“Hanging out with them is like a focus group for me,” says Chrissie Miller, 33, whose Sophomore-clothing-line party the girls D.J.-ed in Paris. “ ‘Okay, what are the kids into?’ They’re the next generation, the kids about town, the popular kids.” They’re also part of a young L.A.-to-Manhattan crowd that includes the rock-chick socialite Cory Kennedy, the photographer Jack Siegel, Brady Fujikawa, and D.J. Austin Peters and that mixed with the Olsen twins, Julia Restoin Roitfeld, and Agyness Deyn at the West Village’s now-shuttered Beatrice Inn.
They’re also hustlers. “It’s cheesy to say, but there’s something for everyone when we play,” Harley says, explaining their sonic services. “Hip-hop, eighties.”
“You’re either buying a drink or you’re dancing, depending on what we’re playing,” Cassie adds, with the slightly reckless enthusiasm the on-point and aloof Harley rarely gives off. The girls’ D.J. style is eclectic—a testament to Harley’s music-executive father as well as their having come of age when an entire archive of pop isn’t hidden away in dusty boxes of LP’s but just a download away. They D.J. on a program called Serato Scratch Live, which transfers songs from MP3s to an actual piece of vinyl.
Tops on their rager playlist: Depeche Mode’s “Just Can’t Get Enough,” Bowie’s “Modern Love,” Billy Idol’s “Dancing With Myself,” the Jam’s “Town Called Malice,” “You’re the One That I Want” from Grease, the Cardigans’ “Lovefool,” the Smiths’ “Ask.” Right now they’re really into Rick Ross’s “Blowin’ Money Fast.”
Harley and Cassie’s rise to haute sickness began the summer after Harley’s freshman year at NYU. She and a male friend also named Harley (Wertheimer) started throwing a party at Gallery Bar on the Lower East Side. “There was such a crazy influx of kids from L.A. into New York not knowing where to go,” says Harley (not Wertheimer), “so the fact that we threw the first New York party for L.A. kids made it a huge success. We made tons of money and it was really insane.”
That party got Harley D.J.-ing, which led to a gig at the Beatrice. When that ended, in mid-2008, the girls got Leo Fitzpatrick (who was in the 1995 lost-youth movie Kids but has lately been a D.J.) to introduce them to Erik Foss, the artist-skaterboy proprietor of the East Village club Lit, whom they’d been e-mailing asking if they could spin there. Lit is a grotty assemblage of dark stucco, brick, scummy band-sticker decoupage, and a spooky skeleton with Christmas lights sitting atop the bar. Foss gave them Wednesday nights.
Foss says the girls “helped us turn the whole bar around. All of a sudden, we had everyone from Lindsay Lohan to the Olsen twins coming in”—and not just on Wednesdays. “It’s all young art kids they brought in, California kids whose parents could afford to send them to NYU. There were lots of credit cards, but they were the sweetest, most no-trouble crowd.” Foss says that “they have such an insane following they could be total fucking princesses if they wanted and take the party anywhere.” Most D.J.’s get about 10 percent of a bar’s take. Harley and Cassie get a little more. (He, like the girls, wouldn’t say what they actually make.) “They wear ripped jeans and flannel shirts and dress like the hot grunge girls I went to high school with in Phoenix,” he says. “Even if they grew up affluent, they don’t want anyone to know about it. I grew up without money, and they’ve proven to me there’s good people everywhere.”
Lit’s success helped get them jobs at the Jane Hotel and Avenue, as well as parties like the U.S. launch of the French fashion line Comptoir des Cotonniers, a presentation for the designer Carlos Campos, and last spring’s gala for the Museum of Natural History (“in between two mammal displays!” remembers Cassie).
Last February, they had their 22nd co-birthday at Marquee, the cavernous, aggressively climate-controlled bottle-service club so affluently banal that it doesn’t even get mentioned in “Page Six” much anymore. Harley counts it among “places we used to lawff”—here she sounds English again—“at and think were cheesy.” But Andrew Goldberg, a promoter for Marquee and the similarly slick Avenue, where the girls now D.J. on Tuesdays, said “‘We’ll throw you a crazy birthday party,’” says Harley. “So we were like, ‘You know what? Fuck it, let’s throw a crazy rager at a superclub. Why not?’ Our friends were like, ‘We’re not going to go to Marquee.’ ”
“Yeah, people hated us for it!” Cassie erupts.
“But it blew people’s minds,” says Harley, “because it was all bottles of Champagne, sparklers going off.” Wow, I say. All free? “Yeah. It was amazing.”