Fran Lebowitz on Scorsese, Mayor Bloomberg, & Kim Kardashian

When Fran Lebowitz calls me at the office on a weekday afternoon in late October, I thank her, as is customary, for setting aside time to chat. “Well,” she says, huskily and sardonically—as is customary for the 60-year-old writer and humorist—“everyone else refused.” Lebowitz’s dry wit and deadpan humor is celebrated in the new documentary, Public Speaking, which was directed by Martin Scorsese, produced by Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter, and will premiere on HBO later this month. Instead of providing a look into the private life of one of New York’s most reclusive personalities, the film unreels like a compendium of Lebowitz quotables, of which there has never been a shortage. In the film, while seated at her regular table inside The Waverly Inn, she talks about everything from the success of Andy Warhol’s Factory (“This is what happens when an inside joke gets into the water supply”) and gender politics (“It’s very hampering to women, that they have babies—or that they want to have babies”), to racism in the age of Obama (“It’s not as bad as it was before”). Our conversation sunk decidedly lowbrow, segueing in the same breath from The Paris Review to “Page Six.” Here she is on Marty, Mayor Bloomberg, and something called a Kardashian.

I watched Public Speaking the other night. Are you pleased with how it all turned out? I feel like Marty’s coming along quite nicely.

He’s really coming into his own, yes. [Laughter] Finally.

You’re such a private woman. To be honest, I was kind of surprised you agreed to be filmed. Why did you want this? I didn’t, at least initially. For many years I refused to do it because the documentaries that people wanted to make were so conventional. They were meant to be about my life, and their intent was to express my innermost thoughts, which I don’t care to do. Actually, Public Speaking was Graydon Carter’s idea, and when he first proposed it to me, six or seven years ago, I said no. The BBC did a documentary about me hundreds of years ago, and by the time they were done no one I knew was speaking to each other. It was horrible. This time, I said I’d rather do something like the shorts Robert Benchley made. Do you know who he was?

Of course. Don’t say, “Of course.” You cannot imagine the number of people who don’t know him. So that became the initial idea, but I ended up doing this because of Marty. In a way, this movie has nothing to do with me, in the sense that he didn’t consult me and I didn’t know what he was doing. I made some suggestions to him, only two of which he took. He wasn’t highly interested in my suggestions, I have to say, but he pretended to be.

You once said in an interview with The Paris Review that you’ve never allowed your writing to be edited. In this case, it’s not your writing but your comments that get truncated and spliced together and moved out of chronology. That’s putting it mildly. But I am the last person on the planet who makes extreme distinctions between writing and talking. I knew that Marty was going to edit the movie, but then again, it was his movie to edit—not mine.

It’s conspicuously lacking in any personal revelations about your private life. My life is all about boundaries and distinctions. I’m not interested in other people so I don’t expect people to be interested in me, and if they are, too bad.

In this film, you say that the “nosy neighbor” is not an urban figure, but I can’t help but disagree. The difference is, perhaps, that the nosy neighbor in New York is “Page Six” or the gossip blogs. But the stuff that you see in gossip columns or on the internet, that’s not someone’s real life—especially now that people are aware that their so-called private lives are public. The people who appear in gossip columns are generally performers. Open one of those magazines and you’ll see some movie star taking their children to Starbucks or to the park, which is absurd. These people own hundreds of acres of property, and they actually rouse their children out of the ocean they own to take them to a public park? That’s a performance. Do you really think photographers just happen upon Angelina Jolie playing with her children at a park? It’s a performance. If I’m aware of my actual neighbors it’s because they annoy me in some way, not because they fascinate me.


For someone so fiercely protective of her personal life, you seem to really revel in the spotlight. When people say personal life, they usually mean sex life. I don’t mean that. I mean my actual life. If you make a distinction between public and private, which no one seems to do anymore, and you have an actual public life, then that is the thing you’re choosing to make public. I don’t understand why you’re not allowed that choice. A writer, even one with a public life, isn’t a movie star, at least not perks-wise. When people say, “Well, that’s the price of fame,” I respond, Why is that the price? Why isn’t the price of fame a movie ticket or a book? Now we have this whole demographic of people who are famous, but who don’t actually do anything. They haven’t made movies for you to see, or books for you to read—you’re just aware of them because they make themselves known.

Was fame something to which you aspired? Yes, absolutely. If I didn’t want people to read my writing then I wouldn’t publish it. I want people to know what I think. That’s what I’ve always wanted. Actually, I have a disposition much better suited to a dictator. Mainly, I want people to do what I say.

Do they? No, they don’t, despite the fact that I’ve been trying to influence people my entire life. I’ve had very limited success with that.

In what ways has the definition of celebrity changed in your time? Well, there are more of them now—a billion times more, literally. I’m always shocked that people get more upset about how many immigrants there are than how many celebrities there are. Celebrities didn’t build this country, okay? It used to be, in the 20s, 30s, and 40s, that people were famous for being debutantes, society girls, and polo players. The society pages in the newspaper used to chronicle the comings and goings of rich people at parties. Now there are all of those reality shows and people on the internet, the stuff that most people talk about. It’s a kind of celebrity, sure, but I don’t think it’s a very lasting one.

