Superstar MisShapes DJ and lovably icy ingénue Leigh Lezark may be the Anna Wintour of the downtown scenester set. Does that mean we can't be friends?
When I heard Leigh Lezark was hosting a party at the Tribeca Grand Hotel to hype her new Dossier magazine cover, I thought it would be a great opportunity to help rehab her frosty image. Leigh, as many of you know, is the Queen of the MisShapes, which for several years has been New York's most in-demand deejay trio. Gawker famously nicknamed her "Princess Coldstare," and has been pretty relentless in tweaking both Leigh's haughty 'tude and the MisShapes' coolest-kids-in-the-room status.
As I made my way to the Tribeca Grand on a drizzly Friday night, I wondered if Leigh had gotten a bum rap. Maybe she had become the target of so much mean-spirited internet bile because, well, she was kind of a big deal, and people were jealous. I imagined getting her to open up about what was really going on inside that pretty little head. We'd talk about music and fashion, love and life, and by the end of the night we'd be sharing iPod playlists, clinking Champagne flutes and perhaps even planning a nice, long vacation together. Preferably somewhere warm, and without an extradition treaty!
I was still considering all of this when I saw Leigh holding court at a table near the Tribeca Grand's crowded bar. She went outside to smoke with two pals, and well, I guess I needed one, too. I followed them outside and bummed a light from one of her friends. "Aren't you Leigh?" I asked. "Yeah," she said with a big smile. And then I dropped the rancid stink bomb that I was writing about Fashion Week parties for Gawker and wanted to do a quick interview that would make everyone love her.
"Nope. No thank you." she said, pulling up her jacket's hood and looking away from me, her cigarette hand trembling. I started explaining how I just wanted to talk to her for a minute, but it was too late. Her male friend, a delicate-looking man in a red sweater, hissed, "It's not going to happen." I rambled for a few more seconds. Then a brunette in a black dress, said, wearily, "She said no nicely, so...." Feeling like a pedophile who had just been turned away from a petting zoo, I apologized for bothering them and and finished my smoke on the other side of the crowd in front of the hotel.
Back inside I was nursing my bruised ego with a drink when I was approached by the party's publicist, Krista Freibaum. I said that Leigh had just shot me down. Krista offered to talk to Leigh and vouch for my good intentions. I thanked her, and watched her walk over to Leigh's table. Pretty soon, both women were arguing and gesturing wildly. Clearly, this wasn't going well.
"I told her you were a nice guy and you were trying to change the way she was represented on Gawker," Krista told me when she returned. "And she said, 'I don't care about Gawker. They're just gonna spin it in a way that makes me look bad.'"
I really couldn't argue with Leigh's reasoning, but I still wanted to talk to her. I saw one of her fellow MisShapes, Geordan Nichols, heading outside, and stopped him on the stairs. I asked if there was one song that embodied the ethos of Fashion Week right now.
"I think that's an idiotic question," he said. "There's no song of Fashion Week." Ok, well at least he was having some fun with me. He was explaining that, much like a snowflake, no MisShapes set was exactly the same, when Leigh walked by and snapped, "Geordon!" before stomping away.
"She won't talk to me," I said. "I know, she hates you," he said with a smile. I told him that I was nominating Lele's "Breakfast" as the official song of Fashion Week after I heard the MisShapes play it at a party at the Versace store. "It's a great song, we all love it," he said. I asked what Geordon thought the message of the wonderfully dirty dance jam was. "Breakfast, bitches, pussy....I don't know." Then he said he had to get his friends inside and handed me a drink ticket.
Skye Parrott, the co-founder of Dossier, the biannual arts and culture mag that was throwing the party, photographed Leigh for the cover. Besides having a cool name, Skye was nice enough not to call me idiotic or refuse to talk to me. She even said she was tickled when this website recently wrote about her rash of mentions in New York Times. "I get all my news from Gawker so I was very excited," she said. "The only thing I regret is that somebody told me before I got to see it myself. It's really the first site I check in the morning."
