How to Get a Table at Graydon Carter’s Restaurant
Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter’s new restaurant, the Waverly Inn, supposedly has a secret reservation number. The Transom spent some time asking around town for this number, with not-so-good results. Finally, one Hollywood high-up set us straight.
“There are three ways you can get a table at Graydon’s new restaurant,” he said. “You can either be invited to the restaurant. Or you can call him at his personal office and try to get a reservation. Or you can roll the dice and be a walk-in. But the listed phone number won’t get you anywhere. It just rings.”
So the secret number has been Mr. Carter’s office number all along? Expect our calls, executive assistants to the editor Jonathan Kelly and Leigh Herzig! (Or have those two been disposed of yet?)
The Flower Filcher
Never before had a perfume party been shrouded in such mystery and excitement as the one planned for the unveiling of designer Tom Ford’s new scent, Tom Ford Black Orchid.
The press release for the fête last Thursday at the Top of the Rock told of Mr. Ford’s “fascination with finding the elusive black orchid.” It further boasted that Mr. Ford had personally cultivated the “blackest orchid in nature.”
Upon receiving the notice, The Transom could only gaze upward and thank the heavens in anticipation of such a moment in the history of party reporting.
Would any of said rare orchids be at the party? Would they be locked in a glass box protected by two perfectly coifed armed guards, all in black Gucci?
The poor, unfortunate doorman stuck in the Rockefeller Center lobby—it had been converted into a Tom Ford Black Orchid gas chamber—knew nothing about any rare flowers on the premises.
“Don’t know what you’re talking about,” said a male model carrying a champagne tray. His black suit and crisp white shirt looked like a million bucks. He said Mr. Ford had had a hand in the dress code.
Yoo-hoo, Carmen Kass! Seen any black orchids? “Yes. Over there,” she nodded. “Oh, that’s only a purple one. No, I guess not.”
Ms. Kass said she hadn’t given much thought to whether or not the black orchid was elusive. She wasn’t sure if she’d ever seen one. “I don’t know,” she said. “I like orchids.”
And what of the perfume? “Oh, I haven’t tried it.”
What?! Had the string-bean cover girl been spared the brutal initiation misting on the way in? “I didn’t notice,” she oozed, lifting a flute of the bubbly to her fine, thin lips.
“Amazing view up here,” said Jamie Johnson, looking out on the city from the building’s glass-encased balcony. “I think I’m going to go soon.”
Paris Hilton’s former walker, Stavros Niarchos, had to know something about perfumes. “No. I don’t know. It smells O.K., I guess,” he said of Black Orchid. He was standing with several other tall, foreign dudes dressed in black. He seemed agitated.
Right. And what of that rare, highly elusive flower—any thoughts? “No. I don’t know,” he hissed.
“It smells O.K.,” said Rachel Roy of the fragrance. “I like flowers. But not orchids necessarily.”
“It’s cool,” said her husband Damon Dash.
Around 11 p.m., Mr. Ford arrived from a dinner that his friend Donatella Versace had thrown in his honor.
“I have always been passionate about orchids,” said Mr. Ford. He wore a double-breasted black blazer with flared lapels. His shirt was deeply unbuttoned, natch, and a silvery checked scarf graced his tanned chest. A chiseled Blue Steel expression never left his face. “Each one is unique. They’re so beautiful and so chic.”
“It’s so elusive and mysterious and sensual,” Mr. Ford said of the black orchid. Of late, the stylist’s quest for the so-called “unicorn” of the orchid family has brought him (or a few of his minions) into the greenhouse laboratory. “I’ve been developing the blackest possible orchid in Florida—the Tom Ford orchid. I’ve got the patent. It’s almost black. Maybe not completely black, but a deep, dark chocolate.”
He said his new fragrance “absolutely captures the essence of the black orchid.”
Orchids? Paging Susan Orlean!
“As far as I know, there is no such thing as a black orchid, and from what I was told, it’s botanically impossible,” Ms. Orlean said by phone on Nov. 7.
“I’ve often wondered why people would want one,” she said, “except that it might heighten the dramatic effect of the orchid. As I say in my book, orchids are really more sexy than pretty. And a black orchid just has that sort of dramatic, mysterious, seductive dark quality.”
Ms. Orlean pointed out that most orchids had no scent at all. But the Orchid Thief author sent her best wishes to Mr. Ford.
“Sure, I would encourage him to continue in his quest, because there is no doubt that if someone could do it, it would be very cool and dramatic,” she said. “As a great believer in life being all about aspiration but not necessarily achievement, I say, ‘Go for it, Tom. Keep at it, buddy.’”
The party’s gift bags offered an elegant little black bottle of the stuff; they came with “23K gold-plated name plaque and engraved lettering.”
Vogue fashion giant André Leon Talley was getting in the elevator. He was draped in a snakeskin overcoat.
A quick squirt for the road was offered to him. “Oh darling, please stop it!” he said.
Amy’s Hot Igloo
Nightlife princess and Bungalow 8 owner Amy Sacco has big plans this Thanksgiving. She’s going to her favorite igloo in Tulum, Mexico, to confront her fears.
“It’s a hot igloo where they throw in lava rock, and it’s a whole ritual where you throw your fears in the lava rock,” she said the other night. “But it’s over an hour long and it’s a tiny little hut, and you go with like nine people. You go into this town, and there’s a whole thing where you worship the east, west, north and south, the earth, wind, moon, fire and ice, you know. And then you go in there and you throw your fears and you chant, and you’re supposed to sing a song.”
