INTERVIEW Tea Hačić-Vlahović
Everybody remembers their first time. When I close my eyes, I can feel it. The sea of souls parts and I float through the portal to pleasure. Black and white lights strobing, pulling me into depravity. “Human Fly” plays as I lose my mind. Hit the bar and the bathroom for a little pick-me-up. Hard drugs or a warm body. When the glamor is too much to step outside for a cigarette. Flirt with the wave of beauties still begging to get in. Weathered regulars in need of a hit and desperate virgins wanting a taste. I’ve lived years of my life inside Plastic Club and spent years writing about it. Loved, cried, lived and died on that dancefloor. Sunday was my favorite night, because it was free (like me). A home for iconic DJs like Dorian Grey and Andrea Ratti, a mecca for the club kids, junkies, models and wannabees. A safe space for the fringes and binges. Recently, a location change threatened to ruin the vibe, but alas, Plastic prevails. Plastic kills, the party lives. My best friends and worst exes I met at Plastic, relationships were maintained and ruined there. I’ve written about the club in two books and countless articles and even hosted Plastic’s birthday party last year—but never talked to the founder, until now. Nicola Guiducci had twenty minutes. Before the call, I sent a voice memo asking how he’s doing. He sent one back of music playing in the club…

Tea Hačić-Vlahović: Hello, dear. Do you listen to music all day?

Nicola Guiducci: Yes, and even more so on weekends.

T.H.V.: It’s research.

N.G.: That’s right, I do research for the nights. Wednesday night, Friday night, Saturday night…dance, rock n roll…

T.H.V.: Since you are a professional at this, what advice can you give me on how to survive this lifestyle?

N.G.: First of all, I stopped drinking hard liquor. For a couple of years now. You know, I’m used to going to bed at six and waking up at two in the afternoon. So my rhythms are what they have been for 40 years; I’m not struggling.

T.H.V.: You are a night person.

N.G.: I live at night. I am lucky that I sleep a lot. If I have an appointment in the morning, I manage to go back to bed.

T.H.V.: I’ve worked in nightlife, and I think people in that world are made differently.

N.G.: Yes, you approach existence in a different way. This is my life. Even as a boy, I always worked at night. Maybe that’s one of the things that makes people more creative. There is more silence, there are no phone calls, there are no things…

T.H.V.: The troublemakers are almost all in bed sleeping at that time. The night world is full of cool people, people who party, or strippers, or drug dealers…

N.G.: I am always in comparison with younger people, while people my age have a different kind of life, obviously.

T.H.V.: Yes, boring stuff.

N.G.: Weddings, children, thinking about cooking…

T.H.V.: Plastic changed my life, I feel like I practically grew up in it, so I wanted to ask you because I don’t know the myth: How is it that you founded it?

N.G.: I used to be a window dresser for Fiorucci, and I used to do styling for fashion shows for him. One day, it turned out that there was this space that belonged to a friend of mine. I was an assistant at the time and I was bored, so I said I’d give it a try. I already had a big record collection – I’m talking about vinyl, of course – and I started. Just as it had started casually, the whole thing grew very autonomously in the beginning, only later did I start to plan more. At the same time, I continued to work for fashion, as a stylist, doing soundtracks for fashion shows. Let’s say the driving force behind it was the fact that I was tired of pretty much every place in the city. I was traveling a lot between New York and London and I felt that Milan needed something different. Traveling has been my great fortune, and in fact, I always tell my young people: “Travel, travel! Go away!” If I had not traveled here and there, there would be no Plastic.

T.H.V.: You need to know how others are doing to figure out how to help your city.

N.G.: Absolutely. To create something different. I came from the province, from a very closed city, I left when I was 18, and that’s where it all started. There’s always a place you don’t know that can inspire you in some way.

T.H.V.: Plastic had this unique quality of being international, but at the same time very Milanese. In a way that I can’t even explain.

N.G.: Exactly. That was what I wanted to do: to keep that spirit of Milan, but of a Milan that had seen the whole world.

T.H.V.: When you changed the location, was it difficult for you to figure out how to bring the soul of the old Plastic to the new location?

N.G.: It was great because in my opinion, this place has more facilities now, it is more comfortable. The place was dilapidated, we had so many problems, it really had to be torn down and rebuilt, and we had no capital for that operation. With Sergio and Pinky, we built all the rooms. The change was positive.

T.H.V.: It is always good to look forward. Otherwise, we get too nostalgic.

N.G.: I am not nostalgic. If Chanel changes the address of its location, it will still be Chanel.

T.H.V.: That’s the power of Plastic, it wasn’t just a place, it wasn’t the walls, it was what was going on in there. It’s the people that come there that bring a certain spirit, it’s not just the music, it’s a mood that is unique to this place and unique in the world. But how did you choose the name?

N.G.: I had these friends from Tokyo that I met when I was working at Fiorucci; they had a band called Plastic. I used to work with them, we used to travel together. In New York, I took pictures of them between these skyscrapers – I’m talking about 1978, 1979 – where there were these “PLASTIC” signs outside. In fact, the colors of the neon signs that you see outside are taken from those Manhattan skyscrapers. And later, I worked with Ray Petri, you know, Buffalo, who always said “killer” as in “cool,” so I added that. And the last “O” is from Jackie Onassis.

