Maer Roshan and Nick Denton share a disturbingly intimate moment.
Because we really can't imagine what thing's must've been like at last night's Radar launch party (actually, we can, as we did experience life as an 8th-grader), we're going to let pie-eyed Gawker publisher Nick Denton tell the story in his own words. After the jump, the blog queen speaks with photography by Nikola Tamindzic.
The Hotel QT is an exquisitely judged location for the Radar launch party. The new Andre Balazs property is a fancified flophouse, cramped and cheap, but with a thin layer of launch glamor, that will last a season. Or, forget the metaphor, maybe the hotel and the magazine just share the same PR agency. That's usually how these things work.
Did you hear? Arianna Huffington's got a blog!
After all these years, Seth Mnookin is finally happy. Mazel tov!
There's no room for them in the lobby of the hotel, so the PR drones with their lists and rictus grins are lined up behind a table on the pavement outside. It all adds to the street theater on 45th, just a block from the glow of Times Square. I make my way past the velvet rope — not over, but around, please, sir — and give my name.
Times ArtsBot Ariel Kaminer isn't devilish. We swear.
Nerve co-founder Rufus Griscom misses his computer.
I half-expect, after Gawker's ribbing of Radar, that I've been disinvited, but my name's still on the list. Maer Roshan, editor of Radar, and Nadine Johnson, his PR have other plans for me.
Inside, it's filling up. I see Al Sharpton, departing, glowering, but he always glowers, so let's not read anything into that. Ed Koch. Is there any party he doesn't go to? No other names yet. But, as Maer Roshan told the New York Observer, at Radar, everyone is a celebrity.
I'm not sure whether that's a quote from an employee pep talk, or a deep reference to the democratization of celebrity, to this era of stars that are just-like-us, in which we are indeed all celebrities. All the same, I don't recognize anyone famous in the traditional sense, which says nothing; I always have to be told.
No magazine party is complete without The Gays!
On the other hand, all the usual media suspects are there. Warren St. John of the New York Times, with a shag of hair that he promises to remove for summer, fears he might have to give steroids to his wife's pet chihuahua. Poor thing has Lyme's Disease.
Greg Lindsay looks for freelance work.
There's Greg Lindsay, who tormented Maer from the pages of Women's Wear Daily during Radar's first time around, two years ago. "Why does he hate me so?" Maer used to whine. Amazingly, Radar have given Lindsay access to write a profile for Business 2.0. Lindsay is too good a reporter for that to be a wise move. We spend a moment in false sympathy for the print magazine business.
Chris Tennant loves his mother. Grabbing her for the photo-op was an excellent technique — I just can't make fun of momma. You win this time, Tennant.
A couple of Radar staffers settle down by the bar, which is a crush by now. Al Sharpton wouldn't have been able to escape. Remy Stern, who runs Radar's blog, pretends not to see me, I pretend not to see him; when an encounter is inescapable, false bonhomie. The same routine with Chris Tennant, Maer's protege and "senior editor". And then it's the turn of Chris and Remy, who manage rival modules and vie for control of Radar's website. They feign collegiality. The triangle is complete.
Jacob Bernstein: "Hold me, I'm scared and it's lonely in here."
What, you don't know who Laurence is? Everyone knows Laurence! You know, Laurence!
WWD's Jeff Bercovici thinks you're dressed like shit.
Despite what you may have heard, Topic editor David Haskell (far left) is a ladies' man.
Ariel Kaminer apologizes to Choire Sicha for the loss of his page.
At right, Times mag frat-boy Benoit Denizet-Lewis shows off his latest catch, fresh from Harvard law.
Bring out the Vengagirls!
Spiers is so conflicted. So, so conflicted.
David Carr is judging you. And he doesn't like what he sees.
Daily News gossip George Rush silently thanks God that colleague Ben Widdicombe handles the gay beat.
MediaBistro's Laurel Touby is hoping for a rose-colored glasses caption, but we just can't bear to write it.
After this photo, Justin Silverman headed over to the ESPN SportsZone.
Uber-agent David Kuhn explains to Maer and his boyfriend, Matt Mactress, how he scored a $650K deal for i-banker/blogger Dana Vachon.
