Ex-Soda Jerk Marc Kreiner Now Gets His Hot Licks as the Boy Wonder of Disco
I'm sick and tired of hearing that disco is dead," complains Marc Kreiner (though just over half of PEOPLE'S readers, page 35, thought it ought to be). From Kreiner's standpoint, reports of its demise would appear to be greatly exaggerated. Five years ago he was selling double dips behind an ice-cream counter at Baskin-Robbins. Today Kreiner is serving up hits as a disco entrepreneur with a platinum touch. Promoting or producing disco records by the unusual likes of Chic, Sister Sledge and Ann-Margret, Kreiner at 26 has reaped an $8 million personal fortune, a $30 million-a-year business and a lifestyle of flaunted opulence.
"I was just ahead of the game—and still am," says Kreiner. His business approach is unsentimental: He test-markets every record, suggests re-editing and remixing to make it more commercial and even selects the album cover. If an artist objects to this kind of bulldozer treatment, Kreiner drops the record. "I don't want to ruin my credibility," he explains—understandably so. Gleaming in his driveway are a Rolls, a Porsche and two $80,000 Cadillac stretchmobiles. He whisks to Aspen by Learjet to ski. The waters that pass his lips are Perrier and Dom Perignon. Home is a 14-bedroom, $4.5 million "beach house" that was once owned by William Randolph Hearst's mistress Marion Davies. When Marc wears a funky baseball jacket, it's a $15,000 sable-trimmed mink creation.
All this is enough to give conspicuous consumption a bad name, but Kreiner remains a personally unpretentious, wide-eyed ingenue whose biggest talent is his self-confidence. Starting out as a flamboyant record spinner at a Marina Del Rey disco, Kreiner parlayed his familiarity with the art form into MK Dance Productions, a hit-and-hype operation servicing almost every disco label and star. Debbie (High on Your Love) Jacobs, a singer he discovered in a Baltimore club, is now topping the disco ranks instead of "waiting tables or filing in an office," she enthuses. "He's the greatest." Paul (We're Gonna Rock) Sabu, son of the elephant boy, is another winner. Kreiner masterminded Chic through its triumphs like Dance, Dance, Dance and Le Freak, though industry rumblings of disharmony are now being heard. And then there is Ann-Margret, whose Love Rush became her first hit in 18 years. She has since asked him to co-produce a movie musical for her. "Marc is like my husband," A-M glows. "He doesn't promise me anything unless he knows he can come through."
As one of disco's confessed (and believable) heterosexuals, Kreiner has dated scores of models, bunnies and actresses (Battlestar Galactica's Anne Lockhart and ex-Angel Kate Jackson are two). A current date is Francesca Hilton, 33, the daughter of Zsa Zsa Gabor and Conrad Hilton. But Kreiner claims to be bored with glitter. "I want to share everything with a special someone, settle down when the right person comes along. So far, nada."
For now his most constant women are his mother, Sylvia, a former department store saleswoman who works as his Beverly Hills office manager, and his sister Pam, also an employee. New York-born but California raised, Kreiner credits his success to his father, a garment industry wholesaler, who died the same day in 1976 that Marc signed the then unknown Chic. "He said always travel first-class, always do it best," recalls Kreiner. To insure access to a limo, Marc started a livery service—he now has an L.A. fleet of five Cadillacs. When he launched his Ocean record label last year, he threw a $100,000 party for 700 including such guests as Rod Stewart, Wilt Chamberlain, Dudley Moore and Dorothy Hamill. It was held in a club fitted out with an erupting volcano, a tank full of mermaids, a marching band and six midgets in scuba gear.
Kreiner does have less extravagant pursuits: racquetball and pinball. He once spent $40.10 mastering the dime toss at Magic Mountain amusement park and can now "win every stuffed animal there—I give them to little kids whose dads can't win one or to a children's hospital on the way home." Surrounded by tropical fish tanks, a screening room, family photographs and a full-time house staff of four, Kreiner contemplates the life that disco bought. "You've got to move with the times," he says. "If you snooze, you lose."
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