Wednesday, July 20, 2022. After occasional heavy rains and returning sunshine, yesterday was a muggy day in Manhattan in the middle of the good ole summertime: heat for free.
Peggy Siegal’s birthday parties. For those unfamiliar with the name, Peggy Siegal is famous in New York in prominent social circles as well as the entertainment business, and she’s famous out there in Hollywood in film production circles. She’s a longtime film publicist, well-known to many non-pros also because she stages screenings for new films here in New York. A Peggy Siegal film screening also might come with a dinner invitation post-screening, as a kind of celebration of the finished product. By invitation only, of course.
I’ve known Peggy for about 35 years. Never close or well, but between my curiosity, and her reputation with others, and my own experience of her, I see we have a literary character on our hands. There’s a better word for it because she is very talented, and has been very successful in her now long career.
She’s a real pro in terms of getting things done and right for the client — which in her case for years has been the motion picture industry. For decades she’s been Hollywood’s go-to in New York for getting the word out. She is also a woman whose career has always been marked with controversy — usually related to her personality on the job. I mean “on the job” because “off” the job, on the day to day she’s a great, accomplished hostess well aware of the ins and outs to creating a successful dinner, or in this case a luncheon, and with a wide variety of devoted friends.
Originally, her 75th birthday gathering was to be this past Sunday. She’s one of those girls/women who loves her work. Her work is her life and this birthday luncheon that she organized and staged for herself is another example. This is not the first time she’s “staged” a birthday luncheon. She’s staged dinners honoring her age — at 50, at 60, at 70 and now at 75. I remember the 60th. I remember first thinking she didn’t look 60. She’s also got a lot of the indefatigable in her but her adult/youth quality was there and still is.
There were two parties; lunch and dinner, different lists.
Originally the luncheon was to be held at the home of Shahrzad Khayami in Southampton with nine other hostesses: Sara Ayres, Tory Burch, Cristina Cuomo, Jeanne Greenberg, Gigi Mortimer, Perri Peltz, Ariadne Platero, Rene Rockefeller and Kitty Sherrill.
The hosts were The Tennis Girls who have been playing every Sunday in the summer in Southampton for the past 20 years. Peggy is the oldest (she said) and the organizer. They have “two rules” — you have to wear white on the court (it’s a fashion thing) and you CANNOT SAY UNKIND WORDS ABOUT ANYONE. That, Peggy said, is what has kept them together for 20 years.
They have a pro — Marko the “Croatian Sensation” — who gives them playing lessons every week, and as a result the girls are beautiful players. Or so I’ve been told. The rule is if you hit an uncontrollable ball at the net and accidentally smash any part of your opponent’s face, especially if the ball lands on a body part that has already been fixed, you have to pay to replace that body part. It is called “You Break It, You Buy” rule.
Their spiritual leader is Billie Jean King whose birthday present to Peggy is a dinner in New York with the TENNIS GIRLS.
Back to the original luncheon plans: After the plans were set, Mrs. Khayami took a trip to Paris where she got Covid. When she returned, she had to drop out for obvious reasons.
However, the cancellation for the first lunch required a replacement in the birthday girl’s eyes. She’d hoped to invite 50 or 60 to a luncheon at a popular restaurant in the area. When she inquired about the possibility with the number, she got a quote from one restaurant of $50,000!
That was far, far beyond her checkbook. She tried to bargain; they came down to $35,000. But. Reality set in. Starting over she found most of the restaurants out there are full to the brim with reservations on any weekend. No room for birthday parties of 50 or 60.
So Peggy decided to walk the streets of the business section of Southampton where she came upon Bamboo, a Japanese restaurant on Job’s Lane. It was dark, but inside she learned that was because they just weren’t open for lunch. But … Could they? Would they? Yes, for $35 a head. Sold!
This past Saturday. She invited 75 women and three or four men friends. The guest list defined the quality of the occasion. The Who’s-Who, as it were, of the Hamptons women, as well as some weekend visitors. The hostess with the mostest was in awe of the turnout; all happy to be a part of it. A great gift for the birthday girl.
Bamboo Restaurant, 76C Jobs Lane, Southampton
Saturday, July 16, 2022Lorinda Ash
Jackie Williams III
Caryn ZuckerDrop By:Derek Blasberg
Then on Sunday evening, there was the party on the original list which hosted by a longtime friend at her house on the beach. The line on the invitation: “A Lifetime of Survival, Stamina, Longevity and a Lot of Laughs.”
There were 50 guests. The hostess of the dinner is also brilliant at the task of entertaining, and it was a beautiful evening in a tent by the water a great tribute to the birthday girl. Peggy was in awe.
Most of the guests on this list consisted of people she’s known for decades. She met Blyth Danner 40 years ago while she was working on Danner husband Bruce’s directorial debut in 1982, A Little Sex). John Alexander, the artists and his wife Fiona (30 years); Annette Tapert Allen (40 years) and Joe Allen; Martha Stewart (30 years); Bob Balaban and wife Lyn Grossman (40 years); Bob Colacello (going back 40 years to when he was editor of Interview); Ross Bleckner (30 years) who gave her a painting for a birthday present (she had to promise not to sell it); Adam Lindemann (30 years) and Amalia Dayan; Stefano Tonchi (30 years) and David Maupin; Chuck Scarborough (40 years) and Ellen Ward; Wendy Stark (40 years); Kathryn Bryan; Ariadne and Marion Platero (20 years). She is a Tennis girl and the best player according to Peggy; Sara Ayres, Tennis Girl; Chris Isham and wife Jennifer Maguire (40 years); Nan Bush — Bruce Weber was on a shoot (30-40 years); Gillian Tett, Managing Editor of FT; Clifford Ross (40 years); Catie Marron (25 years); Ingrid and Tom Edelman; Andre Bishop and Robert Gerber; Frank DiLella on NY1 who reports about theater; Tom Hill and Janine; Jeffrey Seller — producer of Hamilton, RENT, In the Heights, and AVENUE Q (20 years); Peter Smith and his wife Maily Smith (he was Peg’s friend since her Freshman year at Syracuse when she was 18 and he was a first year law student!); Fran and Ros L’Esperance (30 years) — his father was Peggy’s eye doctor.
Photographs by Richard Lewin.