Page 1

after-hours

Step A w ay From the

Chardonnay!

Bangles and ring, R.J. Graziano

While you’re at it, put down that Cosmo. We know it’s been a long day, and you need to unwind. But that’s no excuse to drink like your mother. You’re a woman—not a lady—so we’ve come up with some spirited alternatives to get you through the holiday season

Follow our easy four-step guide to choosing your booze

Photographed by Scott and Zoë dec 2007 / Marie Claire 147


CHANGE YOUR GRAPE Ordering chardonnay is as hopelessly girly as asking for dressing on the side. Andrea Robinson, author of the 2008 Wine Buying Guide for Everyone, serves up fresh choices For dinner at your-friendthe-starving-poet’s house,

try a Chilean sauvignon blanc from the Veramonte or Casa Lapostolle wineries (ranging from $7 to $10).They’re known for their honeydew and tangerine flavors and won’t overpower the food (a plus, unless your friend is serving tripe).

For dinner at your boss’s house, grab a Napa Valley sauvignon blanc from the Girard Winery or Mason Cellars (ranging from $15 to $20), which have traces of pineapple, kiwi, and mango. Anything more expensive and your boss will think she’s paying you too much.

If you want to celebrate that holiday bonus with Cristal but the

bonus wasn’t actually that big, get a bottle of Taittinger or Pommery (ranging from $35 to $40).They’re tangy and creamy. Plus, you don’t have to pair them with bling, G.

No bonus? Pick up an excellent

made-in-the-USA sparkling white. A bottle of the Domaine Ste. Michelle from Washington or Mirabelle from California (ranging from $12 to $14) will be suitably fruity and effervescent.

STEP 2:

NAVIGATE THE BAR LIKE A PRO Don’t be that bill-waving hussy at the end of the bar. Tips on how to sit and sip in style BY YAEL KOHEN

Q: I need a drink, and I need it now, so how do I get the bartender to pay attention to me? A: Patience! Stand halfway down the bar and catch his eye. Then, wait for him to acknowledge you and make his way over. “The first mistake is that people don’t make eye contact with the bartender and just start rattling off their drinks. I tend to ignore those people,” says Jason Kosmas, coauthor of You Didn’t Hear It From Us.

Q: But I need five drinks (I’m buying the round). Is it OK if I order them all at once? A: Only if you pay in one shot. It’s not OK to order a round and then make the bartender wait while you split the bill. “Do that, and you’re not going to get served again all night,” says You Didn’t Hear It coauthor Dushan Zaric.

Q: If I accept a drink from a random guy, what do I have to do in return? A: Nothing—you’re not a prostitute. But a nice guy should send it through the bartender so you can easily accept or decline the offer. Plus, that way, you know he didn’t slip anything into it.

Q: Do I really have to tip the same amount for a bottle of beer as I do

for a more elaborate cocktail? A: It’s based on price. You should give at least $1 per drink, but at a swanky restaurant or lounge in a major city, that jumps to $2. If you run up a tab or order a round, 20 percent of the total is appropriate. And always tip on a free drink. “Trust me. Every bartender knows how much money the customer left,” says Zaric.

Q: If I can’t taste any rum in my Bacardi and Coke, can I ask for more? A: It’s OK to ask the bartender, nicely, to add a little more liquor to your drink. “Be playful. Say you had a bad day or ‘Mama’s got to get her drink on!’” advises Kosmas. Smiling also helps.

Q: Ugh, this wine is too fruity. Can I send it back? A: No. The purpose of sniffing and sipping is to make sure the wine isn’t skunked—not to see if you like it. If you don’t, well, that’s just too bad.

Q: I don’t drink alcohol, but sometimes I want to look like I do. What should I order? A: Ask for club soda with cranberry juice in a tall, thin Collins glass. “I’ve had people ask for a shot of water instead of vodka,” says Kosmas. No shame in it.

Women and Their Booze: A Retrospective By Noah Rothbaum, author of The Business of Spirits 1886 Before Napa becomes Napa, Josephine Marlin Tychson is the first woman in California to build and operate a winery.

2007 DUIs and rehab achieve tab-tastic new status in the Lindsay, Britney, and Paris era.

148 MARIE CLAIRE / DEC 2007

1886 The girls of Alpha Phi at Syracuse establish the first “woman’s fraternity house.” Drunken hookups ensue.

1998 Cosmos become the Manolos of cocktails as Carrie Bradshaw takes her first sip.

1920 Prohibition begins, and flappers don hip flasks. Sometimes no does mean yes. 1970 All bars must admit women after NOW takes McSorley’s Old Ale House to the Supreme Court.

1930 “Gimme a whiskey with ginger ale on the side,” mutters Garbo’s Anna Christie. “And don’t be stingy, baby.”

1933 Prohibition out; liquor back in. Bottoms up!

1934 In The Thin Man, Myrna Loy makes a martini glass look more soigné than a silk bias-cut gown.

1886: CORBIS. 1920: BETTMANN/CORBIS. 1933 & 1934: COURTESY EVERETT COLLECTION. 1970: G.FORTE/CONSOLIDATED NEWS/GETTY IMAGES. 1998: COURTESY EVERETT COLLECTION. 2007: SPLASH NEWS. OPPOSITE PAGE: DRESS, BCBG MAXAZRIA; SHOES, KENNETH COLE; CUFF, R.J. GRAZIANO; RINGS, ISAAC MANEVITZ FOR BEN-AMUN

STEP 1:

Q: What do I do with

myself while I wait for my date at the bar? A: Don’t talk on your cell phone or send texts. Chat up the bartender, take in the atmosphere, and order a cocktail. And please don’t eat the garnish.

DEC 2007 / MARIE CLAIRE 149


CHANGE YOUR GRAPE Ordering chardonnay is as hopelessly girly as asking for dressing on the side. Andrea Robinson, author of the 2008 Wine Buying Guide for Everyone, serves up fresh choices For dinner at your-friendthe-starving-poet’s house,

try a Chilean sauvignon blanc from the Veramonte or Casa Lapostolle wineries (ranging from $7 to $10).They’re known for their honeydew and tangerine flavors and won’t overpower the food (a plus, unless your friend is serving tripe).

For dinner at your boss’s house, grab a Napa Valley sauvignon blanc from the Girard Winery or Mason Cellars (ranging from $15 to $20), which have traces of pineapple, kiwi, and mango. Anything more expensive and your boss will think she’s paying you too much.

If you want to celebrate that holiday bonus with Cristal but the

bonus wasn’t actually that big, get a bottle of Taittinger or Pommery (ranging from $35 to $40).They’re tangy and creamy. Plus, you don’t have to pair them with bling, G.

No bonus? Pick up an excellent

made-in-the-USA sparkling white. A bottle of the Domaine Ste. Michelle from Washington or Mirabelle from California (ranging from $12 to $14) will be suitably fruity and effervescent.

STEP 2:

NAVIGATE THE BAR LIKE A PRO Don’t be that bill-waving hussy at the end of the bar. Tips on how to sit and sip in style BY YAEL KOHEN

Q: I need a drink, and I need it now, so how do I get the bartender to pay attention to me? A: Patience! Stand halfway down the bar and catch his eye. Then, wait for him to acknowledge you and make his way over. “The first mistake is that people don’t make eye contact with the bartender and just start rattling off their drinks. I tend to ignore those people,” says Jason Kosmas, coauthor of You Didn’t Hear It From Us.

Q: But I need five drinks (I’m buying the round). Is it OK if I order them all at once? A: Only if you pay in one shot. It’s not OK to order a round and then make the bartender wait while you split the bill. “Do that, and you’re not going to get served again all night,” says You Didn’t Hear It coauthor Dushan Zaric.

Q: If I accept a drink from a random guy, what do I have to do in return? A: Nothing—you’re not a prostitute. But a nice guy should send it through the bartender so you can easily accept or decline the offer. Plus, that way, you know he didn’t slip anything into it.

Q: Do I really have to tip the same amount for a bottle of beer as I do

for a more elaborate cocktail? A: It’s based on price. You should give at least $1 per drink, but at a swanky restaurant or lounge in a major city, that jumps to $2. If you run up a tab or order a round, 20 percent of the total is appropriate. And always tip on a free drink. “Trust me. Every bartender knows how much money the customer left,” says Zaric.

Q: If I can’t taste any rum in my Bacardi and Coke, can I ask for more? A: It’s OK to ask the bartender, nicely, to add a little more liquor to your drink. “Be playful. Say you had a bad day or ‘Mama’s got to get her drink on!’” advises Kosmas. Smiling also helps.

Q: Ugh, this wine is too fruity. Can I send it back? A: No. The purpose of sniffing and sipping is to make sure the wine isn’t skunked—not to see if you like it. If you don’t, well, that’s just too bad.

Q: I don’t drink alcohol, but sometimes I want to look like I do. What should I order? A: Ask for club soda with cranberry juice in a tall, thin Collins glass. “I’ve had people ask for a shot of water instead of vodka,” says Kosmas. No shame in it.

Women and Their Booze: A Retrospective By Noah Rothbaum, author of The Business of Spirits 1886 Before Napa becomes Napa, Josephine Marlin Tychson is the first woman in California to build and operate a winery.

2007 DUIs and rehab achieve tab-tastic new status in the Lindsay, Britney, and Paris era.

148 MARIE CLAIRE / DEC 2007

1886 The girls of Alpha Phi at Syracuse establish the first “woman’s fraternity house.” Drunken hookups ensue.

1998 Cosmos become the Manolos of cocktails as Carrie Bradshaw takes her first sip.

1920 Prohibition begins, and flappers don hip flasks. Sometimes no does mean yes. 1970 All bars must admit women after NOW takes McSorley’s Old Ale House to the Supreme Court.

1930 “Gimme a whiskey with ginger ale on the side,” mutters Garbo’s Anna Christie. “And don’t be stingy, baby.”

1933 Prohibition out; liquor back in. Bottoms up!

1934 In The Thin Man, Myrna Loy makes a martini glass look more soigné than a silk bias-cut gown.

1886: CORBIS. 1920: BETTMANN/CORBIS. 1933 & 1934: COURTESY EVERETT COLLECTION. 1970: G.FORTE/CONSOLIDATED NEWS/GETTY IMAGES. 1998: COURTESY EVERETT COLLECTION. 2007: SPLASH NEWS. OPPOSITE PAGE: DRESS, BCBG MAXAZRIA; SHOES, KENNETH COLE; CUFF, R.J. GRAZIANO; RINGS, ISAAC MANEVITZ FOR BEN-AMUN

STEP 1:

Q: What do I do with

myself while I wait for my date at the bar? A: Don’t talk on your cell phone or send texts. Chat up the bartender, take in the atmosphere, and order a cocktail. And please don’t eat the garnish.

DEC 2007 / MARIE CLAIRE 149


STEP 3:

DON’T PARTY LIKE IT’S 1982 Who has time to make canapés and polish crystal stemware? Let’s keep hosting as easy as possible By Shyema Azam a kick-ass party is vodka, rum, whiskey, wine, and beer. For mixers, make sure to have cranberry juice, club soda, Coke, tonic water, and lots of lemons. Fill pitchers with two premade concoctions like a rum punch or our signature cocktail, “The Marie Claire” (see p. 22). Since traditional stemware has gone the way of shoulder pads, serve in Italian-style tumblers. Inexpensive sets are available at places like Crate and Barrel (starting at $1.95 a glass) or Ikea (Svepa sets go for $5.99 a dozen). Oh! And don’t forget tools—a corkscrew, muddler, shaker, strainer, and shot glass.

Now, how much to buy? Rule of thumb Plan on two drinks per person for the first two hours,

one drink per person for each extra hour, say entertaining gurus Karen Page and Dina Cheney. Assume 40% drink beer, 30% use hard liquor, and 30% sip wine.

What to eat? Go to marieclaire.com/PARTY for tips on easy party food.

# of people

beer

wine and champagne

hard liquor

mixers

25

60 bottles

9 bottles

3 bottles

12 liters

50

120 bottles

18 bottles

6 bottles

24 liters

100

240 bottles

36 bottles

11 bottles

48 liters

(Numbers are based on a four-hour party.)

edward inc. Mixologist: justin r.h. schoenfelder. location: the inn lw12. bottom photo: blouse, french connection; necklace and ring, R.j. Graziano. Dina Cheney, author of Tasting Club

U

nless you’re P. Diddy, the only booze you need for

STEP 4:

T

ever drank was technically bourbon. It was my senior year of college, and some new girlfriends, who had already tapped out on keg beer, showed me how to drink Jim Beam and Coke. I can’t remember what that first sip tasted like; I’m sure it was harsh. But I drank it and kept drinking it until finally I lost the flavor of the Beam under the sweetness of the Coke, and it was just a sugary cocktail I could down like fruit punch. It wasn’t until after college that I learned whiskey had cachet, that its taste was acquired, that it was a so-called man’s drink. Which meant drinking whiskey as a woman made me tough, even if, as a former Catholic schoolgirl (who didn’t imbibe until I was legal and never touched a cigarette), I wasn’t tough at all. Bartenders 150

HE f i r s t w h i s k e y I

Marie Claire / DEC 2007

gave me admiring looks whenever I ordered whiskey, and dates seemed both intimidated and intrigued as they sheepishly sipped their vodka tonics. I could just feel the imaginary tattoos spreading down my arms. Eventually, I became interested less in whiskey’s mystique than in its taste. I learned to drink the good stuff on the rocks or with a little water. I sipped the Lagavulin neat and found a better bourbon in Maker’s Mark. What’s more, I started to drink it alone. Not the alcoholic type of alone, but the connoisseur’s discerning-drink-after-work type of alone. I would sip a little and swish it in my mouth to distinguish the flavors— sometimes sweet and citrusy and other times like liquid fire in my throat. The more I learned about whiskey, the more I tired of the reactions I used to relish. Now I understand the art of

it—the differences in the ways they are made and aged, and their myriad flavors. Discovering whiskey is a project, and the pleasure and mastery of it—the things that seem so intimidating to a beginner—the reward. If more women turned in their Cosmos for Bookers, we could break the stubborn notion that this rich, moody drink is just for men. So I’ve prepared a primer for those of you who’d like to join me.

hair and makeup: naomi warden for artistsbytimothypriano.com. manicure: amy lin for mark top photo: blouse, club monaco; bracelet, r.j. graziano; ring, isaac manevitz for ben-amun. chart based on advice from Karen Page, coauthor of What to Drink With What You Eat, and

consider whiskey By kyla jones


the rundown:

SIX WhISKeYS YoU ShoULd KNoW scotch

what it iS usually, it refers

152

Marie claire / dec 2007

what it iS the Japanese

irish whiskey

what it iS made in ireland, it’s

a blend of different grains such as barley, wheat, corn, oats, or rye—kind of like the seven-grain bread of dark spirits. producers are required to distill their brew three times before bottling it. it taSteS mild and smooth. also, irish whiskeys are rarely peated—apparently only scots like to eat dirt. try Jameson, Bushmills beSt for when you and your date duck into mcwhatever’s on a cold, damp night. how to drink it Blended whiskeys are better for mixing, so it’s cool to drink them on the rocks or with club soda.

learned their whiskey-distilling ways from the scots; over a hundred years later, their version was endorsed by Bill murray in lost in translation (well, kind of). most Japanese whisky (that’s really how they spell it) is actually single-malt, made from corn, millet, and sometimes rice (wheat and rye are almost never used). it taSteS malty, smoky, and slightly sweet. try nikka, suntory beSt for when you want to show up those rye-swilling hipsters. how to drink it the Japanese add plenty of still water to their whisky. you should, too.

rye

BourBon

tennessee whiskey

potion is made from a mash of at least 51 percent of, well, rye, and aged for at least two years. since rye is intense (think of what it adds to a pastrami sandwich), it’s often blended with other grains. it taSteS Just as bitter, intense, and fiery as sarah silverman. what to try old overholt, rittenhouse beSt for the skinny-jeanwearing, interpol-listening, loft-dwelling hipster. how to drink it rye—the heart and soul of a manhattan— is meant to be mixed and can even stand in for bourbon when the cocktail calls for it.

county in kentucky, it’s made from corn—just like ethanol— and typically aged two to eight years in new oak casks. (unlike ethanol, bourbon cannot be used to power your honda civic. ) it taSteS sweet, because of the corn, with vanilla or citrus notes. it might sound like ice cream, but it’s not even close. try Basil hayden’s, Jim Beam Black beSt for dames who can swig it like mrs. robinson in the graduate. how to drink it it’s best to take it neat, but bourbon goes well with coke (not ginger ale, not dr. pepper, not diet coke—just coke).

corn, this all-american tipple gets filtered through sugar-maple charcoal in what’s called the lincoln county process, which originated in—you guessed it— lincoln county,tn. it taSteS sweet, like caramel, with a charred-wood aroma. (even though you’ll be tempted, don’t pour it on your pancakes.) what to try Jack daniel’s, george dickel beSt for unwinding after you’ve climbed off your harley. how to drink it with coke, or straight up with a Bud chaser (assuming you’ve got hair on your chest).

what it iS By law, this amber

don’t let anyone tell you that adding water to whiskey is a mistake—it opens up the aromas so you can take in the smell before you drink it.

Japanese whisky

what it iS named for the

what it iS also made from

go to marieclaire.com/drinKs for more great drink ideas.

photographed By philip friedman/studio d. food styling: matt vohr

to scotland’s famous single malts—not to be confused with the blended chivas your grandma drank with soda. single malts are made from malted barley and typically aged from three to 30 years. it taSteS earthy and smoky, since scotch makers burn a soil-like material called peat while they’re drying the grain. try auchentoshan, dalmore beSt for sipping with your boss after you’ve made vp. how to drink it the way scots dress under those skirts: au naturel. ask for it “neat,” meaning straight up, or with a few drops of water.


coupling

Cohabitation Nation Is living together a real test run for marriage or just a way to put it off? BY CaRRie SLOan PHOTOGRAPHED BY GeOF KeRn

106

Marie claire / March 2007


coupling

Cohabitation Nation Is living together a real test run for marriage or just a way to put it off? BY CaRRie SLOan PHOTOGRAPHED BY GeOF KeRn

106

Marie claire / March 2007


coupling

What to Know Before You Co(habit) Living together ends badly for half the people who do it. Will you beat the stats? How to ensure success

tHeRe aRe tWO KindS OF SHaCKinG UP (MaKe SURe YOU CHOOSe RiGHt!)

The Happy Kind: Prenuptial cohabitation is where you’ve already got a ring and a wedding date, or at least the shared understanding that marriage—to each other—is in your not-sodistant futures. There is no proof that cohabiting during a finite period hurts your chances of living happily ever after, and the benefits are obvious: half-price rent and cable, sex on demand, and time to see whether he’s evolved enough to put the seat down before you say “I do.” The Kind That Leads to Splitsville: Long-term living together with no clear idea of where the relationship is heading is the type to avoid. Why? You move in on an impulse (“My lease is up; can I move in with you?”), and it’s comfy. But once your CDs, finances, and families become entangled, breaking up can resemble a mini divorce. As a result, you may spend years in relationship limbo with someone who isn’t “The One.” Some couples marry out of guilt (aka, “We’ve been together so long, we might as well”)—only to divorce a short time later. The solution? Set a deadline (six months, a year), get engaged—or get moving.

YOU MiGHt nOt Be On tHe SaMe PaGe.

COHaBitatiOn Can MaKe YOU Fat.

Surprise! Men and women view living together differently. While you might see it as marriage with training wheels, he may find it merely convenient: the comforts of having a “wife” with no intention of building a future. “Typically, the guy doesn’t want to commit,” says David Popenoe, founder of the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University. “He also has less to lose by delaying,” a nod to the ticktock of a biological clock. If your five-year plan includes marriage and kids, discuss before you U-haul.

It turns out his sweet tooth can hurt you. A recent study by the University of Newcastle upon Tyne showed that women tend to put on weight when moving in with a boyfriend, while men become healthier. Due to a phenomenon researchers call “dietary convergence,” when your lives start to merge, so does your choice of snack foods. Translation: He eats more veggies; you adopt his Friday-night nacho habit. Rather than pack on the “cohabiting 10,” agree to start a healthy eating and exercise plan together.

“Living Together Left Me $26,000 in Debt” He wanted to be a pilot, so she financed his dream. But somehow their wedding never took flight

BY aMY HenneSSeY AS TOLD TO CaRRie SLOan

in deCeMBeR OF 1996, when I was 23, I met Chris online. He lived in Honolulu, where I grew up, but I had just moved to Seattle for work, so we’d talk on the phone for hours, laughing until our stomachs hurt. One night I said, casually, “I had the best clam chowder tonight. If you ever come visit, you should try it.” “Amy, I work for an airline,” he said. He arrived on Valentine’s Day. When he met me at the airport, I was pleasantly surprised. He was cuter than his photo, with striking green eyes, and we felt like old friends instantly. That weekend, we went to the mountains, met my brother and his wife for dinner—and had clam chowder. It was perfect. He came back in April. In the meantime, I got a call about a PR job in Honolulu. It seemed like serendipity. Chris flew up to help me pack, we shipped my stuff on an airline discount, and I got an apartment through a friend of my mom’s. He stayed that first night—and never left. I didn’t mind. Our lives fit seamlessly. He was sweet and romantic—sent flowers to my office for no good reason, brought me my favorite fast food (mahimahi from Kakaako Kitchen) when I worked late, and ate with me. We loved to cook together, too. In fact, I remember the day I knew I wanted to marry him. We had friends over for a barbecue. I laughed as Chris fumbled with the coals as he tried to set up the grill, then dripped marinade all over the patio. I could see us doing the same thing 60 years in the future. Which is exactly what I wanted. I had a career. I was independent—I’d moved to Seattle by myself. But I’d also watched my parents—married for 42 years—grow old together. I wanted that bond, and Chris seemed to, also. Early on, we helped his best friend and his girlfriend plan their wedding. One day, as I pored over bridal magazines with her—while keeping one eye trained on gowns I liked—Chris seemed to read my mind. “You should be looking at those, too,” he said. “This could be coming up for us soon.”

Real-World Cohabiters

Names: Yingjia Puk-Baker, freelance fashion stylist, 26, and Steven Baker, production director, 31 Location: New York City Met: through friends Dated: 2.5 years, then married on September 5, 2006 Living together: 2 years Why we cohabited: Steven: “Yingjia’s lease was up. I knew we were going to be together, and her other options at the time included moving back to Singapore. I asked her to move in to shore up the deal.” What we learned about each other after moving in: Steven: “We live in an apartment that’s less than 400 square feet, and we like, respectively, our 1500 pairs of shoes and extensive ’80s X-Men comic-book collection. As long as you’re able to move your comics into storage to make space for her shoes, everything eventually works out.” Biggest under-one-roof adjustment: Steven: “Friends. Honestly, who needs ’em? Well, we do. So even though we made a commitment to each other and our priorities have changed from drunken weekend escapades to a movie at home, we still attempt to see them as much as possible—which is not as much as we’d like.”

March 2007 / Marie claire

109


coupling

What to Know Before You Co(habit) Living together ends badly for half the people who do it. Will you beat the stats? How to ensure success

tHeRe aRe tWO KindS OF SHaCKinG UP (MaKe SURe YOU CHOOSe RiGHt!)

The Happy Kind: Prenuptial cohabitation is where you’ve already got a ring and a wedding date, or at least the shared understanding that marriage—to each other—is in your not-sodistant futures. There is no proof that cohabiting during a finite period hurts your chances of living happily ever after, and the benefits are obvious: half-price rent and cable, sex on demand, and time to see whether he’s evolved enough to put the seat down before you say “I do.” The Kind That Leads to Splitsville: Long-term living together with no clear idea of where the relationship is heading is the type to avoid. Why? You move in on an impulse (“My lease is up; can I move in with you?”), and it’s comfy. But once your CDs, finances, and families become entangled, breaking up can resemble a mini divorce. As a result, you may spend years in relationship limbo with someone who isn’t “The One.” Some couples marry out of guilt (aka, “We’ve been together so long, we might as well”)—only to divorce a short time later. The solution? Set a deadline (six months, a year), get engaged—or get moving.

YOU MiGHt nOt Be On tHe SaMe PaGe.

COHaBitatiOn Can MaKe YOU Fat.

Surprise! Men and women view living together differently. While you might see it as marriage with training wheels, he may find it merely convenient: the comforts of having a “wife” with no intention of building a future. “Typically, the guy doesn’t want to commit,” says David Popenoe, founder of the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University. “He also has less to lose by delaying,” a nod to the ticktock of a biological clock. If your five-year plan includes marriage and kids, discuss before you U-haul.

It turns out his sweet tooth can hurt you. A recent study by the University of Newcastle upon Tyne showed that women tend to put on weight when moving in with a boyfriend, while men become healthier. Due to a phenomenon researchers call “dietary convergence,” when your lives start to merge, so does your choice of snack foods. Translation: He eats more veggies; you adopt his Friday-night nacho habit. Rather than pack on the “cohabiting 10,” agree to start a healthy eating and exercise plan together.

“Living Together Left Me $26,000 in Debt” He wanted to be a pilot, so she financed his dream. But somehow their wedding never took flight

BY aMY HenneSSeY AS TOLD TO CaRRie SLOan

in deCeMBeR OF 1996, when I was 23, I met Chris online. He lived in Honolulu, where I grew up, but I had just moved to Seattle for work, so we’d talk on the phone for hours, laughing until our stomachs hurt. One night I said, casually, “I had the best clam chowder tonight. If you ever come visit, you should try it.” “Amy, I work for an airline,” he said. He arrived on Valentine’s Day. When he met me at the airport, I was pleasantly surprised. He was cuter than his photo, with striking green eyes, and we felt like old friends instantly. That weekend, we went to the mountains, met my brother and his wife for dinner—and had clam chowder. It was perfect. He came back in April. In the meantime, I got a call about a PR job in Honolulu. It seemed like serendipity. Chris flew up to help me pack, we shipped my stuff on an airline discount, and I got an apartment through a friend of my mom’s. He stayed that first night—and never left. I didn’t mind. Our lives fit seamlessly. He was sweet and romantic—sent flowers to my office for no good reason, brought me my favorite fast food (mahimahi from Kakaako Kitchen) when I worked late, and ate with me. We loved to cook together, too. In fact, I remember the day I knew I wanted to marry him. We had friends over for a barbecue. I laughed as Chris fumbled with the coals as he tried to set up the grill, then dripped marinade all over the patio. I could see us doing the same thing 60 years in the future. Which is exactly what I wanted. I had a career. I was independent—I’d moved to Seattle by myself. But I’d also watched my parents—married for 42 years—grow old together. I wanted that bond, and Chris seemed to, also. Early on, we helped his best friend and his girlfriend plan their wedding. One day, as I pored over bridal magazines with her—while keeping one eye trained on gowns I liked—Chris seemed to read my mind. “You should be looking at those, too,” he said. “This could be coming up for us soon.”

Real-World Cohabiters

Names: Yingjia Puk-Baker, freelance fashion stylist, 26, and Steven Baker, production director, 31 Location: New York City Met: through friends Dated: 2.5 years, then married on September 5, 2006 Living together: 2 years Why we cohabited: Steven: “Yingjia’s lease was up. I knew we were going to be together, and her other options at the time included moving back to Singapore. I asked her to move in to shore up the deal.” What we learned about each other after moving in: Steven: “We live in an apartment that’s less than 400 square feet, and we like, respectively, our 1500 pairs of shoes and extensive ’80s X-Men comic-book collection. As long as you’re able to move your comics into storage to make space for her shoes, everything eventually works out.” Biggest under-one-roof adjustment: Steven: “Friends. Honestly, who needs ’em? Well, we do. So even though we made a commitment to each other and our priorities have changed from drunken weekend escapades to a movie at home, we still attempt to see them as much as possible—which is not as much as we’d like.”

March 2007 / Marie claire

109


coupling over entire islands, I was too scared to confront my would-be fiancé—scared to push him away. The year Chris finally became a jet pilot, we stopped flying together. He took his mom to Las Vegas all the time, but it was too hard to get me a seat, he said—I wasn’t family. One day, my mom sent me a book about a man who loved airplanes more than his fiancée. My parents hated that I was just living with him, but I’d done it against their wishes, and I was determined to make it work. I’d already downgraded my wedding fantasy: Gone were visions of a big party and my perfect puffy dress. I replaced them with a smaller,

become waiting for him, what I’d put on hold. Because after I dried the tears, this is what I saw: I had been 23, and hopeful, when Chris first stepped off that plane. At 31 I was single again, scarred, and starting from scratch. Worse, perhaps. I had far more debt— $26,000—than when I met him. Not to mention the $36,000 he owed me in back rent alone— which he acknowledged, and I tried, in vain, to collect. If we were married, it would be different. After all, I did the time. But I was never his wife, and I had no recourse. I thought about it a lot. When, exactly, our relationship froze; why I was willing to prop us

At 31 I was single again, scarred, and starting from scratch.

Names: Katie Kidd, campus recruiter, 27, and Brian Krantz, attorney, 30 Location: Chicago Met: through a mutual friend Dating: 4 years Living together: 3 years Why we cohabited: Brian: “To test the waters—if our relationship was going to survive another level, this was it.” What we learned about each other after moving in: Katie: “That sex could get more adventurous! I expected our first few months to be exciting, but three years in, the sex couldn’t be better.” Biggest under-one-roof adjustment: Brian: “The chores! There are certain tasks we both despise— dusting, mopping, laundry. We alternate on the less appealing duties.” 110 Marie Claire / march 2007

We began to plan. I made a guest list. We even “I couldn’t have done this without you.” After, he had our perfect invitations picked out: a vintage got a job with a local commuter airline. By now, we’d been together two years, and I cartoon, Dick and Jane–style. “See Amy and Chris,” the front read. Then you’d open it to see the two hoped the next time he took me flying would be of us in a tux and a big, white wedding dress: to pop the question. But, ironically, once Chris earned his wings, I felt him pulling “See Amy and Chris Get Married.” away. Instead of hanging out with his I couldn’t wait. flight-school friends the way we used But there were things Chris wanted to, he now went out with them alone. to accomplish first. Six months in, he One-half They were going to talk about “flying told me that he wanted to go to flight of all stuff,” he said; I’d be bored. school. It was a big leap. Up until then, cohabitInstead, I was beginning to feel used. he’d been a baggage handler. But I’ve ing unions Chris was working 12 hours a week, in never met anyone who loved airplanes end within contrast to my 16-hour days. And yet, like he did. On our lunch breaks, we’d a year— I’d come home to clothes on the floor, sit at the airport watching planes take and 90% off while he quizzed me on things like within five dirty dishes in the sink, and him, glued to the computer, playing Flight the difference between a 747-200 and years. Simulator. “Wow,” I’d say, “What did a 747-400: One, apparently, has little you do all day?” “I got the high score!” he’d reply. fins called winglets; one doesn’t. Our wedding remained a mirage. If I asked Now his career was growing winglets, and I wanted to be supportive. He worked while about it, there was always a new milestone Chris going to school, so he was making some money, wanted to pass—become a jet pilot, make capbut I was making more. It was sort of under- tain. “Be patient,” he’d say, “I want to surprise stood that I would float us until he became the you.” I was surprised: Five years had flown by, big-bucks pilot. So I paid our rent, the utilities, and we still weren’t married. I didn’t get it. Why did he need to have his whole life together and the payment for my car, which we shared. Flight school was fun for us both. We flew to before saying “I do”? I thought being young, in neighboring islands so he could log flight time; I love—and bumbling through it together—was got to see my family on the Big Island. “You’re half the fun. Yet, though I ran meetings at work, my best friend,” he told me the day he graduated. ran a household, and organized events that took

simpler ceremony. After all, I rationalized, we’d been together so long, who needed a big party? I knew his friends; he knew mine. That May, yet another one tied the knot. “You’ll be next!” she laughed. It was a running joke. But I felt like the punch line. Finally, I confronted him. “Where do you see your life in five years?” I blurted out. “I don’t know,” Chris said. “C’mon,” I pressed. “Do you see yourself in a house? What do you see?” “I think I’ll have a house,” he said slowly. “And I’ll be a captain. And I’ll have a better car.” I couldn’t believe it; I didn’t figure anywhere in his five-year plan. “Do you see yourself married?” I asked. “I don’t think I do,” he said carefully. “Why didn’t you tell me?” “Don’t you like this the way it is?” he asked. “I think you need to leave,” I said. It’s been two years now, and I haven’t really dated anyone since. For months, I cried like crazy, for the lost time, the lost dream—who I’d

both up for so long. I don’t think I’m alone in this. I’ve seen plenty of smart, strong friends go to amazing lengths to keep broken relationships aloft. But I do, in part, blame myself. Sure, I was good to Chris. I was good at supporting his dreams, and absorbing his debts, but at my own expense. I hated myself for that. So I took a long, hard look at the should-haves: ultimatums I didn’t issue, signs I refused to see, and why I didn’t pull the rip cord much sooner. All I can say is that it’s curious how myopic we become in the pursuit of love—and particularly marriage. I didn’t need it. I wore the suits. I was the breadwinner. But, I had to admit, beneath the career woman was this retro me, the Amy in that vintage cartoon, who really wanted it—clamored for her big dress, her turn to cut the cake, but also for something more enduring: the commitment I imagined marriage would provide. It’s why I pinned my hopes on Chris for so long. I still hope to find it. Only this time, I won’t try to will it into existence. I’ll look for someone willing to give it in return.

Names: Jennifer Bennett, PR executive, 27, and her not-to-be-named ex, 37 Location: San Francisco Met: through friends Dated: 2 years Lived together: 3 months (then broke up) Why we cohabited: Jennifer: “The timing was right. My current roommate was moving out, and the place was big enough. I thought I’d see if we were the ultimate fit.” What we learned about each other after moving in: “A ton! Like the fact that he was looking for a 1955 Betty Crocker– style wife. His attitude changed. He was definitely more critical.” Biggest under-one-roof adjustment: “Needing to always greet the other person when they come in the door. And the decor of our apartment: Let’s just say there was a treadmill in the dining room instead of a table.”

Planet Cohabit

Where is cohabitation a disgrace? Which nation wrote new laws to embrace it? The big picture: ENGLAND:

New laws expected to be passed this year would give couples cohabiting for two years or more the same rights as married ones.

SWEDEN: Leads the world in rates of nonmarital cohabitation: Only 60 percent of women here will most likely marry, as compared with 85 percent in the U.S.

INDIA: A 2005 film

called Salaam Namaste— “Hello Hello”—was the country’s first to portray cohabitation, with Nikhil, a young chef, and Ambar, a DJ, moving in together.

INDONESIA:

In 2005, President Susilo Bambag Yudhoyono lashed out at unmarried couples living together, calling the act “disgraceful.”

Australia:

In 2005, 82 percent of brides between the ages of 30 and 34 lived with their boyfriends before deciding to sashay down the aisle.

march 2007 / Marie Claire

111


coupling over entire islands, I was too scared to confront my would-be fiancé—scared to push him away. The year Chris finally became a jet pilot, we stopped flying together. He took his mom to Las Vegas all the time, but it was too hard to get me a seat, he said—I wasn’t family. One day, my mom sent me a book about a man who loved airplanes more than his fiancée. My parents hated that I was just living with him, but I’d done it against their wishes, and I was determined to make it work. I’d already downgraded my wedding fantasy: Gone were visions of a big party and my perfect puffy dress. I replaced them with a smaller,

become waiting for him, what I’d put on hold. Because after I dried the tears, this is what I saw: I had been 23, and hopeful, when Chris first stepped off that plane. At 31 I was single again, scarred, and starting from scratch. Worse, perhaps. I had far more debt— $26,000—than when I met him. Not to mention the $36,000 he owed me in back rent alone— which he acknowledged, and I tried, in vain, to collect. If we were married, it would be different. After all, I did the time. But I was never his wife, and I had no recourse. I thought about it a lot. When, exactly, our relationship froze; why I was willing to prop us

At 31 I was single again, scarred, and starting from scratch.

