It was after midnight last Saturday, and Bungalow 8 was filling up. I wanted to ask the famously exclusive nightclub’s regular patrons their thoughts about Iraq.
John Flanagan, a 40-year-old nightlife impresario, was sitting with a large group drinking $350 bottles of vodka.
“I’m upset for the American lives that are lost, and the Iraqi lives,” he said. “It makes me feel confused about the direction we’ve taken and whether it was for the right cause.”
He referred to the war as an “unpleasantry of life.”
“I’d rather not be talking about this,” he added. “I’d rather talk about helping out Darfur, helping victims of Katrina.”
By the bar stood Laura Choi, a 25-year-old wearing a black-and-white-striped Marni dress. She said she did not support the war.
“Living in Europe, I feel like I always have to defend myself, and people are always attacking me,” she said. “I mean, I’m in Paris, I’ll sit down for dinner with a bunch of French people, and they’ll just attack Bush. I’m not a Bush supporter, and yet I feel, as an American, I have to defend my country.”
Interior designer Brinton Brewster, 38, was also very upset.
“We were brought into the war under false pretenses, the public was lied to, and we’re creating another generation of terrorists,” he said.
“Unfortunately, the ‘fabulous people’ get a bad rap,” he continued. “Just because we live life in a certain way, they think we don’t have compassion for other people. It’s just not the truth. But you know, what really upsets me, honestly, is the propensity of the media to focus on Lindsay Lohan going in and out of rehab. I don’t care about celebrities and what they’re doing. I’ve met them all.”
Emily, a history major at Princeton University, took a seat. “I am upset by the Iraq War, but I don’t focus on it, because it’s a negative energy,” she said. “I think we are overanalyzing the situation. I mean, here we are at Bungalow 8!”
Next up was a blond woman in her late 30’s. She was wearing a black fedora from the men’s department at Bergdorf Goodman, a black Moschino dress and shoes by Christian Loubouton. I asked her about Iraq.
“A rack? You mean titties? Like a really big rack?”
“Don’t ever waste a moment in life. Fly to the moon and play amongst the stars, be happy, understand how lucky we are—and don’t fight,” she said. “I feel personally connected in one way—I’m a mother, and every day in Iraq somebody is losing their child. My little girl will never go to Iraq. I’m sorry, she’ll go to Prada.”
Jacqie Venable, a 40-year-old music producer, was wearing a beret and jeans. She said she wasn’t wearing underwear.
She said the war in Iraq was meant to happen “karmically.”
“In my spiritual picture, it has to do with karma,” she said. “Everything that happens in life, to each of us, is what we call into our space. Everything comes full circle. So right now, it’s going to work out to whatever it works out to be. It might be happy for me and not happy for you.
“The people who are there fighting—it’s their journey. This is our journey,” she continued. “People are dying all around the world. Forget Iraq—they’re dying in this country. And their parents are suffering with them, and our parents suffer for us because we’re at Bungalow. There is no separation in the trauma.”
How does she feel as an American?
“I don’t see myself as an American,” she said. “I see myself as a child of a higher being, and I feel privileged to walk this earth with my daughter and my family. The war in Iraq just reminds me of my everyday war. The only way that I can make a difference is being really grateful for the good, the bad, the ugly—what I can do for me. If I’m straight and I love everybody in a grateful world, that’s the only contribution I can make. And I can teach that to my daughter.”
I asked what she’d rather be talking about.
“My daughter. Shoes. Handbags. Fashionistas to laugh at. Waxing the undercarriage—from your poonnany to your back door. It’s fucking painful.”
I met Holger Braun, a 31-year-old entrepreneur from Austria.
I asked if he cared that American soldiers are dying.
“Not for a second,” he said. “Because the Americans are the people who are attacking the world; it’s not the other way around. There’s no one who is aggressing America; it’s just America aggressing the whole world …. My girlfriend is from America, and I’m always just talking with her about it. And, you know, she hates me for my opinion.”
Paul Johnson-Calderon, a 23-year-old fashionista wearing a Balenciaga tunic, was also upset.
“I think that the initial reason for us going into Iraq, to get rid of Saddam and his regime, was a good thing,” he said. “How it’s been handled is terrible.”
How does he feel to be an American these days?
“I’m a little bit ashamed, because you go abroad now and everyone hates Americans,” he said. “I was in Florence, Italy—it was my birthday; I’d just turned 21—and everyone was like, ‘Oh, America—fuck America!’ And I was like, ‘No, not fuck America. There are a lot of great people who don’t back Bush, so don’t judge me.’
“I live this debauched life of partying and fun,” he added, “but you have to think about Darfur, you have to think about Iraq, you have to think about the pressing danger of Iran. I think people should enjoy themselves—which I’m not going to stop doing—but at the same time, there should be a level of guilt.”
He looked around Bungalow 8. “Do you think the Iraqis, little villagers in Kandahar, are doing this?” he said. “None of them are. And that’s the sad, awful truth.”