Sunday, 15 November 2009

Queen of New York

Give me a celebrity red-carpet event or a copy of Grazia, and I will happily judge A-listers without pausing for breath. It’s so much fun: Meryl, sweetie, what are you wearing? Jen, Jen, he’s a waste of space. Brad, seriously – be a man. Who doesn’t love a good bitch?

Of course I’m an amateur. New Yorker Abe Gurko is a pro – he has turned razor-sharp social observation into an art-form. In his blog I Mean What?!? – peppered with OMGs and oys – he skewers celebrities, details fashion disasters and humiliates Republicans (his current obsessions are Sarah Palin’s erstwhile son-in-law-to-be, Levi Johnston, underwear-as-outerwear, and his dog, Woodstock).

His day job in events production and public relations in the fashion, design and entertainment industries throws him into regular contact with the celebrity classes – he is currently working with Carrie Fisher on her one-woman show, Wishful Drinking – but more importantly, gives his blog more ammunition.

Gurko and I met in Reykjavik (pictured) – smuggling pastries from our hotel’s breakfast room under the nose of the watchful maitre d’ and into the minibus waiting outside in the snow, tooting its horn. He was lively, conspiratorial company.

We were attending Iceland’s first design and fashion festival. Gurko works with one of the country’s best-known fashion designers, Steinunn Sigurdardottir, launching her clothing in the US a few years back. The trip was every bit as fabulous, wierd and beautiful as you’d expect. I met creative people, coveted expensive knitwear, swam in hot springs, ate a lot of fish and partied in downtown Reykjavik – a street away from uptown Reykjavik (it’s a small place).

Gurko blogs every morning. “I’m up early anyway,” he says, “so I put on a pot of coffee, read the news online and decide who’s really annoying me that day. It’s usually people who think they’re all that – there’s such an arrogance that comes with celebrity. I am a bitchy queen, but I’m political too. And I’m honest about what I say, even if it alienates people.”

He is wasted in print. In person, Gurko is like Carrie Bradshaw's acerbic, Jewish, gay best friend: no surprise, then, that he’s developing an online fashion news show. Oh, and auditioning to be the best friend of a celebrity on her reality show. A real-life version of a fictional character on a TV show may become a real-life fake character on a reality show... Only in New York.