“Roberto was born & raised in Cuba.
He is a writer & producer who has won numerous awards & grants throughout the years.
He is known for being the Mayor of the Meatpacking
and has aspirations of seeing the neighborhood transform into and arts district.”
DS: I’m here with Roberto Monticello, known as the “Mayor of the Meatpacking”. So, Roberto, how long have you been in the Meatpacking District?
RM: Now would be 47 years.
RM: 48 in November.
DS: And in those 48 years. How drastic have the changes been to the neighborhood? What was it like living there at that time?
RM: Completely I mean, it’s another world. For a long time, it was a very dangerous area. Mostly very bad at night and everything illegal was going on.
DS: Yes, I remember.
RM: People would get killed. There was an Italian place over in Washington, a little Italian place, which was supposed to be a place to repair cars and you could eat off the floor. It was not anything with repair. I mean, the Whitney had two buildings. The first building was where the prostitutes would bring their customers. They were always getting either mugged or they were mugging someone. It was one or the other it was insane, the whole thing. And the other building was what people in the neighborhood used to call “America’s most wanted Meatpacking”. It was full of fugitives from the law.
DS: What kind of neighborhood would you like it to be? What would you like to see happening now?
RM: An arts district.
DS: Yes, I agree
RM: Most big cities in the world almost all have an arts district, right?
RM: Why not the Meatpacking? The Meatpacking doesn’’t compete with housing. The Meatpacking is known by everybody. You know what I mean? And, at the same time, there’’s a lot of problems with real estate. There are only big companies, the big conglomerates that can afford to have businesses there. So, let’s save it and bring the artists back there. The artists are leaving New York. Well, let’’s find a place for the artist to go to.
DS: And are you trying to organize something to make this happen?
RM: My problem is that I’m doing a documentary of a human trafficking. And I’’m also traveling back and forth overseas so I don’t have the time to do it by myself. I don’t have the hours. I’’m trying to put a team together.
DS: I agree with you. There used to be an arts district there before it became what it is now, and I would love to see it come back again.
RM: Yes, I agree. And we have a mayor now and a governor that should go along with that. There’s no reason not to do it.
DS: Excellent. And before we finish up, I would love to know how you got the name “Mayor of the Meatpacking.”
RM: Because everybody knew me way back. I always spend some time in Meatpacking.
DS: I read that it was an incident at Florent (local restaurant) that got you that name.
RM: I was at Florent, and I had a French girlfriend. French are very passionate. But also, she was very beautiful. And because of that, nobody had ever broken up with her. But I broke up with her, and she went crazy. She went in the kitchen, and she actually grabbed one of the big knives they had hanging there and came over with this knife. You know what I mean? And everybody said, “No, don’’t touch him because he’s the Mayor of Meatpacking!” Everybody started calling me “The Mayor. The Mayor. The Mayor.”
DS: Wow, that is quite the story! You’ve definitely seen a lot in those 48 years, and I thank you for sharing all that! It was a pleasure speaking with you, Mayor.
RM: Thank you. And I hope you help me get a team together to do this. We need it.
DS: Thank you. Roberto!
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