Caricature-coiffed Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter co-owns two restaurants where Manhattan's most insufferable douchebags go to get their "look at me" on. Each day these establishments field "thousands" of table requests and Graydon alone decides where the arses will park.
In yet another probing piece from Allen Salkin, the Seymour Hersh of the New York Times Style section, Salkin uncovers the mysteries behind Carter's seating madness. You see, each afternoon, right around 4:00 or so, one of Carter's man-servants will sheepishly enter his office, making sure never to make eye contact or speak without being spoken to first to avoid being flogged mercilessly about the torso with bamboo reeds dipped in Tabasco sauce, and hand Carter a list of names of those who have been deemed worthy of a table at Waverly Inn and Monkey Bar by Carter's other assorted underlings. Then the magic happens.
A sunken area in the center of the dining room that you see when entering is known as "the pit." It is important to have "young, attractive people" at the first of two round tables in the pit, Mr. Carter said. "It gives a certain energy."
Pointing to the two tables on an elevated area to the right side of the room, he said these were for people looking for a quiet meal.
On the opposite side of the room are four nice booths. "This is fashion and literary and young," he said. That night, Cynthia McFadden of ABC news; Liz Smith, the gossip columnist; and Marjorie Gubelmann, a socialite, were in those booths.
Elevated over the pit opposite the entrance are a line of banquettes, which that night included a group of 20 or so guests of the socialite Jennifer Creel who were celebrating her debut as a designer of sunglasses sold at Bergdorf Goodman.
And behind them was the most-prime real estate, a line of booths on the back wall overlooking the whole scene. "This is young and media moguls," Mr. Carter said, pointing to the booths, "and sort of single-name people." On that night, Calvin Klein, Rupert Everett, Prince Andrew, Ron Perelman and Louise Grunwald were in those booths. When Madonna comes in, she gets a back booth.
But it doesn't end there—During the course of each evening, Carter and his spies will observe each guest and make notes about their behavior. If they should, say, pick their nose or pass gas or dare to complain about anything, they are issued demerits in Carter's little grade book. However, if they drop to their knees and offer to fellate King Graydon upon his entrance, they are given a coupon for a complimentary serving of flan on their next visit. Or something.
Whatever—We will never eat at any of Graydon Carter-owned establishment on principle alone, so we don't really care.
Many Called, But Few Are Seated [New York Times]