For many of us art is a form of escapism from the mundane, the boring, and the depthless. It arouses our curiosity, evokes thought, and bring forth emotions of fascination, fear, and captivation. Whether it’s music, photography, paintings, fashion, or film—art is powerful and profound and should be celebrated. LuvnGrace Entertainment is an event planning company like no other in Vancouver. Recently I’ve gotten to know event producer Vernard Goud, who is just as enjoyable and fun as the parties he puts on.
How did you get involved in starting events—doing parties like the Lady Gaga After Party, Bowie Glam Balls, and events for famed fashion photographer Raphael Mazzucco?
I started getting involved doing events by simply having everything falling into place by “accident”—even though I may or may not believe in accidents. I was taking the Vancouver Film School Entertainment Business Management Course from mid July 2006 to June 2007 and in May of 2007 my dear friend Cheryl Whitehurst (also a fellow student at VFS) at the time told me to join Facebook which I reluctantly did. This was around the time when Facebook was still fairly new to most people. For fun I created a Luvafair Group and it just grew like crazy in a matter of days. Luvafair had closed down for good in February of 2003 and it’s demise left a huge gaping hole in the city for many of Vancouver’s most creative underground scene this side of Graceland. It was so crazy rather exciting reconnecting with so many people from the Luvafair days. Quite a few people started to tell me that I should do a Luvafair Reunion Event and this simply clicked with me of course. It made total sense as I was studying event planning at VFS at exactly the same time. So I organized my 1st event which I called LuvnGrace Affair on September 25-2007 at Richards on Richards (which would eventually succumb to the same fate Luvafair did in 2009 making way for more condos). The event was sold out and was so incredibly successful I knew that this was what I was meant to do.
Another reason I felt I was meant to do events was that I have always been the person who made people listen to the latest, newest cutting edge sounds since I was a teenager. Immigrating from Holland at age 15 gave me a bit of the upper hand in music, style, fashion etc. as Vancouver was still so behind in those days. The only good music, fashion etc could be found downtown in those days so unlike most kids my age I would venture downtown on the weekends browsing import records shops a la Oddyssey Imports, Zulu Records (Kitsilano), Phantasmagoria, Le Chateau, Black Market, The Underground. Hair would be cut by Avant-Garde, Zero For Derek London in those days. Before Expo 86 the only young people that would venture downtown were the creatives, the outsiders, the artists, fashionistas and those craving most things outside of the mainstream. It’s interesting that many people that have only gotten to know me recently think that I criticize most current mainstream stuff because I’m older. They couldn’t be more dead wrong. Even as a teenager I would disdain 90% of what the general public was into musically so it’s not an age thing whatsoever. Just ask anyone who knew me from those days.
In regards to the the more high end fashion side of events—I had kept in contact with some of the true movers and shakers in the local industry throughout the years—Leone Fashion, Richards Models, Lizbell Gina Hole (They Representation), celebrity stylist Tracey Pincott—photographers the late Gaetano Fasciana, David Fierro, Chris Haylett and of course Raphael Mazzucco (Montauk). So when the Luvafair Reunion events started waning a bit in late 2009 I decided to change it up and started doing fashion related events. In October of 2009 I contacted my friend mega Fashion Photographer and Artist Raphael Mazzucco who had been living in Montauk (Hamptons) since the early 00’s after he became Vancouver’s biggest industry export this side of supermodel Coco Rocha and hairstylist Harry Josh. I asked Raph if I could do an event for him in Vancouver sometime and he said that he and his amazing wife Lisa Marie had just been commissioned to design the Olympic 2010 Lancome Paris Make Up Boxes and that they were being flown out to Vancouver for a special in person autograph signing at the Bay Downtown for Lancome in February of 2010 to which I replied “Well yes, but how about I throw a special party in your honor while you are here?” Raph said, “Love it—yes I would love it.” And the generous soul that he is got the Lancome head office to contact me right away so they could help me out with my party. So the rest is history so to speak. So of course the event was massive success. It’s only someone of Raphael’s magnitude to get the truly best of Vancouver’s Fashion, modeling and Beauty Industry out as he doesn’t live here anymore and has gotten so insanely successful. This never happens otherwise unless he or Coco Rocha and the likes are in town. Raphael was so impressed he called me a few weeks later and asked me to work on this massive project with Interscope Records for a few days producing the Vancouver part of the Culo by Mazzucco book shoot which was amazing. Pretty nice to be subsequently mentioned in the book with Interscope CEO Jimmy Iovine and Sean “Combs” Diddy. The book was shot worldwide over a period of 2 years and featured the very tastefully shot posteriors of Lady GaGa, Pamela Anderson, Chrissy Teigen, Adriana Lima, Alessandra Ambrosio, Fergie etc. Having all of this one my new resume made it very easy to get to do events afterwards for some of Vancouver’s premiere Fashion Designers: Anna Kosturova, Malene Grotrian, Jacqueline Conoir, Jason Matlo and of course Canada’s leading Leather retailer Danier Leather and the likes. I even did an event with Raphael’s very talented son Sascha Mazzucco in July of 2011. He is so talented and is following in his father’s legendary footsteps albeit in his own way of course.
