Those fickle billionaires behind Door—that’s the nightclub on 23rd Street where you have to be either really rich or a model to get in—may have already decided to slam shut their notorious peephole for good.
“The landlords tried to hike the rent and they decided it wasn’t worth it,” said a source with firsthand knowledge of the situation. “It was never really open on a regular basis, and obviously it was never really about making money. But in that kind of a place you need a certain kind of staff, you know, people who are sworn to secrecy and everything. You can’t sustain that with a club that’s open once in a while on a whim.”
The source says that Door’s demise became official when the managers of the property sent out a mass text message inviting people to come party at “Suede”—which is the previous name of the club at 161 West 23rd Street.
The source said he’d partied in the exclusive club five or six times, and had seen a millionaire break a bottle and “throw it in a girl’s face.”
“Every time I was there, Ron Burkle was there,” said the source. “My sense was there wasn’t a party unless he was in town.”
Mr. Burkle’s spokesperson said that the supermarket billionaire had “absolutely nothing” to do with financing the place. Too bad.
The Transom’s efforts to confirm the shuttering with Door promoter Danny A. were met with a deafening silence.
Are you closed?
“No comment,” said Mr. A.
Are you still open?
Are there still only billionaires and models allowed?
“Sir, sir, no comment!”
The Daily Gossip
In the kitchen of Ben Widdicombe’s East Village apartment—2BR/1B, floor-through, classic E.V. block, top floor, owner-occupied small building, needs fresh coat of paint—wieners were the hot topic of conversation.
“Ooo, I think that one was uncircumcised,” said a guest, after sampling the first batch of Mr. Widdicombe’s favored hors d’oeuvres. “It was a little salty.”
“The wieners are really important because Ben’s really fond of pigs in blankets, so any party that Ben’s involved with or that Ben goes to, there will always be pigs in blankets,” said Mr. Widdicombe’s best friend, Mark Ellwood. “Our other friend Amy DiLuna, who also works at the Daily News, she is coming later with a job lot of wieners. Like a double serving, because we know they’re really crucial.”
It was Saturday, Jan. 6. Mr. Widdicombe threw the party for himself. He had turned 36, he said, on Dec. 28, during that hazy clump of days between Christmas and New Year’s. Also, Mr. Widdicombe’s Gatecrasher column in the Daily News had been bumped up from a weekend column to a daily.
“I’m thrilled that I will have much more of a chance to cause mischief than I have had so far,” said Mr. Widdicombe, who wore a gingham shirt, jeans and sneakers. “It’s been frustrating having to hold on to stray items until the weekend.”
Mr. Widdicombe, an Australian, arrived in New York nine years ago. His first job was serving hot dogs on the street at Columbus and 77th Street. He was later a gallery boy at Wessel & O’Connor.
“The News has always had two gossip columns—we’ve had Mitchell Fink, Michael Gross,” Mr. Widdicombe said, and he mentioned Richard Johnson and A.J. Benza as he prepared another try of puff pastries and wieners. “So there’s always been at least two gossip columns at the Daily News. Rush & Molloy is the one that has survived, and there has kind of been a revolving door of second gossip columns. And I’m thrilled to have my chance, and I plan to stick around.”
Amy DiLuna, the News’ fashion editor, joined the crowd in the kitchen. She wore a gray Anthropologie wrap dress decorated with a few specks of marinara sauce. As promised, she brought with her a double dose of pigs in blankets. “It is a long time coming. We get a daily Ben column just working in the office, and also we get to know who all the blind items are about and no one else does! They’re all as good as you think.”
Former Rush & Molloy boy Chris Rovzar was getting a drink at the makeshift bar in living room. “There’s a dearth of catty gay voices in the tabloids, and I don’t include Cindy Adams in that,” he said. Mr. Rovzar was back in town from his Fulbright scholarship in Spain, where he was studying gay marriage. “So to have someone daily indoctrinating the youth of the outer boroughs of New York, I think is a real improvement in terms of the tabloid landscape.”
The newly installed editor of Seventeen magazine, Ann Shoket, was there, flanked by her publicist. “Ben is the most charming, most dashing …. ”
Right, right, now what are you wearing?
“What? Oh no, I don’t want to tell you that,” she gasped. She wore a tube top and jeans. “Now I’m starting to get into trouble with my publicity department. They’re like, ‘Don’t talk to anybody.’”
