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House of the Rising Ronsons

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Her own family is, not surprisingly, illustrious. Her great-uncle Sir Oscar Deutsch founded the Gaumont-Odeon Cinemas "and was the first Jew to be knighted by the queen!" she says. Her second cousin Sir Leon Brittan was the British Home secretary. Another second cousin, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, was the minister of defense.

"And I and all my children are direct descendants of the Rabbi Yitzak Luria, who brought the cabala out of hiding," Ann says, name-dropping back to the sixteenth century. "And we're also related to the doctor who made us all feel guilty about cholesterol."

"I hung out at Regine's with Catherine Deneuve and Brigitte Bardot," recounts Mick. "And a big bottle of Scotch and Brian Jones" -- dead member of the Rolling Stones -- "and a crazy girl called Zuzu."

"Yes, enough about me!" says Ann.

"He wrote 'I Wanna Know What Love Is' for me," she adds. "I told him to go back to his wife, and he did, but it didn't work out. . . . Oh, put that in."

They moved to New York and settled at the San Remo in 1984, and Ann immediately started throwing dinner parties. In those days it was "everybody," including close friends Jann and Jane Wenner, a connection that led to an early job for Mark.

"Mark got his internship at Rolling Stone when he was, I think, 14? I have always made the children work. I am very strict," says Ann.

"I feel Mark could really do anything," says Ann Jones rather somberly, as if we're discussing global politics at the U.N. "He has that Renaissance energy. Did he tell you he's been writing music since he was 4?"

("Mark charmed everybody," Wenner says, "and knocked everybody out with his musical knowledge, which was as extensive if not more than the music editors'. My wife and his mother are close friends," he adds.)

"I am known as 'Mummy Dearest,' " Ann goes on, eyes narrowing. "I changed the locks when Mark snuck out to stay at Sean Lennon's house because Pearl Jam was coming over. I told the nanny -- I was away at the time -- he will not sneak in the back door!"

Mark smiles. "She called begging for me to come home."

"Anthony Kiedis" -- of the Red Hot Chili Peppers -- "and I used to exchange letters," Annabelle interjects sweetly. "We were talking about the tooth fairy, but we had different interpretations."

"But I have always wanted the children to be free in their minds," Ann goes on, "and that is why I try and expose them to many different cultures and religions. Also, that way it's not sexy -- I don't want them to run off and become Moonies. I have introduced them all to reiki, the Eastern art of energy healing . . .

"I do it myself; my hands get very hot. I cured Mark of shingles," she says.

Mark looks, for him, taken aback.

"And I remember once, when Mark was about 13, he wanted to talk to me about sex -- "

Mark looks, for him, alarmed.

"But I came, you see, from this very inhibited English family where nobody ever taught me how babies arrive -- "

Mark asks, "Did you just say 'how babies arrive?' "

"I said, nobody ever taught me how babies were born," Ann says dryly.

"I think you said arrive," Mark says.

"Well. It's a better term."

Ann looks regal.

Charlotte giggles. "When Mummy grounded us, she would make me and Samantha do, like, seven cultural things, like seven weekends of classes at the Art Students League -- it was a little much, you know? So we'd just walk in and find out who the teacher was in case we got quizzed -- "

"Charlotte, show us your tees."

Ann's been urging Charlotte to open up a little brown shopping bag holding some of her C. Ronson T-shirts. Charlotte spreads them out dutifully on the seat.

"Being in this family," Charlotte says, "it kind of spurs you on to do things -- you feel you can do things -- well, because everybody else is." She's the only member of the family so far to get a college degree, from NYU.

"But Mark," Ann says, "has promised me he will go back!"

Mark Ronson started D.J.'ing professionally when he was a senior in high school. At college, he'd come into the city on weekends to perform, eventually presiding at what he calls "thug affairs" -- parties at places like Rebar and the now defunct but memorably down-and-dirty Den of Thieves, where despite being a white boy, he knew how to play that funky music.

"It doesn't matter who his family is; he can still rock a party," says Funkmaster Flex.

RuPaul once told him, "Boy, you been making my bottom hurt all night." From dancing.

"I almost put that on my business cards," Ronson says, "but then I thought it might not be such a good idea."

The question of just how much his family ties have helped does come up, however, and he endures his share of what the players call "player-hating." "Yeah, he's good," says another, less successful white D.J., "but he also brings to the table all the elements of the trendy club scene, which has nothing to do with hip-hop's foundation."

But who's to speak for hip-hop? Certainly not Ronson, Ronson says one day at the West 34th Street apartment he shares with old friend Max LeRoy. "I'm no expert," Ronson claims. "I just like the music."

("He taught me how to play guitar," Sean Lennon says later on the phone. "And then when we were like 15, we wrote a song for Michael Jackson. Michael hummed a melody for us, and we wrote it. Then we played it for Roberta Flack, who lived in my building, and she said it sounded like James Brown . . . but I think she was just humoring us.")

"I could never try to 'be black,' like some people," Ronson goes on, leaning back in an armchair draped with an American flag. "I had this conversation once with Russell Simmons. I said I would never use the word nigga because I think it's kind of weird and it doesn't fit me. And Russell goes yeah, but you can't, like, tell MC Serch from 3rd Bass -- who's white and has a black wife and three black kids -- that he can't use it.

"And I was like, okay, you know what? You're right. But it's not me. Just because of the way I was raised, and" -- he quickly adds -- "I don't mean I was raised well, but I don't speak like that and I don't try to carry myself off that way. I'm comfortable with who I am.

"I'll be around hip-hop people all the time, and yeah, I might pick up certain expressions and it might change the way I dress a little bit, but I could never be something that I'm not. I am what I am."

"We're just privileged white boys, doing their thing legitimately," says another friend of Ronson's, actor Daniel Serafini-Sauli. "But I still believe in 'Fuck tha police,' " he laughs.


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