Names: Katie Kidd, campus recruiter, 27, and Brian Krantz, attorney, 30 Location: Chicago Met: through a mutual friend Dating: 4 years Living together: 3 years Why we cohabited: Brian: “To test the waters—if our relationship was going to survive another level, this was it.” What we learned about each other after moving in: Katie: “That sex could get more adventurous! I expected our first few months to be exciting, but three years in, the sex couldn’t be better.” Biggest under-one-roof adjustment: Brian: “The chores! There are certain tasks we both despise— dusting, mopping, laundry. We alternate on the less appealing duties.” 110 Marie Claire / march 2007

We began to plan. I made a guest list. We even “I couldn’t have done this without you.” After, he had our perfect invitations picked out: a vintage got a job with a local commuter airline. By now, we’d been together two years, and I cartoon, Dick and Jane–style. “See Amy and Chris,” the front read. Then you’d open it to see the two hoped the next time he took me flying would be of us in a tux and a big, white wedding dress: to pop the question. But, ironically, once Chris earned his wings, I felt him pulling “See Amy and Chris Get Married.” away. Instead of hanging out with his I couldn’t wait. flight-school friends the way we used But there were things Chris wanted to, he now went out with them alone. to accomplish first. Six months in, he One-half They were going to talk about “flying told me that he wanted to go to flight of all stuff,” he said; I’d be bored. school. It was a big leap. Up until then, cohabitInstead, I was beginning to feel used. he’d been a baggage handler. But I’ve ing unions Chris was working 12 hours a week, in never met anyone who loved airplanes end within contrast to my 16-hour days. And yet, like he did. On our lunch breaks, we’d a year— I’d come home to clothes on the floor, sit at the airport watching planes take and 90% off while he quizzed me on things like within five dirty dishes in the sink, and him, glued to the computer, playing Flight the difference between a 747-200 and years. Simulator. “Wow,” I’d say, “What did a 747-400: One, apparently, has little you do all day?” “I got the high score!” he’d reply. fins called winglets; one doesn’t. Our wedding remained a mirage. If I asked Now his career was growing winglets, and I wanted to be supportive. He worked while about it, there was always a new milestone Chris going to school, so he was making some money, wanted to pass—become a jet pilot, make capbut I was making more. It was sort of under- tain. “Be patient,” he’d say, “I want to surprise stood that I would float us until he became the you.” I was surprised: Five years had flown by, big-bucks pilot. So I paid our rent, the utilities, and we still weren’t married. I didn’t get it. Why did he need to have his whole life together and the payment for my car, which we shared. Flight school was fun for us both. We flew to before saying “I do”? I thought being young, in neighboring islands so he could log flight time; I love—and bumbling through it together—was got to see my family on the Big Island. “You’re half the fun. Yet, though I ran meetings at work, my best friend,” he told me the day he graduated. ran a household, and organized events that took

simpler ceremony. After all, I rationalized, we’d been together so long, who needed a big party? I knew his friends; he knew mine. That May, yet another one tied the knot. “You’ll be next!” she laughed. It was a running joke. But I felt like the punch line. Finally, I confronted him. “Where do you see your life in five years?” I blurted out. “I don’t know,” Chris said. “C’mon,” I pressed. “Do you see yourself in a house? What do you see?” “I think I’ll have a house,” he said slowly. “And I’ll be a captain. And I’ll have a better car.” I couldn’t believe it; I didn’t figure anywhere in his five-year plan. “Do you see yourself married?” I asked. “I don’t think I do,” he said carefully. “Why didn’t you tell me?” “Don’t you like this the way it is?” he asked. “I think you need to leave,” I said. It’s been two years now, and I haven’t really dated anyone since. For months, I cried like crazy, for the lost time, the lost dream—who I’d

both up for so long. I don’t think I’m alone in this. I’ve seen plenty of smart, strong friends go to amazing lengths to keep broken relationships aloft. But I do, in part, blame myself. Sure, I was good to Chris. I was good at supporting his dreams, and absorbing his debts, but at my own expense. I hated myself for that. So I took a long, hard look at the should-haves: ultimatums I didn’t issue, signs I refused to see, and why I didn’t pull the rip cord much sooner. All I can say is that it’s curious how myopic we become in the pursuit of love—and particularly marriage. I didn’t need it. I wore the suits. I was the breadwinner. But, I had to admit, beneath the career woman was this retro me, the Amy in that vintage cartoon, who really wanted it—clamored for her big dress, her turn to cut the cake, but also for something more enduring: the commitment I imagined marriage would provide. It’s why I pinned my hopes on Chris for so long. I still hope to find it. Only this time, I won’t try to will it into existence. I’ll look for someone willing to give it in return.

Names: Jennifer Bennett, PR executive, 27, and her not-to-be-named ex, 37 Location: San Francisco Met: through friends Dated: 2 years Lived together: 3 months (then broke up) Why we cohabited: Jennifer: “The timing was right. My current roommate was moving out, and the place was big enough. I thought I’d see if we were the ultimate fit.” What we learned about each other after moving in: “A ton! Like the fact that he was looking for a 1955 Betty Crocker– style wife. His attitude changed. He was definitely more critical.” Biggest under-one-roof adjustment: “Needing to always greet the other person when they come in the door. And the decor of our apartment: Let’s just say there was a treadmill in the dining room instead of a table.”

Planet Cohabit

Where is cohabitation a disgrace? Which nation wrote new laws to embrace it? The big picture: ENGLAND:

New laws expected to be passed this year would give couples cohabiting for two years or more the same rights as married ones.

SWEDEN: Leads the world in rates of nonmarital cohabitation: Only 60 percent of women here will most likely marry, as compared with 85 percent in the U.S.

INDIA: A 2005 film

called Salaam Namaste— “Hello Hello”—was the country’s first to portray cohabitation, with Nikhil, a young chef, and Ambar, a DJ, moving in together.

INDONESIA:

In 2005, President Susilo Bambag Yudhoyono lashed out at unmarried couples living together, calling the act “disgraceful.”

Australia:

In 2005, 82 percent of brides between the ages of 30 and 34 lived with their boyfriends before deciding to sashay down the aisle.

march 2007 / Marie Claire

111


coupling

How Shacking Up Will Affect Your Sex Life Is living together a recipe for tepid times in bed—or sex 24/7? Theresa O’Rourke finds out

We didn’t want things to change. Especially the sex. After a year of dating, we were moving into our first apartment together. There would be no more shuffling between his place and mine; no more simply exchanging bodily fluids, showering, and leaving—now there were groceries, chores, bills, the whole bit. Everything was about to change. Thinking otherwise was a big crock of stupid. Of course, I had heard the debates. Cohabiting, the peanut gallery argued, would turn us into glorified roommates. Nah, the other side would say—cohabitation meant better sex, more often. We were about to see who was right. Pre-move, our sex life was hardly shabby; it was intense—and loud. I had a hunch my neighbors threw a big-ass party when I moved out. But the new pad was huge and oozed chic, a happy by-product of combining incomes. Making love in this incredible apartment (our apartment) was like making love for the first time again. The bathroom, for one, was an orgasm waiting to happen. In the past, we’d tried to navigate the choppy waters of tub sex— alas, neither his bath nor mine could contain all 5'2" of me—let alone both of us. With wide eyes and expectant loins, we sank into our plunging

44% of single men between ages 20 and 29 say they would only marry a woman if she agreed to live together first.

112 Marie Claire / march 2007


coupling tub. The only thing better than doing it in the no escaping morning wood. There it would be— bath was doing it without cramped limbs and a risin’ and shinin’—rubbing against my thigh as unapologetically as the sun beaming through face full of faucet. When there were no new orifices left in the our windows. Surprisingly, morning sex turned apartment to explore, we settled into a routine out to be not half-bad. It’s all about compromise, of sex twice a week. Thing is, when you’re so I indulged him once a week; in turn, my sated man promised he’d destress with me under the same roof, you can’t help instead of his Xbox. but be amazed by life’s banalities. And sure, the novelty of new rooms Soon, talk of hot-tub action became: to romp in has since burned off like “Hey, have you noticed how much The sediment settles on the bottom? number of morning fog. But it’s been replaced Think that’s remains of the bath salts unmarried by something much deeper. I don’t or just our dead-skin cells?” We put couples in know about you, but nothing gets me hornier than plain ol’ thoughtfulness. the whole tub-sex thing on hold. America A cohabiting case in point: There increased Here, in our new abode, I’ve seen him send my mail out without my having are no chores when you’re living by nearly to ask, turn the TV to my favorite apart. A forgotten pair of panties left 1200% channel when he’s done watching, on his floor becomes a keepsake; perbetween and one work night, bring home my fume on a pillow, an erotic trail. “I 1960 and favorite frozen yogurt. (Usually just a snuggled up to your side of the bed so 2004. weekend treat.) A simple gesture, but I could smell you,” he would tell me on the phone, moments after I’d left his place. when I saw my sweet, sexy son-of-a-bitch Now, today’s musky sheets are tomorrow’s clutching that pint, I grabbed him. We ended up having the best sex of our lives. dirty laundry. Lying there, legs entangled, all of life’s banaliThere was also a new kind of sex that refused to be denied. And it was the kind I, heretofore, ties melted away, like the frozen yogurt left out liked least: morning sex. Living apart, it was on the counter. “This is ours, baby,” he whiseasy to skedaddle back to my place before he pered. “All ours.” It was—for better or worse, awoke. Sometimes I didn’t even stay the night. morning and night. I loved him from the bottom But when you’re living together, there is simply of my heart. And that hadn’t changed.

liVing (TogeTher) in aMerica

HAIR AND MAKEUP: MICHAEL THOMAS AT ONSET MANAGEMENT. DOLLHOUSES: M.K. HOLLOWAY

Where you’re most (and least) likely to find unmarried couples under one roof

Names: Carmen Lee, administrative assistant, 27, and Jamar Laster, editor, 26 Location: Atlanta Met: through friends in college Dating: 2 years Living together: 6 months (they also lived together as friends in college) Why we cohabited: Jamar: “I was a big opponent of it at first, but Carmen had been virtually staying at my apartment, and it was more cost-effective to split the rent and bills.” What we learned about each other after moving in: Carmen: “Jamar always unplugs the electric can opener immediately after each use, because he thinks he might cut his finger off accidentally if he leaves it plugged in.” Jamar:“I always thought Carmen was one of those guys’ girls who love to watch football and don’t really care for potpourri. But I found out she loves candles and flowers and falls asleep during football. She kept that under wraps very well.” Biggest under-one-roof adjustment: Jamar: “Finding a way to make all our stuff fit. Our apartment is pretty spacious, so it wasn’t that bad . . . except for the millions of pairs of shoes that consume most of the floor space. I am lucky not to have a sprained ankle right now. And I’ve found myself checking twice to make sure I didn’t leave the seat up.”

MOST LIKELY LEAST LIKELY

March 2007 / Marie claire

113


TK slug relationships

George Soros and Jennifer Chun

Aviv “Vivi” Nevo and fiancée Ziyi ZHANG

Rupert Murdoch has one. So do financiers Vivi Nevo and Bruce Wasserstein. Why are the West’s most powerful men coupling up with younger Asian women?

Jean Todt and fiancée Michelle Yeoh

By Ying Chu

THE NEW TROPHY WIFE C

Brian Grazer and Chau-giang thi Nguyen

Woody Allen and wife #3 Soon-Yi Previn

Rupert Murdoch and wife #3 Wendi Deng Bruce Wasserstein and wife #4 Angela Chao 124 marie claire / month 2009

nicolas cage and wife #3 ALICE KIM

all it the Woody Allen Effect. When the venerable director scandalously left Mia Farrow for her adopted daughter, South Korean-born Soon-Yi Previn—35 years his junior—he may as well have sent out a press release: Asian-girl fantasy trumps that of Hollywood royalty! Not two years after they tied the knot, media baron Rupert Murdoch walked down the aisle with fresh-faced Wendi Deng—17 days after finalizing his divorce from his second wife. Then, CBS head Leslie Moonves wed TV news anchor Julie Chen; Oscar winner Nicolas Cage married half-his-age third wife Alice Kim; billionaire George Soros coupled up with violinist Jennifer Chun; and producer Brian Grazer courted concert pianist Chau-Giang Thi Nguyen. Add the nuptials of investment magnate Bruce Wasserstein to fourth wife Angela Chao and the pending vows between venture capitalist Vivi Nevo and Chinese actress Ziyi Zhang, and we’ve got a curious cultural ripple.

september 2009 / marie claire 125


TK slug relationships

George Soros and Jennifer Chun

Aviv “Vivi” Nevo and fiancée Ziyi ZHANG

Rupert Murdoch has one. So do financiers Vivi Nevo and Bruce Wasserstein. Why are the West’s most powerful men coupling up with younger Asian women?

Jean Todt and fiancée Michelle Yeoh

By Ying Chu

THE NEW TROPHY WIFE C

Brian Grazer and Chau-giang thi Nguyen

Woody Allen and wife #3 Soon-Yi Previn

Rupert Murdoch and wife #3 Wendi Deng Bruce Wasserstein and wife #4 Angela Chao 124 marie claire / month 2009

nicolas cage and wife #3 ALICE KIM

all it the Woody Allen Effect. When the venerable director scandalously left Mia Farrow for her adopted daughter, South Korean-born Soon-Yi Previn—35 years his junior—he may as well have sent out a press release: Asian-girl fantasy trumps that of Hollywood royalty! Not two years after they tied the knot, media baron Rupert Murdoch walked down the aisle with fresh-faced Wendi Deng—17 days after finalizing his divorce from his second wife. Then, CBS head Leslie Moonves wed TV news anchor Julie Chen; Oscar winner Nicolas Cage married half-his-age third wife Alice Kim; billionaire George Soros coupled up with violinist Jennifer Chun; and producer Brian Grazer courted concert pianist Chau-Giang Thi Nguyen. Add the nuptials of investment magnate Bruce Wasserstein to fourth wife Angela Chao and the pending vows between venture capitalist Vivi Nevo and Chinese actress Ziyi Zhang, and we’ve got a curious cultural ripple.

september 2009 / marie claire 125


relationships

Allen and Previn in 1997

characterize Asian women as something other than geishas, ninjas, or dragon ladies? As the object of opening-line zingers like “Me love you long time” (the infamous line from Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket), I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry at the cheeky blog stuffwhitepeoplelike.com, which ranks Asian girls at number 11 because “Asian women avoid key white women characteristics, such as having a midlife crisis, divorce, and hobbies that don’t involve taking care of the children.” Sure, I’m petite and was in fact born in Shanghai, but—to the shock of more than one guy I’ve gone out with—I’d rather down an icy beer and burger than nurse bubble tea and eat dumplings while massaging his back with my toes. “This is a common experience among Asian-American women,” says Bich Minh Nguyen, who broaches the 126 marie claire / september 2009

stereo­types in her latest novel, Short Girls. “They’re dating a white guy, and they may not know if it’s a fetish thing.” “It’s like a curse that Asian-American women can’t avoid,” says C.N. Le, director of Asian and Asian-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. “From an academic point of view, the perception still serves as a motivation for white men.” In researching his new book, The East, the West, and Sex, author Richard Bernstein found that the Orientalist illusion continues to influence. “Historically, Asia provided certain sexual opportunities that would be much more difficult for Western men to have at home. But it remains a happy hunting ground for them today,” he says, citing one phenomenon in the northeastern region of Thailand called Issan, where 15 percent of marriages are

Why be a target for headline comparisons to concubines? When Wendi Deng was described as “The Yellow Peril” in a recent magazine profile, it only marginalized her achievement: As chief strategist for MySpace China, she has become central to News Corp.’s expansion into the elusive Chinese market—something Murdoch himself had attempted, and failed to do, before she came into the picture. While I’m sure that real love and affection is sometimes the bond in these culture-crossing May-December romances, could it be that power divorcés of a certain ilk make the perfect renegade suitors for these overachieving Asian good girls— an ultimate (yet lame) attempt at rebellion? Maybe these outsized, world-class moguls are stand-ins for emotionally repressed Asian dads (one cliché that is

Asian women dating white men may never really know if it’s a fetish thing. between young Thai women and Western men well into their 60s. But I suspect there’s something else about the East that’s seducing business bigwigs at this very moment: globalization. Consider that, stateside, Mandarin classes have spiked 200 percent over the past five years (apparently, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was an early adopter; he taught Mandarin classes in his Dartmouth days), and China has claimed status as the world’s top export nation. In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell theorizes that Asian kids’ intrinsic work ethic makes them outsmart American kids in math. (In the latest Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development international education survey, Taiwanese students were tops in math, while the U.S. placed 35th.) It’s as though these Western men are hungry for a piece of that mystical Eastern formula. As such, Asians (in addition to African orphans) are hot commodities right about now—status symbols as prized as a private Gulfstream jet or a museum wing bearing your name (neither of which goes so well with a frumpy, aging first wife). Tellingly, most current trophies of choice are far more than exotic arm candy. They are accomplished musicians and journalists, they have Ivy League MBAs and hail from prestigious political families (Mrs. Wasserstein’s older sis is former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao). Why, then, are these women falling for rich white patriarchs?

predominantly true). Or . . . are these women just glorified opportunists? What’s so perverse is that while Asians have always revered their elders, sleeping with a guy old enough to be your grandfather is just creepy—in any culture. Skepticism aside, the new trophy trend does have its benefits. We’re already seeing a positive impact on global politics, economics, and the arts: The Chinese became privy to online social networking in 2007 with the launch of MySpace China under the News Corp. umbrella; contemporary Chinese painters— including Xiaogang Zhang and Minjun Yue—have rung up nearly $400 million in sales on international art circuits since 2006, thanks to well-connected supporters like Ziyi Zhang; and almost 43 percent of international adoptions, which have more than tripled since 1990, now come out of Asian countries (more playdates for Pax and Maddox). What’s more, perhaps a proliferation of gorgeous, mixed-race, multilingual offspring (assuming a classical Mandarin tutor is on the Chen-Moonves registry) is just good for our landscape. However you look at it, one thing’s for sure: We’re going to have to get used to this new international power family— aging mogul and foxy Asian wife flaunting a double-wide with newborn and adopted Malawian tot. What’s next—the token trophy pet? I hear endangered Burmese rabbits are exceptionally cuddly.

previous spread, clockwise from top left: b. bank/wireimage, k. mazur/wireimage, v. hache/afp/getty images, r. tamarra/getty images, wwd/condé nast/corbis, j. mayer/wireimage, patrickmcmullan.com. this page: s. lawrence/corbis sygma

Were these tycoons consciously courting Asian babes? Do any of them qualify for the unnerving “yellow fever” or “rice king” moniker? It’s unsavory to think so. But after two or three failed attempts at domestic bliss with women of like background and age, these heavy hitters sought out something different. Something they had likely fetishized. Enter the doll-faced Asian sylph on the arm of a silver-haired Western suit. (Hello, mail-order bride!) The excruciating colonial stereotypes—Asian women as submissive, domestic, hypersexual—are obviously nothing new. But decades after The World of Suzie Wong hit drive-ins and more than 20 years since David Bowie’s “China Girl” topped the music charts, why are we still indulging them? Because they’re omnipresent—and often entertaining. Even now, how many cinematic greats, literary best sellers, or even cell-phone ads (see Motorola’s latest)


First person

the

rapist and me

At night, I thought about his hands. I thought about the crimes they committed. I wondered if they resembled hams or spindly sticks, if they looked chapped and rough or soft and doughy. As I grappled with my motivation for wanting to meet a convicted rapist, sleep escaped me. The only thought that helped was, Don’t touch his hands. 000 Marie Claire / jan 2007

By Melissa Chessher PHOTOGRAPHED By todd seelie/wpn


First person

the

rapist and me

At night, I thought about his hands. I thought about the crimes they committed. I wondered if they resembled hams or spindly sticks, if they looked chapped and rough or soft and doughy. As I grappled with my motivation for wanting to meet a convicted rapist, sleep escaped me. The only thought that helped was, Don’t touch his hands. 000 Marie Claire / jan 2007

By Melissa Chessher PHOTOGRAPHED By todd seelie/wpn


TK slug

funniest girlfriend

<< the woman

130 marie claire / march 2010

I

fashion editor: zoe Glassner. hair: giannandrea at the wall group. makeup: jillian dempsey for avon at the wall group. manicure: jenna hipp for spa ritual/ celestineagency.com. SET DESIGN: STILLSETS.COM. Opposite page: Top, Ann Taylor; Skirt, Maison Martin Margiela; SHoes, Michael Kors; Necklace, demitasse

who’s funnier than (Leno Kimmel Letterman O’Brien Fallon Stewart Ferguson Daly Colbert) the boys

Sharper, ruder, and ballsier than the competition, is the fiercely funny Chelsea Handler the salvation of late-night TV? By Christine Lennon Photographed by Art Streiber t’s not easy, making Chelsea Handler laugh. As the host of Chelsea Lately, the E! Entertainment network’s late-night talk show, the stand-up comedienne and best-selling author is as dry as a Belvedere martini. Sitting across from guests like the soon-to-be-incarcerated rapper T.I. or one of a squadron of Kardashians, she fires off questions in her big, sandpapery, Jersey-girl voice and barely cracks a smile. Her guests, on the other hand, are downright giddy. It could be because they don’t often hear a petite and pretty blonde talk about flushing a “shadoobie” down the toilet, or they aren’t used to fielding such incredibly frank and, yes, hilarious questions in front of a studio audience. Then again, it could just be their nerves. Handler, 34, may be one of just two women (the other is Mo’Nique) in the testosteroneheavy 11:30 time slot, but she’s earning a reputation as its toughest and most original interview. While the fellas of late night are busy giggling at their own jokes and getting into trouble with their “assistants,” Handler delivers shockingly astute, tweezer-sharp commentary on the dubious culture of celebrity (on E!, no less). As a result, she’s racking up a steadily growing audience in the coveted 18-to-34 female demographic. “I’m into politics, and I love watching the heavier news magazine shows,” Handler says. “But let’s be honest. I’m on E! It’s not what I do, and it’s not what my audience wants.” Handler and her writing staff, which includes four other women and five men—a fairly gender-neutral ratio in the notorious boys club that is comedy writing—gather around a conference

table at 9:30 every morning with a stack of tabloids and Web page printouts from gossip sites. In a matter of minutes, the room turns into a raucous shoutfest of jokes, each a little grittier than the last. The goal: to make Handler smirk, even laugh, and to write some of the freshest and most outrageous comedy on television.

H

andler arrives at the studio office wearing white cutoff gym shorts, running shoes, a Kelly green Nike jacket, and a white baseball hat with a ponytail peeking out of the back. Chunk, her recently adopted rescue dog and frequent subject/guest on the From top: Handler show, is trotting arrives at work with her dog, Chunk; along beside her. hard at work in the writers’ room; The walls of the getting her hair hallways, the writdone in her office; writing lasters’ room, the cubiminute changes. cles, the writers’ march 2010 / marie claire 131


TK slug

funniest girlfriend

<< the woman

130 marie claire / march 2010

I

fashion editor: zoe Glassner. hair: giannandrea at the wall group. makeup: jillian dempsey for avon at the wall group. manicure: jenna hipp for spa ritual/ celestineagency.com. SET DESIGN: STILLSETS.COM. Opposite page: Top, Ann Taylor; Skirt, Maison Martin Margiela; SHoes, Michael Kors; Necklace, demitasse

who’s funnier than (Leno Kimmel Letterman O’Brien Fallon Stewart Ferguson Daly Colbert) the boys

Sharper, ruder, and ballsier than the competition, is the fiercely funny Chelsea Handler the salvation of late-night TV? By Christine Lennon Photographed by Art Streiber t’s not easy, making Chelsea Handler laugh. As the host of Chelsea Lately, the E! Entertainment network’s late-night talk show, the stand-up comedienne and best-selling author is as dry as a Belvedere martini. Sitting across from guests like the soon-to-be-incarcerated rapper T.I. or one of a squadron of Kardashians, she fires off questions in her big, sandpapery, Jersey-girl voice and barely cracks a smile. Her guests, on the other hand, are downright giddy. It could be because they don’t often hear a petite and pretty blonde talk about flushing a “shadoobie” down the toilet, or they aren’t used to fielding such incredibly frank and, yes, hilarious questions in front of a studio audience. Then again, it could just be their nerves. Handler, 34, may be one of just two women (the other is Mo’Nique) in the testosteroneheavy 11:30 time slot, but she’s earning a reputation as its toughest and most original interview. While the fellas of late night are busy giggling at their own jokes and getting into trouble with their “assistants,” Handler delivers shockingly astute, tweezer-sharp commentary on the dubious culture of celebrity (on E!, no less). As a result, she’s racking up a steadily growing audience in the coveted 18-to-34 female demographic. “I’m into politics, and I love watching the heavier news magazine shows,” Handler says. “But let’s be honest. I’m on E! It’s not what I do, and it’s not what my audience wants.” Handler and her writing staff, which includes four other women and five men—a fairly gender-neutral ratio in the notorious boys club that is comedy writing—gather around a conference

table at 9:30 every morning with a stack of tabloids and Web page printouts from gossip sites. In a matter of minutes, the room turns into a raucous shoutfest of jokes, each a little grittier than the last. The goal: to make Handler smirk, even laugh, and to write some of the freshest and most outrageous comedy on television.

H

andler arrives at the studio office wearing white cutoff gym shorts, running shoes, a Kelly green Nike jacket, and a white baseball hat with a ponytail peeking out of the back. Chunk, her recently adopted rescue dog and frequent subject/guest on the From top: Handler show, is trotting arrives at work with her dog, Chunk; along beside her. hard at work in the writers’ room; The walls of the getting her hair hallways, the writdone in her office; writing lasters’ room, the cubiminute changes. cles, the writers’ march 2010 / marie claire 131


funniest girlfriend offices—virtually every vertical surface—are plastered with photos. In the writers’ conference room, the staff has gathered with their morning coffee. None of them eat, except for Handler. She’s snacking on a grapefruit the size of her head (she keeps a giant bowl of them in her office/dressing room) and a bowl of sliced turkey. Handler is calorie conscious, but she has a well-chronicled weakness for vodka—her second book of first-person essays, which came out in 2008 and held a solid spot on The New York Times nonfiction best-seller list for 14 months, was titled Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea. There are no fewer than 10 unopened bottles of the stuff in her office. For years, she’s called out Grey

and working the comedy-club circuit (she made the esteemed Montreal Comedy festival at 24), Handler got her big break in 2002 as one of the four hosts of Girls Behaving Badly, in which young female actors pulled public stunts and pranks for hidden cameras. In 2006 she launched The Chelsea Handler Show, a weekly half-hour sketch-comedy series that lasted for two seasons. But it wasn’t until Ted Harbert, president and chief executive officer of E!, approached Handler about a talk show that she considered being a late-night host. “I never really saw that coming,” she says. “I didn’t become a comedian to work this hard. But Ted, my boyfriend, who was not my boyfriend at the time, was saying, ‘You need your own show. You have such a strong point of view.’ But the only way I was going to be on E! was if I could make fun of E! and everyone on those shows. I thought, That would be a great job.”

T Goose as her favorite brand, but she recently defected to Belvedere because “a friend told me that Belvedere has zero sugar in it, and that’s all I needed to hear,” she says. “So I called them up, and now Belvedere is sponsoring my upcoming comedy and book tour this spring.” Her third book, Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang, hits stores in March. She will take a brief hiatus from taping the show and embark on a 23-city stand-up tour to coincide with book signings and appearances. It is in From top: Handler’s front of a live audishoe collection; ence that Handler in her producer’s office; prepping feels most at home. to go on air; After moving to reviewing notes. Los Angeles at 19 132 marie claire / march 2010

he first topic of discussion in the writers’ room this morning is a public-service announcement airing on CBS that encourages men to give their wives or girlfriends Pap smears for the holidays. A round of jokes about diamond necklaces in vaginas don’t impress. Then Handler suggests making up a list of the various gifts she’s gotten over the years, including an STD test and an ultrasound. After a little riffing among the group, they land on a gag about finding a lost iPhone in her uterus, which eventually makes it onto the show. “I love a stupid joke, something that doesn’t make any sense,” Handler will explain later. “And things that come out of left field I find very funny. The challenge is to keep it fresh. If you’re talking about Britney Spears over and over, it’s very hard to keep that interesting.” A lesser item on the agenda is the birth of former Hugh Hefner girlfriend and E! star Kendra Wilkinson’s baby, a 9-pound, 5-ounce boy. “Which makes him bigger than Ryan Seacrest,” says Handler, without even looking away from her citrus. Sarah Colonna, a writer/comic on the show, says, “Hef

was contacted for Handler’s office is comment, and he plastered with photos, and said, ‘Where am I?’” includes a sofa, The women of a mini fridge, an ice machine, a Chelsea Lately have makeup table, and a unique and seemracks of clothes. ingly authentic bond. They’re all stand-up comics who often join Handler on her tours. That they have penetrated this traditionally allmale domain and that, even more surprisingly, the five of them are actually friends, is unique. Once a week, they meet downstairs for a group pilates session, courtesy of Handler. Heather McDonald, another writer/comic on the show, turned up to exercise one day in what she describes as “the ugliest running shoes in the world.” “Chelsea saw them and said, ‘Those are ridiculous. You can’t wear those,’” she says. “I took them off for pilates, and Chelsea was texting her assistant about something. By the end of class, she’d come down and replaced my shoes with a brand-new pair in my size.” “When you’re doing stand-up, there are usually five or six men and maybe one woman on the bill,” says another woman on the show, Jen Kirkman. “Many women just don’t want to see another woman around. They don’t want to share the attention. Chelsea’s not like that. She’s really supportive.” After the 90-minute session in the writers’ room is over, the writers retreat to work on the material they pitched, and Handler heads to the editing room for 10 minutes. Then she’s off to the gym for her daily hour-long workout. By 12:30, she’s back in the office, showered, in a red velour robe, and into hair and makeup in her office, which is really more like a studio apartment. There’s a sofa, a mini fridge, a food scale, an ice machine, and a makeup table; racks of tailored, colorful, dressy-casual clothes that show off her tiny, athletic frame; and shoes—lots of them—from Lanvin, Miu Miu, and Yves Saint Laurent. The hairstylist stands behind Handler, who’s checking e-mails at her desk, with a curling iron. A staff writer comes in with a rough outline of the night’s program, including all of the material written while Handler was working

“If you go out and behave in a ridiculous way, you should expect to be made fun of.” out. While having her makeup applied, she checks off which lines will make the cut. Minutes later, a production assistant comes to fetch Handler (with half-done hair and no lip gloss and still in her robe) and her dog to film promo-teasers for upcoming shows in the studio downstairs, which she improvises on the spot. Handler names Jennifer Aniston, Jenny McCarthy, and Jim Carrey as her favorite all-time guests. “I haven’t heard of anyone who’s been unhappy with how they were treated on the show. At least it hasn’t made it back to me. But I don’t make fun of people who lead respectable lives. Like the Reese Witherspoon and Jake Gyllenhaal breakup—I won’t talk about them because they seem like smart, decent people. But if you go out and behave in a ridiculous way, you should expect to be made fun of.”

Next, Handler heads to the editing room to punch up a sketch about giving employee reviews, while eating a jar of pickles, then back to hair and makeup to finish before the 2:30 taping. On the show today is an Animal Planet host named Dave Salmoni, who’s brought along with him a lemur, a wolf, and a giant South American reptile, which Handler proclaims would make her take a “giant shadoobie” if she saw it in the wild. Adam Lambert from American Idol is in to film an interview for an upcoming show, to whom Handler says, “You used to be hugely fat in high school, right? And your hair isn’t really black. You’re a redhead. So you were just really unlucky.” Lambert thinks it’s hilarious. By 4:45, Handler’s whirlwind day has ended. On most days, she’s wrapped and ready to go home to the condo she shares with Harbert in Marina del Rey by 6 p.m. “To be honest, my favorite part of the day is when we’re done,” she says. “The day is always really busy. We’re all friends, and I like the writers. It’s like summer camp that just keeps going. But I like it to be over. I like the minute when I can get off the stage and go home, and I know I’ve done a good job.” Christine Lennon is a writer in Los Angeles, where she lives with her husband and two children. march 2010 / marie claire 133


funniest girlfriend offices—virtually every vertical surface—are plastered with photos. In the writers’ conference room, the staff has gathered with their morning coffee. None of them eat, except for Handler. She’s snacking on a grapefruit the size of her head (she keeps a giant bowl of them in her office/dressing room) and a bowl of sliced turkey. Handler is calorie conscious, but she has a well-chronicled weakness for vodka—her second book of first-person essays, which came out in 2008 and held a solid spot on The New York Times nonfiction best-seller list for 14 months, was titled Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea. There are no fewer than 10 unopened bottles of the stuff in her office. For years, she’s called out Grey

and working the comedy-club circuit (she made the esteemed Montreal Comedy festival at 24), Handler got her big break in 2002 as one of the four hosts of Girls Behaving Badly, in which young female actors pulled public stunts and pranks for hidden cameras. In 2006 she launched The Chelsea Handler Show, a weekly half-hour sketch-comedy series that lasted for two seasons. But it wasn’t until Ted Harbert, president and chief executive officer of E!, approached Handler about a talk show that she considered being a late-night host. “I never really saw that coming,” she says. “I didn’t become a comedian to work this hard. But Ted, my boyfriend, who was not my boyfriend at the time, was saying, ‘You need your own show. You have such a strong point of view.’ But the only way I was going to be on E! was if I could make fun of E! and everyone on those shows. I thought, That would be a great job.”

T Goose as her favorite brand, but she recently defected to Belvedere because “a friend told me that Belvedere has zero sugar in it, and that’s all I needed to hear,” she says. “So I called them up, and now Belvedere is sponsoring my upcoming comedy and book tour this spring.” Her third book, Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang, hits stores in March. She will take a brief hiatus from taping the show and embark on a 23-city stand-up tour to coincide with book signings and appearances. It is in From top: Handler’s front of a live audishoe collection; ence that Handler in her producer’s office; prepping feels most at home. to go on air; After moving to reviewing notes. Los Angeles at 19 132 marie claire / march 2010

he first topic of discussion in the writers’ room this morning is a public-service announcement airing on CBS that encourages men to give their wives or girlfriends Pap smears for the holidays. A round of jokes about diamond necklaces in vaginas don’t impress. Then Handler suggests making up a list of the various gifts she’s gotten over the years, including an STD test and an ultrasound. After a little riffing among the group, they land on a gag about finding a lost iPhone in her uterus, which eventually makes it onto the show. “I love a stupid joke, something that doesn’t make any sense,” Handler will explain later. “And things that come out of left field I find very funny. The challenge is to keep it fresh. If you’re talking about Britney Spears over and over, it’s very hard to keep that interesting.” A lesser item on the agenda is the birth of former Hugh Hefner girlfriend and E! star Kendra Wilkinson’s baby, a 9-pound, 5-ounce boy. “Which makes him bigger than Ryan Seacrest,” says Handler, without even looking away from her citrus. Sarah Colonna, a writer/comic on the show, says, “Hef

was contacted for Handler’s office is comment, and he plastered with photos, and said, ‘Where am I?’” includes a sofa, The women of a mini fridge, an ice machine, a Chelsea Lately have makeup table, and a unique and seemracks of clothes. ingly authentic bond. They’re all stand-up comics who often join Handler on her tours. That they have penetrated this traditionally allmale domain and that, even more surprisingly, the five of them are actually friends, is unique. Once a week, they meet downstairs for a group pilates session, courtesy of Handler. Heather McDonald, another writer/comic on the show, turned up to exercise one day in what she describes as “the ugliest running shoes in the world.” “Chelsea saw them and said, ‘Those are ridiculous. You can’t wear those,’” she says. “I took them off for pilates, and Chelsea was texting her assistant about something. By the end of class, she’d come down and replaced my shoes with a brand-new pair in my size.” “When you’re doing stand-up, there are usually five or six men and maybe one woman on the bill,” says another woman on the show, Jen Kirkman. “Many women just don’t want to see another woman around. They don’t want to share the attention. Chelsea’s not like that. She’s really supportive.” After the 90-minute session in the writers’ room is over, the writers retreat to work on the material they pitched, and Handler heads to the editing room for 10 minutes. Then she’s off to the gym for her daily hour-long workout. By 12:30, she’s back in the office, showered, in a red velour robe, and into hair and makeup in her office, which is really more like a studio apartment. There’s a sofa, a mini fridge, a food scale, an ice machine, and a makeup table; racks of tailored, colorful, dressy-casual clothes that show off her tiny, athletic frame; and shoes—lots of them—from Lanvin, Miu Miu, and Yves Saint Laurent. The hairstylist stands behind Handler, who’s checking e-mails at her desk, with a curling iron. A staff writer comes in with a rough outline of the night’s program, including all of the material written while Handler was working

“If you go out and behave in a ridiculous way, you should expect to be made fun of.” out. While having her makeup applied, she checks off which lines will make the cut. Minutes later, a production assistant comes to fetch Handler (with half-done hair and no lip gloss and still in her robe) and her dog to film promo-teasers for upcoming shows in the studio downstairs, which she improvises on the spot. Handler names Jennifer Aniston, Jenny McCarthy, and Jim Carrey as her favorite all-time guests. “I haven’t heard of anyone who’s been unhappy with how they were treated on the show. At least it hasn’t made it back to me. But I don’t make fun of people who lead respectable lives. Like the Reese Witherspoon and Jake Gyllenhaal breakup—I won’t talk about them because they seem like smart, decent people. But if you go out and behave in a ridiculous way, you should expect to be made fun of.”

