Field Guide: Julia Allison

I was sort of annoyed that the New York Times didn't interview me ... I'm sort of surprised no news producers have called me yet.

That's amNew York sex columnist (or "effing sex columnist" as one source describes her) Julia Allison in Radar, lamenting the insufficient media attention she's received lately. Specifically, Allison figured she'd get more ink from her 2003 relationship with one Harold E. Ford, who happens to be running for a Senate seat in Tennessee. Their thang came back to the surface as part of a Republican smear versus Ford regarding his past attendance at "Playboy parties" and supposed penchant for white chicks (Ford is black). Rather than go for potential Mandingo-mongering, the Republicans actually used a hilariously tawdry TV commercial bit with a sexed-up (white) woman imploring Ford to call her. So anyway — as that imbroglio fades back into the pre-election churn, let's turn our attention back to Julia. For someone who's merely a columnist at a free paper, many New York media types know her — and have a few things to say about her.

When we ran a party photo of Allison earlier in the week, we immediately received the following in the tipline:

Ew, please, do not give that attention-seeking girl any more of the coverage she so desperately seeks. We (Georgetown journalism students) were thrilled when she was suspended from the Hoya and given an F in our journalism course for plagiarizing one of her columns. Haaaate that she's screwed her way up here as well.

A (further) trip down memory lane is in order. Julia Allison used to be Julia Baugher, a sex-dating-relationship columnist for the Georgetown paper Hoya. Way back in December 2002, she wrote a listicle detailing holiday gifts for your lovah, and what those gifts secretly mean. Unfortunately, it appeared that most of the gift ideas (and some of the prose) had been cribbed from iVillage, of all places. Despite complaints about this, Baugher wasn't kicked off the paper; she recalls the paper's internal review as concluding that "I did not plagiarize in any way." The haters were just trying to advance a "personal agenda" of some kind.

Baugher soldiered on, and it was in April 2003 that Lloyd Grove (then still at the Washington Post) wrote her up as sharing a table with Harold Ford. Mini-media celebrity began to accumulate almost immediately, with sex- or politics-commentary (or both) in various national outlets. In July 2003, Baugher (according to Post reporter Frank Ahrens) attempted to get out of paying for grapefruit at a hotel by throwing the Post's name around, claiming she worked for them. Confronted, Baugher said she was actually (and inscrutably) name-dropping the Hoya. In reality, Baugher had some early discussion about contributing to the Post's free Express tabloid, but nothing was set up yet. Regardless, after a few more laps around the media appearance track, Baugher quit the Hoya as of January 2004, supposedly because her sex column (in a Jesuit university's paper) couldn't be graphic enough to suit her tastes. Not long after, Julia Baugher became Julia Allison, decamped to New York, and began writing another sex column for another free paper.

Field Guide: Julia Allison

And she's been riding the grapefruit train ever since. (Though it hasn't helped her get recognized by event photographer Patrick McMullan, who couldn't ID her for the pic at right.) In New York, Allison has a whole ecosystem of media industry horny toads to romp among, as opposed to those charming but rather conflicted political types. Eligible men are her favorite playtoy — and eligibility is very generously interpreted. Her habit of purring and flirting with taken or married men frequently brings the claws out from those menfolk's significant others. For a time, she even enjoyed a public companionship and rumored private dalliance with none other than Lloyd Grove. If you happen to be one of the few people who doesn't know about her affair with Harold Ford, she'll certainly fill you in — all the while wondering aloud if she really should go on Fox News again. And don't even get her started about when she dumped a guy in a Jamba Juice, after supposedly stealing him from away from his wife.

Allison's easy to spot at most any media party of consequence — she's everywhere, it seems — and she's famous for laying it on thicker than a toddler spreading peanut butter. She's so excited to see everyone she meets, she just loves you, you're so great, she really wants to be best friends, and so forth. All this is delivered along with self-deprecating complaints about her own bad habit of relentless self-promotion, but no matter how unsubtle the hint, she's not getting the message that she herself is sending. Who knows, perhaps dialing it down a bit might make that longed-for threesome happen sooner, or make that Silver Bullet finally obsolete.

Harold Ford's Ex Finds Fame on the Web [Radar]

[Photo: Nikola Tamindzic]