What comes to mind when you hear "nightclub impresario?" Perhaps you envision someone in a shiny suit wearing Italian loafers with no socks. Maybe you think about a sleazy leering hustler, who enjoys talking about his Miami and Las Vegas connections on the way to the back room. Or maybe you just keep it simple and think "douche bag." As a self proclaimed weekend warrior, I can attest from first hand experience that the stereotypes I described aren't too far off from the truth here in LA. Thankfully John Terzian and his partners Brian Toll and Markus Mollinari of the H.wood Group have broken the stereotype and positioned themselves and their properties as,well, the hottest shit in town.
H.wood Group is behind the ever popular SHOREbar in Santa Monica, Bootsy Bellows on Sunset and their most recent venture, Horray Henry's in West Hollywood. If you haven't been to one of John's clubs, I'm sorry, but I'm judging you. The chic and swanky spirit of Hollywood lives throughout all H.wood group properties and the line of people begging Parker (Bootsy's resident door guy) to get in can be jaw dropping. In a city where 86% of nightclubs don't make it past the 6 month mark, you have to wonder what the secret is behind the Terzian Touch.
I went straight to the source and visited Terzian at his office to find out. Gracious and down to earth, John spoke candidly about his family, law school, and his secret appreciation for cheesy romantic comedies. Check out the Q&A below!
Photography Robert Terrazas
DOWNTOWN DAVA: Where are you from and does your strong work ethic reflect your family upbringing or is it something you acquired in LA?
JOHN TERZIAN: Picked it up in LA? haha, definetley not. I grew up in LA--born in Santa Monica and went to highschool, college and law school here. Never left LA. My work ethic is definitely from my family, the most above board, hardworking people. It's weird, my immediate family are all attorneys and the other side is artists--strangest thing in the world! My dad is the hardest guy in the world, he's 77 years old and works 7 days a week.
DOWNTOWN DAVA: Before H.Wood group, how were you revolutionizing the nightlife scene?
JOHN TERZIAN: I started H.wood group a year after law school because I had a hard time getting a job working for someone else. Prior to that I was, sort of, in with the whole dj thing before any of this celebrity dj stuff existed. My late friend Adam Goldstein, DJ AM, was booking a lot of gigs. I helped manage and brand him, and you know I went to law school so I did all the contracts. The idea was always for him to have a hub to play at so we opened LAX. It was a really unique club for the time, it's essentially where bottle service was started--it didn't exist then, so much so that LAPD shut down bottle service for a year! After that I went on my own and opened a spot called H.wood in 2007 and that's when I came together with Markus and Brian to create H.wood Group.
DOWNTOWN DAVA: In what capacity do you work with collaborations and sponsorships? Are you the brains behind the idea merely or do you really utilize your time to bring the project to completion? There is an amazing sense of satisfaction with this I would assume.
JOHN TERZIAN: I'm very big on collaborations when it makes sense. It's smart to have people that have a different eye or a different demographic come together. I'm really heavy on the visual and execution side of the collaborations. It all comes down to your relationships and like minded people, so important. The fun part is seeing it come together it's so gratifying.
DOWNTOWN DAVA: What is your stance on the short term life of clubs here in LA? It's always been interesting to me how a club is hot one week and not the next. For Bootsy, I love that it's been a prime destination for me and my friends for quite sometime and has become a reliable source of fun.
JOHN TERZIAN: I embrace it. Everyone fights it, but you just have to accept it. It makes my job hard but it also keeps me on my toes. I disagree with a lot of people when they say LA has bad night. It's good here-people are building good clubs and bars. It makes it more competitive. When we did Hooray Henry's every second was focused on the design and the details, club's don't that. You have to constantly reinvent yourself to endure. The reason Bootsy's has been lasting is because everyday we are coming up with new charities, new events, new parties, day time activations.
DOWNTOWN DAVA: My dad is a police captain, he's never heard of your clubs (which is a good thing) how do you ensure a quality crowd.
JOHN TERZIAN: That's management. We're blessed to have a great team. We are very selective about the events we accept and who is at our tables. We've positioned ourselves to focus on the strength of the atmosphere and having a strong staff presence. You avoid crowd problems by being hands on and actually being there.
DOWNTOWN DAVA: Lastly, 5 things no one know about you
1. I'm pretty superstitious I tie my shoes the same way everyday. I also wear the same shoes on important nights.
2. I love cartoons, grew up loving duck tales.
3. I secretly like cheesy romantic comedies
4. I recently had a night where I was hosting two major clients. One at Bootsy Bellow's and one at Horray Henry's. I hired a driver and was back and fourth between both venues all night. Each time I left, I would say I was using the restroom or checking on the kitchen staff but really, I was making sure the other client was being taken care of. I pulled it off.
5. I've never done a single drug in my life and only smoked two cigarettes. If you get caught up in the party you will burn out.