Welcome to the second and final installment of “Unscathed
Broads,” my probing tribute to the gutsy, hand-bag-swinging chutzpah of the
collective New York psyche. Last week, we put Susanne Bartsch-party-promoter,
mom, Nivea devotee and Chelsea Hotel resident for more than 20 years-under the
microscope and found out how she survived the last two decades, and how she’s
coping in post-catastrophe Manhattan. This week, we head uptown to meet former
pouf-skirt-wearing princess royal of 80′s Nouvelle Society, Blaine Trump. The
big shocker? She’s even more uptown than I thought.
Unscathed Broads, Part II: Blaine Trump.
“I go to 125th Street-the Mount Moriah Baptist Church on Fifth
Avenue-every Wednesday at 11 a.m.,” chortled the friendly and glamorous Blaine
Trump, wife of Trump Management chief executive Robert Trump and sister-in-law
of Donald and, formerly, Ivana. “It’s the Hour of Power with Reggie Williams
and the A.R.C. [Addicts Rehabilitation Center] choir.” According to Ms. Trump,
this hour of gospel singing lifts the spirits and leaves an optimistic
afterglow that helps a girl combat post-traumatic stress.
The already incredibly optimistic Ms. Trump and I were seated in
the Sixth Avenue offices of God’s Love We Deliver-the charity that brings meals
to homebound AIDS sufferers, of which she’s vice chair-within yodeling distance
of ground zero. “On Sept. 11, we opened this building,” on the corner of Spring
Street, “to the stampede of people coming up Sixth Avenue. Then the Red Cross
called us to set up food stations. We all pitched in.” Ms. Trump, who was
wearing Celine jeans, high-heeled Celine boots, a kingfisher blue silk shirt
from Pink and a sporty leather Gucci jacket, and whose attractive hands were
kneading the well-clipped torso of Pearl, her Yorkshire terrier, said, “We were
not able to resume normal deliveries until the following Monday.”
Their proximity to the tragedy left Ms. Trump and her team
profoundly traumatized, yet focused and determined. How come-you’re no doubt
asking yourself-a prissy society broad like Blaine wasn’t at home in the fetal
position on her Aubusson rug? I hate to disappoint you, but she’s just not
Blaine’s foofy-socialite period started when she careened onto
the Women’s Wear Daily Eye page in
the mid-1980′s. “I look back and think, ‘Oh my God, did I really do all that
crazy stuff? Did I wear that?’ It was all too-oo
insane!” Mrs. Trump said of that period when Christian Lacroix was, justifiably,
the most important designer in the world. Blaine Matterhorned to Park Avenue
prominence in 1987, when she chaired the annual Memorial Sloan-Kettering
benefit. “Yes, I wore a Lacroix dress,” she recalled mistily. “In fact, I still
have it. Christian and I became friends.” The following year, she hosted the
American Ballet Theatre gala of La Gaieté
Parisienne , the ballet for which Lacroix designed brilliant costumes.
Monsieur Lacroix also dressed a phenomenal number of attendees in his signature
lampshadey folklorica, with hilarious results. This seminal event is etched
into my unconscious: It was the last big blowout before rich ladies eschewed
szhooshy junk-bond opulence and went all modern and slick. Quel drag!
The poufs didn’t survive, and neither did the Mortimer’s-lunching
Nouvelle Society. But Blaine did. She tore off her tiara, threw preconceived
notions of WASP appropriateness out the window and embraced the quotidian, sort
of. Today Blaine still goes to fancy parties, but she also rides the subway,
eats Cal Ripken bars (800-682-2760; $20 plus shipping for a box of 40), takes
her makeup off with Vaseline, cooks on a George Foreman grill and, most
shocking of all, sells blouses on QVC.
“I started three years ago,” said Blaine. “We pulled things out
of my closet-handbags, sweater sets and cotton shirts-interpreted them and
called it ‘American Classics by Blaine Trump.’ The money goes to God’s Love. My
next on-air [segment] is Nov. 9 from 2 to 4 p.m.,” enthused Blaine, with the
air of a woman who enjoys the gritty déclassé of hard-core salesmanship.
Whatever do mater and pater make of all this?
Blaine was born in Orlando,
Fla., the daughter of Joe and Jean Beard, but not raised there. “My dad worked
for I.B.M.,” she said. “I grew up in Japan in the 1960′s, when the sewers were
open and people wandered down the street in their underwear to the bathhouse.”
The Beards encouraged their four kids to take full advantage of this
unconventional location. Egged on by Jean, the Auntie Mame–ish matriarch (“lioness
hairdo, caftan, cigarette holder”), Blaine developed a freewheeling confidence.
