Gawker made waves this week with the Fox Mole, a young Bill O’Reilly producer who pseudonymously slipped the site a snap of the dysfunctional network lavatories. Up at Hearst Tower, Gawker antipode Town & Country has also quietly employed a mole.
Coincidentally, he goes by “Mr. Fox.”
“Esky and Eustace Tilley seemed like they could finally use some extra company,” Town & Country editor Jay Fielden said of his new pseudonymous hire.
Mr. Fox’s mandate is to infiltrate the luxurious and hallowed haunts of the T&C‘s aristocratic readers. It’s not quite infiltrating the media citadel of the American right, but, hey, at least he hasn’t been caught. His May debut is whimsical update on a 1961 Queen magazine article in which Clement Freud—proto-foodie grandson of Sigmund—reviewed London’s top hotel restaurants (the Ritz, the Savoy, Grosvenor House) under the name John Smith.
Mr. Fox took on the power lunch at their New York equivalents, the Plaza (“piano player gamely offering a program of Cyndi Lauper’s greatest hits”), the St. Regis (“if not quite a sinking ship, perilously adrift”) and the Waldorf-Astoria (“sandwiches designed for the gumming capacities of an aging demographic”), among others.
While the Fox Mole operated undercover in a vain bid to evade draconian non-disclosure policies, Mr. Fox is just trying to dodge VIP treatment.
“He’d be recognized otherwise and his cover would be blown,” Mr. Fielden said.
Such terrain comes with its own indiscretions. Mr. Fox tips atrociously, orders only the cheapest menu items and demands refills of freebies like water, coffee and bread. He also tests their archaic capacity to transmit a telephone message regarding Mr. Fox’s appointment at 333 East 60th Street. (That’s Scores, for the uninitiated.) With each lunch for two coming in under $130, it’s a road map to elite milieu for a broke Becky Sharpe.
“I think Mr. Fox believes what Will Rogers said—that the quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your pocket,” Mr. Fielden explained. “When applied under ideal circumstances it’s an ethic that can reveal a lot about what’s fancy and what’s fake. And it’s pretty funny.”
To that end, Mr. Fox will soon be dispatched to other American cities in search of value among the historically extortionate sectors of the service industry: spas, valet parking and room service.
Representatives for Town & Country said Mr. Fox could not be reached for comment. He is said to be headed to Los Angeles for his next assignment. Pressed for details about his identity, Mr. Fielden said, “He’s a talking fox who thinks he’s human—what else do you need to know?”
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