Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Blogger Pajama Party

(NEW YORK) Except you don’t have to work for an editrix to get published—all you need is a laptop and a hell of a lot of nerve. We gathered six of the most talked-about women bloggers, coaxed them into their pj’s (isn’t that what they all wear when blogging?), and headed for the Bryant Park Hotel to chat about how a simple online diary can make you a star.

Just your standard everyday slumber party
I was talking to Michael Malice of the blog ‘Overheard in New York’ and he said, ‘I feel like we’re Z-list. We’re sort of famous, but at the bottom of the bottom of the barrel.’ Do you guys ever feel famous?
Melissa: Well, I think better a Z-list celebrity than an A-list lawyer! Everything is relative.

Rachel: Every so often I’ll meet someone—like, I met Jake Weisberg, the editor in chief of Slate and he was like, ‘You do what? Huh? Um, okay…?’ I was like, ‘Don’t you know who I am?’ [Laughs]

Why do you think people read blogs?
Jessica: Me, I’ll read and be like, ‘So? Who is this person? I don’t care!’ It’s like reading their diary. That’s how I felt about mine, that it was this Live Journal bullshit, and I couldn’t imagine anybody would care or want to read it.

Melissa: Never underestimate the power of schadenfreude and voyeurism. That is what they are reading for. They either want to see into your life or they want to laugh at your misery, or both.

Mimi: Definitely voyeurism and fantasy. I get so many e-mails from people fascinated with my life and convinced it’s fiction because to them it’s so extreme and removed from their own experience. Personally, I read blogs to escape my own life. If I’m homesick I’ll read blogs by expat Brits.

Do people who start blogs do it for therapy or for their 15 minutes?
Jessica: I started Washingtonienne as a way to keep my friends up-to-date on my life as a single girl on Capitol Hill. Thirteen days later, thousands of people were reading it. Most bloggers would love that kind of traffic, but I wasn’t one of them. I have a new Web site with a blog, but it’s not a publicity device so much as a vanity project.

Mimi: Sometimes people do it because it’s a way of communicating thoughts and feelings they don’t share with people in their lives. It’s to appease their own loneliness, and also it’s quite egotistical. We’re all flaunting our egos every time we write.

Brooke: My blog started out as a means to tell my crazy dating stories! That, and to help me warm up in the mornings before I set out to write my novel.

What’s the reaction to your blogs?
Melissa: I’ve been called pretty much every name under the sun.

Heather: Mine comes in e-mail form. That’s way more personal. It’s just like, ‘I hate you!’

Jessica: Someone sent me [hate mail] and I saw their IP address—they sent it from their work address at a law firm. So I forwarded it to the partners of his firm and said, “You should know that this guy is reading my blog.”

Melissa: Men refuse to believe I’m a woman. They’re like, ‘Well, obviously a woman would never say these things.’ I said something about going on dates and the reaction is, ‘Well that’s too much self-awareness for a woman.

Heather: Didn’t we invent neurotic?

Jessica: After I got fired I applied for a normal job the next day and they sent all my contact info to the Washington Post and Wonkette.

Rachel: Wow, that’s really ethical.

What do you guys think of a bloggers’ agent like Kate Lee and the -perception that they’re handing out book deals to bloggers like candy?
Melissa: I think people lose sight of the fact that the point is to write a good novel, not just have a blog. The blog is merely a means to an end. Turning blogs into crappy books is ruining the reputation of bloggers who can write.

Jessica: They’re not offering bloggers the same kind of money they used to. My book was the spoiler. If not, then it’s Ana Marie Cox’s fault.

Heather: You know, I don’t think Kate Lee is handing anything out indiscriminately. I don’t think every blogger is meant to be a novelist, no matter how popular their daily writings may be. It’s a different beast. Writing is a talent.

Mimi: How many bloggers have actually gotten book deals? Maybe, in the U.S., ten total? And why did they start blogs anyway? Because they wanted to be writers. There’s a misconception that a book can be churned out in a week or two. It takes consistent and sustained effort and lots of frustration.

Jessica: I think right now, if you’re a blogger, it kind of lowers your stock. People are very skeptical of it because there have been so many shitty ones.

How often do you blog?
Jessica: Whenever I feel like it, but never more than an hour per day.

Heather: Five hours a week.

Mimi: Usually about five or ten hours total [each week].

Melissa: About 20 or 30 minutes a day, if you count answering comments and e-mails.

Okay, switching it up, any favorite bars and restaurants?
Brooke: Cipriani’s downtown.

Rachel: I love Schiller’s.

Jessica: Nadine and I went to Schiller’s together once. I threw up there. It was so embarrassing.

Melissa: Von, across the street from my apartment. And River Café.

Mimi: Da Silvano. And I love Soho House.

Jessica: The only reason to go there is because of the pool.

