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The world according to

PADMA LAKSHMI


Model Residence 26H 2,221 Sq Ft 3 Bedrooms 3 Bathrooms

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CONTENTS JULY–AUG. 202O VOL.43 NO.4

44

THE WORLD ACCORDING TO PADMA LAKSHMI

The fashion and culinary star talks to Ben Widdicombe about New York, family, and her new television series celebrating America’s diverse food culture. Photographs by Kristian Schuller. 50

TIME & TIDE

The chicest, sportiest summer watches, by Roberta Naas. Photo-collages by Martin Vallin. 54

FIRE IN THE SKY

The colorful history of fireworks in New York and the pyrotechnic brilliance of the Grucci family, by George Rush. 60

FEUD NETWORK

Horacio Silva recalls eight legendary rivalries among New York’s power players that caused spectacular fireworks. 64

GIVING SEASON

Aria Darcella reports on how New York’s philanthropists responded decisively to COVID-19, and what this means for other city institutions.

KRISTIAN SCHULLER/BLAUBLUT EDITONS

68

PRETTY SICK

Illness has often shaped our cultural ideals of beauty. Harriet Mays Powell examines consumptive chic and other fashionable maladies. 72

THE EYES HAVE IT

Our unusual summer has presented unique challenges for beauty entrepreneurs and consumers, writes Jillian Magenheim.

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Culinary star Padma Lakshmi

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VERNISSAGE

Avenue’s insider preview of all that’s new and noteworthy: the fight for a hair appointment as NYC reopens; the heiress organizing digital discos; and how red-carpet events are social distancing. By Horacio Silva.

BUY CURIOUS

A patriotic fashion spread celebrating red, white, and blue. Plus, everything under the sun to stand out from the tanning crowd at the pool or beach. By Horacio Silva. 24

HEIR CARE

Ben Widdicombe reports on the curse of TikTok and how parents can protect their children. 26

PARADISE FOUND: Chris Benz photographed in his Bellport garden.

CULTURE

Judd Tully reports on the new art world order for international auctions and galleries; Angela M.H. Schuster considers the pandemicwrought risk for mega-gallery expansions in Chelsea, and talks to power dealer Iwan

Wirth of Hauser & Wirth about navigating—and thriving in—the art world’s new normal; Heather Hodson interviews Amanda Brainerd about her debut novel, set in boarding school and Manhattan in the ’80s; Aria Darcella talks to Crazy Rich Asians author Kevin Kwan about his latest book, a valentine to New York; and Ben Widdicombe recalls his days as a gossip columnist on the celebrity circuit. Plus: glossy escape tomes from Mario Testino, among others, and the best of the summer’s fiction and nonfiction.

IN THE SWIM: Hamptons instructor Gilda Dobrica

COVER: Illustration by Cecilia Carlstedt 10

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LIVING

As New York continues to practice social distancing, the Hamptons has become even more of a relaxing safe haven than usual. Heather Hodson interviews J.Crew’s Chris Benz at his home in Bellport, and writes about the new Hamptons homesteaders. Meanwhile, Ben Widdicombe talks to the philanthropic Peebles family, and Delaina Dixon chronicles the East End’s black history and its current African American notables. Plus, Nancy Kane reports on the local museum and international art galleries upping their game in the Hamptons this summer, the East End delivery options bringing high-end cocktails and cuisine home, and the best fitness experts to help you stay healthy and lean in quarantine.



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NOTORIOUS NEW YORKERS

Meet Millicent Rogers, the larger-than-life heiress to the Standard Oil fortune, and her family’s equally fabled Port of Missing Men in North Sea. By Ambrose McGaffney.

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SEEN

Events are coming back to the Hamptons as the social set rediscovers a safe—and retro—pastime: drive-ins.

SOCIAL SKILLS

How is Prince Harry adjusting to life in LA? Posey Wilt imagines what his first week looked like.

For our relaunched website, go to avenuemagazine.com

GILDA DOBRICA PHOTOGRAPHED BY LANDON NORDEMAN; CHRIS BENZ PHOTOGRAPHED BY JOHNNY MILLER

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AS PALM BEACH’S PROVEN LEADERS

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The Koch Team is your expert connection to the Palm Beach market. Contact this award-winning team for the latest opportunities across the Island.

Real estate agents affiliated with The Corcoran Group are independent contractors and are not employees of The Corcoran Group. Equal Housing Opportunity. The Corcoran Group is a licensed real estate broker located at 400 Royal Palm Way, Ste 110, Palm Beach, FL 33480. All information furnished regarding property for sale or rent or regarding financing is from sources deemed reliable, but Corcoran makes no warranty or representation as to the accuracy thereof. All property information is presented subject to errors, omissions, price changes, changed property conditions, and withdrawal of the property from the market, without notice. All dimensions provided are approximate. To obtain exact dimensions, Corcoran advises you to hire a qualified architect or engineer.

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W

Fireworks

Our unprecedented circumstances have been an opportunity for families to come together.

hen Avenue planned “Fireworks” as a theme for our July/August issue, we didn’t realize how different this summer would be for our community. As we explore in these pages, our unprecedented circumstances have been an opportunity for families to come together. Many traditional fireworks displays were reconsidered this year. For some of us, the summer has been a time of reflection and returning to simple pleasures, like cultivating a food garden. And many have stepped up to the COVID-19 challenge with extraordinary generosity, funding those on the frontline of the crisis. Now, many businesses have reopened. Restaurants are again welcoming guests, workers are back at their jobs, and—finally!—we can get a haircut. Life is returning to normal. Avenue celebrates achievement. In that spirit, we visit with Padma Lakshmi, who is highlighting the country’s regional cuisines in a new TV series on Hulu; Chris Benz, a fashion designer who is getting back to nature; and Don Peebles, the business leader and philanthropist, among many others. Of course, it wouldn’t be Avenue if there wasn’t also a healthy dose of fun. We hope you’ll enjoy dropping in on the novelists Amanda Brainerd and Kevin Kwan; the fireworks-making Grucci family; and some irrepressible Hamptonites attending a red-carpet film preview in their cars. Finally, to Prince Harry, all I can say is…sorry. Warmly, BEN WIDDICOMBE

Editor in Chief

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AVENUE MAGAZINE | JULY—AUGUST 2020

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D I S C OVER C O AS AST TA L LU L U X UR Y L I VI V IN G N A P L E S, F L O R I D A

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Sotheby’s International Realty® and the Sotheby’s International Realty logo are registered service marks used with permission. Each office is independently owned and operated. Equal Housing Opportunity. Property information herein is derived from various sources including, but not limited to, county records and multiple listing services, and may include approximations. All information is deemed accurate.

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EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Ben Widdicombe CREATIVE DIRECTOR

Courtney Gooch

Judd Tully (A New Art World Order, page 26), an awardwinning journalist and art critic, has been a venerable observer of the international art market and the artists who propel it since he moved to New York in the mid ’70s. Who better than Tully to write about the market’s current disruption? “The last time the art market was turned on its head was the 2008 global financial meltdown, a cross-category crisis, from old master paintings to contemporary art, that took years to right itself,” he says. “That time didn’t require a vaccine—or robust broadband—to set things straight.” Heather Hodson (American Pastoral, page 76) grew up in West Sussex in England, and, after working in the London magazine world, moved to New York in 2000, where she now lives with her husband and two children. Avenue’s Features Director, she has worked for publications, including US Harper’s Bazaar, British Vogue, the Saturday Telegraph Magazine, and Tatler. For this issue, she interviewed J.Crew’s Chris Benz at his home in Bellport. “Chris has created such a magical place, it was like something out of Howards End. I wanted to move in immediately.” Catherine G. Talese Avenue’s Photography Director comes from artistic stock, with literary giants for parents and a painter for a sister. Talese is both a photographer and an in-demand photo editor, working with publications such as GQ, Interview, Absolute, and the Wall Street Journal. A New Yorker born and bred, she stayed throughout the pandemic. “New Yorkers are social people,” she says. “In quarantine our gathering places shifted from the streets to our rooftops and windows as we found new ways to meet one another.” Landon Nordeman (Sweat Equity, page 100). The photographer, whose work is avidly collected and regularly appears in Vanity Fair, New York magazine, and the New York Times, among other publications, grew up in New York and has been sheltering in place in Southampton with his wife, their three sons, and his parents. Of photographing the fitness experts on the East End, he says: “I started the day in an unheated swimming pool, fully immersed with my underwater camera, and at the end of the day, I was chauffeured on a two-person sea kayak to take photographs out on the Peconic Bay... After quarantining for months, it was so refreshing to be back out in the world.” 14

DEPUTY & MANAGING EDITOR

Angela M.H. Schuster FEATURES DIRECTOR

Heather Hodson PHOTOGRAPHY DIRECTOR

Catherine G. Talese PRODUCTION DIRECTOR

Jessica Lee STYLE EDITOR

Horacio Silva DIGITAL FASHION EDITOR

Aria Darcella ART ASSISTANT

Daniela G. Maldonado LONDON EDITOR

Catherine St Germans PARIS EDITOR

Clemence von Mueffling CONTRIBUTING EDITORS

Alex Kuczynski, Liesl Schillinger, Katrina Brooker, Gigi Mortimer, Tracy Bross CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS

Anders Overgaard, John Huba, Mitchell Feinberg, Landon Nordeman, Martin Vallin, Mark Seelen, Scott Frances © 2020 by Cohen Media Publications LLC AVENUE MAGAZINE 750 LEXINGTON AVENUE, 16TH FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10022 EDITORIAL@AVENUEMAGAZINE.COM MEMBER OF ALLIANCE FOR AUDITED MEDIA

ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER

Betsy Jones

COHEN MEDIA PUBLICATIONS LLC CHAIRMAN

Charles S. Cohen

COURTESY OF DELAINA DIXON; JUDD TULLY BY JONATHAN SANTLOFER; HEATHER HODSON COURTESY OF CLEMENTINE CAMPBELL; CATHERINE G. TALESE BY ALLISON SCOTT; COURTESY OF LANDON NORDEMAN

Delaina Dixon (It’s All About Connection, page 94) arrived in the city in the early aughts and has since carved out a career as an entertainment journalist and television host, cofounding the lifestyle site DivaGalsDaily, the comedy series All About Eve, based on her experiences working in celebrity journalism. Dixon is currently sheltering in place with her family in their house outside Augusta, Georgia. “My bedroom here is bigger than my entire New York apartment,” she laughs. “It’s insane.”

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HIGH TOUCH: Sally Hershberger’s clients are falling over each other to get back in her chair.

Cross Hairs BY HORACIO SILVA

COURTESY OF SALLY HERSHBERGER

A

s New York reopens, one thing is clear: appointments at the city’s top hair salons are being fought over like the last seat on an eastbound Jitney. “I am being bombarded with requests,” says Sally Hershberger, the stylist to the stars, who was the first to charge $600 a haircut a few years back and has more than 1,000 people trying to get appointments at her three New York locations. “It’s insane.” So much so that this month the perennially indemand snipper is launching Supreme Head by Sally Hershberger, a concierge service for at-home appointments. “It will help with scheduling, and it’s great for those who still don’t feel safe returning to the salons for whatever reason.” According to Julien Farel, his namesake salon in the Loews Regency hotel on Park Avenue has a waiting list of 800, and counting. “We’re being as accommodating as possible,” notes the genial Frenchman, “but the demand is out of control, and people are getting very antsy.” It’s a dilemma shared by Joe Martino, the hotterthan-tongs stylist who tends to the tresses of hair icons Michelle Williams and Karen Elson. “I have people texting, emailing, and calling all day,” says Marino, adding that he refused all entreaties during the lockdown, including helicopters to Connecticut and the Hamptons. (Rare is the hairdresser who was not offered bribes during the lockdown.) Though women are making appointments to fix everything from botched home haircuts to eyebrows and pedicures, the majority of requests across the city appear to be for color corrections. “Most men don’t have a clue what their wife’s natural hair color is,” says John Barrett, whose 57th Street salon keeps a not insignificant number of Upper East Side women forever blond. “And color is tricky even for people who know what they’re doing, so no wonder women are freaking out after three months.” And it’s not just women who are tearing hair out over tints and highlights. “One of my clients has always been a blonde,” says Martino, who is known in the industry as The Fixer. “Her husband called me frantically, saying, ‘Joe, I married a blonde. What’s going on here? Help a brother out.’” JULY—AUGUST 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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VERNISSAGE

“WOW, WE’RE REALLY GOING TO JUMP UP THE AVERAGE AGE ON TWITCH!”

QUARANTINE QUADRILLE: When the going gets tough, the tough go dancing.

Party in Place

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© DOUGLAS FRIEDMAN COURTESY OF MARJORIE GUBELMANN

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n a recent Saturday afternoon Dori Cooperman was playing tech support, helping fellow socialite Marina Rust, who was experiencing issues on her phone. Elsewhere, in places as far afield as London, Doha, and Rome, others were learning how to download and navigate Twitch, an app more associated with gamers than jet-setters. “Anyone know how to insert emojis?” was a recurring inquiry. The reason for the crash course was that Marjorie Gubelmann, the couture-wearing, diamond-flexing adding-machine heiress turned luxury candlemaker turned DJ had moved her popular biweekly event over from Instagram. In early summer, the socially distanced dance party was the event for a smart set who would normally have been clinking Aperol spritzers at soigné nightspots on the French Riviera or in the Hamptons. “I can’t believe you guys all made it,” said Gubelmann, aka DJ Mad Marj, who was wearing a Dolce & Gabbana black lace dress and welcoming each arrival with the open-armed solicitousness that she displays at her riotous Upper East Side soirées. “Wow, we’re really going to jump up the average age on Twitch.”

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NEIL RASMUS/BFA.COM

“Way up,” chimed in Mickey Boardman, the Paper magazine editor better known as Mr. Mickey. She wasn’t wrong. The room quickly swelled to include designer Peter Som, the TV personality Alina Cho, the Universal Music executive Andy Berkowitz, the stylist Marcus Teo, and various other pseudonymous scenesters and celebs. (Recent guests on Instagram have included Kim Kardashian, Martha Stewart, Tory Burch, and Paris Hilton.) Gubelmann, who has opened for Cardi B and Mary J. Blige, and is the in-house DJ for TODAY with Hoda & Jenna on NBC, entertained her revelers with old-school dance floor fillers such as “Hotter Than July” by Stevie Wonder and “Give Me the Night” by George Benson. Some of the tunes were prefaced with references to the current moment. “This is what we should all be doing,” Gubelmann said, over the Beatles’ “Come Together.” Several of the guests, who were flooding the comments section with more emojis than teenagers on TikTok, took that as an exhortation to summer en masse. “Club 55 in St. Tropez is opening up any minute,” offered Cooperman, now playing travel agent. “Wear a mask… and a G-string,” said Mario Grausso, ex-CEO of Holt-Renfrew and unofficial “doorman” at Mad Marj online events. The high-end jeweler Amedeo Scognamiglio, going by the handle @amadeokingofcameos, advised that “JK Place in Capri opens in two weeks, people.” In no time the conversation devolved into an extended mix of fun-in-the-sun ideas— dancing on the tables of Anema e Core in Capri was roundly embraced—and leaning on friends with private planes to get them to their haute-monde hot spots. Though Gubelmann had played it earlier in her set, it would have been the perfect moment for the Pretenders’ song “Brass in Pocket.” —HS

Red Carpet Reconsidered

S

o long, step-and-repeat; RIP red carpet. Even as cinemas across the country tentatively prepare to reopen, the future of the once ubiquitous gala film premiere looks as bleak as an Ingmar Bergman film. To drum up word of mouth for new releases, movie publicists are now having to think outside the box office. “We’ve all had to pivot just like the rest of the world,” says Andrew Saffir of Cinema Society, a boutique agency that hosts small film previews for a select list of New York A-listers. Some are pivoting to the point of herniation. The premiere of Love Life, the HBO Max rom-com series starring Anna Kendrick, featured not only a virtual screening room, but also a cocktail bar, a dance party with a live DJ, karaoke, and a hub for getting dating tips from matchmaker du jour Amy Van Doran. Celebrity guests in New York and Los Angeles, including the show’s breakout star Zoë Chao

and Susan Kelechi Watson of This Is Us, were sent dinner, cocktails, and even a karaoke mic to re-create the premiere and after-party at home. (The pizza-making kit sent to East Coasters, prepped by caterer Mary Giuliani, was a “chef’s kiss emoji,” as the kids say on the Internet.) For his part, Saffir has been taking an approach that’s more indie offering than studio blockbuster. For the launch of Military Wives, directed by Peter Cattaneo of Full Monty fame, he lured guests such as Catherine O’Hara and Dionne Warwick with a just-the-link-ma’am screening and a live intro by costars Kristin Scott Thomas and Sharon Horgan. And in June he put together a drive-in-andchill screening of Disney’s Artemis Fowl to benefit East End food pantries. Hamptons glitterati such as Brooke Shields, Christie Brinkley, and Christy Turlington and Ed Burns, pictured on page 110, watched the film safely in their cars, wearing masks. It may have been the world’s first drivethrough red carpet. “Some projects require a little extra luster,” he says. “But there are some, me included, for whom content is king and more important than having a clever thing wrapped around it.” To wit, his screening of Laurel Canyon, the two-part documentary series by Alison Ellwood about the canonical music artists who orbited the Hollywood Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles in the 1960s and ’70s, consisted of just a password-protected link to a site that was live for three days. Bare-bones, perhaps, but that didn’t stop guests including Paul McCartney, Keith Richards, and Cher from logging on. “I don’t want to say it’s easy,” says Saffir, “but it hasn’t been super challenging to attract great names, because at the end of the day, everyone is at home and even the rich and famous are looking for great entertainment.” Free pizza doesn’t hurt, either. —HS JULY—AUGUST 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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BUY CURIOUS

Star-Spangled Glamour American designers are saluting the red, white, and blue BY HORACIO SILVA

Rosie Assoulin drop-waist cotton shirtdress. $1,495; modaoperandi.com

Garrett Leight “Jacqueline” sunglasses. $360; garrettleight.com

Oscar de la Renta raffia fringe earrings. $370; oscardelarenta.com

Essie “Spice It Up” nail enamel. $9; essie.com

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COURTESY OF THE BRANDS, EXCEPT FOR ADAM LIPPES COURTESY FARFETCH.COM

Thom Browne unisex seersucker sport coat. $1,790; thombrowne.com

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Carolina Herrera widesleeve cotton Henley dress. $1,390; 954 Madison Avenue

John Brevard sapphire and silver fractal ring. $1,695; johnbrevard.com

Telfar oversize leather shopping bag. $257; telfar.net

Adam Lippes scarf-wrap blouse. $800; farfetch.com

Chloe Gosselin crystaladorned crepe satin “Tori” sandal. $760; chloegosselin.com

JULY—AUGUST 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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BUY CURIOUS

Eugenia Kim “Annabelle” straw hat. $445; eugeniakim.com

Chanel sequined toile handbag. $4,800; at select Chanel boutiques. Call (800) 550 000.

Hot Stuff Everything under the sun to stand out from the tanning crowd BY HORACIO SILVA

Valentino off-the-shoulder ruffle playsuit. $2,980; thewebster.us

Frescobol Carioca beach bats. $260 for a set of 2 ($20 extra for a 2-ball set, and $50 for a 5-ball set); frescobolcarioca.com

La DoubleJ “Goddess” swimsuit. $370; ladoublej.com

Lisa Fernandez peasant maxi dress. $695; lisamariefernandez.com

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Hermès cotton beach towel. $580; hermes.com

Eres “Cuttlefish” bandeau swimsuit. $535; eresparis.com

COURTESY OF THE BRANDS, EXCEPT FOR VALENTINO RUFFLE PLAYSUIT AND SAINT LAURENT SUNGLASSES COURTESY THE WEBSTER.

