Party photographer Patrick McMullan plays himself in an episode of Gossip Girl airing Monday night, March 30.
“I’m probably getting more attention from the coming attraction than on the show itself,” Mr. McMullan told the Daily Transom, referring to the brief half-second during which his mug appeared in a preview that aired last Monday. Since then, his many friends and colleagues—many of them Gossip Girl devotees—have been ringing him to say “Congrats!”
Since the show premiered in 2007, all sorts of prominent New Yorkers have made cameos: author Jay McInerney, designer Michael Kors, socialite Tinsley Mortimer and New York Times theatre critic Charles Isherwood, just to name a few. And so Mr. McMullan, who has been documenting New York society since the 1980s, seemed like a natural choice.
In the episode, Serena van der Woodsen (Blake Lively) throws a birthday party for Little J (Taylor Momsen). “To make her feel liked and all that,” explained Mr. McMullan. But an intimate 16th birthday party soon turns into a huge society event after a few of the city’s social find out that Ms. van der Woodsen is hosting. According to Mr. McMullan, other guest stars include the model Chanel Iman, his son, Liam, and The Misshapes’ Leigh Lezark.
“So Jenny says, ‘Most of these people don’t even know who I am or know why they’re here,’” revealed Mr. McMullan. “And then Serena says, ‘That’s not true! Hey Patrick, take a picture of me and the birthday girl!’”
Mr. McMullan takes the photo and then recites his one line: “Oh, it’s a birthday party?”
“So it kind of just shows that it’s true that no one really knows why they’re there,” explained Mr. McMullan. “They’re just there for a party for Serena van der Woodsen.”
This wasn’t the first connection Mr. McMullan has had to the show. The gallerist Yvonne Force Villareal was responsible for placing six of his works from the ’80s into the fictional home of Lily van der Woodsen (Kelly Rutherford), Serena’s mother.
“So in theory, the mother knows me,” said Mr. McMullan. “I visited the set before to see my pictures and someone said, ‘We’ll have to have you on sometime!’ And I said, ‘Sure, anytime.’ And then they just called me.”
While on set at Astoria Studios in Brooklyn, Mr. McMullan chatted in the makeup room with Ms. Lively. He asked her to sign her Vogue cover; she agreed. He made small talk with the other cast members and enjoyed the food spread that included sandwiches, salads, and pasta. “I took a little bit of everything,” he confessed. He decided that his favorite cast members were Ms. Lively and, “What’s his name? Bass, the boy.” Alas, he did not get to meet Leighton Meester even though he was looking forward to it.
The scene took three takes. “One time they kinda screwed up, one time I got there too early because I was really running around taking pictures,” said Mr. McMullan.
Naturally, even though the party was staged, Mr. McMullan got caught up in the scene and treated it as any other party he covers. “I just did what I always do,” he said. “I was taking pictures.”