Dark Angel of The Hills

If your head isn’t spinning yet, get this: Ms. Cutrone is trying to set up Demian with Whitney Port. “I was like, ‘Paul, if I get Whitney to marry Demian, will you come and direct an episode of The Hills?’ That would be the ultimate Warhol thing, right? To get fucking Paul to do an episode of The Hills would be amaaaaazing!”

“I’ve been very impressed with how
she’s doing,” allowed Mr. Morrissey the other day, reached at home in New York. “I’ve seen one episode of The Hills and she’s as natural as they come. That’s what she’s like in real life.” Said Ms. Cutrone: “Paul and I laugh, ’cause we were all kind of freaks in the Warhol family, and Demian’s, like, the next generation of these people who are kind of hooked into this thing.”

Ms. Cutrone likes to say she has lived her life backward: marriage, then kid, then all-white furniture in her apartment. But there is also an element of déjà vu to her present situation: She owned her first PR firm when she was in her 20s, after stints as PR doyenne Susan Blond’s assistant and, later, as Bob Guccione’s rep at Spin.

The story of how this happened is the stuff of New York myth. Just weeks after moving to New York at age 21 from Syracuse, where she was raised, she met writer and bon vivant Anthony Haden-Guest at a garden party. She moved into his apartment, she explained casually, after being evicted from her own, on Avenue C. He thought she needed a job, and introduced her to über-publicist Ms. Blond. (Ronnie Cutrone also takes credit for this introduction, saying he figured she’d be a great publicist because “she was always on the telephone, nonstop!”) She got hired.

“She was an accident waiting to happen,” recalled Mr. Cutrone. The couple first met at a club called Carmelita, in a former whorehouse. “She was wild, ambitious, volatile, sexual. Sex and the City looks like a ridiculous joke compared to what Kelly was! Plfffffft!” Early in their courtship, Mr. Cutrone found a gram of coke in a jacket Ms. Cutrone had borrowed. He himself was clean at the time, he said. “I’m like, what the hell! Kelly tracked me down at my building and woke up two gay guys, looking for the coke or me, and then eventually she did find us, but there it was—sex and drugs in one pretty picture.” (“I was out that night,” admitted Ms. Cutrone.) They soon moved in together, and got married. She was 22.

“We’d go to dinners with people, and we’d go home and I’d say, ‘That man was nice, who is he?’ And Ronnie would be like, ‘That’s Tim Leary,’” recalled Ms. Cutrone. “It was an amazing time in New York.”

After her stints with Ms. Blond and at Spin, she formed her own company, Cutrone & Weinberg, with a former Susan Blond intern named Jason Weinberg, now a prominent talent manager in L.A. They represented Eartha Kitt; Mark Ronson and his first band, Whole Earth Mamas, which also included Sean Lennon; and the Smithereens. But Ms. Cutrone was miserable.

“I owned a successful PR company—sound familiar?” she said. “And I just really felt like I was part of that ‘Don’t you know who I am,’ kind of club, and I bought into this world and I had this money and I had this kind of thing going on. I was using drugs to keep up with my life.”

Later in her 20s, she sold Mr. Weinberg her half of the company and became a tarot card reader on Venice Beach. Right on the beach. By the Hare Krishnas. She stayed for a year and a half. Her mother was concerned, but she was happy. “I was just doing full-on meditation all the time,” she said. “A lot of people that get out of PR do very bizarre things.”

But PR called her back. She began repping the Wasteland, a used-clothing store in L.A. The Sunset Marquis soon followed.

“She came to the hotel, I interviewed her,” recalled Rod Gruendyke, the hotel’s general manager. “She had her head shaved. I thought this was kind of interesting. A few weeks later, I had her come back, and this time she had blue dreadlocks. About three weeks went by and I called her again, and she showed up this time in an Armani suit, and I hired her on the spot.”

Ms. Cutrone moved her company back to New York in 1999, keeping a satellite office in L.A.

“I wouldn’t want 80 percent of [powerhouse fashion firm] KCD’s roster,” she insisted. “I would never rep Versace, I can’t stand her, I think she makes disgusting clothes. Calvin [Klein] is like, snore! Who wears Calvin Klein? I’m not dissing him. I think he’s built an amazing, respectable business, but I would never want to work for Calvin Klein, ever.” Her own stable of clients is heavy on up-and-comers and not the most high-end in the business, but she said it was consciously curated based on whom she thought deserved “a voice.”

 

A FEW DAYS AFTER dinner at the Soho Grand, Us Weekly reported that Whitney Port was about to get her own Hills spinoff, in which she’d go bicoastal, work for People’s Revolution in New York (which sounds strangely like the official description of The Hills’ season four) and befriend New York socialites like Olivia Palermo (for whom Ms. Cutrone worked briefly last year when the young woman was suffering a spate of bad publicity). That afternoon, armed with a huge C.O. Bigelow bag, Ms. Cutrone rushed into her office, which is manned by two assistants who sit directly across from her at a massive white recycled table-desk. Behind her seat hung an enormous black-and-white portrait of Ava, shot by Ms. Mark.

“This thing just broke on Perez Hilton; my fucking cell phone is ringing off the hook,” Ms. Cutrone said. “Obviously, I’m not too busy to buy face cream! I’m at the age when people try to be helpful, but they’re mean.”

Us Weekly sat open beside her Mac laptop, open to the relevant page.

She pulled up Perez Hilton on her computer and studied the screen. “I guess that thing ran and I’m everybody’s best friend now,” she mused. “Let’s get [Radar writer] Neel Shah on the phone.” One of her assistants sprung into action.

Dark Angel of The Hills