I asked Raph if he could ask his friends at Interscope Records if I could do GaGa’s Afterparty for the Monsterball Tour that year in Vancouver. So Raphy asked Jimmy Iovine if I could do the Afterparty for his artist Lady Gaga in Vancouver which he kindly approved of. Very cool right?
Nowadays I mix my events up a bit—from high brow to low brow and or mix them both up just to mess with people minds a bit. The ever so kind record producer Adam H Hurstfield asked me to do special high end mixers at the Shangri La Hotel’s Xishi Lounge about a year ago and have been doing them a few times a month since then. How about a big Callander Girl Launch Party?:)
What has been your personal involvement in the fashion and film industries?
Well because my family and I had just moved to Vancouver (Coquitlam to be more exact) it really threw me off as I couldn’t stand being here at first. I couldn’t relate to most of the kids my age at school as I was one of the only 5 people who “dressed” up or looked different in school. I hated the music they were into and generally didn’t like most things they occupied their time with. I am still not a fan of the suburbs but in those days it truly felt like being in no-mans land. I naturally craved being around style, cool music scenes and of course people who were a bit more like minded. I didn’t need anyone’s approval but it’s nice sometimes to be understood. I don’t know what made me think I should start modeling but I found the John Casablancas ad in the yellow pages and asked my parents if my sister Saskia and I could take the course. My sister Fiona was too young in our opinion (she would start in the mid 80s). So my sister and I joined John Casablancas in late 1982. We both took the modeling course which I would never recommend to anyone nowadays. Irregardless we loved going downtown every Saturday and meeting some great people many of whom I still know nowadays. I modeled for various local designers and stores and was featured in a few Vancouver Magazines which I will have to dig up and scan. My sister Saskia is the one who really started working like crazy locally. You name it—she did it. In those days The Bay, Eatons and Woodwards still had offices in Vancouver.
Because my father worked overseas eight months out of the year I had become Saskia’s driver/mentor—going to all the go-sees, shoots and meeting just about anyone who is anyone in the industry. If there was any female model loved in Vancouver it sure was my sister. She was somewhat of a local celebrity after she became a finalist in the worldwide John Casablancas Look Of The Year Contest with numerous TV appearances and newspaper articles in 1985. At age 14 she went to New York for a month and met her 1st boyfriend who happened to be one of the worlds top male models (did numerous campaigns for Versace, Montana, YSL, etc.) and he also helped her get many bookings for major magazines in Europe in the fall of 1984. He always called me his younger brother and yes I sure learned a lot from him about the industry. Saskia would eventually become one of the top 10 Finalists in the worldwide Look Of The Year Search by John Casablancas. Flying her to Toronto, Mexico and finally Madagascar for the finals—the judges were iconic supermodels Iman and Kim Alexis. Saskia was only 15 and at first didn’t want to do the contest so I convinced her to do it anyways and at least it paid off with a $50,000 Contract and a modeling career that many can only dream of. Even though it never really interested her to become a supermodel she earned more money each year than most doctors or surgeons do and did so until she stopped in 1997. The whole point is that I’m lucky to have always been around some of the true pro’s in the modeling, fashion, and beauty industry for most of the last 32 years.
As for myself I worked in clothing retail for about 2 years—Thrifty’s Jeans (my first real job ever) and the Mens clothing store Grafton and Company. In 1987 the film industry started becoming really big with shows such as 21 Jumpstreet, Wiseguy, McGyver and I started doing both background work—standing in and doubling—mostly for Johnny Depp’s hearthrob co-star Richard Grieco on Jumpstreet and Booker and sometimes for Ken Wahl on Wiseguy. I continued with the film work well into the 90s and into the mid’ 00’s but my heart simply wasn’t into it so I decided to change course by taking the Entertainment Business Management Course at VFS.
Tell us about Luvafair and Graceland. How come these two music clubs were so special to you and so many others?
