With free-flowing top-shelf liquor, truffle-oily foods, megaluxe venues, and scores of A-to-D-listers poised to shun our goofy questions, most Peggy Siegal parties fill us with a heady mix of wonder and self-loathing. Last night's private screening of the HBO film Bernard and Doris at the Time Warner Center was no exception. At an event that seemed especially saturated with befuddling celebrity sightings: Why is Mo Rocca following Bebe Neuwirth like a puppy dog? Why is Cindy Adams photo-opping with Rush Limbaugh? Catherine Crier is still around? We were rendered speechless by one boldfacer we saw shuffling into the screening room with a beautiful woman: Jeffrey Epstein!
That's right, Jeffrey Epstein.
Jeffrey. Ep. Stein. Unshaven, smiling that feline-monkey grin, wearing a slightly tattered sweater and jeans, he reeked of money and massage oil. Well, we didn't get close enough to say for sure, but we could imagine. We knew he and Peggy are friends, and “I’ve only ever seen him in jeans,” she told New York in December. But really? The week after another lawsuit was filed against him by a teenage girl, he showed up to a movie premiere? With a young woman? (She looked to be in her twenties, at least, by the way.) Words failed us. Hell, even our fingers failed us as we fumbled to text a colleague about this turn of events.
The film began, and it seemed to dovetail thematically with Epstein's saga: all about eccentric billionaires Doris Duke and her bizarre relationship with the hired help. When the lights went back up, Epstein and his comely companion were gone. No photographs of them on any of the wire services. Was it all a dream? —Justin Ravitz
Related: The Fantasist [NYM]