Jersey girl Lori Michaels runs the show

Lori Michaels in the studio
Lori Michaels in the studio. Photo by Doug Sonders.

Having grown up in Fairview and Oradell, and currently residing in River Vale with her family, Lori Michaels is a Jersey girl through and through. From a very young age, Michaels was immersed in performing arts, which led to her touring with New Kids on the Block, performing with CeCe Peniston, working the Pride festival circuit with Taylor Dayne, writing for Danielle Staub, and owning PEAKPAC, a state-of-the-art 11,000 square-foot. facility of professional dance, fitness, music, and media studios.

You were raised and grew up in Bergen County. What was that like, and how early did you enter the music business?

Lori Michaels: I grew up in Fairview where I studied piano and dance, and was the only girl on the boys’ baseball team. I attended the Academy of Our Lady of Grace through eighth grade, where I also performed at the local church. My family then relocated to Oradell where I attended River Dell High School. I played basketball and varsity softball for four years whilst still cultivating my music career. By the time I was 16, I was touring as the opening act for New Kids on the Block. In hindsight, I could have gone on to do a lot more musically but was simultaneously committed to my sports career. I always knew I loved performing, but having to sacrifice everything else was difficult for me. My challenge was always engaging fully within the music business versus doing it as a side business.

What happened after you opened for New Kids on the Block?

LM: In 1989 I established a nonprofit organization, Reach Out Inc. I maintained the organization for over 25 years. I continued performing, recording and was fortunate enough to get accepted into New York University. I literally only sent one college application out, which I do not advise my children to do today [laughs]. The plot twist: I did not go for performing arts, I went for political science, because I wanted to be more on top of the business side of the music industry to avoid being taken advantage of. I was contemplating being a lawyer.

Now you have two roads open, on stage and behind the scenes, so what route did you take after graduation?

Lori Michaels in the studio playing the piano.
Lori Michaels in the studio playing the piano. Photo by Doug Sonders.

LM: I channeled a lot of my energy into my organization. I partnered with so many different entities including sports teams and television networks like The Brooklyn Nets, The New York Jets, and CW 11. This led to me teaching voice and dance in Ridgefield, which I fell in love with much more than I anticipated, and then it all clicked for me. Thereafter is when I established PEAKPAC.

How did you end up establishing PEAKPAC and what differentiates your performing arts center?

LM: When I was in my late 20s, I was sitting on the board of the Joey DiPaolo AIDS Foundation. I met some gentlemen on the board who got my wheels turning about opening my own space. In the late 1990s, I established PEAKPAC, which is still thriving to this day, more than ever before. Peak Performing Arts Center is a state-of-the-art facility comprised of dance and fitness studios, professional music and media studios, a gym, a juice bar café, and a boutique. PEAKPAC boasts an amazing event space for professionals and a black box theatre for productions. From first-timers to seasoned performers, whether you are a child or an adult, we host classes and programs for everyone. The studios all feature suspended dance floors, the healthiest for professional dancers.

Lori Michaels performing at the House of Blues.
Lori Michaels performing at the House of Blues.

How have you managed to maintain a music career while juggling owning a performance arts center and maintaining a charitable organization for so long?

LM: I have had runs of performances and tours over the years which includes my music being used in movies and films. I have belted out the national anthem at Madison Square Garden, but it is a greater joy when one of my students receives those opportunities, which is why I have been in and out of the spotlight.

What artists have you written songs for?

LM: I wrote a couple of songs for Danielle Staub of Real Housewives of New Jersey. I was working with her younger daughter, Jillian, at the time on a pop track. Danielle listened to my music, fell in love with my song “Real Close,” and the next thing I know we are on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen singing it live. We had not even recorded the song yet. After the huge response we received, we rush recorded it and released it immediately after. I got to work with my music production partner, Giuseppe D., who brought on Tony Moran to package the song and we also released a variety of remixes. I also worked with the Naked Cowgirl, Cindy Fox, on “Ride It Like a Cowgirl.” I have written and performed background vocals for other artists.

Lori Michaels and wife Christina Sirera
Lori Michaels and wife Christina Sirera

Danielle Staub is a reality television and housewife icon. Can you give me some exclusive tea?

LM: When we were dating, we almost got our own show. We had meetings with various networks and production companies at the time who were interested in potentially having a show based around us as a lesbian couple and modern family. Separately, I worked with Teresa Giudice on a project which did not take off. Robyn Levy put together a project, Teresa was one of the executives behind the scenes of the project, and my wife and I filmed some. All the Jersey girls were great to work with.

New Jersey needs a lesbian housewife. How large is your family and how long have you been married to your wife, Christina Sirera?

LM: I have been with my wife for almost nine years, and we are coming up on our second wedding anniversary. Christina brings out the best in me, and when you have a partner that gives you everything you need, it is an amazing feeling. We have two children, Massimo and Nixida, and two dogs, Milo and Mimi. My wife has three medispas, Venus & Venom, located in Blauvelt, Nanuet, and Monroe, N.Y.

What are you most proud of?

LM: That is difficult: touring with New Kids on the Block, being told by Andrea Bocelli that he loved my song “Unconditionally,” working with Judy Torres on her one-woman show, and sharing the stage with CeCe Peniston and Taylor Dayne all come to mind. Nevertheless, for me being able to teach and cultivate careers for my students within performing arts is the most rewarding experience. Many students of mine have been featured on NBC’s The Voice.

Will Loschiavo
Will Loschiavo is Out In Jersey‘s entertainment editor. He has worked for Top 40 radio stations in New York and New Jersey, written for various publications, and currently works media tech operations for NBC. Will is the host of the Will Love Listen podcast available on iHeartRadio, Amazon Music, Spotify, Apple, and Google. Follow on Instagram: @WillLoveInc.