Get in with the in-crowd and come up Trumps

New York Confidential

LAST WEEK I wrote about how my friends Lucy and Plum Sykes had been transformed into instant celebrities by a fawning profile on the front page of The New York Times' Sunday Styles section. Now, it seems, I can look forward to some fringe benefits merely from being associated with them.

A British film and television producer called Lloyd Nathan - also a New York resident - was having lunch with Lucy at the Hotel Costes in Paris last Sunday when Donald Trump swung by their table. Like Lucy, who's a fashion editor at Town and Country, Donald was in France for Paris Fashion Week. Lucy had scarcely ever spoken to him before but, given her new-found fame, he was eager to ingratiate himself. After they'd exchanged the usual pleasantries, Donald told them he was returning to New York the following day and would be happy to offer either of them "a ride" on his private jet.

Lucy was staying in Paris but Lloyd eagerly took Trump up on his offer, even though he'd never met him before. The following day he boarded the billionaire property tycoon's Boeing 727 and flew back to La Guardia courtesy of Air Trump. In spite of it being a converted passenger jet, there were only three other people on the plane apart from Trump and Lloyd - and they were all supermodels!

Mr Trump, if you're reading this, I'm planning to fly to London on 25 October. I know I've never met you before, but I am a friend of Lucy's.

u

AMERICA'S MID-TERM elections, which take place on 5 November, are being treated by the media as a referendum on Bill Clinton's Presidency and, in New York, the battle lines have already been drawn. It's impossible to turn on the telly without seeing an "attack ad" aimed at one or other of the Democratic candidates. More often than not these take the form of describing the candidate as - horror of horrors - a "liberal".

In one ad, Senator Al D'Amato describes his Democratic rival as "liberal Chuck Schummer", while in another, Attorney General Dennis Vacco describes his opponent as "liberal Eliot Spitzer".

This tactic hasn't endeared the Republican candidates to those New Yorkers of Portuguese descent who happen to be named "Liberal". Apparently, during the Portuguese Civil War in the early 19th century, it became fashionable for parents to name their sons "Liberal" as a way of showing their sympathy for the anti-monarchist cause. Almost 200 years later, it's a fairly common Portuguese name.

"In my country it means someone who's open-minded or generous," said Liberal Santos Lopez, who's lived in New York for many years. "How did that become a bad word?"

Unfortunately for Bill Clinton, this is unlikely to have much impact on the election results. According to the New York Post, only 25 men in the whole of the United States are named "Liberal".

u

ONE OF the more odious bits of electioneering in New York took place last Tuesday when Governor George Pataki appeared at a fund-raising event hosted by Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams. Pataki, a staunch Republican of Hungarian descent, managed to dredge up an Irish grandmother who, he claimed, was abused by the British authorities. Apparently, a British soldier threatened her brother with deportation to Australia.

"How much more deplorable it is in the Nineties," he fumed, "that this kind of circumstance could exist in a country like Ireland."

Actually, Governor, I think you'll find that no residents of Northern Ireland have been deported to Australia in quite some time.

Pataki has previously tried to win over New York's large population of Irish-Americans by blaming Britain for the Irish potato famine of the 1840s, a view for which there's scant historical evidence. I recall from my O-level history lessons that the cause of the Irish potato famine was the Colorado beetle. If Pataki had taken O-level geography, he'd know that Colorado is in fact in America, not Britain.

If I was granted a vote in the forthcoming elections I'd certainly vote for Peter Vallone, Pataki's Democratic opponent. However, even though I have to pay taxes in America, I'm not entitled to vote. Admittedly, I only got a C in History O-level, but another fact I recall from that distant time is that America fought a War of Independence on the principle that there should be no taxation without representation. Next time I'm in Boston, I'll toss a couple of teabags into the harbour.

u

AS PART of his fund-raising efforts, Gerry Adams is planning to hold a huge 50th birthday party tomorrow night at Webster Hall, a downtown venue notorious for its wild, transvestite parties. Something tells me they won't be made welcome by the Guinness-guzzling hordes, particularly as gays are forbidden to participate in the St Patrick's Day Parade.

Fortunately, the trannies will have somewhere else to go. I'm also celebrating my birthday tomorrow night at a downtown restaurant called Bocca on Spring and West Broadway. Since I've persuaded very few girls to come, all female impersonators will be welcome.

u

THERE WAS a wonderfully illiterate paragraph in last Sunday's New York Post, in an article about how celebrities always travel with a "posse" of hangers-on. "Leo and Puffy certainly didn't invent the celebrity entourage," the reporter informs us, "that enduring status symbol dates back at least to King Lear, who traveled with 100 courtiers." King Lear, of course, never existed.

It reminded me of a similar mistake, this one made a few years ago in The Guardian. An article praising the literary skill of Hollywood screenwriters described them, rather breathlessly, as "the Prousts of the 20th century". Needless to say, Proust himself wrote in the 20th century.

The journalist responsible for that literary gem? I regret to say it was me.

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