Richie Rich, the ’90s Club Kid, Goes Virtual for Beauty

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Richie Rich, the ’90s Club Kid, Goes Virtual for Beauty

Richie Rich entered Cafeteria looking to thrill. The arrival of Richie Rich at the Chelsea diner was a sight to behold. He was dressed in a crimson fedora and a mottled-green leather jacket with lavender shades. He also dropped his lavender shades to show off his blue-tinted eyes that were slicked with lots of glitter.

“This is my day look,”He said. “For night I just put on more makeup.”

Day or night, he likes to make an entrance, a habit he perfected during the ’90s, when he was a marquee member of the Club Kids, a raffishly inventive post-Studio 54 clan fanning its plumage at Limelight, the Tunnel and other fabled New York City nightspots. They attracted fans long before the advent internet influencers. They displayed their gender fluidity on talk shows, in the tabloids, and wore homespun fashions.

In the early 2000s, Rich had made a name for himself by creating a fashion label, Heatherette. This label attracted Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton and Debbie Harry. In 2008, the line was shut down.

There were gaps years, actually decades, during which Mr. Rich made his living by making custom designs for a number of private clients. YNG Zuck, a musician, and Pachi Lake, a TV and fashion personality.

He is now back and he is courting a new type of style renegade with his own virtual club.

His latest venture is Btykwn (pronounced “beauty kween”The site, which bills itself as a metaverse of makeup fanatics, is an improvised beauty lab, and, coming late spring, a purveyor for gender-free cosmetics. Mr. Rich envisions the platform being an ad hoc group where beauty enthusiasts from all walks of life can express their inner diva.

“Whoever you are, we want you to be you, we want you to feel fabulous,” he said as he sipped a Virgin Mary — “That’s a Mary without the alcohol,”He felt the need to explain.

He was a sweet-natured promoter and was speaking to an imagined fan base. “freaks, punks, princesses and outcasts,”Its promotional copy claims that the site will attract people who are looking for a safe place to go. Its motto: “If you don’t fit in, stand out.”

Because the community exists online, “you can join on the phone from any part of the world in the privacy of your bedroom,”He urged fans to follow his lead and said, “be at the party,”In the lingo for extreme-makeup lovers, “Boom! Beat your face.”

He partnered with Mister D, the cosmetics and events impresario who helped make the makeup artist François Nars a household name in the 1990s, and who is funding the new platform through Ultra Access,His brand management and investment company.

“People will sign up, share their stories, talk about social issues, fashion, style and TV,”Mister D said. “They’re not coming to us as a typical purveyor of nail polish.”According to Mr. Rich, the site has attracted around 10,000 members since its inception in March.

The irrepressible ringmaster of this online circus is Mr. Rich. He has not abandoned his outrageous aesthetic that was, in retrospect at least, well ahead of its time. Its impact can be seen in pop television shows like “The Voice” and “Futuristic Fantasy”. “Euphoria” “Glow Up,”A British television competition that sees aspiring makeup artists display their talent with neon colors and blush.

It is also visible in a constellation of computer generated “It”Girls included Lil Miquela Or Imma, and evident in the kind of surreal effects — jeweled eyes, vinyl lips and iridescent skin — proliferating on the metaverse. This is not to mention the makeup influencers on TikTok and YouTube who are keeping up with Mr. Rich.

He acknowledged his legacy, though he did so with a modesty. “We were not reinventing the wheel,”He said. “We just, without realizing it, did something that’s real to a new crowd of kids.”

At 51, he is a member of the majority. Born Richard Eichhorn in San Jose, Calif., Rich was aware of his eccentricity growing up. As he likes it to say, “I came out at birth with glitter on my face.”In his teens, he was a figure-skating champion and traveled for one year with the Ice Capades. “Being a boy, that wasn’t so popular,”He said. It didn’t seem to bother him.

The third grade was the first. “I used to dream of looks I would be wearing to school the next day,”He said. “I would wake up and be like ‘Mom, where’s that satin disco glitter jacket,’ and she was like, ‘What are you talking about? You don’t have that in your closet.’”