Gigi Burris “Jeannie” embellished straw hat with Swiss starbright edge and grosgrain tie ribbon. $450; gigiburris.com

Giovanna Raffia pointed toe crisscross mule. $250; thisisgiovanna.com

Saint Laurent brown rectangular logo sunglasses. $395; thewebster.us

JULY—AUGUST 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS: At only nine years old, Lil Tay was living large on social media

(How to Avoid Raising) The Rich Brats of TikTok How can parents protect their children in an age when every teenager is a media brand? Ben Widdicombe asks the experts

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he “rich kids of Instagram” are so last year. Today’s teens-ofmeans are flocking to TikTok—a short-format video platform available in the United States since 2018, where the young flaunt their wealth. Wildly popular hashtags like #daddysmoney and #privateschool direct the app’s reported 800 million users to 15-second loops of predominantly high-school and college-aged kids showing off expensive homes, watches, and jewelry, and sometimes just wads of cash. Search on any of the popular “rich check” hashtags—which include #richboycheck, #richgirlcheck, and #richparentcheck—and you’ll find thousands of videos in an established format.

The soundtrack is always Luigi Boccherini’s 1771 Minuetto, a syrupy cello piece that instantly evokes pinky-raised privilege. It will play over shaky, hand-held footage of private wine cellars, well-equipped home gyms, or European sports cars lined up in the driveway. Among young TikTokers, these videos are considered harmless, even if intentionally envyinducing, fun. Their families, however, may be more alert to the dangers, which can range from subjects being targeted by criminals, to mental health issues arising from the constant pressure to present oneself as effortlessly young, rich, and carefree. For parents, the challenge is how to protect their children in a world where every teenager has become a media brand. “People have always been curious about how ‘the rich and famous’ live [and]…social media allows people to present a constructed identity,” Dr. Pamela Rutledge, director of the Media Psychology Research Center, tells Avenue. “Images allow for a more vicarious experience than text, so TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube will be popular places to flex.” For young people glued to videos of their peers living in luxury, the appeal is easy to explain. “The hot new thing on TikTok is bragging about money,” Lucas Cruikshank, a 26-year-old influencer whose YouTube channel has more than three million subscribers, explains in a video. “Which I love—if somebody’s entire social media personality is ‘I’m rich, I have so much money,’ I’ll follow them. Because it’s just entertaining, and I like seeing the life they live.” Unfortunately, among those flaunting their wealth on social media, there have been some ugly cautionary tales. In 2016, Kim Kardashian West was tied up in her rented a home in Paris and robbed of jewelry worth a reported $5.6 million. Authorities believe the fact that she displayed one of the stolen items—a $4-million diamond ring—on Instagram just a week before the home invasion may have motivated the crime. “She gives information on social media all the time,” Paris police chief Christian Sainte said during the investigation. In 2018, a nine-year-old influencer named Lil Tay became infamous for posing at home in Gucci and Louis Vuitton accessories surrounded by stacks of $100 bills. Even by social media standards, it was a vulgar spectacle, made all the more distasteful by the revelation she was being “managed” by her 16-year-old brother. When the façade finally collapsed, it was revealed that her alleged “Beverly Hills penthouse” was really an unsold property in Vancouver represented by her real estate agent mother, who was fired after also using her boss’s red Mercedes-AMG as a lifestyle prop. Lil Tay was driven from YouTube in disgrace. Most recently, in June, an 18-year-old TikTok star named Josh Richards issued an apology (through his public relations firm, naturally) in the wake of an unflattering New York Times article portraying his party lifestyle as one of a number of young social media stars sharing a “collab

PHILIP CHEUNG

HEIR CARE

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“THE AVERAGE INFLUENCER ON OUR ROSTER IS MAKING BETWEEN $350,000 AND $400,000 A YEAR, AND THEY’RE MOSTLY IN THEIR EARLY- TO MID-TWENTIES.”

house” in the tony Los Angeles community of Bel Air. The statement, although vaguely worded and unclear about what, exactly, he was apologizing for, did include a link to the shopping site for his branded hoodies and other merchandise. A week later the Hype House, another wellknown Los Angeles group home for TikTokers, was burglarized by “fans” who allegedly stole clothes and personal possessions belonging to their idols. Naturally, the intruders posted videos of the whole caper on TikTok. Even though platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok have exacerbated such material exhibitionism, however, Dr. Rutledge cautions: “Social media is not the sole source of pressure. Research has shown that affluence has its own set of psychological challenges—wealthy kids can suffer from insecure attachments if parents

were absent a great deal, and then there’s the stress of trying to match up to the family standards of success. Being ‘Insta-famous’ may feel as if it fills some of the emotional void of isolation, even though it’s a temporary fix, just like the accumulation of pricey possessions.” Something not lost on the current generation of influencers, however, is that being Instafamous can not only fill an emotional void, but also a wallet. “Social media fame often has monetary benefits—attracting thousands of followers can result in sponsorships and promotional income streams,” Dr. Rutledge says. “So being famous for being rich can actually make someone richer.” Exactly how much money can influencers make? Beca Alexander, the founder of Socialyte, an

eight-year-old agency that represents more than 100 social media stars, says her top earners make in excess of $2 million a year. “The average influencer on our roster is making between $350,000 and $400,000 a year, and they’re mostly in their early- to mid-twenties,” she tells Avenue. “And to them, they’re not making enough money.” Alexander, not surprisingly, understands the phenomenon from the perspective of the youngsters who are thriving on the social media frontier. Some parents may be gnashing their teeth at the conspicuous materialism—but for Generation Z, amassing a following on social media is an obvious and desirable career path. “That’s why everyone and their mother is now trying to be an influencer,” says Alexander. “Because you can go from [earning] nothing to a million dollars.” Dr. Rutledge advises parents who may be concerned about their children’s online personas to concentrate on the root causes of their behavior. “Wealth without effort can negatively impact [children’s] self-esteem—it’s hard to know who likes you for you,” she says. “These factors make teens and young adults especially vulnerable to being ‘liked’ on social media.” Families anguished by the competitive materialism rampant on platforms such as TikTok, then, may do well to focus on core values. “Parents shouldn’t fall into the trap of thinking this is all because of social media,” she says. “There is a continual struggle to raise children in affluence and to avoid a sense of entitlement that will mar their future relationships.”

MICHELLE GROSKOPF/THE NEW YORK TIMES/REDUX PICTURES

BOUGIE NIGHTS: Hype House, a Los Angeles group home for social media stars, was burgled after its residents’ ostentatious lifestyle made them a target of envy

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Cecily Brown’s handsomely scaled oil on linen, Figures in a Landscape 1 (2001), sold for a reported $5.5 million at Gagosian’s online viewing room at Frieze New York this past May. Facing page: The façade of the new Bonetti/Kozersk– designed Pace Gallery at 540 West 25th Street in Chelsea.

A New Art World Order

THOMAS LOOF/COURTESY OF PACE GALLERY; COURTESY OF CECILY BROWN AND GAGOSIAN

As galleries and auction houses navigate away from the familiar brick-and-mortar businesses in a fast-developing virtual viewing arena, art market tea leaves portend modest profits for those with an agility to adapt, Judd Tully reports

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h art world as we knew it ended on the morning of March 11 when we learned that dozens of exhibitors and fairgoers at the prestigious TEFAF (The European Fine Art Fair) in the Dutch city of Maastricht had contracted the deadly coronavirus, forcing the fair to shut four days early and inviting a backlash of collective anger for it even having taken place. In the days and weeks that followed, art fairs around the globe announced their postponements or cancellations amid what was to have been one of the art world’s busiest seasons, among them Art Basel Hong Kong slated for late March, and Frieze New York in early May—both of which quickly launched plans to hold virtual events online. As with so much in this world, the global Covid-19 pandemic had, in a blink of an eye, shut down the way art galleries, auction houses, and art fairs traditionally do business, forcing a market that topped $64.1 billion last year to devise new ways to consign, buy, and sell art. Like the proverbial phoenix rising from the flames, the galleries, fairs, and auction houses are adapting to this new art world order, making accelerated advances into the digital sales space, which had for many been merely a complement to their brick-and-mortar businesses. In a matter of months, computer screens have become the picture window of art commerce—replacing crowded salesrooms, gridlocked art fair aisles, and the opportunity to rub tailored shoulders,

drinks in hand, with fellow collectors and artists at invitation-only gallery openings. This game-changing makeover has come in many guises, from Instagram sales of art works priced below $1,000 to seven-figure offerings by blue-chip artists, presented in online viewing rooms by top-drawer galleries and channeled through digital-only art fairs such as Art Basel Hong Kong, Frieze New York, and the Fine Art Print Fair, the latter with 125 virtual “rooms,” including a rare Albrecht Dürer woodcut, The Rhinoceros (1515), that sold in May for an otherwise undisclosed six-figure price at David Tunick Gallery. “We opened our program up to artists we haven’t worked with before or even met personally,” said John Post Lee of Bravin Lee, who staged the aforementioned Instagram initiative in early May. “We sold 12 pieces in just two days—four or five of the sales coming from top-top guys with a long history in the business. It’s not Gagosian money, but we’re going forward with it because it’s very easy to do and we can’t go on indefinitely without some kind of income stream.” Speaking of Gagosian money, the gallery had a successful outing at the virtual Frieze New York, selling Cecily Brown’s large-scale Figures in a Landscape 1 (2001) for a reported $5.5 million through its bespoke online viewing platform, the price coming in second to the artist’s record at auction, which was set when Brown’s Suddenly Last Summer (1999) sold for $6.7 million at Sotheby’s New York in May 2018. For the inaugural online edition of Frieze New York, a stand-in for what would have been the JULY—AUGUST 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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fair’s mega-tent structure on Randall’s Island, exhibitors were refunded their booth fees and given a free ride on the fair’s sophisticated digital platform, which by all accounts delivered beyond expectations. Significant sales during its weeklong run included George Condo’s fresh-from-the-studio work, Distanced Figures 3 (2020), which sold at Hauser & Wirth for $2 million; a late and riveting Alice Neel portrait, Veronica (1980), which found a taker in David Zwirner Gallery’s viewing room for $550,000; and London School icon Leon Kossoff ’s multifigured Study from Minerva Protects Pax from Mars by Rubens (1981), which was tendered by London’s Piano Nobile for $1.8 million. “The strong early sales and, candidly, the entire experience of the virtual presentation have exceeded our expectations,” said Tribeca dealer Ales Ortuzar of Ortuzar Projects. “We had been looking forward to showing at Frieze New York for the first time, but have been impressed by the generous and thoughtful approach that the Frieze team brought to the online alternative, so this is a promising first step for us into the world of online sales.” The gallery sold the under-known American artist Doroty Iannone’s text and figure-rich painting in acrylic and felt tip pen on canvas, Je veux te posseder malgré mes principes (1972) for $150,000. That frantic springtime rush of e-commerce alternatives was also embraced by the auction world with Dallas-based Heritage Auctions taking in $41 million in online sales across multiple categories during the last week of April, with some 16,000 online bidders participating in 23 auction sessions. 28

Rona Pondick’s mixed media sculpture, Ballerina (1989), sold for $75,000 at Marc Straus gallery during the virtual Frieze New York in May.

Yet, as bottom lines reveal, adapting to this new art world order is proving far more challenging for the auction houses, given their financial girth and corporate structure, which has made turning the digital page a task not unlike charting a new course for the Titanic. Sotheby’s, for instance, took in $13.7 million in its first online edition of its contemporary day sale in May, led by Christopher Wool’s Untitled monochrome from 1988 that made $1.2 million. The firm’s equivalent Impressionist & Modern online day sale, which reaped $9.9 million, was powered in part by Giorgio Morandi’s classic Natura Morta (1951), which fetched $1.6 million, making it the highest price ever achieved for any work sold online at Sotheby’s. Yet these online sales figures pale compared to previous “live”

“The strong early sales and, candidly, the entire experience of the virtual presentation [at Frieze New York] have exceeded our expectations.” —Ales Ortuzar of Ortuzar Projects

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“We [have] advanced numerous initiatives that will likely change our business forever.”

COURTESY OF RONA PONDICK AND MARC STRAUS, NEW YORK; COURTESY OF HENRY TAYLOR AND HAUSER & WIRTH

—Sotheby’s CEO Charles Stewart

auctions for the house. Its May 2019 contemporary art day sale brought in $110 million, a cavernous gap that illustrates the economic challenges that lie ahead in its digital makeover. “We advanced numerous initiatives that will likely change our business forever,” said Sotheby’s CEO Charles Stewart during a video conference call in late May. Since March,he told those listening in, Sotheby’s had held 71 online auctions that cumulatively tallied $127 million, a 500 percent increase over 2019, and that included a pair of Michael Jordan autographed and game-worn Nike sneakers that made a record $560,000. At press time, Sotheby’s had great expectations for Francis Bacon’s 1981 Triptych Inspired by the Oresteia of Aeschylus, which was to go under the gavel in its June 29 New York evening live-stream auction, pegged in excess of $60 million. Archrivals Christie’s and Phillips are similarly engaged in a tranche of themed online sales, the new boilerplate for art market life in the future, in an effort to make up for precious lost time and money. These include the “ONE: A Global Sale of the 20th Century” at Christie’s. Scheduled for July 10 and armed with streaming technology, the sale will be staged in real time across four time zones in New York, London, Paris, and Hong Kong. But things indeed seem to be looking up on the private sales front, where there have been several notable transactions, including hedge fund titan Ken Griffin’s reported acquisition of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s mural-scale Boy and Dog in a Johnnypump (1982) from mega-collector Peter Brant for a price in the region of $100 million in May. That sum is quite close to the artist’s auction record of $110.5 million, set by the artist’s Untitled (1982), which sold at Sotheby’s in May 2017. So what does the race to into the digital space portend for galleries going forward? “We’re going to treat the gallery as a place of engagement, and as a place of solace,” says world-class dealer Dominique Lévy of Lévy Gorvy, adding that, “I see art recovering faster than other markets, but to have that happen we’ll have to be very agile, and adapt, and learn, and take a deep breath for this leap into the unknown.”

Man, I’m so full of doubt, but I must Hustle Forward, as my daughter Jade would say (2020), an acrylic on canvas by Los Angeles artist Henry Taylor, was among the 17 works sold by Hauser & Wirth at Frieze New York.

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It is clear that, short term, Pace has been feeling the pinch, having furloughed 25 percent of its New York staff in April to make ends meet.

Trouble Under the High Line? For mega-galleries expanding into Chelsea, the pandemic brings heightened risk at the high end of the contemporary art market, Angela M.H. Schuster reports

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helsea has been a haven for dealers in contemporary art since the 1990s, when gallerists such as Paula Cooper and Barbara Gladstone made the move from overpriced SoHo—with the likes of Larry Gagosian and David Zwirner following. In recent years, the High Line and the $25 billion Hudson Yards development have added far more luster to the neighborhood. This heady mix of luxury real estate and blue-chip galleries appeared to be a cocktail made in art market heaven—that is, until the onset of the COVID-19 crisis in early March. Within days, the virus forced the closure of gallery spaces and a shutdown of the global art fair circuit during one of its busiest times of the year, forcing dealers to transact almost all of their business online. (Keep in mind that in 2019, online art sales accounted for but 5 percent of gallery transactions, according to Clare McAndrew, of the Dublin-based Arts Economics.) But if fair receipts are any measure, collectors have so far shown a willingness to spend through the internet, with a virtual Art Basel Hong Kong in March tendering some $270 million worth of 30

works, while Frieze New York notched notable multimillion-dollar gallery sales in May. These better-than-expected returns beg the question… what is the role of the brick-and-mortar gallery going forward? The Chelsea space race was already in full swing in the spring of 2018, when Rachel Lehmann and David Maupin of Lehmann Maupin plunked down a cool $27 million for nearly 9,000 square feet designed by Peter Marino on West 24th Street. Later that year, the late Paul Kasmin also inaugurated a light-filled, 5,000-square-foot Markus Dochantschi–designed structure, which boasts a rooftop sculpture garden. Yet these projects would soon pale in comparison to the grander schemes that followed as global galleries began to envision their Chelsea flagships as far more than mere places to buy art. Second-generation dealer Marc Glimcher of Pace likened his commissioned space to a Silicon Valley tech campus, where unrivaled talent and amenities would combine to produce creative synergies. Glimcher realized his vision in September, cutting the ribbon on an eight-story, 75,000-squarefoot minimalist structure covered in volcanic

stone on West 25th Street. Designed by Enrico Bonetti and Dominic Kozerski, the space was built from the ground up at a cost of $98.2 million on a plot of land the gallery doesn’t even own. Financial sleuthing by Artnet’s Tim Schneider revealed that Pace plans to shell out an $220 million in rent to its landlord Weinberg Properties over the 20-year life of its lease, the gallery’s investment total topping $300 million. Hauser & Wirth has also increased its global footprint with a new 36,000-square-foot Annabel Selldorf–designed space on West 22nd Street, whose planned May unveiling was postponed by the virus. Meanwhile, Zwirner is finalizing the details on a five-story, 50,000-square-foot flagship on West 21st Street, the brainchild of the Pritzker Prize–winning starchitect Renzo Piano. It is slated for completion in early 2021 at a cost of $50 million. So what will losses caused by the great pandemic mean for these costly ventures? Through the COVID-19 lens, such expansions would seem ill-timed at best, yet the gallerists we spoke to are in it for the long haul, having weathered many a market hiccup in the past. It is clear that, short term, Pace has been feeling the pinch, having furloughed 25 percent of its New York staff in April to make ends meet. Yet, Glimcher, who himself contracted the virus, remains optimistic, having opened a Hamptons base to meet his escapist clientele. “As New York begins to slowly and mindfully reopen, our priority is to continue to provide audiences with meaningful art experiences while remaining sensitive to public health concerns above all else. To do so, we’ve focused energy on our first project in the Hamptons with the opening of a temporary space out there,” he says, adding that nothing can replace an up-close and personal encounter with a great work of art.

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THOMAS LOOF/COURTESY OF PACE GALLERY

Marc Glimcher inaugurated Pace’s new Bonetti/ Kozerski—designed gallery at 540 West 25th Street in Chelsea this past September. JULY—AUGUST 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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The Art of Innovation Power dealer Iwan Wirth talks about dialing up the “gallery of the future” now

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AMELIA TROUBRIDGE

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n the art world, there are always the prescient few who seem to see new ways of doing business and market opportunities before the rest follow suit. Such has been the case with Iwan and Manuela Wirth, who, along with business partner Marc Payot, are the force behind powerhouse gallery Hauser & Wirth, which has outposts in Zurich, London, New York, Somerset, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, and Gstaad. As dealers around the globe found themselves scrambling to find new ways to market the work of their artists online with the arrival of the coronavirus this past spring, Wirth, Wirth, and Payot simply chose to fast-track and repurpose “HWVR,” a signature state-of-the-art, virtualreality, space-planning tool that they had been developing for more than a year—a move that appears to be paying off. Avenue recently caught up with Iwan Wirth to talk about innovation and expansion in a pandemic-shaped world, ahead of the gallery’s planned inauguration of two new spaces—a 36,000-squarefoot Annabel Selldorf–designed building on West 22nd Street in Chelsea and in a collection of renovated historic structures on a sun-drenched island off Menorca.

