December 1, 2016
A sprinkling of book parties popped up this month to prove that literature may be harder to find these days, but it’s worth the search, especially when it comes with some passalong hors d’oeuvres. First off, Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Susie Essman auctioned off her book, What Would Susie Say?, at a ChairScholars Foundation event at Hudson Terrace, where she also did some standup, asking for audience questions at the end of her act. In between devouring little pizzas, the audience obliged, the most predominant query being, “What’s Larry David really like?” “Well,” Susie assured us, “he would never do the things his character does, though he does think them.” Someone else wondered if Larry would ever submit to a Friars Roast. “Never,” said Susie, admitting he’s a tad thinskinned. How about a Seinfeld reunion? “No!” she barked. “What are they, The Brady Bunch?”
Another cable star, another book, when HLN host Jane Velez-Mitchell had a bash at artist Peter Max’s studio for her very revealing memoir, iWant: My Journey From Addiction and Overconsumption to a Simpler, Honest Life, which details how she could have become one of the people whose mugshots she holds up on television. “I was a blackout drinker,” Jane admitted to me, “and a garden-variety lush.” But after she bottomed out 14 years ago, “I had a miracle. It was a spiritual convergence. The obsession was lifted.”
Luckily, said Jane, “I never had a DUI or got into other trouble,” but she’s glad those dark days are behind her. “My book,” she related, “is about healing myself and being compassionate to myself and others.” Gosh, is she sort of a nice Nancy Grace? “Nancy is nice,” she swore. “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her. She was the first one to ask for my opinion. She brought me on to talk about Michael Jackson.” Wow! Let’s toast Nancy—with soda.
There was also a book party— attended by such boldfacers as Veronica Webb, Richard Johnson, Narciso Rodriguez and Melissa Berkelhammer—for Indochine: Stories, Shaken and Stirred at Bergdorf Goodman, celebrating the long-running restaurant that cynics call “Indogestion,” but which actually serves delish food and swell ambience. It’s one of the few places where tablehopping is tacitly OK, but not gushing and drooling. In fact, the book reveals that a waitress there was once fired for asking Madonna for an autograph!
The literary crowd was alive and well at Let It Bee, an all-star spelling bee to benefit the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses at Diane von Furstenberg’s establishment on 14th Street. I bombed out on my one word (“dirndl”), but others did better, such as Beauty Junkies author Alex Kuczynski, who blurted, “I’d really like to win this award for my newborn baby! Give it to me.” Alas, she eventually flunked out—along with James Frey, Nancy Franklin and a batch of other biggies—leaving author Ben Greenman to win on “colophon.” I can spell it—well, now I can spell it—but please don’t ask me what it means!
A little more lowbrow—yet technically above the brow—The Golden Mullet Awards were a mock tribute to heavy-metal hair styles, held after a performance of Broadway’s metal-jukebox hit, Rock of Ages. One of the illustrious winners, Will Swenson from the alltoo- appropriate Broadway show Hair, thanked God for his follicles and mockingly referred to a losing nominee by crowing, “Suck on it, Stamos!”
Rather than bang my head around in cramped, cozy New York, I got to go on side trips and open my palette of experiences to wider spaces where my hair can rise. Pam Grier turned up at the House of Blues in Atlantic City for a gala L Word reunion. There, the ’70s-blaxploitation-vixen-turned-TV-star told me she has finished her memoirs, “and I’m still in therapy from that. Several cases of wine later….” I consoled her on the toll this may have taken on her, but I was actually kind of thrilled: Soon there’ll be another book party!
IMAGE: Diane von Furstenberg
PHOTOGRAPH BY DIMITRIOS KAMBOURIS/WIREIMAGE.COM (VON FURSTENBERG)