Last night, at the space-themed party for The Astronaut Wives Club, the bar on the roof of the James Hotel had clearly been selected for its astronomic views. Its rooftop pool rests on a dizzying peninsula of concrete, jutting out into the SoHo skyline like some kind of urban launch-pad.
A woman dressed as a skimpy astronaut strutted past vases full of tiny, globe pattern chocolates and mothball candy. As she walked, a gaggle of single men quizzed her earnestly on space travel.
“I’m just an accessory,” she replied, rather cheerfully, grabbing one of the many vodka and Tangs (what else?) that were circulating.
The 60s theme continued with the author herself, Ms. Koppel, sporting a towering beehive and wing-tip glasses. Pictures of the space-wives were projected onto a column. She could’ve joined them without anyone batting a kohl framed eyelid.
The videos stopped as Ms. Koppel and the party organizer, literary maven Brooke Geahan, took center stage. Expecting some patter about the book, the conversation instead focused on how the members of the audience each had the opportunity to go up into space for an hour or so as a tourist, starting next year. Turns out the whole event was sponsored by Space Expedition Corporation, Virgin Galactic’s quieter, and only, competition in space tourism.
“The best thing about it is that it’s just you and the pilot up there,” Ms. Geahan said, as if she’d already been catapulted into the stratosphere.
“I’ll stay on earth thanks,” we heard one businessman mutter under his breath.
Getting back to the book, Ms. Koppel, the author of the best-selling Red Leather Diaries, told The Observer about why the astronauts’ wives were to thank for making space travel “As American as Coca-Cola and apple pie.”
The book covers the story of a group of women who were transformed overnight from military housewives into beloved celebrities. It’s a remarkable tale. Ms. Koppel looks at the pressures put upon the women by a society that expected them to project perfection, and how their camaraderie, and ability to keep a secret or two along the way, got them through it.
As the night progressed, and the Tang kept flowing, a cavalcade of random celebrities turned up, including the decidedly non-space themed inclusion of soccer player David Bellion and record producer Andres Levin.
On our way out we took a last look at the far away moon, which seemed to have been placed like another accessory.