About New York
He Knows Art ... and Larry Hagman's Hat Size
April 15, 2006
IT takes hard work for you to be informed that RICHARD BELZER dislikes being
mistaken for HENRY WINKLER, or that BAI LING loves J. LO's "curves," or that
LAUREN HUTTON's favorite hobby is "digging up weeds," or that ANDIE
MacDOWELL wants it known that she is not, not, the illegitimate daughter of
Charlie Chaplin (whose right to BOLDFACE treatment died with him).
Celebrities must be
willing to share their innermost inane feelings. The gossip columns must
measure public interest through a complicated calculus that factors wattage,
cleavage, latest development deal, substance-abuse history, embarrassment
quotient and, of course, the variable known as canoodle.
And someone must be willing to dedicate his nights — his life, really — to
attending book parties, gallery shows and other promotional affairs where
the air is kissed and authenticity is absent. That someone is BAIRD JONES,
who has earned uppercase status through his long obsession with, and desire
for, that fleeting state in the human condition: fame.
Rarely a week goes by without Page Six or Rush and Molloy or Cindy Adams or
Lloyd Grove publishing some gold-plated nugget mined from the celebrity
slurry by Mr. Jones, who is usually described as "Webster Hall curator" — an
inside joke of an identification that actually should say he is a promoter
for the Webster Hall nightclub in Greenwich Village.
But who is Baird Jones, really? And why has he made this his life's work?
He answers the door to his 22nd-floor apartment in
wearing a double-breasted blue blazer and a Yankees cap shoved over his
stringy, rust-brown hair. The cap, ever present, is central to his signature
He insists on showing off his collection of what he calls celebrity art,
which he says has cost him more than $1 million. Framed paintings,
lithographs, sketches and doodles by the famous and infamous cover nearly
the entire wall space of his spare gallery of an apartment, with more
stacked in closets and on the floor.
JONI MITCHELL self-portrait. A DEBBIE REYNOLDS scrawl of a spider. Works by
PAUL McCARTNEY, Alfred Hitchcock, GLORIA VANDERBILT, John Gotti, LOU REED,
Fred Astaire,JACK KEVORKIAN, Evel Knievel; a green room of the living and the
dead, careerwise and otherwise. "MARCEL MARCEAU over there," he says,
pointing to some stacked paintings. "I've got SALLY STRUTHERS behind that."
On a table, he has set aside an envelope that contains his "press kit." The
return address reads: Baird Jones, B.A., J.D., M.S.W., M.A., M.A. In
addition to reflecting the extent of his higher learning, these letters also
summon three more: W.H.Y.
The envelope contains 50 pages of photocopied news clips by or about Baird
Jones dating to the early 1980's, carefully arrayed several to a page, as
well as his résumé (winner of the Extracurricular Reading Prize, Groton
School, 1971) and his family's listing in the 1983 Social Register,
featuring an enviable Upper East Side address.
The clips reflect the arc of a life. First as a privileged preppie who held
dozens of parties at Studio 54 for the similarly blessed, then as a party
consultant, then as a critic and curator intimately familiar with the East
Village art scene, then as a collector and promoter of celebrity art — and
oral celebrity kitsch.
Peering from under the brim of his Yankee cap like a pitcher trying to read
a catcher's signs, Mr. Jones alternately answers and evades questions about
He is wealthy, but he does not want to discuss money
because "it's just going to ruin my mood." He was born in
but conceived in Rio de Janiero, he says, "So I've always considered myself
Brazilian. That's very important to me."
He says that he attends events just about every night of the week. He
carries a tape recorder, waits for an opening and then pounces, often asking
questions that demonstrate he has done some homework on the celebrities he
approaches. Then he forwards the items to various gossip columnists and
hopes one of them bites.
Mr. Jones is asked again why a man with wealth and many postgraduate degrees
would spend his nights finding out that LARRY HAGMAN has a huge hat
collection, or that RACHEL WEISZ attributes bushy eyebrows for her sometimes
being mistaken for BROOKE SHIELDS.
"I do think about it — the trivia," he says after a pause. Another pause
follows, after which he says that his art criticism balances things, "so it
doesn't really bother me."
It's nearly 6:30; time to hit the galleries. Fame is out there somewhere.
Sunday, March 26, 2006
Land, 'Neighbors' Doesn't
Hiroko Masuike for The New
Crobar, early March 18.
By PAUL BERGER
Published: March 26, 2006
A STEADY line of cars,
mainly yellow taxis and white limousines, crawled eastward through the night
past the floodlit entrances to two of
Manhattan's best-known nightspots, the strip club
Scores and the nightclub Crobar. Each time a car stopped for more than a few
seconds, a driver impatiently honked his horn. It was 2:30 a.m. on a
Saturday in West Chelsea, and the party was
in full swing.
