You can chalk that photo up to bad taste, the thrill of his newfound status, a certain boyish, almost Bushian, immaturity -- or you can blame it on Curry's thirst for revenge. It's this kind of poor judgment that damaged his credibility in the Morgan Stanley mess: After he was fired, he allegedly participated in a plan to bolster his suit by planting racist e-mails in Morgan Stanley's computers with Charles Joseph Luethke, an acquaintance who occasionally crashed at his old frat house.
But this time, it was Morgan Stanley's turn to show bad judgment: The alleged scheme imploded when it was revealed that Luethke had been paid $10,000 by Morgan Stanley for his role in the plot. This led to the resignation of the firm's general counsel in June 1999, as well as a media war that never seems to end. Just two weeks ago, Morgan Stanley sent out a memo to all 62,679 employees, reiterating that they didn't pay Curry "a penny." And Luethke recently filed a suit against the firm, alleging coercion of testimony. He'd like $500 million.
Christian Curry arrives at the Plaza a bit late for the $1,000-per-plate dinner at which Carl McCall is announcing his gubernatorial candidacy. His guests (all of whom he's paid for) include an NBC medical reporter, a Mercedes exec, a bodyguard, plus -- surprise, surprise -- the Guess? model, Rachel Nichols. Curry calls her "Muffin," she calls him "Button," and he bought her a diamond tennis bracelet and pendant worth $40,000 at Tiffany & Co. for Valentine's Day (no, really -- I saw him do it). "The best part about Muffin?" he says. "She doesn't know that I'm the Naked Gay Guy." She does know about Snugglebear, but the engagement is off -- at least for tonight.
Curry's appearance here with a six-foot model isn't the only reason he's turning heads: Despite his splashy contributions -- like a hundred grand for the John Starks Foundation (for disadvantaged youths) -- Curry's relationship with the black community is a complicated one.
Though the Reverend Al Sharpton led a protest for Curry at Morgan Stanley's headquarters on July 15, 1999, his support wasn't to last long. That same night, Sharpton attended a party for Black Enterprise publisher Earl Graves. Here, according to deposition testimony, he was approached by a number of black leaders -- including Johnnie Cochran; Hugh Price, head of the National Urban League; and Morgan Stanley's Bill Lewis -- who said Sharpton "didn't fully understand the Curry situation and what he was getting involved in." Curry says Sharpton never held any further protests on his behalf.
Tonight, however, Curry is feeling only love. He's greeted warmly by Charles Rangel, Percy Sutton, and McCall himself. "I'm a huge fan," says a guest.
"It's nothing," says Curry. "I'm nothing."
Out of the crowd comes a classmate from my high school, Melissa Breitbart Sohn, a married slip of a woman who runs Emma & Me, a jewelry-design business, and just so happens to be the daughter of Curry's criminal-defense attorney. Curry sweeps her up in a big bear hug, and her feet dangle off the floor.
Everyone heads up to the Plaza suite Curry's rented for the night; the bodyguard pops a Veuve Clicquot, a reggae CD goes in the player, and people lollygag on the king-size bed. Muffin changes out of her Gucci snakeskin dress and into jeans; she unzips them to show off her new black thong with a Sisqó appliqué. Curry puts his hand down her pants.
"Get out of there, Christian!" says Breitbart Sohn. "You're drunk."
"I'm drunk on life!" he yells.
There's a lot of off-the-record discussion of deals Curry might or might not do, the money he might or might not have, and the fees he most definitely has to pay Breitbart Sohn's dad. "Did I pay for those shoes?" he asks. "Or this bag? Did I pay for this hair?" He pulls at her highlighted locks. "My father hasn't supported me in a long, long time," she retorts, indignant.
Curry pulls out his cell phone. "People want to hire me, too," he says, and plays a message from an ID Models booker.
As the night grows longer, Curry gets more loose. "All these women throw themselves at me," he tells Breitbart Sohn. "I've got a drawer at home of panties that girls have sent me." He takes a pair of stockings out of his pocket. "Look . . ."
"Christian!" screams Breitbart Sohn. "I saw you take those from Muffin's bag!"
"All right," he says, laughing, putting the white cotton crotch to his nose. "But smell them! They smell so good, like a fruit."
After hanging out at the Plaza, the group jumps in Curry's long white limo and heads, once again, to Lotus. This time, they're shown to a good table right away, and Curry orders champagne as Muffin dances on the banquette. When Lotus closes, it's back in the limo to the Plaza suite.
And so on.