You’ve held court at Waverly Inn for years. It must be jarring to see, say, Kim Kardashian walk in for a bite, no? I have never met any of those people. Let me promise you that I have not. I certainly, absolutely couldn’t tell one Kardashian from the next—that is true. But I am aware that there are these people called Kardashians, even if I have never seen one. If I came into actual contact with that sort of person, I know I would not be very interested. It won’t last. I don’t mean they won’t last as celebrities—that’s for sure—but this particular phenomenon won’t last. And how do I know that? Because nothing lasts. Things may not change for the better—although it’s almost impossible to imagine things changing for the worse—but they will change. In the same way that technology has altered how we perceive celebrity, it’s also changed how we make art and literature and music. Is this inherently a bad thing? This is a period of tremendous revolution, historically speaking. No one seems to be aware of it because they’re always trying to predict the next thing. With all of the destruction that we now have—destruction of industry, destruction of communication—people, especially those in charge of the soon-to-be destroyed establishments, are naturally apprehensive. The first things to go will be newspapers.

What about magazines? Magazines will last longer because kids love them. A newspaper isn’t an object in the way magazines are objects. Books will last longer than both of these things. The total disappearance of books is the furthest out, and it’s certainly not going to happen in my lifetime, so I’m not that worried about it. I’m a bookworm. I own 8,500 books—

Is that a real number? I recently moved and now, three months into organizing my books, I know how many I own.

It’s hard to imagine that the next generation will be attached to their iPads in the same way that we were attached to our books. It’s hard for book-bound people to understand, but it seems absolutely possible to me. I suppose if I was 4 years old and I was just learning to read, I probably wouldn’t care about books, but I’m not four years old.

I didn’t realize you had moved. Are you still up near Times Square? No, no, no. That is the single worst environment in the history of man, period.

I get the impression from hearing you speak that you get off on confrontation. I don’t, actually. I’m not a contrarian, I just know I’m right—there’s a difference. People have always thought that I write for effect, but I don’t. I write things because I believe them, and I say things because I believe them. I believe I am right and I would prefer everyone agree with me because then the world would be more to my liking. I’m never trying to provoke, I assure you.


I actually think there is merit inherent in argument. I suppose, but only if the person with an opposing point of view has something interesting to say. When that happens, I’ll let you know. Sometimes you live through eras that are completely counter to your tastes and that is happening to me right now, although I can’t really recall an era in which I’ve felt in concert with my fellow man. One of the things these new methods of communication does is highlight very extreme positions on everything, so that people start talking about them all the time. It wasn’t that we didn’t always have nuts but they didn’t used to get right into the middle of things—people didn’t pay attention to them. Now the nuts are right in the center of everything. The beginning of the end was when Minnesota, the state that every New Yorker thinks is the core of common sense, had some wrestler as their governor.

Jesse Ventura wasn’t even an Olympic wrestler. He was a professional wrestler. I would have preferred a boxer! Believe me, I’m not one of those people who thinks things always used to be better—millions of things were once worse than they are now—but the idea that you would hire an idiot to govern your state, well, it didn’t exist before. It wasn’t that people like Carl Paladino didn’t exist; they just weren’t possibly going to be governor of New York.

You said in the film that the culture should be made up of a natural aristocracy of talent, which seems apt but also slightly elitist in that the members of that aristocracy need a certain amount of money or social standing in order to be recognized in the first place. I don’t agree with you. That’s a young idea. How old are you?

I’m 27. When I was 27, which is how old I was when my first book came out, New Yorkers didn’t think, “Can we afford to do this?” We lived really, really badly. I don’t want to give you the impression I was some kind of communist, because I wasn’t, but I just didn’t think about the kind of things that people think they now need. Lots of times kids will ask me what restaurants I ate at when I was younger. I don’t even remember eating. Eating in restaurants was something that old people did. The idea that today’s kids are so interested in food and restaurants, well, I find that kind of funny. When we were younger, all we thought about was sex. I can absolutely promise you that I don’t remember any conversations about food when I was young. If you talk about that when you’re 20, what are you going to talk about when you’re 40 or 50? This is not the time to be thinking about restaurants. I lived in a horrible apartment with no kitchen and no ceiling in the bathroom, but it didn’t matter because I never stayed in my apartment. We lived our lives in public places. We hung around in bars. When Mayor Bloomberg first made this smoking law, for instance, I saw him somewhere and I said to him, Do you understand what sitting around in bars, talking and drinking and smoking, is called? It’s called the history of art.”

I’m broke and terribly malnourished, but I’ll pay good money to go to Hudson Bar & Books, where I can enjoy a glass of wine and a cigarette inside. But it’s expensive and that’s the point. They are making this city for tourists. Let me assure you that Bloomberg would be just as happy if all of the citizens of the city just left and sent him our tax money.

How did he respond when you confronted him about the smoking ban? I guess he always thinks I’m kidding, but I’m not sure. Believe me, there’s nothing I could be less interested in than what Michael Bloomberg thinks.

