For a serious-business dude, who has put out fires in the wake of two of the country’s worst disasters––9/11 and Hurricane Katrina–Michael Hecht makes it all look like a Rollerblade in Audubon Park. Though he is the president and CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc., an economic development organization formed post-Katrina–largely responsible for drawing both small-and-big businesses to the Crescent City–Hecht exudes a boyish, effortless, enthusiasm.
Apt that the father of two boy prodigies drives a cherry blue-and-white 1970 El Camino SS hot rod. And once he takes off his work-a-day suit, you can often see him lugging sound equipment in its flatbed to one nightclub or sequestered Garden District enclave or another where he assumes the role of DJ El Camino, spinning from his oeuvre of vintage LPs.
Hecht grew up in White Plains, N.Y., went on to Yale, then Stanford Business School for his MBA, and soon found himself working for the Bloomberg Administration, to develop and manage a post-9-11 recovery program for businesses. Enter: New Orleans, in the throes of a spectacular revival, where we caught up with him in his Uptown house, equipped with a 24-7 disco ball out of Studio 54. Watch him spin. If the city’s movers-and-shakers would have it, Mister Easygoing could become The Big Easy’s next Mayor.
Describe your personal style.
Post-rave metrosexual. I’m lost without my Adidas, all of them.
Do you ever golf?
My greatest golfing experience was playing at the Angelsea Golf Club in Australia, with kangaroos all over the course. Hilarious and intimidating.
What is your favorite hobby and why?
Deejaying. Because it’s fun to make the crowd go apeshit.
Where do you go to be under the influence?
Day parties; they feature transgressive transitions.
What do you love about the El Camino?
It's a pretty cosmopolitan vehicle. It was the original hybrid. I acquired it in Vacaville, California.
You live a double life: mover-and-shaker by day, deejay by night.
Like Congressman Kennedy, I choose both!
Describe your current endeavors.
Earning a Ph.D. in Economic Development…and my first album release by DJ El Camino, “Sac Gonflable” ( “air bag” in French).
Motto to live by?
“It's better to regret something you have done, than to regret something that you haven't done.”–Butthole Surfers, Sweat Loaf.
Do you prefer the company of men or women, when out and about?
I am like a dog; I am happy when anyone is paying attention to me.
Absolute most favorite meal.
What are you reading?
“From Third World to First,” by Lee Kuan Yew.
Most amazing place you have gone in your travels?
Whichever place is next. Most recently, Singapore.
What do you love most about New Orleans?
It is the most human city in America.