On a chilly evening in September, Gould and I went out for sushi. She traipsed down Prince Street in a tight electric-blue shirt, the same color as her fingernail polish, and white knee-high boots she had polished up for the fall season. She had just been at her shrink’s, where she says she spends all her time talking about Gawker—“It’s just such a weird cross between being an artist and working in a sweatshop,” she’d said earlier. She tucked her hair behind her ears and sighed. “Plus I have gotten so much flak over the past year, from everyone from random people who e-mail me that I’m a bitch and a cunt, to my family, to Jimmy Kimmel calling me the devil—to my boyfriend of six years, when we broke up and I was moving my dishes out of his apartment, asking, ‘Why did you write that post about that Stevie Nicks song? Now it’s obvious to everyone that you were having an affair with your co-worker.’ ” She shot me a lopsided smile.
I asked her how she felt about the upcoming changes in comments and pay at Gawker. “I can’t have feelings about that kind of thing,” she said. “It’s kind of like you’re in jail and you have feelings about the color they paint the walls.” Gould published a book last spring, and wasn’t sure if she should write another. “At the end of the day, your ideas in a book have less impact than if you had summed them up in two paragraphs on the most widely read blog at the most-read time of the day, so why’d you spend two years on it?” she said, delicately picking up a piece of toro. “But there’s other ways to get noticed than the Internet, right?” She laughed bitterly. “There’s always TV.”
Recently, she’d bonded with Julia Allison—the two went to a psychic in Staten Island together, driving in a Mercedes convertible Allison had borrowed (though the guy who owned it didn’t really know she had borrowed it), booming the stereo and singing along to the lyrics of Prince’s “Pussy Control.” The psychic told Allison that she had to be more “real” and Gould that she was on the road to love—but then she was not, so that was all a waste of time. But at least she decided Allison was cool. “It’s not like Julia keeps her enemies close and her friends closer,” said Gould. “She doesn’t even make a distinction between the two.”
In an insult culture, shamelessness is a crucial attribute, was part of the point. Last week at Gawker’s book party, Allison appeared in a particularly revealing top and told me, “I figure if people look at my cleavage they won’t listen to my words,” then winked. She and Gould were both wearing polka-dots, not on purpose, and they cavorted in their outfits for a photographer, slinging their arms around Allison’s boyfriend, even though Gould was sure to overdramatically grimace in some of the pictures.
By Gawker’s rules, Allison seemed to be winning the game. Still, the question remained: Could you be successful in New York without becoming a—well, a douchebag? It was something that Gould would have to ponder.