Next, Handler heads to the editing room to punch up a sketch about giving employee reviews, while eating a jar of pickles, then back to hair and makeup to finish before the 2:30 taping. On the show today is an Animal Planet host named Dave Salmoni, who’s brought along with him a lemur, a wolf, and a giant South American reptile, which Handler proclaims would make her take a “giant shadoobie” if she saw it in the wild. Adam Lambert from American Idol is in to film an interview for an upcoming show, to whom Handler says, “You used to be hugely fat in high school, right? And your hair isn’t really black. You’re a redhead. So you were just really unlucky.” Lambert thinks it’s hilarious. By 4:45, Handler’s whirlwind day has ended. On most days, she’s wrapped and ready to go home to the condo she shares with Harbert in Marina del Rey by 6 p.m. “To be honest, my favorite part of the day is when we’re done,” she says. “The day is always really busy. We’re all friends, and I like the writers. It’s like summer camp that just keeps going. But I like it to be over. I like the minute when I can get off the stage and go home, and I know I’ve done a good job.” Christine Lennon is a writer in Los Angeles, where she lives with her husband and two children. march 2010 / marie claire 133


The moment

scha·den·freu·de: \shä-d n-froi-d \n.: taking pleasure in the misfortunes of others—esp. boastful friends, unscrupulous colleagues, billionaire bankers, and celebrities who are famous for no good reason By Lauren Iannotti e

86

marie claire / january 2010

“We’re fascinated by people who pull out in front, but we hate them as well.”

—John Portmann

John Portmann, Ph.D., author of When Bad Things Happen to Other People, says it’s no matter that we’re seeing signs of recovery. “We hear about the Goldman bonuses and how JP Morgan is doing great, but as some guys start to rake it in again, most of us would rather focus on the losers,” says Portmann, a professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia. “Their failure was their gift to us, offering us some pleasure in a dark time.” Hollywood has been generous in this respect. Who doesn’t break into a smile when condescending would-be lifestyle guru Gwyneth Paltrow’s perfect marriage is reported to be on the rocks, or Perez Hilton, who has made a career out of being nasty, gets punched in the face after posting one too many attacks on Fergie? “We are at base pack animals, like rats,” says Portmann. “We’re fascinated by people who pull out in

clockwise from top: lorenzo bringheli/marek&associates/trunkarchive.com, d. meszler/ splash news, g. anderson/bauer-griffin, s. hirsch/splash news, j. pkl/splash news, splash news, i. brekken/getty images, m. tran/filmmagic

could accept it in moderation. Schopenhauer called it “devilish”—and he was an atheist. Nietzsche thought it was inevitable and would balance out in the end. (Today you’re the recipient, tomorrow it will be another’s turn and you’ll get to enjoy it.) Gore Vidal embodied it: “It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail.” But today, as our culture grows ever more competitive and the recession slogs on, we experience schadenfreude’s pang almost daily, whether while bonding at the watercooler over a colleague’s comeuppance, drinking in the tabloids’ latest dose of Jon-and-Kate hate, feeling a rush when the pervy perp is brought to justice on CSI, or gawking at sites like the cathartic microconfessional fmylife.com, to read of others’ low moments and vote on whether they had it coming. Schaden­ freude has become a go-to descriptor for the all-American pursuit of celebrating the falls from grace of those who probably deserve it. “Bonding isn’t the story of this recession,” says Dacher Keltner, professor of psychology at UC Berkeley and author of Born to Be Good. “Unlike during the Great Depression, there’s more of a recognition of gross financial inequality. When the guy who made $27 million last year running a bank into the ground takes a hit, schadenfreude abounds.”

some names have been changed

e

M

arie first heard the rumors circulating around the industry last spring: Callie’s head was on the chopping block. “But it wasn’t until the official announcement came that I let myself celebrate,” says Marie. Nine months earlier, the 34-year-old New York publicist had been up for a job, and Callie, her best friend and maid of honor designee, stole it out from under her. “I didn’t even know she’d interviewed for it. When she said to me, ‘It must be upsetting, but we both went for it fair and square—they just liked me better,’ something altered in my chemistry.” So when she got the news that Callie had been canned, supposedly for incompetence and for abusing her underlings, Marie joined the gleeful e-mail threads. “I shouldn’t be proud, but her betrayal had hit me hard, and the news of her dismissal brought an instant wave of relief. A peaceful feeling swept over me. It was blissful.” What Marie was experiencing has a name, of course: schadenfreude. A handy word we stole from the Germans, it combines schaden (damage) and freude (joy) to describe the pleasure we take in the misfortunes of others. Think of it as envy inverted: Rather than feeling bad about our neighbor’s successes, schadenfreude pays our psyche a happy visit when she fails. The concept isn’t new: Aristotle

front, but we hate them as well. So if Renée Zellweger is outed for having work done on her face, we feel vindicated. She’s brought back down to earth, and we can all feel better about ourselves.” At the heart of schadenfreude is comparison; as ultra-social animals, we find our place by looking at others. Thumbing through US Weekly, we find endless opportunities to boost our self-image by drinking in telephoto shots of celebs’ cellulite, their unmadeup skin, their poor choice of wardrobe for the grocery store. The theory was supported last year by an MRI study that found that when a person we envy suffers a misfortune, dopamine floods the emotional rewards portion of our brains. “It’s the same feeling as when you take drugs, laugh, have sex,” says Dean Mobbs, Ph.D., a neuroscientist at Cambridge University and a coauthor of the study.

“Schadenfreude is our psychological immune system kicking in to make us feel better.” Similar studies show, however, that the punishment must fit the crime. So if a young, foolish, and badly parented starlet drives her car off a cliff, we’re sympathetic. But if evil Bernie Madoff gets shivved by his cellmate, we’ll do the cabbage patch.

» Confess your own schadenfreude and share this story on Facebook at marieclaire.com/facebook.

The greatest targets of our schadenfreude won’t be found on the cover of People, however. They’re the folks with whom we have the most in common— siblings, friends, and colleagues. The flip side of women’s relatively recent social advances is a new sense of cutthroat competition: We’re now supposed to own our apartments, make senior VP by 30, maintain wrinkle-free foreheads and 26-inch waists, have a closetful of updated classics, and sponsor a school in Liberia. Oh, and did we mention that unless we land the love of our life and raise three bilingual children, the rest doesn’t mean squat? The pressure to achieve can be so great, the competition so stiff, that instead of striving even harder, we just hope for others to fall down a peg. Bad habit, says Keltner, who reminds us that life is not a zero-sum game. “The big resources—affection, trust, respect, appreciation—are available in endless quantities,” he says. But even if you’re not the type to hug it out, nor should you beat yourself up when schadenfreude strikes. “It was crafted by hundreds of thousands of years of evolution, when resources were limited and cheats had to be punished to preserve the group,” he says. And we still need the group to survive. Marie is happy to have moved past her schadenfreude for Callie. “I don’t want that hate in my body,” she says. “Besides, you max out. It’s like sex. Once you reach the great orgasm, you can’t make it any better. Oh! That reminds me—I heard Callie got engaged to a guy she hates having sex with!” Let the healing continue. Legends of the Fall

Schadenfreude targets, from far left: Badly behaving Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton; judgy Catholic divorcé Mel Gibson; perfect Martha Stewart; ex-billionaire Bernard Madoff; fallen reality stars Jon and Kate Gosselin.

january 2010 / marie claire

87


The moment

scha·den·freu·de: \shä-d n-froi-d \n.: taking pleasure in the misfortunes of others—esp. boastful friends, unscrupulous colleagues, billionaire bankers, and celebrities who are famous for no good reason By Lauren Iannotti e

86

marie claire / january 2010

“We’re fascinated by people who pull out in front, but we hate them as well.”

—John Portmann

John Portmann, Ph.D., author of When Bad Things Happen to Other People, says it’s no matter that we’re seeing signs of recovery. “We hear about the Goldman bonuses and how JP Morgan is doing great, but as some guys start to rake it in again, most of us would rather focus on the losers,” says Portmann, a professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia. “Their failure was their gift to us, offering us some pleasure in a dark time.” Hollywood has been generous in this respect. Who doesn’t break into a smile when condescending would-be lifestyle guru Gwyneth Paltrow’s perfect marriage is reported to be on the rocks, or Perez Hilton, who has made a career out of being nasty, gets punched in the face after posting one too many attacks on Fergie? “We are at base pack animals, like rats,” says Portmann. “We’re fascinated by people who pull out in

clockwise from top: lorenzo bringheli/marek&associates/trunkarchive.com, d. meszler/ splash news, g. anderson/bauer-griffin, s. hirsch/splash news, j. pkl/splash news, splash news, i. brekken/getty images, m. tran/filmmagic

could accept it in moderation. Schopenhauer called it “devilish”—and he was an atheist. Nietzsche thought it was inevitable and would balance out in the end. (Today you’re the recipient, tomorrow it will be another’s turn and you’ll get to enjoy it.) Gore Vidal embodied it: “It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail.” But today, as our culture grows ever more competitive and the recession slogs on, we experience schadenfreude’s pang almost daily, whether while bonding at the watercooler over a colleague’s comeuppance, drinking in the tabloids’ latest dose of Jon-and-Kate hate, feeling a rush when the pervy perp is brought to justice on CSI, or gawking at sites like the cathartic microconfessional fmylife.com, to read of others’ low moments and vote on whether they had it coming. Schaden­ freude has become a go-to descriptor for the all-American pursuit of celebrating the falls from grace of those who probably deserve it. “Bonding isn’t the story of this recession,” says Dacher Keltner, professor of psychology at UC Berkeley and author of Born to Be Good. “Unlike during the Great Depression, there’s more of a recognition of gross financial inequality. When the guy who made $27 million last year running a bank into the ground takes a hit, schadenfreude abounds.”

some names have been changed

e

M

arie first heard the rumors circulating around the industry last spring: Callie’s head was on the chopping block. “But it wasn’t until the official announcement came that I let myself celebrate,” says Marie. Nine months earlier, the 34-year-old New York publicist had been up for a job, and Callie, her best friend and maid of honor designee, stole it out from under her. “I didn’t even know she’d interviewed for it. When she said to me, ‘It must be upsetting, but we both went for it fair and square—they just liked me better,’ something altered in my chemistry.” So when she got the news that Callie had been canned, supposedly for incompetence and for abusing her underlings, Marie joined the gleeful e-mail threads. “I shouldn’t be proud, but her betrayal had hit me hard, and the news of her dismissal brought an instant wave of relief. A peaceful feeling swept over me. It was blissful.” What Marie was experiencing has a name, of course: schadenfreude. A handy word we stole from the Germans, it combines schaden (damage) and freude (joy) to describe the pleasure we take in the misfortunes of others. Think of it as envy inverted: Rather than feeling bad about our neighbor’s successes, schadenfreude pays our psyche a happy visit when she fails. The concept isn’t new: Aristotle

front, but we hate them as well. So if Renée Zellweger is outed for having work done on her face, we feel vindicated. She’s brought back down to earth, and we can all feel better about ourselves.” At the heart of schadenfreude is comparison; as ultra-social animals, we find our place by looking at others. Thumbing through US Weekly, we find endless opportunities to boost our self-image by drinking in telephoto shots of celebs’ cellulite, their unmadeup skin, their poor choice of wardrobe for the grocery store. The theory was supported last year by an MRI study that found that when a person we envy suffers a misfortune, dopamine floods the emotional rewards portion of our brains. “It’s the same feeling as when you take drugs, laugh, have sex,” says Dean Mobbs, Ph.D., a neuroscientist at Cambridge University and a coauthor of the study.

“Schadenfreude is our psychological immune system kicking in to make us feel better.” Similar studies show, however, that the punishment must fit the crime. So if a young, foolish, and badly parented starlet drives her car off a cliff, we’re sympathetic. But if evil Bernie Madoff gets shivved by his cellmate, we’ll do the cabbage patch.

» Confess your own schadenfreude and share this story on Facebook at marieclaire.com/facebook.

The greatest targets of our schadenfreude won’t be found on the cover of People, however. They’re the folks with whom we have the most in common— siblings, friends, and colleagues. The flip side of women’s relatively recent social advances is a new sense of cutthroat competition: We’re now supposed to own our apartments, make senior VP by 30, maintain wrinkle-free foreheads and 26-inch waists, have a closetful of updated classics, and sponsor a school in Liberia. Oh, and did we mention that unless we land the love of our life and raise three bilingual children, the rest doesn’t mean squat? The pressure to achieve can be so great, the competition so stiff, that instead of striving even harder, we just hope for others to fall down a peg. Bad habit, says Keltner, who reminds us that life is not a zero-sum game. “The big resources—affection, trust, respect, appreciation—are available in endless quantities,” he says. But even if you’re not the type to hug it out, nor should you beat yourself up when schadenfreude strikes. “It was crafted by hundreds of thousands of years of evolution, when resources were limited and cheats had to be punished to preserve the group,” he says. And we still need the group to survive. Marie is happy to have moved past her schadenfreude for Callie. “I don’t want that hate in my body,” she says. “Besides, you max out. It’s like sex. Once you reach the great orgasm, you can’t make it any better. Oh! That reminds me—I heard Callie got engaged to a guy she hates having sex with!” Let the healing continue. Legends of the Fall

Schadenfreude targets, from far left: Badly behaving Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton; judgy Catholic divorcé Mel Gibson; perfect Martha Stewart; ex-billionaire Bernard Madoff; fallen reality stars Jon and Kate Gosselin.

january 2010 / marie claire

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INTERNATIONAL REPORT

TK slug

Ladies First

In an isolated village in southwestern China, women are the bosses of men, daughters are valued over sons, and the words rape and war donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t even exist. Welcome to one of the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s last living matriarchies Text and photographs by Ana Nance

leading the way

Two Mosuo women, who offer horseback tours around Lugu Lake, look for customers. 118 marie claire / april 2009

month 2009 / marie claire 119


INTERNATIONAL REPORT

TK slug

Ladies First

In an isolated village in southwestern China, women are the bosses of men, daughters are valued over sons, and the words rape and war donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t even exist. Welcome to one of the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s last living matriarchies Text and photographs by Ana Nance

leading the way

Two Mosuo women, who offer horseback tours around Lugu Lake, look for customers. 118 marie claire / april 2009

month 2009 / marie claire 119


INTERNATIONAL REPORT

in southwestern China, you’ll find the village of Luoshi, eight hours by Jeep on rough terrain from the nearest city. Home of the Mosuo ethnic minority, this town of about 500 attracts tens of thousands of tourists—mainly Chinese—each year, and they’re not all here for the view. The mini society’s sexual politics, as much as its geography, set it apart from the rest of the world. Here, the men are subservient; women hold the power. “Being in a woman’s hands means being in the best hands,” Mosuo men like to say. By tradition, they own nothing; money, land, and lineage are passed from mother to daughter. Men do the hard labor and small trades, while the ladies, micromanagers to the core, divvy up housework and do most of the farming; both step regularly into traditional costumes to help tourists part with their yuan—as guides or dancers. Mosuo women hold sexual power as well. Each night, teams of them encircle bonfires in town to perform a dance based on “walking marriage”—the reigning Mosuo tradition of free love. A woman will invite a lover to spend the night. After dark, he’ll walk through the courtyard door to her bedroom and leave before sunrise, with no strings attached. While the practice has led some to think Mosuo women are loose, the system often results in monogamy: Couples will never share land or property, although some share a bed every night for years.

An off-duty headdress. Left, prayer flags for Gamu, the mother goddess.

ON SPECTACULAR LUGu LAKE,

When Maoist forces tried to impose their values on the Mosuo during the ’60s and ’70s—introducing Westernstyle marriage, attempting to take land out of women’s hands—not a single man in town signed the petition supporting them. Under pressure, some villagers tried to change their ways, but it didn’t last. The Mosuo tradition was too ingrained—and beloved. The only way into town is by a dirt road that washes out during the rainy season, but with a highway in the works and guesthouses popping up all over town, further Chinese encroachment is inevitable. For now, the Mosuo have their traditions, and no words in their language for war, rape, or jail—only too common, alas, in the rest of the world, where men rule supreme.

boss ladies

Men play cards under the watchful eye of a matriarch. Despite their dominant status, women tend to do most of the work, whether in the fields or at home. Above, women prepare to perform the nightly “walking marriage” dance for curious tourists.

power suit

A young dancer, already in costume, watches TV in her bedroom while waiting for showtime.

heavy lifting

Leading rowboat tours of Lugu Lake, a Mosuo woman pulls her weight and then some. Far left, a troupe of performers on their way to the theater, where they’ll sing and dance for Chinese tourists—many of whom are drawn by the intriguing concept of walking marriage. april 2009 / marie claire 121


INTERNATIONAL REPORT

in southwestern China, you’ll find the village of Luoshi, eight hours by Jeep on rough terrain from the nearest city. Home of the Mosuo ethnic minority, this town of about 500 attracts tens of thousands of tourists—mainly Chinese—each year, and they’re not all here for the view. The mini society’s sexual politics, as much as its geography, set it apart from the rest of the world. Here, the men are subservient; women hold the power. “Being in a woman’s hands means being in the best hands,” Mosuo men like to say. By tradition, they own nothing; money, land, and lineage are passed from mother to daughter. Men do the hard labor and small trades, while the ladies, micromanagers to the core, divvy up housework and do most of the farming; both step regularly into traditional costumes to help tourists part with their yuan—as guides or dancers. Mosuo women hold sexual power as well. Each night, teams of them encircle bonfires in town to perform a dance based on “walking marriage”—the reigning Mosuo tradition of free love. A woman will invite a lover to spend the night. After dark, he’ll walk through the courtyard door to her bedroom and leave before sunrise, with no strings attached. While the practice has led some to think Mosuo women are loose, the system often results in monogamy: Couples will never share land or property, although some share a bed every night for years.

An off-duty headdress. Left, prayer flags for Gamu, the mother goddess.

ON SPECTACULAR LUGu LAKE,

When Maoist forces tried to impose their values on the Mosuo during the ’60s and ’70s—introducing Westernstyle marriage, attempting to take land out of women’s hands—not a single man in town signed the petition supporting them. Under pressure, some villagers tried to change their ways, but it didn’t last. The Mosuo tradition was too ingrained—and beloved. The only way into town is by a dirt road that washes out during the rainy season, but with a highway in the works and guesthouses popping up all over town, further Chinese encroachment is inevitable. For now, the Mosuo have their traditions, and no words in their language for war, rape, or jail—only too common, alas, in the rest of the world, where men rule supreme.

boss ladies

Men play cards under the watchful eye of a matriarch. Despite their dominant status, women tend to do most of the work, whether in the fields or at home. Above, women prepare to perform the nightly “walking marriage” dance for curious tourists.

power suit

A young dancer, already in costume, watches TV in her bedroom while waiting for showtime.

heavy lifting

Leading rowboat tours of Lugu Lake, a Mosuo woman pulls her weight and then some. Far left, a troupe of performers on their way to the theater, where they’ll sing and dance for Chinese tourists—many of whom are drawn by the intriguing concept of walking marriage. april 2009 / marie claire 121


exclusive

Sex x is back! Has it really been 12 years? In a series of exclusive interviews, Yael Kohen talks friendship, fights, and decoy dresses with the stars of Sex and the City 2 Photographed by James White

Dress, $1,795, Burberry Prorsum; necklace, $970, Lanvin.

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Unless you’ve been on a Cosmo bender for the last few months, you know that Sex and the City 2 is headed to the multiplex, and with it, every red-blooded, Louboutin-loving woman in America. The buzz began last summer with the first location shoots, when mobs of fans followed the trailers around New York City like rock groupies gunning for a seat on the bus. The Web lit up with predictions: Perez Hilton took polls on which ex-boyfriends would have cameos; gossip sites conducted CSI-like analyses of paparazzi shots (including one of Kim Cattrall holding a script that referenced Samantha’s ex-beefcake Smith Jerrod); techie zealots shared their hopes for the movie with homemade “trailers” cut on their iMacs. Now, as opening night approaches, big questions loom: What will befall the now-midlife fab four? Will the sequel bust the $415 million worldwide chick-flick record set by its predecessor? And the other multimillion-dollar question: Do Sarah Jessica Parker and Cattrall really hate each other? Parker demurs on all counts, especially the last. The film’s star and producer—who says she’s seen to “every detail, every atom” of the movie since shooting wrapped in late 2009— compares the behind-the-scenes tension to that of any busy office. “When you’re on set, you’re working 90-hour weeks, you’re never home, you’re exhausted,” she says. “There are times when all of us have been sensitive, and sometimes feelings get hurt. But I don’t have any regrets about how I’ve treated people.” Cattrall maintains that “the chemistry among the four of us is very strong.” So why have stories of enmity and infighting followed the cast since before the first movie came out, when Cattrall reportedly made a fuss about Parker’s salary being twice her own? “Because the press has to put women in these boxes, rather than show them as the movie portrays them: working together and being powerful,” says Cattrall. “Things just have to be explosive for no other reason


exclusive

Sex x is back! Has it really been 12 years? In a series of exclusive interviews, Yael Kohen talks friendship, fights, and decoy dresses with the stars of Sex and the City 2 Photographed by James White

Dress, $1,795, Burberry Prorsum; necklace, $970, Lanvin.

92

marie claire / june 2010

Unless you’ve been on a Cosmo bender for the last few months, you know that Sex and the City 2 is headed to the multiplex, and with it, every red-blooded, Louboutin-loving woman in America. The buzz began last summer with the first location shoots, when mobs of fans followed the trailers around New York City like rock groupies gunning for a seat on the bus. The Web lit up with predictions: Perez Hilton took polls on which ex-boyfriends would have cameos; gossip sites conducted CSI-like analyses of paparazzi shots (including one of Kim Cattrall holding a script that referenced Samantha’s ex-beefcake Smith Jerrod); techie zealots shared their hopes for the movie with homemade “trailers” cut on their iMacs. Now, as opening night approaches, big questions loom: What will befall the now-midlife fab four? Will the sequel bust the $415 million worldwide chick-flick record set by its predecessor? And the other multimillion-dollar question: Do Sarah Jessica Parker and Cattrall really hate each other? Parker demurs on all counts, especially the last. The film’s star and producer—who says she’s seen to “every detail, every atom” of the movie since shooting wrapped in late 2009— compares the behind-the-scenes tension to that of any busy office. “When you’re on set, you’re working 90-hour weeks, you’re never home, you’re exhausted,” she says. “There are times when all of us have been sensitive, and sometimes feelings get hurt. But I don’t have any regrets about how I’ve treated people.” Cattrall maintains that “the chemistry among the four of us is very strong.” So why have stories of enmity and infighting followed the cast since before the first movie came out, when Cattrall reportedly made a fuss about Parker’s salary being twice her own? “Because the press has to put women in these boxes, rather than show them as the movie portrays them: working together and being powerful,” says Cattrall. “Things just have to be explosive for no other reason


exclusive than for people’s imaginations.” Kristin Davis, the resident cheerleader—who with Parker organized a Thanksgiving Day dinner of couscous and turkey for members of the cast and crew in Morocco—laughs off the idea of infighting. “There was a very strange piece in one of the tabloids that said Kim and I would eat in the restaurant of our hotel and not sit together, which cracks me up,” she says, actually cracking up. “When I would get back from the set, I would go to the gym and get room service. I’m not a put-ondecent-clothes-and-go-to-thehotel-restaurant person, but Kim is. The story was that we don’t like each other. Ridiculous!” The group has had their disagreements, admits Cynthia Nixon. “It hasn’t always been smooth sailing,” she says. “But the idea that we’re somehow adversarial is ludicrous.” Perhaps to help dispel rumors of bickering, Parker and Cattrall walked the red carpet arm in arm in December at the London premiere of Parker’s Have You Heard About the Morgans? The actresses’ recent successes might make it easy to be magnanimous. In the 12 years since the four archetypal single girls first sat down to a no-holds-barred brunch, the women playing them have transformed from variously successful

“It hasn’t always been smooth sailing. But the idea that we’re somehow adversarial is ludicrous.”

—cynthia nixon

On Parker: Dress, price upon request, Valentino; shoes, $995, Jimmy Choo; earrings, price upon request, Tiffany & Co.; ring, $2,500, Fred Leighton; bracelets, Parker’s own. On Davis: Dress, $2,790, Oscar de la Renta; shoes, $995, Christian Louboutin; earrings, $199, Iosselliani; bracelet, price upon request, Fred Leighton. On Nixon: Dress, $1,890, Costello Tagliapietra; shoes, $595, Boss Black; quartz ring, price upon request, Diane von Furstenberg by H.Stern; earrings & diamond ring, Nixon’s own. On Cattrall: Dress, $1,165, Preen Collection; shoes, $775, Donna Karan New York; earrings, $4,200, Verdura. For stores, see Shopping Directory. 94

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month JUNE 2010 / marie claire

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exclusive than for people’s imaginations.” Kristin Davis, the resident cheerleader—who with Parker organized a Thanksgiving Day dinner of couscous and turkey for members of the cast and crew in Morocco—laughs off the idea of infighting. “There was a very strange piece in one of the tabloids that said Kim and I would eat in the restaurant of our hotel and not sit together, which cracks me up,” she says, actually cracking up. “When I would get back from the set, I would go to the gym and get room service. I’m not a put-ondecent-clothes-and-go-to-thehotel-restaurant person, but Kim is. The story was that we don’t like each other. Ridiculous!” The group has had their disagreements, admits Cynthia Nixon. “It hasn’t always been smooth sailing,” she says. “But the idea that we’re somehow adversarial is ludicrous.” Perhaps to help dispel rumors of bickering, Parker and Cattrall walked the red carpet arm in arm in December at the London premiere of Parker’s Have You Heard About the Morgans? The actresses’ recent successes might make it easy to be magnanimous. In the 12 years since the four archetypal single girls first sat down to a no-holds-barred brunch, the women playing them have transformed from variously successful

“It hasn’t always been smooth sailing. But the idea that we’re somehow adversarial is ludicrous.”

—cynthia nixon

On Parker: Dress, price upon request, Valentino; shoes, $995, Jimmy Choo; earrings, price upon request, Tiffany & Co.; ring, $2,500, Fred Leighton; bracelets, Parker’s own. On Davis: Dress, $2,790, Oscar de la Renta; shoes, $995, Christian Louboutin; earrings, $199, Iosselliani; bracelet, price upon request, Fred Leighton. On Nixon: Dress, $1,890, Costello Tagliapietra; shoes, $595, Boss Black; quartz ring, price upon request, Diane von Furstenberg by H.Stern; earrings & diamond ring, Nixon’s own. On Cattrall: Dress, $1,165, Preen Collection; shoes, $775, Donna Karan New York; earrings, $4,200, Verdura. For stores, see Shopping Directory. 94

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month JUNE 2010 / marie claire

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“We would all drive out to the Hamptons together and see the sunrise as we arrived. I love those memories.”

actresses to bona fide A-listers to, in some cases, icons. Davis, once a Melrose Place hasbeen, has carved a niche as go-to straight woman in bigstudio screwball comedies (The Shaggy Dog, Deck the Halls, Couples Retreat). Cattrall, with countless Emmy nominations and one Golden Globe win to her credit, now picks among juicy stage and screen roles, recently winning over Brit critics as a comic bombshell in Noel Coward’s Private Lives, after an against-the-grain role in Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer. “Sex and the City came along to me when I was in my 40s and already established as an actress,” she says. “And I thought, Wow! I’ve done all of that, and now this on top of it!” She’s also used her smarts and sex goddess reputation to sell a pair of between-thesheets advice books, Satisfaction and Sexual Intelligence. Nixon wishes she’d kept a diary. “It was a whirlwind, and

I’m sure I don’t remember one-tenth of what happened,” she says. Since SATC began, the mother of two went from steadily working actress to stage star-slash-indie mainstay (most recently in Lymelife, with Timothy Hutton and Alec Baldwin). More dramatic was the change in her personal life: In 2003 Nixon split from her boyfriend of 15 years, began a relationship with a woman, and, now engaged, is an outspoken proponent of gay marriage. But it’s Parker who has ridden the SATC wave to icon status, eclipsing her peers by a landslide. Along the way, she and husband Matthew Broderick became the parents of three (including twins, now a year old, by surrogate), and she founded the discount fashion line Bitten. The show’s standout star launched seven perfumes, became a pitchwoman for Garnier and Gap (among others), starred in a

handful of solidly earning romantic comedies, and signed on as president and chief creative officer at Halston— all in addition to steering the massive Ship SATC since 2001, when she became an executive producer. Given all that, it’s surprising that the busy star finds time for friends. “We go to the theater together, or just go to one of our houses for dinner,” says Nixon. She and Parker have summer homes in neighboring towns, and their sons, who are the same age, are regular playmates. The now-world-famous actresses argue it was always so. “When we first started, we would all drive out to the Hamptons together at 4 a.m. on a Friday night after shooting ended and see the sunrise as we arrived. I love those memories,” says Davis. “We worked so many hours, just work work work work work,” she says. “We were all so committed to making the show good. There wasn’t room for much else.

“Things just have to be explosive for no other reason than for people’s imaginations.”

psst. Can You Keep a Secret? With paparazzi prepared to go to any length to get a scoop—even shooting pictures of a script in Kim Cattrall’s hand (with its mention of Samantha’s hunky ex Smith Jerrod)—how did the studio keep every last plot detail from leaking out?

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I had my dog, and that was about it.” Cattrall says the grind brought the stars together. “Nineteen-hour workdays are stressful, whether you’re driving a truck, working in a coal mine, or on a set and trying to be your brightest at 4 o’clock in the morning. But there’s a camaraderie that happened through all of that,” she says. As much as the stars’ lives have changed in the last 12 years, so have the lives of American women—beyond the fact that your mom learned the names “Manolo” and “Birkin” and you stopped feeling guilty about last night’s hookup. The franchise’s growth from pay-cable experiment to international-box-office juggernaut dispatched the conventional wisdom that women can’t open a blockbuster—never mind four ladies well past Hollywood’s typical sell-by date. “When the last film opened, one critic began her story by discussing our faces! It was traumatizing,” says Davis

Confidentiality agreements. Actors, production managers, and editors signed two-page agreements saying that anyone who revealed plot points would be slapped with a fine of $2.5 million, according to a source close to the production crew. Un-photocopyable paper. Scripts were printed on anti-scan security paper, so if anyone tried to

fashion editor for parker and davis: leslie fremar. fashion editor for nixon and cattrall: susan joy. parker: hair: serge normant OF THE SERGE NORMANT SALON; makeup: leslie lopez at the wall group; manicure: gina eppolito for ginails.com. davis: hair: rolando beauchamp; makeup: gina brooke at marek & associates; manicure: elle for artistsbytimothypriano.com. nixon: hair: rebekah forecast at the wall group; makeup: matin for artistsbytimothypriano.com; manicure: jenny vale, julien farel salon. cattrall: hair: ryan trygstad at the milton agency; makeup: kyra panchenko at the milton agency; manicure: joanna czech

exclusive


exclusive Davis. “And I realized they were going to see the movie! It was so adorable and flattering!” You can’t talk about how Sex changed the world without talking about fashion. The show has been bursting at the seams with Gaultier, Halston, Dolce, and Dior ever since costume designer Patricia Field first put a Fendi baguette on Carrie Bradshaw’s shoulder and the little bag (and facsimiles) started popping up on arms around the country. Episode after episode, Field gleefully draped her teenywaisted muse in a parade of quirky, high-style schmata, and the offbeat results caught on from the Upper West to the Midwest, causing a run on gold monogram necklaces, macro flower pins, and 4-inch Manolo Mary Janes. Parker admits that Carrie’s style was an adjustment for her. “I’ve never revealed as much or been so daring or made quite as many triumphant mistakes as Carrie,” she says. “But I’m now bolder than I would have been had I never played

“At times, all of us have been sensitive, and feelings get hurt. But I don’t have any regrets about how I’ve treated people.” duplicate a page, the words “do not copy” would print all over it, making it impossible to read. Monogrammed scripts. Every page of every script was watermarked with the name of the actor or crew member to whom it belonged, so if pages were leaked, the mole could be identified. Government aid. For any location filming on

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“We get together and go to the theater, or just go to one of our houses for dinner.”

this part.” Aren’t we all. But brace yourself. According to Field, for the sequel, a brand-new word will enter the lexicon of SATC style: modesty. Thanks to a seven-week-long shoot in Morocco, expect a lot of breezy, diaphanous fabrics, bright colors that glow against the neutral desert landscape, and hats. “I used a lot of glamorous headwear,” says Field. “I loved it! This was the first time I wasn’t told, ‘No hats, no hats!’” Another benefit of filming in the far reaches was that it prevented Flip Cam–wielding fans from uploading every onlocation moment to YouTube. But despite producers’ Pentagon-like attempts at secrecy, rumors abound: Do the girls really chase Big across the Moroccan desert on camelback? Does the early-period Madonna outfit SJP wore outside Bergdorf’s last fall suggest an ’80s flashback? Is there a divorce? A baby? A white wedding for Samantha? Since there were few New York City street shoots and most scenes

public streets, The New York City Film Commission created signs that read “Untitled Avery Pic.” Phony scenes. Director Michael Patrick King staged elaborate decoy shoots, like Cattrall in a wedding dress, to throw off curious fans. So were the girls’ kitschy ’80s outfits also just a stunt? You’ll have to see the movie to find out.

were instead filmed in a studio, plot points were well protected. “It wasn’t by design, but it helped,” says Parker. “And we were cagey and tried to confuse people. I think we’ve kept the secrets that matter.” The wedding dress Cattrall famously dashed up Fifth Avenue in last September? A red herring, admits Field. “When we knew paparazzi were there, we put the actresses in disguises, to keep the surprise,” she says. “The white dress was one of them.” What we do know: They go to a Middle Eastern desert. There’s a wedding, possibly a gay one. Cameos include Miley Cyrus and Liza Minnelli. And, Parker told us, you’re much less likely to shed a tear this time around. “The new movie is the antidote to the first one,” she says. “It’s a romp. A caper. It’s big and cinematic and grand—and fun!” Whatever that means, one thing is certain: Sex and the City 2 is prancing into theaters, so get your heels on.

