I'd like to think this is the quintessential New York party," said Cathleen Black, publisher of New York magazine, as she furiously pumped the hands of the ad directors from Macy's and Saks. "We are not sparing expense. These are very sophisticated people. We want them to leave remembering champagne."
To mark its 15th anniversary, New York, progenitor of 150 copycat city and regional magazines, invited 1,200 people to a reception in the glossy marble atrium of the new Trump Tower at 56th and Fifth Avenue.
NBC News commentator John Chancellor went by shaking hands. "Oh, John Chancel-Lore," sniped critic James Wolcott, wearing a Sony Walkman and no tie. "Pronounce his name wrong, he'll leave the party."
George Steinbrenner of the Yankees passed by patting backs. Author Gay Talese, wine-colored fedora in hand, seethed, "He walks around here like a winning pitcher, shaking hands, and his team got wiped 13 to 2 yesterday."
In a lot of ways, it was a prototypical New York event.
It was impossibly crowded. Gov. Mario Cuomo, holding court near the coat-check installation, caused such a traffic jam that partygoers were grumbling about voting Republican next time. It was impossibly noisy, a roar of cocktail chatter drowning out the string ensemble playing Jerome Kern.
How much did it cost to produce two bands, three bars, two outdoor searchlights, and mussels, prosciutto, and strawberry tarts--catered by Dino De Laurentiis' glitzy new food emporium, ddl--for 1,200?
"Oh, millions," magazine owner Rupert Murdoch said airily. (In 1982, the weekly magazine ran 2,547 ad pages and had revenues of $25.5 million. Its April 18 anniversary issue, at 284 pages, is the largest in its history.)
What makes a New York party different from, say, a Washington party, ventured the magazine's editor, Edward Kosner, is "more of a mix of people."
Among the elbowing revelers were models in fringed buckskin miniskirts and in pink toreador pants with ankle socks, former governor Hugh Carey, attorney Roy Cohn in a yellow mohair sport coat and Arthur Schlesinger in his signature bow tie. Clay Felker, New York's first editor and arguably responsible for its innovative approach, was said to be in Europe and didn't show. But Mayor Edward Koch did, and so did theater critic Clive Barnes, nervously eyeing his wristwatch before dashing off to catch the Paul Taylor Dance Company's performance.
Carl Bernstein bussed Elaine Kaufman, who was always introduced as "Elaine from Elaine's." She'll be on the magazine's cover in a couple of weeks, posing behind the bar "where I've been standing for 20 years," as her celebrity-magnet restaurant marks its 20th year. She asked Bernstein why he hadn't been around lately; he said he'd been traveling. Then she headed for the exit and uptown to take up her usual post.
"I wouldn't have missed this for the world," deadpanned acerbic theater critic John Simon. "It's big, it's strange, it has good-looking women," one of whom called to Simon in passing that rumor had Marsha Norman, playwright of "'Night, Mother," winning the Pulitzer. "I hope she did," Simon said to the informant's retreating back.
But party talk wasn't all that great for Cuomo. He heard all night from outraged commuters whose routines had been upended by the continuing Metro North railroad strike. "What the people don't understand is that we have no power," he explained. "As trite as it sounds, write your congressman."