Her publicist, Scott Gorenstein, stepped in. “She’s wearing an appropriate outfit for a humid evening in the East Village.”
The apartment had become filled, mostly with journalists. But wait, a celebrity! Project Runway winner Jay McCarroll was gabbing with Lisa Marsh in a bedroom. “I am so proud of our little Ben Widdicombe,” said Mr. McCarroll, who was layered in sweatshirts and wore his trademark oversized sunglasses. “It’s good because now he can spread his bullshit just a little bit thinner every day.”
Then he had a question of his own for The Transom. “Have you ever been sucked off by another guy?”
Former Page Sixer Lisa Marsh chimed in. “Ben is basically the male version of me, but of course Ben deserves a daily column because he was writing circles around Lloyd Grove way back before.”
George Rush himself arrived bearing gifts. “I hear you’re staying at the Standard for the Oscars this year. So this is the calendar they sent us with notations from, I think, some ex-boyfriends,” he said to Mr. Widdicombe. “And here is an epiphany cake. You are gifted with epiphanies. So you find the treasure inside and then you can put on your crown.” He handed him a gold paper crown.
“We cannot wait for this guy to man the barricades of gossip,” he said.
G.T.A.: Booze City
Two weeks before the New Year, Ian Spiegelman, the novelist, ghostwriter and infamous former Page Sixer, sent out an “advance notice” e-mail imploring friends to mark their calendars for his upcoming birthday. “Join me to celebrate my 33rd birthday at 2A on Friday, January 5th starting at 7:00 and going until I pass out and must be carried to a cab or an ambulance,” it read.
The Transom headed over at 10 p.m. But Mr. Spiegelman was still relatively sober.
“I bought a PlayStation two weeks ago to give me something to do at night aside from drink,” he said. “And the best game I bought is Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. And in the last seven or eight days, I am hit-man level on the machine pistol, gangster level with the pistol, my stamina is about 1,000 percent. I basically ignore the missions now and just go out and kill about 20 or 30 gang members, take their guns and their money. I started out with $200, I haven’t completed any missions worth any money, but I have $17,000 in my bank now. My favorite thing is to kill off a whole squadron of cops and then just stay into the night. It’s a really wonderful game. One night my favorite thing was just to drive around all of their fake city for an hour and a half. Just driving! Once in a while I’d crash and I’d steal another car or ambulance or a fire truck and just keep driving. Once in a while I’d come across some hoodlum and have to get out and shoot him, take his gun. But it’s helping me not drink too much.”
“I knew from back when I was a kid that any video game that you show me I can spend eight hours on it and not drink. So I figure I need something to go from about 6 p.m. to about 4 in the morning. Those are the horrible hours.
“Most of the nights I won’t drink anything, but a couple of the nights I’ll have like two drinks and be like, ‘O.K., now I’m calmer. I can defeat this mission.’ And I am actually better at driving the car, killing the guys with a couple drinks in me.”
Mr. Spiegelman said that his recent life change was brought on by ghosts of Christmas past paying a harsh visit to his liver and kidneys.
“On Christmas Day, I went to my Italian family’s [place] in New Jersey and I had three drinks before dinner, and then I ate dinner, and then I got back to my own apartment and the power of just those three drinks—finally my liver and my kidneys were just like, ‘We can’t do this any more!’ And I puked, and so I didn’t drink for the rest of the week. And then I started talking to my psychiatrist about finding ways to not drink so much, and the first thing that came across the board was PlayStation 2.”
“When I’m done with this, and it finally comes to fruition and I’m finally clean or as clean as I want to be, my plan will rival the 12 steps.”
At roughly 10:45, Mr. Spiegelman left his own party and put himself in a cab.
“I’m proud of Ian,” said his friend blog empress Elizabeth Spiers. “I think he’s going to be the next Tony Robbins with this new self-help program. ’Cause I think we’ve been waiting for a dark, cynical Tony Robbins, and I think Ian might be the man. I also think a lot of people have been looking for a higher purpose for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and Ian may have found it.”
The Transom Also Hears ….
Business is booming at the Waverly Inn, the restaurant co-owned by Vanity Fair honcho Graydon Carter. But one social gal was disappointed with her recent visit. “The mice were running up the walls,” she I.M.’d The Transom on Jan. 9.
Well: She saw two mice. She also said she and her dining companion both were as ill as could be later—though that could have been anything. Still! “The mouse almost fell into my tablemate’s hair!” the lass claimed. Ah, well. She’ll be back!