All film stills: New Line/Village Roadshow/Craig Blankenhorn

(who is 45, as is Parker; Nixon is 44, and Cattrall is 53). “But that also gets at the amazing part. We didn’t start on this show when we were 20. Everyone knows how old we are, and we’re still getting to make movies.” But not forever: Whispers of a third film being rushed into production before Parker, Nixon, and Davis turn 50 started swirling months ago. “If Sarah Jessica and [writer/director] Michael Patrick [King] want to make another, I’m there,” says Nixon. “I’d go along with them blindfolded.” And so would a cross section of American women, if the first movie is any indication. What brought Sex and the City: The Movie into hit territory was that women ages 17 to 70 saw it in groups, using their collective buying power to give the film a $56 million opening weekend. And, of course, they dressed for the occasion. “I went out to dinner in New York on opening night, and I saw these packs of girls all dolled up in high heels walking down the street,” says


SCANDAL

When WhiteCollar Hubbies Go to Jail What’s it like when your high-rolling husband is imprisoned for fraud? Gretchen Voss learns the surprising details from three women who lived the headlines Photographed by Lauren Greenfield

The great thing about living here is that everybody’s got a history, and nobody cares.” —Bernadette

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july 2009 / marie claire

69


SCANDAL

When WhiteCollar Hubbies Go to Jail What’s it like when your high-rolling husband is imprisoned for fraud? Gretchen Voss learns the surprising details from three women who lived the headlines Photographed by Lauren Greenfield

The great thing about living here is that everybody’s got a history, and nobody cares.” —Bernadette

68

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SCANDAL Bernadette Noe, 49

wife. She now lives full-time with her youngest child, a highschooler, in Florida—given the state’s home-owner-friendly property laws, creditors can’t seize their 5000-square-foot manse, despite the $2 million the couple still owe in legal fees. Strange though it may seem, the arrangement clearly agrees with Bernadette. She’s grown out her trademark spiky ’do and sports a deep tan. “The great thing about living here is that everybody’s got a history, a story, and nobody cares,” she says, cheerfully. “I’ve opened another chapter, which hasn’t been bad.” Well, that is until just recently, when Tom confessed to

She fled to her winter retreat, a $5 million oceanfront mansion in Key Largo horrible,” Bernadette recalls, smoothing her pencil skirt. “I could have crawled into a hole or jumped off my balcony.” Overwhelmed by the media attention and seething at her husband’s recklessness, Bernadette fled to the couple’s winter retreat in Key Largo, a $5 million oceanfront mansion, its pool outfitted with a grotto and waterfall. She contemplated the havoc her husband had inflicted upon her. “Life was really good for me, careerwise,” she says, ticking off her professional accomplishments: a law degree, a newspaper column, a local TV show, a radio program in development. “After the FBI raid, I just pulled the plug on everything.” For the next 30 days, she did nothing but cry and pray. Then she had what she describes as a divine revelation. If Jesus could forgive our sins, then surely she could extend that same compassion to her husband, languishing in legal limbo back in Ohio as the investigation continued. She summoned her husband—who had yet to be convicted of any crime—to Florida, where the couple kept a low profile for over a year. In May of 2006, Tom pleaded guilty to money laundering in connection with the Bush campaign donations. Six months later, he returned to Ohio to face trial for separate theft charges. All told, he was sentenced to

“I’ve opened another chapter, which hasn’t been bad. —Bernadette

efforts on behalf of George W. Bush’s second presidential bid. They were such big shots that Bernadette even scored a nickname from the president—“Bernie”—and danced at both of his inaugural balls. But in 2005, their privileged lives imploded after authorities accused Tom of laundering $45,000 to the Bush campaign. Not long after, he was implicated in the theft of $13 million from an Ohio investment fund. The media went to town, vilifying her husband. “It was 70

marie claire / july 2009

20 years in prison. Today he spends his days at a minimumsecurity facility in Ohio, where he earns $20 a day as a laundry attendant. “I have prosecuted parents who abuse their children,” Bernadette fumes, referring to her stint as an attorney for Florida’s Family Services Department. “I’m looking at this and going, ‘What the hell is wrong? My husband’s sitting in jail.’” Still, Bernadette is hardly the picture of the put-upon

Karen Weinreb, 41

She was ruthlessly excised from her social scene

f

previous spread and this page: hair & makeup: blu bamboo salon. opposite page: hair & makeup: pamela jenrette

I

n the spring of 2005, Bernadette and Tom Noe convened an emergency family meeting at their daughter’s Toledo, OH, home to break some grim news to their kids: The Feds were investigating Tom, a rare coin and collectibles dealer, for campaign-finance improprieties. As Tom explained the allegations, Bernadette’s cell phone rang. “We’re at your house with a search warrant,” barked the FBI agent on the other end. “Be here in five minutes, or we’ll bust the door down.” Bernadette huddled with Tom and decided she’d go alone—he needed to have his lawyer present. She threw back a Xanax on the way over, which, she says, muted the humiliation that came when the band of grim-faced agents frisked her—herself a lawyer and daughter of a judge—then ransacked the house. Later, they hauled away boxes of personal items, including pricey collectibles her husband had given their kids: a set of Harry Potter figurines autographed by J.K. Rowling, a strand of Marilyn Monroe’s hair. Bernadette’s mind reeled as they rifled through her underwear drawer. I’ve never even had a parking ticket. Why are they looking at me like that? It had been a spectacular downfall for the Noes, once fixtures in Ohio’s society pages, thanks to their fundraising

Bernadette that he’d strayed early in their marriage. Furious, she contemplated divorce. He coaxed her into working through it with the aid of a Christian self-help book—doing the written exercises it prescribes through the mail with her—but, she admits, rehabbing a wounded marriage is nearly impossible when one partner is behind bars. Bernadette says she and Tom have reached a détente for the time being. “I think I’m going to be the patron saint of prison widows,” she laughs, clearly amused by the idea. “Prisoners have their own patron saint, but I don’t think the wives have one. I think they should.”

I wasn’t one of them anymore.” —karen

ive years ago, Karen Weinreb looked like every other wellheeled mother dropping her kids off at Rippowam Cisqua, a tony $16,000-a-year private school in leafy Bedford, NY, a half-hour drive north of Manhattan. After parking her gold BMW X5 among the fleet of Range Rovers and Chevy Suburbans, Weinreb ushered her two boys, then 2 and 3, through the corridors, past the other moms in their straight-leg Barbour cords, Chanel quilted puffer vests, and Ralph Lauren galoshes. Pregnant with her third child, Weinreb was lumbering through this preschool scrum when one of the moms caught her hand and held it for a moment before slipping her a sympathy card. Weinreb looked puzzled. “You do realize everybody knows, don’t you?” the woman said, surprised. Weinreb’s face flushed, and for a second she thought of fleeing. Instead, she smiled meekly and kept moving, tugged forward by one of her boys. She hid her shame until later that day, when she unleashed it on her husband: Everyone knows! You have ruined our lives! Weinreb’s husband, a former Bloomberg salesman, had just pleaded guilty to fraud after he was busted for passing himself off as a money manager and bilking investors out of an estimated $12 million. His sentencing hearing was only a month away, yet Weinreb had remained in serious denial—hustling her boys to school, still taking private tennis lessons at july 2009 / marie claire

71


SCANDAL Bernadette Noe, 49

wife. She now lives full-time with her youngest child, a highschooler, in Florida—given the state’s home-owner-friendly property laws, creditors can’t seize their 5000-square-foot manse, despite the $2 million the couple still owe in legal fees. Strange though it may seem, the arrangement clearly agrees with Bernadette. She’s grown out her trademark spiky ’do and sports a deep tan. “The great thing about living here is that everybody’s got a history, a story, and nobody cares,” she says, cheerfully. “I’ve opened another chapter, which hasn’t been bad.” Well, that is until just recently, when Tom confessed to

She fled to her winter retreat, a $5 million oceanfront mansion in Key Largo horrible,” Bernadette recalls, smoothing her pencil skirt. “I could have crawled into a hole or jumped off my balcony.” Overwhelmed by the media attention and seething at her husband’s recklessness, Bernadette fled to the couple’s winter retreat in Key Largo, a $5 million oceanfront mansion, its pool outfitted with a grotto and waterfall. She contemplated the havoc her husband had inflicted upon her. “Life was really good for me, careerwise,” she says, ticking off her professional accomplishments: a law degree, a newspaper column, a local TV show, a radio program in development. “After the FBI raid, I just pulled the plug on everything.” For the next 30 days, she did nothing but cry and pray. Then she had what she describes as a divine revelation. If Jesus could forgive our sins, then surely she could extend that same compassion to her husband, languishing in legal limbo back in Ohio as the investigation continued. She summoned her husband—who had yet to be convicted of any crime—to Florida, where the couple kept a low profile for over a year. In May of 2006, Tom pleaded guilty to money laundering in connection with the Bush campaign donations. Six months later, he returned to Ohio to face trial for separate theft charges. All told, he was sentenced to

“I’ve opened another chapter, which hasn’t been bad. —Bernadette

efforts on behalf of George W. Bush’s second presidential bid. They were such big shots that Bernadette even scored a nickname from the president—“Bernie”—and danced at both of his inaugural balls. But in 2005, their privileged lives imploded after authorities accused Tom of laundering $45,000 to the Bush campaign. Not long after, he was implicated in the theft of $13 million from an Ohio investment fund. The media went to town, vilifying her husband. “It was 70

marie claire / july 2009

20 years in prison. Today he spends his days at a minimumsecurity facility in Ohio, where he earns $20 a day as a laundry attendant. “I have prosecuted parents who abuse their children,” Bernadette fumes, referring to her stint as an attorney for Florida’s Family Services Department. “I’m looking at this and going, ‘What the hell is wrong? My husband’s sitting in jail.’” Still, Bernadette is hardly the picture of the put-upon

Karen Weinreb, 41

She was ruthlessly excised from her social scene

f

previous spread and this page: hair & makeup: blu bamboo salon. opposite page: hair & makeup: pamela jenrette

I

n the spring of 2005, Bernadette and Tom Noe convened an emergency family meeting at their daughter’s Toledo, OH, home to break some grim news to their kids: The Feds were investigating Tom, a rare coin and collectibles dealer, for campaign-finance improprieties. As Tom explained the allegations, Bernadette’s cell phone rang. “We’re at your house with a search warrant,” barked the FBI agent on the other end. “Be here in five minutes, or we’ll bust the door down.” Bernadette huddled with Tom and decided she’d go alone—he needed to have his lawyer present. She threw back a Xanax on the way over, which, she says, muted the humiliation that came when the band of grim-faced agents frisked her—herself a lawyer and daughter of a judge—then ransacked the house. Later, they hauled away boxes of personal items, including pricey collectibles her husband had given their kids: a set of Harry Potter figurines autographed by J.K. Rowling, a strand of Marilyn Monroe’s hair. Bernadette’s mind reeled as they rifled through her underwear drawer. I’ve never even had a parking ticket. Why are they looking at me like that? It had been a spectacular downfall for the Noes, once fixtures in Ohio’s society pages, thanks to their fundraising

Bernadette that he’d strayed early in their marriage. Furious, she contemplated divorce. He coaxed her into working through it with the aid of a Christian self-help book—doing the written exercises it prescribes through the mail with her—but, she admits, rehabbing a wounded marriage is nearly impossible when one partner is behind bars. Bernadette says she and Tom have reached a détente for the time being. “I think I’m going to be the patron saint of prison widows,” she laughs, clearly amused by the idea. “Prisoners have their own patron saint, but I don’t think the wives have one. I think they should.”

I wasn’t one of them anymore.” —karen

ive years ago, Karen Weinreb looked like every other wellheeled mother dropping her kids off at Rippowam Cisqua, a tony $16,000-a-year private school in leafy Bedford, NY, a half-hour drive north of Manhattan. After parking her gold BMW X5 among the fleet of Range Rovers and Chevy Suburbans, Weinreb ushered her two boys, then 2 and 3, through the corridors, past the other moms in their straight-leg Barbour cords, Chanel quilted puffer vests, and Ralph Lauren galoshes. Pregnant with her third child, Weinreb was lumbering through this preschool scrum when one of the moms caught her hand and held it for a moment before slipping her a sympathy card. Weinreb looked puzzled. “You do realize everybody knows, don’t you?” the woman said, surprised. Weinreb’s face flushed, and for a second she thought of fleeing. Instead, she smiled meekly and kept moving, tugged forward by one of her boys. She hid her shame until later that day, when she unleashed it on her husband: Everyone knows! You have ruined our lives! Weinreb’s husband, a former Bloomberg salesman, had just pleaded guilty to fraud after he was busted for passing himself off as a money manager and bilking investors out of an estimated $12 million. His sentencing hearing was only a month away, yet Weinreb had remained in serious denial—hustling her boys to school, still taking private tennis lessons at july 2009 / marie claire

71


entrepreneurs

I am the boss of me You’ve always dreamed of busting out of the cubicle and doing your own thing. These five women actually did it. Easy? No. Worth it? Totally. Listen and learn By Abigail Pesta Photographed by Williams + Hirakawa

The Green Genius Marta Teegen, 36, owner of urban-garden company Homegrown, Los Angeles My inspiration: I grew up on a farm in the

Wild life: Marta Teegen in her own “edible garden” at her Los Angeles home.

110 Marie Claire / October 2008

Caribbean, and I’ve always loved gardening and cooking with fresh ingredients. So I got the idea to combine my two loves into a business: I would help people grow their own “edible gardens,” chock-full of organic vegetables and yummy herbs like rosemary, thyme, and oregano. I could plant the gardens in raised beds in the yard or in windowboxes in the kitchen for apartment dwellers. How I got started: I ditched my job in the nonprofit sector, gathered up my savings, and launched Homegrown in 2007. I worked with highend chefs at first, then branched out to people who had never grown anything in their lives. Customers began hearing about me through word of mouth. Thankfully, my overhead was low since I worked out of my home in Los Angeles. The payoff: Today I have several hundred clients; I talk with them about what they want and provide all the materials and hands-on training. My fees range from a few hundred bucks to thousands of dollars, depending on the project. The timing is right because people are struggling with rising food prices and environmental concerns—they’re getting increasingly interested in growing their own food. The BUMMER: Heavy traffic through my home. It’s the downside of giving demos in my own backyard. MAJOR MISHAPS: I get the most emergency calls from clients who planted a garden so that their kids could see where their food comes from. Sounds like a good idea, right? But guess what: The toddlers tend to rip out half the plants! What’s next: I’d like to set up a nursery where I could teach more classes to green-thumbers yearround. I’m also interested in starting a franchise so people could buy the Homegrown brand and have a customizable list of services around the country. Word to the wise: Know when to say no. People who launch start-ups are often go-getters who take on more and more work. But you can burn out really fast that way. While I love what I do, I’m not in business for myself to work seven days a week, 15 hours a day. I remind myself to set limits.

Sharon Joseph in her high-heel bowling shoes in Harlem.

The Bowling Queen Sharon Joseph, 30-something, owner of Harlem Lanes, New York City My inspiration: For years I carried around a little notebook of ideas—things I’d like to do, businesses I’d love to start. The problem: I was working on Wall Street and never had time to act on any of my big plans. Meanwhile, other people would come up with the same ideas—and actually October 2008 / Marie Claire 111


entrepreneurs

I am the boss of me You’ve always dreamed of busting out of the cubicle and doing your own thing. These five women actually did it. Easy? No. Worth it? Totally. Listen and learn By Abigail Pesta Photographed by Williams + Hirakawa

The Green Genius Marta Teegen, 36, owner of urban-garden company Homegrown, Los Angeles My inspiration: I grew up on a farm in the

Wild life: Marta Teegen in her own “edible garden” at her Los Angeles home.

110 Marie Claire / October 2008

Caribbean, and I’ve always loved gardening and cooking with fresh ingredients. So I got the idea to combine my two loves into a business: I would help people grow their own “edible gardens,” chock-full of organic vegetables and yummy herbs like rosemary, thyme, and oregano. I could plant the gardens in raised beds in the yard or in windowboxes in the kitchen for apartment dwellers. How I got started: I ditched my job in the nonprofit sector, gathered up my savings, and launched Homegrown in 2007. I worked with highend chefs at first, then branched out to people who had never grown anything in their lives. Customers began hearing about me through word of mouth. Thankfully, my overhead was low since I worked out of my home in Los Angeles. The payoff: Today I have several hundred clients; I talk with them about what they want and provide all the materials and hands-on training. My fees range from a few hundred bucks to thousands of dollars, depending on the project. The timing is right because people are struggling with rising food prices and environmental concerns—they’re getting increasingly interested in growing their own food. The BUMMER: Heavy traffic through my home. It’s the downside of giving demos in my own backyard. MAJOR MISHAPS: I get the most emergency calls from clients who planted a garden so that their kids could see where their food comes from. Sounds like a good idea, right? But guess what: The toddlers tend to rip out half the plants! What’s next: I’d like to set up a nursery where I could teach more classes to green-thumbers yearround. I’m also interested in starting a franchise so people could buy the Homegrown brand and have a customizable list of services around the country. Word to the wise: Know when to say no. People who launch start-ups are often go-getters who take on more and more work. But you can burn out really fast that way. While I love what I do, I’m not in business for myself to work seven days a week, 15 hours a day. I remind myself to set limits.

Sharon Joseph in her high-heel bowling shoes in Harlem.

The Bowling Queen Sharon Joseph, 30-something, owner of Harlem Lanes, New York City My inspiration: For years I carried around a little notebook of ideas—things I’d like to do, businesses I’d love to start. The problem: I was working on Wall Street and never had time to act on any of my big plans. Meanwhile, other people would come up with the same ideas—and actually October 2008 / Marie Claire 111


entrepreneurs execute them. (One of my schemes was to set up a job-hunting site like monster.com—imagine where I’d be today if I’d done it!) Then one day in 2002, my aunt, Gail Richards, and I were walking around Harlem, where I grew up, and I said, “You know, there aren’t many family-friendly places here where people can socialize, like a great bowling alley.” She said, “Well, let’s open one up—before someone else gets the idea.” How I got started: Gail and I did some research—visiting other bowling lanes around the city and state, and also standing on the corner of 125th Street in Harlem and asking people, “If we had a bowling alley here, would you come?” The answer was always yes. So we decided to partner up—we called ourselves Laverne and Shirley—and started looking into government loans and talking to investors who focused on urban-development projects. In the meantime, we found a giant old abandoned theater, filled with pigeons. We rented out the space and started revamping it in a big way. The payoff: Now we have 24 bowling lanes, 21 plasma TVs, a café, karaoke, a sports bar, a lounge, the only draft beer in this part of town—and the sexiest bowling heels around. Yes, actual high-heel bowling shoes. We have nearly 50 employees, and we’re almost profitable now; hopefully, we’ll get there in a year. The bummer: Since I’m a single mom, giving up my cushy Wall Street job and 401K plan was a risk. And this project has been nonstop hard work, especially the construction; we created two floors in the building and needed to buy steel right at the time when steel prices were rising. I regularly send e-mails at 3 in the morning. I always tell people, if you’re looking for freedom, entrepreneurship is not necessarily it. Biggest triumph: We were determined to have President Clinton do our ribbon-cutting ceremony in 2006, but we weren’t actually finished with construction at the time he was available. So we hired a production company to make the place look fabulous while he stood out front and snipped the ribbon—it was like a movie set. We opened later that year. Word to the wise: Ask yourself, Will your business solve a prob-

The state with the most women-owned Sharon, on a roll at Harlem Lanes.

lem for people? If so, you can nab customers. Also consider: Will the business make a profit for you and any investors? That’s key, too. Then put together a five-minute summary of your idea that a child could understand—you need to be able to explain your plan to investors or banks quickly and simply. Also, have a 20-minute version and an hour-long one for people who want to know more. Be ready to recite the plan at any time—on airplanes, in elevators, on buses. You never know when you might need it.

In the U.S., there are an estimated 10.4 million women-owned companies, which

The Exotic-Candy Maker

Katrina Markoff, 35, owner of Vosges Haut-Chocolat, Chicago My inspiration: One night I was playing around in my kitchen

Katrina Markoff in chocolate heaven in Chicago.

112 Marie Claire / October 2008

and made this milk-chocolate truffle with coconut and curry. Then I got into a zone and made about 20 different kinds of truffles, using Hungarian paprika, Japanese wasabi, black sesame seeds—all flavors from places I’d traveled, like Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, Korea. Later I brought a few truffles into my office—a mail-order company in Dallas—for my coworkers. They thought I was nuts, but when they tried the candy, they loved it. I knew I was on to something. I thought, Maybe I can tell stories of where I’ve traveled through chocolate. How I got started: I sold a few batches of truffles from my apartment, then met with a buyer from Neiman Marcus, who basically said, “Don’t call me; I’ll call you.” Amazingly, he did call—the very next day. Turns out, he’d put my chocolates in the break room, and they’d disappeared immediately. Pretty soon, I was selling candy at Neimans in Dallas, Los Angeles, and Chicago. After a few months, I took out a small-business

businesses: California (870,000). The state with the fewest: Wyoming (just under 13,000).

The Tech Guru Gauri Nanda, 28, designer of Clocky alarm clocks, New York City My inspiration: I always had a hard time getting out of bed— I’d hit the snooze button over and over. So while I was a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, I designed a crazy alarm clock for a class project. The clock would roll off the night table, zoom around the room, and hide— so I’d have to get out of bed to turn it off. I called it Clocky. Clocky takes off: After the class, I posted a photo of Clocky on the course website, then tossed the clock in the closet and forgot about it. But the tech bloggers came across my project on the site and started buzzing about it, big time. Next thing you know, Good Morning America called me. I began getting all kinds of interview requests; about 10 radio stations called every day. Hundreds of people contacted me about buying a clock. It was insane. I realized what a huge opportunity I had. How I got started: I designed a sleeker version of the clock (the original one was pretty massive and furry, so it could survive the drop from the table to the floor). Then I Googled some manufacturers and went to meet a few of them in China. When I found one I liked, I borrowed money from my family and had 1000 clocks made. In December 2006, I began selling them. In the meantime, I’d set up a website (nandahome.com), and about 30,000 people had expressed interest. So I started working with retailers—like the MoMA Design Store—and catalog companies. The payoff: Today I’ve sold around 100,000 clocks (at $50 each), and they’re available in more than 50 countries. The bummer: Working 24/7. I’m finally planning to hire a couple of employees—so hopefully I can get some ZZZs.

Biggest surprise: People are putting wacky videos of Clocky on YouTube: They’ll videotape the clock with their pet. As you can imagine, cats and dogs are pretty freaked out by it. What’s next: I’m experimenting with new features for the clock, like touch screens, fun sounds, Wi-Fi. There’s a lot going on with social networking these days on sites like Facebook and MySpace, so maybe people could connect via their clocks, too. Word to the wise: If you’re launching a start-up, do some networking with other small-business owners. I called entrepreneurs out of the blue and asked for advice. Most of the time, they were pretty helpful. Now people call me to pick my brain.

Gauri Nanda with Clocky at the MoMA Design Store in New York City.

employ some 12.8 million people. loan from a bank and opened my first store in 1999 in Chicago, where a real foodie culture was beginning to grow. The payoff: Now I have shops in Las Vegas, New York, and Chicago, as well as online (vosgeschocolate.com). I’m planning to open a store in Los Angeles next. I have about 100 employees, and we’re profitable now; last year we had around $12 million in sales. That’s a lot of $2.50 truffles! The bummer: Cumin and chocolate. I just can’t get that combo to work. I wish I could spend more time creating new recipes, but I have to do all this managerial stuff. What’s next: I would love to buy a cocoa plantation in Grenada and work more closely with the farmers instead of with middlemen—I’d like to make sure the farmers get good wages even if they have a bad crop. I’m also launching new lines of goodies, including chocolate skull-shaped Day of the Dead candies, with Mexican chipotle chilis and cinnamon. Word to the wise: Think creatively about how to get the news out to the world about your business. It helped me immensely that I got some good press from gourmet publications early on. Remember the power of the media.

Among the top reasons women start their own companies: flexible work schedules, the ability to work from home, and a desire to find a better worklife balance. Men, however, cite the urge to make money as one of their primary motivations. October 2008 / Marie Claire 113


entrepreneurs execute them. (One of my schemes was to set up a job-hunting site like monster.com—imagine where I’d be today if I’d done it!) Then one day in 2002, my aunt, Gail Richards, and I were walking around Harlem, where I grew up, and I said, “You know, there aren’t many family-friendly places here where people can socialize, like a great bowling alley.” She said, “Well, let’s open one up—before someone else gets the idea.” How I got started: Gail and I did some research—visiting other bowling lanes around the city and state, and also standing on the corner of 125th Street in Harlem and asking people, “If we had a bowling alley here, would you come?” The answer was always yes. So we decided to partner up—we called ourselves Laverne and Shirley—and started looking into government loans and talking to investors who focused on urban-development projects. In the meantime, we found a giant old abandoned theater, filled with pigeons. We rented out the space and started revamping it in a big way. The payoff: Now we have 24 bowling lanes, 21 plasma TVs, a café, karaoke, a sports bar, a lounge, the only draft beer in this part of town—and the sexiest bowling heels around. Yes, actual high-heel bowling shoes. We have nearly 50 employees, and we’re almost profitable now; hopefully, we’ll get there in a year. The bummer: Since I’m a single mom, giving up my cushy Wall Street job and 401K plan was a risk. And this project has been nonstop hard work, especially the construction; we created two floors in the building and needed to buy steel right at the time when steel prices were rising. I regularly send e-mails at 3 in the morning. I always tell people, if you’re looking for freedom, entrepreneurship is not necessarily it. Biggest triumph: We were determined to have President Clinton do our ribbon-cutting ceremony in 2006, but we weren’t actually finished with construction at the time he was available. So we hired a production company to make the place look fabulous while he stood out front and snipped the ribbon—it was like a movie set. We opened later that year. Word to the wise: Ask yourself, Will your business solve a prob-

The state with the most women-owned Sharon, on a roll at Harlem Lanes.

lem for people? If so, you can nab customers. Also consider: Will the business make a profit for you and any investors? That’s key, too. Then put together a five-minute summary of your idea that a child could understand—you need to be able to explain your plan to investors or banks quickly and simply. Also, have a 20-minute version and an hour-long one for people who want to know more. Be ready to recite the plan at any time—on airplanes, in elevators, on buses. You never know when you might need it.

In the U.S., there are an estimated 10.4 million women-owned companies, which

The Exotic-Candy Maker

Katrina Markoff, 35, owner of Vosges Haut-Chocolat, Chicago My inspiration: One night I was playing around in my kitchen

Katrina Markoff in chocolate heaven in Chicago.

112 Marie Claire / October 2008

and made this milk-chocolate truffle with coconut and curry. Then I got into a zone and made about 20 different kinds of truffles, using Hungarian paprika, Japanese wasabi, black sesame seeds—all flavors from places I’d traveled, like Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, Korea. Later I brought a few truffles into my office—a mail-order company in Dallas—for my coworkers. They thought I was nuts, but when they tried the candy, they loved it. I knew I was on to something. I thought, Maybe I can tell stories of where I’ve traveled through chocolate. How I got started: I sold a few batches of truffles from my apartment, then met with a buyer from Neiman Marcus, who basically said, “Don’t call me; I’ll call you.” Amazingly, he did call—the very next day. Turns out, he’d put my chocolates in the break room, and they’d disappeared immediately. Pretty soon, I was selling candy at Neimans in Dallas, Los Angeles, and Chicago. After a few months, I took out a small-business

businesses: California (870,000). The state with the fewest: Wyoming (just under 13,000).

The Tech Guru Gauri Nanda, 28, designer of Clocky alarm clocks, New York City My inspiration: I always had a hard time getting out of bed— I’d hit the snooze button over and over. So while I was a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, I designed a crazy alarm clock for a class project. The clock would roll off the night table, zoom around the room, and hide— so I’d have to get out of bed to turn it off. I called it Clocky. Clocky takes off: After the class, I posted a photo of Clocky on the course website, then tossed the clock in the closet and forgot about it. But the tech bloggers came across my project on the site and started buzzing about it, big time. Next thing you know, Good Morning America called me. I began getting all kinds of interview requests; about 10 radio stations called every day. Hundreds of people contacted me about buying a clock. It was insane. I realized what a huge opportunity I had. How I got started: I designed a sleeker version of the clock (the original one was pretty massive and furry, so it could survive the drop from the table to the floor). Then I Googled some manufacturers and went to meet a few of them in China. When I found one I liked, I borrowed money from my family and had 1000 clocks made. In December 2006, I began selling them. In the meantime, I’d set up a website (nandahome.com), and about 30,000 people had expressed interest. So I started working with retailers—like the MoMA Design Store—and catalog companies. The payoff: Today I’ve sold around 100,000 clocks (at $50 each), and they’re available in more than 50 countries. The bummer: Working 24/7. I’m finally planning to hire a couple of employees—so hopefully I can get some ZZZs.

Biggest surprise: People are putting wacky videos of Clocky on YouTube: They’ll videotape the clock with their pet. As you can imagine, cats and dogs are pretty freaked out by it. What’s next: I’m experimenting with new features for the clock, like touch screens, fun sounds, Wi-Fi. There’s a lot going on with social networking these days on sites like Facebook and MySpace, so maybe people could connect via their clocks, too. Word to the wise: If you’re launching a start-up, do some networking with other small-business owners. I called entrepreneurs out of the blue and asked for advice. Most of the time, they were pretty helpful. Now people call me to pick my brain.

Gauri Nanda with Clocky at the MoMA Design Store in New York City.

employ some 12.8 million people. loan from a bank and opened my first store in 1999 in Chicago, where a real foodie culture was beginning to grow. The payoff: Now I have shops in Las Vegas, New York, and Chicago, as well as online (vosgeschocolate.com). I’m planning to open a store in Los Angeles next. I have about 100 employees, and we’re profitable now; last year we had around $12 million in sales. That’s a lot of $2.50 truffles! The bummer: Cumin and chocolate. I just can’t get that combo to work. I wish I could spend more time creating new recipes, but I have to do all this managerial stuff. What’s next: I would love to buy a cocoa plantation in Grenada and work more closely with the farmers instead of with middlemen—I’d like to make sure the farmers get good wages even if they have a bad crop. I’m also launching new lines of goodies, including chocolate skull-shaped Day of the Dead candies, with Mexican chipotle chilis and cinnamon. Word to the wise: Think creatively about how to get the news out to the world about your business. It helped me immensely that I got some good press from gourmet publications early on. Remember the power of the media.

Among the top reasons women start their own companies: flexible work schedules, the ability to work from home, and a desire to find a better worklife balance. Men, however, cite the urge to make money as one of their primary motivations. October 2008 / Marie Claire 113


entrepreneurs

Six Musts for Future Moguls

Alice Kim in her element at her Omaha shop.

The Fashionista Alice Kim, 38, owner of the Trocadéro boutique, Omaha, NE My inspiration: I was living in New York City, with a gig as an accessories director of a fashion magazine, when I turned 37 and started thinking about what I really want. I’d always dreamed of having kids, and I wasn’t dating anyone, so I asked myself, Do I want to be the eccentric old aunt in a tiny apartment with a zillion pairs of shoes and five cats? I decided it was time to change it up. I got motivated to leave the whirling buzz of stress and move to a more family-friendly place—Omaha—and open my own boutique. Why Omaha? I’ve had this strange fascination with Omaha ever since I was a kid. The Wizard of Oz is from there—his hot-air balloon says “State Fair Omaha.” Over the years, I’ve always been drawn to people from Nebraska—they seem very wholesome and genuine, purposeful. Then I stumbled upon a newspaper story about an area in Omaha called the Old Market, with cobblestone streets and galleries in converted warehouses. I learned that there was a need for fashionable boutiques, and decided, that’s it—I’m opening my shop there. How I got started: I visited Omaha for the first time in May 2007 and found a loft space to lease for my shop: high ceilings, hardwood floors, brick walls. Then I packed up and moved in July. I took

out a small-business loan from a local bank and began thinking about what to feature in my boutique. I networked with accessories designers I knew from my magazine days and opened my doors in October 2007. Now I have Gwen Stefani’s L.A.M.B. bags, Alexis Bittar’s jewelry, Brian Atwood’s shoes, along with personal notes from the designers next to the displays. The payoff: I’m building up customers, and my life is low-stress here. I feel much closer to realizing my dream, which is to become a mother. Everyone in Omaha knows my story, and they set me up with single guys. Yesterday a man walked into my store and said his friend had sent him to ask me out. I swear to God, when I get married, this town’s going to throw me a parade. The bummer: We had a really bad winter—the papers said it was the coldest one in 25 years— so people weren’t venturing out to shop. Biggest surprise: Every spring, about 30,000 investors come to town for the famous shareholders meeting of Warren Buffett’s company, Berkshire Hathaway. You’d think it would be a great time for sales, with a bunch of millionaires hanging around. But they’re actually pretty frugal. Maybe that’s why they’re millionaires! Word to the wise: My advice is more philosophical than financial: Figure out what you want in life and design your career around that. My job isn’t my life anymore; it doesn’t define me like it did in New York City—it’s my hobby.

The nation’s largest woman-owned business is Software House International—a New Jersey software company with annual sales of $2.3 billion—owned by Thai Lee. 114 Marie Claire / October 2008

Be passionate about the work. You’ll never muster the mojo necessary to get your business off the ground unless you absolutely believe in the product or service you’re peddling. Do your homework. Seems basic, but many entrepreneurs don’t test their products in the marketplace. If you’ve designed a cool new line of T-shirts, try hawking them on eBay. A paying customer is a sign you’ve got a viable product. Take advantage of helping hands. There are ample resources available to upstarts; start with SCORE (score. org) for free workshops. Be thorough about start-up costs. Novices often lowball their costs, overlooking less-obvious expenses, like deposits on leased space. Don’t bet the farm. It’s especially difficult these days to secure bank financing unless your credit is stellar. Before maxing out your credit cards, carefully consider how much you’re prepared to lose should the business go belly-up. Don’t go it alone. This one’s a biggie. You open yourself up to massive legal vulnerability unless you incorporate or create a limited-liability company (LLC), both strategies designed to contain your liability. Don’t even think about hanging a shingle until you’ve consulted a lawyer about this. —Lea Goldman

» Get more career and money advice at marieclaire.com/career.

Teegen: styled by Mary Alice Haney and Alia Smyk; Hair: Stephanie Pohl at Artists By Timothy Priano; Makeup: Cheri Keating At The Wall Group. Joseph & Nanda: Hair & Makeup by Souhi Lee for Dior At De facto. Markoff: Photographed by Melissa Ann Pinney. Kim: Photographed by Laurie and Charles. on teegen: top, geren ford; jeans, l’wren scott; necklace, vintage crown trifari. on joseph: blazer, jones new york; necklace, kenneth cole; joseph’s own top, jeans, and shoes. markoff’s own clothes. on nanda: top, kensie; skirt, shipley & halmos; nanda’s own bracelet. kim’s own clothes.

Truth time: Fewer than half of all new businesses are still alive four years after they start. We asked Jennifer Kushell, entrepreneur and author of Secrets of the Young & Successful, how to make sure your start-up survives—and thrives.


First Person

One day Jennifer Wilkov was a successful financial planner with a designer wardrobe and a cozy apartment

The next, she was an inmate in one of New

on a tree-lined block.

York’s most violent prisons. In a Marie Claire exclusive, she shares the

shocking

details of what goes on behind bars As told to Abigail Pesta

I

’m rolling up to Rikers Island, a notoriously violent prison in New York City, on a bus with about a dozen other women. My wrist is handcuffed to a lifelong drug addict whose stomach is distended from fibroids, she tells me. One of the ladies clearly hasn’t bathed for weeks, and the smell is unbearable. Simply boarding this bus was a feat in itself. If you think it sounds challenging to round up a group of hyperactive thirdgraders for a field trip, you should’ve seen the guards trying to get a bunch of loud-mouthed, drugged-out, furious female convicts to shut up, stand in line, and get on the bus. A plain, redbrick building looms before me. I’m about to become a prisoner in a massive penitentiary, and I feel an overwhelming sense of dread. I’m surrounded by people who have been here before, who know the system, who know how to work the guards. But I know nothing. I’m thinking, I have to get through this. I have to stay safe. Stay alive. I tell myself that maybe someone in this prison needs me; perhaps that’s the reason life has thrown me this curveball. For a moment, I think I hear a distant voice calling for help. As the bus pulls to a stop, I try for about the millionth time to wrap my head around how I got here.

Survivor: Rikers island

Jennifer Wilkov, photographed in Brooklyn, after making it through a nightmarish stint in prison.

100 marie claire / april 2009

Just a couple of years ago, I was working as a Certified Financial Planner for American Express Financial Advisors and living with my cat, Figaro, in a leafy Brooklyn neighborhood. The trouble started when a relative recommended an investment opportunity in California—an operation that was buying foreclosed homes, fixing them up, then reselling them at a profit. He’d invested himself, and I followed suit. At the same time, some of my clients started inquiring about real-estate opportunities, and I asked the compliance month 2009 / marie claire 101


First Person

One day Jennifer Wilkov was a successful financial planner with a designer wardrobe and a cozy apartment

The next, she was an inmate in one of New

on a tree-lined block.

York’s most violent prisons. In a Marie Claire exclusive, she shares the

shocking

details of what goes on behind bars As told to Abigail Pesta

I

’m rolling up to Rikers Island, a notoriously violent prison in New York City, on a bus with about a dozen other women. My wrist is handcuffed to a lifelong drug addict whose stomach is distended from fibroids, she tells me. One of the ladies clearly hasn’t bathed for weeks, and the smell is unbearable. Simply boarding this bus was a feat in itself. If you think it sounds challenging to round up a group of hyperactive thirdgraders for a field trip, you should’ve seen the guards trying to get a bunch of loud-mouthed, drugged-out, furious female convicts to shut up, stand in line, and get on the bus. A plain, redbrick building looms before me. I’m about to become a prisoner in a massive penitentiary, and I feel an overwhelming sense of dread. I’m surrounded by people who have been here before, who know the system, who know how to work the guards. But I know nothing. I’m thinking, I have to get through this. I have to stay safe. Stay alive. I tell myself that maybe someone in this prison needs me; perhaps that’s the reason life has thrown me this curveball. For a moment, I think I hear a distant voice calling for help. As the bus pulls to a stop, I try for about the millionth time to wrap my head around how I got here.

Survivor: Rikers island

Jennifer Wilkov, photographed in Brooklyn, after making it through a nightmarish stint in prison.

100 marie claire / april 2009

Just a couple of years ago, I was working as a Certified Financial Planner for American Express Financial Advisors and living with my cat, Figaro, in a leafy Brooklyn neighborhood. The trouble started when a relative recommended an investment opportunity in California—an operation that was buying foreclosed homes, fixing them up, then reselling them at a profit. He’d invested himself, and I followed suit. At the same time, some of my clients started inquiring about real-estate opportunities, and I asked the compliance month 2009 / marie claire 101


First Person no one wants to help. Anything I say can be misinterpreted. I’m afraid to ask even the simplest questions. Guards and inmates are staring at me; they know I’m new here. I have to stay alert. I undergo a series of medical tests (for tuberculosis, HIV) for the next six hours. Then I put on a dark-green jumpsuit and head to my new home: a minuscule, private cinder-block cell (about 8 feet by 3 feet) that contains a metal cot with a block of foam on top and a sheet but no pillow. There’s a white porcelain toilet and sink right out in the open; I’m handed a towel, a bar of scratchy white soap that’s more like bleach, and half a roll of toilet paper. No hot water. A tiny window looks out onto a parking lot. I sit on the cot, take a deep breath, and thank God I’m alive; I’ve made it this far. I think, Whatever I’m supposed to do here, let me do it well. I remind myself that I can survive by becoming invisible: I will not act superior, or fearful. I’ll follow directions, and I won’t ask any questions of anyone. By this time, it’s 4 in the morning, and I’ve been up for more than 24 hours. Breakfast will be served in one hour. I lie awake, not sure if I’m allowed to sleep; I’m afraid of getting in trouble if I miss breakfast.

