Though the invite said "bring your swimsuit," the melange of authors and editors and overly friendly publicists who gathered at the Hotel QT for the release of Jesse Ball's novel "Samedi the Deafness" chose not to. Jonathan Franzen left early and it was probably a good thing anyway that we didn't catch his bare torso; we imagine it a lot like recent Morrissey, but hairier. The gays (a lot of them) didn't want to leave their tote bags unattended. But the party was hardly dry; the host was agent David Kuhn. At last, it was only later in the evening did Paris Review senior editor Nathaniel Rich stripped down and jumped in. Nikola Tamindzic, L magazine's best nightlife photographer of 2007, was there to do what he does best. And he also took some photographs.
The two things that were most prevalent were tattoos and gays. And yet those two remained pretty segregated. By the pool nursing a beer was the very tattooed managing editor of A Public Space, Tom Roberge.
"This is pretty strange," he said, looking out over the empty pool. A blurb from Daily Candy (of all things!) was projected onto the wall. "I live in Brooklyn and rarely come into Manhattan, so this is very... different."
Upstairs, the man of the hour, Jesse Ball, was sitting at a table with a grumpy rumpled Jonathan Franzen, Vintage editor Jenny Jackson and baseball author Nicholas Dawidoff. Someone had brought along a copy of Haruki Murakami's Norwegian Wood. Ball wouldn't go swimming. "I don't want to reveal my tattoos," he said. "They're a lot of hearts."
Sun book reviewer Nick Antosca clutched a galley of the book of the hour in an arm that bore two black bars. "I can't comment on what it means," he said before kind of letting on that it was a quotation mark meant to bracket himself. He was chatting with Vintage PR guy Martin Wilson about working at the Sun. "Before I started working there, I had never read it. It's weird. When I started, the old books editor pointed at an anti-Bush book and said, 'Be careful what you say about this book....' I tried to write a negative review for an upcoming book but I don't know when they'll publish it. It's weird there....They love Conrad Black.... There are neocons in suits roaming the halls."
A cluster of gays surrounded the bar, including Kuhn's business partner Billy Kingsland; Billy's roommate and Advocate editor Sean Kennedy; Artforum's Kyle Bentley and the exquisitely named Lapo Belmestrieri who described himself as a "friend" before being corrected by Kennedy. "Say you are a freelance art director!"
"Whatever," he said.
Kennedy had just interviewed Hillary Clinton. "I asked her about the lesbian rumors. Her people were not pleased. I'm just glad they didn't kill the piece." Or him! Though he admitted his gaydar only worked for dudes, Kennedy believed Clinton's avowed heterosexuality.
Buntley disagreed: "Raging bulldyke."
Lapo, whose first language can't be English, said, "She doesn't have any lesbianic tendencies."
David Kuhn smelled very nice. "It's a cologne that was given to me by GQ fashion director Madeline Weeks for a favor I helped her out with. I can't tell you what it is." Did he mean the favor or the scent? "Either."
Vanity Fair researcher Brian Gallagher and GQ researcher Laurence Lowe were there. Gallagher was upset by the tone taken with him by the bartender, who had given him an overly-vermouthed martini. "She said, if you don't want so much vermouth, order it dry. What the fuck? What is this, a bartending intensive? I know how to order a fucking martini."
The real question of the evening was: On what side of the tattoo versus gay divide did Mr. Rich belong? The question was partly answered when he stripped down to a bathing suit and jumped in the pool. At least we found he was without tattoos.