then transformed that energy for sprits into the new world of cologne. Tell us about your transition and your new love of men’s fragrances.
I loved drinking and I love the fact that vintage cocktails came back in vogue. But I can’t smoke one blunt, take one pill or drink one drink. I went through a bad breakup and was casually drinking almost a liter of liquor a day. I did this while still maintaining a full time job as a marketing director at a major New York non-profit. I never missed a day of work or was ever late because of drinking, but I went to a doctor after a panic attack and he told me that my liver enzymes were through the roof and that if I continued drinking, I would at some point permanently damage my liver. That’s scary to hear when you’re 32. So I stopped, not cold turkey, but I weaned down pretty quickly. And now, I only have an occasional beer or glass of wine, no more liquor. Ever again. The liver repairs itself pretty quickly and I’m pretty sure that mine is fully healed. But I can never go back to living like that. Quitting was actually easy, thank God. I didn’t need an intervention, rehab or twelve steps, I just knew enough was enough. I know it hasn’t been as easy for other people. Being an addict is awful and great at the same time. It’s awful if you can never channel it into something positive, but it’s great if you can.
And I must have some infatuation with liquids, because then I just got really into fragrances. I had always been into cologne, but never at such a high level. I just love the way that smells can conjure memories and emotions. I also love the fact that two bottles so close to each other in a store can smell so fucking differently. And yes, when I’m into something no matter what it is, I’m all in. I live it and breathe it. I currently own about 200 bottles of cologne and about 400 different samples. Also, the online community of fragrance reviewers have really embraced me and showed me a lot of love. We really are like a big family and I feel extremely close to my fellow reviewers and all of my Youtube subscribers.
And because this blog is going to focus on a lot of Italian culture, I’ll let everyone know that my current favorite house is a little known perfumery out of Rome called Profumum Roma. They make some of the best fragrances in the world, but because they don’t have a huge distributor, no one outside of people in the fragrance community actually know that they exist. They make such a wide array of fragrances and all of them last for hours. That house should really blow up in the next year or two. Their scents are just incredible.
3) Besides booze and cologne, you are a big fan of hard to find food spots. What do you look for when scoping out a restaurant or food specialty place?
I don’t care about anything other than the food being good and a chef who really cares about his or her craft. How much it costs, what it looks like, and how long I have to wait are all secondary. When Shake Shack first opened I waited two and half hours with my ex to get a burger. And while I like it, it was nowhere near as good as I had hoped. JG Melon really is the best burger in NY. Regardless, I want a passionate chef and hopefully they’re doing something new, or………something better than anyone else. Anthony Bourdain, Kenny Shopsin, Eddie Huang, Batali, etc…..all those guys did something new, and that’s probably the best thing that you can do as a chef. As long as it’s good. Marshmallows on pizza would be new too, but keep it the fuck away from me. Innovation and passion, do not a good chef make. You need some taste as well.
4) Do you believe in an Afterlife?
I go with what Steve Jobs, an idol of mine, said about this. I think it’s 50/50. Half of me believes that there has to be something. That all your energy and learnings have to be stored somewhere and continue on. But the other half of me, thinks that once you die, it’s over and someone just flips an off switch. Which is why, as Jobs said, he never puts an off switch on Apple products. There are just sleep buttons.
5) You said, “Everyone thinks they are funny, but they are not.” Explain.
Everyone thinks that they have good taste and everyone thinks they’re funny, and only a very small percentage of people have each one of those traits, obviously less have both. No one wants to think that they can’t make people laugh because that’s such an enviable trait and for guys who don’t look like European underwear models, it’s a very important trait. I don’t know that I’m hysterical, but I do know that I’ve gotten a lot of women out of my league because I’ve been able to make them laugh. It’s very, very important and no one wants to admit that they are not funny. I don’t even know if I’m funny, I just know what other people tell me. And from what I hear, half of my humor is due to how easily aggravated I get.
6) Besides watching people with oil stains on their shirts placing bets at the OTB, what are some other very depressing images and things.
Well, I go to TJ Maxx a lot now because they frequently have discontinued or hard to find colognes for very cheap prices (I search for fragrances the way I used to search for hard to find music or liqueurs) and I see a lot of depressing people there. Also in a Starbucks near my house, I’m noticing that a lot of homeless people seem to be spending their day there. That depresses me. And I just finished Artie Lange’s new book. Anytime that I feel depressed, I just grab a book by someone who had way more than I ever did and lost it all. That genuinely makes me feel better. I also find people who make poor fragrance choices depressing. And shoes, guys, please pick out nice shoes. They don’t have to be expensive and I don’t care if they’re actual shoes or sneakers. Buy good ones and if you have no fucking clue, which lots of you do not, ask a girl you know that has some style. Clearly, too many of you just cannot be trusted.
7) Last meal before you die?
It would probably be something that you love, Bucatini all’ Amatriciana, with a bottle of a really raisiny Amarone and an 80mg OxyContin for dessert (hey, it’s my last meal right?). Or a just great burger. I think I would want my last meal cooked either by David Chang, Kenny Shopsin, or Mario Batali. Kenny Shopsin is the culinary version of Rick Rubin. He put shit together that you would never think would work. But he’s a fucking genius and he’s never gotten the credit that he deserves in the industry. But people who know what’s up, eat there. Him and his son are also really good people.
