In a cordoned-off gold nook of the Boom Boom Room, Zach Galifinakis slouched on a mushrooming sofa with Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Olivia Wilde. He was wearing a striped sweater and… was it a Muppets baseball cap? Could that be possible? Things seemed hazy. Olivia Palermo–or was it Gossip Girl‘s Amanda Setton?–came by to say hello. And was that really Alessandra Ambrosio, Victoria’s Secret bombshell, who bummed that cigarette off us in the sliver of a glass-bottom smoking patio?
Wait. What happened Monday at the party for the premiere of The Hangover Part II?
Things began innocently enough, at a dive bar across the street where the girls wear U.S.A. bikinis, heckle customers with a megaphone and blast country music from beaten-in speakers that seem stolen from a football tailgate.
“It’s gonna be a wild night, mate,” said a writer for the New York Post, who was The Observer‘s wingman for the occasion.
They lifted beers, fully aware of the parallels with the film being feted that evening, and clinked glasses. The pregame spot was Hogs & Heifers, the last vestige of dirt and crass in the meatpacking district. Yes, the two had decided, a heaping of taxidermy and J. Geils Band is exactly the fix before zooming up sixteen stories to the Boom Boom Room.
The two places complement each other. The Standard’s marquee lounge feigns not an ounce of modesty, with its big splashy gilded buttresses exploding from the bar. The Boom Boom Room has the cathedral church organ of bars, and the elevator features an installation by the Italian artist Marco Brambilla.
Hogs & Heifers says fuck your art installation. Hogs & Heifers says, “We have a terrifying bundle of old dirty bras amassed above shelves of gut-rotting liquor, that’s our cathedral church organ.”
With Mars Bar and Max Fish set to spill their last drinks, it’s a wonder that a place as corrosive and vile and deliriously fun has managed to hold its ground–in the meatpacking, no less! It’s gloriously filthy. If you’re wearing a tie they make you take it off at the door. There’s a jukebox that must be broken; don’t go unless you’re looking for the kind of night that involves listening to “Mustang Sally” many, many times.
One of the bartenders, clad in a red, white and blue bra, started screaming into an enormous megaphone at three girls standing near a stuffed deer, taking pictures.
“If you’ve got them flashes going off, from three girls dressed like y’all on a Monday night, you’d better be dancing on the bar when they’re going off,” she yelled through the speaker.
The three girls let out a Woooo! thinking the mic-toting bartendress was kidding. She wasn’t. So with beers knocked back, The Observer walked across the street to the Standard, where Zach Braff and Mr. Helms rode up the elevator, but didn’t bother to glance at the blobs and squiggles of Mr. Brambilla’s installation.
The Observer kept the champagne steady, plucked pint-size croque monsieur sandwiches, and chatted with guests about a topic we would find amusing in the morning.
“Have you ever drank so much you blacked out?” The Observer asked James Van Der Beek.
“I’ve had fuzzy memories,” he admitted. “But I always end up being a pretty responsible drunk.”
Small-screen chef Bobby Flay sat beside one of the panoramic windows.
“Have I ever blacked out? I don’t remember! It’s definitely possible. I’m sure it’s happened…”
“I was told I commandeered a luggage cart from a hotel lobby in Washington, D.C., and rode it down a city street,” the buttoned-up Ed Helms told The Observer. “I have no recollection of it.”
And you, Ms. Palermo, have you ever drank so much you blacked out?
“Oh, um, no, I’m sorry.”
Todd Phillips, the film’s director, was in an accelerated program at the school of not remembering.
“I was 11 years old and I drank a case of wine coolers with my friend, like 12 of them,” he said. “I think it was Bartles & Jaymes. We might have slept together, I don’t even remember.”
Mr. Galifinakis, who arrived late and stayed ensconced in that roped lounge, seemed dazed by the bright and noisy Boom Boom Room. It was no Hogs & Heifers.
“I haven’t been there in a long, long time,” he said to The Observer. “Right down here, right?”
There was talk about maybe heading there afterward. He said perhaps. And, to make up for whatever did or didn’t happen at the Standard, The Observer just imagined they ended up back at Hogs & Heifers, where he had started hours before, heckled by bartenders in swimsuits.