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His brothers introduced him to the musical and stylistic creativity of David Bowie, Debbie Harry, and other musicians. “Little bro, you’re like them,”He recalls being told. “I was 10 at the time, but they recognized the artistry in me.”

He was in his teens when he began sneaking out of his house with friends to One Step Beyond. “We were all doing makeup in the bathroom,”He said, “then going out dressed up in lipstick, hot pants and roller skates.”He was 17 when he travelled with friends to San Francisco. Julie Jewels, a founding member, of the Club Kids, found him and encouraged him join her scene in New York.

In Manhattan he discovered a home and showcase for his extravagant preening, befriending the Club Kids’ founders Michael Alig, James St. James and others. The Club Kids’ influence peaked in mid late ’90s, dissolving when Mr. Alig and his roommate Robert Riggs pleaded guilty in 1997 to manslaughter in the killing and dismemberment of their fellow club habitué Andre “Angel” Melendez — a sordid denouement in which Mr. Rich had no part.

Part artist, part provocateur, Mr. Rich went on to work with Susanne Bartsch, a producer of outré nightlife events, before teaming with Traver Rains to design T-shirts and leather wear out of Mr. Rains’ apartment. He was soon creating T-shirts and leather wear for Gwen Stefani, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Foxy Brown, after which he was noticed by Patricia Field, the stylist/costume design.

Heatherette was born. She is known for her standout looks, which include tartan prom dresses, voluminous dresses, and other sexy styles. “cotton candy”Bubble skirts and stoles made from Hello Kitty dolls. The label featured novelty items not readily available in stores and put a funny spin on disposable chic.

Rich worked tirelessly to keep his name alive after the company ceased operations for unknown reasons. With his friend Pamela Anderson, he introduced A*MUSE, a line of one-of-a-kind T-shirts, beachwear and dresses. “We are like a little circus of misfits,”Ms. Anderson spoke BlackbookAt the time, “living little wild lives that just fit together and are somehow complementary.”

Popluxe By Richie Rich, a collection featuring day and evening one offs, made its debut in Lincoln Center in 2010. Ellen DeGeneres was the star of the runway. Rich by Richie Rich was his second collection and fall show, which was designed to highlight L.G.B.T.Q. rights, climate change and other pressing social problems.

There were also dark moments during the intervening years. The tabloids reported in 2013 that Mr. Rich was arrested in Manhattan for failing to pay a hotel bill.He explained that he believed that a client would have paid in advance. He released the bill and paid it in full.

“It all seems laughable now, but at the time it wasn’t,”He said. “Being a Club Kid, people were always expecting you to mess up and derail.”

Mr. Rich continues to defy expectations and show his talents on Btykwn. You can see him smearing hot pink lipstick on his lips and writing a large heart on his cheek. He is one of a group that includes regulars such as Kevin Aviance,Drag performer and nightclub personality. DesmondAmazing, a 14 year-old TikTok star, has all-cropped hair, kohled eye and little gingham dresses.

“I was drawn to Desmond,” Mr. Rich said, “because on social media he would emulate the lips I was doing as a Club Kid.”

Rich hopes to eventually be able to recruit a list of pop entertainers, celebrity make-up artists and influencers who are willing to share their beauty routines online and perform online. He imagines Madonna, whom he first met in the ’80s, “getting on our air and giving us all her makeup secrets.”One can dream.

Not easily daunted, Mr. Rich is adamant that beauty is the style world’s next frontier, a promising arena for giddy theatrics and nervy self-invention. “Real innovation is happening in beauty, not on the runway,”He stated that the elements of the new system are more adventurous and accessible to young people.

He believes in the old adage “What goes around comes around”, a belief he has held since his arrival on the scene. He stated in a 1993 interview with the talk show host Phil DonahueSelf-expression is a personal choice. “We’re all future superstars.”

That statement was so ominous! We’ll find out soon enough.


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