I was in high school when I read your book and
you inspired me to start sneaking into nightclubs, because I wanted to be part of this world you
described.And nice clothes wasthe only way I could get in, so I attribute your book to starting my style
[Laughs] You know, it’s
funny. When people look at images of Bret Easton Ellis and me banging around these seminal nightclubs of the era,
we were almost wearing suits and ties. That is how men dressed back then. I think it was a carry-over of the
European culture, from the famous nightclubs in the decades before, but you
would not be considered properly dressed without a suit on. What I always found amusing was that we were often
mentallydishevelledbut always dressed up on
This would carry on throughout the iconic New
York clubs of the nineties, with places like Nell’s, M.K., and Au Bar.
Absolutely, and those were all my clubs. You know, I hate to be one of these older
guyswho’stalking about‘back in my day’. But I do think club culturetoday is very different. I don’t think there are places any more like this, where the objective was to curate the very best
crowd in its diversity and coolness every evening. That was certainly the case in Nell’s. Nell’s was very cafésociety.
Its crowd was really beautifully curated. I really don’t think this exists [now]. The objective today is just
aboutmaximisingprofit, which goes in the
opposite direction of taste.
Which generates and rewards a prevailing sense of crassness and banality. What was
cool back then was that once you got in, there wasa certainegalitarianism. You were in, you were
Exactly. Nell’s was
really like that. M.K. was perhaps a little less glorious in that regard, but it was still really fun.
And some amazing moments happened there. I remember I was sitting at a
table—it was Bret Easton Ellis,
TamaJanowitzand my publisher, and this guy
came over and introduced me to Anne Hearst, who many years later would become my wife. And I remember him
saying,“You’ve got to meet these
guys, they are the coolest authors of this generation”. Now she was a real uptown girl. She was wearing Chanel. But I instantly had a rapport with
her. So we always stayed in touch over the years. But that was an unlikely meeting in a way, and speaks of the serendipitous nature of the New York nightclub back
What were yourfavouritehaunts?
back then was Area. That was a little more downtown and [had] a little more of a gay vibe, and I loved
the place. But I also loved going to theMuddClub. It was glorious in its punk seediness and this
dynamic sense that you could meet anyone inside. Andy Warhol, Jim Carroll and Lou Reed would be in there. It was
in some ways the coolest. But I wasn’t.
Because I was dressed the way I was, and because I didn’t know anybody there, I would sometimes have a hard time
getting in [Laughs].
As a fixture of these clubs, it became something of a community, no?
Absolutely. What was interesting was there was thisinternational community that you would run into at nightclubs around the world. If you went
to LesBains-Douches in Paris on a given night
in the eighties you would run into friends from New York, of course friends from Paris but also people you knew
fromMilan or London, and there was this wonderful shared sense of
So why has New York lost this coolness?
It’s real estate
prices. I lived here on and off for four years before I published my first novel. There were places to live for
people with no money in Manhattan. I have no idea where in the city an
impoverished freelance writer/editorial assistant,whichI was, could live today. In my case I lived on Elizabeth Street just off the Bowery. [He paid
$375 a month.] I mean,it was filthy and
completely infested with homeless people. Today it is theepicentreoffashionability, but it wasn’t back then. They would just pile into our little foyer
and you had to step over them to get to work in the morning. But I actually had an affordable
one-bedroom apartment in New York in the 80s.
You are an inspiration to me also in how you’ve become one of the world’s most revered wine experts. But
don’t you think prices for
burgundy have gone a little crazy?
Absolutely. I had to wake up early this morning because
there was aDomainede laRomanée-Conti auction from theDrouhincellars, becauseDrouhinwas at one point the importer of their wines. Some of these older ones, they are possibly the
only ones left in the world. But the prices have become so nuts. I was in a
consortium of guys and we were going to go up to£150,000 for a magnum of 1937. And we thought beforehand that we would get the bottle. But in
the end it went for 240k. They had two bottles of 1945Romanée-Conti, which is the
ultimate vintage; there has never been a wine that is its equal, except for
maybe the’69Lafite. The first one hammered for $450,000, which means
with premium it was 558k, which is a world record.The second bottle was won by a
friend of mine. And I suspect he’ll drinkit. He’s a very generous real estate guy. He has probably a $50
million cellar. He had offered me a share if he got it for 250k. And I was flattered he offered to cut me in but I
was like,“I don’t want to pay $60,000 for a glass of wine”. It was just crazy.
People were calling in from all over the world. I’m sure a bunch of it went to Hong Kong.
Do you getrecognisedby sommeliers a lot?
It’s funny, the other
night I was eating on top of Lincoln Center, where I never really go. The reservation was in someone else’s name, and so
I sat down. And the sommelier came over and was slightly quivering and asked how long I had been writing about
wine. Actually, it’s fun. And I get treated to
a lot of nice things, so I have to say I enjoy being part of the wine community.
What are New York spots with great lists?
Babbofor Italian wines. Daniel and LeBernardinhave great lists. Gotham Bar and Grill is great. I
got a bottle of 2015Colombiere(Comte
Liger-Belair’s) for like 220 bucks and it was insanely good.
less than retail.
I love the fact you loveCondrieu. So do I!
It’sfunny,I have some friends who collect Chaves’whites but almost no one that likesCondrieu. I love it.
Have you had theSaint-Josephand Hermitage Blanc fromDard&Ribo?
I lovethem. I discovered them about 15 years ago in
Paris. TheDard&Ribowhites, you almost never see over here. I got to Paris
to buy those wines. Good place.
Another interesting white is theAligotein Morey St. Denis, theMontsLuisants. I thinkit’s only
I love that stuff, and it will age forever. I’ve got some really old ones and they are
So without these seminal nightclubs, how do you amuse yourself nowadays?
My friend GeorgeFariasis an Anderson & Sheppard guy but I managed to convince
him to visit Lorenzo for the first time. Now every year we host a big Christmas party here in New York. It started
about 10 years ago, when he asked my wife and me if we wanted to co-host a Christmas party at 21 Club. Then we moved it over to Doubles, which is the private club under the
Sherry-Netherland hotel. And it has somehow become this institution. People fight to get into it. It’s always named best party of the year in some of the
social magazines. So aspart of the planning I have to go to the Upper East Side
to eat at a restaurant called Fleming, whichwas opened by the people behind the
originalBilboquet. I would normally never go
to the Upper East Side otherwise.
What will you wear at your Christma
decided to go to Huntsman and make matching tartan dinner jackets to wear.
Amazing. Of course you did.