Party Politics

Jamie Oliver, host, The Naked Chef

A summer-entertaining tip, please. If you’re having a lot of people, do one-pot cooking, like Mexican chili or a nice curry. Spicy things always go off.
How about a drinking tip? I get a watermelon, cut a small hole in it, stick a funnel in the top, and pour in half a bottle of Absolut. I feed it vodka for three days. Then at 11 p.m., when the party is kicking, cut it into big smiley faces – it makes a good party bloody fantastic in fifteen minutes.
Your drinking tip sounds better than your cooking one. Okay, my secret bondage salmon recipe: Get a six-pound salmon, stuff it with herbs inside and out – fennel, parsley, basil, mint, salt, pepper, and sliced lemons – and wrap it with newspaper that’s been soaked with beer. Throw it on some coals – since the paper is wet, it goes black, and instead of just grilled salmon, it’s also smoked. Wicked.

David Rockwell, Architect

Where do you entertain on weekends? At my home in New Paltz. Jim Fowler, Johnny Carson’s old animal trainer, is a neighbor and brings over condors and baby panthers.
How should you design your home for entertaining? Keep your space open. Remove the table for chairs. Center the party around the kitchen. And avoid fluorescent lighting at all costs.
Do you like to cook? Yeah, I have a recipe from Nobu for Chilean sea-bass skewers, Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s nine-spice rack of lamb, and Todd English’s portobello-mushroom purée and cheese pizza.
To drink? I make pomegranate margaritas – after a few of those, it’s hard to discern the pizza from the sea bass.
What’s the best party you’ve ever thrown?
The Great Bazaar at Lincoln Center. Cirque du Soleil performed, and Julia Roberts, Bobby De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, and Al Pacino all showed up.
Oddest party chat? Once I asked Charlton Heston if he was packing a pistol. I didn’t know what else to say.

Peter Jennings, anchor, World News Tonight

Tell us about Jazz at Jennings. It’s a charity affair at my house in the Hamptons. We have 350 people under a tent. Everybody contributes – we hardly have to buy anything.
Unheard of for the Hamptons. I live on the unfashionable north side of the highway, and we raise money to improve Bridgehampton Child Care Center’s standards. Max Roach brings several musicians, like Wynton Marsalis.
Any tips for hosting a benefit? Keep costs down – give the money to the organization. We cook in our garage. Ply your guests with drink. And don’t serve veal – there’s too much veal on charity-event menus.

Anna Sui, Fashion Designer

What should you wear to a summer party? A pastel linen Cuban guayabera. The best are on 126th Street and Lenox Avenue. Also, A.P.C. has a great Moroccan T-shirt. And Marc Jacobs’s Stinky Rat tees.
Who are your favorite hosts? Zoe Cassavetes and Sofia Coppola. They’ll have anyone from Keanu to Marilyn Manson
to Stephen Dorff.
What’s your secret weapon? The fish and chips from A Salt & Battery. I don’t cook – I just reheat.

Mark Baker, co-owner, Lotus

How do you create instant atmosphere? Music is critical: Café del Mar has seven CDs of ambient trance. And use candlelight only. Mojitos get girls naked real quick. They also get wasted on Bellinis. And Champagne Parfum – that’s champagne with vanilla vodka.
How do you prepare for such a fête? Don’t become a blithering mess. Take a Valium or have a few drinks – there’s nothing worse than a host running around rearranging broccoli. Everyone’s fine.

Josh Harris, founder,
Jupiter Communications

Who goes to your parties? Everybody. From Kate Moss to Matt Dillon, Julian Schnabel to Willem Dafoe.
How do you create a cool atmosphere? When guests arrive, I take video. I create movie sets, ask questions; then, after my interview, they feel like they belong. During the party, I play the videotape – I trust people like looking at themselves.
Biggest party misconception? The louder the music, the better the party.
What if you’re throwing an event to woo investors? Impress the people who make financial decisions, but don’t invite their employees. Rule of thumb: For every guy you want to impress, invite five cool people to hide him.

Clive Davis,
founder, J Records

Where are you entertaining this summer? I’m throwing a weekend party for fourteen at my home in Pound Ridge, New York. The evening begins with cocktails on the terrace of the main house, then you walk over a bridge to the guest house for dinner.
What will you serve? Lobster out of the shell with a corn salad; roasted breast of capon stuffed with mousse, wild rice, snap peas, and carrots; and blueberry cobbler with ice cream.
Other decadence? Two masseurs and a first-run film in my screening room. Who’s coming? Last year I had Martha Stewart, Tommy Mottola, and Denise Rich, among others.
So, how does someone get invited to that? Be nominated for a Grammy.

B. Smith,
lifestyle guru

What’s key at a great summer party? Color, fresh daisies, a few fluffy pillows.
Your favorite housewarming gift? Caviar!
And what will you serve this summer? Lamb chops marinated in olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, rosemary, and fresh mint.
How about the music? Jazz before dinner, maybe Sade while dinner is served, then during dessert, Motown, the Temptations, and Gladys Knight.
To drink? Sour-apple martinis or snow-cone Cosmopolitans.
What’s a good way to be invited back? Tell good gossip.
How do you get out of a painful conversation? Say, “Woops, my bra snapped!” There’s not much one can do with that.

John Cameron Mitchell,
director-star, Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Your top-five summer glam-rock songs. “Needles in the Camel’s Eye,” by Brian Eno; “Cosmic Dancer,” by T. Rex; “Lady Stardust,” by David Bowie; “Satellite of Love,” by Lou Reed; and “Sixteen,” by Iggy Pop.
Describe your best party-hosting experience. We had a drag wrap party for Hedwig where the crew – even the Teamsters – showed their true colors. By party’s end, a couple of them had started to French-kiss other guys.
Who’s your favorite host? David LaChapelle. He’ll invite midgets, Jocelyne Wildenstein, and Amanda Lepore, this completely reconstructed transsexual. Hedwig used to get booked all the time, back when she was more of a whore.

Nan Kempner, society writer, R.S.V.P.

Who are your favorite weekend hosts? The De la Rentas throw great parties, Princess Pavlos of Greece, and Valentino. We had an amazing time on his 80-foot yacht – we even went water-skiing! What a mental picture. How do parties differ from city to city? In London everyone gets up and dances; in Paris they all watch what everyone else is wearing; and in New York, when coffee comes, they all go home.
What’s the key to a successful dinner party? Eight to twelve guests. Then everyone gets to scream and yell at each other around one big table. Also, keep a bottle of white and red on the table so people don’t have to wait for a butler.
What did you serve at your party last night? We had fried cheese balls, rack of lamb, asparagus, and mashed potatoes with truffles, followed by a raspberry tart with vanilla ice cream. And, of course, Duhart-Milon ‘82.
How do you get out of a boring conversation? A dirty joke does the trick.

Molly Sims, model-actress
and host of MTV’s House of Style

What’s the best way to approach a supermodel at a party? Don’t give typical lines like “You’re the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen.” Be confident, funny, and don’t talk about money.
Do you entertain on weekends? Yeah, I had a party with tiki torches, candles, shrimp, and frozen margaritas – you want to make it cool, not too chic.
What do you wear? Casual. Like these awesome Henry Duarte bell-bottom jeans and a cool top. But if it’s something special, a little slip dress and a great pair of Manolos.
Who’s a better dancer: Carson Daly or Kurt Loder? I’d have to say Carson – there’s a reason everyone loves him.

Party Politics