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PAINTING: © GEORGE CONDO COURTESY THE ARTIST AND HAUSER & WIRTH; INSTALLATION VIEW: COURTESY THE ARTISTS AND HAUSER & WIRTH

George Condo’s fresh-from-the-studio mixed-media on linen, Distanced Figures 3 (2020), left, was one of 17 works sold by Hauser & Wirth at the virtual Frieze New York in May. It found a buyer for $2 million. Below, an installation view from HWVR’s virtual exhibition “beside itself” featuring Ellen Gallagher’s DeLuxe (2004—2005), at center, and Mark Bradford’s Chicago (2019), at right.

What led you to embark on the use of VR technology as an alternative gallery space? The development of HWVR was the first project of ArtLab, Hauser & Wirth’s new technology and research division, and its goal was to develop a digital tool to create the impression of 3D space that would support our artists and the gallery in the designing, planning, and organizing of exhibitions, all the while enhancing what I call “intelligent productivity” and lowering our carbon footprint. We wanted to significantly reduce travel, shipping, and the waste of resources in any form. And while we originally conceived it as a tool to help our artists, once we were all in lockdown, we immediately realized we could harness HWVR’s potential to reach new audiences and allow collectors to explore our galleries on their own time and on their own terms.

Are you planning to license said bespoke platform to other galleries and cultural institutions? We do not have plans to license it, since we’re still so focused on exploring its full imaginative and creative potential, but we are keenly aware of the fact that it could revolutionize the industry. Do you envision VR exhibitions for all of your brick-and-mortar gallery spaces? Yes, in time. We’ll plan to build more of our gallery’s spaces in HWVR, including our new purpose-built gallery, which Annabelle Selldorf has designed for us on 542 West 22nd Street in Chelsea. (As you may know, we had planned to open on May 2, to celebrate the birthday of my wife and business partner, Manuela. The space has been completed, so we’re busy planning to inaugurate it in the fall, while remaining flexible, of course.)

How have you fared in the virtual gallery space? Since lockdown began, we have presented eight new online exhibitions, launching them on a weekly basis with our artists, including Louise Bourgeois, George Condo, Rashid Johnson, Lorna Simpson, and Nicholas Party. The traffic to our digital platform has doubled, and 80 percent of our visitors are new. Our collectors are embracing the creativity of our artists as a cause for optimism and positivity in the face of this crisis, and many of these exhibitions have sold out entirely from the digital exhibition space in the opening days. For our “virtual booth” at Frieze New York in May, we deliberately reached out to our artists for works that had been made in lockdown. We sold 17 works and were delighted to place George Condo's Condo’s Distanced Figures 3—the highest priced piece in our online stand, at $2 million— with a major American collection. With the aid of a crystal ball, how do you see the business of art shaping up post-pandemic? From the gallery’s perspective, we are confident that we will emerge from all of this a more efficient, stronger, and better organization with an increased focus. We will continue to be nimble and to drive innovation in our art centers, galleries, and digital spaces to connect people with art, and to create meaningful shared experiences. But, bigger picture, this time period has also created a unique opportunity for the most innovative galleries to shine, and in that respect the digital world might create a more equitable future.

In a gallery press release, you mentioned that HWVR uses “a bespoke technology stack not found in any other industry.” Tell us about it. When we embarked on the development of HWVR, there was no existing software that could match the detail, accuracy, nuance, and flexibility required to re-create exhibitions from the pixel level up. The 3D tools we saw from real estate and architecture simply did not, on their own, produce the level of realism required to put the work of our artists forward in the best possible way. And we have shown we can do that with our first VR exhibition, “beside itself,” which we presented in re-created spaces within our “gallery of the future” on Isla del Rey, an island off Menorca, which we'll open in 2021. The response to our first entirely virtual exhibition has been incredible, and our artists are curious to get involved. So we are now setting up a digital residency program based in Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles so they can explore the full potential of HWVR. JULY—AUGUST 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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Wild Child Inspired by her own past, novelist Amanda Brainerd talks to Heather Hodson about wealth, dysfunctional parents, and growing up in Manhattan in the go-go ’80s

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t is a late May morning and Amanda Brainerd, an Upper East Side mom, real-estate broker, and soon-to-be-published novelist, is recalling her exuberant youth. “I was wild, wild. I wanted to do anything possible to have an intense experience. I was like a gigantic sponge.” For a teenager with a low threshold for boredom and a high capacity for adrenaline, growing up in Manhattan in the revved-up ’80s was nirvana. “So much of what was fascinating about that decade was what was happening in New York—there was so much creativity in that era, especially in the downtown club scene,” recalls Brainerd, who spent eleventh grade frequenting SoHo art galleries and the legendary club AREA. “I wanted to relive that world through my characters.”

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BRAINERD CHILDHOOD IMAGE COURTESY OF AMANDA BRAINERD, AMANDA BRAINERD BY THEO & JULIET.

MOOD BORED: Left, Amanda Brainerd as a teenager in the ‘80s; below, Brainerd today.

Brainerd, 53, is speaking on the phone from the family weekend property in Connecticut, where she is quarantining with her husband, their three children (two of whom are at college, the youngest in high school), and various relations in what sounds like a pastoral idyll. While the parents quarantine in one house, the kids, including her sixteen-year-old nephew, occupy another. “They’re playing Swiss Family Robinson treehouse and having an absolute ball. They’re planning meals—they’re all strictly vegetarian. They’re doing their own grocery shopping and most of their own cooking.” Brainerd goes by their quarters and they’re in the backyard earnestly performing their fitness regimens. “It’s so shocking how wholesome they are,” she says, roaring with laughter. It is a rather different scenario from the one that inspired her debut novel, Age of Consent— an engrossing page-turner of a story about a closely knit group of friends coming of age in a world of wealth, recreational drugs, and dysfunctional parenting, set among the verdant lawns of a Connecticut boarding school and the art scene and seedy digs of downtown New York. By her own admission, Age of Consent loosely reflects Brainerd’s background (although she stresses she avoided drugs). For starters, both Brainerd and her main protagonist, Eve, are the daughters of successful New York financiers and stay-athome mothers (in the author’s case, the hedge fund manager Oscar Schafer and his wife, Diane). Both grew up on the Upper East Side, and were

expelled from boarding school in their sophomore year for sneaking off campus to see a rock band. “It was U2 and it was an amazing concert in a very tiny venue. I’d [gone] not thinking that some twentysomething teachers would be at the concert. To me they were old people!” Brainerd recalls of her abrupt departure from Choate. “So I got busted and got expelled two weeks before the end of the semester and came crawling back to Nightingale-Bamford under a cloud of shame.” Like the author, Eve is also book smart and artistic, and struggles to forge her own path under the yolk of authoritarian parents. (“My parents were very strict and really never let me do anything; I’m still bitter about it actually.”) And both are left contemplating the effect of damaged and absentee parents on their circle of friends. “Writing this novel was a way of parsing through feelings that I had covered up or put away for many years about being a teenager,” says Brainerd, who has an ear for teenage dialogue. “And it was a way for me to explore my bewilderment at some of the ways that friends of mine were neglected by their parents.” In Age of Consent, the teenagers hook up, take drugs, navigate tribal cruelties, and slip into coercive sexual relationships with older men, the soundtrack of the ’80s humming in the background. The adult figures, none of them laudable, linger on the margins of the page, casting shadows. Brainerd’s boarding school mishap didn’t push her off track for long—after Nightingale she went to Harvard and then Columbia, where she earned a master’s degree in architecture, before working briefly for Christopher Buckley and then as an architect, later settling into a successful career in real estate. She says the idea for the book came during one of the dinner parties that she and her husband, the architect Charles Brainerd, often give at their Upper East Side apartment. “I was talking with an old friend about what it was like to be a parent now in New York versus what it was like to grow up in the city and what parents were like in the ’80s . . . We said, do you remember those brothers?” she recalls, referring to siblings who were rumored to live with little parental oversight in an apartment on Fifth Avenue. “You can imagine nothing good happened . . . We were

saying, can you believe the things people did?” She pauses. “One of the reasons there’s so much helicopter parenting is that we ourselves felt so neglected in so many ways, parents were just totally checked out.” Brainerd initially contacted six people—although by the end of her research she had spoken to 30—and began to interview them with the intention of writing an oral history. “This is a work of fiction, let’s be completely clear. But while I was gathering these stories, I quickly realized it had to be a novel, mostly because I wanted to not necessarily tell exactly what had happened. And in some cases what actually happened was so shocking that it was not believable. I had to tone it down to make it palatable.” How did her friends who were neglected turn out? “Most of them are pretty screwed-up, unfortunately. I don’t think you can put the toothpaste back in the tube, you cannot fill the void,” she observes. “They carry this empty place around in them forever and there’s nothing that can fill it.” But with Age of Consent, she says, she wanted to leave open the question of blame. “Listen, there’s no manual, [parenting] really is a hard job. I’m not trying to be judgmental, I’m really not. I just wanted to understand.” In Connecticut, Brainerd is working on a second novel and feeling lucky that her children have turned out the way they have. “All throughout my 20s and 30s, before I started having children, my mother said, ‘You’ll see. You’ll have your own Amanda, you will see what I suffered,’’ she laughs. “And actually, it hasn’t happened. None of our children have given us a run for our money the way that I did. It’s miraculous.” JULY—AUGUST 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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COMIC HERO: Author Kevin Kwan

Crazy Rich Storytelling Aria Darcella talks to best-selling author Kevin Kwan about his latest novel, a romantic comedy set in New York and the Hamptons, and a nuanced exploration of race and identity

You write about the wealthy. But right now a lot of people are worried about their financial futures. Was there any concern about the release date? [My publishers] think this is what people need right now. For the fans, this is going to be a respite for them. Certainly, that’s the response I’ve been getting so far. They want that escape. They want to laugh and not take things too seriously. It helps that it pokes fun at the rich. We’re not reveling in pots of money. It’s a story of how money changes people, and the various issues related to growing up with wealth and internalized racism in your own family. Tell us about your hero, Lucie. Lucie is a [mixed-race] girl raised in a dominant WASPy family. Because she presents more Asian than WASP, and the social conditioning within her family, she’s always grown up with this inferiority complex. Whereas her brother, who looks like he’s straight out of the J.Crew catalog, has absolutely no problem. There are subconscious ways in which families adapt to situations like this. It was interesting to explore as I told this comedic romance. You’ve spoken about the struggles of your mixed-race cousins. How much of that is in the character? Actually, a great deal. Everyone has a different experience. I know people who were raised where their Anglo side was emphasized and their Asian side was sublimated. One parent was basically saying, “My kids are British.

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They’re not Chinese. We’re going to raise them in the British tradition.” They were sent to the best British-style boarding schools in Asia. Eventually they would go to school in England and discover, "Holy cow, I’m not British! I felt British all my life but here I’m seen as an Asian." But there are also families where both parents celebrate both cultures. How does your family feel about you drawing from their lives? I don’t draw directly from anyone’s life. The stories I tell are such big sketches. I’m never spilling any real dirt. And it’s all done in good fun. A lot of my cousins have been tremendously supportive. They love reading my books because they recognize the types of people in them. That’s the goal of most satirists: to make it as relatable and universal as possible. Whether you’re family or a complete stranger, you can read about a character and go, “I have an aunt who’s this snobby, social-climbing woman!” What ways do you push yourself as a writer? I had fun experimenting with the form. There’s a scene—a housewarming extravaganza—that all takes place in overheard dialogue. I wanted to create the experience of coming to a party and wandering around this ridiculously over-the-top house and overhearing bits of conversation, but at the same time still moving the narrative forward. Stuff is being set up within each of these little overheard snippets. You must be used to overhearing insane bons mots from rich people? Absolutely! Especially since moving to LA. The social scene operates in a completely different world. The things you overhear and the social games played are so different than what’s happening on the East Coast. How so? The social pecking order here revolves around the Hollywood system. People tend to cluster in groups based on whether they’re A-list or B-list. Comedy people are always together, the producers are together. Actors with actors. There’s less cross-pollination. In New York you can go to a party and meet people from all walks of life: scientists, writers, financiers, jugglers, you name it. LA’s stratified in a different way, but it’s changing. There is this influx of people who have nothing to do with Hollywood. It reminds me of New York in the ’90s. I have so many artist friends who’ve moved from New York to LA. There’s more sunlight, cheaper studios. And there’s this exciting new art scene. In LA, art openings feel like a rave. It’s a whole different energy.

KEVIN KWAN BY RAEN BADUA.

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he past few years have been a whirlwind for Kevin Kwan. In 2013 he published the hugely popular Crazy Rich Asians, an old-fashioned romantic comedy about a woman who meets her boyfriend’s family for the first time, only to discover that they are among the richest people in Singapore. He penned two more books in that series, and the ensuing film, which was adapted from the first novel, became a hit. Now Kwan has written Sex and Vanity, the first installment in a new literary trilogy and what he calls his “valentine” to New York. In an homage to E.M. Forster’s A Room with a View, the story follows Lucie Churchill, a mixedrace Asian woman torn between her fiancé and the wealthy bohemian George Zao, a man she can’t help but be attracted to. All the while, Lucie is navigating the social sets of the Upper East Side and the Hamptons, which Kwan lovingly ribs.

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Books

ANTKIND by Charlie Kaufman (Random House)

UTOPIA AVENUE by David Mitchell (Random House)

It’s been more than half a century since a transatlantic rock’n’ roll pantheon launched a new era of music and culture in the 1960s. Audiences marveled at the virtuosity of Jim Hendrix; Janis Joplin’s electric stage presence; David Bowie’s alien aesthetic; and Utopia Avenue’s groundbreaking, genre-defying sound. Wait, who? From David Mitchell (of the Booker Prize—shortlisted Cloud Atlas) comes the story of Dean, Elf, Jasper, and Griff, young British musicians in London’s late ’60s Soho music scene, and their ephemeral rise to fame as the band Utopia Avenue. Their story weaves itself in and out of those of more familiar names – the Rolling Stones, Joni Mitchell, and more – drinking with and competing against them, while learning what is gained and lost on the journey from “artist” to “rock star.” Utopia Avenue is a terrific read that will leave you nostalgic for music you’ve never heard. The bandmates are characters in all the quintessential tableaus of the “Summer of Love” era: dingy, hippy-packed basements across a quickly-transforming Southern England; often brutal anti-Vietnam War demonstrations; star-studded parties; and iconic music venues. Get ready to sing along: Utopia Avenue will make a superfan out of you. MARK ANTHONY LIBATIQUE

Ever tried narrating one of your weirder dreams? The type of dream that makes you question, even if just for a moment, if you’ve ever actually woken up? Oscar-winning screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, of Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind renown, brings us his debut novel, Antkind. An account by a man called “B.” of his life-changing discovery of a hidden, three-month-long film (that’s right, three months) during a research trip to sleepy St. Augustine, Florida, it chronicles the subsequent effect it has on his relationships with people, himself, and reality. Kaufman’s main character lives a waking dream, and Antkind reads like one of his films. It asks – challenges – you to push your imagination to its limits and visualize characters, timelines, and worlds which may or may not actually be there. Things halfhappen, names and thoughts can shift in accuracy mid-sentence, and any sense of truth is fleeting. Vulnerable, irreverent, selfaware in its insanity, and agilely funny, Antkind trusts readers to suspend disbelief from the first page, and will engage you the way few books do. MARK ANTHONY LIBATIQUE

OWLS OF THE EASTERN ICE by Jonathan C. Slaght (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Readers of the genre that combines elements of naturalist, adventure, and literary narrative will be familiar with the story: a young(ish) person becomes captivated – obsessed, even – with finding a rare beast in the wild. The motivations may be clear, or murky. The threat of extinction may come

into play, and politics are almost always involved. There is a goodly amount of danger in the locating of the animal at the farthest reaches of the Earth, and the search is often, at its core, a spiritual quest. Such was the case in Peter Matthiessen’s 1978 National Book Award-winning The Snow Leopard, which fans of naturalist literary narrative might be reminded of when picking up the renowned field scientist Jonathan C. Slaght’s Owls of the Eastern Ice. As a young birdwatcher, Slaght catches sight of the rarest of owls – a massive Blakiston’s Fish Owl, whose wingspan stretches almost six feet – in Northeast Asia. Over the next five years he devotes himself, along with a band of locals, to tracking the elusive bird in the most forbidding, desolate reaches of eastern Russia. What unfolds is a tale of crosscultural and often vodka-soaked dedication to ensuring the species’ survival against all odds. Lyrical and moving, it is a must-read for lovers of adventure literature and ornithology. ELISSA ALTMAN

NIGHTSHADE by Annalena McAffee (Knopf)

The gimlet eye; the caustic pronouncement; the poison paintbrush; the vicious betrayal. And an artist for whom critical and financial success does not soften the compulsion to wield a rapier of rivalry so sharp that it bloodies nearly everyone in its way. In Nightshade, the criticallyacclaimed British novelist Annalena McAffee, who is married to the author Ian McEwan, has succeeded in creating a brilliant and unforgettable character at once utterly compelling and despicable, who lives figurative bodies in her wake. Eve Laing, a brilliant photorealist painter at the very top of her career, is embarking on her most ambitious project yet: seven massive panels of nightshades, one of the world’s deadliest plants. A magnificent and taut evocation of the passage of time, the meaning of fidelity and trust, and the prices

paid in love and friendship in service of one’s art, Nightshade is a breathtaking, extraordinary exploration of the cost of art for its own sake. ELISSA ALTMAN

DIRT by Bill Buford (Knopf)

“In normal life, ‘simplicity’ is synonymous with ‘easy to do,’ but when a chef uses the word it means ‘takes a lifetime to learn,’” writes Bill Buford in Dirt, his delightful account of learning to cook like a Frenchman. Normal life is something Buford is happy to dispense with in his pursuit of extreme culinary and literary experiences. For his 2006 memoir Heat, he left his job as literary editor at the New Yorker to labor in the kitchen of Babbo and other Italian restaurants, earning his stripes with singed hair and heat blisters. The sequel, Dirt, which refers to the soil that gives food its taste, springs from the five years Buford spent with his wife and their two young sons in Lyon, the epicenter of French haute cuisine, and a not especially welcoming city (“Saturday nights, remarkably, are rougher than Fridays. . . . Farmers arrive early at the market to hose away vomit.”) He grapples with poulet en vessie (chicken cooked inside a pig’s bladder stuffed with foie gras, truffles, and cognac), and survives the Darwinism of a Michelin-starred kitchen and the culinary school of French icon Paul Bocuse. Most movingly, he discovers a 1940 book of family recipes for cassoulet from the southwest and other native dishes, painstakingly detailed on cheap paper by a French prisoner of war for future generations. Engrossing and thought-provoking, Dirt is much more than humorous tales from the front line of French cooking. On his quest to learn the techniques of France’s treasured cuisine, Buford manages to get to the heart of something even more elusive: its soul. HEATHER HODSON

JULY—AUGUST 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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MASSIMO LISTRI COURTESY OF TASCHEN

EARTHLY DELIGHTS: A cabinet of cowrie shells, one of the many unique collections amassed in Cabinet of Curiosities. Right: Dylan and Paris Bronson, “Hollywood Sons,” poolside in Bel Air, first published in L’Uomo Vogue and now in Pools. Far right: Mario Testino’s Betty Bee, Napoli, 1997 Teatro Massimo from the photographer’s new monograph, Ciao.

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People, Places, Pools

POOLS COURTESY OF RIZZOLI, ‘TESTINO. CIAO!’ COURTESY OF TASCHEN

Three coffee table tomes offer esoteric escapism.

