Magazine article The New Yorker

Getting In

Magazine article The New Yorker

Getting In

Article excerpt

Selma Fonseca, a Brazilian in New York, calculates that she has gate-crashed more than two thousand parties. She is writing a book largely on that subject--although, as she said last week, "I never felt like I was crashing. I saw it as: I want to go to a party and I'm going to go." She had three pieces of advice for an uninvited guest. One, "Look the part. If it's P. Diddy's White Party and you turn up in black, you weren't invited." (This does not help anyone understand how Aaron Barschak, a gate-crasher, gained access to Windsor Castle, in 2003, to attend Prince William's twenty-first-birthday party, wearing an Osama bin Laden beard and a peach-colored dress. The party had an "Out of Africa" theme.) Two, move in the slipstream of celebrity; Fonseca recalls trailing Gwyneth Paltrow into Vanity Fair's Oscar party in 1999--the clear high point in a career of unwelcomeness. And, three, "Don't ever look the security guys in the eye." To do so is to acknowledge that they might have some role in your life.

Seeming to confirm this last point, Toby Young, the British journalist and "Top Chef" judge, recently described a technique that he says has worked in both London and New York. "With a female co-conspirator, you approach the velvet rope in the throes of a full-blown row. You increase the volume, and make sure it's clear that you loathe each other. Natural human reluctance to get involved in a 'domestic' means that the bouncers will lift the velvet rope and wave you through." Did he remember the feigned arguments? "One was about whose responsibility it was that a rented videotape was now overdue," he said.

This detail suggested that his technique had been untested for some years, and it hinted at a larger truth: if there was a golden age of gate-crashing--an era of panache and serendipity and Blockbuster late fees--it is surely over now; and this may be why the news from the White House state dinner was so arresting, like the report of an airship making a landing on the Sheep Meadow. For all the modernity of the media ambitions of Michaele and Tareq Salahi, their stunt referred to a simpler time--such as was recalled last week by Alfred Morgan, a retired New York businessman. He said that he and four friends had worn borrowed Navy uniforms to gate-crash the debutante ball thrown for Carol Buckley, a sister of William F. Buckley, in the late nineteen-fifties. "They couldn't have been more gracious," he said, before adding that when he and his wife, Virginia, were married, in 1965, the reception, at the St. …

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