Mina and Me
Three years ago, Mina Otsuka moved to Manhattan from Tokyo, without knowing anyone, to learn English. Now she has a job in corporate finance, studies fashion at Parsons after work, and after that ….
“Party,” Ms. Otsuka said in a cab heading down Park Avenue on a Wednesday night. “Banker, student and partier. Party girl!”
Ms. Otsuka exploded onto the scene two years ago, when she started dating Ivan Wilzig, one of two banker brothers who built (and put up for sale) a lavish castle in
Last summer, at Ms. Otsuka’s and Mr. Wilzig’s “Bunny Birthday Ball” in the Hamptons, everyone had to wear bunny ears and tails and eat carrots. The party was featured in a documentary called Manhattan on the Beach .
“I’m famous for bunny,” Ms. Otsuka said as the cab arrived at the Park, a new restaurant in Chelsea. She had on pink sunglasses, a pink chiffon ruffled blouse, black chiffon pants and alligator boots.
Inside the Park, photographer Patrick McMullan squeezed Ms. Otsuka. “Banker by day, glamour girl by night,” he said. “The thing is, someone like Mina, there’s no resting. Resting is when you die.”
“I don’t sleep,” Ms. Otsuka said. “Sometimes I don’t sleep and go to work.” (Told about Ms. Otsuka’s predicament, an exiting John Waters, the film director, offered this advice: “Black beauties!”)
At the table, Ms. Otsuka said her father owns a parking garage in Tokyo. She began modeling as a child. She was a good student in high school, but got into trouble for wearing miniskirts. Japan was strict; she thought, I can’t live in Japan . Luckily, she’d saved up “lots” of money that her parents gave her.
“So when I say, ‘I’m going to go to New York,’ they said no, because they’re scared about guns and the people are different,” Ms. Otsuka said. But she won out. “I think my proper goal is New York,” she said confidently.
Foie gras and more champagne arrived.
“Who is having the most fun in New York?” I asked her.
I’d heard she got naked last Halloween at a gladiator-themed party and jumped into the swimming pool.
“No, I was not in a swimming pool,” she said. “The
I’d heard she once gave a list of 10 guys she wanted to sleep with to Mr. Wilzig, her boyfriend. She laughed hard, loudly, hysterically. “Who said that?” she asked. “It was joking–for like a birthday party, a gang-bang party. A gang-bang party! You know gang bang? No, we were joking around with friends and someone said, ‘O.K., let’s have gang-bang party for Mina!’ And then I said, you know, ‘Gang-Bang Night!'”
She erupted again. “No real list, unfortunately. It was a joke. Maybe this year!”
So no sex parties, no drugs?
“No! Just bunny party! Ha-ha-ha-ha! Innocent. Innocent little bunny.”
There have been many suitors after Ms. Otsuka. At one restaurant, she was introduced to a movie star and told he was “trendy.”
“He looked like a normal person.” she said. Ms. Otsuka said she teased him about the way he ate steak, and then she went to the ladies’ room. When she got out, the movie star was waiting for her. “He said, ‘Mina, come over,’ and he pulled me to another room. In a closet. It was dark! And he said, ‘ Shh-hhh !’ And he said, ‘Show me your breasts.’ I don’t remember what I said, ah-ha-ha-ha-ha! It was a big closet and a little light between the door. So if I take top off, he can’t see it! Ah-ha-ha! I show him my arm from sleeves, and through the light, ah-ha! And he goes crazy!”
So then what?
“And he tried to touch me. And I said, ‘If you try to touch me, I’m going to scream.’ And people were outside saying, ‘Where is he?’ But he said, ‘ Shh-hh !’ Ha-ha!”
Dessert arrived. “I love strawberries,” she said.
Ms. Otsuka returned to the story about the movie star. “I had his zipper was down, ha-ha! Ha-ha! Ha! And he begged me, ‘Please,’ ha-ha! Ha! Ah-ha-ha!”
Lisa Kao, a 22-year-old dental hygienist, appeared and sat down. The two met at a benefit in Greenwich, Conn., and will soon be roommates. Ms. Kao, who is half Taiwanese, shared some theories about Asian women.