Well, it was nice to know that somebody there loved me. But the party was almost over and I was about ready to bolt. I looked over at Leigh's table and she was yelling into the ear of a tall rocker dude with a shag hairdo. He gave me a conciliatory head nod. Meanwhile, it was just as clear that I was talking about her with my friends. Seriously, this was getting embarrassing.
I went outside for a final cigarette of the night with my friend George before we split for the Tribeca Tavern. I saw Leigh smoking near the scene of my earlier humiliation. She's looking over at me and I'm looking over at her. "Go talk to her, dude," George said. "She wants to talk to you. Give her one last chance."
Then I made my move. I walked over to Leigh and said, "Look, you don't have to be nervous. I'm writing about you and I'm writing about this party, and I just want to find out where your head's at tonight." A male friend of Leigh's urged her to give in and talk to me. "He's a cool guy," he said.
She accompanied me to a empty pocket near the hotel entrance. She is very small and strikingly pretty up close. She wore a black Chanel dress and black Chanel shoes, and her fingernails were painted blue. I turned on my tape recorder.
So how do you stay sane doing these events every night?
"I'm used to it. I've been doing this since I was 17. I'm good to go."
Are you nervous?
"I'm busy, honey! This is work."
Are you sure you're not nervous?
"I'm not nervous. You're saying that I'm nervous. I am not nervous."
I tell her that I'm nervous.
"Good, you should be. You're writing for Gawker."
I say that I've been made fun of by Gawker too. I understand why she was leery.
"Then why are you writing for them?"
Because they asked me. And because I felt like doing something different.
"Do that, then." She points to a short bald guy with devil horns on his head.
Do you think they're permanent or just for the party?
"I hope that they're permanent, but I doubt it. They look like Ricky's stick-on horns"
She starts to relax a little bit. I ask if she has any post-Fashion Week plans. "It's Fashion Month for me. I go to London on the 17th, and then Milan and Paris, and after that I go to Turkey, and then do a whole Asian tour, and then a whole South American tour. I'll be back in New York in the New Year."
Wow, that's like going on a world tour with a band. Do you have groupies?
"I don't know, define a groupie. We have people that will drive pretty far for it, yes. People have come to parties in New York from all over the world. I don't really know about the other countries, they just come."
I mean do you have obsessed male fans that send you, like, a Leigh Lezark diorama, or anything that has really weirded you out?
"I'm not going to tell you."
I'd love for you to tell me!
"I'm not telling you so long as that thing has a blinking red light."
Just then a European guy with frizzy blonde hair asks her to pose for a picture with him. He definitely looks like he has made a Leigh Lezark diorama or two. He's the the first of a stream of fans, both men and women, who approach her during our chat.
"I don't have any stalkers," she says. "I'm a normal person just like you. I'm trying to make a living. I'm trying to have fun."
OK, what do you think about the whole Princess Coldstare thing?
"I love it. Why not? It was silly at the time and still is silly."
So all those Gawker items written about you don't annoy you?
"It doesn't bother me. Its just silly and why would I involve myself in something that I find completely ridiculous."
Well, that's a good attitude, I guess.
"That's the only reason why I told you that I didn't want to talk to you."
What would you be doing if you weren't doing this deejay/model/downtown style icon stuff?
"I'd probably be a doctor. I always liked blood and gore, why not? I love to fix people."
I told her I was nominating "Breakfast" by Lele as the song of Fashion Week.
"I don't agree with you. That's just a fun, funny song that people don't expect to hear."
She wouldn't name her Fashion Week song, but said everyone should download "Animal" by Miike Snow.
"They're three producers from Sweden," she said. "They're good."
A woman kisses her cheek. "We're wrapping it up," she tells me as she heads back inside. And then she was gone. Well, it was fun while at lasted! Actually, not so much. But I truly did appreciate her taking the time to talk to me. Thanks, Leigh.
Now it's up to you to decide which song is better to listen to while fiercely dry-humping Fashion Week!
That's all for now. If you need me, I'll be making a diorama. Top photo of Leigh was taken by Skye Parrott for Dossier magazine. Here are the rest.