All these young, lovely, fetching, perfect-bodied girls in New York, all these beautiful young women-what a joy they are! And what a cause of misery. What a waste of time, even. Who needs ‘em? You have to worry about their “moods” all the time and listen to them saying dumb things. Who needs these women-in-training, when the real women-gorgeous and over 50-are out there and available? They know what’s going on. You listen to them talk because they’re interesting , not because you’re worried they won’t put out later if you’re not paying attention.
These are the real women of New York!
Judy Green is one such woman. She’s a novelist ( The Young Marrieds , Unsuitable Company ) who loves football, fishing and gambling. She has a bookie. She likes Las Vegas and New Orleans and long weekend trips to the Caribbean, where, after a day of fishing on some chartered boat, she likes the fan going overhead, the blinds rattling a little, the palms swaying, that sliced moon just peeking between the clouds, a couple of rum punches on the bedside table.
And she’s loaded.
On a Thursday evening, Ms. Green was in the library of her Park Avenue apartment. Her Yorkie was yipping. Doris Day was on the stereo. Dotting the apartment were photos of Ms. Green with people like Frank Sinatra, Truman Capote and Princess Grace. A Rothko painting was on one wall, and there was an Andy Warhol portrait of her on another. She was wearing black pants, a black turtleneck, a gold Maltese cross.
“If that’s too stiff, let me know,” she said, handing me a vodka grapefruit. She was waiting for her date to arrive, a man who works for a Wall Street firm. “Very young, very attractive, very successful,” she said. “I find younger men very attractive, and in today’s world very acceptable. I find I’m more appreciated by younger men than older men. Older men feel they’re doing you a favor, and younger men feel you’re doing them a favor.”
Ms. Green said she’s been single for 18 years.
“I still feel the excitement,” she said. “I constantly feel a passion.”
I asked her what advantages a woman over 50 might have over a woman half her age.
“An older woman’s future is already established,” she said. “Basically, she might have already had her children, she might be in a comfortable position, she’s not seeking a home, a family. With an older woman, I think a younger man, No. 1, feels relaxed, feels he’s gaining something, and No. 2, it’s an equality thing, because he knows he’s giving her something with his youth. So he can go in like the Intrepid . He is not a person who feels, Oh, my God, this woman wants a commitment.”
Older women are more relaxed about sex, too, she added.
“You’re confident in your ability to arouse,” she said.
Her date, Paul, arrived. Three-piece suit, glasses, a little bashful.
“Hi, sweetheart!” she said.
Soon, the names of sexy New York women over 50 was the topic.
Amanda Burden? “Perfect!” Ms. Green said. “And a great friend of mine. You know, she lives with Charlie Rose.”
“How about Lauren Hutton?” said Paul. “This is a topic I know a lot about,” he continued. “Kathleen Turner?”
“She’s a great friend of mine, but Kathy may just be 48,” Ms. Green said.
Paul had another suggestion, a certain woman who scandalized the town back in the 80’s.
“Terrible!” Ms. Green said. “Uccch! She’s classless.”
I mentioned a striking socialite I’d always desired.
“She’s fucked everything that’s moved!” Ms. Green said. “I think she’s terrific and I like her and she’s a friend.”
CARMEN DELL’OREFICE, 68, WAS IN HER PARK AVENUE APARTMENT on a Saturday afternoon. People mention her beauty a lot, but I was still unprepared for her stunning looks.
The daughter of a violinist and a Hungarian dancer, she grew up in a tenement and was a somewhat sickly but energetic child who liked to roller skate. She was discovered on a crosstown bus in 1945, started modeling at 14, began posing for people like Cecil Beaton, Horst and Salvador Dali, and made the cover of Vogue at 16.
That same year, Joseph P. Kennedy spotted her at El Morocco, and after lunch one day, the patriarch brought her back to his fancy Park Avenue apartment and asked her if she wanted to move in. She raced home to ask Mom, who sensibly said No.
