Anthony Haden-Guest, the fabled journalist and undisputed champion of the bon vivants, is 74 years old and probably could still outlive you. We take a look at the man who is credited for being the direct inspiration for Tom Wolfe's riotous drunk Peter Fallow of The Bonfire of The Vanities fame.
Birthday: February 2, 1937
Hometown: Paris, France
Family: Christopher Guest, his younger half brother, is well-known for his mockumentary-style films like Best in Show, Waiting for Guffman, and This is Spinal Tap
Demeanor: Self-described as a cheerful pessimist.
Journalism: The New Yorker, The Daily Beast, The Sunday Telegraph, Esquire, Vanity Fair, The Observer...the list goes on.
Books: most recently - The Last Party: Studio 54, Disco and The Culture of The Night, True Colors: The Real Life of the Art World
Verse: For A New York Woman: I (She knows who she is) as well as For A Different New York Woman (She knows who she is too)
Cartoons: The Chronicles of Now, In The Mean Time
Anthony Haden-Guest has lived in New York for over thirty years--a lifelong party-goer and avid connoisseur of the "Nightworld" (as he calls it in his book The Last Party), he has seen his fair share of both the glamor and the grit. The new millennium reality/celebrity culture holds little interest to him, instead he operates under a haze of nostalgia for the frenetic decadence epitomized by Studio 54:
"Dancers, washed in the surf of sound, dappled and splashed by light, shed the dull gravitational tug of quotidian life, and lost themselves in what was at once a voyeuristic jostle, like a fairground, and a domain of the self-absorbed, like a ballet for prima donnas only."
Not to say that lifestyle didn't have its occasional downsides like, for example, reasonable chance of death. Haden-Guest has allegedly been held at gunpoint three times and survived fourteen stab wounds when he and his girlfriend were attacked in 1994. In typical OG fashion, it didn't really faze him:
"Anyway, middle of the night, he’s suddenly in the room, and basically it ended up with me getting stabbed 14 times and she getting stabbed 14 times, but me knocking him out with a shillelagh. This was a big case in the paper, Google it. He got 50 years. Anyway, I don’t like hospitals, so I took myself out of the hospital without even completing a night there."
The Party Connoisseur
But fending off assailants with glorified walking sticks takes up only part of his day. The rest of the time, Anthony Haden-Guest is busy hitting up the most exclusive parties, clubs and restaurants (rumor has it he's immune to hangovers) while still managing to maintain his day job. Sometimes the two overlap, as was the case on Wednesday night when he celebrated the release of his brand new book of cartoons, In The Meantime, at Clic Gallery.
He celebrated that same release in Miami back in December, where he, like many of us, had a bit too much and tripped over his shoelaces. “I did have a fair amount of wine. Maybe I was over-celebrating my new book, ‘In the Meantime'."
Of course that didn't slow him down; the New York Post reported that he partied until 3 am with buddies Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon. Haden-Guest is known for his special blend of irreverence, cynicism and humor, so it's no surprise he included this glowing review by his half-brother Christopher Guest on the back cover of the book:
"Boring, pompous, and a complete and utter waste of time. I don't know what my brother was thinking." [Via]
Here's a picture of him in Miami on Valentine's Day. Like I said, champion. Haden-Guest has proven himself over the decades to be wittier and wilder than anyone half his age on the scene, which earned him the less literary nickname of "Anthony Haden-Beast". In the words of Christopher Tennant, "Is there another septuagenarian in the world with that many friends on Facebook?" The man's got four accounts totaling over 10,000 friends, so probably not. This devilish and delicious polymath has the city under his thumb to this day.
And he was just as foxy back in the day as he is now:
"Of course I can keep secrets. It's the people I tell them to that can't keep them"
"...these days only the willfully self-destructive will engage in the enthusiastic and sometimes limber naughtiness that sporadically took place in the VIP rooms (and VVIP rooms) during The Last Party days." (from the introduction of Studio 54)
Do not wear dark glasses at night unless you have a contagious eye disease.
Avoid cannibalism and other fad diets
Do not high-five the Almighty.
In General: Amusing people do not have amusing messages on their answering machines, witty people seldom wear witty T-shirts, and you very seldom get fascinating emails from people with fascinating lives.
An excerpt from For A Different New York Woman (She knows who she is too):
I'll say she's only snorting meth
Because she doesn't want to scar
And how she bores her friends to death
By whining that she's not a star