Wilkov, trying to dodge photogs after a court hearing in 2008.

Inside Rikers, where Wilkov was locked up for four months.

102 marie claire / april 2009

alleged prison fight club, in which inmates were forced to beat each other to a pulp. Nonetheless, any New York City dweller sentenced to less than a year on state charges gets sent there. Terrified, I started preparing for hell. I sought advice from selfdefense experts, and enlisted them to shout insults in my face so I could practice my response. I cut my hair and donated it to charity, because I’d been warned that prisoners could yank it, hard. I talked to my mom constantly. She believed I was innocent, as did my friends—at least, my true friends, who even wrote letters to the judge about me. A few people couldn’t cope and dropped out of my life. Meanwhile, a tsunami of unflattering stories about me hit the media—The New York Times, The New York Daily News, the Associated Press. The headlines were infuriating, and humiliating. I felt increasingly angry about pleading guilty. In June 2008, I went to a criminal courthouse in downtown Manhattan to be formally sentenced. The courtroom looked like something straight out of Law & Order, with old-fashioned woodpaneled walls, wooden pews, and a sign above the judge’s head that said “In God We Trust.” I stood before the judge and asked her if I could withdraw my guilty plea. The answer: No. That same day, I said good-bye to my family, my cell phone, my normal life. Then I was handcuffed and escorted to a dingy basement room called “the bridge,” where I waited with a bunch of prostitutes and drug addicts for the bus to Rikers.

W

hen I replay it all in my mind, it seems like a bad movie or a nightmare—not anything real. But the reality sets in as soon as I step off the bus at Rikers, where the indignities begin promptly. For starters, I’m told to strip naked and squat—the idea being that any contraband I might be hiding inside me will tumble out. Then the guards make me sit in a computerized chair called the B.O.S.S.; the chair seems to be doing an X-ray of my insides to detect anything I might have swallowed in order to conceal it. I tell myself not to take any of this personally, but it’s hard not to let it mess with my mind. I feel like I’m in a foreign country where I don’t know the language or the rules, and

» For more on Jennifer Wilkov, go to jenniferswilkov.com.

first six weeks. There is hardly anything fresh served in jail.”

melissa ann pinney

“I lose 14 pounds in the

opening spread: melissa ann pinney. this PAGE, from left: daily news lp, m.s. tamashita/corbis

officer at American Express if I could mention this one. He said AmEx didn’t deal with “hard property” real estate but that I could refer people independently if I filled out the proper securities forms. I did so, then told a few people about the investment, while advising them to do their own homework. About a year later, in August 2005, I launched my own financial-planning business. Things went swimmingly for the first year, until investors—including members of my family and me—stopped getting any returns on that real-estate deal. So an attorney and I paid a visit to the owners of the California company. After our meeting, the attorney deemed the operation a scam and said I should report it to the authorities. I did so immediately, in October 2006. A month later, several plainclothes officers confronted me on my street. “You’re gonna let us in your apartment, or we’re gonna beat the door down,” one of them snarled. They confiscated my cell phone, computer, and files, while another set of police cleared out my office nearby. I was stunned, but I thought my stuff might help them nail the crooks. Eight months later, when I was sitting in my office one morning in a favorite outfit—Ralph Lauren top, white pants, white heels—the police returned. I was arrested and accused of being part of a $1.6 million real-estate fraud, since I’d recommended the investment and had received standard referral fees. (Of course my family and I had lost a substantial amount of money in the con ourselves, but that didn’t seem to matter.) After I answered a slew of questions from an assistant district attorney, my criminal-defense lawyer— who, by the way, was from the firm that had unsuccessfully defended Martha Stewart—advised me to agree to a deal with the DA. If I pleaded guilty, I’d get sentenced to six months in jail but could be out in four. “Four months is better than four years, which is what you could get if you go to trial and lose,” my lawyer said. I hated the idea of making that deal, but since I was new to the legal field, I took his advice and signed the papers. That was January of 2008. For the next few months, while I awaited my sentencing, I moved my belongings into storage and stayed with friends, as I’d put my apartment on the market prior to the legal nightmare. I worked as a book consultant, since I’d written and published three finance books myself. I tried to do some research on Rikers, but Googling turned out to be a mistake. What popped up were reports of abuse, injustice, and rape, along with news of guards running an

much, to the delight of my fellow inmates, who constantly ask for my leftovers. There’s also a commissary, which is stocked with cookies, candy, and Kool-Aid packets that inmates can purchase once a week. Only a prison dietitian knows of my condition. Her advice? “You have to find a way to survive here.” Our days are extremely regimented; we’re counted several times by guards changing shifts so they can make sure we’re present, and alive. There’s a law library and an outdoor area for exercise, such as jump rope. A TV blasts shows like Jerry Springer and Maury Povich in a common room. We’re allowed to make the occasional cup of tea, but only if the entire dorm is clean, which is a regular source of friction. Religious services are popular, with prisoners frequently spouting, “Only God can judge.” All of us have jobs; I make 39 cents an hour working in the prison garden, as part of a training program provided by the Horticultural Society of New York. Nighttime is a cacophony of raucous arguments among all the wound-up women who have been consuming sugar and starch all day, with the guards threatening to flip on the fluorescent lights if people don’t pipe down.

After a week marked by entire days of keeping mostly to myself, I move to a dorm with 50 other women. The beds are crowded onto an open floor surrounded by tan Sheetrock walls. Most of the women here have aligned themselves with people from the housing projects they come from, so there are Latin factions, AfricanAmerican ones, and so forth. I keep my head down, and pray. There are regular confrontations. One woman randomly decides she doesn’t want me to use the phone and tries to pick fights with me in front of the guards when I call my mother. One day she says, unprovoked, “Did you call me an idiot?” I reply that I don’t say that type of thing, and luckily, the situation doesn’t escalate. I know I have to stand up for myself and not show fear. One evening, I witness a fight just before dinner. We’re all assembling in the dormitory, with the guards barking at us to “shut up and line up,” as usual. Suddenly, one woman flies at another, punching her everywhere—in the face, the gut. I’ve never seen a fistfight in real life, with two people trying to kill each other. Another woman jumps in, and the trio turns into a tornado, careening around the room. The guards gradually isolate them, ordering everyone else out. I imagine that the women were sent to solitary confinement in a dreaded place known as “the bin.” The most threatening person is a brute of a woman who leers at me menacingly one night in the communal showers. I know she wants to rape me; I’ve been warned of the signs. Rumor has it that another woman was recently raped by three female inmates in the high-security wing, which is a heavily patrolled area, so presumably the guards knew what was happening. In my case, a fellow inmate comes and stands defiantly by my side in the shower, and the bully backs off. I lose 14 pounds in the first six weeks, due to stress and also to the fact that I’ve been an organic vegetarian for years. I have Crohn’s disease, a serious digestive disorder, and my diet has helped me keep it under control. But there is hardly anything green or even remotely fresh served in jail. Meals mostly consist of slices of bread and turkey patties or fried chicken quarters, which the prisoners like to refer to as “seagull meat.” I don’t eat

Free at last: Wilkov today

A

s time creeps by, what keeps me sane is the continuing belief that I’m here for a reason, that I might be able to help someone. Gradually, I do. I manage to teach a woman from Trinidad to read, and I show others how to do yoga. I hold poetry readings with the woman who bunks next to me, an African-American Muslim who has been homeless at times. When I describe how I’d once heard someone calling for help, she says it was her. On the final day of my ordeal, in October 2008, my mother and a dear friend escort me out into a bright, brisk fall afternoon. At this point, I’ve contracted a full-body yeast infection called candida, but I’ve never felt better—or freer—in my life. With my 40th birthday just around the corner, I feel oddly proud of myself. I’m tougher than I realized, and now I know I can win the respect of people from worlds very different than my own. I can keep a positive outlook in the worst of circumstances. Ironically, I have my experience at Rikers to thank for that knowledge. As one of the guards once said to me, “If you can survive this place, you can survive anything.” april 2009 / marie claire 103


First Person no one wants to help. Anything I say can be misinterpreted. I’m afraid to ask even the simplest questions. Guards and inmates are staring at me; they know I’m new here. I have to stay alert. I undergo a series of medical tests (for tuberculosis, HIV) for the next six hours. Then I put on a dark-green jumpsuit and head to my new home: a minuscule, private cinder-block cell (about 8 feet by 3 feet) that contains a metal cot with a block of foam on top and a sheet but no pillow. There’s a white porcelain toilet and sink right out in the open; I’m handed a towel, a bar of scratchy white soap that’s more like bleach, and half a roll of toilet paper. No hot water. A tiny window looks out onto a parking lot. I sit on the cot, take a deep breath, and thank God I’m alive; I’ve made it this far. I think, Whatever I’m supposed to do here, let me do it well. I remind myself that I can survive by becoming invisible: I will not act superior, or fearful. I’ll follow directions, and I won’t ask any questions of anyone. By this time, it’s 4 in the morning, and I’ve been up for more than 24 hours. Breakfast will be served in one hour. I lie awake, not sure if I’m allowed to sleep; I’m afraid of getting in trouble if I miss breakfast.

Wilkov, trying to dodge photogs after a court hearing in 2008.

Inside Rikers, where Wilkov was locked up for four months.

102 marie claire / april 2009

alleged prison fight club, in which inmates were forced to beat each other to a pulp. Nonetheless, any New York City dweller sentenced to less than a year on state charges gets sent there. Terrified, I started preparing for hell. I sought advice from selfdefense experts, and enlisted them to shout insults in my face so I could practice my response. I cut my hair and donated it to charity, because I’d been warned that prisoners could yank it, hard. I talked to my mom constantly. She believed I was innocent, as did my friends—at least, my true friends, who even wrote letters to the judge about me. A few people couldn’t cope and dropped out of my life. Meanwhile, a tsunami of unflattering stories about me hit the media—The New York Times, The New York Daily News, the Associated Press. The headlines were infuriating, and humiliating. I felt increasingly angry about pleading guilty. In June 2008, I went to a criminal courthouse in downtown Manhattan to be formally sentenced. The courtroom looked like something straight out of Law & Order, with old-fashioned woodpaneled walls, wooden pews, and a sign above the judge’s head that said “In God We Trust.” I stood before the judge and asked her if I could withdraw my guilty plea. The answer: No. That same day, I said good-bye to my family, my cell phone, my normal life. Then I was handcuffed and escorted to a dingy basement room called “the bridge,” where I waited with a bunch of prostitutes and drug addicts for the bus to Rikers.

W

hen I replay it all in my mind, it seems like a bad movie or a nightmare—not anything real. But the reality sets in as soon as I step off the bus at Rikers, where the indignities begin promptly. For starters, I’m told to strip naked and squat—the idea being that any contraband I might be hiding inside me will tumble out. Then the guards make me sit in a computerized chair called the B.O.S.S.; the chair seems to be doing an X-ray of my insides to detect anything I might have swallowed in order to conceal it. I tell myself not to take any of this personally, but it’s hard not to let it mess with my mind. I feel like I’m in a foreign country where I don’t know the language or the rules, and

» For more on Jennifer Wilkov, go to jenniferswilkov.com.

first six weeks. There is hardly anything fresh served in jail.”

melissa ann pinney

“I lose 14 pounds in the

opening spread: melissa ann pinney. this PAGE, from left: daily news lp, m.s. tamashita/corbis

officer at American Express if I could mention this one. He said AmEx didn’t deal with “hard property” real estate but that I could refer people independently if I filled out the proper securities forms. I did so, then told a few people about the investment, while advising them to do their own homework. About a year later, in August 2005, I launched my own financial-planning business. Things went swimmingly for the first year, until investors—including members of my family and me—stopped getting any returns on that real-estate deal. So an attorney and I paid a visit to the owners of the California company. After our meeting, the attorney deemed the operation a scam and said I should report it to the authorities. I did so immediately, in October 2006. A month later, several plainclothes officers confronted me on my street. “You’re gonna let us in your apartment, or we’re gonna beat the door down,” one of them snarled. They confiscated my cell phone, computer, and files, while another set of police cleared out my office nearby. I was stunned, but I thought my stuff might help them nail the crooks. Eight months later, when I was sitting in my office one morning in a favorite outfit—Ralph Lauren top, white pants, white heels—the police returned. I was arrested and accused of being part of a $1.6 million real-estate fraud, since I’d recommended the investment and had received standard referral fees. (Of course my family and I had lost a substantial amount of money in the con ourselves, but that didn’t seem to matter.) After I answered a slew of questions from an assistant district attorney, my criminal-defense lawyer— who, by the way, was from the firm that had unsuccessfully defended Martha Stewart—advised me to agree to a deal with the DA. If I pleaded guilty, I’d get sentenced to six months in jail but could be out in four. “Four months is better than four years, which is what you could get if you go to trial and lose,” my lawyer said. I hated the idea of making that deal, but since I was new to the legal field, I took his advice and signed the papers. That was January of 2008. For the next few months, while I awaited my sentencing, I moved my belongings into storage and stayed with friends, as I’d put my apartment on the market prior to the legal nightmare. I worked as a book consultant, since I’d written and published three finance books myself. I tried to do some research on Rikers, but Googling turned out to be a mistake. What popped up were reports of abuse, injustice, and rape, along with news of guards running an

much, to the delight of my fellow inmates, who constantly ask for my leftovers. There’s also a commissary, which is stocked with cookies, candy, and Kool-Aid packets that inmates can purchase once a week. Only a prison dietitian knows of my condition. Her advice? “You have to find a way to survive here.” Our days are extremely regimented; we’re counted several times by guards changing shifts so they can make sure we’re present, and alive. There’s a law library and an outdoor area for exercise, such as jump rope. A TV blasts shows like Jerry Springer and Maury Povich in a common room. We’re allowed to make the occasional cup of tea, but only if the entire dorm is clean, which is a regular source of friction. Religious services are popular, with prisoners frequently spouting, “Only God can judge.” All of us have jobs; I make 39 cents an hour working in the prison garden, as part of a training program provided by the Horticultural Society of New York. Nighttime is a cacophony of raucous arguments among all the wound-up women who have been consuming sugar and starch all day, with the guards threatening to flip on the fluorescent lights if people don’t pipe down.

After a week marked by entire days of keeping mostly to myself, I move to a dorm with 50 other women. The beds are crowded onto an open floor surrounded by tan Sheetrock walls. Most of the women here have aligned themselves with people from the housing projects they come from, so there are Latin factions, AfricanAmerican ones, and so forth. I keep my head down, and pray. There are regular confrontations. One woman randomly decides she doesn’t want me to use the phone and tries to pick fights with me in front of the guards when I call my mother. One day she says, unprovoked, “Did you call me an idiot?” I reply that I don’t say that type of thing, and luckily, the situation doesn’t escalate. I know I have to stand up for myself and not show fear. One evening, I witness a fight just before dinner. We’re all assembling in the dormitory, with the guards barking at us to “shut up and line up,” as usual. Suddenly, one woman flies at another, punching her everywhere—in the face, the gut. I’ve never seen a fistfight in real life, with two people trying to kill each other. Another woman jumps in, and the trio turns into a tornado, careening around the room. The guards gradually isolate them, ordering everyone else out. I imagine that the women were sent to solitary confinement in a dreaded place known as “the bin.” The most threatening person is a brute of a woman who leers at me menacingly one night in the communal showers. I know she wants to rape me; I’ve been warned of the signs. Rumor has it that another woman was recently raped by three female inmates in the high-security wing, which is a heavily patrolled area, so presumably the guards knew what was happening. In my case, a fellow inmate comes and stands defiantly by my side in the shower, and the bully backs off. I lose 14 pounds in the first six weeks, due to stress and also to the fact that I’ve been an organic vegetarian for years. I have Crohn’s disease, a serious digestive disorder, and my diet has helped me keep it under control. But there is hardly anything green or even remotely fresh served in jail. Meals mostly consist of slices of bread and turkey patties or fried chicken quarters, which the prisoners like to refer to as “seagull meat.” I don’t eat

Free at last: Wilkov today

A

s time creeps by, what keeps me sane is the continuing belief that I’m here for a reason, that I might be able to help someone. Gradually, I do. I manage to teach a woman from Trinidad to read, and I show others how to do yoga. I hold poetry readings with the woman who bunks next to me, an African-American Muslim who has been homeless at times. When I describe how I’d once heard someone calling for help, she says it was her. On the final day of my ordeal, in October 2008, my mother and a dear friend escort me out into a bright, brisk fall afternoon. At this point, I’ve contracted a full-body yeast infection called candida, but I’ve never felt better—or freer—in my life. With my 40th birthday just around the corner, I feel oddly proud of myself. I’m tougher than I realized, and now I know I can win the respect of people from worlds very different than my own. I can keep a positive outlook in the worst of circumstances. Ironically, I have my experience at Rikers to thank for that knowledge. As one of the guards once said to me, “If you can survive this place, you can survive anything.” april 2009 / marie claire 103


international report

please set me

free Forced to serve as a tourist attraction in a human zoo, the long-neck women of Thailand want to cast off their coils and live modern lives like the rest of us—if only the government would let them

Z

with a cheerful, oval face, doesn’t want to be a human exhibit. Ever since she was 5, she has worn brass rings around her neck and smiled at foreigners who tromp through her rural village in Thailand. For tourists, it seems like the adventure of a lifetime—riding in a jeep through the snakeinfested jungle to see the exotic “long-neck women” of the Kayan tribe. But now Zember has removed her coil—in protest of her captivity. She no longer wants to keep Thailand’s shameful secret: that the long-neck women are Burmese refugees who are being prevented by Thai authorities from taking up asylum overseas. As a lucrative tourist attraction, the women are forced to live in a virtual human zoo. Sitting in a small café in the town of Mae Hong Son, not far from her village, Zember, 23, strokes her bare throat and says it feels strange that no one is staring at her. She and a number of other ember, a Quick-witted Young woman

By Abigail Haworth Photographed by Jack Picone

From left: Zember, minus her neck rings, at a local café; at home in her hut in the village of Nai Soi, wearing traditional dress that used to make her a tourist attraction.

May 2008 / Marie Claire 125


international report

please set me

free Forced to serve as a tourist attraction in a human zoo, the long-neck women of Thailand want to cast off their coils and live modern lives like the rest of us—if only the government would let them

Z

with a cheerful, oval face, doesn’t want to be a human exhibit. Ever since she was 5, she has worn brass rings around her neck and smiled at foreigners who tromp through her rural village in Thailand. For tourists, it seems like the adventure of a lifetime—riding in a jeep through the snakeinfested jungle to see the exotic “long-neck women” of the Kayan tribe. But now Zember has removed her coil—in protest of her captivity. She no longer wants to keep Thailand’s shameful secret: that the long-neck women are Burmese refugees who are being prevented by Thai authorities from taking up asylum overseas. As a lucrative tourist attraction, the women are forced to live in a virtual human zoo. Sitting in a small café in the town of Mae Hong Son, not far from her village, Zember, 23, strokes her bare throat and says it feels strange that no one is staring at her. She and a number of other ember, a Quick-witted Young woman

By Abigail Haworth Photographed by Jack Picone

From left: Zember, minus her neck rings, at a local café; at home in her hut in the village of Nai Soi, wearing traditional dress that used to make her a tourist attraction.

May 2008 / Marie Claire 125


international report

CLOCKWISE From top left: A diagram of the neck at a souvenir stall; Zember in full traditional dress; a tourist dons a fake coil and poses for a photograph.

Kayan refugees have been offered resettlement in countries such as New Zealand and Finland, but Thai authorities won’t hand over the exit visas. “They don’t want us to leave because it will hurt tourism,” says Zember. “But I don’t want to be put on display anymore.” The 500 or so Kayans (also known as Padaung) who live in Thailand fled the brutal military regime in neighboring Burma (also known as Myanmar) two decades ago, and they have been confined in three guarded villages on the northern Thai border ever since. An estimated 40,000 tourists per year, many of them Americans, pay about $8 each to gawk at the women’s giraffe-like appearance. In return, the long-neck women earn a paltry salary of 1500 baht ($45) a month selling souvenirs and postcards. Few tourists are aware of the scandalous situation, Zember explains, because the women’s wages are docked if they discuss their plight. So they “smile and say nothing.” Zember and her family were accepted for resettlement by New Zealand in 2006 as part of a wide-scale program organized by the U.N.’s refugee agency, UNHCR. Five other long-neck families are also due to relocate to New Zealand Zember’s sister removes her coil while her grandmother looks on.

and Finland but lack the exit permits. “We have all the other paperwork,” says Zember, waving a crumpled plastic folder of documents. Hundreds more Kayans have also applied for resettlement, but approval of their cases is stalled indefinitely until the exit-permit issue is resolved. “As official refugees, the Kayans have a right either to resettlement abroad or to full Thai citizenship. They are being given neither,” says Kitty McKinsey, the UNHCR’s regional spokeswoman in Bangkok. She points out that over the past two years, Thailand has issued exit permits for more than 20,000 other Burmese refugees who lack the Kayans’ commercial value. “The Kayans should be treated the same as other refugees,” McKinsey says. The UNHCR, as well as the New Zealand and Finnish governments, say they are lobbying the Thai authorities to this end. But the local government in Mae Hong Son—Thailand’s

Zember has removed her coil—in protest of her captivity. poorest province, which depends heavily on tourism— remains impassive. Governor Thongchai Warianthong, the official responsible for signing the exit permits, at first agreed to talk to Marie Claire, but when he learned what the interview was about, he suddenly became “unavailable.” The following week, he issued a statement to the Thai press saying the Kayans are “happy and comfortable with their lives” in Thailand. The Royal Thai Embassy in Washington, DC, hadn’t returned calls on the matter as of press time. Zember is living proof that the Kayans aren’t content. “Some people of my mother’s generation say they are too

126 Marie Claire / may 2008


international report

Zember’s grandmother, mother, and older sister help her get into costume. She agreed to put the coil on again for our photo shoot.

old [to leave] now, but no one is happy,” she says, shaking her head. “We have no freedom and life is very hard.” The three long-neck villages in the area lack basic sanitation and medical care and are plagued by tropical diseases. Zember is still traumatized by the death of a close friend two years ago—a 22-year-old beauty named Ma Da. “She complained of stomach pains, but we had no doctor and she died,” says Zember, pointing out a postcard with Ma Da’s smiling face hovering above her coiled neck. “That could happen to any of us.” Wearing her long, dark hair loose, and a lace-edged khaki tee with black cargo pants and no neck rings, Zember looks like any other modern Asian woman. (Contrary to popular belief, the women’s necks are not abnormally long and do not snap when the rings are removed. The coil, which weighs up to 25 pounds, creates the illusion of a long neck by depressing

The women are punished for doing anything modern.

bruising and discomfort caused by the weight on their collar bones. They sleep in them and pad their necks with leaves to prevent chafing and sores. Not even the Kayans know for sure how the tradition originated. One theory claims the rings were designed to deter attacks from tigers (which grab victims by the neck), while another says they were meant to lessen the women’s beauty, to ward off men from rival tribes. One of Zember’s friends, Ma Lo, 24, who has also removed her neck rings, says the women are punished for doing anything modern, like using cell phones or computers. “The owners of the villages dock our wages,” she says. “They say it ruins our traditional image and tourists won’t pay.” In fact, the two women receive no salary at all now, and their refugee status prevents them from finding other work. Zember, who hopes to become a nurse, admits she has only a fuzzy idea of what life abroad might be like if she escapes. “I learned on the Internet that there are more sheep than people in New Zealand,” she laughs. But she knows a bit about the West from the backpackers she sees. “The girls look so free and sexy, and their eyes shine,” she says. “I stare at them and feel even more determined to fight to get out of here.” Ma Lo, left, and Zember at a popular wireless café.

the collar bones.) Zember’s cell phone—a lifeline to the outside world—is permanently clamped to her ear. She checks the Internet often and can hold forth on anything, from Iraq to the troubles of her idol, Britney Spears. “People see us as aliens from another planet. They’re shocked [to realize] we’re normal human beings,” she says in tentative English. Zember’s coil required almost two hours to be removed by her skilled elder sister (it takes even longer to put on). The women wear the coils, which are made by Burmese craftsmen, from childhood, starting with four or five rings and adding more each year as they grow accustomed to the 128 Marie Claire / may 2008

» What you can do: Go to marieclaire.com/freedom and tell us what you think—we’ll send your letters to the

Thai embassy and the UNHCR. Or donate to the women at linkhandsforhumanity.com.


True crime

I

t was a bright summer morning in June 2007, and my husband and I had just dropped off our three young kids at school down the road from our home in the picturesque town of San Miguel de Allende in Mexico, where we’d lived for the past 15 years. As an American, I’d always dreamed of living

Paradise Lost

we were living my dream life in mexico­—until my husband was kidnapped By Jayne Rager, as told to Kira Zalan

88

marie claire / january 2010

Above: Jayne Rager, 43, thought she’d found a home in the idyllic Mexican town of San Miguel de Allende. Above right: Jayne’s husband, Eduardo Garcia Valseca, after seven months in captivity.

in a place like San Miguel, with its charming town square where people gather at sunset to hear a chorus of birds. I was watching the countryside roll by on our drive home that day, when suddenly an SUV in front of us screeched to a halt, causing us to slam into it. As my head whipped back against the headrest, another car crashed into us from behind. Two men jumped out of the SUV with clubs, hammers, and guns. Before we could react, they were smashing our car windows and dragging us out of our seats. It all seemed to happen in a fraction of a second—I heard breaking glass and the screams of my husband, Eduardo, as someone cracked a pistol on his skull. These men want to kill us, I thought, and I tried to break free. As my captor and I struggled, we fell to the ground; I pushed and he pulled. At some point, I grabbed a barbed-wire fence that ran alongside the dirt road; the wire went straight through to my finger bone, but I was too pumped with adrenaline to feel the pain. Then the man pointed his gun between my eyes and said, “Get up.” I looked past the barrel, at the eyes hidden by dark sunglasses, and said, “Please don’t kill me. I have children.” Minutes later, I was seated in a car next to Eduardo, our heads covered with heavy cotton pillowcases that smelled of detergent. I put my hand on his left shoulder and felt the wet warmth of blood. I feared that he would bleed to death or go into shock, so I tried to calm him, and myself. “God is all powerful,” I said in Spanish. I’m not particularly religious, but with our lives hanging in the balance, I wanted to remind him that we were more than just flesh and blood. Also, I wanted our captors to hear me. If I could somehow remind them of God, maybe they would spare us. I heard the sound of duct tape being ripped from the roll, then felt my wrists and ankles being bound tight. I tried to talk to my husband, but a man gently pressed his finger to my lips. Sensing his sympathy, I attempted to connect with him by reaching for his hand. “Do you have children?” I asked. Again he pressed a finger to my lips, but also patted me on my stomach three times. Perhaps we wouldn’t be murdered after all. I tried to concentrate on memorizing every curve, bump, and turn in the road. We made a sharp right, then hit the january 2010 / marie claire

89


True crime

I

t was a bright summer morning in June 2007, and my husband and I had just dropped off our three young kids at school down the road from our home in the picturesque town of San Miguel de Allende in Mexico, where we’d lived for the past 15 years. As an American, I’d always dreamed of living

Paradise Lost

we were living my dream life in mexico­—until my husband was kidnapped By Jayne Rager, as told to Kira Zalan

88

marie claire / january 2010

Above: Jayne Rager, 43, thought she’d found a home in the idyllic Mexican town of San Miguel de Allende. Above right: Jayne’s husband, Eduardo Garcia Valseca, after seven months in captivity.

in a place like San Miguel, with its charming town square where people gather at sunset to hear a chorus of birds. I was watching the countryside roll by on our drive home that day, when suddenly an SUV in front of us screeched to a halt, causing us to slam into it. As my head whipped back against the headrest, another car crashed into us from behind. Two men jumped out of the SUV with clubs, hammers, and guns. Before we could react, they were smashing our car windows and dragging us out of our seats. It all seemed to happen in a fraction of a second—I heard breaking glass and the screams of my husband, Eduardo, as someone cracked a pistol on his skull. These men want to kill us, I thought, and I tried to break free. As my captor and I struggled, we fell to the ground; I pushed and he pulled. At some point, I grabbed a barbed-wire fence that ran alongside the dirt road; the wire went straight through to my finger bone, but I was too pumped with adrenaline to feel the pain. Then the man pointed his gun between my eyes and said, “Get up.” I looked past the barrel, at the eyes hidden by dark sunglasses, and said, “Please don’t kill me. I have children.” Minutes later, I was seated in a car next to Eduardo, our heads covered with heavy cotton pillowcases that smelled of detergent. I put my hand on his left shoulder and felt the wet warmth of blood. I feared that he would bleed to death or go into shock, so I tried to calm him, and myself. “God is all powerful,” I said in Spanish. I’m not particularly religious, but with our lives hanging in the balance, I wanted to remind him that we were more than just flesh and blood. Also, I wanted our captors to hear me. If I could somehow remind them of God, maybe they would spare us. I heard the sound of duct tape being ripped from the roll, then felt my wrists and ankles being bound tight. I tried to talk to my husband, but a man gently pressed his finger to my lips. Sensing his sympathy, I attempted to connect with him by reaching for his hand. “Do you have children?” I asked. Again he pressed a finger to my lips, but also patted me on my stomach three times. Perhaps we wouldn’t be murdered after all. I tried to concentrate on memorizing every curve, bump, and turn in the road. We made a sharp right, then hit the january 2010 / marie claire

89


True crime paper. My response was supposed to be worded in the following way: “Wanted: Chow Chow puppy. Vaccinated, with full pedigree. 8000 pesos.” I was told not to respond via e-mail; the kidnappers wanted to make it hard for the authorities to trace their locale through our communications. Of course, I didn’t have the kind of cash they wanted, so I offered all the

J

ust moments after my husband’s abduction, I jumped in front of a bus and made it stop. No one had a cell phone, so I flagged down a cab. “Please,” I blurted to the driver, in a state of near hysteria. “I need to use your radio to call the police.” Of course, everyone in Mexico knows that the local police are often corrupt, supplementing their pay with money from criminal activities. Perhaps it was my American 90

marie claire / january 2010

Eduardo, Jayne, and children Fernando, Emiliano, and Nayah. Right: Family photos from happier times.

upbringing, but it seemed completely logical then to notify the authorities. Moments later, the police arrived and freed my wrists and ankles, then brought me back to the spot where my captors had left me. There, in the dirt, lay a note that I hadn’t noticed before. It said, “Sra. Jayne: We have Eduardo. Go home and open the following e-mail address with the following password.” Chills raced through my body. No one ever spelled my name correctly, with the “y.” These men had done their homework on us. On the seat of the car lay a hammer, the signature mark of the Popular Revolutionary Army, a leftist guerrilla group that claims to seek social justice for peasants. I learned later that the hammer was the group’s calling card, signifying to corrupt officials that this crime should not be pursued. Back at the ranch, I got to work immediately. I called everyone who would have any information that could possibly help me, including Eduardo’s sister, who knew a family that had survived a kidnapping. Abducting wealthy people for ransom is big business for criminal groups in Mexico. But Eduardo’s abductors had made a mistake in thinking we were rich. Yes, my husband’s family name signified old money, as Eduardo’s father had been a self-made newspaper tycoon. But Eduardo and I lived modestly, earning our living from real estate. Sitting at the kitchen table, I thought back to a few odd things that had happened around our home in the past

‘‘

My husband starved, and held month—the pickup trucks that had broken down on our road, the cigarette butts we’d found near the shrubs. That very morning at the school, I’d seen a stranger parked in a light-blue Ford in the parking lot. Why hadn’t I paid more attention to the signs? Still, I didn’t have time to dwell on these thoughts—I needed to decide quickly whether to go with a private consultant or the police. I networked my way up to the country’s top kidnapping experts, who all said that this was a case for Mexico’s federal police. I talked to U.S. officials from the FBI as well, but they said their assistance would need to be requested by the host country. With no time to waste, I called Mexico’s federal authorities at the Agencia Federal de Investigación, and they sent an undercover negotiator to live in my home. He arrived by local bus that same day. Dressed casually, with glasses and a baseball cap, he looked to be about 20 years old. Next I had to talk to the kids, who were 12, 7, and 6 years old at the time. I explained to the two younger ones the concept of stealing daddies for money. Emiliano, my 7-year-old, ran upstairs and got his piggy bank. Five long days passed before I received the first note in the Yahoo account the abductors had set up for me: “We hope that the Ms. got home OK. To free Eduardo, we demand an amount of 8 million U.S. dollars.” The e-mail instructed me to agree to the ransom demand by placing an ad in the classified section of the Universal news-

described being tortured, in a cramped wooden box.

JAYNE RAGER & PICTURE FRAMES: PHOTOGRAPHED BY MELISSA ANN PINNEY. SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE: J. WOODHOUSE/RADIUS IMAGES/CORBIS

E

duardo and I had met 15 years earlier, in the parking lot of a gourmet supermarket in Mary­ land, where I grew up. Our attraction was immediate. A handsome investor and art dealer from Mexico City, he’d been living in the States for eight years. I told him I’d been an actress, appearing in the soap opera Loving and in occasional movies like Stella. I said that now I worked in real estate, which allowed me to do what I really loved: travel. After nearly an hour of chatting, we exchanged numbers, then had dinner the following night. Three months later, in July 1992, we were house shopping in the Mexican countryside. I knew we’d found our home when I saw San Miguel. With its winding cobblestone lanes and colonial architecture, life seemed almost dreamlike there. The town had a vibrant, artistic expat community, and we decided to buy a ranch. We made a living in real estate and had three children, Fernando, Emiliano, and Nayah. I started a cactus farm and a Waldorf school (a school that focuses less on standardized tests and more on a child’s individual development). This is the school where we’d dropped off our kids on that fateful morning in June.

victim had been held for 22 months. I had to be ready for a long ride, he said. “Look, you need to do the kinds of dayto-day things you did before the kidnapping,” he advised. “You aren’t going to make it through this if you don’t.” After hearing those sobering words, I moved into a new phase: anger. Who the hell did these people think they were? What right did they have to tor-

‘‘

brakes. Eduardo shouted as he was hustled out of the car. Then I heard the sound of a car engine revving up nearby. I managed to push the pillowcase up over my eyes and saw that car driving away, with my husband in it. I strained my eyes to burn the license plate number into my memory: UPC5152, UPC5152, UPC5152. Now alone, with my wrists and ankles bound, I threw myself out of the open car door and hopped toward the highway.

money I did have. “The Chow Chow is beyond my realistic economic possibilities,” I said, per the negotiator. The kidnappers didn’t like my reply. They beat and kicked Eduardo, then forced him to write to me about it. An electronic scan of his letter, stained with blood, arrived via e-mail. He described being tortured, starved, and held hostage in a cramped wooden box, with built-in speakers that blared nonstop music to keep him awake. He pleaded for me to save his life. After that first letter, I started taking tranquilizers. After the second letter, I decided not to read them anymore. I agreed with the negotiator that I would look at the notes only long enough to verify Eduardo’s handwriting; the negotiator would read them for information. I existed on orange juice, herbal tea, and chicken broth. How could I eat if I didn’t know what my husband was eating? Every time I lay in my bed, I’d wonder where Eduardo was sleeping. Did he have a pillow? A blanket? Was he in that box all day and night? Once a week, I would receive an e-mail with threats or a pleading letter from my husband. Each time I would respond via the classifieds, explaining what I was capable of paying. As the weeks rolled by, I couldn’t sleep or keep my focus; I was falling apart. After about three months, the negotiator sat me down and gave me a verbal slap in the face. He told me that this particular group was known for its long-term kidnappings. The previous

ture my husband, terrify my family, and demand our money? I decided not to be a shivering housewife anymore. I would go about my life. I would throw the kidnappers off their game.

