Last night, The Observer stepped into West Village hotspot The Lion for an intimate dinner. A hostess promptly took us up a claustrophobic staircase, opened a ptomken wall and ushered us into a dimly lit chamber. Amidst the suit of armor, taxidermies, and leather chairs were Mark Feuerstein and Matt Bomer, the stars of two USA network shows.
A circle of young female reporters were shamelessly batting their eyelashes in the dimly lit room as Mr. Feurstein, who plays Hank Lawson, on Royal Pains, introduced himself and made small talk. Matt Bomer the felonious protagonist in White Collar made the requisite hand-shaking room tour in his pin-striped suit.
Many guest introduced themselves to the actors with a convivial, “Hiiiiii! I met you last year, remember!?!” to which both actors would smile and, with sympathetic eyebrows raised, reply “Oh.. ..yes, yes, yes!”
After martinis were downed, guests were shown into a small dining room set with two tables, one actor beau seated at each. The pair would switch places halfway through the meal. We were initially seated at Mr. Bomer’s table, and, after briefly discussing the mythology of his White Collar character, the conversation quickly devolved to a bawdy discussion of his latest film, Magic Mike in which he plays a male stripper alongside Channing Tatum.
“Did you go to strip clubs for research?” one guest asked. Affirming, Mr. Bomer described sitting in the “hot seat” at a Los Angeles area club. Perspiring slightly, we listened with rapt attention, taking a swig of wine for good measure.
“I know this may seem dumb,” one older female guest said, “but I’ve never been to a strip club. How much did you take off in for the movie?” she inquired. “Well, I suppose we got down to what you would call a thong,” Mr. Bomer said, hardly cracking a smile.
When asked if he would watch his own season premiere, Mr. Bomer said he largely dislikes seeing himself in screen. An old-guard New York Times advertising columnist seemed shocked. “I’ve worked with Oscar winners who won’t watch themselves on playback,” Mr. Bomer replied, somewhat defensively. “I know a guy with Asberger’s who can tell you every Oscar winner in order…. But don’t ask him to tie his shoes!” Cue slightly awkward semi-silence.
As the main course was served, Mr. Bomer and Mr. Feuerstein both disappeared for a moment, clearly catching their breath after suffering relentless questions from the eager guests.
Returning, Mr. Feuerstein took Mr. Bomer’s place at our table and began a lively discussion which ranged from fatherhood (he has three children under the age of 6) to his directorial debut on the show. When asked about his background, Mr. Feuerstein, an Upper West Side native and Daltonian, told guests that he had later attended Princeton. Naturally, we asked him which eating club was in at old Nassau. “Terrace,” he told the table before explaining that it was patronized by a “sort of bohemian, sort of alternative” crowd.
After being consuming an ingenious cheesecake confection in a mason jar, we bid both actors goodnight, walked back through the dim speakeasy room and through the hidden portal.