After that came more modeling, acting, a daughter, three divorces, some ups, some downs, some in-betweens. She’s been single for the past 25 years and still models full-time.
Ms. Dell’Orefice was about four feet away from me in her living room. She said she lost her virginity at 17 to a makeup man at CBS.
“We were right in the makeup room,” she recalled. “It was not very pleasant. Perfunctory. On the floor, and he was inept, and what can I say?”
The best sexual experience she ever had was “about five weeks ago”-a romantic kiss at the door.
“I used to meet a guy at the door, take him right to bed,” she said. “One could do it then. I wouldn’t have dinner with them, I didn’t want to eat their meal: If they weren’t good in bed, I didn’t want to spend time with them, period! I’ve been to Europe with my fur coat and nothing on and the guy met me-”
She pretended to flash me.
She continued: “I met a guy on the street once walking on Madison Avenue and I saw a tall figure, graceful, a block away, and I walked to the corner and I never looked back, never looked at him, and I just kept walking to 69th about to cross, waiting for the light, and I feel a hand in my hand, and I squeezed his hand, I took his hand, and we walked across the street as if we had been walking the whole time. We stopped at windows, and we stopped at the Madison Avenue Bookstore, and I talked about the books, and I brought him up to my apartment. It was the first time I could really see his eyes and his face. A young French boy, and we made love on the white carpeting of my floor, what can I say? In the bedroom. I know him today.”
Next there was a lecture on why “kids” don’t behave well anymore.
“Kids should relieve themselves sexually before a date,” she advised. “Do I have to say the word? Masturbation. Let that energy out!”
“Have you masturbated before a date?” I asked.
“You better believe it!”
She handed me a book she wrote, Staying Beautiful (1985), and I was staring at a picture of her nude, when she returned with my vodka drink. Her breasts were spectacular.
“Look at that body, that’s just incredible!” I said.
“I was a ballet dancer, I was a swimmer-and it was hard to swim with those tits.”
“They’re perfect, aren’t they?”
“They were perfect.”
Soon, her date for dinner at Elio’s arrived, a real estate bigshot who didn’t want to be identified.
“She’s just great, she’s intelligent,” the man said. “When you go out with her, yes is yes and no is no. Delighted I know her! One of a kind. There are not too many Carmens on this earth.”
LAUREN HUTTON, WHAT A WOMAN, MY GOD, WHAT A WOMAN! She was in a studio on West 29th Street, on a break from a health-and-fitness-magazine shoot. I had her all to myself for an hour, in an office, with the door shut. The 50-something model was wearing jeans and white shirt, through which I could see a bright-colored bra.
She was moving around in her chair a lot, being all peppy and glamourous, winning me over, making me laugh and messing with my brain. My mouth was slightly open the whole time, even as she discussed the creamy milk-chocolate Slim-Fast she was drinking. I told her I felt fat, so she leaped out of her chair and made a grab for my paunch.
Besides modeling, she said she’d been writing her autobiography and spending time on her 300-acre Rattlesnake Ranch in the Southwest, where she drives a “hellacious” truck and an “even meaner” Jeep, rides motorcycles and hot-tubs naked. As well, she spends a fourth of her time underwater, scuba diving with ex-Navy Seals and sharks.
“That’s one of the reasons you go down,” Ms. Hutton said. “A day without sharks is a very bad day-all day in kindergarten. Oh, no, they’re great. You want to go down with schools of sharks.”
One of the dozen men waiting for her outside came in with a cell phone.
“Hiya,” Ms. Hutton said into the phone. “No, it’s not a shampoo, it’s just something that sprays in your hair called Tonic.”
