Saul Taylor / December 11, 2018
Andy Boose is a very busy man. As one of the world’s most successful event producers, he stages galas and good old-fashioned knees-ups across the globe. We sat down with him in his trademark cowboy hat (so that everyone can spot him at any one time during an event) the morning after the first UNICEF Summer Gala in Sardinia’s Porto Cervo.
Where did it all begin?
I started as a musician. I did a lot of things before I got into this business, but when I was a kid I was a musician so I played in a lot of bands, did a lot of acting and then set design and lighting for theatre when I got into high school.
So you were into entertainment?
I was in a band during college, and we released some records. Then I was living in New York playing music and trying to make some money during the day when I got a job at amfAR. It was supposed to be a two-day temp job in the accounting department, but when I got there they said they already had someone. But just as I was about to leave, a woman walked by and said, “No, no, we need someone for two days in the special events department.” I didn’t even know what amfAR was at the time. I got the job the day after the memorial service for my high school theatre teacher, Barry, who had died of AIDS. He was a big mentor in my life, and so I was really determined to do something important to fight AIDS, and I felt like Barry gifted this new job and passion to me. I stayed at amfAR for 10 years and became the director of special events. amfAR now has nine annual events a year around the world. And I produce the editions in Cannes, New York, Hong Kong, Paris and Milan.
What did you do for them?
I started developing new events, expanding the fundraising, making the events bigger. The first time we went to Cannes it was held in a restaurant with 100 people and it raised $100,000. The event has raised as much as $35 million in recent years.
What happened after that?
After 10 years I went to GQ magazine as the director of special events. It wasn’t a good fit honestly, so after a few months I decided to start my own company. My old boss at amfAR hired me to produce the Cannes event which I know “inside and out”. GQ agreed to keep me on freelance for a while so I had two clients. At the same time Hugo Boss hired me to do some parties, so I started an event production and fundraising company: AAB Productions. It was just me. That was about 13 years ago. We got into big international fundraisers for various charities. We started with amfAR, then we worked with the Elton John AIDS Foundation, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, Novak Djokovic Foundation, Madonna’s Raising Malawi charity and Prince Albert’s foundation. High level.
How do you go about designing an event?
So this [Sardinia] started one year ago. Stefan Santoni (whose company TUFF collaborates with my company on many projects) and I had just produced the Leonardo DiCaprio event in St Tropez and the next day we had a meeting with some people from UNICEF including a gentleman who I’ve known for a long time. He’s been to many events that we’ve done and he’s on the scene. We sat down and he said, “Listen, Porto Cervo in the summer is a great opportunity to raise money for UNICEF.” What we had found with Leonardo’s event in St Tropez is that the summer is a good time to get people together and raise money for a good cause. People are happy to contribute because they’re in a good
mood and if they are fortunate enough, why not help charitable causes while having a good time? For a charity event you need sponsorship, celebrity participation, performances and volunteer leadership. You need a committee and a group of chairs that are going to help raise money. The hard part is getting everyone involved at the same time, as generally, everyone wants to know “who else is involved” before committing to participation.
“You need a variety of old people and young people. You need people with money, people who are fun, beautiful women, beautiful men — something for everyone”
It must be impossible to find the superstars.
Sometimes. We tried to get people involved back in February, March, April for this event. Ricky Martin was the first to commit! He’s a UNICEF ambassador, so the cause is close to his heart. I happen to have known his publicist for many years. We have a lot of relationships because we have been doing this for a while, and we are constantly building new bridges to help connect actors and musicians and the fashion elite with new causes.
How does the team work?
In this business, you have to be cool under pressure. We have our core teams that are always working — Miranda, Katie, Alex, Duncan, Niki, Meghan — full-time staff or regular consultants who do things with us at almost every event. And then depending on the size of the event we expand. We have people that fly in from all over the world. And these days what’s great is that people can really be working from anywhere.
What makes a really great event?
It’s definitely the mix of people. You need a variety of old people and young people. You need people with money, people who are fun, beautiful women, beautiful men — something for everyone. And some good entertainment, DJs and making sure that it’s fun, it moves, it’s not boring. There’s a little high, there’s a little low.
What’s the feeling like when you’ve finished?
So good. Can I explain the feeling? Well, the party was still going on down there last night, and I was like, “Let’s get the party started, let’s get everyone in the pool!” So we went down and maybe 10 of our team jumped in and then a bunch of the guests started jumping in and it was great!
What would you do if you didn’t do this?
Sometimes I think that I could go to some island and have a bar with live music. Maybe if I feel like it I’ll sing a few songs, maybe not. This week there was a lot of stuff that we didn’t do because we were so busy. So next week’s busy, man. We’re going on vacation, but we’re never really on vacation.