“I have a sick rolodex,” she bragged, stroking mascara into her eyelashes at the bathroom mirror. “Page Six has given me a Ph.D. in human psychology. Take any person and, within five minutes, I can tell you what’s going on, what they’re thinking, where they’re from, and how they’re dressed. And I’m usually 99 percent right.”
While Ms. Froelich insisted that her book is not a roman a clef, certain characters in the novel sound eerily familiar. There are socialites named Muffy and Fabiola and Ivanka; a New York politician disgraced by his regular visits to prostitutes; a blond socialite with corkscrew curls rated No. 1 on a Web site called Socialstatus.com; and a powerful publicist who crashes her SUV into a crowd of people lined up outside a club in the Hamptons.
“She’s a com-pah-zit!” Ms. Froelich said out about the car-crashing character inspired by famous flack Lizzie Grubman. “You write about what you know, but it’s not a thinly veiled thing at all. Even the characters at the newspaper are not anyone who works at the Post.”
Socialite Lydia Hearst is one of the few society girls called out by name in the book for her relentless self-promotion. Upon seeing Ms. Hearst on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar, an older socialite says, “Just look at those tacky Hearsts.”
“That, actually, someone said to me. One of the old society matrons was appalled,” explained Ms. Froelich. “I actually like Lydia. She makes me laugh. I used to save her Page Six Magazine columns and read them out loud in character.”
Ms. Froelich was applying blush now and lining her eyes with a dark pencil.
“I think society is pretty much dead,” she said. “Nan Kempner and Brooke Astor would be rolling in their graves. It’s all about girls who talk about careers, but really they just want to be aligned with a brand. Who knew you could make a career out of posing for Patrick McMullan?”
Unlike other gossip writers, Ms. Froelich said she’s always firmly understood the difference between being a reporter and becoming subject for gossip columns herself.
“This is a job and you cannot be good at your job if you want to be the person you’re covering,” she said. “There was a time a few years ago when people were passing out fame like subway passes, but I think most of them have been weeded out.”
Being “good” at her job sometimes means writing about people she is friendly with socially. But, according to Ms. Froelich, she rarely regrets the stories she reports. “I sleep just fine,” she said.
Ms. Froelich, who has survived departed Page Six colleagues like Ian Spiegelman and Chris Wilson, is one of those media people that everyone always says has been at their jobs forever. And according to Ms. Froelich, she has no plans of moving on. (She is, however, working on a sequel to Mercury and is in talks with Cynthia Eagan, head of the Poppy imprint at Little, Brown Book Group, who acquired the Gossip Girl books, to write a young adult novel about her time attending high school at a convent in Kentucky.)
“At first I thought, yes, after two years, I’ll do something else, but the Post has been really good to me. There was no reason to go,” said Ms. Froelich. “I wanted to take my time and figure out what I wanted to do. I know I’m not Liz [Smith] and I’m not Cindy [Adams]. Otherwise, I’m not real sure. So until I figure it out, it’s good.”
But has Ms. Froelich ever grown tired of covering the same beat?
Ms. Froelich looked to the side and tensed up her lips in a pucker for a moment. “Honey, people get tired of everything,” she finally said. “Ask me how I feel tomorrow.”
She slipped on a pair of Miu Miu shoes and signaled the Daily Transom to file out of her apartment. She had a dinner to get to.