Boy, “Page Six” was right: Vanity Fair’s profile of Washington, D.C., society matron Sally Quinn contains some scathing details. In addition to rehashing the bizarre incident that led to the cancellation of her Post entertaining column, “The Party,” it also cherry-picks several other unflattering anecdotes about Quinn, who made her name first as a society writer for the Washington Post and later as the third wife of its former executive editor Ben Bradlee. Like the time when she went ballistic after her learning-disabled son, Quinn (yes, his first name is her last name), lost his virginity to a prostitute in St. Martin. Or how stories conflict on when she started sleeping with Bradlee — and publicly started joking about it even though he was still married to his second wife.
It’s almost shocking, in a way, that a magazine like Vanity Fair would write a story that paints Sally Quinn — among the last of a dying society breed that fills their pages — as a status- and image-obsessed social climber. But perhaps most heartbreaking (and not in a flattering way) was this anecdote, told about her son Quinn, who has VCFS, “a syndrome that affects his heart, facial structure, immune system, and ability to talk and comprehend.”
She recalls the day Quinn’s best friend heard he’d been accepted to Harvard. “All of our friends’ kids were all getting into Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, and Brown. I went to a screening that night and I ran into [documentary-film maker] Charles Guggenheim. He came up and gave me a kiss and said, ‘How are you?,’ and I burst into tears. He said, ‘What’s the matter?’ And I just said, ‘Quinn’s best friend just got into Harvard. And Quinn will never go to any college, and I just feel so defeated.’ ”
Isn’t it bad enough when your parents have that kind of expectation for you and you’re not learning disabled? Luckily, the way Vanity Fair tells it, this incident was the catalyst for both Quinn and, uh, Quinn, to find the best in their situation, and find a rewarding career path for the young man. Still, we imagine there are going to be more than a few Washington, D.C., party invitations for writer Evgenia Peretz and editor Graydon Carter that are going to get mysteriously lost in the mail over the next year.