Celebrities—they’re just like us! Okay, not really, but some small aspects of their lives are kind of like some small aspects of our lives, even if these small, overlapping aspects of our lives do not usually involve real estate. Unless, of course, it’s the squalid apartment that the celebrity lived before he or she was a celebrity, like William Shatner’s old, ramshackle house in Hastings-on-Hudson. Mostly, these reminiscences have a strong undertone of “can you believe that someone like me lived in someplace like this?”
And we look around at our own sad, squalid apartments and ask ourselves the same question, but we know the answer to that question which is that no one is surprised you live in a place like this and probably never will be.
In any event, imagine our pleasant surprise when we were reading The New York Times and learned that Rufus Wainwright is famous and he still has a small, cluttered apartment with bad light. That he keeps his blinds drawn most of the time because his look out onto brick walls. And that his bed, like almost every bed we’ve ever had, only offers egress from two of the four sides. “It’s a total dump,” Mr. Wainwright told The Times, betraying that oh-so-familiar disbelief.
The Gramercy Park apartment is only about 450 square feet, according to The Times and what’s more he shares it with his husband Jörn Weisbrodt. Mr. Wainwright bought the apartment in 2002, when he was in the process of making it, but had not really made it, at a point in his career when making it meant buying a dark, small space and littering it with cigarette butts as he wrote his music.
Of course, the apartment is not quite like the dingy hovel we live in—The Times tells us that its walls have been recently papered with prints by Zuber, a favorite of Jackie Kennedy, and that the couple continues to use two chairs made by a close friend with a store on Melrose Avenue, and that they decided to move back into the apartment after renting a larger one in Chelsea because they are spending more time in Montauk these days. It is, in other words, a pied-a-terre. Which is, in a word, why Rufus Wainwright’s small, dark apartment is nothing like our small, dark apartments.