Where Celebs Eat: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Brian Williams, Betty White

Maggie Gyllenhaal @ the Fresh Air Fund gala: Al di La and Il Buco: anything there! ● Maggie Rizer: At Nobu I get everything. I like the sea bass and the lettuce leaves, the tuna sashimi salad, the shishito peppers, and the Kobe beef. ● Brian Williams: I’m laughing because my wife and I go to the same two places all the time! There’s a little French place on Lexington; there’s a pasta place on 49th, Alfredo’s, because it’s right next to NBC.

Betty White at the Time100 Gala: Shun Lee Palace. ● Mark Feuerstein at the Royal Pains premiere party at the Lacoste store Fifth Avenue: Anywhere from The Waverly Inn to Smith & Wollensky. The most delicious chocolate souffle I’ve ever had was at the Four Seasons restaurant. In LA, Mastro’s or Boa. ● Henry Winkler: The Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien is unbelievable! ● Amy Landecker: I just had lunch at Blue Water Grill, and it was fantastic. Union Square Cafe has a tuna steak that is just absolutely to die for. And Momofuku in the East Village is unbelievably excellent. ● Jill Flint: There’s one restaurant in Brooklyn that I’m absolutely loving called Prime Meats. My favorite dish is meat with a side of bacon and a little bit more meat. ● John Legend at the Sesame Workshop’s gala: Le Bernardin. I just love the whole tasting menu.

Summer Preview: How the Hamptons Spent Its Winter Vacation

The off-season on the East End was nothing so much as an elaborate game of musical chairs, where restaurants swapped locations, switched bays and changed towns, and when the music stopped, one of the only people sans chair was, of course, Jean Luc. Read on for our detailed round up of what’s moved and shook on the island over the winter, and be sure to check out all the latest openings and perks on our comprehensive Hamptons Guide for the iPhone. Enjoy!

Last year’s Southampton daytime-drinking party-starter Day & Night, following the trend, has moved further east. For the season ahead, kicking off with the Memorial Day bash this Saturday, the bros. Koch describe a circus that features everything short of a French dwarf running around screaming “De plane, boss, de plane.” But give them time, plans do, in fact, include a seaplane (“We’re working with V1 Jets to offer packaged seaplane flights from NYC directly to the venue,” Daniel Koch tells us) and jet skis shuttling guests from boats in the harbor to the party. It all sounds like great fun until you realize that the boys aren’t playing in the Pink Elephant‘s sandbox anymore, that jet skis are prohibited in Three Mile Harbor (that goes double for seaplanes), and that the East Hampton PD once carted a gallery owner who had been in the town for three decades away in a police cruiser because she served wine at an art opening without a permit. Then it gets more fun.

RdV. East (from the crew behind the Meat Packing District’s Bagatelle, Kiss & Fly, and, of course, RdV) takes on the Tavern space (which previously hosted La Playa) and promises to perk up what has become a dwindling club scene. With Pink Elephant sunk in a legal morass, RdV East joins Dune and Lily Pond as the only legitimate club options this side of the canal.

The Montauk locals and watchers of the inexorable crawl of Hamptons glam toward the ocean have been buzzing about the next nail in the coffin of The End’s homespun charm. Sean MacPherson (who with Eric Goode has ridden the Maritime Hotel, Bowery Hotel and Graydon Carter’s Waverly Inn to near obnoxious success and The Jane Ballroom to notoriety) purchased the ever-so-slightly dilapidated–err, homey–inn and restaurant The Crow’s Nest. The acquisition came too late for him to do anything other than run it as is this season, but next year he promises to open a “new and improved” version.

Of course, the inevitable alarms have already sounded, to such an extent that you nearly expect villagers to meet Macpherson with pitchforks and torches when he finally does a Surf Lodge on the complex (also known as, making it a place people might actually want to stay). MacPherson certainly has, by all accounts, a prime spot, just across Lake Montauk from the newly revitalized Montauk Yacht Club (boasting its own revamped restaurant, The Gulf Coast Kitchen). It still remains to be seen if neighbors won’t complain as vociferously as they have about the Surf Lodge, situated on Fort Pond. There’s no reason to believe they won’t.

And, if you can believe it, the Memory Motel in Montauk narrowly missed being turned into a “a cool little box hotel” by reality TV couple Bob and Cortney Novogratz of Bravo’s 9 By Design. As the couple told, “we missed the deal by a week.” While the landmark escaped that fate, owner Artie Schneider told us that he did indeed make a deal for the hotel portion of the property with someone else (though he’ll retain the bar immortalized by the Rolling Stones in the song of the same name). Changes could come in as little as a month or so, he said.

New casual coastal restaurant Navy Beach opened early and well on a distant stretch of road along some of of Montauk’s prettiest bay beaches, down the sand from what had long been a naval base. The nautical theme carries throughout, from the reclaimed wood from the base in the interior, to the flags over the bar spelling “drink” in maritime code, to the seafood on the menu (though one menu item far from seafaring has been winning raves: the burger).

New this year to Bridgehamton will be Southfork Kitchen, the restaurant opening Bruce Buschel has been chronicling in the New York Times. His list of “100 Things Restaurant Staffers Should Never Do” stirred a shit-storm and garnered him a Facebook “fan” page calling for a boycott before his spot even had a name. Southfork Kitchen says it is set to serve “local and sustainable” seafood, and if you want to read how cute and fun it is to come up with names and logos and menu items and rules for servers you can read Buschel’s blog.

