Fashion Gallery: Virgin Territory

Hanging on the ledge. Swinging from the scaffolding. Rocking jeans and T-shirts or slipping into a ball gown. Anything can happen in a New York night. And hometown buzz band The Virgins are on it. See full gallery, and also be sure to check out our behind-the-scenes video. Photography by Roxanne Lowit; styling by Elziabeth Sulcer.

Eric Balfour Works the Night Shift

Contrary to the admiration he inspires for roles in Six Feet Under and 24, as well as films The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Lie With Me, Eric Balfour, 31, is not quite a star yet, at least in his own mind. “I guess I haven’t really achieved a comfort level, where I feel like I’ll always have work. I’m always like, Oh my god! I got a job! That’s amazing!” says the hunk who played a mysterious biker in last summer’s Quentin Tarantino romp Hell Ride, and who clocks major screen time in this fall’s thriller The Horseman, directed by Jonas Åkerlund, not to mention Frank Miller’s supernatural cop film The Spirit, due in December. Equally shocking to the actor is his cachet as a model with a resume that includes the cover of L’Uomo Vogue and campaigns for Dolce & Gabbana and Valentino’s male fragrance, Valentino V.

“I am completely self-conscious of my own face, and completely vain at the same time,” Balfour says. “I have the worst habit: If there’s a mirror, I can’t help but look at it. A lot of it comes from insecurity. Growing up, I wanted to look like one of those cute little WASP-y kids with the pug nose.” Worldwide affirmation of his swarthy good looks still hasn’t given Balfour permission to indulge in a full-on Hollywood lifestyle. “I’m such a bad celebrity,” he says. “When I go to premieres, I drive myself.” Here, Balfour stars as a watchman on graveyard patrol who rocks slick henchman and future punk looks–and blows his fuse–as the hours creep by. —Interview by Ariel Vered, photography by Miranda Penn Turin, styling by Bryan Levandowski






The Black List: Bill Maher’s Infernal Racket

This month, Bill Maher delivers more fire and brimstone — and laughs — with the release of Religulous, his pontification on the absurdity of organized religion. Here, the cheeky devil exorcises his demons with his list of top ten things that bug him.

1. The “too cool to dance in the aisles” people who stay seated during Mamma Mia!

2. When the Jacuzzi jets fill your trunks with air and make your ass float to the surface.

3. Murder-mystery dinner theater. Who’s the real killer? My vote goes to whoever made the Chicken Kiev.

4. Hitchhikers who start blubbering and yanking at the door handle when you turn down the dirt road.

5. When the ad in the newspaper says, “Come out and meet the Jonas Brothers,” and you drive all the way to a mall in Pacoima only to find you don’t really get to “meet” the Jonas Brothers, you just get to watch them perform three songs.

6. Magic.

7. Employees who greet you the second you enter their store: “Welcome to Hollywood Video!” You really want to make me feel welcome? Add a porn section.

8. Rude reporters who expect an interview while you’re trying to get laid. Yes, I mean you, Dateline NBC’s Chris Hansen. Photograph by Tim Palen. 9. People who don’t finish what they start.


Photo: Tim Palen

Rachel Zoe Sets the Record Straight

Celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe has survived media beatings of a viciousness ordinarily reserved for bottomless heiresses and ex-Mouseketeers. A-list clients (“Zoe-bots,” if you’re nasty) catapulted Zoe, 36, to infamy. But the tabloids were also the nexus point between high fashion and low culture (Lindsay lurches into paparazzi-fire with handbag; handbag sells out globally within 40 minutes). Zoe capitalized on the frenzy with the creation of her own signature brand. Here, the Long Island sunglasses come off and it becomes clear that there is more to Zoe than hippie headscarves, eating disorders and caftans.

(apropos of a diamond lion pendant) Are you a Leo? Triple Virgo. Perfectionist, neurotic, hard on myself, never happy, never satisfied…

Caretaker. To a fault.

First style icon? My mom in the ’70s and ’80s was just so on point, right out of Tom Ford’s first collection: vests, wide legs, big low-slung belts, fabulous hair, dark skin.

You saved up as a tween to buy vintage mink coats. As far as I can remember, every dime I ever had went to something extravagant. I would rather spend more, buy fewer items and have them forever.

Who made your faux-African caftan? This is vintage Oscar de la Renta; 98 percent of what I own is vintage.

Doesn’t it remind you of a big wooden plate of deviled eggs? I think more of Talitha Getty and Charlotte Rampling, but then, I don’t eat deviled eggs.

It seems that when a woman’s career gets to a certain level, people start attacking her looks. I’ve seen press about you that’s completely underhanded. Oh, honey, I’ve spent a good part of the past three years wanting to crawl under a rock. Marc Jacobs said to me, “Rachel, most of these bloggers are living in God knows where, having a bad day.”