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ith our temporary restrictions on global travel, it’s hard to believe that just a few centuries ago even the privileged few seldom traveled internationally, and rarely did they journey to exotic and distant lands, save for explorers, missionaries, mercenaries, and the merchant classes. These far-wanderers brought back extraordinary tales of that which they saw as well as specimens and trinkets to delight those back home—albeit many of these wonders collected through the lens of a colonial mindset. And thus was born the kunstkammer, better known as the curiosity cabinet, which, by the latter part of the sixteenth century, had become a must-have for royalty and the inquisitively inclined. They amassed vast holdings of the most unusual things on Earth—nautilus shells and sea fans, meteorites and minerals, blowfish and ostrich eggs—as well as scientific

instruments and intricately carved works of human genius, wrought in ivory and boxwood. Collections from around the world are showcased in Cabinet of Curiosities, a new Taschen volume by Massimo Listri. The only thing missing from this lavishly illustrated tome, with texts in English, German, and French: a cocktail invitation from Christian I of Saxony, whose collection, at the time, was the toast of Europe. —ANGELA M.H. SCHUSTER At a point in time when so many of us are dreaming of travel, a book about swimming pools has a uniquely transportive power. In Pools (Rizzoli), editor and avid swimmer Lou Stoppard has collected images by past and contemporary photographers that hint at what she describes as “the transformative power of water”—swimming spots as liminal spaces. The images of

Louise Dahl-Wolfe suggest female emancipation, those of Solve Sundsbø radiate freedom, peace, and meditation, while the pool shots crafted by Guy Bourdin and Helmut Newton contain all the elements of erotically charged theater. With text by Stoppard and essays by such writers as Leanne Shapton, this visual paean to the pool is also a celebration of its cultural significance. —HEATHER HODSON Another portal for escape is Mario Testino’s Ciao (Taschen). Who better to spend time with racing up and down the Amalfi coast than Mario? The Peruvian-born fashion photographer has collected together personal unpublished photographs of his beloved Italy—Rome, Naples, Florence, pristine coastal beaches thronged with the Beautiful People—and through his lens the glamour of la dolce vita flickers back into view again. Also available in an art edition limited to 100 copies. —HEATHER HODSON JULY—AUGUST 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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PATRIK GIARDINO/GETTY IMAGES

CULTURE

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Tales from the Gossip Mine

With the Daily News column giving me access to some of the biggest names in Hollywood, sometimes I tried to be strategic and develop a relationship with stars. That never worked, not even once.

In his new book, Gatecrasher, Avenue’s editor-in-chief, Ben Widdicombe, recalls being a gossip columnist at the New York Daily News during the early aughts

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ach night on the beat was a blur of brief interactions with superfamous people. The job of a reporter on the celebrity page is not to surprise stars when they’re off duty but to speak with them at prearranged press opportunities, such as their own film premieres. So mostly they’re expecting to talk to journalists and manage to be delightful. Meryl Streep has the ability to fix you in her gaze as she’s speaking as if you are the most fascinating person she’s ever met. When Jude Law decides to be “on,” it’s like interviewing a tanning bed. Hugh Grant and Kate Winslet still manage to give thoughtful answers to red-carpet questions they must find utterly banal. Hugh Jackman is even more charming and sincere in person than he appears on camera; so is Tom Hanks. But sometimes I found that embodying your on-screen image is not always a good thing. In the flesh, Robin Williams was so much like his manic, desperate-to-entertain persona that it seemed to be eating him up from the inside. Occasionally there was schtick. To drum up interest in the gossip pages, publicists promoting the romantic comedy Something’s Gotta Give put it about that there was a real-life romance taking place between its leads, Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton. This seemed highly unlikely. Nevertheless, when I interviewed the stars at the Boathouse in Central Park following the film’s New York premiere, Diane, then aged fifty-seven, conducted the entire conversation sitting girlishly in the lap of Jack, who was then sixty-six.

The scene was uncomfortable for everyone. But the redoubtable Hollywood publicist Pat Kingsley sat nearby and didn’t take her eyes off them, as if she were their parole officer. At the other extreme were those stars who just hated dealing with journalists. I’ve never approached Liam Neeson, Leonardo DiCaprio, or Robert De Niro for a quote, even at their own events, without being completely sure they’d rather be anywhere else on Earth. At other times, the person you get simply depends on the day they’re having. I’ve spoken to Cate Blanchett both when she wasn’t in the mood to be interviewed and also when she was so at ease she complained about her bunion. Unfortunately, I learned early on with Australian stars that attempting to ingratiate myself as a compatriot wasn’t always a winning strategy. Take it from me that trying to warm up Guy Pearce with an appreciative reference to Mike Young, the teenage heartthrob he played in the 1980s on the Australian soap opera Neighbours, is not the right way to start an interview. The most reliably professional stars to deal with were the so-called divas. Jennifer Lopez, Beyoncé, Madonna—they’d give you exactly what you needed in a two-minute interview, as long as you behaved yourself and didn’t try any “gotcha” questions. Mariah Carey was the same. I remember interviewing her after an appearance, when she was wearing a very low-cut top over a push-up bra that could have doubled as a medevac device for large marine mammals. Although she’s only five foot eight, her sixinch platform wedges elevated her bust to just beneath my chin. Her face was caked with thick

stage makeup, which crumbled as she spoke and fell in great chunks down the cleft of her bosom, like a glacier calving into the sea. I maintained an unnatural eye contact with her throughout the interview, since I dared not look down, even at my notebook. Afterward, when I reviewed my notes, they were just illegible loops of handwriting and one pinkish-brown explosion where a chunk of Mariah’s foundation had hit the page like a meteor strike. Paul Newman enjoyed going out, even near the very end of his life. Once, while we were speaking at a party, a fan came over and asked for an autograph. Slowly and gingerly, he grasped the longneck beer he was holding in his mouth, in order to have both hands free to sign. The actor was very frail, and I was worried the weight of the bottle would pull his teeth out. But he was so graceful, even in that awkward gesture, that his charisma was like being bathed in radiation. I also had a few enjoyably nutty encounters with Jerry Lewis when he was in his eighties. Whenever he visited New York City, he would stay at the Waldorf-Astoria Towers, luxury apartments adjacent to the famous hotel. I interviewed him there in a room strewn with old publicity images of him with Dean Martin that he was approving for a DVD release of their greatest hits. JULY—AUGUST 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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Jerry responded best to a tone that was somewhere between respectful and obsequious, and that’s what I gave him. It was important for him to feel like he was being treated as a major figure. The more comfortable he was, the more expansive he became. When he learned I was Australian, he telephoned a friend who owned a casino in Tasmania— waking him up in what was the middle of the night there—to tell him he was being interviewed by a fellow Aussie. Some of Jerry’s showbiz stories were a little tall, however. He told me that, in the early 1950s, he had been staying in one of two large penthouse suites at a hotel in Las Vegas. The other, which had an adjoining terrace, was occupied by John F. Kennedy, who then represented Massachusetts in the United States Senate. At the time, Kennedy was framing the book that would become Profiles in Courage, the winner of the 1957 Pulitzer Prize for Biography. With a serious cast to his brow, Jerry told me the future president asked for his help. He gestured to make sure I understood how close their penthouses really were. They would meet to discuss the themes in the book, he said, and pore over pages. Jerry chose his words carefully, but there was a sparkle in his eye. The message was clearly that he was too modest to come out and take credit for his work on the book, but a prudent person, on hearing his account, would conclude that he was largely responsible. The modesty itself was suspicious. Some people found Jerry to be a kind man, and others did not, but nobody ever described him as humble. The authorship of Profiles in Courage is, in fact, contested. It is now generally acknowledged to be the work of Kennedy’s speech-writer, Ted Sorensen. Having heard it straight from the horse’s mouth, however, I know better: the person who deserves credit for Profiles in Courage is Jerry Lewis. With the column giving me access to some of the biggest names in Hollywood, sometimes I tried to be strategic and develop a relationship 42

Robin Williams was so much like his manic, desperate-to-entertain persona that it seemed to be eating him up from the inside.

with a star. That never worked, not even once. Around that time, Tom Cruise fired his longtime and fearsomely effective publicist, Pat Kingsley. It was rumored that he blamed her when he did not receive an Academy Award nomination for his film The Last Samurai. But Pat was generally regarded as the top PR in Hollywood, and she played hardball. If a journalist crossed her on one of her clients, she would block their publication’s access to her entire roster, which included titans like Jodie Foster, Al Pacino, and Will Smith. Pat had al s o managed to keep Tom on a leash, shielding some of his crazier antics from popular scrutiny. But after the split, he decided to transfer public relations responsibilities to his

sister, Lee Anne De Vette, a fellow congregant in the Church of Scientology. Suddenly, after years of being muzzled on the subject of his faith, Tom started speaking about it to the press. It was not well received. Shortly after he changed publicists, I received a tip from a staff member at the Prada store in SoHo. Tom had come in to do some shopping, and as was the protocol for a major star, the store was closed to the public for the duration of his visit. What Miuccia Prada got for the forty million dollars she spent with the emporium’s architect, Rem Koolhaas, was a wooden halfpipe, leading down from the main entrance on Broadway into the belly of the store, which served both as stairs for the customers and display shelves for the merchandise. But it was made out of slippery zebrawood, and although the feature looked great, it could be treacherous to navigate. Sure enough, says the staff member who was present that day, Tom slipped at the top and bumped down the stairs on his Oscar-denied behind. When I called Lee Anne, she asked me not to run the item. Sensing the opportunity to get her on my side as an ally, and salivating at the lifetime of Tom Cruise scoops that would surely follow, I agreed. Needless to say, I never heard from her again.

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JERRY LEWIS: RON GALELLA/GETTY IMAGES; JUDE LAW: MARC PIASECKI/GC IMAGES/GETTY; NICHOLSON AND KEATON/DPA PICTURE ALLIANCE ARCHIVE/ALAMY; STREEP: ERNESTO RUSCIO/GETTY

SOCIAL WHIRL: Clockwise from top left, Jude Law radiated charisma when he was "on"; Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton sparked unlikely rumors of a romance; and Meryl Streep made every fan feel special. Facing page, Jerry Lewis made a dubious claim of authorship.

From Gatecrasher by Ben Widdicombe. Copyright © 2020 by Ben Widdicombe. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc. JULY—AUGUST 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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The World, According to

Padma L IN HER NEW DOCUMENTARY SERIES, THE FASHION AND CULINARY STAR EXPLORES AMERICA’S RICH REGIONAL CULTURE THROUGH ITS FOOD, WRITES BEN WIDDICOMBE

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Orange Ecab imi, omnihicae plis enimo qui te mos doloreh enemquiae in pa ni quas siti blanihi liquid mos et posae atur consenit ra seque dolupid quas am consequam et as sit.

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But now Hulu is currently streaming Taste the Nation, her most ambitious project yet. The ten-part series, which she also conceived and executive produced, takes her across the United States, experiencing both Native American and immigrant cuisines. “Our message is, ‘This is what America looks like,’” she says. “It’s meant to show you the sweeping breadth and diversity not only of the people, but also of the land.” The audience, she hopes, will be inspired to “scratch their curiosity, so that they explore pockets of their own city that they never have explored, and try the food. I hope it causes people to be curious about each other.” Although she has always returned to the culinary arts, Lakshmi, 49, has had a remarkably varied career. Born in Chennai, southern India, to an oncologist mother and a businessman father, she lived in both New York and Los Angeles as a child. A successful modeling career kept her in Europe for much of her twenties. 46

In the late ’90s, she hosted Italy’s most popular television variety show, Domenica in. Her eclectic acting credits include several Bollywood and Italian pirate movies, a small part in Mariah Carey’s film Glitter, and even an episode of Star Trek: Enterprise. Prompted by the interviewer, Lakshmi asks Krishna which of these credits impresses her the most. She replies that her mother’s greatest achievement is giving birth to her. “Which I also think, for the record, is my favorite thing that I’ve ever done,” Lakshmi says after a burst of laughter. “We are raising a very confident child.” Lakshmi’s willingness to allow such glimpses into her domestic life is also apparent in the series. Each episode addresses a different culture through its food, from San Francisco’s Chinatown, to visiting an Indian grocery store in Queens with her mother, to exploring German food in Milwaukee. She gently probes her subjects about their

KRISTIAN SCHULLER/BLAUBLUT EDITONS

n a sun-dappled spring morning in New York City, Padma Lakshmi is lying on the sofa in her downtown Manhattan apartment, with its vintage wooden furniture, wide floorboards, and exposed brick walls. Krishna, the ten-year-old daughter she shares with venture capitalist Adam Dell, the venture capitalist, is drawing on a table nearby. She has to describe the scene over the phone, because, in these socially distanced times, there is no journalist or photographer there to observe it. Has she been a whirlwind of activity in this new work-from-home world? “Truth be told, I’ve been in bed until now, watching Game of Thrones,” she says with a chuckle. “I woke up about three hours ago to check on my daughter, but then she was sleeping, so I watched another episode. And now I’m plotting what I should make for lunch for everybody.” Food is never far from Lakshmi’s mind, either personally or professionally. In addition to hosting Bravo’s hit series Top Chef for 16 seasons, she has authored two cookbooks, an encyclopedia of herbs and spices, and her 2016 memoir, Love, Loss, and What We Ate.

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lives, which she discusses through the lens of her own immigrant family history. “I am asking a lot of people in these episodes to really open up their lives and their family to me. And I shouldn’t be able to ask them anything I’m not willing to reveal myself, because all of that personal history is what informs the show,” she says. That means letting them tell their own stories, something Lakshmi feels she didn’t always get to do herself. In fact, many Americans were first introduced to her through New York’s tabloid gossip columns. 48

As Lakshmi frankly discusses in her memoir, she started dating Salman Rushdie, the novelist and intellectual who became world-famous as the subject of an Islamist fatwa, when he was still married to his previous wife. In 2006, two years into their marriage, she told Avenue: “Being married to a giant cultural figure like Salman Rushdie, I want to earn my seat at the table. After all, I was a published author before I met Salman.” The celebrity media pounced when they divorced the following year, and also closely followed her relationship with Teddy Forstmann,

the billionaire financier, which lasted until his death in 2011. And they feasted on the ups and downs of her relationship with Krishna’s father, which included a bitter custody dispute, followed by a romantic reconciliation. All of that history, she says, informs how she wants to empower the people she meets on her own show. “I spent a lot of time being in papers for my personal life, and I never had control of it,” she says. “That was so on the fringes of what my real life was like, and I’m glad that period is over.”

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ABOVE: KRISTIAN SCHULLER/BLAUBLUT EDITONS; LEFT: DOMINIC VALENTE/HULU

aste the Nation, which took two and a half years to realize, has a socially conscious tone that is much more suited to an op-ed than the gossip pages. “It’s been a long and interesting ride,” Lakshmi says. “I’m learning on the job because I’ve never done something so editorial before, and I never had the control to do exactly as I thought best in all aspects of the creative process.” Then comes one of her spontaneous, cascading laughs. “It’s definitely a group effort, but you are getting my opinion,” she explains. “It’s the world, according to me.” The series also allows Lakshmi to articulate a partisan point of view that is not necessarily common in other food shows. “Food is really political, and I have been thinking about this issue for a long time,” she says. “Food is the language I approach the world with. Being an immigrant myself, I think it’s the key to any culture. It’s nonthreatening, but it is also basic survival, and that is very political.” Lakshmi started working with the American Civil Liberties Union, focusing on immigrant

“FOOD IS THE LANGUAGE I APPROACH THE WORLD WITH. BEING AN IMMIGRANT MYSELF, I THINK IT’S THE KEY TO ANY CULTURE. IT’S NONTHREATENING, BUT IT IS ALSO BASIC SURVIVAL, AND THAT IS VERY POLITICAL.”

stories, after the 2016 election. The first episode of Taste the Nation was shot in El Paso, Texas, and directly addresses the current administration’s policy of building a wall between the United States and Mexico. “Maynard Haddad—proprietor of the city’s James Beard Award-winning H&H Car Wash and Coffee Shop—says, ‘You can build . . . human nature.’” But it’s not going to stop people from commingling, because they’re hungry. That’s human nature.” Lakshmi sees an analogy between that physical separation and the social distancing which has been imposed upon communities by the coronavirus. “I have a feeling that Mother Nature has a way of correcting things. We were getting to be a really consumerist society, and all of a sudden now we’re needing to make do with less and stay home,” she says. “One of the things my show proves is what this incident proves, which is the importance of breaking bread with someone. Because that has been taken away from us, and now we know we cannot live in isolation.”

TASTE TEST: Lakshmi exploring Japanese culture and food on Oahu in an episode of Taste the Nation

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TIME & TIDE ROBERTA NAAS DIVES DEEP ON SPORTY SUMMER WATCHES PHOTO-COLLAGES BY MARTIN VALLIN

Breitling Avenger Automatic Sea Wolf measures 45mm in diameter, and is crafted in steel with a unidirectional rotating ratcheted bezel. Water-resistant to an incredible 3,000 meters, it is powered by a self-winding mechanical movement and boasts hands and indexes coated with Super-LumiNova. $3,975; breitling.com

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PHOTO-COLLAGES BY MARTIN VALLIN/KMA

Corum Admiral’s Cup AC-One 45 Tides watch is crafted of Grade 5 titanium with color PVD titanium inserts and color-coordinated dial and rubber strap. Powered by an automatic movement, the watch indicates the moon phase and tides coefficient, as well as displaying the timing of the next two high and low tides, the current strength, and more. The dial flange boasts the iconic nautical pennants that are a signature of the Admiral’s Cup collection. $10,100; corum-watches.com

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Rolex Yacht-Master II is designed for regatta racing on the open seas. Crafted in 904L stainless steel, the chronograph timepiece is used for timing the 10 minutes before the race begins – a critical time for captains to maneuver into place for the regatta. Additionally, the watch features a bi-directional rotating bezel with a blue Cerachrom (a Rolex material) Ring-Command bezel with mechanical memory that acts as the programmable countdown. The Oyster Perpetual Superlative Chronometer watch is water resistant to 100 meters. $18,750; rolex.com 52

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PHOTO-COLLAGES BY MARTIN VALLIN/KMA

Ulysse Nardin Diver Deep Dive 46mm is created in a partnership with the nonprofit organization One More Wave. Crafted in lightweight yet rugged titanium, it is powered by an in-house-made 227part mechanical movement and is water-resistant to 1,000 meters. It is equipped with a helium escape valve, and the rubber strap has an expandable element that adjusts to changes caused by compression. $13,500; ulysse-nardin.com

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Fire in the Sky

SUMMER IS SYNONYMOUS WITH FIREWORKS. GEORGE RUSH TRACES THE LOCAL HISTORY OF THE ART FORM, MASTERED BY THE GRUCCI FAMILY, FROM THE 1800S TO TODAY

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GUTTER CREDITS COURTESY OF MARK TKTKTKTKTKTKTKTK; DITTMER/GRUCCI ARCHIVE

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A FAMILY AFFAIR: Phil Grucci’s grandparents, Felix sr. and Concetta, his uncle, Felix Jr., his aunt, Donna, and his father, James.

have long been bedazzled by fireworks. If something was worth celebrating— the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825, say, or the triumphant return of Admiral George Dewey from the Spanish-American War 74 years later—it was worth saluting with rockets and whizbangs. In 1883, Annie Oakley gazed from a roof as 6,000 skyrockets and 400 bombshells heralded the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge. Yes, there was the occasional mishap. A star-spangled 1858 tribute to the Transatlantic Telegraph Cable ignited the cupola of City Hall, nearly burning down our seat of municipal government. But nothing could stop citizens from obeying the mandate of Founding Father John Adams, made in a 1776 letter to his wife 20 years before becoming the nation’s second president, that America’s independence be “solemnized with Pomp and Parades…Bonfires and Illuminations…forever more.” On the evening of July 3, 1876, New Yorkers of every class gathered at Union Square to greet their country’s second century. At the stroke of midnight, reported The Sun, “The whole sky blazed with…balls and streams of fire,” followed by “fiery pictures” of George Washington and the Pilgrims. 56

COURTESY OF GRUCCI ARCHIVE

New Yorkers

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George Plimpton collaborated with the Gruccis on creating the world’s largest firework— a Roman candle dubbed “Fat Man,” weighing 720 pounds.