Luvafair and Graceland were Vancouver’s epitome of underground and cutting edge nightlife coolness. It’s where most of Vancouver’s creative outsiders, so-called weirdo’s, artists, fashionista’s, gay, straight, transvestites, transgender, hairstylists, photographers, fashion designers, underground musicians went to starting from 1975 until Luvafair closed in 2003. It was our underground version of late 70s Studio 54 our world away from the mainstream which we generally loathed. It’s where I met & hung out with most of the cool people I still know and work with today including our beloved Jim Cummins aka I Braineater, Rick Forde, Raphael Mazzucco, Marcello Leone (Leone Fashion) and DJ’s Darren, Czech and David Hawkes. What I loved about those days is that many of Vancouver’s models and even so-called conventional adults loved coming to Luvafair to experience the unusual. Vancouver’s general crowd has become so top 40 and only want to experience the familiar and everyday. Something that turns me off immensely as most already know.The biggest stylistic and musical influences on Luvafair no doubt was David Bowie followed by Mr New Romantic Steve Strange. That’s why they used to have special Bowie Nights a few times a year throughout the 80s paying homage to the man who basically made it all possible. So many incredible musicians started and hung out there: Skinny Puppy, Images in Vogue, Moev, Frontline Assembly, Sarah McLachlan and of course Nettwerk Records Founder Terry McBride. He used to DJ there in the early 80s as well as amazing visual artist/album designer Steven Gilmore and cEvin Key. Luvafair was also the 1st club that had it’s first so-called start DJ namely Richard Evans. Nine Inch Nails played to only 70 people in 1988 during their “Pretty Hate Machine” Tour and the late great Divine performed at Luvafair in February of 1986. Every night was so unusual, mysterious and exciting. When I first started going there as an under aged teenager with my then best friend—the eccentric Dusan Durdovic. The feeling of being into stuff and scenes that the so-called average person on the street couldn’t relate to was so incredible. Losing my virginity in a west-end apartment with a beautiful bi-sexual lady who I met at Luvafair (she was 39 at the time) and well over twice my age was so bizarre, exciting, frightening and unlike a normal kid at my school would experience… most of whom went to house parties in the burbs on weekends. Everyone I knew had these incredible, unusual stories each weekend. It was pure magic in a non-conventional way. I think everyone who went there had their own crazy stories. So many artists came there after their Vancouver shows—U2, Billy Idol, Marilyn Manson, Trent Reznor and seeing Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode dancing (albeit drunk) on the speakers to his own “Personal Jesus” song was epic to say the least.
Graceland (which was conceived and started by impresario Vince Alvarro in late 1985) and was located exactly a block over from Luvafair’s 1275 Seymour Street and sort of became it’s “sister” club and this is where from 1987 until 1991 Robert Shea and his brother Mick Shea would first play Acid House in Vancouver. At the time no one else in the mainstream even knew what house or techno was. This is where many Luvafair people would go to as well once it opened. It was different yet similar. The big dark, cold warehouse-like and its mysterious back alley entrance was very appealing to us or anyone who was different. New York underground and avant-garde artists such as Joey Arias and John Sex would perform here. Graceland had its New York version of the club kids at Graceland with so many dressed up in beautiful bizarre ways.
Jim Cummins had a few shows there as well as Skinny Puppy. Favorite in the 90s were DJ Noah, Czech, DK Jeremy and also Kevin Shiu. DJ Pandemonium aka Isaac Terpstra started having his Sanctuary Nights (Mr SinCity) at Graceland in the mid 90s as well. Many of the worlds leading DJ’s and electronic artists played here: Sven Vath, The Orb, Laurent Garnier, Autechre, Perfume Tree, Banco De Gaia and the Crystal Method. It was amazing how Vancouver’s beautiful and stylish would all be part of this amazing venue’s fashion and beauty events in the late 80s early 90s. Nowadays—unfortunately 90% of Vancouver’s current so-called beautiful and stylish prefer to attend uninteresting, mainstream club events on Granville Street on the weekends and listen to Katy Perry or Nicky Minaj for “inspiration”. In the 80s/early 90s they would still listen and admire the awesome and eccentric, daring Grace Jones. Nowadays it’s the girl next door vanilla Beyonce. Not a good thing in my none too humble opinion.
What do you find the most rewarding putting on events?
Most rewarding thing is seeing people have a good time but more importantly seeing attendees getting good network connections and seeing people from all walks of life become friends afterwards is really rewarding. Helping out a charity or creating awareness about local or international social issues is always a plus. In my case—abused women and or human trafficking is something very dear to me. I love animals so I should definitely start focusing more on those that are in need as well. I haven’t done enough in that department yet so I am not happy about that.
You have been involved in events outside of Vancouver, like Miami. Where is a place that you would love to put on an event and what would it be for?
Would love to and am working on an event for Raphael Mazzucco as I did at Art Basel, Miami in December of 2013. Hopefully in the Bahamas later this year or Berlin early next year, but I also want to do an event for the amazing and eccentric artist designer Chloe Trujillo (the wife of Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo)—probably Miami. I am also currently working with the world renowned celebrity and fashion hairstylist Ward Stegerhoek and his partner, celebrity/fashion makeup artist Vicky Steckel. I run and update their brand new official Facebook pages and they would like me to perhaps bring them to Vancouver which would be amazing. One thing at a time though and I don’t want to reveal all.
Future plans for LuvnGrace Entertainment… Would you like to expand your company to cover all that you love and encompass?
I think I am already well on my way covering all that I love. I love what I do and consider myself extremely fortunate.