Profession: Ping-Pong Entrepreneur
I’m 34 years old. I was born in France and grew up in Reunion Island near Madagascar where my dad is from.
I came to New York for the first time in 1996 after finishing an internship in Los Angeles. I fell in love with this city from day one.
I have always been very creative and imaginative since a very young age, so after graduating from Business School I decided to go down a different road, traveling around the World and making documentaries. My first job was a non-paid internship at MTV, and I was also working in a couple night clubs.
When did you start playing ping-pong?
First time I ever played was about 7 years ago. I grabbed a paddle and happened to win a little tournament in Tribeca at a loft party. I didn’t play again for 3 years, till the day my best friend and roommate, Jonathan Bricklin, and I bought a rather expensive and very beautiful competition ping-pong table with a red arched base, like a rainbow, for our loft/office. Ever since, we’ve been very passionate about the game and have been playing nearly every day since. We got so hooked that we started taking lessons with several professional ping-pong coaches, began going to tournaments, and then started our own tournament we called Naked Ping Pong. We called it “Naked” (no one was actually naked) merely to add some edge and make it a little sexier than people would normally expect a ping-pong party or tournament to be -3 or 4 years ago ping-pong was extremely un-cool. We were playing so much ping pong that it was taking over our Filmmaking careers, and at a certain point, I was like “How are we even going to be pay our rent?”
You opened SPiN about a year ago, why did you decide to open a ping-pong club?
When our loft got sold we had such a big following at The Naked Ping Pong parties, that we felt compelled to keep going and try to make it a real business and open our own club, with our ideal design and layout. We had gotten to know Susan Sarandon through my dear friend, who happens to be an extraordinary production designer, Franckie Diago. Susan was also introduced to us through, Andrew Gordon at The National Arts Club. Which is where I live. Andrew is retired investment banker, with a background in professional tennis, and a love for ping-pong. They both became our partners and we’ve been having amazing time collaborating on SPiN ever since.
It’s more than a simple ping-pong club …
It’s inviting for everyone, every age and demographic and it has a variety of different uses at different times of the day. We’re about to start exercise classes in the early morning. During the day time we have the best ping pong coaches in the country that give lessons, then we have a happy hour, and corporate events till later in the evening when it becomes a very cool lounge, and on weekends, more like a night club. We just introduced “Glow-in-the-dark” ping-pong last week, which is definitely bringing the SPiN experience to an all-new level…
Our food is amazing, we re introducing a summer menu that includes a dark chocolate shake, (it was my special request).
Our private room is the best place in town to have a party, super cosy with a great vibe and of course a ping-pong table.
What’s the crowd like?
Lots of famous and infamous people, I don’t want to be called a namedropper…
Lot’s of celebrities come to SPiN, who surprised you, the most as a ping-pong player?
After The Gorillaz closed Coachella they came to SPiN and played our Naked Ping-pong Tournament which we hold now every Tuesday at 9pm. Jonathan and I played Damon and his friend in double and they ended up beating us in a close match. Then the another night Jack Kevorkian came and played for hours…
Along we SPiN, Ping-Pong became fashionable… Do you think you started a new trend?
Ping Pong came out of the basement and players came out of the closet, meaning they weren’t shy anymore, they could say they love to play.
What does a city like NY bring to you?
The first time I came to New York, I loved it right away and felt something that I never felt before, a certain freedom and a strong energy that makes you think that anything is possible…
What is your favorite place in the city?
I love Gramercy Park and going Surfing… I love water and can’t get enough… It’s because I grew up on an island.
Raoul on Prince Street
What’s next? Any project?
A lot is happening! We’re franchising all over America and the World.
Jonathan and I are producing this once in a lifetime event in June: SPiN Galactic, The World Champions! The evenings will be hosted by celebrity actor/ping pong player extraordinaire Judah Freidlander. The crowd will be a mixture of elegantly styled, influential, trend setting taste makers, notable New Yorkers, and celebrity actor, director, writer, singer, ping pong aficionados, as well as die hard table tennis fans from across the country. You can buy the tickets on our website
We are also working a Docu-series, that should be very funny and inspiring.SPiN New York: 48 East 23rd Street @ Park av. Tel: 1 212 980 1404