Soon, Ms. Hutton was telling me about a trip to New Guinea. It seems she was down by a stream, washing some paint off her face, and … and …
“I’m down there,” Ms. Hutton said, “and this guy’s down there, and he’s wearing his little penis gourd-they just jam it on. It’s cute, man. And he’s got a very long bone through his nose, and he’s got some wild pig tusks through his nose, too. And I give him a little greeting, so he sort of stomps over to where I am, and he grabs up a big mass of leaves that were sort of fuzzy, and he makes a big wad of them. And he comes over and grabs my head, smashes this thing over my face, and starts scrubbing away my face, and his thumb is about three inches across. He’s got this giant hand, and my neck is rolling around, and I’m not making a peep. I don’t think he’d ever washed a woman’s face … And by the end of seven minutes or so, he was tearing off little pieces of leaf and doing this little thing, and it was so sexy and so erotic, I was almost swooning. He was having to support me, because I was so erotically charged. And from then on we were in love! For the rest of the time! I would be sitting up on the hill with the elders, and this guy would be doing little Baryshnikov pirouettes for me.”
She got up to demonstrate. “And I can’t tell you anything further about what happened with that.”
“He was a hunk, I gotta tell you. A hunk. What a hunk! I still think of him!”
“Can you say anything you enjoy doing sexually?”
“You are so cute! You are so cute. Well, one time I was wooed and won for about six years by a guy who just looked me in the eyes, and I was barefoot at the time, and he grabbed a foot and started sucking my toes. That was it! It was over. Now, he was extremely good at this, and he was good at an awful lot of other things, too! You better know what you’re doing before you grab someone’s big toe and pop it in your mouth!”
“Best compliment you ever received?”
“Yes, I was told that my butt was like a rare fruit. But if you put it in there, it will be stolen, it’ll be all over, it will be just like calling someone ‘swell.'”
She was being beckoned back out of the office. She popped out and came back.
“You’re much cuter. I like you much better, I’m staying with you,” she teased me, laughing.
“Even with my extra 20 pounds?”
She got up from her chair and made like she was going to attack my belly rolls: “Oooh, just get my fingers and toes in there! Nibble, nibble, nibble, nibble, ha-ha!”
Two fellas came in, and she kissed them goodbye. Now she was standing, jumping around like a hyperactive kid.
“Ever been in an orgy?”
“Well, let’s see, I have a feeling that those are a lot better in theory than in practice. What do you think?”
It was time for her to get back.
“What’s a good way to end this?” I asked.
She leaped at my belly.
“I could come nibble your roll, ha-ha-ha! Oh, no, don’t quote me-don’t quote me! Ha-ha-ha!”
A FEW DAYS LATER, I HAD LUNCH WITH JAN CUSHING AMORY, 53. Bedroom eyes, thick blond mane, still-nice figure, turtleneck, gray pants, costume-jewelry earrings. In my twisted imagination, she was somewhere between a severe headmistress and a swinging Palm Beach tennis mom.
“Can you tell me all about you?”
“Well, I don’t know what you want to know. I’ve been married four times,” she said, seated across from me at Le Veau d’Or on East 60th Street. “This is a great restaurant where one can hide out if one wants.” She ordered for us in perfect French (calves brains for her, hot sausages and an omelette for me). “How do you like the omelette?” she asked, then listed my options: “Soft? Hard? Medium-hard?”
The facts of Ms. Amory’s life came freely. Her grandfather was a penniless Russian immigrant who made a fortune in Manhattan real estate. Her father died when she was 3 months old. Née Golden, she grew up on the Upper East Side, went to Miss Hewitt’s classes, where she was the captain of the cheerleading team.
Debutante parties, a 12:35 curfew, lost her virginity at 19, married at 21.
She used to hang out with Truman Capote at Studio 54. Rod Stewart and Ron Wood are the godfathers of her two sons. She lives in a maisonette duplex in the East 90’s. She dated William Paley and Henry Kissinger and Stavros Niarchos. She sees a married man on and off. She makes the scene in Newport, Lyford Cay and stays at the Hôtel du Cap in Antibes every summer. She hopes to marry again.
She had an anecdote about Mr. Kissinger. He was in a meeting at the White House, and Ms. Amory was in Paris trying to get Wilson, her Australian terrier, past customs, but she’d forgotten her papers.