Arguably, these attacks haven’t hurt you. They have hurt me, personally. Every other day there’s something — I’m dealing drugs, I’m starving people. I have never done a drug in my life.

When I Googled you, I got a bunch of ads for Clenbuterol. I don’t even know what that is.

It’s a diet pill. They were saying that I was dealing crystal meth. I asked my agents, What even is a crystal meth? And they were like, “It’s not an ‘a,’ it’s a thing.” I’m that naïve.

What helped you develop a thicker skin? Lack of choice, really. I spent six months in tears. I didn’t go out. I felt like I needed to buy a shield, boxing gloves and a sword.

What did you buy to act as psychic shields? Leather jackets? I bought this evil eye bracelet. I wear all of this animal jewelry; these denote protection and warding off evil. I have a crystal for healing the mind and soul.

You are Mrs. Sarkozy, meeting the Queen of England. What are you wearing? I would say Chanel, Dior, Louis Vuitton. Something very tailored. A high-waisted pencil skirt, a white blouse with a dolman sleeve and something that ties around my neck. And the highest black patent Yves Saint Laurent pumps. Big, huge black glasses, obviously.

Anything you want to banish from the fashion world forever? Acid-washed jeans. Do a white jean, fuchsia jean, yellow jean. Don’t do acid wash.

I blame you partially for the maternity, unbelted, prune-smock look with the leggings and ballet flats. Flats you can’t blame me for. I don’t even own flats. Comfort is very important, but a belt is a great idea. I love little baby-doll dresses.

I want you to make them go away. Looking sexy vs. being comfortable: which side should weigh more? Sexiness should not be overt. Something shapeless that drapes across your hip, hangs off the shoulder; something that cowls in the front, drapes low in the back, that’s sexy. What I don’t think is sexy are boobs up to your chin, and slits up to here. One sexy element at a time.

No French hooker looks? For photoshoots, yes. I’m all for the Helmut Newton thing with high-waisted shorts, bunny ears and corsets.

Do you know CODEPINK? No.

They’re peace activists. They wear pink, crash into Congress and do guerilla theater. CODEPINK needs a makeover. You could lend them visibility and resuscitate the anti-war movement. I’m embarking on a big initiative this year for ovarian cancer — that’s next. But if I lived in the ’70s, I would have been right in John Lennon’s bed with him and Yoko. God, I wish he were alive.

He wouldn’t be happy. No, but the world would be different. I think he would have been in political power somewhere along the line.

Power needs your touch. You could dress CODEPINK and restore coolness to the peace movement. I’m going to look into it, but I love fur.

They’re not PETA. They just want to pull the troops out. No one would ever be able to talk shit about you again. They will anyway. I think no matter what I do, I am not going to win.

I don’t think that’s true. You could be the mother of peace in our country. If I could, my parents would be so happy.

You’re a Deadhead. Did you have a van? I did not have a van, or wear Birkenstocks and tie-dyes.

Hallucinations? God, no. In the back of my mind, I thought I would be that person who tries something for the first time and jumps off a bridge, or falls off a balcony… I am a walking Murphy’s Law.

How are you going to dress cancer? Will you do something creative? Anything and everything.

Headscarves? No. But give me an Hermès scarf, and I’ll show you any which way you can wear it.

Thelma from Good Times — fashion icon? I loved Thelma! Drapey, wide legs, everything 10 sizes too big, huge glasses, scarves tied around my head. I love anything old: Ali MacGraw in Love Story, Annie Hall, Belle de jour, Barbarella, The Way We Were.

When you’re 90, how do you see yourself? I want to be sitting with my husband in the south of France, in an Yves Saint Laurent caftan, dripping in obnoxious gold jewelry.

Turban? No, but potentially a headscarf. I’ll still have long hair, but gray.

How would you dress Michelle Obama? I want them all to be Jackie Kennedy. Chanel, Dior, a classic black sheath, big glasses, headband, red lips, long strands of pearls.

Head-to-toe Chanel? Tough question. There are few designers you can do head-to-toe, but I’d say Chanel is one of them. But without logos everywhere.

Should Obama wear seersucker? In the summertime.

Should all men wear seersucker? Absolutely not. My father should not wear seersucker. Just because I love micro mini-dresses and thigh-high lace-up boots doesn’t mean that I can wear them.

How do you feel about sanitized shift-dresses with high necklines? You have to give flavor to everything. If you’re going to do something ’60s mod-chic, do a white-patent boot. Do a huge wrist cuff that covers half your arm. Mess up your hair. When you look like you stepped out of a catalog, that’s never good. People shouldn’t succumb to trend, they should interpret trend.