8) Favorite things to wear?
Right now it’s pretty simple: Nike SB dunk lows, Air Max’s (usually 95’s) or Driving Loafers, well-made but affordable denim with a street wear t-shirt (Crooks and Castles, Supreme or Acapulco Gold) in the summer time or a cashmere sweater in the winter time, and a Northface or toggle coat. Maybe a nice scarf to floss a little, Burberry or Louis V. But Prada America’s Cup sneakers are my favorite shoes of all time. This is going to sound conceited, but Luca has this same trait. Style is just so easy. If you have confidence, it’s a snap. I have no comprehension of men who dress badly. I don’t understand them.
9) Your style evolved alot. You used to have all the Helly Hansen, Hilfiger, and Tag Heuer during the “purple tape” era. Now it’s more refined European in this era. Always fresh for each time period. What do you consider most important when composing an outfit? Does it depend on your mood and where you see yourself at that present moment in your Life?
Yes, it depends where you’re going. I’m not as into labels as I used to be. I think as you become more comfortable in your skin, you care less about the labels that you think define you. I used to have to have certain labels, I thought it was like saying “Yo, I’m down” but it was me just trying to be who I wasn’t. There’s a lot of fly shit out there nowadays. These European spots are knocking off high fashion really well. But it’s never as well made. Sometimes a suit from Top Shop might look like it was done by Brioni, or Kiton to the untrained eye, but those brands will last you a lifetime. You’re Top Shop suit might last you for a year…if you’re lucky. These days I’m really comfortable shopping at H&M, Uniqlo, or Zara. I think when you’re in a business setting you have to be out to impress, but when you’re keeping it casual, who really gives a fuck if you’re wearing Japanese Ring Spun denim or Levi’s. I spent $600 on jeans about 10 years ago. I so wish that I could go back and smack me. I think a watch is important. Supposedly, that’s how European businessmen know whether to take you seriously or not. That’s a little scary. I would say if nothing else, at least get a decent watch. A well made, automatic one. Even if it’s a Seiko. Those and shoes are important. The only piece of attire that I really collect now are pocket squares. They can really liven up an outfit for a very small premium.
10) Would you rather work in a Beijing shoe factory, where they enslave you for 20 hours a day, for the rest of your life or eat a spoonful of shit once a year?
Spoonful of shit. I’d rather murder puppies than go anywhere near China. Yuck. And not because I have anything against Chinese people. Their government terrifies me. Between censoring Google and drowning baby girls, yeah, I don’t want to be anywhere near China.
11) What made you get your Tattoo? Explain the meaning behind it, you communist bastard.
It’s a 100% Rearden Metal tattoo on a boiler plate on my wrist. Boilers used to have little tags screwed on to them, letting you know what kind of metal was used to make them. In Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, Rearden Metal is a type of metal that this entrepreneur created that would be cheaper and stronger than any other material out there. It would change the way things were structured and would save the railroad industry. But the government wouldn’t let it come out because it would put other metal producers out of business.
And there’s the government for you. Want to scare the shit out of government officials? Present them a perfect way to do things. It will make a lot of their friends and constituents unnecessary and then that perfect way to do things has to be stopped, by any means necessary. America was a beautiful idea. But like Nicky says in Casino, “We had everything but in the end we fucked it all up.” So it has a double meaning. First, my tattoo is a jab at the current government and what our country has become. And the second is because when I got it, I had just beat a drug problem and wanted to remind myself that I’m stronger than my demons. And whenever I feel weak or vulnerable, it’s nice to just look at my wrist and remember some of the things that I’ve overcome. But on a side note, it is terrifying how prophetic Atlas Shrugged has become. Just wow.
12) Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Ideally, with a family outside of NYC. I love the city, but it’s over, I’m terrified of de Blasio and it’s too expensive to own a business in NYC. I would love to have a store that sells stuff for men of all classes. Fragrances from $5 a bottle to $500 curated by me. Also cigars, ties, cuff links, maybe watches. Just a store for gentleman that an average Joe could afford. Unfortunately, with fragrance stores, they all seem to be either Perfumania places where the sales people don’t know shit or ultra high-end places where regular guys are too intimated to ask questions. I want to bridge the gap. The same way that you can come into In Vino Vertias and get a wine for $8 or $800, I want to be able to provide scents that same way. You need to curate really well in order to do that. Anyone can pick out a good $500 fragrance, my shih tzu could probably do that. Can you find me a $5 fragrance that doesn’t smell like the sweat of a cab driver in Belarus? If you can’t, I’m not impressed by whatever you know about fragrances.
13)Where do you see the world in 10 years from now?
It’s really scary. I used to just be scared of liberals, but now I’m scared of conservatives and liberals. They both only give a shit about one thing and that’s getting elected. How fucking scary is that? It’s not good that someone as sensible and smart as Ron Paul gets laughed out of the dialogue. The bottom line is that someone like him cannot beat Santa Claus. These politicians get up there and promise people more, and more. And whoever promises the most, gets elected. How do you speak sense and restraint and beat that? What do I think this country will look like? I think people should read Atlas Shrugged. We’re getting really close to disaster. You mix where the government is going, with where society is going, and fucking people knocking people out for no reason……..mix all that with a media that loves inciting racial violence…..We are all in serious trouble. This isn’t going to end well. I can’t see how it does.