“So I said, ‘Well, how about if I call the White House?'” Ms. Amory said. Mr. Kissinger got on the phone and said “‘Vot is the problem?'” then vouched that “‘Wilson Cushing is a very healthy dog.'”
So was he a great lover?
“In my humble opinion, lovemaking to Henry was secondary compared to what he could do for the country.”
Any other tidbits?
Ms. Amory mentioned Warren Beatty. “It was kind of a very heady intellectual romance more than anything else,” she said. “Is there any way I can have one more wine? There’s a wonderful story which I’m not ashamed of telling about him. I was then Miss Golding, and I was dating Freddie Cushing. He was very much involved with Julie Christie. And we were having a nice weekend together, and one morning he said to me-he was giving me advice about how to marry Freddie Cushing-and he said to me, ‘Well, good morning, Mrs. Cushing,’ and I said to him, ‘Well, good morning, Mrs. Christie.’ And he said, ‘That’s why you’ll be Mrs. Cushing and I will never be Mrs. Christie, because I don’t ever want to get into that situation.’ What he was inferring was ‘castrated,’ basically.”
She ordered more wine. “Have another drink, George.”
“What do you have that 25-year-olds don’t?”
“An older body and a younger mind.”
Her calves brains arrived.
Later, Ms. Amory wanted to clarify something: “I have never had a romance with anyone’s husband whose wife I’ve known.”
I mentioned a few older sexpots around town, and Ms. Amory gave the verdict: “I’m not so sure how interested in men she is.… She’s great! I know that she’s A.A. … She’s gay.… She’s over 80. I think she’s terribly feminine. In a strange way, [she] seduced more men and got them all … Kinky. That’s what I heard.”
Ms. Amory did approve of Jane Fonda, Joan Collins, Claudia Cohen, Ivana Trump, Jacqueline Bisset, Hillary Geary and her good friend Norris Church Mailer: “The way she met Norman and seduced him! And she had this big affair with Bill Clinton before he was even Governor!”
She had to get back home to walk the dogs.
“I don’t think women over 50 should be described as sexpots,” she said. “I think they should be described as something else.”
“Very good-smelling and -tasting coffee that’s reheated.”
RITA JENRETTE, BEST KNOWN AS THE FORMER Congress member’s wife who posed for Playboy , was sitting in the library of her penthouse apartment across the street from Lincoln Center. On the wall behind her were photographs of Ms. Jenrette with Imelda Marcos, Bob Hope, Lech Walesa, Jimmy Carter …
She was sitting on a dark green couch and trying to find herself in a dictionary-size book about her blueblooded ancestors, the Garlingtons, who go back to 1066.
I asked her about Playboy .
“It was an outrageous thing to do, you know, given my education and background,” she said. “But there’s always been an outrageous streak in me, I suppose. And I was acting also-I had done a Clairol commercial in ’76.”
In fact, she’s had many incarnations. She wrote her autobiography at 29 ( My Capital Secrets ), had careers in acting ( Fantasy Island ), commodities trading and journalism ( A Current Affair ). She dated a U.S. senator, a network head, Dan Aykroyd, Bruce Willis and Jerry Seinfeld. (Mr. Seinfeld hated her dog.)
Now Ms. Jenrette has her own commercial real estate business, Garlington-Jenrette, and makes commisions as high as $1.5 million. She hooked Donald Trump up with the General Motors building in 1998.
She turned 50 last November and is engaged to a (younger) architect.
“I can remember thinking in my late teens that in the year 2000 I’ll be 50,” she said. “And I was like, ‘Oh my God, how horrifying!’ Ha-ha! I thought, I’ll deal with that when it happens, ha-ha! And it’s upon you before you know it. But really 50 is not what it used to be. I mean 50 is really the beginning, it’s not the end. If perceived properly, it’s the most exciting period of your life. I’ve never felt more attractive, and I don’t mean that in a conceited, narcissistic way. I just have never felt more appreciated by the male sex. I think you’re at your sexiest, really. I mean I have never had more attention, even from young guys.”
