11 NOVEMBER 2000, Page 77

High life

Out and about


ne more week in the Bagel, despite how dangerous to one's health the Bagel can be at this time of year. (There is noth- ing quite like autumn in New York, with parties galore and weather to die for.) By the time you read this it will all be over bar the bulls—t, as they say in Brooklyn. My fearless predictions (I write this on Monday night) are as follows: Gore wins the elec- toral college by a mile, and is congratulated by George W. Bush, who just might have a chance to win the popular vote. Hillary wins, and not for the first time Noo Yawk has a narcissistic, insincere and untruthful person to represent black, Hispanic, homo- sexual, trade union, and criminal elements in the nation's capital. (The Wasps are out, looked upon by the senator elect as amoe- bas, and evil amoebas to boot.) But back to danger, and what fun it is to go out despite the doctor's orders. Last week one of these new designers, Pamela Denny, I believe, threw a party at Indo- chine, a trendy downtown eaterie, with an Eighties theme. The invitation was full of well-known names coming as Eighties fig- ures. Michael Mailer as Warren Beatty, Serena Boardman as Catherine Deneuve, John Moseley as O.J. Simpson . . . and, on the bottom of the list, Taki as Aristotle Onassis. Well, I was flattered, but Onassis died in 1975, Beatty was already pulled and long in the tooth during the Seventies, and la Deneuve was Portnoy material in the very early Sixties. Never mind. Young peo- ple nowadays think the past before dot.com was the Trojan War, so no use trying to set the record straight.

The good news is the party was great. Although the place was full of poofters, the dear little things try harder, and really do act gay, at least while in public. There were also very many pretty girls in very brief cos- tumes, most of them probably having mis- read the invite and thinking it was a night in Indonesia, or whatever. Who said illiter- ate women are a waste of time? Earlier in the evening I had stopped by the Soho loft of Rufus Albemarle, which his lordship had transformed into a gallery showing his girlfriend's new sculptures. Sally Tadayon is as pretty as she's nice, half-Hungarian and half-Persian, and that's where I ran into my old buddy Sir Humphrey Wakefield's boy, Jack, whom I last saw when he had me down to Eton to speak. It was a reunion of sorts until Anthony Haden-Guest dropped his drink all over my suit, but there's nothing new in that. So off I went to Indochine as Onassis, although I doubt if the Golden Greek ever went to a party with wine splattered all over his suit.

As I was saying, the Bagel is great fun around this time. Tomorrow I shall watch the election results at William F. Buckley's, which is always a treat because Pat Buckley simply has the greatest cook not only in New York and Gstaad, but anywhere. Oh, yes, and the company is not so bad either. Just going to someone's house makes a change in this town.

The New York Times has a new supple- ment run by a friend of mine, Billy Nor- wich (the first time I met him many years ago, he introduced himself and then said, `Ignore the Norwich bit, I was born Billy Goldberg in Norwich, Connecticut, but I thought it wiser ... '), whose cover story was 'Who Killed Entertaining?'. Billy gives it a good try, but I'm not sure he's old enough to have seen the real thing, so it just misses. Entertaining died not because of lack of space, as he opines, or trendy restaurants replacing house parties. Not even because people work too hard nowa- days.

No, entertaining died when Wasp soci- ety, which entertained at home, was replaced by the kind of folk who are into insider-trading, employ publicists and take trophy wives. You know the type, the entrepreneurs and takeover artists of the Eighties who became household names via charity events and Women's Wear, the downtown gay crowd that Andy Warhol legitimised, the Hollywood crowd. There was no foul play. The Wasps went peacefully. Well-mannered people simply stopped going out when money became much more important than manners.

Beginning with Bill Clinton, informality became the norm, so much so that the `egomaniacal vulgarian' — as George Will called him — saw nothing wrong with answering a student who asked him what kind of underwear he wore. But who cares? The war was lost long ago. The belittling of the presidency came after. Clinton dodged the draft, lied about everything, even under oath, and got away with it. Compared with what has happened to the presidency in the United States, what has happened to soci- ety is small fry indeed.