This winter, Pulitzer organized Silicon Alley's first-ever black-tie party, a benefit for the Fresh Air Fund at the Metropolitan Club. She had a sweeping gown designed by her Russian seamstress just for the occasion and swept her hair up with pearl barrettes. "Unfortunately, it's not a dress you can eat in," she admits. To her glee, big-time moguls like Candice Carpenter of iVillage showed, and Bert Ellis of iXL even gave a toast: "All of us in this room have been in a moment in time that no one could've predicted," he declared. One of Rudy Giuliani's deputies read a note from the mayor: "I'd like to thank Manhattan's own breath of Fresh Air, Courtney Pulitzer!"
After a banquet dinner with flank steak and sushi, a slim blonde in pashmina chatted on a Nokia about how "TV advertising is so twentieth-century"; the gangly CEO of Corporategear.com was pitching himself as a "Bruce Lee kind of street fighter"; and when a red-faced, cigar-chomping interactive-services guy grabbed a passing woman and kissed her on her neck, she protested, "Whoa! Let's take that off-line!" At midnight, there was a spontaneous outbreak of swing dancing.
A middle-aged woman with spiky brown hair and a magenta faux-fur coat worked the room with the ferocity of a paparazzo, forcing her black-and-red card into every available palm. "I'm the central intelligence officer at Mayday Interactive," she said, about to introduce her client EVEO.com. "Here's your beta, babe: We're user-generated streaming video -- brand-new, totally hot -- with a former exec VP from ABC as our chief of content and one of the Blair Witch guys on our board. Think cross between Geocities and America's Funniest Home Videos."
She downed her drink.
"So here's my deal," she drawled. "I was big in Hollywood in the eighties, did the CD-rom thing in '90, and then in '92, someone asked, 'What do you think is going to be hot next?' And I was like, 'Bingo -- it's the Internet!' " She grabbed another glass from a passing waiter. "So I get into the Internet business, and it's like I'm about to lose my house because I have this passion, and everyone including my mother thinks I'm crazy. And I'm borrowing money from her because I had the jones for the Internet, and really I was this close to losing my house -- like three payments behind -- and I was like, 'Yo, I don't want to get rid of my Mustang, you know?' " She smiled. "But I gotta say, fuck me with a chain saw, huh?"
The ETBS can still look down on those late to the gold rush, but now, more than ever, the ones who haven't scored yet want to get paaaaaaid. "As idealistic as myself or Rufus or Steven are, we still spend most of our days talking to investment bankers or VCs," says Tribe. "We really believe we're making the world a more interesting place, but nevertheless we've gotten the equivalent of our M.B.A.'s along the way."
"Even if my company did tank, I'd get a six-figure job at some entertainment network."
This past July 4 weekend, when the ETBs who had already struck it rich were away at the beach, Calacanis organized a sushi dinner at Bond Street for the rest of the old posse -- including Bowe, Levy, Johnson. "It was sweet, and I know Jason was trying to create a sense of camaraderie, but we were suspicious," says Rushkoff. "We felt there must have been something that he was trying to do for himself. Because everyone in this industry is so suspicious now."
"Look, we hang, but there was always an underlying competitiveness," says Harris, in a quiet yet gruff voice. "They're rallying you to beat them, and you're rallying them to beat you. Like with Butterworth's MTVi thing -- you kind of root for him, but you kind of hope he doesn't do better than you. But let's face it: I'm at the top of the pecking order." He may be lonely up there: Not one of the others made it to Harris's two-week million-dollar millennial banquet -- an 80-person sleepover with a firing range, Quake tournaments, and a live sex show. Kanarick: "Not interested." Levy: "Josh totally ripped off the idea of my CyberSlacker parties." Harris: "She's totally deluded. This is what I was put on earth to do."
He's not the only one with Warholian dreams: Kanarick, as you may have read on "Page Six," will soon open an Orchard Street burlesque club and restaurant called the Slipper Room. "Titties with tassels! Gotta have pasties!" he says. "We have a girl who does a feather fan dance, and a lot of former strippers doing silly things in fur bikinis. And we're doing a musical based on Swiss Family Robinson -- I play a peg-legged pirate with an eye patch and I go arrrrrrrrrh a lot. He runs a hand over his purple-for-January hair. "Oh, the whole place is tacky, but it's gorgeous, like Ivana's house meets Bugsy Siegel circa 1929."
"I'm certainly competitive in a social way with Craig, and it pisses me off when he's on 'Page Six,' " admits Harris. "But in Craig's heart of hearts, he wants to be in the New York social scene. I make scenes; he participates in them. But hey, he doesn't have time -- he works for a living." He laughs manically. "Hey, Craig's a stud. He had a makeout session with my girlfriend once -- she's been down the Alley. I can take it."