At Chelsea’s old McKittrick Hotel, Jay McInerney presides over one of the strangest ‘salons’ we’ve ever witnessed. ‘Bright Lights, Big City’ isn’t dead after all.
This past Sunday night, we hesitantly headed out to see what this strange e-vite was all about, Tivo-ing “Mad Men,” “The Killing,” etc., and jumping in a cab.
Billed as a “secret Sunday Salon,” the first of something called “The Forgotten” to be held in the performance space, a shabby non-working hotel built in 1939, we had to admit we were going there due to the formidable co-hosting list, which included Courtney Love, Will Cotton, Candace Bushnell, Brooke Geahan…
This crazy speakeasy-vibed shebang was grounded around a short story by McInerney, hot off his new book on wine, “The Juice.” The story, entitled “Solace,” was about a ditzy chick-lit-like author experiencing the days following 9/11, getting laid by strangers and hammered in bars. Of all people (at first we thought) the actress Piper Perabo was doing the reading of the half-hour-long tale.
Surrounded by Brooke Shields, a demure Love, and a lot of celebs and star writers who we didn’t imagine dredging out on a Sunday night, we watched the young and astute editor of Interview magazine question McInerney about his short story, recounting days spent doing cocaine bought from the Baron (called the Duke here) at a thinly-veiled Marylou’s, once located over by swanky Lower Fifth. It was amusing, self-deprecating, good stuff.
Then Perabo took the stage in a short canary-yellow shift-babydoll, and just stole the show, recreating multiple characters, making it all come to life, giving many of us goosebumps of recognition of our own phoniness and unification, post 9/11. It was kind of an Oscar-worthy performance.
Next up, an acoustic guitarist named Marc Scibilia, who reminded us of a young but more handsome Johnny Cash. The guy is going to be huge.
Shortly after, we were led in groups—no drinks or eyewear—into a spook-house through the hotel’s creepy redone rooms, a scene, dramatized with Spaghetti Western soundtrack, out of a David Lynch movie.
Multiple versions of a girl named “Nancy”—various actresses that all looked pretty much the same in white-lace dresses and blonde wild hair—performed vignettes of their creepy daily lives, writing in diaries, ripping out pages, having sex with a stranger, masturbating.
One of the Nancy’s led me into a little room with nothing but a vanity, where she handed me a super-cool tin pillbox, which held one pill and some cotton candy, a nod to Will Cotton, who supplied art throughout.
Can you make sense of it? I can’t. Who cares. But it sure beat sitting and drinking in some dumb pub or eating pizza at home. This is the first of such performances. When we went out onto the empty Gothamic streets, we felt like something had returned to New York City—something spontaneous, yet very carefully orchestrated.
Want to find out more about this concept space and what its minions are up to next? Go to: sleepnomorenyc.com. And for party photos from the event, go to Billy Farrell Agency’s website: bfanyc.com. Great stuff, but cameras weren’t permitted in the spook house. Lit-and-arts provocateur Brooke Geahan should be proud.