LAUNCH PARTY: Before his death in 2003, the writer George Plimpton (pictured here with, from far left to right, Felix Jr., James, and Felix Sr. ) requested that his ashes be launched skyward in his favorite firework.

Another hundred years after that, to mark America’s bicentennial, television brought viewers the first Macy’s July 4th show. (The Coast Guard briefly seized Mayor Abe Beame’s boat after it ventured too close to a fireworks barge in New York Harbor.) Lighting the fuses on many of this city’s Independence, Memorial, and Labor Days has been a family of pyrotechnic artists, the Gruccis, whose company celebrates its 170th anniversary this year. Family patriarch Angelo Lanzetta was born in in 1850 in Bari, Italy; as a young man, he had apparently been apprenticed to a local fireworks family and learned how to fabricate fuochi d’artificio. He immigrated to the United States through

Ellis Island in 1890, bringing with him a shoebox full of fireworks formulas. After Angelo’s death in 1899, his son, Anthony, carried on the business, recruiting his nephew, Felix Grucci Sr., as an apprentice. Settling in Bellport, Long Island, Felix developed safer fireworks, as well as an atomic bomb simulation for the Department of Defense. Through the ’40s and ’50s, the Gruccis could always count on Italian feasts and town fairs for work. But, in the ’60s, the Vietnam War made some people question bombs bursting in air. “It was a tough time,” said current chief executive Phil Grucci, 57. “We made just enough to feed the eight members of our family.” Phil was seven when he first got to ride the fireworks truck to the weekly show at Coney Island.

“My father, [Jimmy Grucci,] let me cut the string that held the rockets together,” Phil remembered. “I’d wait on the boardwalk with my grandfather while a tug towed my dad and Uncle Butch out on a rickety barge filled with shells.” In 1976, a televised performance in Boston for America’s bicentennial brought the Gruccis to national attention. Their ambition grew. Every Sunday, over pasta dinner, Phil’s elders debated whether to take part in the 1979 International Festival of Fireworks in Monte Carlo. “My father wanted to go,” Phil remembered. “My grandfather didn’t. My grandmother [Concetta] was the tiebreaker. We went!” The Gruccis became the first American team to win a Gold Medal. JULY—AUGUST 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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oining the family on that trip was author George Plimpton. A few years earlier, Mayor John Lindsay had named Plimpton, a former U.S. Army demolition expert, as honorary Fireworks Commissioner. In 1975, Plimpton had collaborated with the Gruccis on creating the world’s largest firework—a Roman candle dubbed “Fat Man,” weighing 720 pounds. Though it failed to launch as intended (instead blasting a 35-foot-wide crater in the Bellport earth) Plimpton claimed a Guinness record for the world’s “lowest” firework. The Gruccis donated fireworks to Plimpton’s annual East Hampton benefit for Anthony Drexel Duke’s Boys and Girls Harbor charity. Narrating the show, Plimpton would caress each firework’s traditional name—“Flower-Scattering Maiden, “Red Lions Over Snow-Capped Mountains”—with his patrician diction. As the finale neared, Phil reminisced, “George would smack my knee, to try to get me to launch faster. He’d say, ‘Go, Philly! Go, go, go!’ ” Plimpton was also at Phil’s side in 1983, when the Gruccis prepped for the Brooklyn Bridge’s Centennial. “My father put me in charge of installing fireworks on top of the towers,”

Phil recollected. “George and I climbed the bridge cable. He was white-knuckled all the way up. When we reached the top, he said, ‘Philly, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to get down!’ We coaxed him.” Six months after the bridge jubilee, Phil’s father, Jimmy, 42, and his cousin, Donna Gruber, 19, had just finished work at the Bellport plant when the assembly shed exploded, killing them both and injuring 24 others. Later, at the funeral, Plimpton remembered Jimmy Grucci as “an honored member of a remarkable profession— craftsmen whose artistic function is momentarily to change the face of the heavens themselves, to make the night sky more beautiful than it is, and in the process give delight and wonder to countless hundreds of thousands.” “It was a turning point in my life and the lives of our family,” Phil explained. “We knew everything was gone. We had a meeting around the dining room table. My grandfather had survived but he was still traumatized. My grandmother was on the fence about continuing. I was a freshman at college but I was eager to get the business up and running—in the name of my dad and the generations before us.” By 1986, the Gruccis had risen from the ashes, organizing 44 barges to salute the 100th birthday of Lady Liberty. Seven

presidential inaugurations, four World’s Fairs, five Olympic Games, and many casino openings followed. The Gruccis also renewed their relationship with the Department of Defense. Since 1997, Pyrotechnique by Grucci has manufactured explosives and propellants at a 1,500-acre munitions facility in Radford, Virginia. This year began auspiciously for the company, which set two new world records in the United Arab Emirates on New Year’s Eve, including one for Longest Firework Waterfall (a cascade stretching almost four miles). By summer, however, COVID-19 had darkened the skies; most of the Gruccis’ clients canceled their annual displays, idling many of their 750 employees. Phil believes televising prerecorded fireworks could ensure social distancing. “This year, maybe we can’t be together en masse,” said Phil. “But we can be with friends and family.” After George Plimpton passed away in 2003, Phil helped carry out the writer’s wish to have his ashes blasted heavenward in his favorite firework, a Brocade Kamuro. Ten shells showered Gardiner’s Bay with a sparkling rain of gold. “George added a lot of color to anything he did,” said Phil.

“My father put me in charge of installing fireworks on top of the [Brooklyn Bridge] towers. George [Plimpton] and I climbed the bridge cable. He was white-knuckled all the way up.”

GUTTER CREDITS TKTKTKTKTKTKTKTK;

—PHIL GRUCCI

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Feud Network NOT ALL FIREWORKS EXPLODE IN THE SUMMER SKY. HORACIO SILVA WRYLY RECALLS EIGHT LEGENDARY RIVALRIES AMONG NEW YORK POWER PLAYERS

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he Italian designer Franco Moschino once quipped that the reason why fashion-folk exchange air kisses is that it gives them the chance to whisper fresh insults into each other’s ears. He might just as well have been referring to powerful New Yorkers, who can cherish their grudges like family heirlooms. As the musical Hamilton attests, the history of the city is one long rap sheet of enmity and bitter rivalries.

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CARNEGIE: LIBRARY OF CONGRESS; FRICK: TIME LIFE PICTURES/TIMEPIX/GETTY; STEEL MILL: ARTHUR ROTHSTEIN/LIBRARY OF CONGRESS. MOSES: ALFRED EISENSTAEDT/THE LIFE PICTURE COLLECTION/GETTY; JACOBS: FRANK LENNON/TORONTO STAR/GETTY; LOWER MANHATTAN EXPRESSWAY: PAUL RUDOLPH/LIBRARY OF CONGRESS.

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Andrew Carnegie vs. Henry Clay Frick These robber barons brought their acrimony to New York from Pennsylvania, where they had built a steel empire together before falling out. Despite giving away a large chunk of their fortunes to philanthropic causes, they squirreled away enough to bankroll their countless lawsuits against one another. In 1919, a dying Carnegie, pictured right, reached out to his onetime friend, a conciliatory gesture that was met with a now famous rebuke from Frick. “Yes, you can tell Carnegie I’ll meet him,” he fired back. “Tell him I’ll see him in Hell, where we both are going.”

Jane Jacobs vs. Robert Moses As the conflict between Moses, the mandarin master builder of the 20th century, and Jacobs, a secretary turned journalist and neighborhood activist, underscores, bad blood is built into the very architecture of the city. The decades-long spat between the two, whom the New York Times dubbed “almost perfect antagonists,” stems from Jacobs’ opposition to Moses’ plans, in the 1950s and ’60s, to run highways through Washington Square Park and SoHo, and thus decimate Greenwich Village. She won and he seethed, dismissing Jacobs and her agitators as “a bunch of mothers.” Though Jacobs would linger for years in relative obscurity, thanks in part to her being excised from Robert Caro’s seminal biography of Moses, their contretemps later inspired the opera A Marvelous Order. JULY—AUGUST 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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The impish writer notoriously feuded with, and often bested, contemporaries such as Gore Vidal and Jack Kerouac (famously shivving the latter with the ultimate bookish put-down: “That’s not writing, that’s typing.”) But Capote met his match in the Swans, the circle of high-society women with whom he surrounded himself, including Slim Keith, pictured right, Babe Paley, and C. Z. Guest. After being dropped by his gal pals for publishing their secrets in Answered Prayers, his serialized, gossipy roman à clef, the well-traveled Capote was sent to the one place from which he could never return: social Siberia.

Mary McCarthy vs. Lillian Hellman What exactly were they serving in the greenroom of the Dick Cavett Show? The thinking man’s talk show was the setting for Norman Mailer’s infamous headbutting of Gore Vidal, and the launch pad for the protracted brawl between two of New York’s fiercest literary lionesses (a feud later immortalized by Nora Ephron in the Broadway show Imaginary Friends). In a 1979 appearance on the Cavett show, McCarthy, pictured far left, unleashed a torrent

of invective, referring to Hellman as “tremendously overrated, a bad writer,” among other things. The wealthy Hellman responded by suing her cash-strapped rival for $2.25 million, refusing to accede to the appeals of literary society (including, of all people, Mailer) right up until her death four years later. “I didn’t want her to die,” an unremorseful McCarthy told the New York Times. “I wanted her to lose in court. I wanted her around for that.”

John Fairchild vs. Geoffrey Beene Fairchild, pictured left, the late publisher and editor in chief of Women’s Wear Daily, was infamous for the grudges he held against everyone from Rudi Gernreich to Giorgio Armani. However, the tyrannical Fairchild, who popularized the terms “fashion victim” and “In and Out” list, reserved his most rankling resentment for designer Beene. According to fashion folklore, the source of their discord stems from Beene’s refusal to give WWD an exclusive preview of Lynda Bird Johnson’s wedding gown in 1967. Innocuous, perhaps, but enough for Fairchild to place the designer on the Out list until his death in 2004.

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CAPOTE: RON GALELLA/GETTY; KEITH: HORST P. HORST/CONDE NAST/GETTY; PAPARAZZI: GEORGE ROSE/GETTY. MCCARTHY: NINA LEEN/THE LIFE PICTURE COLLECTION/GETTY; HELLMAN: CORBIS/GETTY; BOOKSHELVES: DAVID MADISON/GETTY. FAIRCHILD: BOB PETERSON/LIFE/GETTY; BEENE: SUSAN WOOD/ GETTY; PRESS CONFERENCE: THOMAS J. O’HALLORAN/LIBRARY OF CONGRESS.

Truman Capote vs. The Swans

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ARDEN: ULLSTEIN BILD/GETTY; RUBINSTEIN: MARIO DE BIASI/MONDADORI/GETTY; JO STAFFORD: WILLIAM P. GOTTLIEB/LIBRARY OF CONGRESS. ANTHONY MARSHALL: DEBBIE EGAN-CHIN/NY DAILY NEWS/GETTY; PHILIP MARSHALL: BRYAN SMITH/ZUMAPRESS.COM/ALAMY; EVERY DOLLAR SPENT IN CANADA: LIBRARY OF CONGRESS. DE BLASIO AND CUOMO: JAMES KEIVOM/NY DAILY NEWS/GETTY; NEW YORK CITY SKYLINE: THOMAS J. O’HALLORAN VIA LIBRARY OF CONGRESS.

Elizabeth Arden vs. Helena Rubinstein The ugly business of beauty was on display in the lifelong rivalry between these two mavens of maquillage. Self-made and self-mythologizing proto-brand builders, the pair were polar opposites—Arden, pictured far left, a wannabe WASP, Rubinstein an avant-gardist—but singular in their pursuit of the hearts, minds, and faces of American women. To that end they cribbed ideas from

one another, fought over celebrity endorsements, and poached each other’s staff (after Arden lured away her head of HR, Rubinstein got even by hiring Arden’s ex-husband as her publicist). Though the pair miraculously (some might say fortuitously) never crossed paths in person, they would eventually meet on the Broadway stage as the protagonists in the musical War Paint.

Philip Marshall vs. Anthony Marshall In one of the ickiest family squabbles in recent history, Brooke Astor’s son, Anthony Marshall, pictured right, was sued by his own son Philip, pictured far right, in 2006, for swindling millions from the estate of the beloved socialite and philanthropist, who was stricken with Alzheimer’s disease. Astor died in August 2007 with an estimated net worth of $131 million. Though the civil case was dropped, Anthony was eventually found guilty of conspiracy and forgery, and sentenced to one to three years in jail, serving only eight weeks. Despite not being invited, Philip crashed his father’s 2014 funeral.

Bill de Blasio vs. Andrew Cuomo New York’s mayors and governors have traditionally gotten along about as well as Mets and Yankees fans at a subway series, but Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, pictured far left, have hit this rancorous tradition out of the park. Since de Blasio took office in 2014, they have publicly sniped at each other over everything from transit funding to the proliferation of ride-hailing apps. Even a pandemic couldn’t persuade the two egotists to put aside their differences. While their mutual antagonism exasperates many (Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, tweeted at them to “Cut the crap”), many others secretly enjoy the spectacle. After all, as New York beefs go, it’s as authentic as a Nathan’s hot dog. JULY—AUGUST 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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GIVING

SEASON NEW YORK’S PHILANTHROPISTS RESPONDED QUICKLY AND DECISIVELY IN THE EARLY DAYS OF THE COVID-19 CRISIS, WRITES ARIA DARCELLA. BUT WHERE DOES THAT LEAVE OTHER CITY INSTITUTIONS, WHICH ALSO RELY ON GENEROSITY? ILLUSTRATIONS BY RACHELL SUMPTER

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“YOUNG HEIRS HAVE REALLY BEEN STEPPING UP AND PLAYING A BIG ROLE IN PHILANTHROPY.” —DAVID CALLAHAN

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n April, George Soros and his Open Society Foundations pledged $37 million in relief to New Yorkers suffering economically from the COVID-19 crisis. The emergency support package—part of a larger global aid fund of $133.7 million—offered help to everyone from lowwage and gig-economy workers to immigrants and undocumented families. The move addressed the unique needs of the hardest-hit city in the country. By no means was Open Society alone. Within the first month of the outbreak, New York saw an outpouring of generosity from its residents and institutions. JPMorgan Chase made a $50 million global commitment to various sectors disrupted by the pandemic, including immediate health care relief and supporting existing nonprofits. Manhattan homeowner and sometime resident Jeff Bezos pledged $100 million to Feeding

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America. Meanwhile, Brooklyn Nets owner (and cofounder of e-commerce giant Alibaba) Joe Tsai, and his wife, Clara Wu Tsai, donated millions of N95 masks and thousands of ventilators to the city. Most notably, 18 major foundations, including Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and the Ford Foundation, came together to form the NYC COVID-19 Response & Impact Fund in March, generating $75 million in funds. That has since grown to $95 million as more donors joined. The mobilization of donors, both big and small, has been especially impressive given how the lockdown has changed the way funds are raised. The usual methods for courting donors—galas, luncheons, and meetings—have halted due to social-distancing measures. But this has inspired innovative solutions, especially in the digital sphere.

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RALPH LAUREN: ZACH HILTY/BFA; MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: PAUL PORTER/BFA; LEONARD LAUDER: DEREK STORM/EVERETT COLLECTION/ALAMY; DEBRA BLACK AND LEON BLACK: DIA DIPASUPIL/GETTY IMAGES FOR J. PAUL GETTY TRUST; VALERIE ROCKEFELLER WAYNE: JOE SCHILDHORN/PATRICK MCMULLAN/GETTY IMAGES

In May, the Robin Hood Foundation teamed up with iHeartMedia, the country’s largest radio broadcaster, for a star-studded telethon. The Rise Up New York! benefit raised more than $115 million for relief and recovery efforts in the city, including support for food, shelter, health care, and education. “We were really touched by the big-hearted response from people in New York City and around the world,” a Robin Hood spokesperson told Avenue. Everyone seems to have found a way to do their part. In fact, the response to the COVID-19 crisis has been so overwhelming that it is having unintended consequences. “For the past two months, it’s kind of been all COVID-19, all the time,” explains David Callahan, the founder and editor of Inside Philanthropy, a digital publication that covers the workings of charitable organizations. (Callahan was speaking before the Black Lives Matter movement galvanized the nation in June, and also made social justice a significant focus for giving.) “That raises questions about the ability to raise money for other stuff right now. If you have an organization focused on frontline social services to help people in need, it’s a good time to raise money. If you’re trying to raise money for saving the Amazon rainforest, it’s maybe a less good time to raise money.” With the dip in revenue streams compounded by New York’s shelter in place rules, many institutions are facing a huge crisis in funding. “All the major museums are really having a hard time,” Callahan says. “They’re desperate for money, facing big budgetary shortfalls.” In April, the Metropolitan Museum of Art reportedly projected a $150 million shortfall. In May, the American Museum of Natural History announced it will reduce its staff by 20 percent, while the Guggenheim Museum has furloughed more than 90 staff members.

But all is not lost—especially as many of New York’s most important charitable families are seeing a new generation take the reins. “Young heirs have really been stepping up and playing a big role in philanthropy,” Callahan says. “You can see that in New York City with family foundations like the Nathan Cummings Foundation, which has a fourth-generation board chair now. You see it with a place like the Open Society Foundations, where Alexander Soros, George’s son, is really stepping up. [And] you have heirs like Emma Bloomberg, who’s likely to take a growing role at her father’s Bloomberg Philanthropies.” The newly monied, such as tech and finance entrepreneurs, are also getting into giving. And they’re doing it in a different way than previous generations. “A lot of the younger business winners are turning to philanthropy earlier in their careers than they might have in other eras,” Callahan explains.“The old model of ‘make a bunch of money, and then later give it away’ has changed. There’s much more of a focus now on giving while still being in the prime of your business life and giving earlier in your career.” Although the city is still grappling with the outbreak, the prevailing feeling is that New Yorkers love their city, and they’re ready to give back. If any town has a charitable spirit, it’s ours. It’s only a matter of time before things will get back on track. “New York City will continue to be the capital of philanthropy in America, if not the world,” Callahan says of the future. “More billionaires are based in New York, more private foundations, more corporations with philanthropic arms, than any other city in the world. And some of the premier nonprofit organizations are based in New York. There’s going to continue to be a big philanthropy scene…the future is bright, long term.”

Big Spenders

Five notable donations during the crisis

Ralph Lauren

The Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation $10 million to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. The fashion and lifestyle mogul was among the first to offer support.

Michael Bloomberg

Leonard Lauder

Debra and Leon Black

Valerie Rockefeller Wayne

Bloomberg Philanthropies

The Estée Lauder Companies

The Debra and Leon Black Family

Rockefeller Brothers Fund

$10.5 million to a COVID-19 testing and tracing program. Bloomberg Philanthropies has also given $6 million to World Central Kitchen, among other major donations.

More than $14 million in grants, as well as brand donations. In addition to pledging funds, the company pivoted production at its Melville, New York, and Oevel, Belgium, manufacturing facilities to make hand sanitizers for highneed groups such as healthcare workers.

