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House of the Rising Ronsons

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"And they're touring again this summer," Ann offers. "And Mick's just signed up to co-write and produce the Cult's new album, and Meatloaf's and Ozzy Osbourne's . . ."

"I saved Mark's life once," Mick says amiably. "He fell off the boat in the Hamptons, and I dived in after him. James Brown came down from Heaven."

"Isn't James Brown alive?" I say.

Mick's just smiling.

"Why James Brown?"

"No reason, I assure you," says Charlotte, grinning.

Two years ago, the tabloids reported that Mick somehow wound up at Moomba for Paula Jones's celebration of her $850,000 settlement from the president, where Mick pointedly told a reporter, "Me and Mrs. Jones ain't got a thing goin' on!"

"He was never there -- those were staged photographs," Ann insists.

She's opening a bottle of Veuve-Clicquot.

Pop.

"Dahling, would you like some champagne?"

The champagne is geysering to the floor, and Juke, the family dog, who bites, is trotting over to see whether he'd like to lap it up. He turns up his nose.

"I live in festive confusion," Ann says, laughing huskily. Her laugh, to misquote Fitzgerald, is full of money.

Now Mark's coming in with John Forté, the wiry, dreadlocked rapper who's often played with the Fugees. They've started a music-production team together called, cryptically, Epstein & Sons. "Oh, I call everyone Stein," Forté explains. "You know, like Mariah calls everyone Lamb?" Not really.

"My dahling boy!" Ann says, turning up a cheek for Mark. "My numero uno son."

"Hello, Mummy."

"Hello, Mummy," echoes Forté, amused.

"You are coming with us to Moomba, aren't you?"

When we can't all squeeze into Forté's SUV, Samantha and Charlotte run up the street to hail a cab. "Too much family in too small a space," mutters Samantha.

There probably aren't too many families in New York that dine all together at Moomba, a place known for its surreal celebrity tableaux -- say, Jack Nicholson, Mike Tyson, and Jerry Seinfeld all in one evening.

Ann gives the linebackerish bouncer a peck on the cheek. "Hello, dahling!"

We're escorted to the candlelit VIP room upstairs -- it's here that the Ronson children often congregate with others of their kind, a group of young people who are already famous or hell-bent on becoming famous (well, if Gwyneth could do it . . .):

There's Donovan (son of Donovan) Leitch, who captains the much-hyped band Nancy Boy; Ione Skye (his sister), who, at 25, is already the ex-wife of Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz (son of Israel, the playwright); Bijou Phillips, of Papa John, who can currently be seen bare naked in Playboy; leggy model Ivanka Trump, whose mother talks worriedly on Good Morning America about the children of the rich contracting "affluenza" ("Many of these kids with too much money need guidance," Ivana warns); Stella and Lola Schnabel, the latter of whom unfortunately failed to get a gallery show despite efforts by her father (although she's been seen in nightclubs gamely drawing on tables); Cameron Douglas, son of Michael, a D.J.; Drena De Niro, a D.J. -- "They know more about turntables than silverware," a writer observes of this generation of socialites -- and Tatiana von Furstenberg, who runs a SoHo boutique that carries T-shirts by C. Ronson . . .

In her monthly column for Hamptons Country magazine -- "I write as if I'm Patsy from Ab Fab, sweetie darling, if you can't spell it, then it's just not for you" -- Ann wrote about Charlotte and Samantha and some of their closest friends, young society blondes like Lulu Kwiatkowski and Alex Kramer, without ever mentioning who their parents were (herself included); you were just supposed to know.

There was also a "really funny" piece on Charlotte and Samantha "in Tatler," says their brother Mark, "that said if you're 30 years or under and live in New York and you don't know the Ronsons, chances are you should get out of town."

At Moomba, the Ronson-Joneses spread themselves out on a series of plush brown couches. Samantha goes to put on a stack of CDs. "I'm not like my brother; I'm not a turntablist," she says unapologetically, cuing up some of her favorite introspective girl rock. "I'm not a hip-hop D.J. I play the music I like, and yeah, I'll scratch a little bit."

It gets her through parties for Lot 61, One51, and the likes of the giant Hollywood agency CAA. And yet, she says, "people can be so mean. Like when I started to D.J., it was in the paper that I didn't even know how to turn the sound system on -- and okay, to a degree, yeah -- I wasn't Funkmaster Flex."

The Ronson-Joneses are drinking still more champagne, except for Annabelle and Alexander, who have school. The rest of the family seems to keep somewhat more irregular hours. "This rock wife is up every morning at 6:30!" Ann protests.

Alexandra von Furstenberg comes over to say hello -- "Dahling!" -- and so does someone called Gogo, who wears a cravat.

"People that read WWD and the gossip columns are always asking me, 'What's it like being a real socialite?' " says Mick, a former member of Spooky Tooth. "And I'm like, 'Ah, man, I'm a rock-and-rollah. Anybody with soul is welcome in my house, even people I meet walking the dog.' "

"We do entertain" -- Ann leans over, karma bracelets jangling -- "but we're not groupies, and we're not social climbers. There are a lot of people who come who are high-profile, and then there are some who are not, but we like them. For example, Al Pacino can be sitting next to a great friend of mine who's a wonderful healer -- "

"Or Michael Caine or David Lindley," Mick offers.

"Or," says Ann, "Michael Douglas and his girlfriend, who are really lovey-dovey. And always the children. Whether it's Andy Warhol or a great girl I meet who does manicures at Elizabeth Arden, what I tell the children is, I'm also inviting you to the party, so if you want to join in, you can.

"When Mark was just 2, Keith Moon" -- as in, of the Who -- "taught him to play drums on some stash boxes at our apartment in London," Ann reminisces. That was when she was married to rich real-estate guy Lawrence Ronson, a connected Londoner with a penchant for the company of "rock-and-rollahs. Everybody used to come over, David Bowie, Mick, Keith" -- this time, Richards -- "oh, it was wonderful!" she says.

"Keith" -- now Moon -- "had a lot of excess problems in those days -- but then, none of us were saints," she adds, low.


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