Ed “Jean Luc” Kleefield once joked that he would auction off the right to smash the sign from his restaurant in East Hampton. It looks like someone has finally taken him up the offer (though without the auction). The sign for Prime 103, his steakhouse on Montauk Highway now lies shattered.

And in Sag Harbor there are signs of life at the former JLX. The “Help Wanted” signs in all the windows prompted a burly passerby with dreadlocks down his back to stop and marvel. “What? So, he’s going to open it back up now?” he said incredulously. “This guy owes me $2,000 bucks, literally.” The passerby will have to get in line, but, in fact, it isn’t Jean Luc reopening the restaurant. A part of the team from the successful Trata in Watermill will make a go of it in Sag Harbor. There’s no name yet, but word is that the spot will be a French-inflected bistro, as it had been.

Now for the others who found new chairs: Mezzaluna AMG packed it in after one season, but Tim Bando of The Meeting House quickly moved in with his sleek and sexy Exile Bar. And Serafina has now taken the former Matto location in East Hampton, offering the same fare served at its midtown stalwarts. The Lodge in EH also closed, but owner Micheal Gluckman moved on up to the Springs with the Boathouse, a two-level seafooder overlooking the water. The Boathouse displaced local favorite Bostwick’s, which promptly, dressed down a bit, moved down toward Montauk Highway and opened in the former Cherrystones as Bostwick’s Chowder House. Also in East Hampton, Wei Fun said sayonara and has been replaced by The Grill on Pantigo, a sort of more casual and modern younger sibling to the 1770 House. Finally, a restaurant called Race Lane is set to open in the former Lodge spot. The owners say Race Lane will hark back to the days when the restaurant was The Laundry (which had moved to a new location a few years ago and closed this winter).

Got all that?

For Rent: Graydon Carter’s Man Slave

Remember the days of private man servants? Neither do we. The closest thing we’ve had to a butler was Fresh Prince reruns. But, for Vanity Fair honcho Graydon Carter, having another human being cater to your every whim is just a part of life. Yesterday The Post introduced us to Ivo Juhani, who doubles as Carter’s butler and the headwaiter at his hush-hush West Village eatery, The Waverly Inn.

The 33 year-old Estonian immigrant-turned-celebrity waiter dons a custom-made Thom Browne suit, books private cars and sought-after reservations, and keeps the champagne flowing “like water” as he works private cocktail parties and camps out in Carter’s hallway between the hours of 12 and 4 pm daily. If you have $15,000 to $20,000 a month to drop, you can rent one of the luxury apartments, and the man slave, could be yours. Oh, and Courtney Love will be your neighbor. Do with that what you will.

Where Celebs Go Out: Marc Jacobs, Amanda Lepore, Adrian Grenier, Emma Snowdon-Jones

At David Barton Gym annual toy drive: ● MARC JACOBS – “In Paris, there’s a small club called Montana, and there’s a restaurant called Thiou. Bars I really don’t hang out in. Oh, there’s this great club that happens once a month in Paris called Club Sandwich. And it’s at the Espace Cardin. And everyone gets super dressed-up, so it’s really, really fun. I try to go whenever I’m in Paris, if it’s going on. And we stay out all night and just dance like crazy. And in New York, my favorite restaurants have always been the same. I love to eat at Pastis. I love the Standard. I love Da Silvano. I eat in the lobby of the Mercer a lot, the hotel. I usually go to Pastis for lunch, and there’s a sandwich that was on the menu, but they don’t make it anymore, but I always insist that they make it for me. And it’s really fattening, so I shouldn’t eat it, but it’s chicken paillard and gruyere cheese and bacon. And it’s so delicious. It’s really good. And it’s my weakness. It’s just like the most perfect sandwich.”

● DAVID BARTON – “Oh, I can’t think where I like to hang out in Seattle except my new gym! There’s a great place that just opened up in New York, up on 51st, called the East Side Social Club. Patrick McMullan is one of the partners there. He’s co-hosting with me tonight. Great place; really cool. It’s very old world, kind of like going to Elaine’s, kind of little cozy; sit at a booth; very cool. Love a little place called Il Bagatto, over on 7th between A & B — little tiny Italian place, East Village, kind of a neighborhood place that I go to. What else? I don’t know restaurants. I’m very casual. I’m so not that into food. I mean, I could eat cardboard — I’m just not into food! I like people. I like atmosphere, but I’m just not that into food.” ● AMANDA LEPORE – “I definitely like Bowery Bar and I like Hiro. Boom Boom Room. Just anywhere where everybody is, I guess! [laughs] Novita, I like, my friend Giuseppe. Any favorite dishes? I try not to eat too much! ● PATRICK MCDONALD – “My favorite restaurant in New York is Indochine. It’s been around for 25 years. Jean-Marc, I adore. I love the bar at the Carlyle. I don’t drink, but I like to go there for tea in the afternoon. And I love Lady Mendl’s Tea Salon on Gramercy Park. I love Pastis, Odeon, and everywhere. I like the French fries at Pastis.” ● PATRICK MCMULLAN – “I love going to Waverly Inn downtown. Boom Boom Room is fabulous. That’s really a new, great place. SL, on 409 W. 14th Street, down below is nice. Of course, I have the East Side Social Club that I’m involved with, and that’s great for hanging out in, for eating. Favorite dishes anywhere? Oh, I don’t know, just anything that people recommend. I usually go with what people recommend ’cause most people know what’s good — the waiters know, so I think that’s the best thing. Red wine is good to have to drink sometimes. They have a drink called the Eastsider at the East Side Social Club that’s really good; any of their pastas; their ravioli is great there. What else do I like? That new place that’s open, the English place, on 60th in the Pierre — Le Caprice, that’s a nice place. At the Waverly Inn, I like the macaroni and cheese. It was funny because the macaroni and cheese is about two dollars less than a room at the Pod Hotel, which is where the East Side Social Club is! The Monkey Bar is fun. There are so many cool places in New York. I just go where people tell me to go.”