Mimi: [Last time I went] I was so drunk, I stayed out ’til 4 a.m., the guy from Jackass was there. I gave him a lap dance.
Steve-O? Or Johnny?

Belle: Or Bam?

Mimi: It was the one where he does that stupid thing where he goes into someone’s room and turns it into like a bathroom or something.

Rachel: Oh, the other guy, whatever his name is. Johnny -Knoxville is so hot, though.

What do you guys eat when you blog?
Mimi: Cigarettes.

Jessica: Starbucks.

Melissa: Ketel One and Nutella, but not together.

Brooke: Fage Total Greek yogurt.

Rachel: My one constant is Diet Coke.

What are your favorite magazines?
Brooke: Elle. Fabulous book.

Jessica: Vice is my favorite.

Rachel: I read a lot of magazines, but I always get a lot of pleasure out of the New Yorker. And New York Magazine, here and there.

Melissa: Sports Illustrated. My dad got me a subscription when I was in high school and it’s the only magazine I get. I’ll look at fashion magazines, they’re fun, but…

Mimi: Playboy is good! It really does have good articles.

What about your favorite designer?
Melissa: Stella McCartney.

Rachel: Does Theory count?

Brooke: Donna Karan. And I love the Burberry jackets and trench coats. I think that’s the key to looking good in New York. If you’re running out to get a cup of coffee, I just throw on a great coat and my favorite black heels. It can be 8 a.m. and I’ll have my pj’s on underneath and nobody will be the wiser.

Rachel: I have a friend who used to say, ‘Your coat is your car.’

Brooke: I fully believe in that.

Rachel: I used to have a different standard of living as a lawyer. I weaned myself off of it. I taught myself to buy a few good pieces, only buy things I really love, like a good pair of jeans.

Jessica: I like anything DVF. The wrap dress is genius and the woman herself is gorgeous. She’s got it going on. Anytime I’ve ever worn any of her dresses, good things happen. I’m also a big Patricia Field shopper.

What do you think about Fashion Week?
Jessica: There are so many parties and so many people from out of town here. The impact is pretty much worldwide. But it’s so fleeting! And there’s a lot of, like, crazy hooking up. I’m not in the industry, so the shows aren’t as important as the parties.

Mimi: I enjoy the buzz, and would love to go to parties if anyone would care to invite me. I think it’d be fun to cover it from an outsider’s perspective. The girl who doesn’t wear clothes for a living commenting on clothes. Nice.

Meet The Bloggers

The Sex Kitten: Jessica Cutler
Blog: The Washingtonienne (www.jessicacutleronline.com) Following a high-profile Capitol Hill sex scandal breathlessly chronicled by political blog Wonkette, 27-year-old Cutler landed a six-figure book deal for her roman à clef, The Washingtonienne, and posed naked for Playboy. Posts from her notorious, now-deleted blog can be found on her cheery Web site. FUN FACT: She sleeps naked.

The Souther Deb: Brooke Parkhurst
Blog: Belle in the Big Apple (bellein thebigapple.blogspot.com)
Parkhurst, 26, landed a book deal based on the Southern-girl-in-the-big-city adventures she chronicles on her blog. FUN FACT: She speaks five languages.


The Lawyer: Melissa Lafsky
Blog: Opinionistas (www.opinionistas.com)
27-year-old Melissa Lafsky officially unveiled herself in the New York Observer as the writer behind the whip-smart law blog. She is currently hard at work on a novel set in the competitive NYC law world and is repped by blog-enabler Kate Lee at ICM. And no, it’s not a roman à clef, and yes, it does have a plot. FUN FACT: She loved Anaconda.

The Stripper: Mimi Foe
Blog: Mimi in New York (www.miminewyork.blogspot.com) This 27-year-old left the U.K. four years ago with a master’s degree from Cambridge. She traveled to 40 countries, and then wound up stripping in New York City’s hottest clubs. Her blog dishes on shady celebrities and sketchy club owners. FUN FACT: She was recently fired from Scores after punching a friend of the Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl in the face after 
a lap dance.

The Gossip: Rachel Sklar
Blog: Tomatoes are Delicious (www.tomatoesaredelicious.blogspot.com) This Canadian 33-year-old former corporate lawyer recently resigned as the editor of Mediabistro’s amusing, insightful Fishbowl NY, a position she held for nearly a year. Coauthor of the book A Stroke of Luck: Life, Crisis and Rebirth of a Stroke Survivor. 
FUN FACT: Has dated someone from every continent, save Antarctica.

The Girl Next Door: Heather Hunter
Blog : This Fish...Needs a Bicycle (www.thisfish.ivillage.com/love/about.html) Texas-bred Heather Hunter, 27, chronicles her life on the iVillage blog. FUN FACTS: She’s an ex-Mormon and can identify wild mushrooms.

[via Daily Front Row]

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