American football wasn’t to our liking this season. It wasn’t the violence (we’ve been in a few head-bashing relationships) nor the length of the game (Shindigger can sit through four-hour Zeffirelli operas and U.S. Open matches.) Rather, it was the “spirited” (read: drunken) fans who invaded our fine city and the transforming of New York into one big NFL-themed casino.
“I enjoy the Super Bowl ads,” model Elettra Wiedemann confessed to Shindigger at an intimate dinner she hosted on behalf of Ruffino Winery’s new “Modus” blend. “My husband likes to watch it,” she continued, before explaining that she wouldn’t be attending any big Super Bowl parties. “It’s a nice excuse to stay home and cuddle up.”
Rather than sit on the sidelines, Shindigger decided to cash in on those silly, star-studded, booze-soaked functions thrown by corporate sponsors.
Our first foray into the end zone took place at Skylight West, where Deadspin toasted Jaguar’s first-ever Super Bowl commercial (for its new F-Type Coupe.) There, we pounced on Colin Kaepernick, the sturdy quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. “I’ll do my best to get us there next year,” Mr. Kaepernick lamented about not making the Super Bowl this year. Later, Jaguar would partner with Sports Illustrated and Diageo for a blowout at Skylight Modern with Wyclef Jean headlining.
“Tony Dorsett is the greatest player of all time!” Mr. Jean declared to us at the weekend jaunt. “I started collecting cards at age 7, and he was my first.”
On Friday, Shindigger traipsed to Cipriani 42nd Street for Shape and Men’s Fitness’ Super Bowl Kickoff Party.
The extravagant affair began as a chaotic disappointment, as guests struggled to navigate the crowded table arrangements.
“This is kinda fucked!” barked one handler to a football player. “You guys are basically running the party, and nobody has a seat for you.”
Master of ceremonies Jeff Ross, with his painfully awkward uncomedic touch, only made things worse.
“We’re gonna laugh and drink and go home and make sweet love to each other,” he began, before fumbling a series of wisecracks directed at notable guests.
Shindigger longed for Stephen Colbert, who sat somewhere in the audience, to take over, but our emcee carried on.
“Harvey, you’re drinking tonight, yeah? You’re having some fun? Good for you, You’re looking fantastic!” Mr. Ross yelled at Harvey Weinstein, who got up and booked without so much as considering his appetizer.
“Which team do you hope wins?” Shindigger asked Mr. Weinstein as he stormed past our table. (We were hoping he said, “Meryl Streep,” as well as to find out who was actually playing.)
“I want it to be the toughest, greatest Super Bowl game ever,” he purred huskily into our ear. Shindigger’s watchful eyes never spied “co-host” Robert De Niro, but we did spot Spike Lee enjoying a glass of Montalcino with his cold lobster and haricots verts. Meanwhile, Katie Couric caught up with gal pal Giada de Laurentiis, the pair giggling endlessly before dinner.
Once dinner was served and the musical headliners began, attendees began truly enjoying the moment. Mary J. Blige gave the set of a lifetime, putting every ounce of vocal might into an over-the-top performance.
“Ladies, we are built to struggle!” she preached to her female fans, oft neglected during the Super Bowl folly. “I just wanna let you know you are a good woman and they can’t keep us down.”
For dinner, attendees dined to John Legend, whose stage presence paired perfectly with the Wagyu strip loin steak and branzino.
“Mary was ridiculous. I don’t know how she does it,” marveled TV personality and former NFL player Terry Crews.
“Who are you rooting for this weekend?” Shindigger pressed, explaining we needed some guidance for our wagers (and still waiting to find out who was playing).
“I just wanna see a good game,” he grinned while putting on his fur-lined coat. “I have too many friends in the NFL.”
As the evening wore on, many attendees shuffled out rather than wait for Marc Anthony to perform.
“It was awesome,” hurriedly raved Nicole “Coco” Austin of Ms. Blige’s gig. She and husband Ice-T were in a rush to ESPN’s jamboree, which featured performances by Robin Thicke, Jermaine Dupri and Kendrick Lamar.
“We’re friends of the family,” Ice-T explained. “Kendu Isaacs [Ms. Blige’s husband and manager] and I grew up together, so every time we see Mary J., it’s gonna be incredible! You ain’t got to even worry.” The couple made a beeline for the door.
“Maybe we should have gone to the ESPN party,” grumbled one party reporter at Shindigger’s table, expressing a frustrated ambivalence felt by many. Should one bet on Maxim’s all-night slop fest at 42nd Street’s Atelier space? What about GQ’s fiesta at the Boom Boom Room? Shindigger had faith and decided to wait a few more minutes.
“I’m gonna give you the same amount of show, if not more,” Mr. Anthony pledged backstage before security ushered us back to our seats. As the Latin star burst into a mix of salsa tunes, Shindigger moved on to our last stop: the Playboy 60th anniversary celebration at what it dubbed the Bud Light Hotel Lounge (God help us—not a pinot noir in sight), which was actually a colossal cruise ship parked at Pier 86. The big pull there was a late-night concert by rapper Nelly.
Shindigger arrived to find Evander Holyfield posing with Playmates, Estelle making the rounds to a V.I.P. section and Solange Knowles delighting hundreds of inebriated revelers with a magical deejay set. Yet by 3 a.m., we had become restless and headed for the door.
“ESPN would have been so much better than waiting for Nelly until fucking 3 a.m.!” one extremely intoxicated partygoer screeched as we passed the main bar, which was constructed completely out of ice.
“Dude, who cares? We’re at a Playboy party!” came the retort.
Shindigger doesn’t recall ever looking forward to Monday with such passion.