A PARTY FOR BRIAN ANTONI’S “SOUTH BEACH: THE NOVEL” - Saturday, 1/3/2009 8:54 PM
I must admit that I inwardly groaned when Patty Mac suggested I might want to attend the party he was co-hosting for his dear friend Brian Antoni’s newest tome, South Beach: The Novel. My reluctance had NOTHING whatsoever to do with Brian, who I have always found to be a kind and lovely man. My problem was one that many of you will relate to: After a full day of work I am usually so tired I just want to sit on my big fat ass and drown in TV.
The day approached and I decided to be a good girl. I even brought a change of clothing to the PMc studio to get all gussied up in. My usual slovenly daytime costume is a thrift store sweater, a pair of Vans and old six-waist-sizes-too-large jeans that I’ve been told I look like a Lumber Jack in. The real reason I wear these giant pants is that they easily slip over the long underwear I sport in order to ride my bicycle in cold weather. Unfortunately, these giant pants also have a nasty tendency to slip down my hips, which is a passé look for Hip-Hoppers and Gang Bangers, let alone an Old(e) Bat on a pink Schwinn. Don’t worry, I do (occasionally) feel shameful over my sartorial plunge from grace. Nevertheless…on they go! (and down they slip)
Although I changed into a dress, my big mistake was wearing my high-heeled boots to walk over to Brian’s from Patrick’s studio. I formerly lived two blocks from Brian’s apartment, but I greatly underestimated the distance in heels, especially in gusty icy winds. I think the equation should be something like 1 NYC block walked in high heels = 10 NYC blocks (AKA ½ mile) walked in low shoes. (Naturally, with kitten heels, one gets far more mileage)
When I finally arrived (I thought it was on the OTHER side of the Square), I nearly fell into his building’s entrance and felt like crawling to the elevator on my belly because my legs felt like fresh Swizzlers. I somehow made it and, once I recovered my senses, I discovered Candace Bushnell (another of the evening’s hosts) amongst the elevator’s riders. We hadn’t seen each other in a long time. Since co-friend Bret Easton Ellis moved back home to LA, I don’t bump into Candace at his annual (AMAZING) Christmas parties. And since I no longer have to write a social column, as I did at “Paper”, I no longer have the free pass to those wonderful (but, highly-priced) ballet events, where ballet-wife Candace surely hangs. It’s always fun to see her, even though we really had nothing to say to each other except exchanging the usual “How are you?” shit and me wondering (based on what I had read SOMEWHERE) if we now both lived in the same neighborhood (we don’t).
What I WANTED to say to her I couldn’t because there were others in the elevator. What I WANTED was to congratulate her on winning the TV war against her former friend and colleague, Darren Star. (I’m such a yenta) Allegedly Star, who created the iconic “Sex and the City” series based on Candace’s book/former “New York Observer” columns, didn’t want to give Candace her fair share if they were both going to turn her book, “Lipstick Jungle”, into another series. He then pitched a series, “Cashmere Mafia”, to another station. This series was his rip-off of “Lipstick Jungle” (duh).
“Cashmere Mafia” appeared first. I watched it and it sucked. Not only did the characters sound like drag queens…which wasn’t that different from some of the “Sex and the City” series banter, actually…but there was this odd sound track that sounded like a cross between cartoon and circus music that played CONSTANTLY. There seemed to be a pattern of one-liner, circus music, one-liner, circus music… It was SO annoying. Obviously, I wasn’t the only person who found this drek unwatchable because few tuned in or, if they did, they quickly made use of their remotes. Eventually, “Lipstick Jungle” premiered and it became a moderate hit. Now, “Jungle” has been renewed and “Cashmere” hasn’t. Star might want to change his last name.
But, I couldn’t tell Candace how happy I was that the wrong got righted because it wouldn’t have sounded so swift in an elevator.
Actually, the falling-out between Candace and Star surprised me because I had always admired how good-natured Candace had been about Star. I had secretly felt that Star got more credit and she got less than was realistically due for the success of “SATC”, but she always lauded him for what he did with the show, even telling me and some others one night that Star had someone whose major job was to come up with one-liners, which she felt had so much to do with the show’s success. I guess he thought the same, which was an unfortunate conclusion when he slapped HIS version of the follow-up together. She was always very generous with her praise of him and his contributions, making it sound like she really just handed it off to him and he spun it into gold.
Whatever went down, I’m happy for her victory. So there!
The elevator door opened. There was a rack outside of Brian’s apartment for coats and I was very happy that I wore a white one. “I hate to wear black coats to parties where you hang your own coat because you can never find it when you leave!” I announced. One of the elevator riders scowled at me when I said this. She was hanging up her coat…which was black. Whoops!
