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LAST NIGHT A DJ SAVED MY LIFE

Friday, September 23, 2011
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from the pages of AVENUE’s September issue…

by Carson Griffith, photographed by Juan Algarin, styled by Cricket Burns




Unlike hundreds of thousands of Rolling Stones fans, DJ/model Alexandra Richards has yet to read her father’s best-selling autobiography, Life. “I’m actually in the middle of Patti Smith’s memoir Just Kids, but maybe after that, I’ll read dad’s,” Richards remarks casually while slipping out of a strapless gown and letting it tumble to the ground in the cavernous Royal Plaza Suite in The Plaza Hotel on a sunny day in August.
Keith—aka one of the greatest guitarists of all time—would rather have his deejaying daughter be in a band than play other people’s music, Richards reports, but only because “making a job out of it is kind of bizarre to him.” The Wilhelmina model does play guitar in her alone time, she just won’t play in front of her father. “It’s still a little too intimidating,” Richards admits.“He’s kind of funny about it because it’s such a different generation of music,” she explains, “but he’s very proud of me.”

As he should be. In just about four years, Richards has skyrocketed to one
of the most high-profile female deejays in New York City and beyond, taking
her small-time gig at Bella’s (the now-closed bar in Little Italy) and expanding it into a full-blown international career. In the past year alone, Richards has travelled to Russia and Shanghai, and in March, she did “a little tour of nightclubs” in Norway, Finland and Sweden. Add St. Tropez to that résumé, and upcoming gigs in Paris and Australia, and you would think she’s been constantly living out of a suitcase.
While she admits traveling doesn’t let her see her family as much as she’d like, “Deejaying isn’t as lonely as modeling,” Richards says, as she wraps her long limbs beneath her like a ballerina and perches beneath a window in the suite’s wood-paneled drawing room.
It’s hard to imagine Richards ever being lonely. For one thing, the blue-eyed beauty is in a long-term relationship with fellow DJ Nick Cohen. Although Richards says he “doesn’t like to take credit,” she cites him as the inspiration behind her first set of turntables. Cohen, a devilishly handsome native New Yorker, echoes Richards’ sentiments. “I don’t like to take credit for other people’s accomplishments,” he says modestly, but he proudly shares that his girlfriend has been “incredibly successful learning the skill and developing her own sound.” Very successful, indeed. While Cohen, who also co-founded Upper Echelon Shoes, says the couple has similar taste in music, he prefers his girlfriend’s, and tries to be a “good work partner” when the two are booked for joint gigs. “I couldn’t think of a better person to stand next to than Alexandra.” It’s not just her superb musical skills that have made their relationship last for the better half of a decade—“Alexandra has the largest heart of anyone I’ve had the pleasure of being around,” Cohen says.
In the span of three complicated designer outfit changes, Richards mentions her family—mom, dad, and older sister Theodora—and her home life a litany of times. “You know, I actually grew up in Connecticut, but a lot of people think I’m from New York,” she points out. Her family has mainly resided in the quaint town of Weston, Connecticut for more than 20 years. “It’s kind of funny being called an ‘It’ girl of New York, because I’m so far from that. When I first moved to the city [at age 17], I was like ‘Oh my God!’ This is such a different world.” Richards also laughs at the coveted “party girl” title, and she’s found ways around the perils of its endowment. “There’s two ways you can go about it: You can be in touch with the [New York] Post after you go out at night, or you don’t,” she says firmly, as a hairstylist who announced he also worked on her mother in the 80s twirls a lock of her blond hair.
The youngest Richards daughter’s nighttime activities don’t sound like they make for particularly good tabloid fodder, anyway. “I’m not a night-clubber,” she insists, adding that her Wednesday night residency at Le Bain with fellow DJ Paul Sevigny (actress Chloë Sevigny’s older brother) is plenty. Instead, the self-proclaimed “jeans and T-shirt girl” prefers dive bars, like Toad’s Place on Wooster Street in Connecticut. “If there’s a pool table and a bar and TV, I’m pretty settled.”
However, Richards’ famous last name mustn’t be discounted. Aside from a wordless cameo on a 2009 episode of Gossip Girl where she got to seductively wink at Ed Westwick (which she describes as “kind of whacky but great”), and assistance with a recently-debuted handbag line headed by her mother, last summer, the fresh-faced blond found herself on the pages of French Playboy.Despite her bombshell looks and body, Richards’ warm, open demeanor is more girl-next-door than Hef’s Girls Next Door. “I think that’s what the photographer was trying to capture, it wasn’t supposed to be raunchy,” she says of her Playboy pictorial. The series of shots include Richards in tennis shoes and sunglasses. She claims it was “kind of an honor and kind of a laugh,” especially because her mother had previously done Playboy, “God knows when.” “I still don’t think I’ve showed my dad the [Playboy] photos,” Richards admits with a mischievous smile, although she says it’s a “conversation in the air” between herself and the Rolling Stone.

But not every opportunity looks like a good one to the golden-haired darling of the DJ set. Reality shows have often been offered to the model and her equally gorgeous 26-year-old sister, but Richards has politely declined. “I’m just not comfortable having a camera following me around,” she says. “Some people can handle it and it’s pretty impressive but…,” she pauses and shrugs. “I’m not shy, I’m just private.”
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by AVENUE MagazinePhotographed by Billy Farrall