$10 million in donations, plus an additional $10 million in matched donations to support health care workers. The Blacks focused on getting food to those who were busy saving lives.

$700,000 to the NYC COVID-19 Response & Impact Fund, and $500,000 to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.

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DISEASE HAS SHAPED WESTERN IDEAS OF BEAUT Y FOR CENTURIES.

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WHAT IS IT ABOUT BEING WAN THAT WE FIND SO APPEALING? BY HARRIET MAYS POWELL ILLUSTRATIONS BY LESLIE SHERYLL

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In fact, that cosmetic trend began as a way to disguise the effects of disease. Elizabeth had suffered from smallpox at age 29 and been scarred by the malady’s distinctive “pocks.” To sustain an illusion of youthful beauty, she applied a thick white cosmetic called Venetian ceruse to cover the disfiguration on her face, neck, and décolleté. The fact that it contained powdered lead has prompted some scholars to theorize that related blood poisoning could have been a contributing cause of her death. Later, for a period of about 80 years in the 18th and 19th centuries, the effects of tuberculosis (also called consumption) were considered attractive and inextricably tied to fashion. Professor Carolyn A. Day, author of Consumptive Chic: a History of Beauty, Fashion, and Disease, says many of consumption’s effects were physically flattering and were a good fit for the beauty standards of the era: “Pale skin, rosy cheeks, dilated pupils, tiny waists, rounded shoulders, and visible clavicles: the classic Jane Austen look.” “Health and activity were deemed vulgar,” Day tells Avenue, while “languid and listless ladies sporting pale complexions were all the rage.” Women who were beautiful were also thought more vulnerable to consumption, so the middle and upper classes emulated a consumptive appearance by using makeup to lighten their skin, redden their lips, and color their cheeks pink. Day cites the example of Charlotte Brontë, the author of Jane Eyre. Despite losing four sisters and a brother to tuberculosis, she nonetheless wrote in 1849: “Consumption, I am aware, is a flattering malady.” Although Brontë knew the grim reality, Day explains, she was “still participating in the ethos of her time.” For a while, consumption was even thought to animate male creative genius, especially in Romantic poets like John Keats, who died of tuberculosis in in 1821 at the age of 25. “Keats becomes the archetype; he burns very brightly,

CHRONICLE/ALAMY

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ould looking sick ever be attractive? At several moments in the last 400 years—including, judging by Instagram, very recently—the answer is “yes.” Notions of disease and beauty have long been intertwined in Western culture. From Elizabethan England until modern times, it has not been uncommon for some signs of illness to be regarded as fashionable and desirable. The distinctive chalk-white makeup worn by Queen Elizabeth I became an archetype of beauty in 16th-century England. Among aristocratic women, having a white face both emulated the Virgin Queen and advertised their own elevated class status. Not only was the makeup expensive, a pale complexion indicated that a woman belonged to the upper class. Many lower-class women worked outside and acquired a suntan or a weather-beaten complexion; pale skin was therefore a sign of wealth and nobility.

THE ART OF SUFFERING: Poet John Keats, who died of tuberculosis at 25, portrayed during the last stages of his illness. In men, the disease was often associated with genius.

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but he burns out very quickly,” says Day. By the 1840s, however, the disease had become feminized, and men who contracted it were thought unmanly. Sometimes, it is the reaction to disease which shapes beauty ideals. Unlike tubercular women who were regarded as glamorous, in the gay communities of the 1980s, the emaciated appearance of men with AIDS contributed to the growth of gym-going culture and made conspicuous muscles fashionable. Professor Paul Deslandes, author of the upcoming book The Culture of Male Beauty in Britain: From the First Photographs to David Beckham, says that physical wasting became “an emblem of the horrors of the disease,” and “something that gay men reacted against.” Members of the LGBT community certainly felt empathy, but they also recoiled from the image, “fearing that their bodies might end up looking like that, too.” In his research, Deslandes recorded responses from men reflecting on the traumas of the period. “They talk about their desire to avoid the signs of the disease, and it was the fear of physical degeneration that inspired them to go to the gym to pump up fanatically.” Gay men saw visits to the gym as a way of maintaining their health, but they also reflected their anxiety that their bodies might be read by others as diseased.” In the safer sex campaigns of the time, Deslandes notes that the ads relied on buffed and often hairless bodies. “Shaving the body was intended to show that you had clean, pure, youthful skin,” he says.

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ut then beauty ideals changed again. In reaction to the athletic supermodels of the ’80s, fashion photography in the early ’90s explored less perfect, more inclusive concepts of beauty in new looks known variously as “grunge,” “waif,” and later “heroin chic.” Tina Gaudoin, health and beauty director of Harper’s Bazaar in the early 1990s, recalls working with “all the big girls, Linda, Christy, Helena, et al,” before going to Paris to shoot with the model everyone was talking about: Kate Moss. “She was a complete contradiction to everything that had gone before,” Gaudoin tells Avenue. “She was a non-glamazon and anti-’80s: wispy, slightly

mousy, not blond at that point, and extremely shy. Her radical difference stood out in the shoots we began to do together, and makeup artists, hairstylists and designers caught on quickly. This was the birth of no make up makeup; choppy, undone hair, and, of course, grunge.” As a result, a new crop of girls sprang up too, with “slighter frames, more elfin looks and, frankly, hollower cheeks.” But the backlash was swift, with critics claiming the girls looked unhealthy and that magazines were glorifying a body image associated with heroin abuse and anorexia. Gaudoin, who had been working with Moss regularly, had gotten to know her and seen her “eat plenty.” As far as she could determine, Kate was “a regular sort of London girl, who liked wine and chips.” So, she wrote a defense of skinny models for Harper’s Bazaar and “that’s when the fury really began.” Even President Bill Clinton, speaking on drug policy, complained that “fashion photos in the last few years have made heroin addiction seem glamorous and sexy and cool.” One descendent of “heroin chic” was the so-called “Pro-Ana” movement of the 1990s, glorifying anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder which, at its most extreme, could be fatal. This so-called “anorexic chic” has seen the growth of an underground online beauty world in which people try to starve themselves deliberately. The aim of these sites is to cultivate a sense of community among fellow anorexics, one that is based on feelings of pride in self-control. Photos of underweight individuals, known as “thinspiration,” are found alongside tips on how to suppress hunger and keep vomiting a secret. And in the last few years, social media has also been a vehicle for the glorification or exploitation of illness. Having contracted Lyme disease, celebrities such as Yolanda Hadid (along with her model daughter, Bella) have been criticized for posting beautiful-in-their-suffering selfies on Instagram, looking perfect while simultaneously decrying the illness’s effects. Such are the contemporary manifestations of the age-old relationship between beauty and disease. For centuries, “dying to be beautiful” is a phrase that has had disturbingly literal connotations.

THE PRINT COLLECTOR/HULTON ARCHIVE/GETTY IMAGES

FROM ELIZABETHAN ENGLAND UNTIL MODERN TIMES, IT HAS NOT BEEN UNCOMMON FOR SOME SIGNS OF ILLNESS TO BE REGARDED AS FASHIONABLE AND DESIRABLE.

BEAUTY IS PAIN: Queen Elizabeth I used Venetian ceruse to mask the effects of smallpox only for it to lead to another ailment—lead poisoning. JULY—AUGUST 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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The

Eyes Have It

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OUR UNUSUAL SUMMER HAS PRESENTED UNIQUE CHALLENGES FOR COSMETICS ENTREPRENEURS AND CONSUMERS, WRITES BEAUTY EXPERT JILLIAN MAGENHEIM

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CARINA JAHN / BLAUBLUT-EDITION.COM

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THE SUMMER OF 2020

will go down in beauty history as the season when brightening eye serums, mascara, and warmtoned eye shadow palettes were all the rage. Not so hot right now? Lipsticks and fragrances. Such is beauty in the COVID-19 age, when consumers are adjusting their behaviors to accommodate unpleasant realties that include omnipresent face masks and a sharp decline in social opportunities. Cosmetics manufacturers keeping a blackrimmed eye on the situation are having to innovate in what, for many sectors, has been a retail apocalypse. Some adjustments are obvious, like beefing up online sales and increasing investment in social media, notably Instagram. But others are more subtle. RéVive Skincare, for example, has been creating Spotify playlists that allow customers to immerse themselves in a sensory brand experience that doesn’t require an inperson activation. “We’ve used this time to try things we’ve never done before” said RéVive CEO Elana Drell-Szyfer. “We put up a [face-to-face] virtual consultation program on weekends with one of our estheticians and people are signing up and showing up, so that’s been great. We’re now thinking about, how do you scale it? Do we have digital sellers? I think this is something we’ll need to explore sooner rather than later.” Other brands have been equally proactive. Digital marketers at Pat McGrath Labs have made their well-known, eponymous CEO the centerpiece of a successful new Instagram Live series. “We need to have meaningful connections with consumers now more than ever,” said Lauren McGovern, the company’s head of social media. “Since we started working from home, we now go live on Instagram once a week to provide 74

positivity and entertainment as a distraction from everything negative happening in the world.” Across the industry, these efforts are resulting in a strong uptick in online sales, even as revenue from brick-and-mortar retail has declined to near zero. “Our web sales have more than doubled, tripled,” says Andrew Goetz, co-founder of Malin+ Goetz. “I think everyone has come to this realization that, online and ecommerce, if you weren’t embracing it before, this is the moment.” And with more customers shopping online, new cohorts are emerging. “We’ve seen a lot more people come to us who may not have shopped the brand before,” says Goetz, who has been sufficiently encouraged by the interest to launch a new eye serum. “A month ago, it would have been totally inappropriate [to introduce a new product], there’s no question about it,” he says. “We waited for a time that we felt it wouldn’t be vulgar or garish and honestly have just been gauging ourselves like, all right, we’ve been cooped up now for two months and we’re eager for something new and positive. Reading about something innovative is exciting because it helps take your mind off the dullness of the present and gives you optimism for the future.” RéVive Skincare also believes conditions have stabilized enough to again introduce new products. “We decided to launch and, actually, I think people were happy to see newness, happy to speak with us virtually and write about new things. The customer response has been positive,” says Drell-Szyfer, the CEO. What consumers are seeking right now, according to manufacturers, is a focus on quality

of product over quantity. This market trend has benefited natural beauty brands. “The customer is wanting to know what they’re putting on their skin and caring about that more than ever,” says Sasha Plavsic, founder of ILIA Beauty, whose bestseller is currently Limitless Lash Mascara. Ido Magal, founder of Lavido, which creates popular products like Age Away Hydrating Cream, agrees. “It’s a nice surprise that people are thinking about their health and what their skin looks like right now,” he says. “To me, this means people are still seeing a future for themselves.” In addition to eye shadow palettes and mascaras, face lotions and eye creams have also become more popular during the last three months The same goes for serums that help with skin irritations due to dry skin, as well as stressinduced breakouts. Similar trends are also apparent in adjacent sectors that have also been impacted, like cosmetic surgery. “People want to feel better about themselves while spending less,” said Dr. Arash Akhavan of New York City’s Dermatology and Laser Group. “They go for smaller, quicker, and less invasive procedures. Things like laser hair removal, Em-sculpting [a technique utilizing electromagnets], and Botox and then work up to larger, more risky procedures from there.” The fact that cosmetic clinics have not been open has not stopped eager clients from making appointments. Both Dr. Akhavan and Dr. Jason Emer, who practices in Los Angeles, have reported waiting list of several hundred people. While Dr. Emer’s office has temporarily ceased providing cosmetic surgeries and dermatology treatments, it has taken patients needing laceration repairs, so they can avoid emergency rooms and hospitals that could put them at risk of contracting COVID-19. Later, the practice plans to reintroduce other procedures in order of medical importance, such as prioritizing melanoma screenings over Botox. When these services do reopen, expect to see changes in their physical configurations, including more open design and surfaces that can be readily deep cleaned. “We discuss this daily,” said Suelyn Farel, CEO and cofounder of the Julien Farel Group, a Park Avenue mecca for beauty and wellness. “Immediately we’ve removed couches in the waiting areas and replaced them with single chairs. Stylists will no longer be allowed to share tools, staff will be staggered, and we’ll have masks and gloves for all clients as they walk in.” Brick-and-mortar-based services are also reconsidering their relationship with brands, as well as how their staff will promote the merchandise. Associates providing in-store applications, testers placed around the stores, or even simply handing out samples will be on hold for the foreseeable future—even as owners must figure out how to retain the sense that they are providing a luxury experience to their customers. “We will all have to find a way to adapt,” said Plavsic. “We have to start focusing on how we’re going to live with this.”

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ILIA Limitless Lash Mascara. $28; iliabeauty.com

Lavido Age Away Hydrating Cream. $55; lavido.com

PAT McGRATH LABS Mothership VIII Artistry Eyeshadow Palette— Divine Rose II Collection. $125; patmcgrath.com

MALIN+GOETZ Resurfacing Face Serum. $70; malinandgoetz.com

RéVive Masque des Yeux Revitalizing Eye Mask. $200; reviveskincare.com

“People want to feel better about themselves while spending less. They go for smaller, quicker, and less invasive procedures.” DR. ARASH AKHAVAN JULY—AUGUST 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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LIVING

American Pastoral THIS YEAR, EAST ENDERS HAVE GONE BACK TO THE LAND. HEATHER HODSON MEETS J.CREW’S CHRIS BENZ AT HIS RETREAT IN BELLPORT AND TALKS PRUNING, VEGETABLE GROWING, AND RAISING RARE-BREED CHICKENS PHOTOGRAPHS BY JOHNNY MILLER 76

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FARM BOY: Chris Benz, dressed in his usual gardening uniform, sits on the classic Victorian wraparound porch of his Bellport home, built in 1886. JULY—AUGUST 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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t’s like a full-time assault at every corner,” the fashion designer Chris Benz observes wryly, waving at a thicket of bamboo standing 18 feet high in his rambling Bellport garden. “That is one of the blessings of working from home,” he continues, peering into an enormous flower bed of lavender, seagrasses, and French hollyhocks. “At six pm you can immediately go to weeding, which is usually the case. It’s very therapeutic, mindless weeding.” It is a beautiful June day, and the 36-year-old Benz is dressed in his go-to gardening uniform of cotton button-down shirt, J.Crew swimming trunks, L.L. Bean duck boots, and men’s straw boater. Like many New Yorkers who are now hunkered down at their weekend retreats to ride out the coronavirus, Benz, who is head of women’s design and CrewCuts at J.Crew (which filed for bankruptcy protection in May, in a move the company hopes will facilitate long-term growth), has spent the past three months living here with his partner, Peter Toumbekis (a lawyer), and his boxer, Rudy. The family exemplifies a new passion for homesteading, brought about in part by a pandemic that has driven many from their city homes. For this new generation of homesteaders, work-life balance means remotely managing a team who may be spread all around the country or the world, and then feeding the livestock. Benz spends his days juggling Zoom meetings with dashing to the local nursery, cultivating the cutting beds, feeding his rare-breed chickens, and tending his newly planted edible garden. In early 2018, the designer bought the Victorian shingle-styled house and its three acres of garden, where an artists’ colony atmosphere still prevails. Jazz music drifts across an expanse of lawn from the large covered porch,

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which is Benz’s favorite spot on the property, with its vintage wicker furniture and sight line across a parterre to a pool framed by an allée of hornbeams. Hedges of boxwood snake through the grounds, a swing hangs from the branch of a large oak, a treehouse by the local artist Pete Nelson is hidden in a corner, and everywhere there are blooms of irises, rhododendron and climbing hydrangea, as well as thatches of seagrasses. “It really is a dream property,” he says. “It’s very, very beautiful.” Like all romantic houses, he tells me, it has a storied past. “As legend has it, in the ’80s they would have quite flamboyant drag performances on the top floor of the house,” he says, referring to the two gentlemen who owned the house in that period. “They had a big curtain that went across the room. When guests would come to stay, they’d have performances, which is such good lore—a murky history!” He flashes a smile. “I could revive it, I suppose.” When Benz came across the house almost three years ago, it had been languishing on the market for some time, the yew hedges and mature trees growing increasingly out of control. “It was three acres of all-encompassing, old-growth everything,” Benz recalls. His first rookie mistake was to underestimate the grass. “I thought I could, like, mow all the lawns every Saturday morning, so I got a riding lawn mower and all these things. You know that movie Funny Farm with Chevy Chase? I did all of those things when you move from the city and go, ‘Hmm, I can do that.’ Meanwhile, you spend an entire weekend mowing the lawn and at the end you are totally wiped out.” He ordered plans off Etsy for a chicken coop then customized it, and ordered heritage hens online from My Pet Chicken, choosing them according to their color of egg. A box of live chicks arrived by US mail. But chickens, he discovered,

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ROUND AND ROUND THE GARDEN: The formal parterre, planted by Benz with a mix of vegetables and flowers, is designed to give a glimpse of the pool and, at its far end, the pool house. Originally the property’s outhouse, the structure has a cedar bench inside with three flip-top lids, two adult-size, one child-size; right, Benz’s heritage-breed chickens. JULY—AUGUST 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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LIVING

COME ON IN, THE WATER’S LOVELY: The stone-lined pool, surrounded by hornbeams, was likely inspired by David Hicks’s pool at The Grove in Oxfordshire, England. Top left, mature trees give a hammock plenty of shade; left, the treehouse, designed by Bellport artist Pete Nelson.

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HERITAGE SITE: Left, Benz with one of his rare-breed hens; right, the chickens forage all over the garden, including inside the covered porch, seen here at the corner of the house.

have personalities. The Cream Legbar was skittish, the Golden Cuckoo Marans was feisty, and “one had to go and live down the street at a new coop because the others decided they didn’t like her anymore and would attack her,” he says. “She was the biggest, mopiest one. She laid blue eggs and the hens got jealous of her blue eggs and would sit on them.” He pauses. “Chickens are weird.” Benz says that his adventure in homesteading have been influenced by memories of a rural childhood in the Pacific Northwest. “I grew up in Bainbridge in Seattle and have this very pastoral idea of old houses,” he explains. “My grandparents had a very old farmhouse down the street from me, and while both my parents worked I spent loads of time there as a child. It was a whaling captain’s house, red, with a white picket fence, quite similar to this.” He remembers organizing planters with his grandmother every spring. “I’d do that with her, and it was a special thing. There are pictures 82

of me with my grandfather, planting a raised bed vegetable garden.” Bellport, he says, was “always in my periphery.” One of his oldest friends is the model, food writer, and founder of the blog Impatient Foodie Elettra Wiedemann, whom he has known since the early aughts in New York, he says, “when we were teenagers in fashion.” Her mother, the actress, conservationist, and organic farmer Isabella Rossellini, bought a working farm in Bellport a decade ago. Wiedemann now oversees that farm, having moved there permanently with her toddler son. “Having a farm is a totally different thing,” Benz says admiringly. “I’m completely overwhelmed by having a small garden.” Bellport friends now include many of the New York artists and writers who have migrated to the coastal hamlet over the years, including Howie Guja and his wife, Jenna, and the artist and writer Hugo Guinness and his wife, the painter Elliot Puckette. “It’s such an amazing community of New Yorkers.”

