Whit Stillman’s Bizarre and Brilliant Approach to Avoiding the Awkwardness of a New York Party


You'd think that, being the chronicler of New York's bourgeois social life in movies like Metropolitan and The Last Days of Disco for the past twenty years or so, Whit Stillman would be comfortable at any shindig. Yet at the after-party for last night's premiere of Another Earth, Stillman appeared more comfortable taking an observational, even directorial, approach to the scene playing out before him at the Top of the Standard than he did with schmoozing. Stillman opted to pose as the party's host, a pretty brilliant way to avoid awkwardness in almost any social setting. It seemed to be working for him.

Whit Stillman: Thank you for coming.

I didn’t realize you were involved in this event.
I’m not.

So why are you thanking people for coming?
It’s hysterical: I’ve been going up to everyone to see what people do when I say, “Thank you for coming.”

And what do they do?
Everyone says, “You’re welcome.”

Do they think you’re the publicist?
They think I run the club. So what I do then is I ask if they like the music.

What do they say then?
They say, “The music is very good.” And then I ask if they like the view. They say that’s very nice. Everyone’s very polite. I think I might do another party! The only guy who saw through me is this guy [points to nearby man who declines to be identified]. He must be the actual host. [He's not; that would be the Peggy Siegal Company. Unidentified guy interjects.] He said, "Thank you for coming," and I said, "You're a fucking asshole." And he didn't say anything back. I don't know who he is.