“Be careful with this one, she won’t give you anything. She’s quite squirrely,” chided MSNBC political correspondent and host Dylan Ratigan as Keli Goff, a contributing editor at TheLoop21, chatted with The Observer during the launch party of Ms. Goff’s first novel, The GQ Candidate at the Tracy Reese Boutique in the West Village.
Teetering in three-inch heels, Ms. Goff greeted each guest individually before the start of the launch party, sponsored by TheLoop21 and Tracy Reese. Several attendees, thumbed through their newly-purchased copies, were here to exclaim, “I can’t wait to read it!” Though the book has been available for purchase since the beginning of July, it appeared few guests had cracked it yet.
It was the type of crowd one might have found at a fundraiser for the novel’s fictional presidential candidate, Luke Cooper—with Essence editor-at-large Mikki Taylor, fashion journalist Kate Betts, writer/socialite Susan Fales-Hill, Mr. Ratigan, Public Advocate Bill De Blasio, and Daily Beast’s Lloyd Grove.
The book, which Ms. Goff said was inspired by the lack of privacy surrounding the 2008 presidential elections, is the fictional tale of an African American, Jewish politician who decides to mount a White House run, and the aftershocks felt by his closest circle. “It’s an exploration into what happens to those closest to political power,” said Ms. Goff. “During the 2008 elections, I was intrigued by the people who weren’t running, the people around the candidates; sometimes I found those in the background more fascinating than the candidates.” She added with a wince that the book’s protagonist Luke Cooper has drawn public comparison to a “certain sitting president.”
The event’s cohost, Ms. Fales-Hill, commended Ms. Goff on showing the world “as it is,” a diverse community of movers and shakers. A former writer for The Cosby Show and A Different World, about life at a fictional historically black college, she noted that “People still come up to me and say, ‘I went to college because of A Different World.’”
Shortly before Ms. Goff was scheduled to thank the evening’s attendees, R&B music legend Nile Rodgers slipped in, sporting his signature million-watt smile and fade-out sunglasses. “I stopped in to congratulate Keli,” Mr. Rodgers said with a smile. Still recovering from what he called “an aggressive cancer,” he attributed his rehabilitation to constant performing and writing. “I just received the galley of my first book today,” Rodgers said.
Mr. Ratigan took great pleasure in thoroughly educating The Observer on the significance of the American Industrial Revolution and its direct and indirect implications on today’s digitally driven social and political landscape. Oh, and he talked about Ms. Goff, who moonlights as a TV pundit. “I love having her on the shows because it makes Monday’s bearable!” he said with a wink. When asked about the backlash against his interview in The Atlantic earlier in July, in which he bashed print newspapers, he cried, “I just don’t like having physical paper all over my goddamn house!” Then it was back to the Revolution.
After a couple hours, attendees milled outside, only to be caught in torrential rains. The Observer found Chery Jordan, a stylist for Donna Karan, huddled with celebrity stylist Luke Destin—clutching a perfectly lush Hermès Birkin Bag—under the store’s awning. “I should write a novel…,” Ms. Jordan mused, inspired by Ms. Goff’s success. Her red pout twisted in thought. “I’ve partied with Eric Clapton, I’ve done it all! I was doing in the 1980s what Vogue is doing today!” She smiled politely and calmly reiterated, “I need to write a book.”