7 Party Tips From The Wire’s Isiah Whitlock Jr., the Biggest Party Animal in New York

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Photo: Getty Images and Patrick McMullan

During his stint on The Wire, Isiah Whitlock Jr.’s character, State Senator Clay Davis, made a habit of accepting the illegal largesse of others. In real life, though, the actor is a far more gracious, and welcome, recipient of others' generosity — no one goes to more parties than him.

Befitting his status as a fixture on New York’s party circuit (that image above consists of party photos of Whitlock), we asked the 60-year-old, a frequent Veep guest star, for his keys to making the most of a free shindig.  

1. Arrive Rested
“You gotta make sure you take a nap. Especially if you’re gonna be up real late. I don’t care, young or old, you’re gonna need to be rested.”

2. Don’t Come Hungry
“I always try to eat before. That’s a big key. I’m not saying dinner. Sometimes you can go to a party and they might not have any food. And then you go and binge at midnight — and that’s not good. Like, I went to a screening, and if I hadn’t eaten before and they had all those Snickers and KitKats? I would have had five of them. You don’t want to do that.” 

3. Wine Before Liquor
“The first thing that I do, without embarrassing myself, is get a drink. I always have wine. I’m a winemaker and a wine collector, so I usually just drink wine. If I drink the other stuff, I won’t be able to work the next day. That is not good. You can drink before the party if you’re under 30. Under 30, you’re young and gay. Life is good. I mean, I’m still young and gay and life is good — I meant gay in like a fun, jovial way.”

4. Roll With Spills
“If I get spilled on, that’s all a part of the game. I’ve got a fair amount of clothes at home; make sure you got some clean clothes at the cleaners. I just know I got to take the dirty stuff off, take a shower, and then wash a little booze off, and then I’ll be back in the game.”

5. Don’t Force Mingling
“I just I run into people that I know. I always figure, you come to a party, you gotta know somebody. And somebody leads to another person and leads to somebody else, somebody else. That’s one of things that I really enjoy doing. I see people I know not in a professional setting, but in a relaxed atmosphere, so I can have very nice conversations with people, really honest conversations with people. Usually when you’re working or you’re on set, everything is very guarded. At parties people have a tendency to relax.”

6. Know Your Limits
“I don’t stay out that late. I never really stay out that late. I used to, and after a while you begin to realize that a little sleep works wonders, you know? So I usually do the event, make an appearance, and then go home so that I can make another appearance the next day without being wasted.”

 7. Ghost
“I don’t say good-bye to anybody. I just go. I like to think that I’m going to see them again. I think most people will tell you that’s what they do. You’re not going to go around saying good-bye to everybody — people aren’t even going to really care all that much. It’s like, you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go.”