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Andrew Mukamal: Kell's Angel


Kelly Cutrone can be scary. The no-nonsense fashion PR guru is infamous for telling it like it is -- often verbally eviscerating those foolish enough to get in her way -- both behind-the-scenes and on reality television where shes made a name for herself by mentoring up-and-coming socialites like Lauren Conrad and Whitney Port on MTVs The Hills and The City. So imagine working as Cutrones assistant. We caught up with Andrew Mukamal, whos been happily toiling away at Peoples Revolution for a little over six months and who began taping the Bravo show Kell on Earth almost as soon as he landed his new job (through an outlandish turn of events), to chat about working for the ferocious Cutrone, male liberation through fashion, and what its like to live his life on camera.Out: When did you first get into fashion? Andrew Mukamal: I think fashion was always just running in my blood. And it was just the way that I was always expressing myself. My mom likes to joke that she would leave town when I was like 3 and 4, and she would have all my play date outfits and soccer outfits laid out, and shed come back and whoever was taking care of me (my nanny or whatever) would say I refused to wear anything that she had laid out. All of the drawers would be shredded open -- I was walking around looking like a total freak. I think its always just what I was doing. But I didnt really recognize it as what I would ultimately be working in until I went to Paris when I was a junior in college. I was exposed to how many people live off the industry. And somewhere along the line, everything else kind of fell away, and there wasnt really anything else that I was thinking about or thinking about doing. Youre brand-new to Peoples Revolution. How did you start working there? I was working as a stylist's assistant, working freelance with several stylists, for a few months before I graduated from school in Virginia. I would come up to New York for some of it, but it was right after I graduated that I really got into it. I was doing seven days a week, with like four or five different stylists in New York, and one day I actually walked into Peoples Revolution to do a pickup, which happens like 200 times a day with our messengers and everything going on, and Kelly spotted me and walked over to me. First, she was like, Are you trying to do something here? And I was like, Uh, yeah, Im just trying to make a pickup. But she was like, Look at you. Look at what youre wearing. Show me your jewelry. Whats your name? And in five minutes she had asked me 40 questions, knew my sign, knew where I grew up -- I gave her like a vocal resume. And then shes like, Were hiring. And then she yelled to her then-assistant, [Stephanie] Skinner, Skinner, give him my card, and she hands me her card and she says, Send me your resume tonight. Call us. And I called, and I sent my resume in, and I actually didnt hear back from anybody for two weeks. I was really busy working. I was on a shoot where I was having to leave at like six in the morning, and it was the kind of thing where I was nervous to call because I knew it could be Come in right now, and if I was on a set in upstate New York, shooting something, I couldnt really drop everything. So I was kind of hesitant, and I was only calling once a week, so I called twice, and then I ran into Kelly at this RAD by Rad Hourani thing at the Soho Grand, and she was on me and immediately was like, Um, so, when are you going to be my assistant? When are you coming in? What happened to you? And I said, Well, actually, everybody in your office has been blowing me off. I started two days later, and I learned that she came back from that night and was screaming at everybody and saying, Excuse me, Im not getting my messages! People are calling for me! Which obviously now I relate to. The next morning she gave me her cell phone number, and she said, Never call the office again. From now on were communicating on our cell phones. And Im going to call you tomorrow. And at 8:45 I woke up, and Im lying in bed -- I didnt have a real job -- and Im lying in bed, and its Kelly Cutrone calling me and she leaves me a voice mail thats like this hysterical thing -- Nah, nah, nah, the early bird gets the worm. Like gibberish, practically, but pretty scary -- especially considering I didnt really know what to expect. And then I started and -- boom -- that was kind of it. What inspires your own personal style? I dont really think about it that much. I mean, obviously I educate myself on everything thats going on in fashion. Not that I want to -- its more of just something I cant resist, you know? So when shows are happening, were having Fashion Week in here, but Im out catwalking, waiting for each show to pop up [online], streaming through them like its a drug or something. Somewhere along the line it kind of morphed into this look of, I dont know, I guess its kind of androgynous? But what Im most interested in is mens liberation through fashion. I think that now women have so much more freedom in terms of