ink-stained wretches

When Party Reporters Turn 30: The Miraculous Transformation of Spencer Morgan

Spencer Morgan

Practicing his Richard Johnson face.Photo: Patrick McMullan

Allow us to go all Nick Denton on you for a moment and tell you way too much about a media personality whose byline you may know but whose personal life you never wondered about. His name is Spencer Morgan, and if you’re anyone in the 25–35-year-old range of media party hoppers, you know him. And if you know him well (as we do), you’ll know he’s gone through a grand transition over the last year. The end result of this transition? Today’s 1,500-word Observer story about the glories of taking a bath. But let’s start at the beginning.

Young Spencer, 30, started in the gossip world by stringing on and off for the Daily News’s “Rush & Molloy” column in 2004. Shortly after, he became a stringer for the Observer’s “Transom” column. It took only a few months of this for his editors to see what they had on their hands, and they hired him permanently. What, specifically, they had on their hands spilling out of their paws, was a fun, boozy party reporter who knew everyone, stayed out late, and could always be relied upon for a little action (in print or just verbally). He, like Chris Wilson of “Page Six,” George Gurley of the Observer, Neel Shah of Radar, and Hud Morgan of the Daily News (not all friends, mind you), took the term “party coverage” at face value.

This continued until last year, when things between Morgan and his fiancée, Vanity Fair’s Alexis Bryan, started heating up. It is no doubt through the influence of Bryan (who may have learned a thing or two about managing men from her father’s girlfriend, Anna Wintour) that Spencer has undergone a glorious transformation. He can no longer be seen after-party hopping until the wee hours. Instead, he turns in early. He’s begun wearing striking new glasses, of the studious type Marc Jacobs wore pre-rehab. He’s even grown a somewhat stately mustache. When asked about his personal transformation, he told us it’s just “less booze. Lots more baths.”

Man, you quit your twenties for two months and look what happens.

But more important, he’s taken over full control of the “Transom” page and now punches out giant features for the Observer in nearly every issue (who could forget when he wore spanks? Or invaded a model’s apartment?). He has a baby on the way and is going to get married next Sunday in Houston. “We’re eloping!” he told Daily Intel recently. And, somehow, it seems like the most responsible thing in the world.

Why do we tell you this? Well, because, unlike the Observer, we can’t run trumped-up trend stories based on a couple of things that our friends have been doing. But if we could, we would use the self-gentrification of Spencer Morgan as a sign of the times. Are all the young media party people our age calming down? Is this really how we brace for our thirties? We actually become adults? We become responsible, and we naturally turn away from the booze and the late nights and the inability to keep a relationship?

If that’s the case, Carrie Bradshaw has a lot of explaining to do. We thought for sure we could stretch this out at least until our forties.

Thank You for Soaking [NYO]

When Party Reporters Turn 30: The Miraculous Transformation of Spencer Morgan