Ku Group’s PR and marketing manager Nieko Strobel likes to travel the world and follows his instinct wherever he goes.
Where are you from originally?
I’m really a bit of a gypsy! My heritage is half Finnish, half Indian, but I spent all my childhood travelling the world with my mother, living in wonderful places like Brazil, Spain and Scandinavia, so I see all those places as my home.
And where do you live now?
South London, innit! I live with my longterm London besties, who try to keep me alive.
What do you love about London and why?
It’s just magical, isn’t it? Of course, we have such a vibrant, liberating gay scene, but on top of that, culturally, London is just such a mixture of so many people, backgrounds and stories. It’s also geographically well connected to the rest of the world meaning it’s the perfect base, even if you want to travel. It’s like a beautiful safe haven.
What was the first gay venue you visited?
Oh it was brilliant. I was 17 and went to The Jolly Farmers pub in Oxford, which I later ended up managing. I went there with some theatre colleagues and, can you believe it, there was a Lady Gaga impersonator there! Not only did I taste my first Malibu and Coke, the vibe made me fall in love with the gay scene.
What is your role at the Ku Group?
As Gary likes to say, I’m a bit of a boomerang – I’m always coming back to do something! I’m still very involved with the PR and marketing, but more recently I’ve taken the helm of our sibling venues, Little Ku and She Soho, our lesbian venue, on Frith Street. It’s been wonderful working with some great people to make this place the new ‘it place’ in Soho. It has this naughty sibling/Ibiza beach bar feel, and it’s a venue I’m very proud of and love.
What was the last film you saw, where, and what did you think of it?
You didn’t need to ask! A Star Is Born – and, well, what can I say? I was an emotional mess throughout it – the music, the story, and of course, Lady Gaga’s music and performance. I’ll be going multiple times to see it again.
What is your guilty pleasure and why?
Oh Lordy, vodka, hair dye, Netflix, Celine Dion… Maybe my secret adoration for all things sci-fi and fantasy. I’m a major Netlifx binger, when I actually spend some time at home. Netflix with a battered sausage and curry sauce sorts me right out.
Versace, Versace, Versace…
Best gift you’ve ever received and why?
Most definitely my little Nissan Micra when I turned 17! That little white car, that didn’t even have a one litre engine, made me feel like a rap superstar. I even pimped it out with fluffy pillows and flames! My parents got me that, but much to their later regret I was banned from driving. Twice.
What has been the highlight of your career so far and why?
I’ve been fortunate to have been a part of many different projects, travelling, in the gay scene and out, but something that will always stick in my head is when the gay community of London came together to organise the Soho vigil in memory of the 49 people that were killed in the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. We organised it in 24 hours and 10,000 people came to stand in solidarity with those victims. The goosebumps and emotions during the two minute silence was a feeling I will never forget. It was the result of a horrific event, but the power our community showed that day was simply breathtaking.
If you could go back in time which year would you choose and why?
Probably way back to 1995 when I was a child travelling Brazil with my mum. We lived such a free life in South America; living on beaches, going to carnival, never too worried about where we were going or plans for the future. Simply living in the moment. I think everyone needs to do that a little more.
What’s the best party you’ve ever been to and what made it so good?
Other than Ku, you mean? Ha! I went to Madrid Pride a couple of years ago but at their week-long WE Party Festival I literally had the time of my life! Met so many gorgeous guys from around the world, enjoyed the weather, partied a bit too hard, but in venues with 5,000+ people in. It was mind-blowing and just great, hot fun.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
To follow my gut. Always. We all have to make constant career, personal and relationship decisions that have so many decisive sides – for money, or what looks good on a CV, or what society expects you to do. Nope: I’m about living for my passions and doing what I love and following the fire that burns inside.
Who is your LGBT+ hero and why?
Ian McKellen. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Gandalf on several occasions and he is such a down-to-earth, humbling and warm hearted person. He’s used his profile to promote LGBT+ rights while doing a huge amount of campaigning and charity work for young LGBT+ people. He’s such a dude.
Who are the most entertaining people you follow on social media and why?
Fat Tony because I know that if I’m in a bad mood each one of his posts will cheer me up. It’s relentlessly unapologetic and hilarious. And the Kardashians, obvs.
Where in the world would you like to visit before you die and why?
At some point I will delete all my social media and disappear into the rivers of Machu Picchu in Peru on a mission to find the crystal skulls! Haha. But seriously I would love to experience all the hidden treasures of the world – I want to walk the Great Wall, visit the Pyramids. I love a beach holiday but this planet has so much glory and history and energy that I want to take in.
What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?
That life doesn’t have to be complete by 18, or 21, or 25… You don’t need to know what path you’re always on, or where you’re going next. Take life as it comes and enjoy the ride, because at the end of it the ride will still stop and what matters is how much you laughed and loved.