what they can wear. And in the '70s Yves Saint Laurent put women in pantsuits, and it was a revolution, and now women can walk around in pants everyday, which several decades ago was not considered appropriate. Jeans, T-shirts, none of this. But, you know, men arent supposed to wear a dress. Men arent supposed to wear a skirt. Men arent supposed to wear sheer mesh -- unless youre like a tranny or something. So Im really interested in maintaining masculinity and still being able to explore other venues of fashion. We need to start moving in that direction. I mean, you look at those movies of the future, and everybodys in the same suit. I think that right now -- Rick Owens is pioneering this, its just kind of like a fuck you mentality. And I love that. You started taping Kell on Earth almost immediately after you started at Peoples Revolution. Were you wary of being on the show or did you dive in headfirst? At that point it was kind of like, Oh, I guess I got a job. Oh, I guess there are going to be cameras here. It was happening, and I couldnt really stop it. I guess the only option I would have had would be not to work here? At that point, if you werent going to be on the show, then you couldnt work here. And Im pretty shameless -- Im pretty honest. I was like, Oh, thats pretty funny. This will be interesting. I had no foresight into how I would feel when the show was actually airing. I still dont know -- the show hasnt actually aired. But now theres press happening. Now theres talk, there are ads, people are coming out from under the dust from my past being like, Um, Im pretty sure I saw you in an ad. But there wasnt really a thought process or any trepidation. Kellys been on a ton of TV shows. Did she give you any advice about being on a reality series? No real advice. Everything on the show was real. And it was almost to the point, because there was so much stress, especially at the beginning of the filming, that you couldnt even think about the cameras. We were all exhausted and stressed out, and I was totally out of my element: new people, new business, new everything. And there was just kind of ... being. I love telling people that and being able to feel really confident that thats actually how it happened, because its the real Peoples Revolution. And I know that, and thats why when we watch it we are all on our asses laughing, because its hysterical. We lived it. Its edited in a way that makes it more entertaining because now we can look back and we arent actually living it. But there wasnt any training or any conversations. It was juts kind of, Oh, heres the mike. Were going to put a mike on you today. Get to work. What are the most important or memorable things that Kelly has taught you in the short time youve been at Peoples Revolution? Kelly is just totally fearless. She doesnt apologize for anything. Kelly and I, we have a lot in common anyway, were like two peas in a pod, and I think thats kind of -- she reads energy really well, and she likes to think that shes psychic. I dont know if I believe in people who are actually psychic, but she definitely reads energy and can feel people immediately. And I definitely think she saw that right off the bat, the day I walked in. And I cant even tell you how much I learned from her. You know, just because working with somebody so closely, she juggles so much, she handles so much --like a task that I think is totally impossible, and Im sitting at my desk like Im not responsible for doing this at all, but Im part of helping the person who is responsible, and Ill be handling the phone calls and scheduling everything, and I start to panic, being like How is she going to pull this off? And then always, no question, she does it. And its only that thing like, Whoa, I remember when you first started discussing this, I thought it was like a sick joke. And that kind of thing happens every day. So it really just teaches you to push yourself. Every day push yourself -- or else whats the point? Whats the point of doing anything? Finally, in the first episode of the show youre trying to hook it up with one of the male models. Are you single? What effect did the show have on your love life? When I first started, so much of my time was spent here, and it got to the point where I was so run-down, and I wasnt in that mode of I can work for 15 hours and then Ill go out for a drink! And then Ill go out and meet people! And then Ill go and do that stuff. Because Ive never worked like that in my life, you know? Especially five to seven days a week, under this kind of pressure. So there was a lot of, I want to go home and crash and just try and recuperate and do it all again tomorrow. But I think things have gotten a little bit calmer. I got to experience the between Fashion Week period, and, yeah, Im seeing someone, but, Im single. I did not hook up with [that model] -- much to my dismay, because hes hot. [Laughs]. Kell on Earth airs on Bravo on Mondays at 10pm ET/PT. To read our interview with Kelly Cutrone, click here.Send a letter to the editor about this article.

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