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Poster Boy

Calvin Klein proves once again that it pays to have friends in high places.

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It's always heartening to see evidence that friendship can still persevere over commerce. Even evidence in the unlikeliest of places -- a billboard-size advertisement, for example, like the by-now-infamous Calvin Klein one on the side of 620 Broadway. Facing Houston Street, the ad, which currently features Foxy Brown striking a catlike pose and staring seductively toward SoHo, covers five stories, from roof to first floor, and blocks all the building's south-facing windows -- all except two. Like little winking eyes, the two upper left windows remain uncovered.

In the ad's previous incarnations, Kate Moss and then a Ricky Martin look-alike left plenty of space for these very selective holes. Now, however, the cutout windows have partially lobotomized Foxy. As for the building's sole room with a view, passersby can't help wondering who -- obviously someone with serious juice -- is behind those shades.

Mr. Special turns out to be Marc Balet, whose advertising agency fills the sixth-floor loft. It seems that Balet, art director at Interview during the Warhol days, has known Calvin Klein for years. So after Kate went up, a quick letter was apparently dashed off requesting that Balet's south-facing view be preserved. Complaining to the city wouldn't have worked because zoning ordinances offer no help: The car wash in the lot below owns access to the building's south-facing windows, since originally they did not exist. Noblesse oblige prevailed over an entire marketing department, and the request has been honored not once but three times now, leaving the rest of us with a splendid view of true friendship in action. Or what looks like it, at any rate: "It's not true," Balet says firmly -- but offers no other explanation for his singular treatment.


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