“Asian women are very pure, they’re very natural, they don’t wear a lot of makeup; they’re not too flashy, and men love that,” Ms. Kao said.
Any thoughts on white American women?
“You’re talking about like trash, trailer-park trash?” Ms. Kao said, causing Ms. Otsuka to erupt. “They’re not themselves; they’re not as natural. They’re try too hard … they’re just following magazines.”
Soon, Ms. Otsuka finished up her story about the actor in the closet.
“The zipper?” she said. “I don’t know–it was so dark, I didn’t see anything. And he pulled my hand and something became hard. End of the story. Climax!”
Later, at the midtown nightclub Light, Mr. Strauss, the party promoter, was sitting in the V.I.P. section. Right above him, Ms. Otsuka was shaking and gyrating.
“It’s complete energy all the time,” Mr. Strauss said. “She motivates any party ….”
He made it clear it wasn’t an Asian thing. It was a Mina Otsuka thing.
“She grooves, she rocks,” he continued. “There are a lot of stories I can’t tell, but the … constant decadence, always a crew of beautiful women with her …. She creates a party, even if it’s on a banquette or on the main dance floor …. She’s very confident with her sexuality.”
Is she the hottest girl in New York?
“She’s Top 10 sexy, I’ll tell you that.”
Mighty Joe Youngman
On a recent evening at Luna Lounge, a Lower East Side club, comic Patrick Borelli did what nearly every comic, at one point in his or her career, has considered doing. That night, the Luna Lounge was hosting an audition for an upcoming comedy showcase at Irving Plaza, and Mr. Borelli–eager for some extra laughs, anxious at the prospect of fame, perhaps filled with a little extra hubris–decided to employ the services of a … monkey. “I thought that would be the balls,” Mr. Borelli recalled later. “No one can compete against a monkey.”
Using the Internet, Mr. Borelli, 29, located a Long Island monkey owner who agreed to escort a capuchin monkey–the kind David Schwimmer used to pal around with on Friends –to the Luna Lounge on Monday, April 2. Mr. Borelli met the capuchin for several preshow meetings, and when he arrived at the Ludlow Street club for his act, he found his buddy–unfazed by the crowd and smoke–already charming the gathered comedians, climbing on their shoulders and unleashing contented, birdlike coos.
Mr. Borelli intended to use the monkey as a sidekick, a simian Ed McMahon, as he performed his routine in a tuxedo. But that pairing was not meant to be. When Mr. Borelli approached his monkey companion at the Luna Lounge and extended a hand, the monkey shrieked and vaulted onto the comic’s head, whereupon it plunged its needle-sharp teeth into his right ear. This was a room full of downtown comics, however–so before panic ensued, there was brief competitive wonderment if the attack upon Mr. Borelli represented what fellow comic Paul Sullivan termed the “ultimate alternative-comedy performance.”
But it was the real thing. Mr. Borelli’s monkey-inflicted wound merited 12 stitches at Beth Israel Hospital, where–as he later told a crowd during a recent post-attack comeback performance at the Gershwin Hotel–you could imagine the pained jokes. Asked by the Beth Israel E.R. staff how a guy in a tuxedo wound up with an ear that looked as if it had met Mike Tyson, Mr. Borelli said he deadpanned: “I had a bad prom.”
Back at the Luna Lounge, Mr. Borelli’s colleagues were worried for his health. Kind of. “We really hoped he’d be O.K.,” said comedian Ritch Duncan. “So that we could laugh at him for the next 72 years.”
Sure enough, the attack upon Mr. Borelli has already wiggled its way into the city’s comic lore. Another comedian, Adam Felber, has coined a new phrase–”rented a monkey”–to described what he termed “all stupid and dangerous but nonetheless admirably over-the-top and undeniably attention-getting comedic ploys.” To wit: “Did you see that guy shave with spray cheese and a straight razor? Boy, he really rented a monkey on that one!”
Naomi Frisch, who is co-producing the upcoming comedy show at Irving Plaza, declined to comment when asked if Mr. Borelli, after all his suffering, might get a spot on the roster. But, Ms. Frisch added, “we’d like to offer one to the monkey.”
– Lynn Harris