Jon Stewart didn’t show, but on Monday night his co-authors in America (The Book): A Guide to Democracy Inaction turned up at the Algonquin Hotel to pick up this year’s Thurber Prize for American Humor and the check for five grand that came with it.
The duo, Ben Karlin and David Javerbaum, stressed the book’s collaborative effort. “Everyone was chipping in,” Mr. Karlin gushed. “I don’t know how Andy does it,” referring to fellow Thurber nominee Andy Borowitz.
“Oh, fuck you,” Mr. Borowitz shouted from the audience. “I’ll just take the check.”
This was Mr. Borowitz’s second loss at the Thurber Awards; in 2001, “David Sedaris won the Thurber, and he didn’t even have to show up to kick my ass,” said Mr. Borowitz. Losing to “Me Talk Pretty Some Day was like losing to The Da Vinci Code,” he said.
“Well, the real reason Jon Stewart isn’t here is, he’s out with David Sedaris,” said Mr. Karlin. Mr. Stewart had sent along his thanks, however: “Me thank you. Me so glad win Thurber,” Mr. Stewart had scrawled, appending a doodle of a kitten.
While The New Yorker’s Adam Gopnik, a judge of the contest, made comedy sound hard with a little speech on humor as the opposite of rhetoric, Mr. Borowitz made it sound easy. All he does is write “a daily fake news story—sort of like Judith Miller,” he said. Mr. Javerbaum required fuel: With “Doritos and Mountain Dew,” he said, he could get through anything. He’d better stock up: There’ll be a sequel to America (The Book), though the details are “top-secret,” he said.
Let’s hope that the sequel doesn’t go head to head with Mr. Borowitz’s next opus in a few years. “I don’t like magnanimity,” said Mr. Borowitz. “I felt like Don Cheadle when Jamie Foxx won.”
As if to further his humiliation, a woman came up hoping for his autograph. She held out her copy of America (The Book).
“I don’t have anything else for you to write on,” she apologized. So he wrote on its front page: “What a piece of shit, Andy Borowitz.”
The Perfume Heir
Erwin Creed claims he’s not a party boy, but some je ne sais quoi in those big dreamy brown eyes of his seems to suggest otherwise.
On Monday morning at the Asiate restaurant in Columbus Circle, Mr. Creed was well scrubbed and suited up in a blue jacket and tie. His brown hair was slightly tousled, his lashes curled up, his smile dazzling. Not only does the seventh-generation, 25-year-old Creed perfume heir speak English with a heavy Parisian accent, he’s just plain hot.
At first, Mr. Creed tried to branch out from the family biz by studying fashion and working with candles in Geneva, but he eventually relented and studied under a perfumer for six months. He has since agreed to take on the family business when his father steps down.
Now he travels with his father to India and Bulgaria to find fresh jasmine and roses. He wakes up in the morning and writes down new ideas for fragrances. Sometimes he even puts on women’s fragrances just to walk around in them and feel their smell. While in New York, he smelled Bond No. 9’s Chinatown.
“I just finished eating, and it made me feel nauseous,” he said.
What kind of fragrances does the Prince of Perfume prefer?
“Chanel in general and Jean-Claude,” he said.
What about Elizabeth Taylor’s White Diamonds?
“Sometimes when I smell it, I get a flash that I’ve smelt it before.”
“It’s quite O.K. It’s more about the bottle than the perfume.”
“Not a big fan.”
Calvin Klein CK1?
“It’s good for everything.”
Celebrity perfumes, like J. Lo’s Glow?
“It’s one of the best of the worst,” he laughed. “J. Lo makes only young women’s perfume, and it’s always very sweet. We say ‘gourmand.’ Celebrities don’t make the perfume themselves; they go to a factory to make a copy. They want to push their advertising.”
During his short stay in New York, Mr. Creed has stopped by Le Père Pinard, Pastis and the nightclub Cain. He admitted that while in Paris, he doesn’t make the scene and spends much of his time with his girlfriend. Le sigh.
The Transom would like nothing better than for Mr. Creed to duck through a social oubliette’s trapdoor to the Euro-Manhattan demi-world corridor of playboys and mini-heirs; he’s got a face and a bank account just made for Page Six. Yet the wildest he gets is boxing twice a week; he’s even given up skiing and motocross, and presumably will never ever take up professional nightclubbing.
“I broke everything,” he said. “I broke my legs two times. I broke my knuckles”—twice, in fact. “That’s why I’m not skiing, because I was a bit more crazy. I don’t want to take the risk,” he concluded.