Brian’s apartment is wonderful. There’s a great glassed-in porch, which, if he was back in Miami, might be referred to as a Florida Room. When I lived in Coral Gables, I had a Florida Room and it was most enjoyable. It’s a nice way to let in the sun and breezes, but not the bugs. (And, boy, are there some mean critters lurking outside screens in Florida!) Crafty Brian had a bed out on this porch, which was an excellent decision for so many reasons. There were even shades that covered the glass ceiling/skylight. What a wonderful way to go to sleep and wake up ! Lucky man. And poor Patrick kept bemoaning not finding such a treasure when the prices were somewhat still within the realm of reality. Non-buyer’s remorse?
As I ambled over to the bar, I waved to “Saturday Night Live’s” forever video maestro, Jim Signorelli, and legendary hipster book publisher Morgan Entrekin (another host), who were both hard to speak to because the place was packed. I was, however, able to exchange a few words with the always-affable Jay McInerney (another host). I don’t see Jay much anymore either. “One of us is going to far fewer parties!” Jay laughed after we went through the “Wow! It’s been so long since…” exchange. Jay claimed to have slowed down, but I assured him that, though we were BOTH probably not going out EVERY night like we did when we first knew each other, I was definitely less social than he. Because I copy edit Patty Melt’s web site, I’ve seen Jay constantly out and about from a distance, especially since his marriage to the lovely Anne Hearst (another host, but I don’t know her). He may not be perpetually planted in some night/supper club banquette, like The Nell Years, but he is definitely not sitting at home tending to his plantings or whittling. Not that I am: I’m just home sitting on my fat ass in front of the TV (as I said earlier).
The bar was busy and the food was delightful. There was a huge table covered in delicious empanadas with various sauces plus key lime tarts showing off on a sideboard. How Miami!
Bumped into Richard Johnson, who I’m always happy to see. This party occurred just when the Spitzer scandal had begun to unfurl. “You must be SO happy!” I giggled, after we did our, “Hey!” and mwa-mwa. “It’s the gift that keeps on giving.” Richard replied drolly, his eyes twinkling as his lips turned up into a mischievous, yet beatific grin. I mean, how intoxicating must a nice beefy political scandal be when everyone has finally ODed on the shenanigans of fucked-up Blondes (and a Redhead)?
I grabbed a Johnny Walker Black and cruised the room. I spied Zach Galligan. I went up to him and told him I knew him when he was a “child” (he was actually in his 20’s) and what my name was. It was a lovely reunion. I had known Zach back THEN because he constantly palled around with the wondrous Stephen Saban. He was always a sweetie & fun to talk to. However, except for those nightlife exchanges, all I ever knew about Zach was that he had been in “Gremlins” when he really WAS a tot. We were Disco Friends: We had never visited each other’s homes, gone to the movies together, attended concerts together, nor had conversations on the phone. Those are some of factors that differentiate Disco from real friends (unless you’re seriously deluded). But, I always liked bumping into him.
At some point Zach disappeared from NYC. I began to see pictures of him at LA events, so I assumed he had gone where the work was. Recently, however, I had glimpsed Zach across the room at a “BlackBook” party. “Ohmygod!” I burbled to my hubby. “There’s someone I used to know and LIKED! I wonder if he’ll remember me?” I tried to reach the table Zach was hitched to, but it was impossible. The tiny place (I can’t remember the name, but it was somewhere in SoHo and served hellacious stomach-churning bubblegum martinis) was SO packed it was impossible to move across the main floor. The lower floor was civilized, so we just escaped there and I decided to give up on my Zach attack.
And, now, here he was again. And he remembered me! Usually those I knew back then do, but, after a particularly brutal snub by Mariska Hargitay once, at a very very small gathering at someone’s home, I tread very lightly with these approaches. “Oh yes, I remember you.” She had coldly replied. “That was a LONG time ago.” Then, she literally turned her back to me and kept her distance the rest of the night. Ouch! And she had been such a lovely FRIENDLY girl that “…long time ago”. I guess one is more deserving of Mariska’s good manners when one is considered “cool”. Happily, she is the ONLY person I knew in the past who has gone on to find fame who has ever been anything except wonderful, warm and totally chatty. And that includes some people you read about who are allegedly so awful (like Val Kilmer) (LOVE him).