This is the heart of New York club land, a hodgepodge of former
warehouses and factories that by day is busy with gallery hoppers and by
night becomes an adult playground. In five years, nightlife capacity has
increased to 10,000 people from 1,000, and the area bounded by 10th and 11th
Avenues and 24th and 29th Streets is home to a score of clubs and bars.
The nightlife, while
helping reinvigorate an area once troubled by prostitution and crime, has
brought its own problem: noise. Not from the well-soundproofed clubs, but
from the irritable drivers and boisterous revelers, a noise that seems to
peak around midnight and again between 2 and 4 a.m., according to Michelle
Solomon, acting district manager of Community Board 4.
Starting two years ago,
Crobar on West 28th Street, the area's largest
nightclub, with a capacity of 3,000, has tried to make friends in the
community by opening its doors and bar to neighbors once a month. But its
definition of "neighbor" is broad.
Last Friday Crobar, a
former metal factory, was doing a brisk trade at the unusually early hour of
11 p.m., with free entry and a "sponsored" — a k a open — bar between 10
p.m. and midnight for anyone who had replied to a "Get to Know Your
Neighbor" party invitation. Although the front bar was crowded with people
trying to make themselves heard above the music, West
Chelsea neighbors proved elusive.
Max Erickson, a record
label owner who lives on the Upper West Side, said he had been invited by Baird Jones,
a gossip writer who used to organize parties at Studio 54. Mr. Jones, he
said, was having a party to celebrate the 73rd birthday of
although, as it later turned out, Mr. Warhol's 73rd birthday was actually in
"Really, it's my 73rd
birthday party," said Ivy Nicholson, who was wearing a silver crucifix and a
Gothic-looking black top.
"I was born on February
22, 1933," added Ms. Nicholson, who was featured in Mr. Warhol's 1967 movie
"I, a Man," "and this is the fourth birthday party my friends have thrown
Also present was Robert
Capria, a video editor. Mr. Capria, 35, who lives in Bushwick,
Brooklyn, said he had come for the Warhol party to meet
well-connected filmmakers but had been disappointed to find the bar filled
mainly with what he called "the bridge and tunnel crowd."
There appeared to be no
sign of the 800 or so people who live in residential pockets in the
neighborhood, or of occupants of the 1,100 public housing apartments nearby.
Some residents of surrounding neighborhoods showed up, but they turned out
to be friends of club managers. The only other neighbors were the invited
employees of nearby businesses such as Chanel, whose
SoHo store manager, Irma Segal-Gebski, could be found dancing in
the V.I.P. room.
Explaining the paucity
of local folk, Tim Bauman, Crobar's strategic marketing director, said the
club viewed its community as wide: "We include neighborhoods like the
Village, SoHo and Chelsea. We invite the retail stores and the
art gallery owners. It's not residential here; it's commercial mixed-use
By 1 a.m., a sea of
more than 1,000 people bobbed and bounced as the music rushed over them. A
few hours later, with the club still in full swing, people started making
their way outside onto West 28th Street.
On this particular
Friday the postparty jam was minor, the turnout perhaps lower than usual
because it was St Patrick's Day. But as cars headed east past the Chelsea
and Elliott Houses, the public housing developments that are home to 1,100
families, impatient drivers continued to honk. "Yes, they honk their horn,"
one cabbie said. "But it's O.K. Nobody lives around here."
The New York
THE MAN IN EVERY PICTURE
December 26, 2002--A NEW book on
makes the controversial artist look like Zelig, the Woody Allen movie hero who
popped up in every bit of newsreel footage. "Mark Kostabi and the East Village
Scene 1983-1987" (Matteo Editore) by Webster Hall curator
includes dozens of photos showing Kostabi with top celebrities of the day. Many
of them, however, didn't seem to know who was posing with them. In one shot,
Steve Martin and Paul Simon are seen at a party while Kostabi sneaks into the
picture just behind them. At another fete,
looks caught off guard by a grinning Kostabi, who strode up next to him as the
shutter clicked. Kostabi - who became simultaneously rich and hated when he
began having assistants paint all of his work - is also seen mugging for shots
in the vicinity of
Lou Reed, Si Newhouse, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Peter Max, Joan Rivers, John Cage,
Grandpa Al Lewis, Tama Janowitz, Robin Leach, Andy Warhol, Keith Haring,
Huntington Hartford, Sylvia Miles and Fran Lebowitz.
a fixture in those circles, took all the photos.
The New York
May 22, 2005
-- BAIRD Jones,
the freelance gossip often identified as the curator at Webster Hall, being
ordered to take off his Yankee cap at One in the Meatpacking District as
retired slugger Mo Vaughn
consoled Met outfielder Cliff Floyd after an 0-for-4 game ...