Nadine Johnson inserts herself. Along with Peggy Siegal, she's one of the town's prime party organizers, with a grip on the livers of New York's more vivacious journalists. Don't mess with Nadine, or you'll never drink free again. I'd never met her before, and she's more attractive than I'd expected, in a nicotine-weathered way. Think Charlotte Rampling, playing a PR monster. This woman, if she'd driven an SUV into a crowd of white trash, wouldn't have left survivors.
She wants to take me to meet Maer. But I already know Maer. Anyway, I let myself be led. Maybe he wants to show that, after the harsh review of Radar on the Gawker blog, he's put his bitterness behind him. He's a bigtime editor, now, after all. And Gawker is just a little blog. Time to affect lordly disregard. Maer's on the other side of the pool. I give him half a hug, and whisper in his ear. "No hard feelings, eh, Maer."
I know that blogs can be the bane of print magazines: quick, critical, and beyond number. Newsweek's being tormented by the blogs for its error in reporting the flushed koran story. Gawker has covered Radar to the point of absurdity, as if it was a reality TV show, in which every actor and every action, however minor, was worthy of mention. Maer said that, at Radar, everyone was a celebrity. The blogs have taken him at his word. One day he'll appreciate the attention; but not just yet.
Nick Denton pretends to pie publicity madame Nadine Johnson. Denton's t-shirt designed by Maer's boyfriend.
Lloyd Grove desperately tries to cull an item from Anthony Haden-Guest.
Read it with a straight face: Fabian Basabe and his adorable wife.
As we pull away from the hug, there's a commotion, and there's something sticky on my head, and some white goo all over Maer's jacket. I presume the pie-thrower expected us to maintain more distance. A bunch of flashes, as the snappers, who've been primed for the moment, get the shot. Fortunately, I've still got a glass of wine in my hand and, to add to the fun, I empty it gently over Maer's head. He should have made a quick exit. I know I'll always be known, with Ed Limato, as an infamous drink tosser.
The security guard, seeing Maer all spattered with pie cream and drenched with wine, thinks I'm the culprit. "Okay, we're out of here," he says. Why do they always say that? Maer and Nadine, beginning to realize that the stunt's gone awry, shoo him away, and we head upstairs, together, to change. All smiles, for the camera. Maer's mother, in from Long Island, looks at him as we wait, bedraggled, for the elevator. He introduces us. I reach out my goo-covered hand, but think better of it. Enough people have been pied this night.
Maer has a room with Matt, his boyfriend, aka the Mactress. I take Matt's teeshirt from Sammy's Roumanian, and tell him I'm keeping it as a souvenir. Maer's jeans, are, I joke to him as I try them on, a little baggy. He makes some remark about his endowment. I clarify: baggy round the waist.
Just another underclad Radar fan. Nothing to see here, folks, move along...
Make no mistake: Nadine Johnson will cut you.
"I condemn this dastardly act," Maer says. And again. He's practising his talking points, and the tone of mock outrage, before heading back downstairs. Nadine Johnson comes into the room. "Mort Zuckerman nearly slipped in the mess," she laughs. She's worried about a memo that found its way to Gawker. "Where did you get that memo?" she asks. "I think I have a maul." I don't understand her somewhere-in-Europe accent. A mole, she clarifies. Then an afterthought. "This is off-the-record, right? Right?"
Yeah, right. I phone the Gawker crew. We'll scoop them on their own damn stunt. One thing I can't understand. It's the Radar launch. They're spending $25m on this magazine. And they'd let this be the story of their party: a food fight, in front of their mortified financial backer. Bizarre.
Tina Brown's arrived, says Nadine. And Arianna Huffington. Nothing to cheer up a flustered client than to let them know that some names did show up. Nadine wants to do a photo-op with the two of us, and Huffington. But, by the time we're cleaned up, they've both gone.
Ben Widdicombe is just happy to be out of the East Village.
Maer and I pose, all buddy-buddy, for the cameras. But he's still a tad bitter. "You're lucky we're such nice competitors," he whines. His staff boast that Maer maintains a vault of emails from supplicant writers, such as Jesse Oxfeld, a guest editor on Gawker who displeased Radar's editor-in-chief with some items. But Maer's too nice a guy to publish them.
Still life of pool with pie cream.
As security clears Maer and his last remaining guests out of the Hotel QT, the pool room, scene of the food fight, is empty. I hadn't noticed before: a bunch of spare invitations float on the surface of the pool. There's a big Radar logo at the bottom. But, through the scum of pie goo, it's hardly visible.