New York Diary: Summer hits the city and stirs up sexual angst

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The Independent Online
Well darn, it's summer again. From snow to 80-degree sun (yes, we still use fahrenheit over here) in just four days. As the New York Times put it today, it's the triumph of El Springo over El Nino. Not everyone is happy. An office colleague is pining for winter already. Heat doesn't agree with her low blood pressure and anyway, she says, New York is a bad summertime city. When the thermometer climbs, she needs to be beside the sea. Funny, here we are on an island surrounded by ocean but most of us don't even notice.

My problem with Gotham-in-the-sun has to do with sex. As the layers fall away and skin makes its annual comeback, it becomes so much harder not to think about it. About how everyone is so much more attractive than you are (balding, thickening waist, getting closer to 40). And about how all those young things cramming Washington Square and showing off in their shorts and rollerblades must surely be humping the Manhattan night away when you and the wife are still watching re-runs of the winter sitcoms.

These flashes of sexual inadequacy were soothed somewhat by a survey of the sexual habits of single Gothamites in last week's New York Magazine. If its statistics are to believed, this town is not nearly as carnal as one might believe. "The city that never sleeps has turned into the city that never sleeps around," it concluded. For example, 53 of the singles surveyed said they never indulge in one-night stands. Less than 15 per cent said they would have sex on a one-night stand either "very often" or "somewhat often". And while only 4 per cent said they had had sex with 100 partners or more, 6 per cent said they had never had sex of any kind. Suddenly, I begin to feel better. And look at this: When asked when it was that they last intertwined, 22 per cent of these singles had to admit that it was "within the past year" and 21 per cent "within the last month". Only 17 per cent could say today or yesterday. Suddenly being married and in New York, whatever the temperature, seems less disappointing.

I should go and thank the folks at New York personally. The ageing spire on Madison Avenue that is home to The Independent here was for years known as the Newsweek Building. Tired of lavatories that leaked water from one level to the next and lifts that travel more slowly than a midtown bus, Newsweek upped and left a while back and New York has now taken over its multi-floor lease. Where once there was an understated Newsweek neon sign and temperature indicator on the roof, now there is a lurid rendition of the scarlet New York masthead. I have been thinking of confronting New York, however, and presenting my overwhelming case for renaming this "The Independent" building on the grounds that I, my kettle and my microwave, have been in residence longer than they. I shall wait a few days, though, since the magazine is celebrating its 30th birthday this week, and I wouldn't want to spoil the party.

Yes, the party. It is at Studio 54 on Thursday and I have not been invited. A case of my envelope going astray in the internal mail system, clearly. But then everyone is feeling hyper-sensitive about invitations received and not received right now, because this is Fashion Week in New York and, as every self-respecting, and self-absorbed, New York mediaperson knows, much more important than the clothes and the catwalks are the dusk-till- dawn bashes happening all around town. Well, I do have one party invite, and actually I am quite proud of it. It is being thrown by the people at Visionaire, who four times a year put out an album of the latest and sexiest in fashion, art and photography for around $75 an issue. One doesn't like to drop names. Heaven forbid. But another on Visionaire's guest list is Leonardo DiCaprio.

Which brings us neatly back to sex. Is young Leo, star of Titanic and the object of desire of galaxies of girls (and not a few boys) around the globe getting any? And with whom? I shall sharpen my pencil, observe and report my findings.