Her hair-colorist friend, Joe Cossidenti, chimed in.
“Everybody always says, ‘Oh, she looks so great, who’s her surgeon?'” he said. “I say, ‘There is no surgeon.'”
Soon, I asked the hair colorist to leave.
A virgin when she married first at 21, Ms. Jenrette claimed she’s had fewer than 10 lovers. But she did say she thinks about sex “all the time” and “I believe in the outdoors.”
We checked out her bookshelves. An inscribed copy of G. Gordon Liddy’s autobiography, Will . Don Delillo’s Underworld . Nazi books, Leaves of Grass , Titan, The Complete Poems of Keats and Shelley next to The Bridges of Madison County . Videos on the shelf ( Ghost , Backdraft ).
“I wouldn’t rule out that I may run for office, who knows, I might,” she said. “It’s the only only thing I’m qualified to do, ha-ha! I might like to do that. I just don’t know if I’d like the invasion of my privacy.”
ANNBARISH ISAN EVENTPLANNER, socialite and documentary filmmaker ( Story of a Junkie ). She’s a little, spunky, bubbly woman, always smiling. Sometimes she gets a lascivious look in her eye. She was having a drink at Jean-Georges restaurant inside the Trump International building. She wore black leggings, a black Armani jacket and pearls.
She said she’d been racing around before a trip to Florida (manicure, pedicure, etc.) and had a half-hour before she had to take off for a benefit with her husband, Keith, a film producer ( Sophie’s Choice , Ironweed ) who also co-founded Planet Hollywood.
Ms. Barish has spent her whole life living within a 20-block radius on Park Avenue. Through 12th grade she attended the Brearley School, where she was voted “Looks Best in Uniform.” (She fashioned hers into a sexy miniskirt.) At Brearley, she was a member of a girl gang called the Frightful Five. She got in trouble for talking and making up a mean song about a classmate to the tune of “Heartbreak Hotel.”
To restore their reputations, the Frightful Five used their parental contacts to put out a newspaper, Star News , filled with interviews with celebrities. (Roy Rodgers, Steve Allen, Pinky Lee). Their parents paid for publishing costs, and the girls sold it for a quarter at school and gave the proceeds to charity.
Ms. Barish still has a schoolgirlish quality. She’s sometimes mistaken for a younger woman, as in 30.
“I always had a naughty side, at Brearley especially, for pranks and things,” she said. An example? “I mean, it was when I was 12 years old, it’s not raunchy or anything like that. I keep those secret! But in my day, we did have lots of fun. Raunchy I can’t get into.”
“Has your sexual desire increased since 50?”
“Please. I think I’ve always been lusty. Mine certainly has not diminished.” She laughed. “Drink your drink.” More laughter.
“Can you say anything you enjoy doing sexually?”
“Just good old-fashion fucking,” she said. She laughed again.
There was a call for her a few minutes later, and she had to go.
“I’m probably the least raunchy of the people you’ve interviewed,” she said. “Please, drink your drink, drink your drink.” She laughed. “I insist.”
Did she have any sexy tales from her teenage years?
“I’ve got a few of those, so let me think of those, too. Because I’m not as sweet as I look.” She laughed.
“Why are older sexy women better than younger ones?”
“I think they’re more confident. I think they’re probably better in bed. And they probably are going to try harder to please. It has definitely reversed. Youth used to have the edge. I don’t think it does anymore.” She had a message for the 25-year-olds: “Hey, listen! I look good, and I’m twice your age, ha-ha! They should relax, not be so frenetic, know that you can still look good when you’re 50 and that you can be as sexy, and, as you go on, life becomes even more exciting.”
LARISSA IS A FASHION DESIGNER FROM Brussels who came to New York at 18 and has been on the scene since the late 1960’s, when people like Jimi Hendrix started wearing her shearling coats (at Barneys these days). Eventually, Larissa (just Larissa) became known as “the Coco Chanel of rock ‘n’ roll.”
