James Franco hates bloggers, and hair is highly flammable. These were the lessons from James Franco's book party, where he angrily told me to "go away." Then he grabbed and threw a reporter's phone. Then someone's hair lit on fire.
On the top floor of the James Hotel—a swanky new tower in SoHo—Interview magazine feted James Franco to celebrate his new book, Palo Alto, last night. Terry Richardson was there, and so was Helena Christensen. The champagne poured liberally and a sizable contingent of party reporters slowly circled the man of the hour, waiting their turn to lean in and whisper a question to the infamous writer/actor/artist.
When my turn arrived, he asked, "Where are you from?" Gawker.com, I replied. He didn't want to speak to me. "Actually, I don't think you want to talk to me, right? You guys only write mean things about me. Why do you want to talk to me? To say mean things about me? Go away."
Well, he has a point; Franco has long been an internet punching bag. Franco's publicist and friends swooped in to pull him away from me, and dutifully, I stepped back and away. Later, someone told me they overheard James asking a fan, "Are you friends with the Gawker girl?" He asked another reporter whether he was "going to write something mean."
Shortly after my failed interview, a reporter from Guest of a Guest lifted her phone to photograph the actor. In a single smooth stroke, he knocked the Droid out of her hand and onto the floor behind him. As Franco walked away, his publicist scampered to grab the phone and return it to the reporter. It happened quickly and quietly; most people probably didn't notice.
As I stood staring vacantly, deciding whether I should leave, I heard a scream. "That girl's head is on fire!" A tall, model-esque lady with big, frizzy hair had leaned too close to a candelabra on the bar. The flames leapt up the side of her head, and her hair was on fire, from tip to crown. There was a flurry of activity, and as quickly as the coif-flagration had erupted, it was gone. The sharp stench of burnt hair permeated the room. The flame-headed female wandered onto the roof deck to air out. When I left the party a little later, she had returned and was chatting nonchalantly with her similarly model-esque friends.
Asked for comment, Guest of a Guest's reporter told me, "Next time I'm gonna ask him, 'Hit me again, Ike, and put some stank on it!'" She didn't get her picture.
[Image from a different event via Getty]