NEW YORK’S HOST WITH THE MOST
A Spotlite on MATT BLESSO
By Lori Zimmer
This month we celebrate entertainment–the people that inspire us through song, dance, theater and film. But entertainment is not just the performance, but also the experiential. We tend to overlook the brains behind the operations–the ones that bring the best entertainment to us–the ultimate host. And boy, Matt Blesso is the host with the most.
I first met Matt at one of his epic all-day brunches in his Soho penthouse. The room was full of friendly creative types, gabbing away, exchanges ideas while noshing on a huge spread of food and drink. Matt, ever the attentive host, was poised over a huge roast in the kitchen with a giant smile on his face. Matt’s brunches are like a modern salon, joining strangers to bond over good food and some stiff drinks.
In the business world, Matt is best known as the president and founder of Blesso properties, an innovative New York firm that develops sustainable and eco-friendly luxury properties–not to mention his co-ownership in gay resort Fire Island Pines, and Brooklyn arts incubators, 3rd Ward and Artists Wanted. With his feet firmly planted in not only the business, but also the creative world, Matt could easily sit back and let the money roll in. Instead, he has dedicated his life to sharing his wealth, through endless philanthropic events and programs.
Matt has opened his home to more than just casual brunches with artists. He selflessly welcomes strangers into his loft and roof deck, hosting a bevy of philanthropic and art events for organizations such as SCOPE Art Fair, Artists Wanted, Fourth Arts Block and private artists receptions. Most recently he and Amy Poehler hosted a benefit for the Worldwide Orphans Foundation, turning his loft into a catered affair, complete with open bars, passed hors d’oeuvres, aerial performers (hanging down his stairs) and bands in his living room, and on his roof – which also features a hot tub and an art installation from SCOPE New York, a two person bar called “Mandies,” by Andrew Ohenesian, which has a working beer tap.
Guys like Matt savor New York and all it has to offer, and use this drive to support the facets of the city that he loves so much. Matt’s philanthropy efforts reach potential donors in a way than a standard rented-hall benefit cannot. By welcoming people from all walks of New York’s rich cultural scene into his home, he creates an intimacy that hugely organized events cannot, connecting on the individual level, and making the event–and the cause–now a personal relation. All this while throwing a hell of a party–the kind where you call your friends from his rooftop jacuzzi, cocktail in hand, and say, “You’ll never guess where I’m calling you from!”
Lori Zimmer: Where do you see yourself going in the next few years?
Matt Blesso: I grew up in Paterson, New Jersey, but have resided in New York since I finished college in 1995. Geographically, I feel very connected to New York City and could not imagine living any other place in the world. Figuratively speaking, I currently do not have a solid outline for the direction in my life. I feel I am somewhat of a late bloomer and still evolving. The one thing I know for sure: I will always need to have a strong sense of pride in my work and I hope to increase my philanthropic commitments in the future.
LZ: What book has changed your life?
MB: I spent ten years suffering from grueling chronic joint pain. Reading The Mindbody Prescription by Dr. John Sarno, cured me and completely changed my life. That has by far been the most important book of my life.
LZ: Tell us more about you personally–what are your loves and dislikes?
MB: I spend as much time as I can outdoors and it has influenced my love of cooking and experimenting daily with the fresh ingredients available in my garden and at the farmers market. Other things I love are reading, yoga, dancing, classic cocktails, stinky cheese, Bali, and red wine. I try my best not to feel hatred towards anything or anyone. I simply aim to avoid those things that create an imbalance or negative energy in my life.
LZ: What is your favorite hot spot in New York?
MB: In an age where nightlife is constantly being documented and plastered all over social media sites, it seems to me the more hot the spot, the less it is an authentic NYC experience. More people have become spectators more concerned with “checking in” than participating without restraint. I generally have more fun at an underground party than at a club or restaurant with the occasional celebrity and line out the door.
LZ: Why is Matt Blesso here?
MB: To seek new challenges, help others, and enjoy the ride.
Matt Blesso is a sustainable real estate developer, friend of the arts, co-owner and developer of the Fire Island Pines Commercial District, Artists Wanted and 3rd Ward. He serves on the Boards of Worldwide Orphans Foundation, The Institute for Urban Design, The NYU Schack Real Estate Institute and The Citizens Housing and Planning Counsel. His latest project, with 3rd Ward and Chashama, is The Palms Dumpster Pools and Music Venue, is open for dips in the pool, live DJs, and local food in August, located in Long Island City.
Written by Lori Zimmer
Edited by Meaghan Coffey
Photography by Shaun Mader
Design by Marie Havens
Additional Thanks to Marc Dimov!
Matt Blesso in his Soho loft, NYC, Photography by Shaun Mader