The first time The Observer met Niki and Shaokao Cheng, it was July, during the opening night of Julio Gaggia’s art show. Mr. Gaggia, the boyfriend of the plastic surgeon Mark Warfel, was preparing his work “Living Art: Chelsea Boy Apartment,” during which he would live for five days as a window display model at the BoConcept furniture store on West 18th Street. He spent the week eating, sleeping, working—and performing other, less-mentionable activities—in a showroom that divided him from gawkers outside with a pane of glass.
While we lounged about on the display furniture, socialite photographer Patrick McMullan brought over a petite woman with short, pixie-cropped hair.
“Niki is one of the few Power Asians in New York society,” he loudly whispered, flourishing Ms. Cheng before us. She smiled shyly and posed for a photograph before excusing herself.
It would be two weeks before we realized that Ms. Cheng and her husband owned the store where we had dropped more than one canapé between the cushions of a $3,000 couch.
In fact, the couple owns all five locations of the Danish furniture store in New York City, and another two in New Jersey. But the stores themselves aren’t the reason Mr. McMullan calls the Chengs “Power Asians.” Rather, it’s the couple’s seemingly innate social instincts, their ability to leverage a fairly cookie-cutter, mid-market design base into a celebrity-filled social whirl. One might say “Only in America,” or (even worse) “Only in New York,” but this wouldn’t exactly cover it. There is a certain type that thrives in Manhattan no matter what they’re selling, no matter where they’re from, no matter how few resources they have upon arriving.
It Takes a Village
Fran Liebowitz, Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick, Thurston Moore and John Zorn—many are the successful artists and intellectuals who have spoken up (unsuccessfully so far, it must be said) against NYU’s Greenwich Village expansion plans. Now, Susan Sarandon has chimed in, or rather tweeted in, her support, specifically for the show Messrs. Moore and Zorn are hosting tonight at Le Poisson Rouge.
Spring Arts Preview
“You and I can get started and Jay will join us,” Mark Duplass told The Observer, so we began the interview. “You’ll realize we share the same brain anyway.”
The Louisiana-born Messrs. Duplass, who now live in Los Angeles, direct films together; they are perhaps the most prominent Americans who fit that description since Joel Read More
The Transom stood at the end of a $40,000 ping-pong table inside Grand Central Terminal’s Vanderbilt Hall, paddle in hand. Two players representing Verizon (a self-described “M&A guy” and “venture capital guy”) stood at the other side, ready to spar. Fittingly, the table (an all-black “collector’s piece”) was the practice surface for that afternoon’s event, a Wall Street ping-pong tournament benefiting Big Brothers, Big Sisters of New York City.
Brooklyn has basically turned into one big celebrity orgy. With a recent influx of Hollywoodians, the borough has become the new Soho, Tribeca and Chelsea combined.
Today, we stumbled upon yet another star-studded transaction: Susan Sarandon has just purchased at 334 Grand Avenue in Clinton Hill. And, believe it or not, Ms. Sarandon isn’t the only bold-faced name on the deed. The home was sold by Danny Simmons, a poet, artist and older brother to Russell and Rev Run.
Occupy Wall Street
Last night, Talib Kweli stopped by Zuccotti Park for a rhyme. “Here with the 99 percent,” Mr. Kweli tweeted. At the protest, he used the human mic to amplify a short speech. “They want to know what the end game is?”
“THEY WANT TO KNOW WHAT THE END GAME IS,” echoed the crowd.
“This is the end game.”
“THIS IS THE END GAME.”
The protest at Occupy Wall Street is drawing random acts of celebrity from Richard Simmons to Susan Sarandon to Lupe Fiasco and Immortal Technique. Yesterday, actress Justine Bateman and musician Ted Leo were there. On Wednesday’s march, Mike Meyers attempted to blend into the crowd. On Tuesday, the reclusive Jeff Magnum from Neutral Milk Hotel appeared.
At the Highline
Roller skating is no laughing matter. Or so, at least, said Rick Casalino as he danced towards The Observer yesterday morning.
“It’s so important, and also increasingly difficult, to expose people to roller skating these days,” said Mr. Casalino, who has skated two or three times a week since 1988. “There are so few good Read More
Back in 2004, Playboy asked Susan Sarandon to pose for the magazine—at the tender age of 58. She turned down the nudie mag, but that does not mean she isn’t a penthouse pet. It was only two weeks ago that Ms. Sarandon won ownership of her long-time New York loft from ex-lover Tim Robbins, yet she has already found another home.
1991 was a good year for Susan Sarandon. Thelma and Louise came out, landing her on the cover of Time magazine with Gina Davis, and she and long-time partner Tim Robbins, who had finished shooting Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever, had just purchased a Chelsea loft at 147 West 15th Street, near Seventh Avenue. As the couple Read More
Beautiful women bombarded The Observer this past week at the premiere for Jack Goes Boating (Philip Seymour Hoffman‘s directorial debut) and a screening of Desert Flower (which tells the story of Somalian model Waris Dirie), despite less-than-optimal weather at both screenings. Makeup guru Bobbi Brown came to Desert Flower prepared with tips for dressing in Read More