At elf party for Santa Baby 2: Christmas Maybe:

● JENNY MCCARTHY – “In Chicago, I would have to say Gibsons Steakhouse still; in Los Angeles, Katsuya, still love that sushi; I’m addicted to it. And in New York, Koi. I’m very trendy and boring, but, hey, that’s where the good food is, so …” ● PERI GILPIN – “In L.A., we like BLT a lot. We have five-year-old twins, so we’re like in bed by nine o’clock — pretty boring. Corner Bakery for soup.” ● CANDACE CAMERON BURE – “L.A., hands down, our favorite restaurant is Gjelina, which is in Venice. And we love Craft; love Michael’s in Santa Monica. Here, in New York, my favorite restaurant is Lupa, which is a Mario Batali restaurant; love it here. And I don’t go to clubs anymore, nightclubs; I don’t ever! At Gjelina, they have a burrata with prosciutto and, usually, a warm pear or a warm peach. I love that! I really love tapas. I enjoy getting a lot of appetizers, more than just a main dish. We, actually, have had our own wine label, Bure Family Wines, for two years, which is at several restaurants, so matching the food and the wine is a big part for us. We’re big foodies” ● DEAN MCDERMOTT – “There is a great bar, Ye Coach & Horses in L.A., on Sunset. I’m so bad at this stuff! Oh, Katsuya, in the Valley, awesome sushi. It’s our favorite place. We go there like three times a week.” ● KEN BAUMANN – “In New York, my favorite restaurant is Il Cortile. It’s in Little Italy, and it’s run by this guy named Stefano, and it’s incredible, phenomenal food. In Los Angeles, my favorite restaurant’s gotta be Cut, which is in the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.” ● SHAILENE WOODLEY – “Honestly, I’m not really a club kinda girl. I’d rather go to a local bar with some friends and hang out there. Or just go back to my house and have people come over. I’m more of the congregate-at-my-house kind of chick. I’m 18, so I don’t drink, so I don’t go to bars. There’s a place called the Alamo, which has karaoke and it’s a bar, but we go and karaoke there probably once a week.” ● FRANCIA RAISA – “I’m not a big club person. I really like bars and lounges. In L.A., I like to hang out at Buffalo Wild Wings, watching sports and drinking beer with my friends. I really don’t go out that much. I hang out at home and have my own glass of wine, watching Grey’s Anatomy. Oh, I just tried this restaurant yesterday at Gramercy Park Hotel. It’s a new, Italian place — Maialino. It was amazing. And again, I’m very simple, so I like pizza, and John’s Pizza out here is amazing to me, too. And hot wings I like at Planet Hollywood. I’m obsessed with them!”

At Zeno “Hot Spot” launch party @ MTV Studios:

● SKY NELLOR – “I am a huge sushi fanatic, so I just had Katsuya three times in two days in L.A. What is it about Katsuya? It’s the baked-crab hand roll in a soy-paper wrap. It’s just so yummy. I want one now! In New York, I have a fixation with Bagatelle. I just love the fish and the veggies. Nightclubs, nightlife, oh, my God! Apparently, I’m a really good bowler, so I hang out at Lucky Strike everywhere — Miami, L.A., Kansas! We just had a bowling party, and I won, so … Oh, they didn’t let me see my score. I just kept getting strikes to the point where they were, like, ‘Give her more shots! We have to stop this girl!’ And the drunker I got, the better I got. Clubs — if I’m going to go out, I’m going to go out to dance. And I’m going to go where the DJ is playing. I don’t care what club it is. I went to a dive in L.A., at a party called Afex, just because some of the best DJs were playing that night. Like, I don’t care about the crowd. I don’t care about the scene. I care about the music. I don’t think the venue has a name. I think it’s called No Space. They just move the party around.” ● SUCHIN PAK – “I have a great place. It’s called Broadway East, and it’s on East Broadway. And I love it because it’s a beautiful space, but also it’s literally across the street from my house. That always helps. And then there’s a really fantastic place called Bacaro. Oh, it’s amazing! It’s downstairs. It’s almost a dungeon-like place. The people that used to do Peasant, the wine bar there, moved to this place. I like to say the Lower East Side on East Broadway is where the grown-up hipsters go. For a true Lower East Sider, it may not be true Lower East Side, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve moved more south than east, and I keep trickling that way.”

