Artwalk NY: A Q&A With Peter Davis

Artwalk NY's Junior Committee held its summer benefit on Saturday night in support of Coalition For the Homeless. Hosted by Bettina Prentice at her home in Sagaponack, attendees at the event included Minnie Mortimer and Stephen Gaghan, Michael Musto, Liam McMullan, Dalia Oberlander, Alan Rish, Kipton Cronkite, and Lisa Salzer—each of whom chipped in $25 at the door to benefit the organization. (The $25 allows the Coalition to feed 12 homeless New Yorkers people for a day.) Cityfile correspondent Douglas Marshall caught up with writer and dapper man-about-town Peter Davis to ask him about two very unlikely things: homelessness and his brother and sister-in law, Topper and Tinsley Mortimer.

Q: So a big news item recently is that your sister-in-law Tinsley and brother Topper are getting a divorce. I know you're close with both of them. How did the news sit with you?

A: My brother Topper is my best friend and I will always be friends with Tinsley. I think it's the best thing for both of them that they're getting a divorce. Topper looks the best and happiest than I've seen him all year.

Q: You and Tinsley have been something of a dynamic duo on the party circuit over the past couple of years. Will that change now? I haven't seen you two out together in awhile.

A: Tinsley has been MIA all summer, but she is always a fun party partner. I'm a loyal friend. I'm a Sagittarius. We are loyal to a fault.

Q: So I understand you just got back from Ibiza. What's going on there in terms of homelessness?

A: I saw no homeless. Ibiza—or as I call it, Isla de la Droga—is all about drugs, and frankly I couldn't wait to get off of the island. I'm not against drugs. I just don't want to be around them 24/7. It is a pretty, though. If you go, check out Playa de Comte. It sounds really dirty because it is pronounced "cunty," which is a word I would never use except in this case. But there are no homeless people there, no.

Q: Have you ever interacted with the homeless here in New York? Do you give money to them? What's your stance on that?

A: When I lived in Gramercy Park, I gave money almost every day to a homeless couple that was located on 21st and Park. I'd pass them often. The weirdest homeless encounter I have is the day I had lunch at Amaranth [the restaurant on 62nd and Madison]. I didn't finish my food, so I had it boxed up. Upon leaving, I passed a homeless man who asked me what was in the box. It was something like tuna tartar and a Caesar salad and I offered it to him. And he was like, "Oh, I don't want it." So the homeless on Madison Avenue are a little more picky, apparently.

Q: Have you seen any particularly inspiring or amusing homeless people on the streets?

A: There are some real comedians out there, and I appreciate that. Recently I wanted to photograph the signs that some homeless people hold. Some say things like "I just want to get home," but there are much funnier things, too. I think it would be a great photo essay to feature some of the signs. I figure I could even pay them some sort of fee to take part. So I'd be giving them work and taking pictures of the signs at the same time.

Q: A win-win.

A. Indeed.

Coalition For the Homeless [Official site]