Tracey Emin: My Life in a Column

A near-perfect weekend: nutty party at the Chelsea Hotel - and I stayed reasonably sober
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The Independent Online

First of all, I apologise. There's a very good chance this column isn't going to be very good. In fact, there's a great possibility it's going to be a load of spindly crap. Just call me Jet-Lag Kitten. I got up about half an hour ago and contemplated how wonderful my life is, until I realised it wasn't Wednesday and I had given myself 15 minutes to write this column.

But what was I doing for two hours this morning? Fading in and out of sleep while watching George Best's memorial service. My mate James Nesbitt was holding forth in the pulpit. Things got really complicated when I found myself arm-wrestling with him, but of course it was just a dream. I mentioned jet lag before, but it's really tough.

I did have a really brilliant weekend in New York. New York, New York - it's a good thing they named it twice. (Unlike Baden Baden - that's so bad they had to name it twice. In 1997, I was so drunk there I wasn't allowed into a nightclub with my fellow Brits. I ended up at a strip club, where Mat Collishaw said that I showed the strippers how to dance. Which I have no memory of.)

Why are some of the best times so forgotten? Because I was drunk out of my skull. Unlike New York last weekend, where I was 100 per cent compos mentis. On Friday, I had a brilliant meeting with the Museum of Modern Art. Then I met my international laughing friend, Amanda Love, for lunch. I'm not going to tell you what we had to eat because that really would be stretching this column out. And lunch was followed by a fantastic shopping spree.

Then to Gregory Crewdson's cocktail party in Times Square. And people were really happy to see me. When I walked in the room, it was like I had walked out of a grave. In fact, even when I checked into my hotel, they were happy to see me. Saturday morning I got up really early, and had a fantastic breakfast. That's the thing about the Peninsula Hotel -the sheets are really, really soft, the service is amazing, there's a brilliant Art Deco swimming pool on the roof, and you can have breakfast à la carte. For me, being a newly-fledged fruitarian meant fruit, fruit and more fruit - and having a fantastic dialogue with the chef about how to boil an egg. It was a group effort, mixed with a wry sense of humour. By the Monday morning when I left, it was almost perfection.

Supper with Schnabel

On Saturday, I went for a mega walk around Central Park. It was so beautiful - 68 degrees. It makes you realise how important just being close to a tree is. Before, when I stayed in New York, it was always in Soho. It seemed more funky. But now I love it Uptown. In the afternoon, Jay Jopling and I did the Chelsea galleries together, realising that after all these years of knowing each other it's the first time we'd looked at art together. And it was good, we had very similar taste. We both wanted to buy the Basquiat, a snip at a mere $2.5m. Jay looked at me quite seriously and said: "You know Min, you could if you really wanted to."

On Saturday night, my New York gallery, Lehmann Maupin, held a dinner for me. I sat next to two of my favourite men - Hamish McAlpine and Julian Schnabel. It was a really cool dinner and I stayed sober. Well, sober enough to go to Phil Collins' party. (That's Phil Collins the artist, not Phil Collins the musician). Mad nutty party in a suite in the Chelsea Hotel. Dancing until 4.30am. The grand finale, finding ourselves lost in the basement of the hotel. It was really scary. Like a scene out of Most Haunted. But I managed to stay calm and serene among the pipes and the ghosts - that's because I was reasonably sober. Any other time, I think I would have wet myself. That's what people do when they are really afraid. They wet themselves.

Sunday - fantastic brunch at The Peninsula with Amanda Love and Willy LeMarque. Willy was knocking back Bloody Marys. I sat there high up on my righteous seat. I then went to the roof, swam for an hour followed by a steam, and then a brisk half-hour walk to the Armory Art Fair to meet Hamish and Carol. And do you know what? I saw lots of art I liked.

It was really nice bumping into people I hadn't seen for a long time. That's because I didn't have a hangover. People were saying: "Tracey, you look so well. Your skin is glowing. Your eyes are so bright. You seem so happy."

Comfort food

On Sunday night, I had dinner at one of my favourite restaurants, Wallse, which is Viennese and has Julian Schnabel paintings on the wall. And my favourite thing to eat is the goulash and the beetroot salad. This food is so not American and it makes me feel cosy and safe. The last time I was in New York, I fell asleep on John Waters' lap in this restaurant. Luckily it was John - people being totally aware of his sexual orientation. Otherwise, I am sure from the outside a blow-job would have seemed like a reasonable assumption. John and I always refer back to this occasion as our "blow-job days".

Monday morning, got up at seven, packed, went for a swim, had a fantastic breakfast (this is my new thing - I'm not allowed to have room service, otherwise I end up being too cocooned). Then met Amanda at the Met Museum where we were given an exclusive viewing of the Rauschenberg exhibition. No queues, no people, just art. A quick wobbly spin around the Guggenheim to view the David Smith and an amazing lunch at the Neue Galerie Museum. The restaurant's really interesting - lots of little old ladies wearing hats. The Museum's fantastic - Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt and everything beautifully displayed.

I was really chuffed to find out I had an image in an Egon Schiele book. Then we had a lovely walk through the park back to the hotel, collected my bags. Amanda and I were treated like royalty at JFK. Slept most of the flight. Arrived home and went on a 12-hour drinking bender. What is it about alcohol and English soil? Please could someone tell me?

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