Who Ivy Supersonic Is
It was Saturday night, about 9 p.m., and Ivy Supersonic, wearing a black leather skirt, black corset bustier top and brown six-inch platform boots, was sitting at Verbena, a country inn kind of place two blocks away from her Irving Place studio apartment.
Ms. Supersonic makes feathered hats. She is also a publicist. She was talking loudly about her No. 1 client–herself–as she drank coffee at the bar.
“The thing that I really want to do is, you know, have city blocks named after me,” she said. “I just want to own everything, do Broadway plays. I think I’ll be one of the richest women on the entire planet. I see myself as a combination of maybe Madonna meets Howard Stern meets Ted Turner meets Jaws . I am the most ambitious woman in New York, and I think it’s a known fact. People get very confused, they say, ‘This Ivy Supersonic, who is she and what does she do?’ And I say, ‘Ivy Supersonic is a woman who wears many hats, literally.’ I see things very literally.”
Ivy Silberstein grew up in Brooklyn and Long Island. She was an only child. Her parents divorced when she was 4, and she moved in with her father, a medical malpractice attorney who was a bit of a tyrant.
He sent the young Ivy to shrinks, one of whom said she “has the brains to be a Russian spy.” She started smoking cigarettes at 11. Then came pot, Black Sabbath, solo LSD trips, 50 Grateful Dead shows, “a lot of mescaline,” a shoplifting incident and hanging out in the park with “lunatic kids” and bikers. One of her drug-dealing friends went to jail for raping a 5-year-old; another was busted for holding up a Great Neck dinner party and shooting at guests.
There were car accidents, too. One night Ms. Silberstein took her father’s Honda out, raced a Porsche, lost control of the Honda, went home, took it out again, got pulled over, talked her way out of it, picked up a hitchhiker, got pulled over again, tried to bribe the cop, got a ticket, hit a Mercedes, ran out of gas, got some men to push the Honda to the gas station, and went home again. A few months later she crashed it again, got out, and the car exploded.
But she showed promise. She had jobs. She cashiered, scooped ice cream, shampooed, sold T-shirts, scalped concert tickets and, by 14, quit the hard partying, more or less. (Ms. Supersonic said she now drinks “very rarely” and is drug free).
Eventually, she dropped out of the University of Maryland to start a jeans company, moved back home to Great Neck, intercepted her refunded tuition check and got a booth at a boutique show. Once, her father found remnants of his mother’s crystal chandelier in the driveway:
“I said, ‘Well, you don’t understand that I’m taking the chandelier pieces and I’m putting them on the jeans. And getting a lot of money for them, $150. It’s a couple pieces of chandelier!’ And then he was hysterical. But I’m like, ‘I’m starting a business, you don’t understand.’ He didn’t like that.”
When she was 21, Women’s Wear Daily did a cover story on her jeans company, I.B.I.V. (“Like, ‘Who be you be?’ ‘I be Ivy.”) After three years of the jeans, she moved to Manhattan and attended the Fashion Institute of Technology. After graduating in 1996, she started her feathered-hat business, using the $800 she got after selling her step-mother’s fur coat.
Her first hat show was at the Tunnel nightclub. The models were naked. “I brought all these products and I stuck them on a table, like marshmallows, Froot Loops, whip cream, and I said, ‘If you’d like to wear something, it’s all on this table, just fucking get dressed.’ Everything was so fucking funny. And then a guy from Details , he’s like, `You’re like Versace meets Fellini, this is the best fucking thing I ever went to.’ So I was like, ‘Oh, God, I better do this again.’ Everybody had the sickest fucking time.”
“Why do you want to be famous?” I asked.
“It’s like a natural thing to me. I just want to be dirty filthy fucking rich. Money was never important to me. I grew up hating people with money, and I stayed away from people that had money and totally detested them. I thought they were just repulsive and disgusting. It’s really not about the money.… I want to just own things. Let’s say I own thousands of things, thousands of patents, thousands of licensing things, I want my name just on everything.”
“Yeah, we have the same birthday. That means our personalities are probably very similar.”
“What would you not do to get successful?”
“I would do anything possible. There’s nothing I would not do. I would do whatever I fucking feel like doing. I would do anything. I would not do anything that would lead me to lose any self-esteem.”
“What would make you lose self-esteem?”
“Like, if I became a hooker? I don’t know. I’d do anything. That’s, that’s–hungry people, they will do anything .”
Dinner was over. Ms. Supersonic wanted to go home and show me her list of people she’s suing or just doesn’t like.
But before we left, she went outside for a smoke and delivered a monologue into my tape recorder:
“You know, if I ever had a son I would name him Free,” she began. “His name would be Free Supersonic. He would be an icon. I don’t know if I could ever have children just because, I don’t know, what would I do? Throw them into a briefcase and bring them to a meeting? So when I really have my billions of dollars–actually I was thinking of doing this soon: I want to take an ad out in The New York Times and New York magazine looking for an ass wiper. So there my ass wiper would stand in my bathroom, wearing my feathered hat, holding the towel to wipe my ass, and he would do a 12-hour shift. He would stand there like he was one of the guards in London, and he would get paid $100,000 a month to wipe my ass. I want you to imagine the ad, ‘Ivy Supersonic looking for ass wiper.’”
Far From Asia de Cuba
Asia de Cuba, on 38th Street and Madison Avenue, is the most popular night spot in New York, according to the Zagat Survey of New York City Nightspots.
No one in the city of New York lives farther away from Asia de Cuba than Alana Edgeworth. She lives in a small white house at the end of Surf Avenue, at the southwestern corner of Staten Island, in the village of Tottenville, overlooking Raritan Bay. That’s 31.5 miles away from 38th and Madison .
On a recent afternoon Ms. Edgeworth was standing on her lawn feeding stale Wonder Bread hamburger rolls to some birds. She was a tall, sturdy woman with a mane of silver-blond hair and intense blue eyes–a 56-year-old physical therapist. She has five daughters, three dogs, five rabbits and two motor homes. She was wearing a long black sweater and black pants.
Ms. Edgeworth said she doesn’t mind living so far from Asia de Cuba. In fact, Ms. Edgeworth has never heard of Asia de Cuba. She grew up in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and likes to go out in Manhattan, on the Lower East Side. But mainly she sticks to Tottenville. “What I like about living here is you have the peace and serenity of the country,” she said. “You can have animals, you can experience the nature, but you’re still in New York.”
What kind of birds was she feeding?
“Let’s see, there’s definitely sea gulls, woodpeckers, ducks, geese, cardinals, black birds, blue jays.”
There was a lull in the conversation. Ms. Edgeworth looked into the woods and asked, “Is there anything else you want from me?”