It was the best of parties, it was the worst of parties.
At Empire Steak House on East 50th Street, the stench of fait accompli hangs in the air. The Curtis Sliwa campaign has gathered here in midtown to watch him go down. Guardian Angels in red berets stand sentinel. One is named “Super-Stretch.” Another, Miguel Negro Ortiz, has a foxtail pinned to his beret and says he’s been an Angel since 1979, when he was 18, patrolling Lorimer Street in Brooklyn. Craziest shit he ever saw? “Me and this guy were chasing this chain snatcher through the tunnels at Hoyt-Schermerhorn,” he says, “and the two guys in front of me kept jumping and I was like, ‘What are they jumping at?’ And when I got close, there was this rat — it was the size of a dog.”
Tucker Carlson plays throughout the bar, and Glenn Youngkin has just taken a decisive lead. “It’s a slaughter,” someone yells excitedly. “It feels like Trump all over again,” shouts another. Andrew Giuliani arrives. Is he here to take lessons in defeat? “I’ve learned from plenty of underdogs throughout my life,” he says, “whether it’s Rudy Giuliani or whether it’s Donald Trump.” Speaking of which, where is Rudy this evening? “I’m not certain if he’s going to make it or not,” his son says. “He’s got a lot going on; he’s a busy man.” Sliwa’s sister, Aleta St. James, is wearing a leopard-print coat and holding a “Democrats for Sliwa” sign. She tells me she was once on the cover of this magazine (she was, for a feature about energy healers) and that she gave birth to twins at age 56 (also true). Soon after, the Associated Press lets the air out of the balloon and then the Times push alert goes out, too. It’s over.
A few minutes later, an email blast goes out: Eric Adams is hosting a “VIP Party at Zero Bond,” where “he will speak to the crowd upon arrival” and “100 influential people, including CEOs and celebrities, are expected.” Zero Bond is an elite membership-only club above an Equinox on Bond Street, started by Scott Sartiano, who is also responsible for 1Oak. Curiously, Adams has been spending an awful lot of time at Zero Bond lately. In the last week of the campaign, Sliwa put out footage of himself staking out the club, saying, “Come on out to play, Eric, we know you’re up there!”
The email blast came courtesy of Ronn Torossian, the sharp-elbowed publicist — Jeffrey Goldberg has called him “the most disreputable flack in New York.” I called Torossian earlier to ask for an invite, but he shot me down.
Nevertheless, I persisted. Inside, it isn’t the smell of defeat wafting around, but Le Labo Santal 33. There are sexy people everywhere and a cortege of Chevy Suburbans idling outside on the cobblestone block next to a pack of paparazzi. It’s about as far from the Sliwa party in midtown as you can imagine. The elevator doors open and a whole lot of money steps out: It’s James Dolan (CEO, Madison Square Garden), Harvey Spevak (CEO, Equinox), and Alan Tisch (his last name is “Tisch”). There’s a cocktail waitress waiting with a tray of Champagne flutes. “A lot of people in the room donated to him, and they’re just so happy de Blasio is gone,” someone says. Adams is still on his way here from Brooklyn. The Beastie Boys’ “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” is blaring.
Ain’t no faking, your money I’m taking
Going coast to coast watching all the girlies shaking
While you’re at the job working nine to five, the Beastie Boys at the Garden cold kickin’ it live
Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Rupert Murdoch’s ex-wife Wendi Deng are both here, as are the lords of the Meatpacking District, Eugene Remm (Catch) and Noah Tepperberg (Tao, LAVO, Marquee). I spot Ja Rule, bouncing around in a shearling, flannel two-piece suit by Scotch & Soda, and a person apparently known as “Foodgod,” said to be friendly with Kim Kardashian West. At last, Hizzoner arrives and the Frank Sinatra starts up. Adams steps to the mic and starts off, singsongy, “I’m sure you knew, that I bit off more than I could chew, and through it all, there’s no doubt, I chewed it up, and I spit it out — that’s New Yawk!”
Cheers erupt and flashbulbs go off and he launches into a tidy little speech about the American Dream. Did you know? It’s still alive, even right here in Manhattan. “This is going to become one of the most business-friendly cities,” he says, fetching the most applause he’ll get. But it’s not all a sop to the assorted fat cats. “In return, I need you to buy into my paid internship program for young people that are living in NYCHA,” he says, continuing to say that “the best anti-crime program is a job.” He’s in no mood to talk to a reporter.
Maybe there’s a reason he keeps coming to this club. Maybe his approach to the donor class will yield better results for the city. But the question remains, what does Adams love about this place in particular so much? And why, in a city of 8.4 million people, is he spending his victory night here, with this crowd?