At what may very well have been the most hip fund-raiser in the history of the office of the New York City comptroller, Lena Dunham took her support of Scott Stringer from Twitter to the real world. “When Scott told me he was running for comptroller, the first thing I did was Google the word comptroller … I thought the comptroller was the guy who rode on the back of the fire truck and steered!” she half-joked last night at the Maritime Hotel in Chelsea.
Not known as the most politically active subset, photographer Terry Richardson and a handful of the city’s most “It” fashion designers, including Pamela Love and Chrissie Miller, looked on. Dunham also discussed the plight of the middle class in New York, noting that some New Yorkers might be squeezed out of the city and even forced to move to Florida. “We can’t have our generation’s Patti Smith moving to Tampa!” she warned. “That would seriously fuck our shit up.”
Filmmaker Casey Neistat, standing near the bar, echoed Dunham: “Social issues are important to me. I mean, I still don’t understand what a comptroller does! But I support Scott on social issues.” Behind Neistat stood Carlos Quirarte, who co-owns downtown spots the Smile and Westway, wearing a denim jacket buttoned up to the neck. “Before I was a small-business owner in New York, I didn’t have much interest in politics,” said Quirarte. Then Terry Richardson ran up from behind and hugged him.
Everybody meant well, and the crowd was positive about what it did not want: Eliot Spitzer, who, despite entering the race late and resigning as governor over a prostitution scandal, leads Stringer slightly in the polls. The partygoers — mostly Internet denizens and youthful influencers mobilized by Stringer’s longtime spokesperson Audrey Gelman (BFF to Dunham, girlfriend to Richardson, etc.) — were both eager to discuss the Spitzer factor and to avoid it. Congressman Jerrold Nadler, who represents the west side of Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn, even spoke about Spitzer without actually using his name, like Voldemort, repeatedly referring to Stringer’s “opponent.”
Leandra Medine, fashion blogger the Man Repeller, said, “It’s difficult for me to articulate political ideas without offending someone … ” Venture capitalist Mo Koyfman was less reserved: “I have a hard time seeing Spitzer in office — he feels to me like the kind of person with the sense that the world owes him something. I don’t like that kind of person!”
Stringer moved through the crowd of a few hundred incredibly successful twenty- and thirtysomethings, sipping a beverage — “It’s water, straight up!” — and seeming genuinely thankful for the beautiful New Yorkers who turned out to support him, or at least to oppose Spitzer. He gave off the sympathetic impression that he didn’t quite deserve this electoral tussle, but he was up to the challenge. “This event is so significant because it’s the next generation of New Yorkers stepping up and making sure we have control of this city,” he said, adding that he’s a big fan of Girls.
“This job of comptroller,” said Stringer, in a speech earnest enough to suggest that it might not have been entirely scripted, “I’d like to think I made it cool around the country.”