She’s been there before. “I’m so claustrophobic that I can’t believe they even got me in there. ’Cause they close the flap every time they throw the lava rock in and you sweat like crazy, and there’s only a little water and some honey. And you can eat the honey or put it on your chest, which is good for you—like, you know, you get all the toxins out. I should have covered myself in it.”
“But at the end of the session, they ask you to sing a song—when it was my turn, I didn’t know what to do, so I sang ‘Kumbaya.’”
“Last time, I got over my fear of claustrophobia, but not my fear of sharks. So I gotta go back.”
How Sting Lives
“It has parallels in my own life; it has parallels in Trudie’s life, too. It’s one of the reasons we were so passionate about it from the beginning,” said Sting. It was Monday night, and he was standing in the foyer of his lavishly decorated two-floor apartment on Central Park West, hosting an afterparty for a screening of the film that he and his wife, Trudie Styler, had produced. The film, A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, is based on the true story of Dito Montiel’s struggle to escape gang life in Astoria.
“It more or less tells our story,” said Sting. “You know, similar backgrounds. Of course, we came over from England.”
But you grew up in a rough part of town?
“Oh, yeah. I’m from Newcastle—that’s a rough part of town.”
Did you have to throw down every now and then?
“Oh, yeah,” he said. “Still can.” He cocked his right eyebrow like the hammer of a gun.
The Transom was nervous. What beautiful artwork you have!
“Well, it changes. But that there is by an artist called”—Le Huh?—“an English painter. The big one on the wall in the dining room is by”—we swear he said Phil Jackman—“that’s of the Tompkins Square riot,” he said. The eyebrow had come down a notch, but still looked menacing enough.
The architecture, also beautiful! “It’s Beaux-Arts.” Yes, Mr. Sting!
Music mogul and entrepreneur Damon Dash was standing in the living room—not far from the Le Huh?—with his lovely wife Rachel Roy. There was a grand piano and several red velvet couches. Twiggy and Fran Drescher were over his shoulder.
“The film was off the hook,” he said. “That shit was real.”
What about the crib, yo? The duplex is currently on the market for $24 million.
“At first, I was like, ‘Yo, this is how Sting lives?’ But then I checked the downstairs. and it took it to another level.”
“I’m sure this one of many, honey,” said Ms. Roy. She said she cried throughout the movie. “I came from a place just like that,” she said.
The film, which stars the ubiquitous Robert Downey Jr., among others, centered largely on a boy’s frustration with a father who refused to hear him. Eventually, the boy runs away to California.
“When I first saw it, I ran over to my dad and gave him a big hug,” said Sting’s daughter, Mickey. The perky blonde is studying fine art at Parsons. Her “cow studies” cover much of the wall space downstairs.
“I think the contrast between the movie and the after-party is pretty astounding,” said playwright Israel Horowitz, sizing up his surroundings. He was standing in the dining room, next to the stained-glass windows and across from the Jackman mural. “I think a film like that makes you want to plunge a stake into your father’s heart.” Mr. Horowitz said he didn’t have the best relationship with his father.
Donna Dixon and her husband Dan Aykroyd were in the upstairs kitchen. It was painted an orange-adobe color and fitted with a big booth with lots of pillows. Later on, billionaire Ron Perelman would be sprawled on it with his arms around two women.
“It wasn’t my cup of tea,” said Ms. Dixon of the film. “I just don’t want to be transported into that world. There’s enough sadness already.”
Mr. Aykroyd didn’t seem too keen on it either. “Good, honest filmmaking,” said the funnyman in his classic Canadian demi-brogue.
“Darling, shouldn’t we take a quick tour of the house before we leave?” asked his lovely wife. She was heading out of the kitchen, making eyes at a marble bust of someone—Caesar?—above the staircase. “We really should.”
In Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus, the photographer—played by Nicole Kidman—is constantly asking people to tell her a secret. So at the after-party for the premiere on Sunday night, that shtick got a workout.
“I cried for the second time,” said rocker-poet Patti Smith. “It’s not a typical movie; it’s more like a hymn to the desire to create something.”
Go on, spill a secret!
“It’s Sam Shepard’s birthday,” said the shaggy-haired singer.
“It was like a poem. I think, in a strange way, it captures her,” said the avant-garde director Robert Wilson, who is also a photographer.
And … ? “I just did a video shoot in L.A. with Salma Hayek. She’s incredibly beautiful.” For Pete’s sake!
Steve Shainberg, the director, who also did Secretary, came up pretty dry. “My secret is, the next movie I’m gonna make, I gotta feel as strongly as I did about this one. This movie, I had so much desire to make it and I felt so connected to it that it scares me.” Yeah. Shhhh—don’t tell anyone.
Fortunately, you can always count on a little truth serum from Robert Downey Jr. In the film, he plays an extremely hirsute love interest. “I’ll tell you something, man. Chicks dig it, I swear to God.” Mr. Downey’s hair suit took two people over three hours to put on him every day. “I’d be on set and some lady friend or someone’s wife would come over and be like, ‘Oh my God, it’s so evocative, it’s really sexy—can I touch it?’ And I’d be there being like, ‘My God, this is really crazy, I’m like really getting fuckin’ turned on by this.’ And then I go, ‘You know what? This isn’t about me and my animal magnetism. It’s the hair that’s getting them all fuckin’ hot.’”
And so did he … ?
“I definitely laid hands on the missus a couple times when she came to visit while I was in costume,” he said. “But the other thing is that I was always swathed in oils and like sage, lavender and cloves. It was like a fuckin’ perfumery. So that was kind of nasty.”