What would the title of your autobiography be?
“Why Not?” (“Vampire Diaries” was taken.)
What’s your favorite travel destination?
Cuba, Greece, The Philippines, Hawaii, Tobago, and Turkey… but only because I haven’t been to Africa yet.
What’s your favorite thing to do on a Sunday afternoon in NYC?
Sleep in, followed by brunch with friends, and either watching the eccentric roller-disco in Central Park or getting down at Tiki Disco.
If you could choose one person to show you “their NYC,” who would it be?
Lauren Hutton. She’s the coolest. Ever.
Who has inspired you recently?
Day to day, it’s my mom and the “G.O.A.T.” Muhammad Ali. And most recently, my boyfriend, Danilo Lauria, a filmmaker. He’s still in his first year in NYC and has totally hit the ground running. My jaded eyes are totally enjoying rediscovering NYC again through his fresh perspective.
What are your favorite NYC restaurants?
Gaia on East Houston is the best-kept, hole-in-the-wall secret with killer paninis. Gianfranco Costa at Pepe Rosso Social is the consummate Italian host with exceptional taste in underground music and has a religious following of true downtowners. Hudson Clearwater in the West Village is handsome and cozy, with solid food, outstanding cocktails, excellent service, and a cool, cute, unpretentious clientele. I love the calf’s liver and the vongole at Bar Pitti, not to mention they have the best people-watching NYC has to offer. And nobody does it better than Eric Ripert at Le Bernardin, where EVERYTHING is spectacular.
What are your go-to spots in NYC for drinks?
Hudson Clearwater and Angel’s Share in the East Village.
What’s your favorite NYC brunch spot?
Golden Unicorn in Chinatown for dim sum.
Where do you get your art fix in NYC, and do you have any favorite artists?
I really like The Armory show for my art fix. Well-curated art, great galleries, and just the right size to be able to digest it all. I also love The Frick Collection for its superb collection of masterpieces, such as Girl with a Pearl Earring by Vermeer, and the Morgan Library & Museum for their rarefied collection of ancient books and manuscripts and jaw-dropping, Old World interiors. My favorite painters are Damian Aquiles in Havana, Ellen Frankenthaler, Rothko, Velazquez, Manet, Goya, de La Tour, Vermeer, and most of the Abstract Expressionists; my favorite sculptors are Giacometti and Juan Munoz.
What’s your favorite late-night hangout in NYC?
Juvenex – it’s a full, proper 24/7 spa, replete with soaking tubs, a steam room, and sauna, tucked away in K-Town with the best massages in the city. I love ending a late-night of dancing there.
What are some of your must-do recommendations for NYC visitors?
Central Park, the Met, the Guggenheim, MoMA, dim sum in Chinatown or a gospel brunch in Harlem, taking in the great public art and Gotham-esque skyscrapers in the Financial District, enjoying the Elizabeth Street Sculpture Garden, shopping in the East Village or LES, and jazz at the Village Vanguard or The Carlyle. Also taking a helicopter tour of NYC is just tops!
What are some of your favorite NYC stores?
The Japanese consignment store Tokio 7 has been bankrupting me since I moved to NYC 15 years ago. The owner has a very discriminating eye – think Prada, Balenciaga, Stella, etc. Pas de Deux is Odin for women – need I say more? I just love Le Labo, and stock up on my fav scent here. La Garconne is totally downtown and super chic, with designers like Future Classics. Maryam Nassir Zadeh is one of the absolute best in downtown NYC, carrying the likes of Isabel Marant, Jil Sander, and Rochas. I collect hats, and Borsolino is the most classic store for hats in the city. And of course, the absolute crème de la crème of NYC shopping, Bergdorf Goodman. Their legendary windows take visual merchandising to another level – sheer artistry and utter luxe fantasy.
What songs would you consider your personal soundtrack to NYC?
“Flamenco Sketches” by Miles Davis, “Big Time Sensuality” by Bjork, “This Must Be the Place” by Talking Heads, “Natural One” by Folk Implosion, “Union City Blues” and “Sunday Girl” by Blondie, “Cavern” by Liquid Liquid, “Giant” by The The, “Love Tempo” by Quango Quango, “Sorrow” by David Bowie, “Into the Groovey” by Sonic Youth, “Goodbye Horses” by Q. Lazarus, Next Shit” by Smif N Wessun, every single Book of Love song, and loads and loads of Biggie.
When you think of NYC, what immediately comes to mind?
Love hate and everything in-between.