The Last Hurrah of Microcelebrity

Rex Sorgatz knew an account of his bed-hopping among New York bloggers would ignite controversy; he's the internet infamy expert. But why did he play along with protocelebrity now so worthless?

As the attention-obsessed would-be-media-mogul surely intended, today's Observer's profile of him produced a frisson of controversy inside New York's Tumblrocracy before it even hit the street. Is he really dating CNET blogger Caroline McCarthy, as the article implied? Why would he be so callous as to describe his recent ex, former Huffington Post writer Rachel Sklar, as an "exit strategy" from the problem of dating younger women, or portray her as enthralled by the low-grade attention that comes with being part of a blogging power couple?

Sorgatz, who showered the Observer's Spencer Morgan with on-the-record tales of his exploits with young Tumblr girls, courted both the attention and the controversy. It's not clear why: Surely the online consultant and entrepreneur sees what is happening around him. Fellow fameball Julia Allison's reality show deal with Bravo fell through, and her Web venture Non Society is groping for relevance. The television networks are, at last, supersaturated with minor celebrities placed in "reality" scenarios and hardly in the position to bid on more. Either Sorgatz knows something everyone else doesn't about attention economics, or he just can't stop hoarding the stuff

Sorgatz certainly did his best to whip up some drama for Morgan. His Gossip Girl parties, which found their way into Morgan's lede, have been near-desolate on recent occasion. But the Monday shindig bulked up significantly after Sorgatz added this nugget to the invitation:

This time, it's not just an invite, but also a request....

Spencer Morgan of the New York Observer will also be here, because he is profiling me in his "Men of Manhattan" column. (I know, right?) So in addition to coming over and drinking my beer, you have to pretend you really like me.

Having secured something of a crowd, Sorgatz then provocatively mingled his recent ex Sklar with a new squeeze, "Kristen" from the Web show he produces, "I'm Just Sayin'." In fact, the two women ended up sitting next to one another.

The Last Hurrah of Microcelebrity

Sklar is on the far right in the second-to-last row of people; we're told that is Kristen next to her. The body language is not subtle. (And, yes, that's our very own expressive Richard Blakeley sitting on the couch.)

As if this wasn't enough, Sklar also had to contend with the presence of McCarthy, who as Sklar's relationship with Sorgatz was ending appeared in more and more pictures with scarf-loving Sorgatz on their respective Tumblr and Flickr streams. The two also made prominent appearances together in blogging circles, at "blogger bar" The Magician on the Lower East Side and elsewhere. Rumors that McCarthy had replaced Sklar swirled among friends and put a strain on their relationship.

At the party, post-breakup, Sklar made the mistake of sharing her feelings of awkwardness toward McCarthy in real-time with Allison. Allison, apparently trying to elbow in on Sorgatz's tearmaking, did Sklar the courtesy of quickly summarizing Sklar's text messages in an email to McCarthy, also at the party and soon in receipt of Allison's message.

But Sklar needn't have been worried; McCarthy is said to be seeing Curbed.com publisher and former Gawker staffer Lockhart Steele. Her public flirtation with Sorgatz was believed by friends to serve mutually beneficial ends — McCarthy got to show her ex, Tumblr inventor David Karp, that she had moved on, while Sorgatz got to build on his image as a playboy while passive-aggressively extricating himself from his relationship with Sklar. In any case, McCarthy obliquely denied the Observer's implication she's with Sorgatz on, naturally, her Tumblr.

If the whole thing sounds like an slightly-more-grown-up episode of Gossip Girl, that's because it is, probably by design. The party drama and the McCarthy flirtation, like the Observer piece, is a case-study right out of micro-fame expert Sorgatz's own playbook.

Sklar, by Sorgatz's own admission the more grounded half of the couple, seems to have played an unwitting role in the manufactured drama. "We were a solid couple from day one, and [Sogartz's romp with Tumblettes and a secret blog] was clearly in the past, and so I rolled with it," she wrote to us after the Observer piece was published. "Also, the 'romp' was a 6-month relationship and not some trip through micro-celebrity."

Sklar certainly deserves better than to be called, by her ex in the Observer, "sort of a solution to the problem of a lifestyle that really primarily revolved around 23-year-old Tumblr girls."

Kristen, meanwhile, advances the Sorgatz plot while promoting one of his businesses. Want to find out about the outré playboy's latest conquest? Then watch her Web show!

If Sorgatz wants to be the next Jeff Zucker, this seems like a bizarre way to get there, however many eyeballs his lifestream ultimately attracts. If there's a point to Sorgatz's caddishness, no one has yet deduced it. But plenty of people are content to watch the bonfire in the meantime.

(Top image via Sorgatz on Flickr.)