The Electric Spectre
“I saw a Polaroid of you and that's how I knew you were here,” said the Swan, mouth arching upwards to solicit the most conspicuous kiss of the evening thus far. She parted her lips, wet already in anticipation and grazed her mouth against mine for that split second for it to seem intimate. In a room where every glance, every gesture was semaphore, Swan's kiss was having its desired effect. Because it was not the kiss of ex-lovers. It was not an invitation to love. It was the kiss of benediction. It was kisses dispensed to the chosen few now left behind in the wake of her ascension.
The Swan you see was going to Heaven. She was leaving all of us mortals behind while she was being swept up in the rapture of her rise to Hollywood. She was flying away, never to come back, to her first role in a major studio release, to a 4000 sq foot house on Doheny Drive in the Hollywood Hills , to the breathless dedication of her ICM agents and publicists. The Swan was in the throes of a transformation where she was to change and become an electric spectre shimmering only on film and television screens and computer screens, rarely ever again to be seen in the flesh .
I remember her then. When she had just come to town from Darien Connecticut with a lopsided shag and full on crustie credentials. .This was back in the early 90's when Ned Ambler was literally scraping the sidewalks of the East Village clean for his CK 1 castings. One day a girl with the side of her head shaved is lying in front of Stingy Lulu's in a Rancid T-shirt, a dirty denim jacket riddled with 80's hardcore band pins, tattered black tights and vinyl mary janes, literally living out the encrusted ideal. The next she's smacked next to Kate Moss onto the incandescent white seamless of a Silvercup Studios sound stage in black stockings very much like the ones she was scouted in, except now the dirty denim is all Calvin and the mary janes are 5 times the original's price point.
But God bless our Swan , she took an unremarkable moment in a group shot and cut a career from that . Look at her now. The bad shag has become the glossy blonde helmet of a perfect Garren page-boy . The skin is porcelain, the teeth laser white. Her then blood shot eyes are now crystal clear ...and her tissue thin cashmere cardigan reeks of an expensive eau de parfum compressed from the finest gardenias. Silk skin under a silk blouse. So pristine and soft and way past the rebellion of 10 years ago. She undocks from me and drifts off to her next benediction, to kiss another one of us goodbye .I knew she'd go places but I cannot dream how far .
Now that our business is done my cause for concern is this Polaroid drifting through the room unsupervised. It must have gone off just as I had come off the elevator. I remember a flare of light and a brief discombobulation but I just thought it had been for one of the gaggle of Women models who had come clumping down the hallway and that I had just been sideswiped by the swell of their glory. They had waded into the party flashing lank sheaths of hair and stamping in their high heels to the Blur on the stereo looking much like the nervous race horses models always remind me of. Obviously I had been distracted and obviously that was the moment of capture.
I hate , meaning I really do hate snap shots and photo-ops, those always awkward moments when you're pushed into a chorus line with faint acquaintances and asked to smile for no reason for an anonymous camera. I never could get the timing right either. Blink. Snap. Oops lets do that again. Sigh. Snap. Oooh. Let's try another one of those. It is a situation worsened by the knowledge that the picture is unlikely to run anywhere, at least not with me in it since I just happened to be in conversation with a person of note. It was the significant and celebrated they were hunting, I was just the after-thought and the best I can hope for is the caption of “And Friend” I won't complain though. There is obviously a living to be made from being on the edges of other people's celebrated state.
Deep down in Central Park I looked at the dark mesh of trees and wondered when the buds would begin to burst. It's April but the trees seemed as frozen and contained as if it we were still in the white wastes of winter. I watch a thin red and white rivulet of traffic weave through the Park as the reflection of the electronic clock at 59th streets beats 10.44 on the glass panes of the condo of Swan's “producer friend” Is it envy ? The reservation I'm entertaining right now ? I have yet to understand how money is spent in this city. 37 floors up, floating over the Manhattan night the view is incomparable at $6 mil. But when I turn away from the view I don't understand why the room is built with the same consideration given to property 1/10th the cost. It could be Baltimore or Naples, Florida or Seattle .
Before I had scaled these penthouse heights I had imagined that these ice towers were stacked with rooms blinding in their perfection. But here was a room afraid to have an identity or presence. Just a sea of ash blonde flooring , a senseless curvilinear mould dividing hallway from living room, a very modern and very greige L-shaped couch, and the cliched marble Saarinen table with a hanging lamp swinging above it. But maybe at 6 million 2000 square feet is supposed to defer to the view. It must be envy.
But it is wonderful that in this city people who could very well speed past you on the streets in practiced obliviousness will give up their privacy in the name of social advancement and allow hundreds of strangers to wander through these their most intimate of spaces. Allowing strangers to pull open the door to their Sub-Zeroes to rummage through the art directed selection of bottles and fruits and vegetables and find a cold tonic water to make the gin and tonic with.
So then, it's time to swallow my gin and tonic and get back to my appointed task. There were three things that kept a New York party percolating, three key ingredients to keep the bar jammed and the lines down the block. 1 .The killer DJ. 2. A trust worthy drug dealer to keep discrete celebrities well lubricated and 3. an army of procurers... connected nightcrawlers who trawled through NYC's dozens of nightly party and came back with a netful of catch. So how does one lure a decent cross section of this collection of glossy kids back to the boîte that bribes me to keep the room brimming with my many beautiful friends
With a slow walk much like a slink, you catch a familiar eye, make small talk and then insinuate that all roads led to The Bowery later that evening . The Swan would be the score of the night but there's no divulging her from her new patron right this second. . So one works a cluster of banged Chelsea Boys all congregated around this astonishingly beautiful Russian model. Since the sudden rise of Colette to a Calvin Klein contract to replace Kate, all of a sudden there was this new influx of Russians in town. The way the Russian beauty had already turned her face into a mask, the way her body language was already weighed with the knowledge of the leverage was beautiful to behold.
I veered deep right, into the farthest recesses of the room into a throng of Upper East blondes who were keeping well away from the magnificent Russian. They were trapped in mechanical conversation with some Hollywood day-trippers so I don't think they minded my interruption .I'd put good money down that our Hollywood refugees would have to be on a red eye in three hours and so these were not prime candidates. Besides, they were wearing Hugo Boss suits.
My tour of duty done I bid The Swan goodnight, wondering if we'd ever see her in the flesh again. Those kisses, wet and stinging and no tongue. Such a talent to have.