A stint at a Swiss finishing school gave Blaine her poise and good manners, but
her biggest advantage is probably that her college education-a liberal-arts
degree-took place in Japan. Were she to have attended college in America circa
1974, she would undoubtedly have undone all the good work of her mother and the
mademoiselles at La Chatelaine-i.e., she would have become an irate,
introspective, self-doubting, unhappy, man-hating freak with bad posture.
Instead, she moved to New York in the mid-70′s, worked at Christie’s, married,
had a son (who is now 22) and divorced. Then, in 1981, she met Robert Trump.
They were married in 1984 and are currently living happily in the Trump Plaza
building on Third Avenue and 61st Street.
“Robert and I are big on
chocolate bars,” said Blaine, with a sugar-lovin’ grin. She feels that candy
and comfort food are the best antidotes for post-traumatic stress: “This isn’t
a time for egg-white omelets!” Blaine also strongly advocates nesty home
cooking with close pals and family. “I just bought a Ron Popeil Rotisserie
& BBQ Oven. You know the one: ‘Set it and forget it,’” she said, referring
to the infomercial. Her fave eatery? After their Hour of Power, Ms. Trump and
Reggie Williams are wont to head to Sylvia’s (328 Lenox Avenue) for a
life-affirming lunch of “fried chicken, fried catfish, dirty rice, black-eyed
peas, topped off with peach cobbler.”
It’s hard to believe that the
tall, svelte Ms. Trump is the down-and-dirty, gravy-guzzlin’ blue-collar
gourmand she claims to be. Does her wartime coping regimen include a workout?
“In 2000, I gave up physical fitness for a whole year and I felt fantastic,”
she said. “And now I’m crawling reluctantly back to Lotte Berk [23 East 67th
Street]. I went to two classes last week and one this week, which is not a good
Lotte will have to wait: Currently, Blaine’s waking energies are
focused on keeping God’s Love afloat. “When I started, we were serving 50 meals
a day. But thousands were at home dying of AIDS. We had to expand.” She started
a capital campaign and somehow talked David Geffen out of $1.5 million. Blaine
used some of that cash to acquire the current 18,000-square-foot headquarters,
the David Geffen Building. “In 1993, we bought it at auction from the city for
$570,000,” she said. In 1996, 10 years after Blaine got involved, GLWD moved
into its current space. Having been so instrumental in facilitating its growth,
Blaine is determined not to lose funding because of the World Trade Center
disaster. “People have to dig deep and keep the existing charities alive. Our
clients rely on us.” Blaine and her team plan to meet their annual fund-raising
goal of $7.8 million through a plethora of upcoming events, including the Race
to Deliver (Nov. 18) and the Swatch Wristory Auction at Sotheby’s (Dec. 3).
If you are too lazy to run four miles and you don’t happen to
fancy a Sam Francis paint-spattered Swatch circa 1992, then at least buy your
gifts from God’s Love (800-889-6515). This year’s holiday catalog is jammed
with spiffy designer items: e.g., tree ornaments from Gucci ($100 for a set of
three) and Versace ($75), and a Burberry stain-resistant nylon cook’s apron
($75). The catalog also sells amusingly snotty items: e.g., David (Viscount)
Linley’s potpourri ($22.50) and a Blaine Trump candle ($32), created by Slatkin
& Co. and “inspired by Blaine’s favorite mulling spices.” Don’t mock!
You’re just jealous because you don’t have a favorite mulling spice!
Before departing, I probed
the well-preserved Blaine for any last beauty and survival tips. Her answers
were tinged with her signature blue-collar pose: “I wash with Ivory soap. I get
my mani-pedi done at the Nail Nook on Third and 61st. I use Philip Kingsley’s
shampoos and volumizer spray [$16 and $23, respectively, at Philip Kingsley
Trichological Clinic, 16 East 53rd Street]; Stephen Knoll’s Healthy Intensive
Rehydrating Treatment [Sephora, $38.50]. Garren cuts my hair [841-9400].
Heather does it when he’s not available, which is quite frequently. I paint my
portrait with M.A.C.: I love Spice lip pencil [$11] and Plum lipstick [$14].
M.A.C. has great glitter [$13] for the holidays, which I use on my hair and
Blaine, refreshingly, did not mention yoga or aromatherapy once
during our interview. Her only crunchy tip: Bach Flower Remedies for unblocking
your energy frequencies (GNC stores, $9.99). “I use the ‘comfort-and-reassure’
remedy. A couple of drops will get you through anything.”
Blaine saved her best tip for last: “Slow down on the media-fest.
I never watch TV, and I gave up looking at the newspaper a week ago. We lost 11
firefighters in our local firehouse, and I’m still trying to deal with that.”