I have no illusions about my celebrity wattage. I am in the moderate-to-low category. Reality TV star Danny Bonaduce has more sizzle. Singer Foxy Brown’s embattled Korean manicurist has a bit less. Actress Michelle Rodriguez’s police ankle bracelet shines about as brightly as I do, as opposed to Lindsay Lohan’s bracelet, which leaves me totally in the dust. C’est la vie, c’est la guerre. I’m not bitter.
Having a lower profile has myriad benefits. For example: When seating a dinner, a hostess will have no compunction about plonking me down me at her B table, near a drafty window, with all the interns and assistants. Again, let me reiterate, I’m not bitter. In fact, I love a good B table. This is where you’ll find a totally unique genre of celebrity. Yes, I’m talking about the sons and daughters of the rich and famous. Celeb spawn! It’s true! While you Oscar winners and moguls are quaffing couture wines at the A table, I am over at the B table, attempting to interfere with the minds of your children.
At B tables in the past few months I have met many fascinating young children of the damned, oops, I mean, the famous. CBS CEO Les Moonves’ daughter Sara and SoCal retailer Ron Herman’s daughter Jane—attractive and intelligent Vogue-ettes—spring easily to mind. (In the interests of full disclosure, it should be noted that this very newspaper has harbored a number of fancy-pants progeny, including the writer Tom Wolfe’s daughter, Alexandra, a.k.a. “Ali,” and at least one Kennedy.)
As an F-lister, I take pleasure in rubbing shoulders with these brats du jour. I understand that Tom Hanks’ daughter, Liz, is currently working at Vanity Fair, celeb spawn central. (John Edwards’ daughter Cate, and Marty Peretz’s daughter, Evgenia, a.k.a. “Bo,” have also breathed in Graydon Carter’s secondhand smoke.) I look forward to sipping eggnog with her at some upcoming holiday fete. Maybe she can give me some insights into exactly how it all works. Who is exploiting whom? Or is it all wildly symbiotic, i.e., we employ your progeny, you show up to our events and look as if you are really enjoying yourself!
What, you may well ask, is wrong with bit of back-scratching? Oh, nothing much, I suppose, unless you happen to be a working-class slag from a crap town, like me. As the spawn of clout-less parents, I cannot help wondering about the horrifying effect this rampant new nepotism might be having on that great old-fashioned American tradition, social mobility. Or to put it more simply: If I staggered into the New York job market today, would I be totally buggered?
Back in the day, fancy-pants people encouraged their kids to either take over the family business or enter some kind of respectable profession. Many offspring were allowed to do nothing. This latter was the best option: The intern and assistant positions were left wide open to us lumpen losers from nowhere.
And thus it was back when I managed to talk my way into a job at the Costume Institute under the great Diana Vreeland. She, along with Andy Warhol, was a great believer in exploiting cheap intern labor. During my tenure, she assembled a fabulously diverse group that included Cuban émigrés Ruben and Isabel Toledo (now an illustrator and a designer, respectively), yours truly and a Polish-Italian cab driver from Queens called Richard di Gussi Bugotski. Mr. di Gussi Bugotski was one of Mrs. V’s personal faves. The adoration was mutual: Every fall he would take a break from his day job and come and help DV install her legendary fashion exhibits. It’s impossible to imagine a bloke like Richard getting his oily Mephisto in the door today.
In fairness to the Condé Nasts and Hearsts of the world, the problem is not just with the institutions who hire the celeb spawn. The responsibility must be shared by the young-uns whose sights are set so relentlessly on trendy media jobs. Instead of joining the Peace Corps or learning how to remove cataracts, the children of the privileged have lowered their standards dramatically: The apotheosis of celeb-spawn ambition would appear to be having the opportunity to stand outside a red-carpet event—with ironed hair, Louboutins, head set and clipboard—and wave at their own parents. If they could expand their ambitions once more, it would allow common folk such as myself—I thank the Lord I was able to claw my way to the middle before this stuff started happening—to get a shot at those flossy-flossy jobs.
I hope this situation changes before Suri Cruise hurls herself into the job market. I am not optimistic. I have a horrible vision of Shiloh Jolie-Pitt seated next to me at some well-appointed B table about 15 years from now, looking the other way while I fish my ill-fitting dentures out of the soup.