The View From the 45th Floor

Dinner was winding up at the Interview-sponsored New Museum Spring Gala at 7 World Trade Center, and an influx of new guests, given miniature bells on wire to hang from their clothes as party favors, braved the vertiginous 45-story elevator trip to the bar. The crowd was a healthy mix of artists and society types in airy spring dresses, gravitating mothlike to the windows, which showcased stunning views of downtown. The group leaving dinner, too, mixed with the newcomers with relative ease; Stefano Tonchi, of W, was among the social butterflies paying homage to the artists Gilbert and George.

The dapper older gentlemen, who’d been honored for their striking artworks and their long-standing partnership, were the evening’s biggest draw. Mr. Tonchi encouraged us to talk dirty to the artists: “You need to get something–not very reverent!” He joined the dinner guests wandering out of the dining room, some grabbing bite-size tarts and brownies from waiters before their after-dinner drink. We tried to catch director John Waters’ eye, but he, too, pushed us toward Gilbert and George. “They’re great. Why talk to me?”

We were hesitant to put Mr. Tonchi’s advice to the test, and started with what we thought was an anodyne question. Considering that there were copies of Interview, with the rapper Lil Wayne on the cover, strewn over tables throughout the room, who would the pair choose to interview? “The Pope!” declared George Passmore, the British half of the art duo. “Interrogate him! Take him to The Hague!” added Gilbert Proesch, the Italian half. Changing the subject, we asked if the pair had enjoyed the evening. Mr. Proesch gestured wordlessly at his award.
We bumped into Art Production Fund co-founder Yvonne Force Villareal, in beige Dolce & Gabbana. Whom would she interview? Ms. Villareal paused for a length of time that blossomed from natural to uncomfortable to transcendent, twice interrupting her thinking to speak to well-wishers leaving dinner, and a third time to comment on the frequent sound of breaking glass as revelers dropped their drinks. “Gloria Steinem,” she decided, having admitted that she’s already met most of her idols. “Farrah Fawcett was one of my heroes–and we became good friends.”

Caught leaving for the dance floor, jewelry designer Genevieve Jones attempted to shun the spotlight. “There are so many better people to talk to!” Thus presuming Ms. Jones to be an expert on interesting conversation, we asked whom she’d interview, but she was stymied: “Is this, like, real? Meet me in an hour and I’ll tell you.” We weren’t quite sure where she’d be in an hour, so we pressed. “O.K. I’d talk to my dog. She has a voice in my dreams, and she understands me, understands what’s going on in my body.” Ms. Jones, in a black plunging top and blue Armani shorts, leaned in to speak to us, her jeweled Swarovski belt picking up the light off the dance floor’s crystal curtains. “Be sure to edit!” she urged us.

Finally out on the floor, we stepped toward the bar, nearly colliding with Jeff Koons. Who would he interview? “Jimmy Page and Robert Plant.” Why? “I’ve always enjoyed Zeppelin.” Somebody call an Interview editor!

Marc Jacobs ex Lorenzo Martone and model Julie Henderson sipped water together on the floor, their backs to DJ Alexandra Richards as she spun Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the U.S.A.” Mr. Martone wore striking graffiti-print Louis Vuitton sneakers–could this mean all was well, at last, on the home front? “We’re very good friends, but I don’t talk about my personal life.” Mr. Martone doesn’t mind talking public-works projects, though: “The memories people had are gone and not gonna come back,” he said of Ground Zero. “We shouldn’t build something where people live or work in. I would just put sculpture!” As for his contribution to our hypothetical Interview, Mr. Martone was also interested in communing with the ghost of Cleopatra. “She’s pretty intriguing!”

The Grindhouse actress Rose McGowan, striking in super-short sky-blue Dolce & Gabbana, was eager to play. “Do I get more than one? Goody! I’d talk to Anne Boleyn, Leonardo da Vinci, Cary Grant–but that’s cheating, because I’d just like to make out with him.”

Her friend, the designer Brian Wolk, cut in to share his thoughts. “Andy Warhol predicted the contemporary culture. In terms of digital–he would’ve been Twittering this whole evening!” The Observer mentioned Warhol’s work with Interview, and Ms. McGowan cut us off. “Interview magazine? I’ve been on their cover twice!” She bid us farewell. The Observer passed by a worker sweeping up a pile of broken glass, and into the elevator that would take us back down to earth.

Edited by Daisy Prince

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The View From the 45th Floor