Whether by choice or necessity, changing careers in mid-life is complicated. Most people who manage professional reinvention most successfully apply logic and reason to the task, which is something that probably never occurred to Ivan Wilzig, a New Jersey-born scion of a multi-billion dollar banking fortune who had a childhood dream he did not pursue until his late-forties, when he decided to pursue his dream and become a pop star. Using the sobriquet “Sir Ivan,” Wilzig has actually achieved a modicum of success and cultural presence as a dance music artist/superhero a.k.a. “Peaceman” who, naturally, wears a cape (definitely amusing optics, but Wilzig is in on the joke), and lives in a castle in the Hamptons. His brand’s winning formula is consistently on-message and simple: positivity, acceptance, and goodwill and feel-good beats created by some of the top producers in the genre. What makes Ivan’s story exceptional is not only that he has pushed back against conventional wisdom and become a recording artist, but how he has used his success to help those less fortunate.
Beginning with his first release in 2001, a cover of John Lennon’s “Imagine,” Wilzig has put his own spin on classics like George Harrison’s “Here Comes the Sun,” the Grass Roots’ “Live for Today” and the mother of all feel-good peace anthems—that’s right—”Kumbya.” He has recently added some originals, like his anti-bullying track “Kiss All the Bullies Goodbye,” (which features some very sexy bullies in the video, as well as dance legend Taylor Dayne). Sir Ivan has the means and good taste to work with the best producers in the business, like Paul Oakenfeld, Tony Moran, Omar Akram and Peter Rafelson, to name just a few. His latest release, a cover of the Youngblood’s 1969 hit “Get Together,” is typically ingratiating.
Adding to Wilzig’s credibility is the extent of his philanthropy. Through his Peaceman Foundation, Sir Ivan has allied himself with the LGBT community and is committed to fighting hatred, bigotry, and discrimination while promoting love, compassion, and fun. It is the extent of his largesse that is truly impressive, seeding money to nearly every reputable LGBT-related not-for-profit, from the Elton John AIDS Foundation, to amFar. These organizations and those that benefit from their work, know that they have a friend in Ivan Wilzig.
For those who throw shade at a sixty-year-old man who wears a cape, I would simply say, “We all wear capes, but most people don’t have the balls to show it off.” It’s difficult to deny Wilzig’s sincerity, sense of purpose or question his protectiveness of the LGBT community or why he feels a strong impulse to extend mooring lines to those who have been marginalized, bullied and oppressed: he is the son of a Holocaust surviver and lost 59 family members to Hitler’s death camps in the 1940s. It is this trauma that has focused his commitment to philanthropic work and imbues his endeavors with a gravitas that transcends ego or affluence. In the end, Sir Ivan exists for all of us, a powerful reminder that there is no place for hate in a civilized society, lest the horror of the Holocaust be repeated.
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