The concept of a velvet-rope nightclub with Nazis on the door has never appealed to me as I dislike arbitrary rejection as much as I dislike Nazis. I do not wish to be told that my shoes aren’t black enough, my teeth not white enough or that I need a better watch. I avoid all such clubs, and happily so, because they contain the kind of people who want to be in them. I believe Zappa called them plastic people.
But when invited, sure I’ll go.
After getting the RADAR magazine launch party invite, I RSVPed as requested and hoped they wouldn’t mind if I brought my wife.
I have only been to Marquee one other time, again only because I was invited. It was an affair for opportunist Rachel Hunter. It was for Playboy and it was interesting in the sense that any party for Playboy is a sad freak show worth observing from a distance.
It took Gawker to make me realize that this particular event was actually an after-party. The real launch party was from 7-10 somewhere else. For VIPs. It had celebrities, that horrible PR girl, literary heroes like Al Sharpton and presumably hors d’oeuvres. The Marquee party was more for the non-VIPs. The littler people. Regardless, it was an invite and as such an opportunity to bypass the velvet rope.
11:22 Arrive at Marquee. They had conveniently placed crowd control barriers down a chunk of 10th Avenue, forcing my wife and me to walk around them rather than go in a straight line from cab to door.
I mistake some gentleman for the doorman. He points me to another gentleman who is the doorman. He eventually gets around to pointing me to some other gentleman who is a different doorman. I ask about the guest list. He asks me what party I’m there for. I say RADAR. He doesn’t consult any list. He says to go in.
11:28 Inside I see another gentleman. I ask about a guest list. Nope. He asks for our hands and stamps “BABY” on them. I start to wonder what the RSVP was for in the first place. Apparently anyone can walk in. Either that or I’ve been mistaken again for “J. Peterman” from Seinfeld.
Inside, a hostess stand. Looks like a list on it. I ask a gentleman standing there if it’s a guest list for the RADAR party. Nope. “You’re here,” he tells me. I am tempted to call friends and tell them they can just walk in if they want.
11:30 I check my wife’s coat. Assuming it’s free, I have a $2 tip ready. “It’s three dollars,” says the coat-check guy. No tip.
My wife begins to gently chide me about the grief I had given her earlier about wearing jeans to Marquee.
“Too casual,” I had nagged repeatedly, “this is work-related.”
Of course she won the argument and of course she was right. Her jeans fit in with everyone else’s jeans. It becomes quite clear that the Marquee dress code was something I had concocted in my head. There isn’t one. Attractive women wear whatever they want while overweight women are a little dressier. A lot of the men have sport-coats. Now I am eating my hat again. I eat lots of hats.
The party is open bar which means you can’t get a drink. While waiting my turn to order, Blonde Viper pushes me aside to get to the bar. She orders three drinks. Eventually I get barside. I begin to order but am cut off by Bartender Sister Souljah (short/black/angry) who decides she would rather take the order of someone else – a new arrival. When I suggest that I was first I am berated. “You wanna go before this lady? You wanna go before this lady? Go ahead! Go ahead! Go ahead!” The suggestion that I am not chivalrous is hurtful. The poor patron lady, caught in the crossfire, is very apologetic. I decide Sister Souljah is a lesbian who hates white men.
Further westward we find an opening which leads to a friendlier bartender. We get our free drinks. I look in vain for my RADAR friend but the lighting is dim, the place crowded. It’s hopeless. And he probably went home after the real party anyway.
The Marquee scene is predominantly Guys Who Chew Gum Whilst Drinking and Women Who Finger-Floss Their Hair. Same as it was the last time I was there. People I wouldn’t throw a life-preserver to.
11:43 After much jostling we opt to go upstairs. Note to the couple dancing in the upstairs entrance: Don’t do that. Upstairs is even more crowded but the music is much better. Still, it’s at levels that preclude any kind of meaningful conversation beyond I like this song! and Want another drink? – the kind of conversations that supermodels have with investment bankers.
We make our way to the far corner and take residence next to two trash bins. Precious space.
Standing in line for Round Two, I am waiting behind Austin Powers-ish Guy, a gentleman who has a hard time grasping the “open bar” concept. He holds a five dollar bill. The bartender says the drinks are free and asks if he wants change. He’s stumped. He looks at her. She asks if he wants change. He’s stumped. He looks at her. She asks if he wants change. He’s stumped. He looks at her… Eventually she breaks the cycle and I get to order my free drinks.
My wife thumbs through a copy of RADAR. “Is it supposed to be like Us Weekly?” she asks. Good God no. Daggers in my heart.
11:53 Many people are smoking upstairs at Marquee, a fact I hope the Dept of Health notices, as payback for Sistah Souljah’s racist hatred of white men in sport-coats. My wife and I decide to share a cigarette. After a few “sips” (her term) she goes to find the DJ and get the name of a song she just heard. Almost immediately I am told to put out my cigarette. In the process I place freshly made Drink Two next to several other drinks and can’t remember which one is mine. I decide not to play Russian Roulette with glasses, lest I imbibe someone’s Rohypnol and get sodomized by an investment banker.
With the wife away seeking the DJ I am lonely and standing next to trash bins. I scan the crowd for the one face I know. It’s dark. It’s impossible. But I can see lots of people smoking.
Wife returns and this time I use her as bait to acquire Round Three, hoping she’ll have more luck – quite pointless as the bartenders are Gay Baseball Hat Guy and Sexy Asian. They can’t keep up with the open bar crowd so we wait patiently behind a tall, dapper black guy who’s chatting with a tall blonde who keeps finger-flossing her hair. My wife overhears him say, “It’s because I’m black.” Immediately we decide that the bartenders aren’t serving black people. The racism I experienced downstairs is now nullified. We’re all equal.
12:04 Our order is taken, albeit four minutes too late. The open bar is no longer open. $20 for two Belvedere Tonics.
FLASH FLASH FLASH Some bimbette is putting on a dance routine for a photographer. FLASH FLASH FLASH. I’m about to have a seizure. FLASH FLASH FLASH (Note – All photo-captions of this woman to read: Launch of RADAR Magazine) Wife and I head to another unpopulated trash-bin area to hopefully share an undisturbed cigarette with a lower bimbo/retina-burn ratio.
12:08 A woman walks by with the price tag hanging off the back of her dress. If it’s a new style, that’s funny. If it’s an accident, that’s hilarious.
12:15 We’ve had enough. I text “Sucks!” to my brother’s broken Treo to alert him we’ll be joining his posse.
12:19 We wait at coat check. The girl in front of me, ticket number 015, is ignoring the coat-check girl and reading e-mail off her Sidekick phone. The last time I checked a coat at Marquee they lost it for 45 minutes. This time it’s parked right in front, like a Ferrari at Bar Pitti. Coat check girl – the most pleasant of the Marquee staff – asks me how my night is. I tell her it will be great as soon as I get out of there. “Not your scene?” she asks. Exactly. She must know me.
12:20 A Marquee staffer stops us and curtly informs us that we can’t leave the way we came in – as if we’d been briefed on Marquee exit policy and should have known better.
12:21 In an passive-aggressive effort to let people know Marquee sucks, I say “Boy, Marquee sucks” as we exit. I sure showed them.
12:40 Puck Fair. Quiet. Empty-ish. Drunk English and New Zealanders. My kind of place. And I’m always invited.