Since 1928, Chumley’s on Bedford Street in Greenwich Village has sat behind an unmarked door. It started as a speakeasy and gradually became the gold standard of writers’ bars in New York. Everyone from Mailer to Maugham to Steinbeck to Salinger to Faulkner to Fitzgerald hung out at Chumley’s. Now it seems like there’s a random walking tour going through there every ten minutes, but if you happen in on a quiet day and sit by the fire and get nice and drunk, you can pretend you’re a good writer for a little while. It’s fun there at night too, when lots of local firemen and preppie types clog the place up and go for it.
PHOTOS: Richard Kern
STYLING: Annette Lamothe-Ramos
HAIR AND MAKEUP: Jenae Wilkens
MODELS: Ida Agrahn, Katherine Joanne Kirk, Martina Correa, and Sofi Berelidze courtesy of Supreme Management
MAKEUP: L’oreal Paris mascara, Nars blush, Chanel eyeliner, Shiseido Silky eyeshadow, Maybelline Dream matte Mousse foundation, Revlon Skinlights bronzer
Luella top, Hanii-Y skrt, Elle MacPherson Intimates panties, vintage shoes
(l-r): APC top; United Bamboo top, Tiffany & Co. necklace
That’s Bobby Kennedy in the photo on the wall there. Chumley’s legend has it that RFK sat at this booth while he wrote out an early draft of his presidential campaign platform.
Are you too cool for a book club? Doubt it. They make you smart and, more importantly, they make you SEEM smart to other less smart people. Just imagine: Sitting by the fireplace, wearing big wooly sweaters and drinking hot cider whilst ruminating about fine literature. How is that not awesome? If some delicious gossip happens to slip in during a heady analysis of Nabokov’s Lolita as an elaborate metaphor for Russian totalitarianism, well, hey, so be it!
WHO SHOULD BE IN YOUR CLUB
Your book club may vary in size, but you’ll always need these three types: The Know-It-All: Has read everything and makes sure you know it. Not only can they expound on Journey to the End of the Night, they’ve actually BEEN to the end of the night. The Devil’s Advocate: Says things like “Holden Caulfield’s a dick” for no reason. Starts every sentence with “Yeah, but…” The Agree-er: She’s just psyched to be there.
NAMING YOUR CLUB
Fun part! You can’t call your club “The Wormz” because that’s ours. You can use some of our rejected names though, such as “The Page Turners” or “Are You There God? It’s Me, Book Club.” It should be something that looks good on a t-shirt, because one of you is going to have to make book-club t-shirts. It’s good for morale and it makes you feel like you’re in a gang, like the Pink Ladies but for nerds.
CHOOSING THE BOOK
Some people think that everyone has to agree on the book. This method DOES NOT work. Trust us. Many a book club has fallen because of this myth. It takes like three hours for everyone to come to an agreement. The only way to do it is to get a list of “the best fiction ever” or whatever and go through the list crossing off the books everyone has already read. The remaining books get written down, tossed into a hat, and the person with the next birthday picks the first book and that’s that.
Hopefully you have a friend with a rustic apartment complete with fireplace and lots of quilts and cushions who watches Rachel Ray and gets a boner out of being the ultimate hostess. She’ll serve hot cider with cinnamon swizzle sticks and deviled eggs that will make you rethink deviled eggs. Each member should bring something to eat, but this is where the hostess can really shine.
Rules are meant to be broken? Not in a book club. This isn’t school—no cutting corners or CliffsNotes. If you’re supposed to read the first three chapters, then you read the first three chapters. If you read less, you’re left in the dust and you don’t contribute shit, and if you read more then you risk slipping out a spoiler and that is grounds for suspension, which is kind of like school actually.
LESLEY ARFIN AND AMY KELLNER
(l-r): APC top and tights, American Apparel skirt, Alex + Choe necklace, Jenny Kayne shoes; APC top, Alice Roi pants, vintage necklace
Vintage top, Tevrow + Chase skirt, Loeffler Randall shoes, London Fog glasses, Elle Macpherson Intimates panties
This is our favorite place to sit at Chumley’s. It’s over in the corner near the fireplace. F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald are said to have consummated their marriage here. That’s right—the Fitzgeralds did it in this very booth.
(l-r): Hanii-Y top, Samantha Pleet vest; Samantha Pleet dress; Fred Perry top; APC top, Samantha Pleet jumper
Miss Sixty coat, Alice Roi top
Chumley’s is the origin of the phrase “86” as in “getting 86’d” from a bar. Chumley's is at 86 Bedford Street, and back in the Prohibition days a cop-friend of the bar would tip them off that a raid was coming by calling the bartender and saying, “86.” That was code for, “Get the fuck outta there for a while.”
(l-r): Givenchy top, vintage skirt and broach; APC top, Alice Roi shorts, vintage glasses and watch
During Prohibition, the entire ladies’ bathroom at Chumley’s was an elevator. Seriously. It was one big dumbwaiter, and they would wheel it up and down to get liquor from the store area to the bar.
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