The Rachel Zoe Project recently premiered on Bravo. Cintra Wilson’s new book , Caligula for President: Better American Living Through Tyranny, hits bookstores this month.

Photo by Victoria Will.

Editor’s Letter: Starry Night

Nothing like a morning-after greasy plate of deliciousness to help recap the adventures of a night of revelry. BlackBook caught up with Blondie’s Deborah Harry and her buddy Justin Bond, aka Kiki, the boozy chanteuse of downtown cabaret duo Kiki & Herb, for some frank coffee talk about the pleasures of the night for this issue. More than just a time for her to live it up, Harry also unleashes her creative powers in the after-after-hours, hatching her iconic songs before the world at large rolls out of bed. “Being in the city, staying out all night and facing the dawn offers an amazing perspective,” said Harry. “It’s a very creative time.”

No wonder then that Blondie’s intoxicating music — equal parts attitudinal rock and sensuous pop, accompanied by a dancefloor-ready beat — has held the promise of a seriously sexy night out for a good three decades now. Indeed, the seductive thump of “Heart of Glass” came beckoning from the sound system later that night for the BlackBook team at Amy Sacco’s perennial New York hotspot Bungalow 8, where 92-year-old club-kid-at-heart Zelda Kaplan was photographed indulging in a celebratory glass of bubbly. In our special “Creatures of the Night” package, we toast Kaplan and the many bright lights of the New York night — and their kindred spirits in London, Paris, Tokyo and L.A. — who come out of the shadows after dark to get turned on by the thrill of the unknown, the promise of possibility.

The night is democratic: anyone can be a star — or at least feel like one. (Harry herself got her start waiting tables at Max’s Kansas City back in the day, quickly rising up the ranks to queen of the night.) The magic and intrigue of the after-hours crowd was summed up wonderfully by iconic Village Voice nightlife chronicler, Michael Musto, who noted that nighttime is when “my kindred spirits pursue their dreams, living as their most extreme and fabulous versions of themselves. Most people don’t have the balls to do that.”

This issue is full of risk-takers. New York buzz band the Virgins threw themselves into some adventurous styles when they stopped by the BlackBook offices for a night of hot looks on our fire escape and a prowl around town in dapper suits, a ballgown and some sheer sequined top action. (“Anything to move units!” cracked drummer Erik Ratensperger, looking pretty in his sequins, glitter in his eyes.) Also inside, writer Dudley Saunders did a bit of shadow dancing with daring actor Michael C. Hall, who plays the cuddly serial killer on Dexter.

This month marks a new dawn for our cover star, esteemed actress Thandie Newton, who ignites the screen in Guy Ritchie’s rock ’em-sock ’em return to form, RocknRolla, and pulls no punches in the plum role of Condoleezza Rice in Oliver Stone’s W. After 18 years in the industry, Newton is on the eve of a real breakthrough. We’ll drink to that.

BlackBook Brings Out The Night

It’s no mere coincidence that the celebration of our nightlife issue was held at (gasp!) a nightclub. It was something we meticulously planned: to have almost 10,000 bottles of Dos Equis beer and the appropriate number of mouths to drink them. But in Monday night’s case, surplus was a plus. Santos’ Party House, that downtown default, hosted sword swallowers, contortionists, Elvira fright-waitresses, and Dos Equis, who were scouring the premises for the most interesting man in the world’s assistant. See a gallery of the shenanigans. After eleven, a random metal band takes the stage upstairs, while downstairs, Cut Copy and the Presets spun their own after party. We however, opted for backstage, where bottles were emptied, bowling balls bowled, and glass (and hearts) shattered.

John Varvatos’ Smash Hits

This fall, the Cleve won’t be our only city that rocks harder than Bret Michaels after a blowout. Deadheads and club kids band together as New York welcomes the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Annex to its fashionable SoHo district. Centered on “Greatest Rock Moments,” the new outpost will feature collectibles such as Madonna’s Keith Haring jacket, Bob Dylan’s harmonica and Keith Moon’s boots. All are fun cultural artifacts, if not a touch predictable. Here, BlackBook asks designer and music freak John Varvatos, whose recent Bowery retail location breathed new life into the iconic but defunct jam space CBGB, to list the 10 items that should have made it into the collection. Elvis fans, be forewarned: studded jumpsuits have been thrown out to make room for airborne pork, bloodstains and private parts.

1. The Rolling Stones’ inflatable penis.

2. Alice Cooper’s guillotine.

3. Jack White’s red sequined suit.

4. David Lee Roth’s weave.

5. Ozzy Osbourne’s headless dove.

6. Tommy Lee’s (Mötley Crüe) rotating drum kit.

7. Pink Floyd’s flying pig.

8. Ian Anderson’s (Jethro Tull) cock piece.

9. Iggy Pop’s bloody jeans.

10. Flock of Seagulls hair.