At charity:ball for charity:water:

● ADRIAN GRENIER – “Brooklyn. Fort Greene. Habana Outpost — it’s run mostly on solar power, and it’s a sustainable business.” MARK BIRNBAUM “Well, if I do say so myself, Abe & Arthur’s on 14th Street; SL, the new club underneath it. I still love Tenjune. And I like hanging out at home other than that. What about places other than your own? So I shouldn’t say the Chandelier Room, in Hoboken? I really like going to Bar and Books in the West Village — that’s our spot. You know where else I like to go? Miami — the new W South Beach is unbelievable, by far the best hotel down there. The design is incredible; the pool area is very nice; they have good restaurants there — there’s a Mr. Chow’s and the other one is good; the rooms are really nice; it’s very well done; it’s just very fresh, the entire thing; and the artwork is incredible. You don’t feel like you’re in South Beach — not that there’s anything wrong with it — but it’s really, really, really, well done.” ● NICOLE TRUNFIO – “I just found this really cool jazz club in Paris where they still dance to old, rock-and-roll music in partners. It’s a location undisclosed. I don’t remember what it’s called. It’s in the Saint-Michel — it’s just off it. You can jump into a taxi, ‘cause we went to a jazz bar called the Library, but that was closed. So we asked the taxi driver, and he took us to this place. So, I’m sure lots of local French taxi-drivers would know the place.” ● LAUREN BUSH – “Oh, gosh, I’m like so uncool! It’s such an obvious question, it’s so hard … I’m a vegetarian, so I love Blossom restaurant. They have a good, quinoa-tofu dish. It’s like gingery. It’s really good. ● EMMA SNOWDON-JONES – “I love Le Bilboquet because it’s consistent, and mainly wherever your friends are it makes the place. It’s on 63rd, between Park and Madison. I’ve gone there since I was in boarding school. I’d come into the city on the weekends, and I’d go there. I think anyone that’s been in New York as long as I have knows it. That’s a really, bloody long time, sadly. As good as my Botox is, it’s too long!” ● KRISTIN CHENOWETH – “I am an old-fashioned girl, and I still love Joe Allen’s. I go there all the time. And right next-door above, is a place called Bar Centrale, and I go there, too. I was just there last night for three hours. I like the manicotti at Joe Allen’s. It’s excellent!” ● JULIAN LENNON – “Probably the Jane bar and the Rose Bar in New York.”

At launch of S.T. Dupont in-store boutique @ Davidoff on Madison Avenue:

● RON WHITE – “I love the bars in Glasgow, Scotland. You could go sit in a bar by yourself and in five minutes, you’d be talkin’ to 10 people because they’re so curious about anybody that walks in that’s not normally in there. They just want to go talk to ’em and find out what they’re about. They’re just as friendly as they can be. I was there for the British Open, or the Open Championship, as it’s called. And if you go to a bar in New York City, you can sit there for the rest of your life and not meet another person because they’re not really gonna come up to you and go, ‘Hey, what’s up? What are you doing in town?’ That just doesn’t happen here.”

Industry Insiders: Malan Breton, Couture Connoisseur

Who would have imagined that Malan Breton, a former contestant on season 3 of Project Runway, would come so far as a distinguished designer? Perhaps not even Malan himself. The 36-year-old fashion aficionado has taken his theatrical roots and tied (or shall we say, sewn) them into his collections, bringing a wistful and exquisite approach to his designs. A Malan Breton show exhibits live orchestra and ballet performances, a welcome change from the DJ-pumping, techno-blasting, glitter-flying shows-on-steroids of today. By stitching classiness and weaving sophistication into his designs, Malan makes couture that fits real women (and now men too)!

How did you get your foot in the door as a designer? I used to be the voiceovers for ESPN Extreme Sports. My contract was ending with them and I called my agent and said, “I’m not acting anymore, I don’t want to be a performer anymore and I have this passion for design.” I had this passion since I was a little boy and I put it to the side because it’s a very different world from being a performer. I decided to take all the money I had left from my contracts to my line, and it just happened. I was very lucky because I had a very close friend in the industry that told me who to contact and how to get things going and how to develop the line. I literally sat in my apartment for three months and learned how to sew on a sewing machine.

So you have no formal training? No, never trained at all.

How have your designs evolved since your first collection? The more I learned about fabrics and construction, the more the collections evolved. I really taught myself everything. Each season, as I did another collection, I learned more about it, plus, I did a lot of research as well. I always found undergarments for women incredibly beautiful, so I researched at great length lingerie and corsetry and things like that.

What is the theme of your latest collection? The theme of the latest collection went back to my childhood. My mother was a ballet dancer and kind of pushed me into it. After ballet, I ended up doing Broadway shows. This collection is me going back to my roots because I never really explored that in a collection. It used to always be about this kind of Hollywood drama concept, which I love and think is beautiful. There were always Asian influences there and different elements of my life, but never the part where I really came from.