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LIVING

“MY DREAM OF DREAMS WOULD BE TO HAVE GOATS AND SHEEP WANDERING AROUND, BUT CHICKENS TAKE UP PLENTY OF TIME.” CHRIS BENZ

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aking on the Bellport property happened to coincide with his new job at J.Crew, but the challenge hasn’t fazed Benz, who is currently working on the company’s Spring /Summer 2021 line. “I’ve always done renovation projects in tandem with a job in fashion,” he explains. “There is a synthesis there, it really does use the same levers.” During his previous fashion tenure, as creative director at Bill Blass, he renovated his townhouse in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, using his singular eye to create an eclectic, romantic charm. “Similar to fashion, you want to be as true to the architecture of the brand or the space that you’re working with as much as possible. So even plantings have been with the end goal of making it appear as though it’s always been that way.” The bones of the Bellport garden were good, parts of which were laid out in the symmetrical patterns of a French formal garden and emphasized sight lines. “There was a framework that was amazing,” he says, but his instinct was to create a more natural look, avoiding what he calls “the persnickety.” “There was a lot of formality to the property that can go weirdly European, and I feel Bellport and the East End of Long Island are such casual places. It was about bringing in elements that would add to the casualness.” He planted a bunch of irises close to the house because, he says, “They feel very Long Island. [It’s about] taking away some of the geometry by putting things up against the more structured things.” Similarly, the pool area, which he suspects was modeled on David Hicks’s stone-lined pool at The Grove in Oxfordshire, felt too stylized, with its hornbeams pruned into cylindrical blocks of leaves. Benz let the lily of the valley and Japanese maples run riot at the back, planted areas with hostas, and left the hedges alone. “It just feels a little more casual, and I think that’s how it should be.”

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Casual is a constant theme. Benz’s planting philosophy seems to be, see if it grows. “It’s very trial by fire. You just have to do it and then see what’s happening,” he says. “My hack with gardens is, find things that don’t take a lot of attention and just keep coming back again and again.” He points out a tricolor willow—“If you need to fill space, these grow like weeds”—and the various thatches of seagrasses, including wormwood, soft meadow, and false indigo, he planted for their ability to fill in gaps and give an unfussy, natural look. Parts of the garden he has simply left wild. But if Benz’s signature aesthetic is casual, almost haphazard, there is a subtle interplay with nature, and his celebrated eye for color is in evidence everywhere. Herbaceous borders bloom with rhododendrons, ajuga, cream false indigo, irises, peonies, daisies, French hollyhocks, and lavender, in variegated shades of purple. It is a scene that feels enchanted, both untraditional and of a bygone era, like a modernday Howards End. Like so many New Yorkers who have been holed up in their weekend homes this year, Benz has embraced his country lifestyle. This is the first summer he has cultivated an edible garden, and with typical style, he has turned the parterre into a vegetable, herb, and cutting garden, planting zucchini, peas, and eggplant among the peonies and sage. He has started riding lessons at the local horse farm. “It’s just me and little girls,” he laughs. He adores his chickens (“they’re hilarious,”) which now have an all-access pass to the property, including the porch, where they sometimes sit on his lap while he works. “My dream of dreams would be to have goats and sheep wandering around, but chickens take up plenty of time,” Benz says. He considered keeping bees for about a minute, but then decided there are limits to his homesteading aspirations. “It’s a whole different type of husbandry,” he laughs. “At the end of the day, I don’t really want to be keeping bugs.”

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TAKE ME HOME, COUNTRY ROADS: Clockwise from left, Benz and his khaki-colored Land Rover, which he uses to make frequent trips to the local nursery; top right: French hollyhocks, also known as cheese mallow; bottom right, Benz holds a selection of eggs from the coop. He even incorporated a chicken cam. JULY—AUGUST 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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Hamptons Homesteading RICARDO LABOUGLE; MARCIA STRAUB/GETTY IMAGES

GREEN ACRES IS THE PLACE TO BE FOR MANY FAMILIES WHO HAVE TEMPORARILY— OR PERMANENTLY—ABANDONED CITY LIVING. HEATHER HODSON MUCKS IN TO FIND OUT MORE

ROSE-TINTED SPECTACLE: Landscape architect Miranda Brooks in the garden she created for Anna Wintour on eastern Long Island; above right, goats are the new must-have accessory for summer.

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or years, when landscape architect Miranda Brooks created gardens for her Hamptons clients, she knew most of them would only be in use for July and August. The pandemic has changed all that. “Suddenly all of my projects are now the real home, and are being fully enjoyed for the first time,” says Brooks, whose clients include Lauren Santo Domingo, Ronald Perelman, and Anna Wintour. She always installs vegetable beds and fruit trees for clients—“Literally, there isn’t a project that I haven’t done that for,” she says—which is fortunate, given their new country lifestyle. “The change that I’m seeing is a lot of people are properly noticing and enjoying all the slow changes

and the amount that is woven into the planting.” “People are definitely planting more, we’ve all commented on that,” says Jo Halsey of Green Thumb, who runs the Water Mill farm with her three brothers. “The victory gardens, I call them.” Like the wave of food gardens created during World War II, the new vegetable plots and herb beds springing up across the East End represent a groundswell of interest in self-sufficiency and reengaging with the land (even if growing one’s own means supplementing deliveries from Baldor). This summer edible gardens have become as coveted as cutting beds, and Instagram feeds overflow with photographs of homegrown tomatoes and strawberries straight from the vegetable patch and blue heritage-chicken JULY—AUGUST 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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LIVING

“WE PRIDE OURSELVES IN THE SUMMER ON PRETTY MUCH NOT BUYING ANYTHING FROM ANYWHERE ELSE AND JUST LIVING OFF OUR LAND.”

eggs still warm from the coop. At the same time, specialist seed companies have been inundated with orders—so much so that biodynamic organic vegetable, herb, and flower seeds sold by independent firms such as Turtle Tree Seed and Seeds of Change have often been sold out or had back orders of three to four weeks. But even before lockdown, New Yorkers were embracing the homesteading lifestyle, driven in part by the farm-to-table movement and the ethical and ecological ideas it engendered. Isabella Rossellini swapped Manhattan life for a 28-acre Long Island organic farm bought with the help of the Peconic Land Trust, a nonprofit organization established to conserve Long Island’s working farms. Rossellini, who is an expert in organic farming methods and animal husbandry, populated it with bees, goats, turkeys, five sheep, two pigs named Pepe and Boris, and 100 heritage breed chickens, about which she wrote a book on expounding on the importance of biodiversity, My Chickens and I. (The chickens were photographed by the fashion photographer Patrice Casanova.) Recently her daughter, the food writer Elettra Wiedemann, took the helm at the newly named Mama Farm, and continues to run it as an exemplary Community Supported Agriculture with some of the best organic bread, cheese, eggs, and vegetables on the East End. For most New Yorkers, homesteading is a high days and holidays pursuit. Jennifer Sinclair spends the school year living in Brooklyn Heights with her husband, who works in finance, and their four young children, but on weekends and the summer they are at home on their farm on the North Fork, cultivating and tending myriad vegetables and fruits. They bought the ten acres of virgin land six years ago and have since planted two pear trees, seven peach trees, 88

15 apple trees, and 14 raised beds, along with blueberry, blackberry, and raspberry bushes, in addition to overseeing ten chickens and two beehives that supply the family honey. “It’s an awful lot of work,” Sinclair admits with a laugh. They did own guinea fowl, but the raccoons got them. (“Raccoons are really vicious—they eat the head and leave the body.”) Despite the time demands, Sinclair is full of the joys of homesteading. “We pride ourselves in the summer on pretty much not buying anything from anywhere else and just living off our land,” she says. “We may be a little cuckoo, but to me there’s nothing better than going to the garden and picking vegetables and fruit and finding ways to use them.” Increasingly, this renaissance in gardening and animal husbandry has gone hand in hand with a commitment to biodynamics. “I’m absolutely a firm believer,” says Brooks, who follows the biodynamic planting methods first espoused by the Austrian philosopher, scientist, and educator Rudolf Steiner. They go beyond shunning commercial fertilizers and involve planting according to the lunar cycles. “It really engages you with the land and I just believe it works.” Recently a friend spending lockdown in the Black Forest in Germany called her to ask how to plant a biodynamic vegetable garden. “He said, ‘Tell me about biodynamic farming, because I’ve never forgotten that salad you made one night.’ Once you’ve made salad like that it just tastes completely different. I am so proud that he never forgot the taste of my lettuce, despite its being grown on a Brooklyn roof.” On the East End there is a growing biodynamic community, including Bees’ Needs in Sag Harbor, with its superior honey, run by the renowned beekeeper Mary Woltz, who keeps 100 hives. “Biodynamics has been at the heart of my bee-

keeping practices,” Woltz says, who believes biodynamic practices are essential in fighting the catastrophic effects of colony collapse disorder on the honey been populations. “The essence of biodynamic beekeeping is respecting the bees’ nature and understanding that the honey bee colony is a single organism. You can’t bring in a queen from one place and throw her in the midst of this assembled collection of bees.” She continues: “I haven’t brought in bees from the outside in 15 years, I divide my own colonies from my surviving stocks, and I don’t buy grafted queens.” Green Thumb, which was at the forefront of organic farming methods when it was run by Jo Halsey’s father in the ’60s, also incorporates many of the practices of biodynamics. “We definitely follow the biodynamic calendar, and we make the preps [for the soil] from Rudolf Steiner’s notebook and then spray the fields—they’re all very organic,” Halsey says. “Rudolf Steiner was very holistic. It wasn’t just about an ear of corn, it was about the ether. He just embraced everything.” Steiner highlighted the importance of soil health, and created recipes for preparations for soil made from ingredients such as thistle, yarrow, and cows’ horns, which he maintained would heal the soil’s depletion from modern farming techniques. Halsey’s husband, Steve Torch, who produces and distributes biodynamic preps for his company, Natural Science Organics, is a true believer, stuffing hundreds of cow horns with manure every autumn and burying them in the ground, with the aim of healing the soil. “My husband does the stuffing of the horns,” Halsey says, who points out that Prince Charles reportedly uses biodynamic techniques on his organic Duchy Home Farm in Gloucestershire.

TOMATO PLANT: GIOCONDA BEEKMAN; BEES: MARTIN RUEGNER/GETTY IMAGES; FLOWERS: COURTESY OF GREEN THUMB ORGANIC FARMW

JENNIFER SINCLAIR

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RIPE FOR PICKING: Clockwise from left, tomatoes, one of the veggies being planted in private gardens across the Hamptons; keeping bees is a pastime for the more adventurous homesteader; foxgloves and other flowers at the Green Thumb farm in Water Mill benefit from biodynamic practices.

Brooks recalls that even when her children were tiny, they helped make biodynamic seeds for feeding the garden. And that, she points out, is one of the great pleasures of gardening—teaching one’s children to engage with the land. “I think it’s just so important. It was one of my earliest pleasures growing my own peas. I just think it’s something all children need to get to do.” As Jo Halsey says of the new homesteading spirit: “It’s really nice that people are getting their hands dirty and the sun on their face. I think that’s a beautiful thing, getting in touch with the earth. Nothing wrong with that.” JULY—AUGUST 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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IPEEBLES POWER

PEEBLES: RICK WENNER FOR THE WASHINGTON POST VIA GETTY IMAGES

WITH ROOTS IN THE SOUTH, THIS FAMILY ROSE TO BECOME TITANS OF NEW YORK BUSINESS AND PHILANTHROPY. BEN WIDDICOMBE DISCOVERS HOW THEY DID IT IN STYLE

D WHERE THE HEART IS: Katrina, Don, and Chloe Peebles at home in Bridgehampton.

on Peebles will give it to you straight. “In America, one of the true equalizers is money,” the business leader told Avenue magazine in June, as Black Lives Matter activists were staging the most significant social justice protests the nation has experienced in decades. “[But] from the period of slavery, through segregation, the civil rights movement of the 1960s, to the current state of economic oppression and police brutality, African Americans have been denied equal rights and equal opportunities,” he said. “Being a part of a solution to knock down these barriers has driven me throughout my career to be transformative in business.” Clarity of purpose is a hallmark of R. Donahue Peebles, who is the founder and chief executive of the Peebles Corporation, a real estate

giant with developments from Boston to Miami. (Forbes once estimated his personal fortune to be $700 million.) His success up and down the Eastern seaboard has provided a national platform for his philanthropic and political activism. “Inside the clubby world of New York City politics, half of them want him to run for mayor, and the other half are terrified he will,” said one longtime City Hall handicapper. “Don has previously indicated he might be interested, and he would be a formidable candidate.” Peebles, who hails from Washington, D.C., began developing his political résumé from a young age. He worked as a page in the House of Representatives, interned for congressmen Charles Rangel, Ron Dellums, and John Conyers, and later served as chairman of the board of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and on President Barack Obama’s National Finance Committee. JULY—AUGUST 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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SIBLING ROYALTY: Donahue Peebles III, with his sister, Chloe, at her Give Back for Special Equestrians benefit.

“BEING A PART OF A SOLUTION TO KNOCK DOWN BARRIERS HAS DRIVEN ME THROUGHOUT MY CAREER TO BE TRANSFORMATIVE IN BUSINESS .” —DON PEEBLES

In interviews before New York’s last mayoral election, Peebles admitted giving a bid for Gracie Mansion “a lot of thought.” But for now, he prefers to focus on business solutions to political and social challenges, rather than running for office. “I am raising a private equity fund to invest in minority and women real estate developers and investors, therefore creating a channel where their aspirations become a reality,” he said. “The fund will demonstrate that deploying capital where there is talent will reap significant financial returns and transform communities.” Peebles’s most valuable allies in furthering his family’s political and business influence may be his own wife and children. With Katrina, whom he married in 1994, they are parents to Donahue Peebles III, 26, and Chloe, 17. Katrina works on the board of directors of the family corporation; Don is its chief of staff; Chloe is a noted equestrienne—and all four members of the family are well-known fixtures on the Manhattan and Hamptons social circuit. “My title in the Peebles Corporation is creative director,” Katrina told Avenue, “and my responsibilities include the selection of interior designers and architects who will bring the company’s developments to life.” Significant recent projects have included the Residences at the Bath Club and the Royal Palm South Beach Hotel, both in Miami, as well as the Courtyard by Marriott Convention Center and two other large developments in Washington, D.C. “I bring the same strengths to my philanthropy work,” Katrina adds. “The ability to explain a philanthropic effort to others and capture a feeling associated with the organization is basically a visual with an emotional component— and when people see and feel as you do, they often participate.” Katrina has served on the boards of CARE Elementary School in Miami, as well as the Mission Society of New York City. And as chatelaine 92

of the Peebles home in Bridgehampton, she has made the estate available to a variety of good causes. One notable fundraiser took place in August, 2018, for Give Back for Special Equestrians, an organization close to the hearts of Chloe and her friend, Georgina Bloomberg. Rolls-Royce and Goldman Sachs sponsored the event, which brought out the Hamptons social set, raising $50,000 for therapeutic horse-riding sessions to assist those facing autism, spina bifida, and other challenges. “The equestrian sport has been one of the greatest gifts my family has provided me,” Chloe told Avenue. With a nod to the family interest, she added that she hopes the skills she learned riding will “aid me in becoming a productive business partner to my father, mother, and brother in the future.” Her brother, Donahue, is equally on message. Asked if there were any challenges in working for his father, he replied: “I don’t perceive any aspect of working for a family business as particularly challenging. Working for my father is the opportunity of a lifetime, and one I am very grateful for.” The ultra-focused younger Peebleses are just the latest generation in a long line of strivers who have a record of overcoming obstacles. As their father explained: “My family roots in America were in the segregated South.” “As a child, I watched both [my parents] suffer indignities and obstructions to opportunity. As a teenager, I made promises to myself—I would live a better life, I would provide great opportunities for my children, and I would have a business that provided opportunities for people like my parents and family,” he said. “These experiences instilled in me a sense of awareness on how to overcome society’s limitations. I felt a strong desire to assist others in alleviating these unnecessary hurdles, which is why I have dedicated my energy to sharing what has helped me be successful both professionally and personally.”

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SEAN ZANNI/PATRICK MCMULLAN VIA GETTY IMAGES

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IT’S ALL ABOUT CONNECTION

THE EAST END’S BLACK HISTORY, WRITES DELAINA DIXON, IS A THREAD THAT CONNECTS PIONEERING ENTREPRENEURS SUCH AS EMANUEL SEYMOUR AND B. SMITH WITH MODERN BUSINESS AND CULTURAL LEADERS SUCH AS DICK PARSONS, COLSON WHITEHEAD, AND JAY-Z

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ast summer, Tutto il Giorno, a farm-to-table eatery near the Sag Harbor waterfront, pulsated inside with a mix of hip-hop, R&B, and oldschool ’90s hits. The likes of Cuba Gooding Jr. and well-heeled millennials of color were taking in the DJ-curated set and enjoying the laid-back vibe. It’s evenings like these that now cater to the town’s black, rich, and fabulous.

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B. SMITH: BFA; COLSON WHITEHEAD: AXEL KOESTER/CORBIS VIA GETTY IMAGES; “P.DIDDY” COMBS AND DONNA KARAN: DIMITRIOS KAMBOURIS/WIREIMAGE FOR BAD BOY ENTERTAINMENT/GETTY IMAGES

GOING UP: Colson Whitehead’s novel Sag Harbor was set in the moneyed black community of the 1980s.

QUEEN BEE: The late model and restaurateur B. Smith was a staple of the Sag Harbor social scene.

EVERYTHING’S ALL WHITE: From left, Russell Simons, Lennox Lewis, Sean Combs, LL Cool J, and Rev. Al Sharpton attend Combs’s annual White Party in the Hamptons in 2004.

Since the early 1900s, historic Sag Harbor, an incorporated village in the Hamptons, has been a refuge for African Americans. After World War II three small towns—Azurest, Ninevah, and Sag Harbor Hills—experienced an influx of black doctors, lawyers, and other professionals who snapped up land, as there were very few other places they could go to build their piece of the American Dream. Salon owner entrepreneur Randy Conquest bought Emanuel Seymour’s historic establishmen in Sag Harbor in 1979. It became a gathering place for black activism. When Conquest retired in 2006, the shop was purchased by the Community Preservation Fund to become the Southampton African American Museum. It was named the first African American historic landmark in the village. Possibly no one embodied Sag Harbor’s black heyday more than the legendary B. Smith. The late model and restaurateur, along with husband Dan Gasby, purchased a waterfront mansion in Sag Harbor Hills in 1992, titling it “Casa Del Soul.” B. Smith ran one of her eponymous restaurants in the village, an elegant backdrop for leisurely lunches and wedding receptions for its ritzy regulars. This tightknit community has expanded to include a famous roster of residents.Sean Combs, then known as P. Diddy, threw his first White Party at his mansion on Hedges Banks Drive on Labor Day 1998. Beyoncé and Jay-Z purchased a 12,000-square-foot estate with 203 feet of private beach on

Georgica Pond in 2017. Apollo in the Hamptons, a celebrity-splashed fundraiser for the famed theater in Harlem, just ended its ten-year run in town, with performers like Usher, Jennifer Lopez, and Jon Bon Jovi helping to raise nearly $30 million over the course of the decade. Some stars have made a more permanent connection. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead, who wrote the 2009 novel Sag Harbor about a black teenager spending his summer there in the ’80s, is a local. So is talk show host Tamron Hall. They support local black-owned businesses, like Commander Cody’s Seafood on Shelter Island, according to Sag Harbor resident Tia Greene. Her local TV series chronicles restaurants and recreation in the area, with an emphasis on their cultural significance. “It’s a chance to learn about the family history here,” she says. “It’s all about connection.” To make sure those bonds endure, Sag Harbor’s trio of African American communities, known as SANS, have been officially added to the New York State Register of Historic Places. People are flocking once again to Sag Harbor restaurants, now serving pickup and takeout, and to private boats for social distancing trips around Shelter Island and Sunset Beach—an image fondly remembered by this author’s own mother. She experienced her first boat ride with family friends there while she was a teen in the ’60s . “It was the first time I had met any black people who lived like that,” she recalls. “And I knew right then that we had arrived.” JULY—AUGUST 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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CIRCLE OF SWELL: Dante’s delivered, premixed cocktails are infernally good.