McGreeving Down the Road
Jim McGreevey, on hand to present the Humanitarian of the Year award to Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, put on a good show with his conservative suit, serious words and populist inflection at Out magazine’s “Out 100” awards hoo-hah on Friday. It just wasn’t his venue. After one full pause and a few impatient facial expressions, the ex-governor-most-likely-to politely asked the crowd to settle down “if you could, please.”
Mr. McGreevey, frankly, didn’t have everyone’s rapt attention. But we won’t have to wait long to hear from him again. Not long back, the Columbia J-school’s job-opportunities Web site listed an opportunity for a “book project assistant/researcher” to assist the author David France “for a book project with Gov. Jim McGreevey.” (Mr. France, of course, is well known for Bag of Toys, which cataloged the excesses of art dealer, tax evader and S&M torturer Andrew Crispo. Obviously, he likes the bad boys.) The new Regan Books tome, the listing said, was to be turned in by mid-December, so you can expect Mr. McG to have his hotly awaited say on airport bookshelves everywhere in the near future.
Back at the gala, politics just didn’t mix, as the glib and glossy party took place in a boatload of free Absolut Vodka. As quickly as the great hall at Capitale began to fill to overflow for the evening’s festivities, so began the drunkening.
Honoree Melissa Etheridge gave the only speech that hit just the right and thoughtful note. “What, is there like free booze here or something?” she asked. “You’re all drunk, aren’t you?” The gays cheered.
By the time the awards ceremony got under way, “It got a little lost,” said Joe Armenia, 34, whose “guy,” photographer John Arsenault, made this year’s 100 list. “It’s kinda hard to try to do something serious in the middle of an open bar.”
So how has this year been for the gays? “This is the beginning of a lot of different things,” said Hans Friedrichs, stylish, 36 and in theater. “The election—except for Bloomberg—was very positive for our agenda. But it’s ridiculous to think all is well—it’s still total acceptance, we still need more visibility.” So apparently it’s 1992. Come on, guys, even a governor’s gay! Of course, he resigned ….
Mandy Graves, 28, does music P.R. for Antony and the Johnsons. “I don’t know—the whole thing, it’s going backwards. It’s not doing what it needs to be doing.” She looked less than enthused, all wrapped in her thick winter jacket.
But sometimes politics and parties do mix: After half an hour waiting for a jacket at the coat check, The Transom was ready to vote against just about anything.
For Monday night’s Angel Ball at the Marriott Marquis, Denise Rich’s fourth biennial cancer fund-raiser, the red carpet was clogged; Patti LaBelle and Natalie Cole were expected to perform.
But who wants to talk about cancer on the red carpet?
“WHAT IS THE MOST EMBARRASSING SONG ON YOUR iPOD?” a People magazine reporter asked every single guest.
“The theme from Jaws, by John Williams,” said Kelly Ripa with a laugh.
“Show tunes,” said a radiant Jamie-Lynn Sigler, looking resplendent in a gold empire-waist gown. “When I’m out with my friends, I have to skip those.”
“HOW DO YOU PLAN TO KEEP OFF THOSE HOLIDAY POUNDS?” asked Star magazine. Repeatedly.
“Pffft! Are you kidding?” said Natalie Cole, who could eat all she wants and still be gorgeous, as far as The Transom is concerned. “Don’t eat,” she offered with a shrug.
No wonder Star Jones blew wordlessly past reporters after mugging for photographers.
A few celebs, including Nelly and TLC’s Chilli, appeared willing to actually touch upon the evening’s original purpose.
“I lost someone very dear to me,” Nelly said, shoving his diamond-studded hands into his pockets and speaking of his late sister. He continues to be inspired by “her fight. And her smile.”
“I know we are gonna cure cancer someday,” said Chilli optimistically. “I think there’s a cure for the common cold.”
Such gravity didn’t last long. “BESIDES WORLD PEACE, OF COURSE, WHAT DO YOU WANT FOR CHRISTMAS?”
“Just to be home and enjoy everybody,” Nelly said, rather endearingly.
“I don’t know,” said Chilli.
Montel Williams showed stamina in making one of the slowest crawls ever witnessed through the press gauntlet, posing for every photographer and stopping to speak with every broadcast and print reporter. He even took the time to educate a Kingsborough Community College student on working the red carpet.
“Oh, no!” Mr. Williams admonished cheerfully after the eager cub opened his mouth and came out with, “Hi, I’m a journalism student!”
“You gotta come out BIG!” said Mr. Williams. “Come with something that digs DEEP. Go for the exclusive!”
Mr. Williams walked away and looked over his shoulder.
“O.K., now I’m gonna come back, and we’re gonna start this again!”
Go, Montel! If only every interview could have been a do-over ….