Skip to content, or skip to search.

Skip to content, or skip to search.

Radical Chic: That Party at Lenny’s

All at once—nothing. But the little gray man sitting next to Felicia, the gray man with the sideburns, pops up and hands a piece of paper to Quat and says: “Mr. Clarence Jones asked me to say—he couldn’t be here, but he’s contributing $7,500 to the defense fund!”

“Oh! That’s marvelous!” says Felicia.

Then the voice of Lenny from the back of the room: “As a guest of my wife”—he smiles—“I’ll give my fee for the next performance of Cavalleria Rusticana.” Comradely laughter. Applause. “I hope that will be four figures!”

Things are moving again. Otto Preminger speaks up from the sofa down front:

“I geeve a t’ousand dollars!”

Right on. Quat says: “I can’t assure you that it’s tax deductible.” He smiles. “I wish I could, but I can’t.” Well, the man looks brighter and brighter every minute. He knows a Radical Chic audience when he sees one. Those words are magic in the age of Radical Chic: it’s not tax deductible.

The contributions start coming faster, only $250 or $300 at a clip, but faster . . . Sheldon Harnick . . . Bernie and Hilda Fishman . . . Judith Bernstein . . . Mr. and Mrs. Burton Lane . . .

“I know some of you are caught with your Dow-Jones averages down,” says Quat, “but come on—”

Quat says: “We have a $300 contribution from Harry Belafonte!”

“No, no,” says Julie Belafonte.

“I’m sorry,” says Quat, “it’s Julie’s private money! I apologize. After all, there’s a women’s liberation movement sweeping the country, and I want this marked down as a gift from Mrs. Belafonte!” Then he says: “I know you want to get to the question period, but I know there’s more gold in this mine. I think we’ve reached the point where we can pass out the blank checks.”

More contributions . . . $100 from Mrs. August Heckscher . . .

“We’ll take anything!” says Quat. “We’ll take it all!” . . . he’s high on the momentum of his fund-raiser voice . . . “You’ll leave here with nothing!”

But finally he wraps it up. A beautiful ash-blond girl with the most perfect Miss Porter’s face speaks up. She’s wearing a leather and tweed dress. She looks like a Junior Leaguer graduating to the Ungaro Boutique.

“I’d like to ask Mr. Cox a question,” she says. Cox is standing up again, by the grand piano. “Besides the breakfast program,” she says, “do you have any other community programs, and what are they like?”

“Everyone in the room is drinking in Cox’s performance like tiger’s milk, for the Soul”

Cox starts to tell about a Black Panther program to set up medical clinics in the ghettos, and so on, but soon he is talking about a Panther demand that police be required to live in the community they patrol. “If you police the community, you must live there . . . see . . . Because if he lives in the community, he’s going to think twice before he brutalizes us, because we can deal with him when he comes home at night . . . see . . . We are also working to start liberation schools for black children, and these liberation schools will actually teach them about their environment, because the way they are now taught, they are taught not to see their real environment . . . see . . . They get Donald Duck and Mother Goose and all that lame happy jive . . . you know . . . We’d like to take kids on tours of the white suburbs, like Scarsdale, and like that, and let them see how their oppressors live . . . you know . . . but so far we don’t have the money to carry out these programs to meet the real needs of the community. The only money we have is what we get from the merchants in the black community when we ask them for donations, which they should give, because they are the exploiters of the black community”—

—and shee-ut. What the hell is Cox getting into that for? Quat and the little gray man are ready to spring in at any lonesome split second. For God’s sake, Cox, don’t open that can of worms. Even in this bunch of upholstered skulls there are people who can figure out just who those merchants are, what group, and just how they are asked for donations, and we’ve been free of that little issue all evening, man—don’t bring out that ball-breaker—

But the moment is saved. Suddenly there is a much more urgent question from the rear:

“Who do you call to give a party? Who do you call to give a party?”

Every head spins around . . . Quite a sight . . . It’s a slender blond man who has pushed his way up to the front ranks of the standees. He’s wearing a tuxedo. He’s wearing black-frame glasses and his blond hair is combed back straight in the Eaton Square manner. He looks like the intense Yale man from out of one of those 1927 Frigidaire ads in the Saturday Evening Post, when the way to sell anything was to show Harry Yale in the background, in a tuxedo, with his pageboy-bobbed young lovely, heading off to dinner at the New Haven Lawn Club. The man still has his hand up in the air like the star student of the junior class.

“I won’t be able to stay for everything you have to say,” he says, “but who do you call to give a party?”

In fact, it is Richard Feigen, owner of the Feigen Gallery, 79th and Madison. He arrived on the art scene and the social scene from Chicago three years ago . . . He’s been moving up hand over hand ever since . . . like a champion . . . Tonight—the tuxedo—tonight there is a reception at the Museum of Modern Art . . . right on . . . a “contributing members’” reception, a private viewing not open to mere “members” . . . But before the museum reception itself, which is at 8:30, there are private dinners . . . right? . . . which are the real openings . . . in the homes of great collectors or great climbers or the old Protestant elite, marvelous dinner parties, the real thing, black tie, and these dinners are the only true certification of where one stands in this whole realm of Art & Society . . . The whole game depends on whose home one is invited to before the opening . . . And the game ends as the host gathers everyone up about 8:45 for the trek to the museum itself, and the guests say, almost ritually, “God! I wish we could see the show from here! It’s too delightful! I simply don’t want to move!!’ . . . And, of course, they mean it! Absolutely! For them, the opening is already over, the hand is played . . . And Richard Feigen, man of the hour, replica 1927 Yale man, black tie and Eaton Square hair, has dropped in, on the way, en passant, to the Bernsteins’, to take in the other end of the Culture tandem, Radical Chic . . . and the rightness of it, the exhilaration, seems to sweep through him, and he thrusts his hand into the air, and somehow Radical Chic reaches its highest, purest state in that moment . . . as Richard Feigen, in his tuxedo, breaks in to ask, from the bottom of his heart, “Who do you call to give a party?” There you had a trend, a fashion, in its moment of naked triumph. How extraordinary that just 30 minutes later Radical Chic would be—


Related:

Advertising
Current Issue
Subscribe to New York
Subscribe

Give a Gift

Advertising