Conversation's Naughty And Nice Holiday Party, Super Secret Squirrel Lair Between Chelsea And Hell's Kitchen, New York
December 16, 2010
Last night, it seemed that everyone could have used a good spanking.
I sat on my couch, uploading the last batch of photos from Digital DUMBO into their Flickr set, thinking, "really, do I need to go to the Conversation Naughty or Nice Holiday party?" I had almost convinced myself that it was going to be a run-of-the-mill holiday party and there are only so many ways to write about that. I was wrong wrong wrong.
Little side note: 28th Street from Broadway to 9th should be given the moniker "muggers' paradise." I swear it's the only area in Manhattan that makes me feel uneasy.
I spotted a bright light on an otherwise pitch-black street. It was a mysterious and apparently super secret event space. A velvet rope and a red plush carpet marked the path to the door. As I entered I heard...what was that? Carolers! Four Oliver Twist-era carolers, AKA Good Time Productions, were softly singing Christmas classics in the "Nice" room, which was brightly lit by mammoth chandeliers. Nice-people food came in the form of crudités with a mouth-funking (but yummy) garlic dip, mac and cheese, meatballs, and beggar's pouches of mushroom blurp.
Signs posted on the wall warned of black magic and bore the ominous question "Have you seen Santa?" Ominous because rumors of a naughty Santa (on a Segway no less) were being whispered about. In the Nice room I met Mom and Don, parental units of Conversation's founder, Frank O'Brien. What a nice boy -- no coal for you Frank.
I entered the Naughty room and instantly felt like breaking the law. Red, red everywhere, shot through with white by the fat disco ball dangling from the vaulted ceiling. I spotted the head of AgencySpy, Kiran Aditham, who is taking advantage of every single party invitation he's getting; Nora Lyons of DiGennaro Communications; and Kendra Peavy of DiGennaro Communications.
They were hunched over looking at the side of Kiran's pants.
It was dark, so I got closer to investigate -- just in time to see a loony magician pull a ball out of Kiran's pants. Then out of his ear. The tricks seemed juvenile, and by the unimpressed looks on the groups' faces, I wasn't the only one who thought so. Until the magician handed Kiran's wallet back to an incredulous Kiran. Then he handed him his gum. A pickpocketing street urchin! The Oliver Twist theme continued!
In the Naughty room, surrounded by red lights, flashing danger blinkers, a taco bar, chicken wings, and billowing scarlet netting, I found Ash and Luck. Ash is in software development, Luck is in real estate. I also found Grey's Patrick Wisnom and Deutsch's Sheldon Anthony, who later said "hold on, I'm going to get my coats, and then I'm going to have you take some pictures of me." Sheldon is also the owner of Fortune Entertainment, whose site launches a music player by default and for the first time, I didn't mute it immediately. It was "Say It Again" by The Truth, in case you're curious. I later found Sheldon and some coats, and I did take pictures. Speaking of music, there is actually a song called "Naughty Christmas" by some fellow named Les Fat. I used the most poetic lyrics in one of my captions.
I found a naughty girl in her shimmery gold lamé dress holding court with a cast of male minions. I spotted Asgar Ali, a financial analyst at Barclay Capital, shaking a tailfeather to DJ Chris Mattina's beats with entrepenuer Ron Berkowitz, who I found today on the internet in a picture with Nick Lachey and Joey Fatone at the Brother Jimmy's Union Square opening. Asgar and Ron were with Laurie Petrei, Senior Manager of Corporate Comms at Conversation.
"HO HO HO!!!" a booming voice bounced through the Nice room. It was Santa! I chased him down to say hey. Immediately he asked my status this year: Naughty or Nice? "Pretty Naughty, Santa," I admitted. He reached into his belt and yanked out not a lump of coal, but a whip with red and green danglies. And he spanked me. It didn't end there. Throughout the night he spanked naughty partygoers left and right, punctuated by stinging squeals and yelps. Nice boys and girls received Hershey kisses, but no cheek went unscathed that night. Santa really was dirty, confirmed by the hot wet tongue I got in my ear when posing for a picture.
Red and green Jello shots made the rounds, launching even the nicest guest into naughty territory, prompting one tinkle-filled guest to impatiently knock the wrought iron door handle against an occupied bathroom. The yells from inside were distinctly female, which inspired me to seek out a new relief location lest I be confused with the knocker. In my hunt for a usable toilet I met Genevieve Weinkle of Guggenheim Partners and her husband Spencer Weinkle of CBS. I also met Chynthia Kellam of TIAA Cref and Myles Kellam of Conversation. They were talking with Frank's lovely and very sassy wife Lauren O'Brien, an account supervisor at Grey.
While deciding whether or not to wrap it up and call it a night, I met the very furry duo of "handle bar 'stache guy" Austin Carl of Conversation and "I'm in a band" dude, Tommy Mokas. It's around then that things literally and figuratively get a little fuzzy. DiGennaro Communications founder Samantha DiGennaro and her friend Jordan Rednor, Chairman of Mr.Youth, are a hilarious memory blurred on Santa's lap, with Santa friskily draping his beard on Samantha's face while punishing her with various whipping devices. I do believe she got the tongue treatment as well. Blech, I can still feel it.
Before I left, I stuffed my face with mac and cheese to avoid pizza weakness on the way home and was reunited with wrought iron bathroom urgency guy. "I need to get some food in my stomach," he said, explaining his mac and cheese strategy, "because I may be more than a little drunk."
And that, my friends, is always the sign of a great holiday party.
*edited at 3:20pm today for accuracy in naming