I escorted her to a party for Harper’s Bazaar , whose new editor, Katherine Betts, 35, is planning to target women between the ages of 30 and 45. Larissa, who says she’s between 18 and 81, was wearing all black-high heels over the knee boots, a cocktail dress and over-the-elbow black satin gloves. And black panties.
“It’s very happening,” she said, watching the lively, hectic scene inside the Robert Miller Gallery.
Other striking women were there: Martha Stewart, Tama Janowitz, Diane Von Furstenberg, Anna Wintour and Ann Jones.
Larissa said she watched Lilith (1964) the night before, and there was a lot of lesbian stuff in the film. I asked her if women got into lesbianism as they got older.
“I’ve encountered it a lot, and I never know if it’s out of desperation or out of finding new ways to explore your sexuality,” Larissa said. “Lesbians are usually extremely attracted to me, I don’t know why! By and large, all my lesbian friends know that I am straight-so far-and they kind of protect me.”
There were dolled-up young ladies everywhere, many of whom seemed to be mute. They knew how to scan the room, though.
“What do you have that these hotties don’t?” I asked.
“Well, little hotties might grow up to be interesting, but you never know. When a woman has reached a certain age, you know what you got. By and large, if you are preoccupied by age, you are lopped into the tick-tock of the clock and it’s like Chinese torture, and you will not come out alive, in a matter of speaking. And women, or men for that matter, who are overly preoccupied by age look like deer caught in the headlights. And that’s not sexy.”
The music was getting louder at 10 p.m., and Larissa said she had to get up early to fly to Miami on business. She got her black shearling coat of her own design and agreed to have one more drink at Chelsea Commons a couple blocks away.
We sat at the bar. Bruce Springsteen was on the jukebox.
“You are too fixated on sex,” she told me.
“What would it take for you to submit?”
“To be hit over the head and be dragged into the cavern. It’s always been the only way. Do you have a light?”
Larissa was snapping her fingers to the Stones.
“Did Mick Jagger ever put the moves on you?”
“Well, only once. It was many years ago. A party in a Chinese restaurant. And I was wearing a design of mine which was a corset long before Madonna ever came across one, and it was a corset that I put rhinestone sequins, sable trim, tulle.” Her fingers were traveling slowly from her breasts down to her waist. “And a transparent huge tulle skirt that showed under the transparency the garter belt. And this guy came jumping over a ledge and snapped his fingers, and I said, ‘Oh, he looks quite familiar, who’s that?’ And it was him. But I’m not a young twinkie girl, and so that was that. But he appreciated the way I looked, obviously. I just walked away. It’s difficult to figure out if you’re attracted to somebody because of their power or because they’re a star, so it’s better to just walk away. Otherwise you’re just yesterday’s papers.”
A young woman passed Larissa, did a double take and had to tell her how much she looked like a favorite writer, Anaïs Nin. Larissa had heard that line before.
The admirer was Amber Vitcavich, a 28-year-old who works in advertising. She was very cute with her studied messy hair, blue eyes, full lips and see-through silk shirt.
“I was telling a friend recently,” Ms. Vitcavich said, “that a lot of women I know don’t really seem to have all of the aspects of their life together. They’re very together with love, but they’re not together with their career or they’re not very together in other aspects of their life. It’s very hard to find women who are strong in their careers, who are strong in their love life, who are strong in every way, who are not afraid to be alone.”
Larissa said, in French, that it’s better to be alone than to be badly escorted.
“I love that term,” Ms. Vitcavich said, staring at Larissa.
So what did she think?
“Oh, my God. Not that I’m embarrassed, but I almost feel embarrassed. I’m wearing these, like, long pants and this big, long sweater, and this fabulous woman has, like, these wonderful legs, this fabulous slit, and this wonderful cleavage, and this like-she’s soooo sexy I’m almost embarrassed.”