Last month the DABA Girls were all the rage. Laney Crowell, a then-employee of Stylecaster.com, and Megan Petrus, a lawyer, billed themselves on their blog, Dating A Banker Anonymous, as founders of a support group for the woeful significant others of former Wall Street hotshots, now tragically forced to give up nights at Nobu and Tenjune. The Times reported on their service to downtrodden trophy girlfriends everywhere (or at least those in the West Village), and we even defended them ourselves. But it turns out there's not much to defend.
A few weeks ago, NPR suggested that the Times got Punk'd, claiming the site was all part of a ploy for a book deal. They were right — though their main argument was that the site was registered in January, though it claimed to have started in September. In fact, Petrus and Crowell had started blogging on Tumblr in the fall and switched to a swankier format in anticipation of the press that came from the Times story. Either way, the plan worked: The girls are now signed with United Talent and Janklow Nesbit.
Yesterday, Newsweek outed the group as a "full-blown parody." The girls were all friends at the outset, and had exaggerated their stories to the point of ridiculousness, for humor's sake. The Times ran a correction today noting that they were misled into believing that the group was truly aimed to help people instead of the naked attempt at a book deal it actually was.
Crowell (who was fired from her job after all the DABA publicity) told us she "can't figure out what went on there, because we were clear." Though the Times tape-recorded interviews with the girls about how they were a support-type group with 30-some-odd loose members, Crowell alleges: "They made that up." The paper did acknowledge that the website was, to some extent, "tongue-in-cheek." And Crowell says that the whole concept of DABAgirls is "80 percent true, and we exaggerate some parts to make it funnier." "The [Times] needs to understand the definition of satire," she sniped. "It does all come from truth, and you make it funny. All the stories come from people who write to us."
"I don't see what the big deal is, you know?" Crowell said. "It's not that there's no truth in it. Megan and I exist. That's like saying David Sedaris's life never happened. I should have gone to Us Weekly. They would have done a better job reporting." But it's clear the impression that the Times gave, that it was an earnest support group with real members, was more helpful to Crowell and Petrus's ambitions. "It's kind of a bummer that Newsweek felt the need to ruin the joke," Crowell complained to us. "Some stuff is true, and some stuff is just funny." But wait. If the girls were completely honest with the Times, why would Newsweek, by simply stating what was always true, have ruined anything at all?
Not that Crowell is getting too down on herself, anyway. She's got to go meet with her agent, and "with the book deal and the buzz, it's been a really really fun ride so far."