I

started doing the things I did back when life was normal—celebrating family birthdays, taking belly-dancing lessons. One day, I was driving with my daughter and noticed someone following us home on a dirt bike. Then, at a shopping center, I spotted a man with a mustache, dressed in khaki camping gear, just like the kidnappers. He stared at me, and I stared right back. They were watching me. I started coming up with ways to unnerve them, to make them think they

were losing their hold on me. What if they thought I was giving up, taking the kids and moving back to the U.S.? I moved boxes and bubble-wrapped furniture into a warehouse on our property, doors open for all to see. Maybe they’d think their plan had backfired and that they’d end up with nothing. Maybe they’d have to take what I had. The negotiator didn’t like my plan to wage psychological warfare on the kidnappers. He wanted me to follow the usual formula. I decided I would continue the negotiations by the book as he advised, but publicly, I would keep acting like I had nothing to lose. Eduardo’s letters grew more intense, informing me that he was never taken out of the box and that he had to relieve himself in a bucket. Four months in, he began to receive scheduled beatings twice a day. In the fifth month, he was shot in the left leg at close range. Ten days later, he was shot in the left arm. Photos of the bullet holes in his body arrived in my e-mail inbox. Then the phone calls started. The negotiator had warned me that the callers would be nasty and would curse at me. What I wasn’t prepared for was the sound of my husband’s voice on the other end of the line. I knew from Eduardo’s notes that he’d been told I was doing nothing to get him back. When I talked to him on the phone, his words were chilling. “How continued on p. 152

Jayne today, back in the U.S. after her family’s ordeal.

» Share this story and tell us what you think at marieclaire.com/kidnap.

January 2010 / marie claire

91


True crime paper. My response was supposed to be worded in the following way: “Wanted: Chow Chow puppy. Vaccinated, with full pedigree. 8000 pesos.” I was told not to respond via e-mail; the kidnappers wanted to make it hard for the authorities to trace their locale through our communications. Of course, I didn’t have the kind of cash they wanted, so I offered all the

J

ust moments after my husband’s abduction, I jumped in front of a bus and made it stop. No one had a cell phone, so I flagged down a cab. “Please,” I blurted to the driver, in a state of near hysteria. “I need to use your radio to call the police.” Of course, everyone in Mexico knows that the local police are often corrupt, supplementing their pay with money from criminal activities. Perhaps it was my American 90

marie claire / january 2010

Eduardo, Jayne, and children Fernando, Emiliano, and Nayah. Right: Family photos from happier times.

upbringing, but it seemed completely logical then to notify the authorities. Moments later, the police arrived and freed my wrists and ankles, then brought me back to the spot where my captors had left me. There, in the dirt, lay a note that I hadn’t noticed before. It said, “Sra. Jayne: We have Eduardo. Go home and open the following e-mail address with the following password.” Chills raced through my body. No one ever spelled my name correctly, with the “y.” These men had done their homework on us. On the seat of the car lay a hammer, the signature mark of the Popular Revolutionary Army, a leftist guerrilla group that claims to seek social justice for peasants. I learned later that the hammer was the group’s calling card, signifying to corrupt officials that this crime should not be pursued. Back at the ranch, I got to work immediately. I called everyone who would have any information that could possibly help me, including Eduardo’s sister, who knew a family that had survived a kidnapping. Abducting wealthy people for ransom is big business for criminal groups in Mexico. But Eduardo’s abductors had made a mistake in thinking we were rich. Yes, my husband’s family name signified old money, as Eduardo’s father had been a self-made newspaper tycoon. But Eduardo and I lived modestly, earning our living from real estate. Sitting at the kitchen table, I thought back to a few odd things that had happened around our home in the past

‘‘

My husband starved, and held month—the pickup trucks that had broken down on our road, the cigarette butts we’d found near the shrubs. That very morning at the school, I’d seen a stranger parked in a light-blue Ford in the parking lot. Why hadn’t I paid more attention to the signs? Still, I didn’t have time to dwell on these thoughts—I needed to decide quickly whether to go with a private consultant or the police. I networked my way up to the country’s top kidnapping experts, who all said that this was a case for Mexico’s federal police. I talked to U.S. officials from the FBI as well, but they said their assistance would need to be requested by the host country. With no time to waste, I called Mexico’s federal authorities at the Agencia Federal de Investigación, and they sent an undercover negotiator to live in my home. He arrived by local bus that same day. Dressed casually, with glasses and a baseball cap, he looked to be about 20 years old. Next I had to talk to the kids, who were 12, 7, and 6 years old at the time. I explained to the two younger ones the concept of stealing daddies for money. Emiliano, my 7-year-old, ran upstairs and got his piggy bank. Five long days passed before I received the first note in the Yahoo account the abductors had set up for me: “We hope that the Ms. got home OK. To free Eduardo, we demand an amount of 8 million U.S. dollars.” The e-mail instructed me to agree to the ransom demand by placing an ad in the classified section of the Universal news-

described being tortured, in a cramped wooden box.

JAYNE RAGER & PICTURE FRAMES: PHOTOGRAPHED BY MELISSA ANN PINNEY. SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE: J. WOODHOUSE/RADIUS IMAGES/CORBIS

E

duardo and I had met 15 years earlier, in the parking lot of a gourmet supermarket in Mary­ land, where I grew up. Our attraction was immediate. A handsome investor and art dealer from Mexico City, he’d been living in the States for eight years. I told him I’d been an actress, appearing in the soap opera Loving and in occasional movies like Stella. I said that now I worked in real estate, which allowed me to do what I really loved: travel. After nearly an hour of chatting, we exchanged numbers, then had dinner the following night. Three months later, in July 1992, we were house shopping in the Mexican countryside. I knew we’d found our home when I saw San Miguel. With its winding cobblestone lanes and colonial architecture, life seemed almost dreamlike there. The town had a vibrant, artistic expat community, and we decided to buy a ranch. We made a living in real estate and had three children, Fernando, Emiliano, and Nayah. I started a cactus farm and a Waldorf school (a school that focuses less on standardized tests and more on a child’s individual development). This is the school where we’d dropped off our kids on that fateful morning in June.

victim had been held for 22 months. I had to be ready for a long ride, he said. “Look, you need to do the kinds of dayto-day things you did before the kidnapping,” he advised. “You aren’t going to make it through this if you don’t.” After hearing those sobering words, I moved into a new phase: anger. Who the hell did these people think they were? What right did they have to tor-

‘‘

brakes. Eduardo shouted as he was hustled out of the car. Then I heard the sound of a car engine revving up nearby. I managed to push the pillowcase up over my eyes and saw that car driving away, with my husband in it. I strained my eyes to burn the license plate number into my memory: UPC5152, UPC5152, UPC5152. Now alone, with my wrists and ankles bound, I threw myself out of the open car door and hopped toward the highway.

money I did have. “The Chow Chow is beyond my realistic economic possibilities,” I said, per the negotiator. The kidnappers didn’t like my reply. They beat and kicked Eduardo, then forced him to write to me about it. An electronic scan of his letter, stained with blood, arrived via e-mail. He described being tortured, starved, and held hostage in a cramped wooden box, with built-in speakers that blared nonstop music to keep him awake. He pleaded for me to save his life. After that first letter, I started taking tranquilizers. After the second letter, I decided not to read them anymore. I agreed with the negotiator that I would look at the notes only long enough to verify Eduardo’s handwriting; the negotiator would read them for information. I existed on orange juice, herbal tea, and chicken broth. How could I eat if I didn’t know what my husband was eating? Every time I lay in my bed, I’d wonder where Eduardo was sleeping. Did he have a pillow? A blanket? Was he in that box all day and night? Once a week, I would receive an e-mail with threats or a pleading letter from my husband. Each time I would respond via the classifieds, explaining what I was capable of paying. As the weeks rolled by, I couldn’t sleep or keep my focus; I was falling apart. After about three months, the negotiator sat me down and gave me a verbal slap in the face. He told me that this particular group was known for its long-term kidnappings. The previous

ture my husband, terrify my family, and demand our money? I decided not to be a shivering housewife anymore. I would go about my life. I would throw the kidnappers off their game.

I

started doing the things I did back when life was normal—celebrating family birthdays, taking belly-dancing lessons. One day, I was driving with my daughter and noticed someone following us home on a dirt bike. Then, at a shopping center, I spotted a man with a mustache, dressed in khaki camping gear, just like the kidnappers. He stared at me, and I stared right back. They were watching me. I started coming up with ways to unnerve them, to make them think they

were losing their hold on me. What if they thought I was giving up, taking the kids and moving back to the U.S.? I moved boxes and bubble-wrapped furniture into a warehouse on our property, doors open for all to see. Maybe they’d think their plan had backfired and that they’d end up with nothing. Maybe they’d have to take what I had. The negotiator didn’t like my plan to wage psychological warfare on the kidnappers. He wanted me to follow the usual formula. I decided I would continue the negotiations by the book as he advised, but publicly, I would keep acting like I had nothing to lose. Eduardo’s letters grew more intense, informing me that he was never taken out of the box and that he had to relieve himself in a bucket. Four months in, he began to receive scheduled beatings twice a day. In the fifth month, he was shot in the left leg at close range. Ten days later, he was shot in the left arm. Photos of the bullet holes in his body arrived in my e-mail inbox. Then the phone calls started. The negotiator had warned me that the callers would be nasty and would curse at me. What I wasn’t prepared for was the sound of my husband’s voice on the other end of the line. I knew from Eduardo’s notes that he’d been told I was doing nothing to get him back. When I talked to him on the phone, his words were chilling. “How continued on p. 152

Jayne today, back in the U.S. after her family’s ordeal.

» Share this story and tell us what you think at marieclaire.com/kidnap.

January 2010 / marie claire

91


international report Frida Giannini races her new friends at a center for children affected by HIV in Malawi. Gucci helps support the center, which is run by UNICEF.

Giannini greets guests at a Manhattan launch party for a new Gucci sneaker.

Gucci’s globe-trotting creative director, Frida Giannini, is steering the fashion empire into the 21st century with style and vision. We followed Giannini, one of just a few women to hold such a lofty post, from Manhattan to Rome to Malawi By Alexandra Wolfe Malawi photos by Jake Lyell

Frida in Africa 124 marie claire / march 2010

i

t’s Friday night in New York

City, and Gucci is rolling out the red carpet for a party in honor of its latest product: a new line of sneakers designed in collaboration with DJ Mark Ronson. A smattering of celebrities—Claire Danes, Evan Rachel Wood, Mary J. Blige— mingle with Gucci executives in a sprawling Soho loft, ignoring the whitejeans-clad male models serving up fried mac-and-cheese balls and mini redvelvet cupcakes. At the center of this exclusive little universe, surrounded by artfully displayed sneakers that cost as much as $600, stands Frida Giannini, the petite, blonde, Italian-born creative director of the Gucci fashion empire. Giannini, 37, holds court as a parade of partygoers pays tribute—tall, lithe women in 4-inch black booties, men in tight pinstripe suits. In her cigarette pants and stilettos, Giannini greets people with double-cheek air kisses. “Ciao, ciao,” she says. Just two days ago, Giannini was in Rome; yesterday she was in Yonkers, New York, for the launch of the Mary J. Blige Center for Women, which Gucci helps sponsor. Later this week, she’ll fly to Miami to march 2010 / marie claire 125


international report Frida Giannini races her new friends at a center for children affected by HIV in Malawi. Gucci helps support the center, which is run by UNICEF.

Giannini greets guests at a Manhattan launch party for a new Gucci sneaker.

Gucci’s globe-trotting creative director, Frida Giannini, is steering the fashion empire into the 21st century with style and vision. We followed Giannini, one of just a few women to hold such a lofty post, from Manhattan to Rome to Malawi By Alexandra Wolfe Malawi photos by Jake Lyell

Frida in Africa 124 marie claire / march 2010

i

t’s Friday night in New York

City, and Gucci is rolling out the red carpet for a party in honor of its latest product: a new line of sneakers designed in collaboration with DJ Mark Ronson. A smattering of celebrities—Claire Danes, Evan Rachel Wood, Mary J. Blige— mingle with Gucci executives in a sprawling Soho loft, ignoring the whitejeans-clad male models serving up fried mac-and-cheese balls and mini redvelvet cupcakes. At the center of this exclusive little universe, surrounded by artfully displayed sneakers that cost as much as $600, stands Frida Giannini, the petite, blonde, Italian-born creative director of the Gucci fashion empire. Giannini, 37, holds court as a parade of partygoers pays tribute—tall, lithe women in 4-inch black booties, men in tight pinstripe suits. In her cigarette pants and stilettos, Giannini greets people with double-cheek air kisses. “Ciao, ciao,” she says. Just two days ago, Giannini was in Rome; yesterday she was in Yonkers, New York, for the launch of the Mary J. Blige Center for Women, which Gucci helps sponsor. Later this week, she’ll fly to Miami to march 2010 / marie claire 125


international report first visit to sub-Saharan Africa, and she plans to see how the company’s money is being spent. Waiting outside to board the jet, Giannini, wearing aviator shades, faded black jeans, and a black leather jacket, smokes a cigarette and jokes about the cans of tuna she’s packed in case of emergency. Then she giggles and asks a colleague to snap a photo of her. “I have to take a picture of the plane,” she says, jumping in the air and playfully clicking her heels together on the tarmac. For the next few hours, her entourage reclines on tan leather seats, eating smoked salmon, Chilean sea bass, and

A modern UNICEFsponsored school puts a solid roof over kids’ heads in Malawi.

Little residents of the center for kids affected by HIV. Around 85,000 of Malawi’s 13.2 million residents die each year from AIDS.

I’m at the top of the

A thatched-roof school awaits modernization.

oversee a photo shoot for an ad campaign, and then to the Gucci headquarters in Rome to check in on ideas for the men’s fall collection. Over the weekend, she’s off to Malawi, the 10thpoorest country in the world, to visit children benefiting from a partnership between UNICEF and Gucci. Such is life for a modern-day megadesigner. Giannini, who took the helm as creative director in 2005, is constantly on the move—and the stakes are high. The luxury industry has been hit hard by the global recession, declining nearly 10 percent since 2008, and the pressure is on to find creative ways to keep consumers interested without detracting from the status of the brand. “I’m working harder than ever before, putting so much of myself into this job,” Giannini says. “When you are doing this job and you think, I’ve arrived, I’m at the top of the world, then I think you are finished.” Giannini took over her role from one of the biggest-name designers in the business, Tom Ford, who left to launch his own line. Since then, all eyes have been on her. So far, so good: Giannini has helped boost Gucci’s revenue to $3.2 billion from $2.3 billion when she started, edging the Gucci look away from the overtly sexy, bust-popping sil126 marie claire / march 2010

houettes of Ford’s day to a more relaxed, feminine, accessible line. At a time when many fashion houses hire men to design clothing for women, Giannini is one of the few women designing for a customer much like herself. Claire Danes is among the believers. “Just look at that back,” she says at the Soho sneaker party, pointing to Giannini, whose structured Gucci top features crisscross straps across the back. “It’s very powerful and unapologetically so.” Later that night, Giannini sashays into the after-party at The Bowery Hotel, a Manhattan hipster hangout. Her minions have been saving her a seat, or rather, an entire 20-foot-long sofa, in the VIP room. They hop up as she arrives and chats with James Franco, one of the faces of Gucci. Giannini is fashionably late, but she isn’t planning to be out till dawn. “I used to dance until late at night,” she says. “I could go to bed at 5 and wake up at 7 with so much energy. If I do that now, I have to keep my sunglasses on all day.”

i

T’S A RAINY MORNING in Rome, and a pair of Giannini’s assistants are buzzing around the Gucci headquarters in their platform heels. This nine-story palazzo, near the bustling cafés of the Campo

dei Fiori, is a fairly new home for Gucci. Giannini lobbied to relocate the company here from Florence a year ago. She grew up in Rome, near this very palazzo, and says she finds the city inspiring. Here at the Gucci home base, she has her own floor, complete with a conference room that looks more like a museum gallery, its ceiling painted with cherubs and clouds. The daughter of an architect father and an art-history-professor mother, Giannini credits her parents for her drive. “My parents, they were quite hippie, but very strict—they used to take away all the house phones until I finished my homework,” she laughs. Giannini, who attended Rome’s Fashion Academy, got her start at a small-scale Italian fashion house, then moved to Fendi in 1997. Tom Ford hired her at Gucci in 2002, to design accessories; three years later, she was promoted to creative director. The next morning at 6:00 sharp, Giannini arrives in a Mercedes sedan to meet a posse of Gucci executives at Rome’s Ciampino Airport. The company has chartered a plane to visit the UNICEF project in Malawi; Gucci has donated more than $7 million to the project, which helps orphans and children affected by HIV. It’s Giannini’s

Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe, the Gucci folks, clad in black, pile into a pair of white SUVs, then drive to their hotel along gravel roads, passing acres of farmland and roadside stands selling everything from cell phones to coffins. Everybody stares quietly out the windows, taking in the rickety twig homes; the juxtaposition of fashion and the famished landscape seems to bring everyone up short. One guy chuckles about the doctors’ offices, called “Hangover Clinics.” The next day, Giannini stands in the lobby of the hotel, ready to roll. Wearing

I’ve arrived, world, then I think you are finished.”

think,

chocolate truffles. After downing a bit of chicken with rice, Giannini herself spends most of the trip in a private room in the back, wearing an eye mask and resting on a double bed with a deep-purple comforter. Her colleagues tiptoe past her, trying not to wake her on their way to the faux-wood-paneled bathroom. At the end of the flight, Giannini emerges, refreshed. “I found a new sleeping pill,” she jokes of her private-jet ride.

new york: mark peterson/redux pictures; italy: Dave Yoder

“When you are doing this job and you

O

N THE GROUND in

white cotton cigarette pants from the Gucci spring collection and a tan Gucci top, she stuffs her taupe suede hobo bag with bottles of water. She had a rough night’s sleep, she says, due to noisy air-conditioning. “Do you have earplugs?” she asks the group. At the first stop of the day, a children’s center funded by UNICEF, Giannini follows a teacher into a classroom with baby-blue walls, where a group of kids, many of whom have lost

parents to AIDS, are chanting a song in English. “We are happy,” they sing, for their visitors’ benefit. Giannini highfives the kids, then compliments them on their drawings; she’s immediately at ease among the children, as they gather round her curiously, leaving dust marks on her pants. “I would love to have children someday,” says Giannini, who is currently single. “My old friends, they are all mothers, and I am still working. One day I won’t have this possibility since I’m getting older.” Then she adds, “I’m sure I will adopt one or two.” After an intensive three days of visits to centers, hospitals, and the site of Madonna’s new school for girls, the Gucci crew gets back onboard the jet. Bracing herself against a burst of turbulence, Giannini says she sees Gucci’s work in Malawi as crucial to the brand, noting that when you’re designing $10,000 bags, you have to keep perspective. Indeed, in the past week alone, Giannini has been a philanthropist, a designer, a marketer. Next week she’s off to Berlin, for a technology conference. “In this environment, you need to be a multifaceted person to have a multifaceted brand,” she says. “This job today is not just about being a designer.” Alexandra Wolfe has written for The Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair, and Condé Nast Portfolio.

The designer selects models for a men’s show with her staff in Italy. Giannini rolls up her sleeves in a garden at the children’s center in Malawi.

march 2010 / marie claire 127


international report first visit to sub-Saharan Africa, and she plans to see how the company’s money is being spent. Waiting outside to board the jet, Giannini, wearing aviator shades, faded black jeans, and a black leather jacket, smokes a cigarette and jokes about the cans of tuna she’s packed in case of emergency. Then she giggles and asks a colleague to snap a photo of her. “I have to take a picture of the plane,” she says, jumping in the air and playfully clicking her heels together on the tarmac. For the next few hours, her entourage reclines on tan leather seats, eating smoked salmon, Chilean sea bass, and

A modern UNICEFsponsored school puts a solid roof over kids’ heads in Malawi.

Little residents of the center for kids affected by HIV. Around 85,000 of Malawi’s 13.2 million residents die each year from AIDS.

I’m at the top of the

A thatched-roof school awaits modernization.

oversee a photo shoot for an ad campaign, and then to the Gucci headquarters in Rome to check in on ideas for the men’s fall collection. Over the weekend, she’s off to Malawi, the 10thpoorest country in the world, to visit children benefiting from a partnership between UNICEF and Gucci. Such is life for a modern-day megadesigner. Giannini, who took the helm as creative director in 2005, is constantly on the move—and the stakes are high. The luxury industry has been hit hard by the global recession, declining nearly 10 percent since 2008, and the pressure is on to find creative ways to keep consumers interested without detracting from the status of the brand. “I’m working harder than ever before, putting so much of myself into this job,” Giannini says. “When you are doing this job and you think, I’ve arrived, I’m at the top of the world, then I think you are finished.” Giannini took over her role from one of the biggest-name designers in the business, Tom Ford, who left to launch his own line. Since then, all eyes have been on her. So far, so good: Giannini has helped boost Gucci’s revenue to $3.2 billion from $2.3 billion when she started, edging the Gucci look away from the overtly sexy, bust-popping sil126 marie claire / march 2010

houettes of Ford’s day to a more relaxed, feminine, accessible line. At a time when many fashion houses hire men to design clothing for women, Giannini is one of the few women designing for a customer much like herself. Claire Danes is among the believers. “Just look at that back,” she says at the Soho sneaker party, pointing to Giannini, whose structured Gucci top features crisscross straps across the back. “It’s very powerful and unapologetically so.” Later that night, Giannini sashays into the after-party at The Bowery Hotel, a Manhattan hipster hangout. Her minions have been saving her a seat, or rather, an entire 20-foot-long sofa, in the VIP room. They hop up as she arrives and chats with James Franco, one of the faces of Gucci. Giannini is fashionably late, but she isn’t planning to be out till dawn. “I used to dance until late at night,” she says. “I could go to bed at 5 and wake up at 7 with so much energy. If I do that now, I have to keep my sunglasses on all day.”

i

T’S A RAINY MORNING in Rome, and a pair of Giannini’s assistants are buzzing around the Gucci headquarters in their platform heels. This nine-story palazzo, near the bustling cafés of the Campo

dei Fiori, is a fairly new home for Gucci. Giannini lobbied to relocate the company here from Florence a year ago. She grew up in Rome, near this very palazzo, and says she finds the city inspiring. Here at the Gucci home base, she has her own floor, complete with a conference room that looks more like a museum gallery, its ceiling painted with cherubs and clouds. The daughter of an architect father and an art-history-professor mother, Giannini credits her parents for her drive. “My parents, they were quite hippie, but very strict—they used to take away all the house phones until I finished my homework,” she laughs. Giannini, who attended Rome’s Fashion Academy, got her start at a small-scale Italian fashion house, then moved to Fendi in 1997. Tom Ford hired her at Gucci in 2002, to design accessories; three years later, she was promoted to creative director. The next morning at 6:00 sharp, Giannini arrives in a Mercedes sedan to meet a posse of Gucci executives at Rome’s Ciampino Airport. The company has chartered a plane to visit the UNICEF project in Malawi; Gucci has donated more than $7 million to the project, which helps orphans and children affected by HIV. It’s Giannini’s

Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe, the Gucci folks, clad in black, pile into a pair of white SUVs, then drive to their hotel along gravel roads, passing acres of farmland and roadside stands selling everything from cell phones to coffins. Everybody stares quietly out the windows, taking in the rickety twig homes; the juxtaposition of fashion and the famished landscape seems to bring everyone up short. One guy chuckles about the doctors’ offices, called “Hangover Clinics.” The next day, Giannini stands in the lobby of the hotel, ready to roll. Wearing

I’ve arrived, world, then I think you are finished.”

think,

chocolate truffles. After downing a bit of chicken with rice, Giannini herself spends most of the trip in a private room in the back, wearing an eye mask and resting on a double bed with a deep-purple comforter. Her colleagues tiptoe past her, trying not to wake her on their way to the faux-wood-paneled bathroom. At the end of the flight, Giannini emerges, refreshed. “I found a new sleeping pill,” she jokes of her private-jet ride.

new york: mark peterson/redux pictures; italy: Dave Yoder

“When you are doing this job and you

O

N THE GROUND in

white cotton cigarette pants from the Gucci spring collection and a tan Gucci top, she stuffs her taupe suede hobo bag with bottles of water. She had a rough night’s sleep, she says, due to noisy air-conditioning. “Do you have earplugs?” she asks the group. At the first stop of the day, a children’s center funded by UNICEF, Giannini follows a teacher into a classroom with baby-blue walls, where a group of kids, many of whom have lost

parents to AIDS, are chanting a song in English. “We are happy,” they sing, for their visitors’ benefit. Giannini highfives the kids, then compliments them on their drawings; she’s immediately at ease among the children, as they gather round her curiously, leaving dust marks on her pants. “I would love to have children someday,” says Giannini, who is currently single. “My old friends, they are all mothers, and I am still working. One day I won’t have this possibility since I’m getting older.” Then she adds, “I’m sure I will adopt one or two.” After an intensive three days of visits to centers, hospitals, and the site of Madonna’s new school for girls, the Gucci crew gets back onboard the jet. Bracing herself against a burst of turbulence, Giannini says she sees Gucci’s work in Malawi as crucial to the brand, noting that when you’re designing $10,000 bags, you have to keep perspective. Indeed, in the past week alone, Giannini has been a philanthropist, a designer, a marketer. Next week she’s off to Berlin, for a technology conference. “In this environment, you need to be a multifaceted person to have a multifaceted brand,” she says. “This job today is not just about being a designer.” Alexandra Wolfe has written for The Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair, and Condé Nast Portfolio.

The designer selects models for a men’s show with her staff in Italy. Giannini rolls up her sleeves in a garden at the children’s center in Malawi.

march 2010 / marie claire 127


work life Kerry O’Brien, 39 CEO, Her Look Enterprises

O’Brien presides over a Burlington, Vermont-based undergarments empire that includes seamless “Commando” panties and silicone-filled bra inserts (“Takeouts”). Her line is sold in some 1,200 stores, including Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Dream of quitting your ho-hum day job and starting your own company? Meet three women who made fortunes doing just that. Here, they reveal what it really takes to make it big in business By Lea Goldman

Secret #1

Be honest—do you even want your boss’s job?

Success Secrets of 30-Something Moguls Photographed by Perry Hagopian

Kerry O’Brien

Age at time company was founded: 31 Initial investment:

$3,000

Current number of full-time employees:

“At 28 years old, I was already very successful—a senior vice president at a big PR firm in New York City. Then September 11th happened, which made me re-evaluate everything. The next day, I quit my job. How did I go from PR to underwear? I love to wear summer dresses, but I’m not a small-chested woman, and I hate wearing strapless bras. I used to MacGyver support using duct tape. It wasn’t pretty, but it worked. Then all my girlfriends started coming to me for advice about undergarments. That’s when I started toying with the idea of selling my own line.” Secret #2

If it hasn’t been done, doesn’t mean it can’t be done. “My first product was Takeouts: The Better Boob Job, silicone inserts for your bra that are sold in Chinese food containers. It was a crazy idea, and people were saying it would never work. So I did a very small amount at the beginning, partly because if it didn’t work, I didn’t want those takeout containers filling up my closet. But it took on a life of its own. Even today, every time I come up with an idea, the immediate answer is, ‘No, it will never work.’ But I always say, ‘We’re going to try it anyway. Prove to me that it can’t be done.’ I usually won’t take no for an answer.”

15

“I’ve made it big” splurge: “Expensive

shoes. My ultimate extravagance was a pair of limited-edition Christian Louboutins I bought before an appearance on The View.” 112 marie claire / may 2010

Secret #3

Have no shame when selling your product. “I walked in unannounced to just about every boutique and lingerie store between Los Angeles and San Francisco and tried to sell Takeouts to managers. It was an easy product

to sell because it was so cute and fun. Still, I was pregnant at the time, and tried to be as fashionable as possible. You have to be able to walk in there and just sell the hell out of it, be a true believer. Because if you’re not, no one else is going to be.” Secret #4

Business decisions shouldn’t be big bets. “I never took big risks. I’m not going to play lottery with my career and my life. I didn’t have any outside investors telling me what to do. I never ordered huge quantities of my products. The only thing I took a risk on was the Takeout packaging: I had to have it custom-made. Most people would have bought tens of thousands of units to keep the costs low. But I ordered only a small amount at the beginning, even though I knew that would mean higher costs. It minimized my risk of getting stuck with too much inventory.” Secret #5

Find seasoned mentors—and use them often. “In 2003, I moved the business to Vermont, where there’s a wealth of talent, a lot of independent spirits and entrepreneurs. I have an informal brain trust here. Every time I need to check something, I call on my marketing friends from Ben & Jerry’s, Seventh Generation, and Green Mountain Coffee, all of whom are based in Vermont. We sit around and hash out ideas. They’re very accessible to me, and I call them often.” Secret #6

Even successful entrepreneurs work around the clock. “I have three kids. Running a business is probably no more difficult than working full time. The difference is that I have flexibility. But the flip side is that I work constantly, making phone calls, reading e-mails whenever I’m not doing the mommy thing. I am always available to my business, night or day. So while I don’t have to punch a time clock or tell people when I’m coming and going, I still work all the time.”

If I Knew Then What I Know Now Mally Roncal, 38 Founder, Mally Beauty The celebrity makeup artist launched her own eponymous beauty line in 2004.

Biggest mistake: Not being me

“When I was starting out, I wore tons of makeup, short skirts, and high heels. Once, a famous hairdresser pulled me aside at a shoot and told me that everyone was laughing at me. I went home and cried. The next day I came back wearing jeans and no makeup. But I felt like I wasn’t doing my thing. That’s when I said, ‘Fuck it. I have to be who I am.’ I probably looked like RuPaul at some shoots. But no matter what, you have to stay true to who you are.”

Felicia Day, 30 Creator of The Guild The TV actress writes, produces, and stars in the monster-hit Web series The Guild.

Biggest hurdle: Getting off my ass “I had these ideas and

characters in my head. But I wasn’t brave enough, didn’t have the selfdiscipline to sit down and put them on paper. It seemed so scary to me that I might fail, that I wouldn’t be any good at writing or that I’d waste my time. So I finally laid down the law and gave myself a deadline. I tried to write one hour a day, and yes, I fell off the wagon a lot. But that was a huge step for me—I wasn’t going to indulge myself anymore.”

Genevieve Thiers, 32 CEO, sittercity.com Thiers runs the nation’s largest online job site for nannies and babysitters.

Biggest regret: Not delegating more “When I first started the

company, I did everything— customer service, PR, marketing, hiring. It was hard to let go. It got to the point where I was literally taking walks around the block just to get a moment’s peace to think. If you don’t delegate, you become the only person everyone goes to for information.”


work life Kerry O’Brien, 39 CEO, Her Look Enterprises

O’Brien presides over a Burlington, Vermont-based undergarments empire that includes seamless “Commando” panties and silicone-filled bra inserts (“Takeouts”). Her line is sold in some 1,200 stores, including Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Dream of quitting your ho-hum day job and starting your own company? Meet three women who made fortunes doing just that. Here, they reveal what it really takes to make it big in business By Lea Goldman

Secret #1

Be honest—do you even want your boss’s job?

Success Secrets of 30-Something Moguls Photographed by Perry Hagopian

Kerry O’Brien

Age at time company was founded: 31 Initial investment:

$3,000

Current number of full-time employees:

“At 28 years old, I was already very successful—a senior vice president at a big PR firm in New York City. Then September 11th happened, which made me re-evaluate everything. The next day, I quit my job. How did I go from PR to underwear? I love to wear summer dresses, but I’m not a small-chested woman, and I hate wearing strapless bras. I used to MacGyver support using duct tape. It wasn’t pretty, but it worked. Then all my girlfriends started coming to me for advice about undergarments. That’s when I started toying with the idea of selling my own line.” Secret #2

If it hasn’t been done, doesn’t mean it can’t be done. “My first product was Takeouts: The Better Boob Job, silicone inserts for your bra that are sold in Chinese food containers. It was a crazy idea, and people were saying it would never work. So I did a very small amount at the beginning, partly because if it didn’t work, I didn’t want those takeout containers filling up my closet. But it took on a life of its own. Even today, every time I come up with an idea, the immediate answer is, ‘No, it will never work.’ But I always say, ‘We’re going to try it anyway. Prove to me that it can’t be done.’ I usually won’t take no for an answer.”

15

“I’ve made it big” splurge: “Expensive

shoes. My ultimate extravagance was a pair of limited-edition Christian Louboutins I bought before an appearance on The View.” 112 marie claire / may 2010

Secret #3

Have no shame when selling your product. “I walked in unannounced to just about every boutique and lingerie store between Los Angeles and San Francisco and tried to sell Takeouts to managers. It was an easy product

to sell because it was so cute and fun. Still, I was pregnant at the time, and tried to be as fashionable as possible. You have to be able to walk in there and just sell the hell out of it, be a true believer. Because if you’re not, no one else is going to be.” Secret #4

Business decisions shouldn’t be big bets. “I never took big risks. I’m not going to play lottery with my career and my life. I didn’t have any outside investors telling me what to do. I never ordered huge quantities of my products. The only thing I took a risk on was the Takeout packaging: I had to have it custom-made. Most people would have bought tens of thousands of units to keep the costs low. But I ordered only a small amount at the beginning, even though I knew that would mean higher costs. It minimized my risk of getting stuck with too much inventory.” Secret #5

Find seasoned mentors—and use them often. “In 2003, I moved the business to Vermont, where there’s a wealth of talent, a lot of independent spirits and entrepreneurs. I have an informal brain trust here. Every time I need to check something, I call on my marketing friends from Ben & Jerry’s, Seventh Generation, and Green Mountain Coffee, all of whom are based in Vermont. We sit around and hash out ideas. They’re very accessible to me, and I call them often.” Secret #6

Even successful entrepreneurs work around the clock. “I have three kids. Running a business is probably no more difficult than working full time. The difference is that I have flexibility. But the flip side is that I work constantly, making phone calls, reading e-mails whenever I’m not doing the mommy thing. I am always available to my business, night or day. So while I don’t have to punch a time clock or tell people when I’m coming and going, I still work all the time.”

If I Knew Then What I Know Now Mally Roncal, 38 Founder, Mally Beauty The celebrity makeup artist launched her own eponymous beauty line in 2004.

Biggest mistake: Not being me

“When I was starting out, I wore tons of makeup, short skirts, and high heels. Once, a famous hairdresser pulled me aside at a shoot and told me that everyone was laughing at me. I went home and cried. The next day I came back wearing jeans and no makeup. But I felt like I wasn’t doing my thing. That’s when I said, ‘Fuck it. I have to be who I am.’ I probably looked like RuPaul at some shoots. But no matter what, you have to stay true to who you are.”

Felicia Day, 30 Creator of The Guild The TV actress writes, produces, and stars in the monster-hit Web series The Guild.

Biggest hurdle: Getting off my ass “I had these ideas and

characters in my head. But I wasn’t brave enough, didn’t have the selfdiscipline to sit down and put them on paper. It seemed so scary to me that I might fail, that I wouldn’t be any good at writing or that I’d waste my time. So I finally laid down the law and gave myself a deadline. I tried to write one hour a day, and yes, I fell off the wagon a lot. But that was a huge step for me—I wasn’t going to indulge myself anymore.”

Genevieve Thiers, 32 CEO, sittercity.com Thiers runs the nation’s largest online job site for nannies and babysitters.

Biggest regret: Not delegating more “When I first started the

company, I did everything— customer service, PR, marketing, hiring. It was hard to let go. It got to the point where I was literally taking walks around the block just to get a moment’s peace to think. If you don’t delegate, you become the only person everyone goes to for information.”


work life Kelly Flatley, 31 Founder, Bear Naked granola

The million-dollar granola girl from Darien, Connecticut, founded Bear Naked in 2002 with a friend and just $7,500 in seed capital. Five years later, they sold the company to Kellogg’s for a reported $60 million. Secret #1

“I’m a hippie—I’m totally OK with that term—and I love granola. In college, I made my own batches in my dorm room. After I graduated, I worked in marketing at Sports Illustrated Women until it folded in 2002. It was a cool job, but when I sat down to think about what I wanted to do next, I realized it wasn’t working at a magazine.” Secret #2

Ignore your naysayers—there will be many.

Kelly Flatley

“There were so many people who said I was crazy to start something like this. I was extremely young, and I had no business experience. My dad told me to go to Barnes & Noble, get a book on entrepreneurs, and read about the lifestyle changes I’d have to make. He was sure I’d lose my steam. But frankly, I didn’t have anything to lose. I was single and living with my parents. It was a very indie operation.” Secret #3

Ask a million “dumb” questions. “The first store we sold to said they’d take a case to start, then asked me how many units were in a case. I just looked at the guy and said, ‘Well, how many do you want in a case?’ Ten minutes later, we were at the register, and he asked me for an invoice. I didn’t even know what an invoice was. I said, ‘I’m sorry, I’m green. But if you give me a few pointers, I’ll run with them.’ I wasn’t afraid to ask questions.” Secret #4

The pros don’t know it all. “We packaged Bear Naked in a clear zippered pouch, which was very dif114 marie claire / may 2010

Age at time company was founded: 23 Initial investment:

$7,500

Full-time employees when she sold the company in 2002: 2 “I’ve made it big” splurge: “After I sold

ferent from the way cereal boxes are packaged. Early on, the founder of a big grocery chain pulled my partner aside and told him, ‘There’s a reason why all the cereal companies have been doing it their way all these years. Who wants to see your product?’ Normally I’d have said, ‘Oh, shit, the expert is telling us we’re not doing something right.’ But we had conviction and stuck with it. Now we have inspired a new standard for how snack foods are packaged.” Secret #5

Hire people who know more than you do. “One of the hardest parts about growing a business is finding people you trust with your baby, who will do the right thing in your absence. We

the company, I went to Paris with my best friend. We stayed at a bed and breakfast on the Left Bank and toured the city on foot, indulging in French wine, cheeses, and crepes along the way.”

recruited from bigger firms like Campbell’s and Pepsi. People like that elevate your business in a way a founder can’t.” Secret #6

Brace yourself for sacrifices. “For the first two years, there were no paychecks. I worked every single day, baking and doing marketing plans. On weekends we’d go to local triathlons and give out samples at the finish line. I’d be in the office at 10 p.m. on a Friday night thinking, All my friends are at a bar right now, and I’m doing accounting. But we had one shot to make it work, and we were willing to give it everything we had.”

