"Miss Sony is like a one-year-old!" Josh says, blond eyebrows taut with amazement.
"Staaarp! A one-year-old drag queen? Yeeuchhh! Thassss gross," says Andre, fingertips to his lips.
"Her skin is like a baby's. She's been doing the same treatment as Vicki for six months and I'm telling you her skin is... beyond."
We are all Pushing Looks, child. This is Fashion Week and when you're Pushing That Look, Working It, small talk becomes Parallel Monologue. And we just love the way those Endless Feelings of Major Totally Now Looks cut through the veils of blue smoke hanging over our table, here in Cafe Moderne.
Vicki - blonde and stick-like - describes a new skin treatment, involving a diet and injections, collagen or embryo tissue, foetal cells, whatever it is. Or maybe it's herbal. Who cares? We listen in braille, scanning the texture of the words for the step-off, the point where we can resume Parallel Monologue. Like flicking the dial back and forth on Fashion Radio, jumping between phone-ins.
Vicki says to Karen: "Karl hates cats."
"I don't hate cats," says Karl. "I hate pussy. Makes me sneeze and brings me out in a rash." Edward's eyes, tiny black dots trapped in thick slabs of glass, roll upwards.
Beat and John are stylists. Beat is Swiss, John is American. They are going to Marrakech for Christmas. I lean close and ask what they will do there.
"Everything," says Beat, flashing his boyish grin, "Everything is cheaper."
"What, even soap?"
Just for a millisecond, Beat's mouth is half-open, then he catches the glint in my eye. I poke his ribs and stomach, tickle him like a child. He squirms and giggles but his muscles are thick and stiff, they cover his body like armour. Beat is still in love with Andre, beautiful Andre, grosse bete of Endless Looks of Fabulous; Andre, who cuts cloth so finely it looks grafted to the body; Andre, who now lives with Jurgen. I sit between Beat and Andre. On Beat's left is John, on John's left is Jurgen. Then, continuing left to right, Karl, Edward, Josh Vicki, and Karen, who sits on Andre's right,
"I can't remember his name but he is the best skin doctor in New York," says Vicki in her gruff London voice. "He does all the top actresses..."
"No," stamps Andre, "I don't want this `top actresses' story, I want names. Like, are we saying Sophia Loren? 'Coz she is major. She is looking sooooo beautiful these days."
Addressing a space somewhere behind and above us, Josh says: "When I first met Miss Sony, she was in Tompkins Square Park and she had, excuse me, she had one-inch thick blue eyebrows that looked like they'd been put on with a shoe and hair like this, and she was pushing this Escape From New York Down a Ketamine Hole look, and now she's like, Miss Wall Street Beige Chanel Bitch, like this..." Josh flares his nostrils, cocks one shoulder, sneers at the table
"No, agrees Karen, "she's major. We were in some gold card Tribeca joint a couple weeks back, and she was hot, girl, I mean, there were bankers and accountants checkin' her out, they wuz like, I don't know what to say to her but I got to talk to her. And she's like, I have no intention whatso ever, but she was checkin' them out, you know it," says Karen, nodding. "What wines they were drinkin', watches, that shit, uh-huh."
Beat asks if I know the difference between a tampon and a mobile phone. Lets see: one is associated with tension, headaches, stomach pain and bad moods, and the other is a feminine hygiene product? No? Give up.
"Mobile phones are for assholes!" says Beat grinning and pushing chestnut curls out of his eyes. I ask if he has a mobile phone, and, when he goes pink and starts laughing, I realise why I am in love with him, just like everybody else. Nearly everybody else.
"No!" shouts Andre. "Staaarp!" He holds an invitation for tomorrow's Martine Sitbon show and addresses it directly. "You must think yo' pretty fucken cute, doing an invitation like that! This better be a good show, you know whadamsayin'? And who's this?" He points out a silvery silhouette and waits for a response. It could be any female under 25.
"Murphy," says someone, recognising the profile.
"You know thassa Murphy Look."
But Beat and I are discussing Masha, stylist-photographer from New York, half-Japanese, parts Irish, black and Native American, and always Totally Beyond Now. Masha left earlier, feeling "a bit cranky": she talks too quietly, too gently, for Parallel Monologue.
"Masha is so beautiful," says Beat. "You know, whenever I see her it's like, I forget that with Masha you don't have to..." He lowers his voice. "Like this fashion bullshit? It's fun, but... you don't have to do that stuff with her, And I forget, and it always takes me a while to, uh..."
Beat's smile becomes wider, brighter.
"Connect," he says, savouring the word. "Right"
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