T.H.V.: A cocktail of references.

N.G.: A really great cocktail!

T.H.V.: Early in your career, who were the people who inspired you the most?

N.G.: It all came from London, with “godfathers” like Derek Jarman (an angel), who sent me to BLITZ to see ERASERHEAD by this strange American director, because according to him, the main character had the same hairstyle as me, but I was better looking. [laughs] Then Malcolm McLaren, who gave me tapes he made for stores (when he was with Vivienne) – that turned my point of view upside down, or rather gave it a sense-non-sense. But perhaps most of all, a DJ, also in London, who played all the songs I knew in a way that, let’s say, I made my own, trying to “forget” them, was simple and revolutionary, and he was totally unconscious of what he was “doing” to me.

T.H.V.: During your trips to London or New York, which you mentioned earlier, was there a particular place that made you think, “This is what’s missing in Milan”?

N.G.: So, let’s say that Plastic was born as a child of BLITZ, but the MUDD Club in New York was really beyond that, so we can say that they were both missing in Milan.

T.H.V.: Which are your favorite bands?

N.G.: All of Steve Reich’s musicians skin their fingers when he directs them.

T.H.V.: Going back to the musical search I mentioned earlier, is there anyone among today’s musicians who makes your heart flutter?

N.G.: Right now, nah… Songs… Maybe. Let me think about it… None.

T.H.V.: And what about the Italian scene?

N.G.: Mina until ’76.

T.H.V.: You represent an institution for Milan, what do you wish for the city? Looking back, is there anything missing today compared to the past?

N.G.: I’d prefer to be a legend than an institution. I hate institutions.

T.H.V.: Tell me what you are listening to, just a little taste of today’s Plastic.

N.G.: ADAM TEN & YAMAGUCCI The Girl Next Door
ASHE Moral of the Story
DJ KAOS I Want to Be There (Solomun Remix)
KEVIN MORBY A Coat of Butterflies

T.H.V.: How much do you think social media changed nightlife and the way young people go out?

N.G.: I think it is more conscious now. Nightclubbing was less pretentious before; now it is more self-conscious. Before, the focus was on other things, more on real things like attitude or looks; now, I see them very caught up and focused on their digital selves and less on fun and enjoyment in general.

T.H.V.: It used to be that going to a nightclub was an opportunity to have that whole sphere of experiences that daylight despises, things that you do in secret, in the secrecy of the night. It was sharing an experience with those people, in that place, at that time; but now, people go out knowing that they are sharing the night with everybody through the internet. It changes the way they do it.

N.G.: But, I tell you, I perceive it relatively. If you make me think about it, I can reflect on it, but it has always been a little bit like that in intention; maybe this is just the result of a mutation resulting from a generational change, which is constant anyway, and therefore normal.

T.H.V.: Mutation – nice word to describe it. Do you think there are real subcultures today? Or just references to the past?

N.G.: In my opinion, yes. We at Plastic are lucky to be able to gather the whole new generation of creative people, and I personally consider that a blessing.

T.H.V.: This question I’m going to ask you is difficult, in my opinion. If someone asked me, I would hate it.

N.G.: Try it out!

T.H.V.: Do you remember the best night you ever had at Plastic?

N.G.: Of course there were many, but when we had the PAPER Magazine party at the old place, it was a wonderful party. I couldn’t tell you what year it was.

T.H.V.: Who was there?

N.G.: Literally, everybody was there, it was like being in Hollywood: there were actors, actresses, we had many such nights. Then there were occasions that gave me real satisfaction – you know, when Baz Luhrmann comes and wants to meet you and says, “Ah, I wanted to meet you to tell you how much I appreciate your work,” that’s something that makes quite an impression. I was almost petrified that time and said, “Thank you! I love your work, too!” [laughs]

T.H.V.: Of all the legendary figures who have passed through your club, who has fascinated you the most?

N.G.: The polite and humble ones who were/are TOP OF THE WORLD.

T.H.V.: What is the strangest or craziest anecdote you can think of that happened in there?

N.G.: What happens in Plastic stays in Plastic.

T.H.V.: A lot of trends are born in the world of nightlife. Which ones do you love or hate at the moment?

N.G.: I like this 70s performance effect that I see on both Friday and Saturday, these things have a lot going for them. Speaking of nightclubs. The things I don’t like, I probably don’t see, so I wouldn’t even know how to talk about them. Everybody’s judging now, but my motto is “Judging stops growth,” and it’s not mine, it’s Nietzsche’s.

T.H.V.: If you hate it, ignore it!
In your boundless culture of music, can you tell us what is the first song that comes to your mind when you think of love?

N.G.: Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell.

T.H.V.: And we conclude by asking: What is love to you?

N.G.: Love. I wish it was a word that could be declined as a verb. In the past tense, present tense, past participle, subjunctive, CONDITIONAL. People think of abusing it (never as GENIUS, which is more than abuse, it is overuse) and the only solution we have is to listen to it, the word LOVE. From the intonation and the tone of the voice, it diminishes, explains itself, shifts in meaning, but fortunately not in meaning.  It cannot become obsolete because it is constantly mutating, evolving, while remaining true to itself. It is modern, or, if you prefer, timeless…. In fact, it is not a verb.