Previous spread: hair & makeup: stephen rainville and marjorie minot of stephen & burns, Burlington, vt. On O’brien: dress, milly; shoes, yves saint laurent; earrings & rings, o’brien’s own. this page: fashion editor: christina saratsis. hair & makeup: alejandra at artistsbytimothypriano.com. top, karen walker; skirt, wren; belt, burberry; earrings, Flatley’s own

Find a job you’d jump out of bed for. (Yes, they exist.)


work life Secret #3

Money is always an issue, even after you’ve made it. “My friends and I joke that we’ve got ‘high-class problems’— the same problems we used to have, just multiplied by 100. I started out thinking, Oh, crap, I need $1,500 to pay the rent. Now, 10 years later, I think, Crap, I’ve got to make a $15,000 payment. Last fall, I had a ton of clients, but then the recession hit. And when big clients stop paying their bills, you feel like you’re starting all over again.” Secret #4

Successful moguls are frugal.

Secret #5

Tina Wells

Age at time company was founded: 16 Initial investment:

Tina Wells, 30 CEO, Buzz Marketing Group

Wells knows what girls want. Her teen-focused market research firm, based in Voorhees, New Jersey, boasts blue-chip clients like Sony BMG, PBS, and American Eagle. She is also the author of the Mackenzie Blue youngadult book series. Secret #1

Friends make for cheap labor. “In high school, I wrote product reviews for a local newspaper. Pretty soon, companies started sending me things directly, asking me to give them feedback. It got to be too much for me to do by myself, so I brought in friends to help, in exchange for free samples. Before long, my friends started telling their friends, and by my senior 116 marie claire / may 2010

year of college, I had 250 ‘buzzSpotters’ and was working with Verizon and Chrysler.” Secret #2

Stir up some controversy.

$0—she founded the company on a quid pro quo basis.

Current number of full-time employees: 7 “I’ve made it big” splurge: “My house.

I bought it on my own, renovated it, put in a new kitchen, treatments in the dining room, and custom closets. My siblings call it home. I’m really proud of it.”

“I decided that if I was to be taken seriously, I had to get noticed. So I began to publish reports about things nobody was talking about. One was on illegal downloading, which the recording industry wasn’t too concerned with at the time. I did a survey with 500 buzzSpotters that found that 99 percent had illegally downloaded music in the previous month. People paid that report serious attention.”

Reputation is everything. “I just turned down an offer to star in an episode of Millionaire Matchmaker. It highlights a pretty flashy lifestyle, and to do the show would have been really off-message. There are definitely times I wish I could just chuck my reputation aside and do things for fun. But I’ve got to preserve my image.” Secret #6

Be an idea machine.

“A couple of years ago, I was hearing from moms that their daughters were into Gossip Girl, but that it wasn’t really age-appropriate. I challenged myself to come up with something that could interest these girls. So I developed the Mackenzie Blue books for HarperCollins. I’ve shifted from doing research to creating new, innovative products. Five years from now, I’ll probably be running my own media company.”

» Share this story on Facebook and Twitter at marieclaire.com/moguls.

Fashion editor: jamie grace. Hair: andrea reece. makeup: sparkle hill. dress, ann taylor; cuff, lia sophia; earrings, iza and sons

“Business first is a lifestyle. I drive a Nissan Murano. Sometimes people say to me, ‘Oh, I’m surprised you don’t have a Mercedes.’ But you have to have something to work toward. If I had that now, then I’d feel like I’d made it and become complacent. Besides, your employees need to know they’re working for someone who isn’t buying Louis Vuittons one day, then laying people off the next.”


the list

There’s no shortage of things for Americans to gripe about these days: the crummy job market, swine flu, another season of Wife Swap. But for every headache, there are a dozen reasons why there’s no place on earth we’d rather be. Here, our definitive list of the homegrown innovations, trends, people, and places that has us hoisting our Coors Lights (brewed here!) to toast the good ol’ Stars and Stripes

1

1 Kooky hybrids: Labradoodles, the Ford Escape, tomaccoes, skorts 2 Weekend-warrior wardrobe: Hanes V-necks, Levi’s, Converse One Stars, Burt’s Bees lip balm, Ray-Ban Wayfarers

reasons we love America

84

marie claire / july 2009

3 Black-eyed Susans, California redwoods, saguaro cacti 4 The fact that 64% of us have deep-fried a turkey or know someone who has 5 Office Oscar pools 6 Annie Hall

6

10

7

7 Shia LaBeouf 8 Ladies’ book clubs—where we consume more Pinot than pages

this page, clockwise from top left: s. montrose/getty images, courtesy everett collection, f. trapper/corbis, getty images, courtesy of the designer. opposite page, Photos, clockwise from top left: ap photo/j. decrow, butter, hutlon archive/getty images, ap photo/m. spencer green, akm/x17online.com, courtesy of allstar marketing group, llc, copyright girl scouts of the usa, m. davey/afp/getty images, getty images

2

3

50

9

12

14

15

9 Self-effacing, Jimmy Stewart–style airline captains who land planes on the Hudson River 10 The Boston Marathon—26.2 grueling miles followed by 26 pints of Sam Adams 11 The Lazy Meadow Motel’s tricked-out airstreams in the Catskills, owned by Kate Pierson of the B-52s. Tin roof, not rusted! 12 Superfan merch: terrible towels, cheeseheads, foam fingers

13 Dance legend Judith Jameson 14 Samoas, Thin Mints, Tagalongs 15 Dumb blogs that spawn fat book deals (LOL Cats, Stuff White People Like, This Is Why You’re Fat) 16 The Snuggie/ Slanket smackdown 17 Our national hot messes, from Judy Garland and Joan Crawford to Brit and LiLo 18 A grandma in the White House

16

11

13

18 17

july 2009 / marie claire

85


the list

There’s no shortage of things for Americans to gripe about these days: the crummy job market, swine flu, another season of Wife Swap. But for every headache, there are a dozen reasons why there’s no place on earth we’d rather be. Here, our definitive list of the homegrown innovations, trends, people, and places that has us hoisting our Coors Lights (brewed here!) to toast the good ol’ Stars and Stripes

1

1 Kooky hybrids: Labradoodles, the Ford Escape, tomaccoes, skorts 2 Weekend-warrior wardrobe: Hanes V-necks, Levi’s, Converse One Stars, Burt’s Bees lip balm, Ray-Ban Wayfarers

reasons we love America

84

marie claire / july 2009

3 Black-eyed Susans, California redwoods, saguaro cacti 4 The fact that 64% of us have deep-fried a turkey or know someone who has 5 Office Oscar pools 6 Annie Hall

6

10

7

7 Shia LaBeouf 8 Ladies’ book clubs—where we consume more Pinot than pages

this page, clockwise from top left: s. montrose/getty images, courtesy everett collection, f. trapper/corbis, getty images, courtesy of the designer. opposite page, Photos, clockwise from top left: ap photo/j. decrow, butter, hutlon archive/getty images, ap photo/m. spencer green, akm/x17online.com, courtesy of allstar marketing group, llc, copyright girl scouts of the usa, m. davey/afp/getty images, getty images

2

3

50

9

12

14

15

9 Self-effacing, Jimmy Stewart–style airline captains who land planes on the Hudson River 10 The Boston Marathon—26.2 grueling miles followed by 26 pints of Sam Adams 11 The Lazy Meadow Motel’s tricked-out airstreams in the Catskills, owned by Kate Pierson of the B-52s. Tin roof, not rusted! 12 Superfan merch: terrible towels, cheeseheads, foam fingers

13 Dance legend Judith Jameson 14 Samoas, Thin Mints, Tagalongs 15 Dumb blogs that spawn fat book deals (LOL Cats, Stuff White People Like, This Is Why You’re Fat) 16 The Snuggie/ Slanket smackdown 17 Our national hot messes, from Judy Garland and Joan Crawford to Brit and LiLo 18 A grandma in the White House

16

11

13

18 17

july 2009 / marie claire

85


the list

19

20

21 19 Drive-through everything (Dunkin’ Donuts, liquor stores, wedding chapels) 20 Chronicles of the rich, from The House of Mirth to Gossip Girl 21 Politically active Jersey boys Bon Jovi and The Boss 22 Blueberries (brain food—who knew?!)

50

reasons we love America

26

22

86

marie claire / july 2009

33

23 Great pantswearing dames Katharine Hepburn, Slim Keith, Lauren Bacall 24 Wet n Wild—22 shades of nail polish, all 99 cents a pop 25 The Bell Jar 26 Comebacks, à la Alec Baldwin, Jason Bateman, Robert Downey Jr., Lil’ Kim, Mickey Rourke, shoulder pads, neon . . . 27 Gmail video chat, for instant feedback on those harem pants (return them!) 28 The wildly imaginative Julie Taymor 29 Over 1100 iPhone apps and counting (though we’d be content with just Tetris and Urbanspoon) 30 Joan Didion 31 Calling BS on the Bradley effect on November 4 32 Ponytails through baseball caps 33 The original neo-R&B badass, Mary J. Blige 34 Puppy cam Zen 35 Facebook activism (click here to stop global warming)

»

25

28

30

Want to know how we chose our top 50 American faves? Check in with MC’s editors to find out what didn’t make the cut in our Web series, “The Masthead with Marie Claire” (marieclaire.com).

runway: dan lecca. all other photos, clockwise from top left: atlantide phototravel/corbis, Charlotte lewis jenks/studio d, l. ford/corbis, j. wasser/time life pictures/getty images, a. tanaka/corbis outline, k. moran/ getty images, g. rufino/the cw/courtesy everett, h. villalobos/epa/corbis. next spread, left page, clockwise from left: j. devaney/wireimage, m. cavanaugh/epa/corbis, c. baer/amc/everett, ifc films/courtesy everett collection. right page, clockwise from left: d. bjerke/nbcu photo bank, corbis, courtesy of the designer, andy warhol foundation/corbis, courtesy everett collection

24


TK slug JOBS EXTREME

TK slug

Danger Junkies In trying times, it’s tempting to play it safe in your career. But here’s another idea: Be bold. Meet five American women who have taken on some intensely gutsy gigs By Abigail Pesta Photographed by Andrew Hetherington

118 marie claire / month 2009

The Outer-Space Mechanic

Megan McArthur, 37, Houston; astronaut and NASA mission specialist who recently went up in the shuttle Atlantis to help repair the Hubble Space Telescope

What I do: I’ve been at NASA for nine years, and I had my first space trip this past spring—that’s a long time to wait for a flight. On the shuttle, I’m like the quarterback; when something goes wrong, I help direct actions that need to be taken. Case in point: Right after liftoff on our recent Hubble mission, we had two warning alarms—one about a computer and one about a main engine. It was my job to sort it all out. Then, up in space, I operated a robotic arm that grabbed and moved the Hubble telescope. How it feels to blast off the Earth: It’s mind-boggling to think you’re traveling at 17,500 miles an hour. You’d go from New York to L.A. in 15 minutes at that rate.

Why I don’t freak out: We have years of training for any malfunctions, along with psychological screenings. Once, practicing for a rescue scenario, I had to sit crosslegged inside a big beach ball. Space invasion: In the shuttle, there were seven of us in a closet-sized space. But if someone was in your way, you could just fly over the guy’s head. At night, we pinned our sleeping bags to the wall, floor, or ceiling, to make room for everyone. It’s a weird feeling to sleep on a wall: You feel like you’re going to float out of bed. But you zip yourself in, then anchor yourself with straps across your arms and legs. As for food, we’re talking rehydrated lasagna or fajitas, which we had to Velcro to the wall. Star Wars or Star Trek? Old-school Star Wars: Princess Leia with cinnamon buns on her head. My husband—also an astronaut—and I walked out of the church on our wedding day to Star Wars music. WORST part of the job: If there’s a downside to space travel, it’s got to be the bathroom. It’s a tiny closet with a fabric screen—that’s all the privacy you get. A roaring vacuum sucks everything down. Best part: Doing the things I’ve trained to do for so long—it’s worth the wait. As a kid, I dreamed of going into space; in college, I studied aerospace engineering, then took a detour and got a Ph.D. in oceanography. So I’ve been to the ocean floor and to outer space. Next? I’d love to go to the moon. month 2009 / marie claire 119 september


TK slug JOBS EXTREME

TK slug

Danger Junkies In trying times, it’s tempting to play it safe in your career. But here’s another idea: Be bold. Meet five American women who have taken on some intensely gutsy gigs By Abigail Pesta Photographed by Andrew Hetherington

118 marie claire / month 2009

The Outer-Space Mechanic

Megan McArthur, 37, Houston; astronaut and NASA mission specialist who recently went up in the shuttle Atlantis to help repair the Hubble Space Telescope

What I do: I’ve been at NASA for nine years, and I had my first space trip this past spring—that’s a long time to wait for a flight. On the shuttle, I’m like the quarterback; when something goes wrong, I help direct actions that need to be taken. Case in point: Right after liftoff on our recent Hubble mission, we had two warning alarms—one about a computer and one about a main engine. It was my job to sort it all out. Then, up in space, I operated a robotic arm that grabbed and moved the Hubble telescope. How it feels to blast off the Earth: It’s mind-boggling to think you’re traveling at 17,500 miles an hour. You’d go from New York to L.A. in 15 minutes at that rate.

Why I don’t freak out: We have years of training for any malfunctions, along with psychological screenings. Once, practicing for a rescue scenario, I had to sit crosslegged inside a big beach ball. Space invasion: In the shuttle, there were seven of us in a closet-sized space. But if someone was in your way, you could just fly over the guy’s head. At night, we pinned our sleeping bags to the wall, floor, or ceiling, to make room for everyone. It’s a weird feeling to sleep on a wall: You feel like you’re going to float out of bed. But you zip yourself in, then anchor yourself with straps across your arms and legs. As for food, we’re talking rehydrated lasagna or fajitas, which we had to Velcro to the wall. Star Wars or Star Trek? Old-school Star Wars: Princess Leia with cinnamon buns on her head. My husband—also an astronaut—and I walked out of the church on our wedding day to Star Wars music. WORST part of the job: If there’s a downside to space travel, it’s got to be the bathroom. It’s a tiny closet with a fabric screen—that’s all the privacy you get. A roaring vacuum sucks everything down. Best part: Doing the things I’ve trained to do for so long—it’s worth the wait. As a kid, I dreamed of going into space; in college, I studied aerospace engineering, then took a detour and got a Ph.D. in oceanography. So I’ve been to the ocean floor and to outer space. Next? I’d love to go to the moon. month 2009 / marie claire 119 september


EXTREME JOBS

TK slug

The Pedophile Chaser

Del Harvey, 27, San Francisco; coadministrator of Perverted Justice, a watchdog group committed to catching sexual predators

it, these guys aren’t exactly socially adept. I’ve received so many photos, I had to create an archival system, in order to save the shots as evidence. So now I have lots of penises on my hard drive. Major mishap: For a while I acted as a decoy on Dateline’s To Catch a Predator series, meaning I posed as the kid the pedophiles were coming to meet. I looked young enough to fool the guys for a few seconds before the police would pounce.

But once, I met a man on a park bench in Long Beach, and the officers didn’t pop out immediately, due to a miscommunication. I had to entertain the guy; he touched my foot and said, “I thought you were gonna paint your toenails.” It really freaked me out. Worst part of the job: Trying to wrap my head around the things these men do, especially if they’re doctors or teachers. Best part: Getting creeps off the street. We’ve had more than 400 convictions so far.

cobblestones, icy situations—just like the crappy roads you drive on every day. On the track, I push the car to the limit, until it’s ready to spin out of control; I tear up the tires, skid, slide, drive 130 miles an hour— anything to “excite” the vehicle, to make it lose its grip. Yes, it’s a teenage boy’s dream. My GREATEST asset: You have to have a good “assometer” in this job. In other words, you need to be able to feel it in

your butt when you’re sitting in the driver’s seat and the car is about to do something you don’t want it to do, like swerve or fishtail. You become like an instrument; your senses are very in tune. Once I determine what needs fixing—shocks, springs, steering, suspension—a technician makes adjustments, then I test the car again. Major mishap: Sometimes a wheel flies off. But our mechanics are always there for us; they’re great—they know our lives depend on them. Our relationship is tight. Boys’ club: I’m the only woman out of about 40 men in this gig. At first, I felt like I needed to prove myself in a big way; there’s a lot of competition, not to mention egos. But now everyone is super-accepting. Anyway, it’s not the first time I’ve been outnumbered by guys. When my brother and I were growing up in Puerto Rico, he was too shy to join Little League, so Mom sent me with him—I was the only girl on the team. WORST part of the job: I’ve gotten sick in a car a few times. Once, I had to keep driving over “whoop-de-dos”—little hills that are like speed bumps—more than 250 times to make sure the car rode well. Best part: I get to peel out in someone else’s car. How cool is that?

The Road Warrior Christina Rodriguez, 36, Dearborn, MI; vehicle dynamics development engineer at Ford Motor Company What I do: Test out prototype Ford cars called “mules,” handmade models that haven’t gone into mass production yet. To make sure the car holds up under any conditions, we have a test track with 15 tricky road surfaces that re-create potholes, 120 marie claire / September 2009

The Lion Saver

this page: andrew hetherington. opposite page: philip j. briggs

What I do: Bust men who prey on kids for sex. To do so, I work with police across the country to set up stings. For instance, I’ll pose as a 13-year-old girl in an online chat room, and when a pedophile suggests that we meet somewhere, I’ll name a place, like a beach. Then, surprise: The police are there waiting for the guy, with handcuffs. Skeevy business: My very first chat with a predator was also my number-one slimiest bust. I went online pretending to be a girl who felt unloved. A man calling himself Fleet Captain Jamie Wolf started chatting with me, saying things that would make a kid feel special. “Oh, your parents don’t appreciate you,” he said. He was scarily smooth, and different than a lot of guys, who take a more direct approach— such as sending photos of their penises. Why send penis pictures? Some men say it’s a turn-on; others say it’s just what people do on the Internet. Also, let’s face

Leela Hazzah, 30, Maasailand, Kenya; director of the Lion Guardians Project, a nonprofit wildlife-conservation program

What I do: I protect Africa’s dwindling population of lions from getting speared, poisoned, or shot to death by Kenya’s famous Masai tribesmen, who see the animals as a nuisance. So I’ll do things like calm angry livestock owners when their favorite cow gets eaten by a lion, to prevent any retaliation. I also help researchers fit the cats with GPS collars that allow us to track them. That way, I can alert Masai farmers month 2009 / marie claire 121


EXTREME JOBS

TK slug

The Pedophile Chaser

Del Harvey, 27, San Francisco; coadministrator of Perverted Justice, a watchdog group committed to catching sexual predators

it, these guys aren’t exactly socially adept. I’ve received so many photos, I had to create an archival system, in order to save the shots as evidence. So now I have lots of penises on my hard drive. Major mishap: For a while I acted as a decoy on Dateline’s To Catch a Predator series, meaning I posed as the kid the pedophiles were coming to meet. I looked young enough to fool the guys for a few seconds before the police would pounce.

But once, I met a man on a park bench in Long Beach, and the officers didn’t pop out immediately, due to a miscommunication. I had to entertain the guy; he touched my foot and said, “I thought you were gonna paint your toenails.” It really freaked me out. Worst part of the job: Trying to wrap my head around the things these men do, especially if they’re doctors or teachers. Best part: Getting creeps off the street. We’ve had more than 400 convictions so far.

cobblestones, icy situations—just like the crappy roads you drive on every day. On the track, I push the car to the limit, until it’s ready to spin out of control; I tear up the tires, skid, slide, drive 130 miles an hour— anything to “excite” the vehicle, to make it lose its grip. Yes, it’s a teenage boy’s dream. My GREATEST asset: You have to have a good “assometer” in this job. In other words, you need to be able to feel it in

your butt when you’re sitting in the driver’s seat and the car is about to do something you don’t want it to do, like swerve or fishtail. You become like an instrument; your senses are very in tune. Once I determine what needs fixing—shocks, springs, steering, suspension—a technician makes adjustments, then I test the car again. Major mishap: Sometimes a wheel flies off. But our mechanics are always there for us; they’re great—they know our lives depend on them. Our relationship is tight. Boys’ club: I’m the only woman out of about 40 men in this gig. At first, I felt like I needed to prove myself in a big way; there’s a lot of competition, not to mention egos. But now everyone is super-accepting. Anyway, it’s not the first time I’ve been outnumbered by guys. When my brother and I were growing up in Puerto Rico, he was too shy to join Little League, so Mom sent me with him—I was the only girl on the team. WORST part of the job: I’ve gotten sick in a car a few times. Once, I had to keep driving over “whoop-de-dos”—little hills that are like speed bumps—more than 250 times to make sure the car rode well. Best part: I get to peel out in someone else’s car. How cool is that?

The Road Warrior Christina Rodriguez, 36, Dearborn, MI; vehicle dynamics development engineer at Ford Motor Company What I do: Test out prototype Ford cars called “mules,” handmade models that haven’t gone into mass production yet. To make sure the car holds up under any conditions, we have a test track with 15 tricky road surfaces that re-create potholes, 120 marie claire / September 2009

The Lion Saver

this page: andrew hetherington. opposite page: philip j. briggs

What I do: Bust men who prey on kids for sex. To do so, I work with police across the country to set up stings. For instance, I’ll pose as a 13-year-old girl in an online chat room, and when a pedophile suggests that we meet somewhere, I’ll name a place, like a beach. Then, surprise: The police are there waiting for the guy, with handcuffs. Skeevy business: My very first chat with a predator was also my number-one slimiest bust. I went online pretending to be a girl who felt unloved. A man calling himself Fleet Captain Jamie Wolf started chatting with me, saying things that would make a kid feel special. “Oh, your parents don’t appreciate you,” he said. He was scarily smooth, and different than a lot of guys, who take a more direct approach— such as sending photos of their penises. Why send penis pictures? Some men say it’s a turn-on; others say it’s just what people do on the Internet. Also, let’s face

Leela Hazzah, 30, Maasailand, Kenya; director of the Lion Guardians Project, a nonprofit wildlife-conservation program

What I do: I protect Africa’s dwindling population of lions from getting speared, poisoned, or shot to death by Kenya’s famous Masai tribesmen, who see the animals as a nuisance. So I’ll do things like calm angry livestock owners when their favorite cow gets eaten by a lion, to prevent any retaliation. I also help researchers fit the cats with GPS collars that allow us to track them. That way, I can alert Masai farmers month 2009 / marie claire 121


when lions are around so the men can dodge danger zones. My digs: A tree house with a stunning view of Mount Kilimanjaro and a 360-degree panorama of the bush—perfect for watching wildlife and farmers herding their livestock. My dog, Taratibu, an African mastiff, guards my perch from any predators. Sometimes I feel like someone is watching me when I’m up in my tree, and sure enough, it’ll be a giraffe. Major mishaps: Being chased by a cross-eyed bull elephant. Getting stranded on the border of Malawi when my car broke down and having to hitch a ride with a lecherous lorry driver. Being airlifted by helicopter to a hospital in Nairobi for an emergency appendectomy. What I miss about the States: Paved roads. Goldfish crackers. Morningstar veggie hot dogs. I grew up in Washington, D.C., but after 10 years on and off in Africa, this is my home. IS THE BUSH Wired? Our camp has a limited phone network, which we use to connect to the Internet. But it’s not terribly reliable. WORST part of the job: Zero time off, especially since I’m also working toward my Ph.D. here. Best part: Gaining the respect of the Masai. One rainy night, a desperate mother came to my house carrying her sick baby; she begged me to take her to a clinic. My old Land Cruiser was barely working, but finally, after several attempts at hot-wiring, it sputtered to life. We bounced along bumpy, muddy roads for hours until we reached the clinic; two days later, the child was better. After that night, people saw me as part of the community, rather than an outsider.

122 marie claire / september 2009

The DISEASE FIGHTER

Anne Rimoin, 39, founder of Congo BioMed, a nonprofit that promotes biomedical research in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and assistant professor of epidemiology at UCLA

What I do: Study emerging diseases, especially ones that move from animals to humans, like monkeypox. I split my time between Los Angeles, where I teach college classes, and the Congo, where I conduct surveillance of people in the jungle who are eating animals that might carry the monkeypox virus, like squirrels, monkeys, or rodents. By studying diseases that cross species, such as the swine flu, we can learn how to prevent a pandemic, or worse: Monkeypox—a cousin of smallpox, with similar symptoms—is one of the most likely agents of bioterrorism. How I got the gig: After college, I joined the Peace Corps in West Africa, where I helped tackle Guinea worm disease. People were getting infected through drinking water; they’d unwittingly gulp some larvae, then later would get blisters on their skin that would hatch

worms. Yes, worms could come out of their faces, legs, feet. I learned how you could make a huge impact on health with a simple intervention—in this case, just having people filter their water by pouring it through a cloth. It was a perfect introduction to public health; I decided to go on to get a master’s and then a Ph.D. Why the Congo? It’s a hotbed of emerging diseases—Ebola was born here, along with some of the first cases of HIV. I came to work on a malaria study in 2002, but when I started looking into monkeypox, I realized it was a real problem. Yet no one was talking about it; everyone thought it would go away. In 2007, I started my nonprofit to study it. Major mishap: Once, we needed to take blood samples from people in a rural village, but a rumor had spread that we wanted to give the blood to white Europeans—so they could drink it to stay young. Of course, I understand that it’s strange for villagers when we swoop in and ask for blood. But days can be spent trying to explain that you’re not a vampire. WORST part OF THE JOB: There’s so much work to be done—there’s always an unmet need. Oh, and the time I got malaria. BEST part: The potential to save millions of lives.

» To donate time or money to Lion Guardians or Congo BioMed, go to lionguardians.org or congobiomed.org.

top: andrew hetherington, bottom: philip J. briggs

EXTREME JOBS


true crime

MUR DER IN RENO On a Monday morning, Darren Mack knifed his wife, shot the judge, and booked it to a swinger’s joint across the Mexican border. It’s a story straight from a daytime soap opera—or, as it happens—from the hometown streets of Amanda Robb. An inside look at domestic homicide, Reno-style. photographed by tod seelie/wpn

116 Marie Claire / dec 2006

dec 2006 / Marie Claire 117


true crime

MUR DER IN RENO On a Monday morning, Darren Mack knifed his wife, shot the judge, and booked it to a swinger’s joint across the Mexican border. It’s a story straight from a daytime soap opera—or, as it happens—from the hometown streets of Amanda Robb. An inside look at domestic homicide, Reno-style. photographed by tod seelie/wpn

116 Marie Claire / dec 2006

dec 2006 / Marie Claire 117


true crime

O

ne night last June, my sister called and said, “Turn on the news.” CNN was reporting that Reno, NV, pawnshop owner Darren Mack had stabbed his estranged wife, Charla, to death, then shot—sniper style— the judge hearing their divorce case. “Roseanne is engaged to his cousin,” my sister said of her best friend. “She used to be engaged to his brother.” “His first wife was the prettiest girl in my grade,” I said. “She and I both made out with Mark Dolby. Wait.” I climbed up on a chair to get my 1983 yearbook. “The wife he killed was in our class, too.” “Congressman Gibbons and the governor are on the local news saying what a great family the Macks are,” my little notes—never mind that Darren’s on the FBI’s mostwanted list.” “We come from a weird place,” I said. “No shit,” my sister said.

Reno,

for those of you who have never visited, is a city of 200,000 souls located in the westernmost crook of Nevada, where the Sierras give way to the Great Basin. Neither mountains nor desert are of postcard quality, but viewed together, they have a scrubby, stark charm. The town itself never had any particular architectural identity—save for a relatively new gambling hall made to look like a Western take on Victorian. Today, spots of man-made prettiness are obscured by big-box sprawl and mega-casino neon. Still, smalltown habits remain. Many families have lived here for generations, and when something—marriage, mayhem, murder—goes down, six degrees of separation are usually at least two too many. Quick, easy divorce was Reno’s first claim to fame (a marriage can be dissolved in a week at a cost of $479). The town’s second raison d’être was gambling, legalized statewide in 1931. Prostitution became lawful in 1971, as long as it took place in counties with populations of fewer than 200,000. There was definitely something liberating about growing up believing one parent is plenty, money is for fun, and sex is always available. But that trifecta isn’t necessarily a winning ticket. Nevada does have one of the highest domestic-homicide rates in the country. And my hometown did spawn Darren Mack. Mack is a swarthy, long-faced man with metrosexual habits and a monochromatic style of dressing. His wife, Charla, was a stop-and-stare-beautiful brunette with a taste for over-the-top, strong men. On the morning of June 12, 2006, Mack—millionaire, amateur bodybuilder, public figure, father, and soon-to-be-ex husband—is accused of nearly severing his estranged wife’s head with a military knife, shooting the judge hearing their divorce case, and hightailing it out of town to Los Cabos. 117 Marie Claire / dec 2006

Sex,

gambling, and murder—none of it seems out of place in Reno. It’s a soap-opera city, where fortunes can be lost in five minutes at the craps table, and you can get married—and divorced!—all in one vacation. Between 1977 and 1984, my mom worked graveyard weekend shifts as a 21 dealer at Harrah’s, the oldest casino on the town’s main drag. Over the course of seven years, she took, by her estimates, about $2 million out of the hands of her players. Some of those losers could be found 30 minutes later across the street, at the Mack family’s empire. Darren’s parents came to Reno in 1957. Using their own wedding presents, they opened up a pawnshop, Palace Jewelry & Loan, in 1958, in a three-story faux-stucco building that they once shared with the Agape Love Wedding Chapel (half-hour packages from $139.21). Since opening, Palace has earned the Mack family upwards of $15 million. Darren became half-owner of the pawnshop 20 years ago, at age 26, when his dad died in an airplane accident. Darren’s mom, Joan, owns the other half. Inside the store, leather jackets hang on a rack near the doorway and jewelry displays glitter in the windows. CDs, TVs, and stereo parts take up the middle section. Along the back wall is a mother lode of knives, guns, and rifles. Next to the weapons, a neon sign announces, “loan department.” This is where you pawn your treasures—or stolen goods. (If you’re robbed in northern Nevada, the first thing police often tell you to do is check pawnshops for your property.) One of Darren’s ex-employees, a former Palace loan officer, recalls “a nice lady with a gambling problem” who used to come into the pawnshop every few weeks to sell the entire inventory of her jewelry store. “Finally, one day, I told her, ‘You can’t keep doing this. You have a problem. You really need help,’” he tells me. “Afterward, Darren called me over. He got mad. He said to me, ‘She’ll just go down the street.’ I’m sure Darren was right. But still.” Darren wasn’t the only one in Reno with a pragmatic outlook on the financial universe. Perhaps any state so spare of natural resources would come to count on taking advantage of others. At any rate, it wasn’t a big surprise to me to learn that as soon as Family Court Judge Chuck Weller ordered Darren to pay Charla $10,000 a month in interim spousal support (based on his monthly income of $44,000), a good chunk of Darren’s assets (which totaled $9.4 million) suddenly began to disappear, and he declared personal bankruptcy. Nor was it shocking to find out that Palace was suing Charla for a $195,000 diamond ring and a $14,400 Rolex watch, which Charla claimed Darren had given her as gifts. (No, said Darren’s family, the jewelry pieces were loans from the pawnshop.) In fact, I didn’t even blink when I heard that Darren had stopped paying the utility bills at the $1.6 million Tudor-style house Charla shared with their 8-year-old daughter.

Murder,

most likely, was not something Charla worried about. She had no problem taking care of herself; this much everyone in town seems to agree on. Once, during a heated argument at the Las Vegas airport, she slapped Darren in the face (for general jerkiness). Another time, she socked his son in the chest (for hitting her dog: The animal and boy recovered; a judge ordered Charla to attend step-parenting classes). She complained publicly about their sex life, saying that Darren hadn’t gotten her off in years—and she reportedly told their young daughter, Erika, “Mommy has AIDS because Daddy won’t stop having sex with whores.” Before Charla met Darren, she was an aspiring actress in Los Angeles, where she moved after high school. (She left Reno Public High School after sophomore year and gradu-

ated elsewhere. Charla, Darren’s first wife Debbie, and I were all in the same class until then.) When Arnold Schwarz­enegger came into the restaurant where she was waiting tables in L.A., she was starstruck. She waited on him repeatedly. “I’m European,” Charla claimed he told her one day, “and people in Europe have a more relaxed attitude about having mistresses.” Charla, according to several Renoites, reportedly “dated” Schwarzenegger for two years. “But Arnold wasn’t helping her career at all,” Charla’s mother tells me. “She finally asked him for a part in a movie. And that was the end of that.” Charla eventually landed herself roles in two films— Heaven, directed by Diane Keaton, and Poison Ivy, starring Drew Barrymore. She also became a course supervisor for the extreme self-improvement group Landmark Forum, where she and Darren met. He taught a communications

Photo caption tk Ure feu facil ut ulla faccum quat. Acin ero od tem Photo caption tk Ure feu facil ut ulla faccum quat. Acin ero od tem Photo caption tk Ure feu facil ut ulla faccum quat. dec 2006 / Marie Claire 118


true crime

O

ne night last June, my sister called and said, “Turn on the news.” CNN was reporting that Reno, NV, pawnshop owner Darren Mack had stabbed his estranged wife, Charla, to death, then shot—sniper style— the judge hearing their divorce case. “Roseanne is engaged to his cousin,” my sister said of her best friend. “She used to be engaged to his brother.” “His first wife was the prettiest girl in my grade,” I said. “She and I both made out with Mark Dolby. Wait.” I climbed up on a chair to get my 1983 yearbook. “The wife he killed was in our class, too.” “Congressman Gibbons and the governor are on the local news saying what a great family the Macks are,” my little notes—never mind that Darren’s on the FBI’s mostwanted list.” “We come from a weird place,” I said. “No shit,” my sister said.

Reno,

for those of you who have never visited, is a city of 200,000 souls located in the westernmost crook of Nevada, where the Sierras give way to the Great Basin. Neither mountains nor desert are of postcard quality, but viewed together, they have a scrubby, stark charm. The town itself never had any particular architectural identity—save for a relatively new gambling hall made to look like a Western take on Victorian. Today, spots of man-made prettiness are obscured by big-box sprawl and mega-casino neon. Still, smalltown habits remain. Many families have lived here for generations, and when something—marriage, mayhem, murder—goes down, six degrees of separation are usually at least two too many. Quick, easy divorce was Reno’s first claim to fame (a marriage can be dissolved in a week at a cost of $479). The town’s second raison d’être was gambling, legalized statewide in 1931. Prostitution became lawful in 1971, as long as it took place in counties with populations of fewer than 200,000. There was definitely something liberating about growing up believing one parent is plenty, money is for fun, and sex is always available. But that trifecta isn’t necessarily a winning ticket. Nevada does have one of the highest domestic-homicide rates in the country. And my hometown did spawn Darren Mack. Mack is a swarthy, long-faced man with metrosexual habits and a monochromatic style of dressing. His wife, Charla, was a stop-and-stare-beautiful brunette with a taste for over-the-top, strong men. On the morning of June 12, 2006, Mack—millionaire, amateur bodybuilder, public figure, father, and soon-to-be-ex husband—is accused of nearly severing his estranged wife’s head with a military knife, shooting the judge hearing their divorce case, and hightailing it out of town to Los Cabos. 117 Marie Claire / dec 2006

Sex,

gambling, and murder—none of it seems out of place in Reno. It’s a soap-opera city, where fortunes can be lost in five minutes at the craps table, and you can get married—and divorced!—all in one vacation. Between 1977 and 1984, my mom worked graveyard weekend shifts as a 21 dealer at Harrah’s, the oldest casino on the town’s main drag. Over the course of seven years, she took, by her estimates, about $2 million out of the hands of her players. Some of those losers could be found 30 minutes later across the street, at the Mack family’s empire. Darren’s parents came to Reno in 1957. Using their own wedding presents, they opened up a pawnshop, Palace Jewelry & Loan, in 1958, in a three-story faux-stucco building that they once shared with the Agape Love Wedding Chapel (half-hour packages from $139.21). Since opening, Palace has earned the Mack family upwards of $15 million. Darren became half-owner of the pawnshop 20 years ago, at age 26, when his dad died in an airplane accident. Darren’s mom, Joan, owns the other half. Inside the store, leather jackets hang on a rack near the doorway and jewelry displays glitter in the windows. CDs, TVs, and stereo parts take up the middle section. Along the back wall is a mother lode of knives, guns, and rifles. Next to the weapons, a neon sign announces, “loan department.” This is where you pawn your treasures—or stolen goods. (If you’re robbed in northern Nevada, the first thing police often tell you to do is check pawnshops for your property.) One of Darren’s ex-employees, a former Palace loan officer, recalls “a nice lady with a gambling problem” who used to come into the pawnshop every few weeks to sell the entire inventory of her jewelry store. “Finally, one day, I told her, ‘You can’t keep doing this. You have a problem. You really need help,’” he tells me. “Afterward, Darren called me over. He got mad. He said to me, ‘She’ll just go down the street.’ I’m sure Darren was right. But still.” Darren wasn’t the only one in Reno with a pragmatic outlook on the financial universe. Perhaps any state so spare of natural resources would come to count on taking advantage of others. At any rate, it wasn’t a big surprise to me to learn that as soon as Family Court Judge Chuck Weller ordered Darren to pay Charla $10,000 a month in interim spousal support (based on his monthly income of $44,000), a good chunk of Darren’s assets (which totaled $9.4 million) suddenly began to disappear, and he declared personal bankruptcy. Nor was it shocking to find out that Palace was suing Charla for a $195,000 diamond ring and a $14,400 Rolex watch, which Charla claimed Darren had given her as gifts. (No, said Darren’s family, the jewelry pieces were loans from the pawnshop.) In fact, I didn’t even blink when I heard that Darren had stopped paying the utility bills at the $1.6 million Tudor-style house Charla shared with their 8-year-old daughter.