It took Zach and I awhile, but we did catch up. We discovered that both of us had married and added detours to our previous careers. Zach told me the cute story of how he and wife Ling-Ling had met. He was appearing in a movie and she was working on it behind the scenes. On the last day, he almost blew it when she gave him a sweet verbal opening that would have led to a continuing friendship. Luckily, just as he was beating himself up over not taking the bait, someone else on the set asked him if he wanted to get a flu shot: They were being offered for free. Upon joining the line for the inoculation, Zach found himself directly in front of Ling’s desk, so he was able to recover from his earlier fumble. Now, Ling and Zach have been married for over two years. She’s currently with a hedge fund and Zach, still acting, is also teaching acting at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Not a shabby gig for either.
Ling arrived and she was SUPER: An incredibly friendly, humorous and sharp woman. Oh yeah…and a looker. Speaking of which, I was stunned by how little Zach had aged. Portraits in the attic aside, either this man has been blessed with an extraordinary gene pool or he found just the right devil to make a deal with or he had better worry that the ghost of Ponce de Le'n is gonna track his butt down. Zach said that, when he was playing a bad guy on “Law & Order”, he had to wear facial hair to help make his baby-face even slightly sinister. He told me he was a “red herring” on that installment, because, as any fan of any “Law & Order” knows, you can usually figure out who did IT because it will simply be that installment’s most famous guest star. Of course, Ling and I began taking the piss out of him and his agelessness. (Neither of us made any reference to the importance of not feeding Zach after midnight because I’m sure he hasn’t heard THAT before.) It took a really long time to break him! I only got a rise when I intimated that hair plugs were obviously responsible for his still lush mop. “No they aren’t!” he FINALLY protested. “I have THAT kind of Irish hair!” And, in this packed room with enough Irish-American guys of a certain age who had BOTH kinds of hair, his point was aptly illustrated.
Zach’s fresh healthy looks were especially laudable because he didn’t exactly live the life of a monk during his early Manhattan years. If his body was a temple, it most likely resembled that sacred shrine, Save the Robots. This holy destination, for those who considered 4 AM just the first lap of their after-dark pilgrimage, was a notoriously skeezy after-hours club that was located deep within the dangerous belly of Alphabet City (before it became a shopping mall). Robots was very very dark, made even murkier by the general color of the regulars’ clothing. Its floors were thick with sticky crap, the bar was rather limited (this was not the place to ask for a Martini, let alone a Sex on the Beach) and Reggae was the only music played in the basement for dancing after a certain hour. Craig Ferguson always talks about having been a bouncer there. “I THOUGHT he looked familiar!” Zach laughed when I mentioned this. “We love Craig Ferguson!” I do too. Which led to us all confessing that we were obsessed with “The Real Housewives of New York” and whose hubby is SO Gay. Glad to see that OTHERS, besides me, enjoy watching TV…
I made an attempt to leave the lovebirds alone since I felt like I was hogging their time. They protested that I wasn’t, but I wanted to give them their freedom, nonetheless. That we all ended up back with each other within moments and a couple of laps around the room, made me feel MUCH better.
Soon, we were approached by Susan Lyall, who I knew from when I appeared (as myself) in Jonathan Demme’s upcoming film, based on Jenny Lumet’s screenplay, “Dancing With Shiva”. Susan was the costume designer and a lot of fun to play dress-up with. She had remembered me from back when, so was tuned into what clothing I would be comfortable in when DJing (the “role” I played in the film). I ended up wearing my own clothes, but she did have some super pieces, like a pair of very hubba-hubba Azzedine Alaïa pants that would have been super on my bod back when, but now…ummm… Luckily, she had a great stole I used to cover up my arms and chest from the scary intrusive glare of HD, which was how the movie was filmed. Had I known that it was going to be filmed in HD, I might have brought along a veil as well.
Susan was in great spirits, as is everyone in the entertainment biz now that the writer’s strike is over. “I’m finally filming that Uma Thurman movie I told you about!” She said, referring to a movie whose name I forget. Looking at IMDB, Uma Thurman’s next movie (in pre-production) is “Eloise in Paris”, so, perhaps…. I introduced the Galligans and Susan and we chatted some more.
Then, it was definitely time to leave. I never did see Jennifer Rubell (another host) who was there, according to the pics that showed up on the PMc site the next day. Too bad, because I adore Jennifer, whose late uncle Stevie was one of my most beloved mentors. And I never got a chance to talk to Brian at length because, being that it was his party, he was a tad busy. And what a swell party it was.
When I later emailed Brian a list of questions about his book, he had someone send me a press release. He told me that this should answer any questions. Unfortunately, I somehow erased that press release from my email during some crazed cleaning freak. Therefore, just go to Amazon.com and read what they have to say about South Beach: The Novel and what readers have to say. They all loved it. So, go and buy it. Just think how impressed people will be this summer when they see you reading an actual BOOK!