Last night at The Wall Street Journal’s celebrity-stuffed Innovator Awards, I gently accuse the charming, indefatigable Francisco Costa of living in midtown. “Yes! Yes! I moved from midtown south to midtown north,” he says, grinning. I congratulate him on being an innovator. “It’s very popping!” he argues of living two blocks from the Museum of Modern Art, where we are currently standing. Who are his neighbors, I want to know. “I have none,” he says, his face falling. “Let’s not go there! Let’s not brag!” You own the building, I say, grinning. It’s so fun to accuse the nicest person in the room of the material things he deserves. He swats me away.
Elsewhere in the room are the magazine’s 2015 innovators like Angelina Jolie, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Richard Serra, and Miuccia Prada. Brad Pitt is along to support his wife, and Anna Wintour is there, and Robert De Niro and Karlie Kloss and the Proenza Schouler boys and all the usual party people and scene girls, up to and including Richard Scarry’s granddaughter.
I turn my attention to Jared Leto’s rainbow-sequined blazer lapels. “Hi,” he says slowly. He is a calm man. He reminds me of a koi pond. His hair is pink. When was the last time you were excited? is what I come up with when I can’t think of any questions. “It’s a double entendre or maybe a triple, but I’m very excited to be here tonight to support my friend.” I can’t imagine how he became friends with Stewart Butterfield, “technology innovator,” but then again Hollywood has never been my purview; neither, apparently, is the definition of entendre.
“Do you know what Slack is?” asks Jared Leto. Yes, I say, yes — excited that for once in my life, a celebrity has taken my line of questioning somewhere more interesting than I myself could. “Do you use it?” he wants to know. I say something about how I’m always hanging myself with whatever slack I’m given, but he cuts me off. Apparently there’s a technology called Slack out there, and it’s his friend’s.
Jared Leto looks me in the eye. “We might see each other soon,” he says, dropping his voice and overenunciating meaningfully. I tell him those kinds of lies don’t work on me; he’s not my first celebrity. He pokes my stomach, which is flattened into my structural spacesuit of a dress. “I have faith in you,” says Jared Leto. He turns around and talks to someone else.
I have the worst conversation of the night with Karl Ove Knausgaard. After my opening monologue, which gives him a number of avenues to comment on, he pauses for 30 seconds and then says: “I already talked to New York Magazine today.” I point out that he talked to a critic, which I know because the critic happens to be a man I call my ex-boyfriend. Karl Ove is silent.
I know to call him Karl Ove because that’s what Zadie Smith does, which I know because she saves me from the conversation by saying “That’s what Karl Ove is like” in very polite whisper. She asks if I also write fiction, which is the politest thing you can say to a journalist when no one is answering their questions.
I give up and go to dinner, where I’m conveniently seated next to Brant Cryder, the president of Saint Laurent. He’s disappointed that I’ve never been in a store, even after I explain that you don’t go into stores with glass façades if you don’t even own a credit card. He tells me about the new marble they put in the store uptown.
After the awards are given, we go upstairs together to examine Picasso’s sculptures. Instead of looking at the art, I talk to Questlove. When I ask him about his Afro pick, he suggests that I have never seen one before. That isn’t exactly true, but it is true I am surprised when he tells me, “Most Afro picks have fists on them. This is common. Like oxygen or water.”
Because he’s Questlove and Questlove cares about the issues, he doesn’t just walk away, which is cool of him. He’s a cool guy. We become friends. Right before I take a cab home he says: “I’ve never done this before in my life, but you will never forget this Afro pick for as long as you live.” He takes his Afro pick out of his hair and gives it to me. “I’ve never done this. I’ve done this maybe five times. With fans, though.” I tell him I’m a fan and go to Lucien for a steak.
Click through the gallery below to see photos from the event.