Murder,

most likely, was not something Charla worried about. She had no problem taking care of herself; this much everyone in town seems to agree on. Once, during a heated argument at the Las Vegas airport, she slapped Darren in the face (for general jerkiness). Another time, she socked his son in the chest (for hitting her dog: The animal and boy recovered; a judge ordered Charla to attend step-parenting classes). She complained publicly about their sex life, saying that Darren hadn’t gotten her off in years—and she reportedly told their young daughter, Erika, “Mommy has AIDS because Daddy won’t stop having sex with whores.” Before Charla met Darren, she was an aspiring actress in Los Angeles, where she moved after high school. (She left Reno Public High School after sophomore year and gradu-

ated elsewhere. Charla, Darren’s first wife Debbie, and I were all in the same class until then.) When Arnold Schwarz­enegger came into the restaurant where she was waiting tables in L.A., she was starstruck. She waited on him repeatedly. “I’m European,” Charla claimed he told her one day, “and people in Europe have a more relaxed attitude about having mistresses.” Charla, according to several Renoites, reportedly “dated” Schwarzenegger for two years. “But Arnold wasn’t helping her career at all,” Charla’s mother tells me. “She finally asked him for a part in a movie. And that was the end of that.” Charla eventually landed herself roles in two films— Heaven, directed by Diane Keaton, and Poison Ivy, starring Drew Barrymore. She also became a course supervisor for the extreme self-improvement group Landmark Forum, where she and Darren met. He taught a communications

Photo caption tk Ure feu facil ut ulla faccum quat. Acin ero od tem Photo caption tk Ure feu facil ut ulla faccum quat. Acin ero od tem Photo caption tk Ure feu facil ut ulla faccum quat. dec 2006 / Marie Claire 118


true crime

dated for the last year of her life. “After they separated, Charla was able to log on and figure out when Darren was going swinging—and noticed that the dates corresponded to the days he had Erika.” Taking children to sex parties—not likely to win Darren sympathy in the eyes of Judge Weller. And if Renoites found out, well, the humiliation would be huge. And Darren, Phillips tells me, “was all about looking good.”

around 9 a.m.: charla mack drops daughter erika off at darren’s townhouse.

around 10 a.m.: Darren heads to his local starbucks for tea and a lemon bar.

course for the organization and kept a LifeClock that ticked backward, reminding him constantly of how little time he a physical resemblance to Darren’s first wife; the women even shared the same birthday), the timing was perfect: He had recently announced to friends that he was “committed to being married within the year.” Together, Charla and Darren lived the Reno high life. They married in a lavish Lake Tahoe ceremony in May 1995. Shortly thereafter, they bought a $950,000, 5700-square-foot Tudorstyle home on six acres, then spent another $350K digging a pond for their backyard and transforming a room on the property into a private gym, the walls plastered with mirrors. Money was also spent on sex—and copious amounts of pornography. (Local boys hired to help move them in gleefully told the entire neighborhood that the couple had “boxes of porn!”) The pair became fixtures at Fantasy Girls, a local strip club with three poles, bare-knuckle boxing broadcasts, and a back room for private lap dances. “She was into it, too,” says Phil Pape, Mr. Nevada 2002 and Darren’s posing coach for local bodybuilding competitions. “I used to see them at BuBinga Lounge, the Reno nightclub, and Charla would sit on other guys’ laps. She used to give me huge hugs in front of her husband, which was awkward. I didn’t know what to do. But then someone told me they were swingers.” Soon, the Macks became regulars on the partner­swapping circuit, joining swinger groups such as Eutopia. After they separated, Darren held a “divorce party” at the Moonlite BunnyRanch, a brothel 34 miles south of Reno made famous in the HBO series Cathouse.

Violent

reactions to the Macks’ lifestyle would be understandable. As a feminist, I feel like I should now begin a rant against the sex industry and insinuate that its debauching influence contributed to Charla’s murder.

116 Marie Claire / dec 2006

10:46 a.m.: Darren’s SUV enters a parking garage near the judge’s chambers.

later that day: Darren tosses his dead wife’s cell out the car window near robb drive.

But, Gloria Steinem forgive me, I’m a Reno girl, too. Puritanical attitudes about basic human instincts just aren’t in me. Of course, there’s such a thing as gluttony. And Reno— offering a plethora of dazzling bikini waxes, sex toys, and paid-for partners—can certainly cause sensation overload. In court documents, Charla claimed she was divorcing Darren because of the nonstop sex. “Mr. Mack has certain sexual interests,” her lawyer wrote to Judge Weller. “While Mrs. Mack was prepared to go along in an effort to save the marriage, she ultimately decided that his interests left her feeling unloved, unsupported, and unfulfilled.” Darren countered that Charla was the pervert. “She has physically attacked me over 20 times,” he told his lawyer. He also wrote in a diary that Charla threatened, “I will cut off your penis and put it in the freezer if you leave me.” Personally, I don’t buy that Charla was leaving Darren over the sex. “She’d tell him he had to stop swinging to save the marriage,” one of the (many) counselors the couple saw confides to me. “He’d say, ‘OK, baby, if that’s what it takes.’ Then she’d make reservations for them to go sexing, saying, ‘Oh, sweetie, I know it makes you happy.’” I think what really drove Charla out of her million-dollar home and her fancy jewelry was Darren’s infantile whining. Excerpts from Darren’s seven-page, single-spaced “Diary of Incidents of Unacceptable Behavior by Charla”: — “Charla would call me multiple times a day at work and would criticize me” — “Months of withheld sex” — “Tried to kick me in balls but missed” — “Eats bad foods for her, asks me to help her with her food compulsiveness, then when I attempted to support her she would denigrate me” Granted, it’s a big leap from whiner to murderer. Darren made the jump in late spring, around the time he learned that Charla had uncovered some damaging information. “Darren never changed the passwords on his swingers’ websites,” says Mark Phillips, a weight lifter Charla

Weapon

access was not a problem. At his pawnshop, Darren had a virtual arsenal for sale. To kill Charla, he chose a Gerber dagger, a knife trusted by the military. For Judge Weller, he used his own Bushmaster .223 rifle, the same kind of weapon John Allen Muhammad and Lee Malvo used for their 2002 sniper spree in the Washington, DC, area. On a sunny Monday morning in June, Darren set out to complete a cryptic to-do list that police would later find in his kitchen. — “Dan take Erika to Joan” — “Close garage door” — “End problem” — “Put Lex in garage” — “Parking garage - if yes” Around 9 a.m., Charla arrived at Darren’s townhouse, where he’d been living since the divorce proceedings began, to drop off Erika. Later, the girl would remember how her father’s hands were shaking when he answered the door. Inside the townhouse, Darren’s friend, Dan Osborne, greeted her. Big surprise! Dan was going to take Erika over to her Grandma Joan’s house so Darren and Charla could talk in private. “OK,” said Erika, but first she wanted something to eat. She and Osborne went upstairs. Fifteen minutes later, Erika put down her snack and turned away from the Animal Planet show on TV. “Is that your dog barking?” she asked. Osborne went to investigate. Downstairs, his dog—face, neck, and paws covered in blood—slinked in from the garage. Darren was right behind, a large towel swathed around one hand and a weird look on his face. Osborne ran upstairs and told Erika they needed to leave for her grandma’s house. Immediately. En route to Joan’s, Osborne’s cell phone rang. Could he and Erika come to Starbucks? Darren wanted to know. He needed to see his daughter. After a quick cup of tea and a lemon bar, Darren left Starbucks in his gray Ford Explorer. At approximately 10:46 a.m., the Explorer entered a parking garage near Reno’s family court. At 11:05, a courthouse employee called 911 to report that Judge Weller, who’d been hearing the Macks’ divorce case, had been shot in the chest by a sniper. At 2:12 p.m., police detectives found three drops of blood in Darren’s driveway. Inside the garage, they found Charla,

dead from stab wounds—a severed carotid artery, a nearly cut-in-half esophagus—similar to those that killed Nicole Brown Simpson. Meanwhile, after shooting the judge, Darren sped west toward California, tossing Charla’s phone out his window near Robb Drive (named, incidentally, after my grandfather, a local college athlete in the 1930s). From Sacramento, he drove to Mexico. But instead of lying low, he checked into a Los Cabos resort where he’d gone swinging in the past. Around the same time, Darren apparently began e-mailing Fox News Channel anchor Greta Van Susteren (with whom he had no previous connection): “I have a story to tell and a difference to be made. They want me as the sacrificial lamb. They want the pleasure of executing me . . . People have to understand that condemning any act in response to . . . divorce court . . . is like condemning us now for using violence with Osama.” Van Susteren later wrote on her blog that she thought the messages were “a hoax or someone who might be troubled” and ignored them. In a matter of days, Darren Mack made it onto the FBI’s most-wanted list. Friends and family expressed concern for the pawnshop king, now on the lam. In true Reno fashion, there was less than one degree of separation between Darren and the Nevada authorities who finally convinced him to turn himself in—Richard Gammick, Washoe County’s district attorney, was also one of Darren’s closest friends. Now Darren sits, in a red jumpsuit, in Washoe County Jail, awaiting trial for murder. His daughter is the object of a new custody battle, between her two grandmas. The child worries that her dad doesn’t like jail food and isn’t allowed to shower as often as he’d like.

Killers,

at least serial killers, are made from a perfect emotional storm of an abusive past, mental illness, and neurological defect, according to some forensic neurologists. The ballad of Darren and Charla makes me wonder if there’s an ideal environment for murder, too. If so, I bet Reno’s got it covered. It’s late in the evening when I walk out of the oppressive Nevada heat and into Fantasy Girls strip club, Darren and Charla’s old stomping ground. Onstage, shimmering waxed crotches gyrate enthusiastically. Directly behind them, a floor-to-ceiling screen broadcasts life-size, live telecasts of ultimate fighter “Iceman,” choking his opponent into unconsciousness with his hands. The explicit linking of sex and violence grosses me out—but not as much as the men slumped in their seats, moaning in pleasure over it. Six miles southwest, Charla is cold in her grave; four miles south, Darren is sweltering in a cell. Money, sex, violence, and murder. It’s a story only Reno could do so well. And damn, with my mouth, I’m just glad I got out alive. dec 2006 / Marie Claire 117


true crime

dated for the last year of her life. “After they separated, Charla was able to log on and figure out when Darren was going swinging—and noticed that the dates corresponded to the days he had Erika.” Taking children to sex parties—not likely to win Darren sympathy in the eyes of Judge Weller. And if Renoites found out, well, the humiliation would be huge. And Darren, Phillips tells me, “was all about looking good.”

around 9 a.m.: charla mack drops daughter erika off at darren’s townhouse.

around 10 a.m.: Darren heads to his local starbucks for tea and a lemon bar.

course for the organization and kept a LifeClock that ticked backward, reminding him constantly of how little time he a physical resemblance to Darren’s first wife; the women even shared the same birthday), the timing was perfect: He had recently announced to friends that he was “committed to being married within the year.” Together, Charla and Darren lived the Reno high life. They married in a lavish Lake Tahoe ceremony in May 1995. Shortly thereafter, they bought a $950,000, 5700-square-foot Tudorstyle home on six acres, then spent another $350K digging a pond for their backyard and transforming a room on the property into a private gym, the walls plastered with mirrors. Money was also spent on sex—and copious amounts of pornography. (Local boys hired to help move them in gleefully told the entire neighborhood that the couple had “boxes of porn!”) The pair became fixtures at Fantasy Girls, a local strip club with three poles, bare-knuckle boxing broadcasts, and a back room for private lap dances. “She was into it, too,” says Phil Pape, Mr. Nevada 2002 and Darren’s posing coach for local bodybuilding competitions. “I used to see them at BuBinga Lounge, the Reno nightclub, and Charla would sit on other guys’ laps. She used to give me huge hugs in front of her husband, which was awkward. I didn’t know what to do. But then someone told me they were swingers.” Soon, the Macks became regulars on the partner­swapping circuit, joining swinger groups such as Eutopia. After they separated, Darren held a “divorce party” at the Moonlite BunnyRanch, a brothel 34 miles south of Reno made famous in the HBO series Cathouse.

Violent

reactions to the Macks’ lifestyle would be understandable. As a feminist, I feel like I should now begin a rant against the sex industry and insinuate that its debauching influence contributed to Charla’s murder.

116 Marie Claire / dec 2006

10:46 a.m.: Darren’s SUV enters a parking garage near the judge’s chambers.

later that day: Darren tosses his dead wife’s cell out the car window near robb drive.

But, Gloria Steinem forgive me, I’m a Reno girl, too. Puritanical attitudes about basic human instincts just aren’t in me. Of course, there’s such a thing as gluttony. And Reno— offering a plethora of dazzling bikini waxes, sex toys, and paid-for partners—can certainly cause sensation overload. In court documents, Charla claimed she was divorcing Darren because of the nonstop sex. “Mr. Mack has certain sexual interests,” her lawyer wrote to Judge Weller. “While Mrs. Mack was prepared to go along in an effort to save the marriage, she ultimately decided that his interests left her feeling unloved, unsupported, and unfulfilled.” Darren countered that Charla was the pervert. “She has physically attacked me over 20 times,” he told his lawyer. He also wrote in a diary that Charla threatened, “I will cut off your penis and put it in the freezer if you leave me.” Personally, I don’t buy that Charla was leaving Darren over the sex. “She’d tell him he had to stop swinging to save the marriage,” one of the (many) counselors the couple saw confides to me. “He’d say, ‘OK, baby, if that’s what it takes.’ Then she’d make reservations for them to go sexing, saying, ‘Oh, sweetie, I know it makes you happy.’” I think what really drove Charla out of her million-dollar home and her fancy jewelry was Darren’s infantile whining. Excerpts from Darren’s seven-page, single-spaced “Diary of Incidents of Unacceptable Behavior by Charla”: — “Charla would call me multiple times a day at work and would criticize me” — “Months of withheld sex” — “Tried to kick me in balls but missed” — “Eats bad foods for her, asks me to help her with her food compulsiveness, then when I attempted to support her she would denigrate me” Granted, it’s a big leap from whiner to murderer. Darren made the jump in late spring, around the time he learned that Charla had uncovered some damaging information. “Darren never changed the passwords on his swingers’ websites,” says Mark Phillips, a weight lifter Charla

Weapon

access was not a problem. At his pawnshop, Darren had a virtual arsenal for sale. To kill Charla, he chose a Gerber dagger, a knife trusted by the military. For Judge Weller, he used his own Bushmaster .223 rifle, the same kind of weapon John Allen Muhammad and Lee Malvo used for their 2002 sniper spree in the Washington, DC, area. On a sunny Monday morning in June, Darren set out to complete a cryptic to-do list that police would later find in his kitchen. — “Dan take Erika to Joan” — “Close garage door” — “End problem” — “Put Lex in garage” — “Parking garage - if yes” Around 9 a.m., Charla arrived at Darren’s townhouse, where he’d been living since the divorce proceedings began, to drop off Erika. Later, the girl would remember how her father’s hands were shaking when he answered the door. Inside the townhouse, Darren’s friend, Dan Osborne, greeted her. Big surprise! Dan was going to take Erika over to her Grandma Joan’s house so Darren and Charla could talk in private. “OK,” said Erika, but first she wanted something to eat. She and Osborne went upstairs. Fifteen minutes later, Erika put down her snack and turned away from the Animal Planet show on TV. “Is that your dog barking?” she asked. Osborne went to investigate. Downstairs, his dog—face, neck, and paws covered in blood—slinked in from the garage. Darren was right behind, a large towel swathed around one hand and a weird look on his face. Osborne ran upstairs and told Erika they needed to leave for her grandma’s house. Immediately. En route to Joan’s, Osborne’s cell phone rang. Could he and Erika come to Starbucks? Darren wanted to know. He needed to see his daughter. After a quick cup of tea and a lemon bar, Darren left Starbucks in his gray Ford Explorer. At approximately 10:46 a.m., the Explorer entered a parking garage near Reno’s family court. At 11:05, a courthouse employee called 911 to report that Judge Weller, who’d been hearing the Macks’ divorce case, had been shot in the chest by a sniper. At 2:12 p.m., police detectives found three drops of blood in Darren’s driveway. Inside the garage, they found Charla,

dead from stab wounds—a severed carotid artery, a nearly cut-in-half esophagus—similar to those that killed Nicole Brown Simpson. Meanwhile, after shooting the judge, Darren sped west toward California, tossing Charla’s phone out his window near Robb Drive (named, incidentally, after my grandfather, a local college athlete in the 1930s). From Sacramento, he drove to Mexico. But instead of lying low, he checked into a Los Cabos resort where he’d gone swinging in the past. Around the same time, Darren apparently began e-mailing Fox News Channel anchor Greta Van Susteren (with whom he had no previous connection): “I have a story to tell and a difference to be made. They want me as the sacrificial lamb. They want the pleasure of executing me . . . People have to understand that condemning any act in response to . . . divorce court . . . is like condemning us now for using violence with Osama.” Van Susteren later wrote on her blog that she thought the messages were “a hoax or someone who might be troubled” and ignored them. In a matter of days, Darren Mack made it onto the FBI’s most-wanted list. Friends and family expressed concern for the pawnshop king, now on the lam. In true Reno fashion, there was less than one degree of separation between Darren and the Nevada authorities who finally convinced him to turn himself in—Richard Gammick, Washoe County’s district attorney, was also one of Darren’s closest friends. Now Darren sits, in a red jumpsuit, in Washoe County Jail, awaiting trial for murder. His daughter is the object of a new custody battle, between her two grandmas. The child worries that her dad doesn’t like jail food and isn’t allowed to shower as often as he’d like.

Killers,

at least serial killers, are made from a perfect emotional storm of an abusive past, mental illness, and neurological defect, according to some forensic neurologists. The ballad of Darren and Charla makes me wonder if there’s an ideal environment for murder, too. If so, I bet Reno’s got it covered. It’s late in the evening when I walk out of the oppressive Nevada heat and into Fantasy Girls strip club, Darren and Charla’s old stomping ground. Onstage, shimmering waxed crotches gyrate enthusiastically. Directly behind them, a floor-to-ceiling screen broadcasts life-size, live telecasts of ultimate fighter “Iceman,” choking his opponent into unconsciousness with his hands. The explicit linking of sex and violence grosses me out—but not as much as the men slumped in their seats, moaning in pleasure over it. Six miles southwest, Charla is cold in her grave; four miles south, Darren is sweltering in a cell. Money, sex, violence, and murder. It’s a story only Reno could do so well. And damn, with my mouth, I’m just glad I got out alive. dec 2006 / Marie Claire 117


real life home

THINKING A CLEVER OWNER PACKS A TINY HOUSE WITH GREAT DECORATING IDEAS AND SMART STORAGE SOLUTIONS

OUTSIDE THE BOX

top spin | O P P O S I T E PA G E | Album covers featuring ’50s stars, part of a vintage record collection, are elevated to graphic art when slipped into clean-lined frames and hung in rows on a living room wall. | A B O V E | Martha Saldumbide played up the bungalow’s gold stucco, a color she originally spotted on another house and persuaded the owner to divulge, with crisp black awnings and white pillars.

W R I T T E N BY P E N E LO P E G R E E N P H OTO G R A P H S BY L I S A R O M E R E I N

000

O P P O S I T E PAG E , P H OTO : M A RT H A S A L D U M B I D E .

T

he little 1940s bungalow is barely 1,300 square feet, just an unassuming stucco box on a quiet street in the foothills of the San Gabriel mountains in Sierra Madre, California. But like so much in life, what’s inside feels a lot larger—more vivid and tantalizing— than what’s suggested by the simple shell. With each room glowing a different color and storage solutions so witty and graphic you’d mistake some of them for art installations, it’s clear this isn’t your ordinary house. So sharpen your pencils. You’re going to want to take notes. “We don’t have large means and we certainly don’t have a lot of space,” says Martha Saldumbide, who shares this luminous home with her husband, Chuck, their 15-year-old son, Spencer, and a chocolate Lab named Lazslo. “It’s about making the most of what you have.” An interior design specialist at IKEA, in charge of deploying the thousands of offerings from the Swedish furniture giant into an ever-changing series of alluring dioramas, Martha is a quick-change artist with a sharp eye. She’s made her own home into a kind of design laboratory, brimming with ideas and possibilities.


real life home

THINKING A CLEVER OWNER PACKS A TINY HOUSE WITH GREAT DECORATING IDEAS AND SMART STORAGE SOLUTIONS

OUTSIDE THE BOX

top spin | O P P O S I T E PA G E | Album covers featuring ’50s stars, part of a vintage record collection, are elevated to graphic art when slipped into clean-lined frames and hung in rows on a living room wall. | A B O V E | Martha Saldumbide played up the bungalow’s gold stucco, a color she originally spotted on another house and persuaded the owner to divulge, with crisp black awnings and white pillars.

W R I T T E N BY P E N E LO P E G R E E N P H OTO G R A P H S BY L I S A R O M E R E I N

000

O P P O S I T E PAG E , P H OTO : M A RT H A S A L D U M B I D E .

T

he little 1940s bungalow is barely 1,300 square feet, just an unassuming stucco box on a quiet street in the foothills of the San Gabriel mountains in Sierra Madre, California. But like so much in life, what’s inside feels a lot larger—more vivid and tantalizing— than what’s suggested by the simple shell. With each room glowing a different color and storage solutions so witty and graphic you’d mistake some of them for art installations, it’s clear this isn’t your ordinary house. So sharpen your pencils. You’re going to want to take notes. “We don’t have large means and we certainly don’t have a lot of space,” says Martha Saldumbide, who shares this luminous home with her husband, Chuck, their 15-year-old son, Spencer, and a chocolate Lab named Lazslo. “It’s about making the most of what you have.” An interior design specialist at IKEA, in charge of deploying the thousands of offerings from the Swedish furniture giant into an ever-changing series of alluring dioramas, Martha is a quick-change artist with a sharp eye. She’s made her own home into a kind of design laboratory, brimming with ideas and possibilities.


where do I get that? All items, IKEA; ikea-usa.com. All paint, Dunn-Edwards Paints, $26 per gallon; dunnedwards.com. | PAGE 000 | Reslig frame, $14.99. Järpen shelf, $9.99. Månad pendant lamp, $34.99. Poäng tables, $49.99. Green Hemp paint (DE196). | O P P O S I T E PA G E | Top left: Kantra bench/table, $79. Indo Gabbeh rug, $595. Ennis Book paint (DE127). Top right: Fjelldal loft bed, $349. Innervik desk chair, $129. Bits magnet board, $6.99. Olive Branch paint (DE154). Bottom right: Kassett wall pockets, $3.99 for 2. | L E F T | Lack wall shelves, $12.99 to $19.99. Branäs baskets, $7.99 each. | PAG E 0 0 0 | Agen wicker chair, $24.99. Rens sheepskin, $19.99. Light Tanpaint (DE166). | PAG E 0 0 0 | Ekticka mirror, $79. Karlanda sofa, $799. Nabben cushion, $19.99. Indo rug, $299. | PAG E 0 0 0 | Jelken table lamp, $39.99. Billdal mirror, $29.99. Subtle Iris paint (SP216). | PAG E 0 0 0 | Bonde storage unit, components priced separately, $25 to $189. Magiker bookcase lamp, $12.99. Mackis magazine file, $7.99. Vimmel cocktail glass, $2.99. Optimal wine glass, $1.99. IKEA/365+ cup and saucer set, $3.99 each.

shelf life | O P P O S I T E PA G E | Bodega

The house was a dungeon, she says, when she and her husband found it in 1987. The windows were painted shut and cloaked in Venetian blinds and heavy curtains. The walls of the den were covered in porn-video pseudowood paneling, and crouched outside that room lived a huge, throbbing contraption called a swamp cooler. “If I could show you the ‘before’ pictures,” Martha says, “you’d be pretty devastated.” So they hacked out the swamp cooler and the paneling, ripped out the grotty linoleum in the back and laid down red oak to match the floors in the rest of the house. Two years ago, Martha chopped up the closet that nearly blocked the front hall and painted the space a delicious shade of sky blue. She replaced the front door with a glass one and had it made with horizontal mullions to match the windows on the house. From the

000

street, the blue sort of vibrates through the glass panes; the new interior view has caused some head-scratching among Martha’s neighbors. “Hey! Where’s your front door?” one yelled after the work had been done. In place of the closet, there’s an undulating seafoam-colored laminate and birch chest (now discontinued) from IKEA; its nine square drawers just right for extra sunglasses, purses and scarves. Artful storage— and lots of it—is a Saldumbide signature. Crisscrossing the back hall is a generous grid of pegs, upon which are hung everything from Martha’s shoulder bag to Lazslo’s leash. The grid turns each object into wall art, and pretty much erases the usual morning scramble. “Everything is all lined up waiting for me,” says Martha, who leaves the house at 6 A.M. for work. Her husband, telecommunications coordinator

P R O P S T Y L I N G : JA K E K L E I N . H A I R A N D M A K E U P : C H R I S T I A N A N T H O N Y F O R C LO U T I E R AG E N C Y.CO M .

candles and a toy clown from Martha’s toddlerhood accessorize a trio of zigzagged shelves. | C LO C K W I S E , F RO M A B OV E | Martha’s pared-down style also suits son Spencer, shown here with Lazslo the dog; a loft with a double bed accommodates Spencer’s pint-size bedroom—and his 5'11" frame; the kitchen’s grid of cardboard pockets organizes everything from take-out menus to a lemon-yellow flyswatter.

for the town of Beverly Hills, leaves a bit later. But he’s up when she is, making lunch, which he hands off to her as she walks out the door. “He’s pretty swell,” she says. A kitchen wall flaunts another grid, made from two rows of cardboard wall pockets from IKEA. In addition to giving graphic punch to a blank space, they are enormously useful, holding take-out menus, the mail and school notices. Indeed, every corner of the house is about making, she says, “something that’s an aesthetically pleasing statement instead of a pile of junk.” IKEA’s Bonde shelving in the living room tethers Chuck’s vast record collection. Martha framed the more nostalgic and archly designed covers, like those of Connie Francis, Anita O’Day and Frank Sinatra, in slim black metal IKEA frames. Spencer’s room holds a small herd of Fender guitars,

deployed like sculptures against the deep-green walls; the color is Olive Branch, from Dunn-Edwards Paints. “I was a little worried when Spencer said he wanted ‘army green,’” says Martha, “but it turned out to be pretty good-looking.” IKEA’s Fjelldal loft bed makes for a kind of studio underneath. The innards of this little house have grown as its family has, the rooms made even more supple because of Martha’s career switch 11 years ago. She was 37 at the time, a successful commercial actress, who, picking up the threads of a childhood passion, went back to school for a degree in interior architecture. “It was scary, at that age, walking away from something that was very lucrative and saying that my mental health—my peace of mind—was important,” she says. She was propelled, too, by her notion that good design

000


where do I get that? All items, IKEA; ikea-usa.com. All paint, Dunn-Edwards Paints, $26 per gallon; dunnedwards.com. | PAGE 000 | Reslig frame, $14.99. Järpen shelf, $9.99. Månad pendant lamp, $34.99. Poäng tables, $49.99. Green Hemp paint (DE196). | O P P O S I T E PA G E | Top left: Kantra bench/table, $79. Indo Gabbeh rug, $595. Ennis Book paint (DE127). Top right: Fjelldal loft bed, $349. Innervik desk chair, $129. Bits magnet board, $6.99. Olive Branch paint (DE154). Bottom right: Kassett wall pockets, $3.99 for 2. | L E F T | Lack wall shelves, $12.99 to $19.99. Branäs baskets, $7.99 each. | PAG E 0 0 0 | Agen wicker chair, $24.99. Rens sheepskin, $19.99. Light Tanpaint (DE166). | PAG E 0 0 0 | Ekticka mirror, $79. Karlanda sofa, $799. Nabben cushion, $19.99. Indo rug, $299. | PAG E 0 0 0 | Jelken table lamp, $39.99. Billdal mirror, $29.99. Subtle Iris paint (SP216). | PAG E 0 0 0 | Bonde storage unit, components priced separately, $25 to $189. Magiker bookcase lamp, $12.99. Mackis magazine file, $7.99. Vimmel cocktail glass, $2.99. Optimal wine glass, $1.99. IKEA/365+ cup and saucer set, $3.99 each.

shelf life | O P P O S I T E PA G E | Bodega

The house was a dungeon, she says, when she and her husband found it in 1987. The windows were painted shut and cloaked in Venetian blinds and heavy curtains. The walls of the den were covered in porn-video pseudowood paneling, and crouched outside that room lived a huge, throbbing contraption called a swamp cooler. “If I could show you the ‘before’ pictures,” Martha says, “you’d be pretty devastated.” So they hacked out the swamp cooler and the paneling, ripped out the grotty linoleum in the back and laid down red oak to match the floors in the rest of the house. Two years ago, Martha chopped up the closet that nearly blocked the front hall and painted the space a delicious shade of sky blue. She replaced the front door with a glass one and had it made with horizontal mullions to match the windows on the house. From the

000

street, the blue sort of vibrates through the glass panes; the new interior view has caused some head-scratching among Martha’s neighbors. “Hey! Where’s your front door?” one yelled after the work had been done. In place of the closet, there’s an undulating seafoam-colored laminate and birch chest (now discontinued) from IKEA; its nine square drawers just right for extra sunglasses, purses and scarves. Artful storage— and lots of it—is a Saldumbide signature. Crisscrossing the back hall is a generous grid of pegs, upon which are hung everything from Martha’s shoulder bag to Lazslo’s leash. The grid turns each object into wall art, and pretty much erases the usual morning scramble. “Everything is all lined up waiting for me,” says Martha, who leaves the house at 6 A.M. for work. Her husband, telecommunications coordinator

P R O P S T Y L I N G : JA K E K L E I N . H A I R A N D M A K E U P : C H R I S T I A N A N T H O N Y F O R C LO U T I E R AG E N C Y.CO M .

candles and a toy clown from Martha’s toddlerhood accessorize a trio of zigzagged shelves. | C LO C K W I S E , F RO M A B OV E | Martha’s pared-down style also suits son Spencer, shown here with Lazslo the dog; a loft with a double bed accommodates Spencer’s pint-size bedroom—and his 5'11" frame; the kitchen’s grid of cardboard pockets organizes everything from take-out menus to a lemon-yellow flyswatter.

for the town of Beverly Hills, leaves a bit later. But he’s up when she is, making lunch, which he hands off to her as she walks out the door. “He’s pretty swell,” she says. A kitchen wall flaunts another grid, made from two rows of cardboard wall pockets from IKEA. In addition to giving graphic punch to a blank space, they are enormously useful, holding take-out menus, the mail and school notices. Indeed, every corner of the house is about making, she says, “something that’s an aesthetically pleasing statement instead of a pile of junk.” IKEA’s Bonde shelving in the living room tethers Chuck’s vast record collection. Martha framed the more nostalgic and archly designed covers, like those of Connie Francis, Anita O’Day and Frank Sinatra, in slim black metal IKEA frames. Spencer’s room holds a small herd of Fender guitars,

deployed like sculptures against the deep-green walls; the color is Olive Branch, from Dunn-Edwards Paints. “I was a little worried when Spencer said he wanted ‘army green,’” says Martha, “but it turned out to be pretty good-looking.” IKEA’s Fjelldal loft bed makes for a kind of studio underneath. The innards of this little house have grown as its family has, the rooms made even more supple because of Martha’s career switch 11 years ago. She was 37 at the time, a successful commercial actress, who, picking up the threads of a childhood passion, went back to school for a degree in interior architecture. “It was scary, at that age, walking away from something that was very lucrative and saying that my mental health—my peace of mind—was important,” she says. She was propelled, too, by her notion that good design

000


martha’s vineyard A VERY GOOD THING

For Beth Levine, it’s

PHOTOGRAPHS BY ERICKA McCONNELL

158

postcard

“I’m here,” I sigh to myself. I lean over the railing of the ferry, feeling sorry for those who have just gotten off. They had to leave Martha’s Vineyard, a wondrous island south of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. As the ferry moves into Vineyard Sound, I stay by the railing, waiting for the second that the island glides into sight. That’s when my body relaxes with a deep release I feel at no other time of year. I’m here, in my most favorite place.

where her family goes each summer to reconnect. My family and I have been going to Martha’s Vineyard every summer for 13 years. By family, I mean my mother, my father—when he was alive—two sisters, my brother, and all of our spouses and children. Some years, we are joined by aunts, uncles, cousins and cousins’ children as well. We are one of those increasingly rare families that actually enjoy one another’s company. Every year, we set aside one or two weeks in the summer to reconvene, and take four condos in a time-sharing community, called Mattakesett, on South Beach, which is south of Edgartown. Over the years, the Vineyard (as everyone calls it) has become our little slice of heaven. It’s a healing place as well. In that magic air, we have worked out ancient sibling rivalries—with God as my witness, before I die, I will beat my brother at Scrabble—sympathized with each other through illnesses and job woes, and rejoiced in one another’s successes. After we lost my father, we came back to feel him nearby. Sometimes, I swear I can see him sunning on the back porch. The wind, the smell of the air, the quality of light—they make everything seem possible. Best of all, our children, who might have just barely known each other from an odd visit here or there, have grown up and hit all their milestones together ➤


martha’s vineyard A VERY GOOD THING

For Beth Levine, it’s

PHOTOGRAPHS BY ERICKA McCONNELL

158

postcard

“I’m here,” I sigh to myself. I lean over the railing of the ferry, feeling sorry for those who have just gotten off. They had to leave Martha’s Vineyard, a wondrous island south of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. As the ferry moves into Vineyard Sound, I stay by the railing, waiting for the second that the island glides into sight. That’s when my body relaxes with a deep release I feel at no other time of year. I’m here, in my most favorite place.

where her family goes each summer to reconnect. My family and I have been going to Martha’s Vineyard every summer for 13 years. By family, I mean my mother, my father—when he was alive—two sisters, my brother, and all of our spouses and children. Some years, we are joined by aunts, uncles, cousins and cousins’ children as well. We are one of those increasingly rare families that actually enjoy one another’s company. Every year, we set aside one or two weeks in the summer to reconvene, and take four condos in a time-sharing community, called Mattakesett, on South Beach, which is south of Edgartown. Over the years, the Vineyard (as everyone calls it) has become our little slice of heaven. It’s a healing place as well. In that magic air, we have worked out ancient sibling rivalries—with God as my witness, before I die, I will beat my brother at Scrabble—sympathized with each other through illnesses and job woes, and rejoiced in one another’s successes. After we lost my father, we came back to feel him nearby. Sometimes, I swear I can see him sunning on the back porch. The wind, the smell of the air, the quality of light—they make everything seem possible. Best of all, our children, who might have just barely known each other from an odd visit here or there, have grown up and hit all their milestones together ➤

feature layouts  

features, marie claire and lifetime magazine