What designers do you look up to? I look up to a lot of the old-school designers like Balenciaga and Dior. They were people that innovated fashion. Even Adrian, the costume designer from MGM, because he basically invented the bias cut dress. It’s pretty amazing what they did and where we’ve taken it. Fashion always evolves a little bit because of new fabrics and new prints and textures and even the shapes of people’s bodies. How exciting would it have been to be the first person to wear a heavily shouldered blazer? Then, 80 years later models, are on the catwalk with these big shoulder pads.

What big names have you designed for? I’ve worked with Martha Plimpton, Katrina Boden, Nikki Blonsky, and a lot of celebrities. I’ve dressed some old-school performers like La La Brooks, who was a famous singer.

Who would be your dream person to design a piece for? Michelle Obama is amazing. She brought class back to the White House. I wouldn’t say that the other women didn’t have class, but she brought an element of new designs like Jackie Kennedy did. I’d love to dress Nicole Kidman because I have such adoration for her as an actress. I would also say Cate Blanchett. Love her; she’s so stunning.

What positive trends do you see happening in the fashion industry right now? The industry is embracing the feminine body, which it hasn’t done for so many years, so I find that to be pretty amazing. Clothes have been feminine but they haven’t embraced the curves. Designs have been very up and down and narrow. I always design with the concept that women have curves. Look at the women in the 30s, 40s, and 50s — like Marilyn Monroe. They all had beautiful curvaceous bodies and then all that disappeared. Suddenly, there were a bunch of beautiful women on the runway but their bodies were like boys. It didn’t make sense to me.

How has the economy affected your company? A lot of stores really pulled back a lot, and there were orders that we had where people called and said, “We apologize but we’re going to have to sit out this season.” Some stores really suffered. You’d have to be blind to not notice there are stores in the city that have shut down and designers that have had to close up shop. I’m very grateful that I have a clientele that kept me going, but the buyers have come back this season. I think people are a bit more optimistic. Everyone was so afraid to spend any money, but people are finally opening up their budgets. They’re still testing me out, but they’re very excited about the line.

What can people do to stay fashionable amidst a financial crisis? Go into your closet and look at all those pieces that you haven’t worn for years and see what you have. There are pieces that you can layer or match with other things or even be creative and sew. Go to one of these stores that have affordable accessories and use those. Or even pop into Bergdorf’s and buy one jacket that you can wear every other day.

Next big project? I just launched the menswear line for Men’s Fashion Week in Europe. I have a couple of other divisions in the company, so I’m going to try and expand on those. I’m looking at branding myself in shoes and more accessories and handbags.

Go-to places in New York? I love the Standard Grill. Amazing, absolutely amazing, and everyone is there. I also love the Waverly Inn and Bar Centrale. I haven’t been going clubbing too much because being in the public eye I have had some problems with stalkers, and it’s scary.

Industry Insiders: Curtis Bashaw, Jersey Boy

Hotelier and New Jersey advocate, Curtis Bashaw, has both his business and heart invested in the Jersey Shore. Between family ties, a former position on New Jersey’s Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, and small hotel restoration projects along the Jersey Shore area, the hotelier, who opened Atlantic City’s first non-gambling, boutique property, the Chelsea Hotel, along the city’s famed boardwalk, can proudly say that he’s “definitely a Jersey guy.”

What motivated you to target the Jersey shore with the Chelsea Hotel? Since I grew up in New Jersey, I spent a lot of time in Ocean City and Cape May and my mom was born in Atlantic City, so we always had a real connection with the Jersey Shore. As a teenager, I worked in various hotels during the summers, and after college I got involved with a family-owned project in Cape May, a 24-room hotel that we renovated and opened in 1989. I’ve been a Jersey Shore goer from the earliest age, so there’s a lot of sand in my toes, and I just really believe that the Jersey Shore is a great spot.

What did your previous position at the New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Authority entail? I was appointed by the governor in 2004 to be the executive director of the CDRA, an agency that takes casino gaming revenue taxes and reinvests it in economic development projects all over New Jersey, with an emphasis on Atlantic City. I opened the Virginia Hotel in 2002, a renovation of a historic structure in Cape May, which got good press and created a lot of jobs. It led people to believe that I might be qualified for the CRDA position. I did that for a bout a year and a half, and while I was there, we created a $100 million fund to help rebuild the boardwalk in Atlantic City. For example, we got the ACES Train funded, which is now running, so I got to know the marketplace and reconnect with it. There had always been this sense that Atlantic City had fallen from it’s heyday but there was fun, recreation and a beautiful beach there. That inspired me to look for a project there when I finished with the CDRA.

What was the biggest challenge of setting up a boutique hotel in AC? There’s been a lot of positive improvements in the markets over the last decade: more retail, entertainment districts, the pier, and the Borgata, which really helped improve the market and attract a younger, more affluent clientele. I think our biggest challenge was figuring out how to integrate the old Howard Johnson and the Holiday Inn to create a product that would attract that niche in the market that doesn’t want to stay at a casino. People have responded well to the property because there are a lot of places to hang out there. Nightlife has taken off, and it’s a really cool alternative to just checking in with a million slot machines.

Did the ACES train play a big role in the success of the hotel? Absolutely. This year was tough for everyone, but the trains are now running near capacity and we see a lot of our guests utilizing the train to get to AC.