The Hamptons demand their cocktails, and these creative companies are finding ways to serve them up—shaken, stirred, frosty, and fizzy, says Nancy Kane

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e Chef in Southampton village has turned their front window into a makeshift bar, serving so many patrons on the street that some have likened the scene to Bourbon Street in New Orleans. Meanwhile, Manhattan’s West Village staple Dante, which tops the list of the World’s 50 Best Bars, is mixing up handcrafted cocktails—Negronis, martinis, margaritas, and spritzers—that can be delivered to your door for orders of $100 or more. Highway restaurant in Wainscott also sells its own cocktail kits, including one for its signature Hot on the Highway, made with tequila, spicy agave, and jalapeño, which may be just what the doctor ordered to help you recover from hours stuck in traffic on 27. Larry Gagosian and Ron Perelman’s beloved Blue Parrot, home of the classic Dirty Bird Margarita, has turned its side alley—shared with Ralph Lauren—into a riff on Jimmy Buffett’s

DANTE: GREGORY BUDA

Ginned Up on Gin Lane

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CATCH OF THE DAY: Left, Chef Daniel Boulud, who is bringing French cuisine to the East End. Below, Hampton Clambake’s Clambake Box, which features an abundance of delicious seafood.

BOULUD: THOMAS SCHAUER; HAMPTON CLAMBAKE: NOAH FECKS

“Margaritaville.” Still more island-inspired infusions of a more nutritious nature can be found at an adorable and inviting marketplace called Green Beet, which is pouring their infamous “tapped” frozen drinks—think spicy margaritas along with fresh fruit purées and smoothies. There’s even a “mocktail” for kids. For those hoping to boost immunity defenses, several Hamptons bartenders are prescribing potions of their own. Try Fresno’s Quarantini, made with Tito’s vodka, lemon, local honey, and rosemary. Just-opened Union Sushi & Steak in Southampton offers the Healthy Samurai made with honey, Japanese whiskey, and crushed jasmine petals, while Southampton Social Club is serving up the Covid-tini—a blend of ginger, fresh squeezed lemon juice, and chilled Tanqueray gin.

To satisfy relocated New Yorkers’ appetites, Upper East Side favorite Grazie is bringing its fare to the Hamptons, delivering brunch, dinner, and dessert in boxes such as the Pasta Dinner, the Seafood Box (with fresh fish, prepped and ready to cook), and the Grill Box, which features everything you need for an at-home BBQ. Add on wine and champagne and you’ve got a full-on party. Meanwhile Hampton Clambake, operating out of the Silver Lining Diner in Southampton, is offering two crowd-pleasers—a Beach Box, filled with fried chicken and key lime pie, and the Clambake Box, which features lobster, mussels, steamers, and all the fixins’. Not to be outdone, Chef Daniel Boulud has launched Daniel Boulud Kitchen, offering a menu of French classics that change weekly, boxed up

and sent out on the Jitney. Each meal will serve six people and includes a seafood dinner for Friday evening, a vegetarian dinner for Saturday, and a brunch for Sunday, along with desserts and bread, inclusive for $1,400. Bottles from their extensive wine cellar can be added, with 5 percent of sales going directly to benefit Hand in Hand, a Daniel Boulud Foundation charity. And lastly, with André Balazs’s Sunset Beach on Shelter Island shuttered this season, Duryea’s is making sure you’re not lost at sea. In partnership with RideShore, Duryea’s Lobster Deck has launched a twice-daily marine delivery service on weekends, bringing “Lobster Roll Picnics,” “Seafood Towers,” and “Surf & Turf ” to boats anchored off Crescent Beach. And there’s a wine list available to complement the meal, naturally.

All Boxed Up and Ready To Go

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o soak up all the alcohol, The Big Brunch Box will deliver homemade bagels and lox from Acme every Friday morning right to your door to feed those city-dwelling houseguests who crave their morning carbs.

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Summer Arts for Everyone

GARY MAMAY/COURTESY OF LONGHOUSE; PERMANENT LOAN, COURTESY OF THE ARTIST, 2008

Local museums and international galleries are stepping up their Hamptons game, writes Nancy Kane

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CLEAN BILL: Artist Katherine McMahon’s installation at Guild Hall will involve giving away dollars.

KATHERINE MCMAHON: JESSICA DALENE

W CHECKMATE: Yoko Ono’s mixed-media Play It By Trust (1999) is among the works on view at the LongHouse Reserve.

hile the Parrish Art Museum, Guild Hall, LongHo u s e Re s e r ve , and other venerable East End institutions had been shuttered, they are nonetheless planning a suite of offerings this summer as part of their reopening strategy. Guild Hall’s “redesigned” Summer Season will combine online and in-person events, including a new exhibition entitled “All for the Hall,” featuring works that have been donated by celebrated artists such as Cindy Sherman, Laurie Anderson, Rashid Johnson, and Kiki Smith. Proceeds from the gate and the sale of the works are earmarked for its Restart Fund, to ensure the 90-year-old institution continues to operate. Complementing the show is an outdoor exhibition, “Free Clean Money,” a collaborative installation by East Hampton resident Katherine McMahon and composer/artist Ray Angry, whose song “The Protest”

will serve as a looped soundscape for the work. The performative piece features a display of dollar bills that will be free for the taking in a highly sanitized environment once the East End enters Phase IV of reopening. “My hope,” McMahon tells Avenue, “is that the installation prompts people to question the role of money and economic disparities in the world in which we now find ourselves.” Among the highlighted virtual experiences offered by Guild Hall will be a July 12 benefit reading of the 1975 Bernard Slade play Same Time, Next Year, directed by Bob Balaban and featuring Alec Baldwin and Julianne Moore. LongHouse Reserve has now opened to limited groups, while maintaining safe distancing and requiring masks of all visitors. Meander through the 16-acre sculpture garden to find Red Garden, designed by founder Jack Lenor Larsen; Play It By Trust by Yoko Ono; and Reclining Figure by Willem de Kooning. (And while we are on the topic of beautiful gardens, exquisite public plantings at Madoo, created by Robert Dash and lovingly tended to by Alejandro Saralegui, are now open to groups of four, inviting guests to have their own picnic lunches on the beautiful grounds.) For those looking to enhance their personal art holdings, a trio of blue-chip dealers are following their clientele—setting up shop in East Hampton Village. There, Christophe Van de Weghe and Per Skarstedt have taken light-filled spaces on Newtown Lane, with Marc Glimcher opening an outpost of Pace just around the corner on Park Place. These additions are sure to add some élan to the already established gallery scene on Long Island’s East End. JULY—AUGUST 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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SWEAT EQUITY

THE WIDE-OPEN SPACES OF THE HAMPTONS ARE PERFECT FOR SOCIALLY DISTANCED PERSONAL TRAINING. FORGET LIFTING WEIGHTS IN A CRAMPED GYM AND LET THESE LOCAL FITNESS EXPERTS BRING THE WORKOUT TO YOU, WRITES NANCY KANE

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PHOTOGRAPHS BY LANDON NORDEMAN

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KVETA “KIKI” HAJKOVA At the age of 10, after just two years of playing tennis, Hajkova was ranked in the top ten in her native Slovakia. She coaches tennis privately all over the Hamptons and is also a certified personal trainer. True Confession: “I have a serious problem with eating too much ice cream!”

GINA BRADLEY Known as the “Paddle Diva,” Bradley doesn’t care if you are in top shape or looking simply to tone up—she’ll get you out on the water, having fun and strengthening your core. True Confession: “After I got my BA in politics from the University of Vermont, I moved to the Caribbean and was a dive instructor, sold Yellow Pages, and then sailed the Caribbean in my own 37-foot sloop for two years.”

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JIMMY MINARDI This former professional cyclist is also a Class-A Body Wise international athlete who trains folks in his signature beach workouts, Vinyasa yoga, weight training, and cycling, all customized for the best results—and conducted outdoors. True Confession: “I’m also a Colorado National Ski Patrol instructor.”

JAQUELINE SWEET A personal trainer and CrossFit enthusiast, Sweet believes that with dedication, anything is possible. True Confession: “I’m a triathlete and runner who drinks beer every single day.”

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SAM RAMBO DUANE Fitness freak, roller derby queen, sweat enthusiast—we want what she’s got. From TRX and boxing to yoga and Jane Fonda classics, Duane says she challenges her clients to “give a damn.” True Confession: “I was once in a Brooks & Dunn music video.”

GILDA DOBRICA This former competitive swimmer and private swim instructor for almost 20 years teaches every age and level, from infants to adults, and from complete beginners to competitors. True Confession: “In 20 years of teaching swimming, I’ve managed to fall in the pool only once.”

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Millicent Rogers and the Port of Missing Men There was nothing standard about this Standard Oil heiress, or her family’s fabulously disreputable house in North Sea, writes Ambrose McGaffney 106

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s scandalous ancestors go, Col. Henry Huddleston Rogers II would have been enough for most families. But then he had a daughter. The colonel’s namesake father, a partner in Standard Oil and noted “robber baron” of the Gilded Age, was one of the wealthiest men of his day. Amassing an estimated $100 million fortune, Rogers senior also acquired the nickname “Hell Hound” for his rapacious ways. It was meant as a compliment.

Alas, young Harry was spoiled by his father’s money. As he aged into adulthood, after receiving his inheritance in 1910, various sources describe him as ruthless, or a bully, or a ruthless bully. In 1914 he used some of the money to build Black Point, the family’s summer estate in Southampton, also known as the “Beach House,” adding a hunting lodge in nearby North Sea in the 1920s. The colonel commissioned John Russell Pope, the architect responsible for the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., to design his shooting box overlooking Scallop Pond. The Sag Harbor Express reported that, at the time, it “encompassed 2,000 acres on both sides of the pond and was the largest privatelyowned estate on Long Island.” By all accounts, the Port of Missing Men (as it was dubbed) offered the proverbial good time that was had by all. One rumor is that he had duck blinds installed on the water that were wired directly to Wall Street. The colonel’s guests were able to remain unreachable to their wives but connected to the trading floor. Meanwhile, during Prohibition, there was a major liquor drop-off point conveniently close by, at the end of North Sea Road. Later, the drop-off point would become a notorious cathouse. The colonel and his wife, the former Mary Benjamin, had a daughter in 1902: Mary Millicent Abigail Rogers. The artistically inclined Millicent would go on to run through three husbands, plus Clark Gable. In 2011, her rich life became the subject of a biography, Searching for Beauty: The Life of Millicent Rogers, the American Heiress Who Taught the World About Style, by Cherie Burns. Millicent, who recovered from a near-fatal bout of rheumatic fever at age eight, blossomed into a great beauty. According to her biographer, the Jazz Age debutante danced with the Prince of Wales on his celebrated tour of America in the early 1920s, and dated some of the America’s most eligible bachelors. Although her parents had a list of approved suitors, Millicent had other plans. In January 1924, at age 20, she eloped with Ludwig von Salm-Hoogstraeten, a penniless Austrian count nearly twice her age. With her allowance cut off, the titled couple danced their way across Europe, performing onstage in an attempt to keep their pockets full. Furious, the colonel eventually lured his daughter (who was pregnant with a son) back with a $300,000 divorce settlement to the count, which sparked a media uproar. Millicent quickly married again, in 1927, to the Argentine aristocrat Arturo Peralta-Ramos. That contentious union lasted eight years, producing two more sons. Finding herself ill-suited to motherhood, she sent her three boys away to boarding schools in Europe. Col H.H. Rogers died in 1935, still immensely wealthy despite having squandered most of the family fortune. The following year, Millicent married her third husband, American stockbroker Ronald Balcom, in Vienna. The couple lived as expats in Austria, but the marriage ended after five years, with no children.

MILLICENT ROGERS: HORST P. HORST/CONDE NAST VIA GETTY IMAGES

NOTORIOUS NEW YORKERS

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HH ROGERS/SMITH ARCHIVE/ALAMY; PORT OF MISSING MEN/ARTHUR VITOLS BYRON COMPANY/MCNY

FATHER ISSUES: Col. Henry Huddleston Rogers II (above) used some of his considerable inheritance to build the Port of Missing Men (right). Opposite page, in a portrait by Horst P. Horst, Millicent Rogers wears signature Navajo-inspired jewelry of her own design.

“IF SHE HAD NOT BEEN SO TERRIBLY RICH, SHE MIGHT, WITH HER VAST TALENT AND UNLIMITED GENEROSITY, HAVE BECOME A GREAT ARTIST.” ELSA SCHIAPARELLI

It was during this time, however, that Rogers became aware of the plight of Jews living under the Nazis. By 1938 she had begun helping friends escape by bribing Swiss border guards for their safe passage. Returning to the States on the eve of World War II, Rogers bought the 300-acre Claremont Manor estate in Virgina, where she began a series of affairs with men working in nearby Washington, D.C. Notable paramours included the writers Ian Fleming and Roald Dahl, as well as Undersecretary of the Navy James Forrestal. In the late 1940s Millicent ventured to Holly-

wood, where she pursued the actor Clark Gable. But their affair went nowhere and she left California with a broken heart. Nevertheless, she looked great doing it, racking up multiple nominations to the bestdressed list and appearing regularly in Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. She had a penchant for Mainbocher, Schiaparelli, and Charles James couture.In 1949 her gowns were presented to the Brooklyn Museum’s costume collection. Today she is remembered as a versatile style icon of the 20th century. In Austria, there were the Tyrolean outfits; later in Taos, New Mexico,

PORT OUT, STARBOARD HOME: It was rumored that The Port of Missing Men allowed guests to be unreachable by their wives, but connected by wire to Wall Street.

where she spent her final years, she dressed in broomstick skirts with Charles James blouses, often ordering 48 of them at a clip. She also became intrigued with the jewelry of the Navajo nation, which she wore regularly, and later designed her own pieces in turquoise and silver. Elsa Schiaparelli observed, “Her jewels were of rare beauty and strange design…if she had not been so terribly rich, she might, with her vast talent and unlimited generosity, have become a great artist.” Millicent—still compromised by her childhood illness—died in 1953 in New Mexico, aged just 50. She left the Port of Missing Men to her eldest son, Peter, and today it is owned by his widow, the Countess Wiltraud (Willa) von Salm-Hoogstraeten, who sometimes makes it available for fundraising events In fact, some of her deceased in-laws might still be in residence. As she told the Sag Harbor Express during a rare tour last year: “All my guests have seen a ghost in there.” JULY—AUGUST 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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SEEN ON THE SCENE

JULY | AUGUST 2020

Eric Rutherford

NO PARTY, NO PROBLEM

Lockdown isn’t stopping these stay-at-home scenesters from putting the social in social distancing

Victor Cruz

Larry Milstein

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PHOTOS BY BFA

Sophia Li

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Steven Kolb

Mordechai Rubinstein First Lastname and First Lastname

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Jamee and Peter Gregory

Christy Turlington Burns and Ed Burns

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Alexa Ray Joel and Christie Brinkley

Andrew Saffir, Brooke Shields, and Daniel Benedict

Florinka Pesenti, Dan Abrams, and son Everett

DRIVE-IN DIVAS

PHOTOS BY NEIL RASMUS/BFA

When Blade CEO Rob Wiesenthal and the Cinema Society hosted a drive-in movie screening of Artemis Fowl in Bridgehampton to benefit East End food pantries, the only question for guests was— what car should I wear?

Jennifer Esposito and Jesper Vesterstroem

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SOCIAL SKILLS

Hollywood Royalty Prince Harry’s (imagined) Los Angeles diary: Week One BY POSEY WILT

Tuesday I say! First day in the City of Angels and really, the whole place is simply marvelous. The sunshine pours down like rain! Wednesday Frightfully happy with the new palace. Slightly smaller than one is used to, but it has a pool with a view, just like one’s idol, BoJack Horseman. And M is teaching Archie to call one “brah.” Smashing! Thursday Bit of a fright this a.m. while walking the estate, beating the hedges for grouse. There was a beastly man with a camera, peering over the gate! One thought we moved here because there were no paparazzi in Los Angeles? But M assured one he was probably just a lost tourist, looking for someone frightfully common, like Ben Affleck. Friday Awfully exciting day, first jaunt out and about “incognito,” to throw those ghastly tourists off the scent. Only sour note was stopping for tea and getting some unspeakable rubbish—a cold drink in a plastic cup! Apparently when the British invented America, we forgot to leave instructions for operating a teapot. Saturday Archie having a bit of culture shock adjusting to the new surroundings, one fears. Doesn’t yet understand why he’s not related to the people on the money. Sunday What the devil! Turns out those contraptions hovering over the palace are not, as one assumed, fans to keep one refreshed. In fact, some may even have cameras aboard. Dash those nosy tourists!

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Monday Bit of a bother getting out of bed this am, as one might have overdone it in the sun. M teasing that one looks like a burned gingerbread man. And even more of those bloody flying fans today! Still, chin up. M pledges that when she gets her motion picture career back up and running, we’ll be just like everyone else in Los Angeles, and the tourists will leave one alone.

AVENUE MAGAZINE | JULY—AUGUST 2020

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Water Mill Estate Bordering Reserve Gary R. DePersia Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker m 516.380.0538 | gdp@corcoran.com

Water Mill. Ocean and bay breezes will reward the fortunate buyer nimble enough to claim a newly listed 7 bedroom traditional deep in Water Mill South embraced by 17 acres of reserve. Custom built for an exacting owner in 2012 by Farrell Building Co., this nearly 8,500 SF+/- exquisitely furnished retreat on three levels of living space offers a wonderful floor plan with common rooms that include the great room under coffered ceilings and an informal living room, both adorned by fireplaces. The sensational, sun drenched eat-in kitchen transitions wonderfully to the intimate formal dining room. A guest master suite with fireplace, a powder room and a two car garage complete the first floor. Upstairs the master wing including fireplace, private balcony overlooking the reserve and luxurious bath, reigns over 4 guest bedrooms, all with baths ensuite. A fully finished basement offers more than 2,500 SF+/- including recreational areas, billiards room, gym, media room and staff quarters. Outside, the broad covered and uncovered patios overlook the heated Gunite pool, spa and outdoor kitchen all set within extensive slate patios and framed by expansive lush lawn with views to the expansive agricultural reserve. Close to everything that makes the Hamptons a world class destination, this quintessential East End estate awaits your preview today. Exclusive. Price Upon Request WEB# 481154 Real estate agents affiliated with The Corcoran Group are independent contractors and are not employees of The Corcoran Group. Equal Housing Opportunity. The Corcoran Group is a licensed real estate broker located at 660 Madison Ave, NY, NY 10065. All listing phone numbers indicate listing agent direct line unless otherwise noted. All information furnished regarding property for sale or rent or regarding financing is from sources deemed reliable, but Corcoran makes no warranty or representation as to the accuracy thereof. All property information is presented subject to errors, omissions, price changes, changed property conditions, and withdrawal of the property from the market, without notice. All dimensions provided are approximate. To obtain exact dimensions, Corcoran advises you to hire a qualified architect or engineer.

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Profile for Avenue Magazine

AVENUE July|August 2020 Issue  

Avenue Magazine celebrates what’s great about New York and the achievements of New Yorkers in six print issues per year.

AVENUE July|August 2020 Issue  

Avenue Magazine celebrates what’s great about New York and the achievements of New Yorkers in six print issues per year.

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