Since the Chelsea doesn’t have gaming, what does it have to offer your affluent crowd? There are a lot of options at the property, including two restaurants, Teplitzky’s and Chelsea Prime, two pools, a beach service, and a spa which has 11 treatment rooms and a solarium. “The Fifth” floor is collection of the Living Room, the Oval Bar, and the Cabana Club outside at the upstairs pool. There’s a lot of space, so you don’t feel claustrophobic and its’ location — right on the boardwalk — is on one of the most beautiful beaches in town.

Any other projects in the works? We’re just finishing up a groovy project in Cape May where we took an old 70’s motel, and converted it into a beach shack. We restored the bar, which has been called The Rusty Nail for forty years, to create an outdoor beach scene with a fire pit and french doors, so now it’s a very indoor/outdoor, casual, classic beach bar. We opened it on July 2nd, in time for the Fourth of July weekend.

Is there anyone you admire in the hospitality industry? I admire the people in the trenches and those that are naturally drawn to the business and have an intuitive understanding of what it is to serve people in a way that’s easy, relaxed and confident. My hat goes off to the chambermaids, desk clerks, waiters and the people I’ve worked with throughout the years who create a vibe that always brings people back.

Any trends you’ve noticed in the industry recently? The recession is creating a paradigm shift for everybody, but it seemed that up until last year, some of the design trends were just too over the top. I think one of the success points of our properties is that less is more. You want to make sure that the work you do feels appropriate to the location, so creating a comfortable atmosphere is important. The hotel industry needs to adopt a little of that, in these days of being “too cool for words.” You want to be comfortable, and relaxed and welcoming but you want to do it in a way that’s sophisticated and appropriate to the market.

Where do you go out when you spend time in New York? I have a little pied-à-terre in the West Village, so I’m a really into those neighborhood restaurants and bars. There’s a little wine bar on Perry Street I always pop into, called The Other Room. New York City has so many layers to it, so when I have spare time in the city, I’m drawn to places that are less of a scene than more. Occasionally I enjoy checking out what’s happening at Soho House or the Waverly Inn, but it’s great to go to some of the other less stylized places to relax.

What’s something not many people know about you? Two years ago, I was able to fulfill a little dream and get a 16-acre farm in West Cape May. I bought a new tractor, and we’re now officially growing vegetables for our restaurants, including Chelsea Prime, Teplitzkys and The Rusty Nail. I’m a weekend warrior at the farm. This winter, we’re starting tomatoes from seeds in the greenhouse and then in the spring, we’re planting more things. There’s a lot of weeding and harvesting, so some friends think it’s wacky, but when they come see it, they get it.

New York: Top 10 Restaurants as Nightclubs

So, are restaurants really the new nightclubs? Check out these multitasking contenders.

Minetta Tavern (Greenwich Village) – A night at Minetta, complete with Barry Diller, Diane Von Furstenberg, and Harvey Keitel sightings, spawned this thesis. Your visit will confirm all the copious booze, packed interiors, and loud soundtracks of a nightclub, but you’ll also be served top brasserie eats. ● Hotel Griffou (Greenwich Village) – Stealth-posh scene-stealer serves up vintage dishes, but the elaborate array of intimate rooms is just as big a draw. Big enough to draw Leo, Chloe, and Kanye, among a glut of bold-faced names. ● Monkey Bar (Midtown East) – Graydon Carter’s latest monkeyshines lays down a hierarchical supper club scene, with banquettes for the literary elite and tables in the pit for you. Oysters named for Rockefeller, meatloaf named for Ephron. But it’s all about the scene.

The Waverly Inn (West Village) – High-wattage crowd in low-wattage light, with cozy, clubby feel that preserves the charm of the original. Still unlisted digits; go bathe yourself in the self-congratulatory vibe of the inn crowd inside. ● Charles (West Village) – Exclusive enough to start its run behind papered-over windows. But that’s how the peoples wanted it, and the unlisted number and email-only ressies just make this loungey supper spot all the more desirable. ● Delicatessen (Soho) – Corner attraction rocking enough lumber to show up a Lowe’s. Steers focus away from the food and onto the scene, which is tight, attractive, and ready to put away a few fancy-pants cocktails. And maybe eating. ● The Stanton Social (Lower East Side) – Lofty, tri-level space is sleek and energetic; draws in the Yorkville types looking to experiment with “ethnic” food. On the nightclub side, the music’s loud enough to make a Pacha DJ wince. ● Buddakan (Chelsea) – Stephen Starr’s sixth-borough export still catering to overflowing MePa mobs scarfing down fusiony fare. Stunning, mansion-esque space delves deep. Able to accommodate every single person heading over to Kiss & Fly and Tenjune later, all at once. ● Double Crown (Greenwich Village) – AvroKO design masters follow up Public success with vintage vibe, sprawling space. Come colonize another stretch of the Bowery and let the pretty people distract you from the just so-so food. ● bobo (West Village) Ring the downstairs doorbell for Boho-Bourgie dinner party scene. Kitchen still not fully sorted, but that’s alright with the frisky crowd lounging about the elegant townhouse digs.