Much has been written over the last days about Jackie Collins. That she penned, in long hand, 32 New York Timesbest-sellers, and five of them after being diagnosed with the breast cancer that eventually killed her.
When it comes to gender, we live in strange times.
Policing who uses which bathroom has turned into a fixation for some, with unsexing the potty inciting remarkable rage in an era that also brought us Supreme Court-sanctioned gay marriage and an Emmy for Transparent.
Hillary Clinton, making no bones about playing “the woman card,” has somehow become, over the last months, The Man—phallic and Establishment.
For anyone who writes about social codes, Manhattan is a rich environment, teeming with information. Sometimes, all you have to do is listen. By the time I stood at a very loud party in a lavishly decorated uptown venue a few months ago, I had heard a lot. I had written about the private lives and cultural practices of very wealthy New Yorkers and now, for every person who ran the other way upon seeing me, another one wanted to tell me things. Often, perhaps because I had supposedly lifted a veil on a secretive, private world, people talked to me about the ultimate secretive, private topic: sex.
I often heard about affairs. While the names and players sometimes surprised me, the facts did not: what anthropologists call “extra pair copulations” are common. In her meta-analysis of 133 cultures worldwide, anthropologist Meredith Small found not a single one without infidelity.
The wealthiest 1% has been attacked in American mass culture multiple times, starting from a cult TV series about preppy kids, “Gossip Girl” and ending up with massive Occupy Wall Street protests. This summer a Michigan born and New York based author Wednesday Martin, made the headlines of the national media with her book Primates of Park Avenue, where she reveals secret obsessions and habits of Upper East Side (UES) moms. In this exclusive interview for InLove magazine, Wednesday provides even more details on what it takes to be a member of the elitist Manhattan community.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
A Birkin costs between $10,000 and $200,000. It's a bag - a purse made by the French luxury brand Hermes. And here's the weird part. Birkins are almost always mysteriously out of stock. Stacey Vanek Smith from our Planet Money podcast explains.
STACY VANEK SMITH, BYLINE: Wednesday Martin can remember the exact moment she started wanting a Birkin bag. She had just moved to the very posh Upper East Side of Manhattan. She was walking down the sidewalk, and she saw very well-dressed woman coming towards her.
Geen job, maar wel een privéjet En kinderfeestjes van meer dan 5.000 dollar. schrijfster Wednesday Martin infiltreerde in de microkosmos van de rijke thuisblijfmoeders in New York die evengoed Xanax met witte wijn combineren als Chanel met Jimmy Choo. Haar boek 'Primaten van Park Avenue', In de VS een instantbestseller, verschijnt nu ook in het Nederlands. 'Rijkdom creëert een uniek soort angst.'
In Trainwreck, a huge summer hit from a hot comedy talent, Amy Schumer plays a single woman with a robust libido and vivid sexual history. "Amy" is eventually tamed by a doctor (Hollywood is not known for its subtlety in pathologizing female sexuality), and comes to accept the value of monogamy and family life. All the fun, of course, happens before that, as Schumer's character searches out, with the unwavering commitment of a heat-seeking missile, the same holy grail Zipless Fuck that propelled Isadora Wing in Fear of Flying.
Much has been written over the last days about Jackie Collins. That she penned, in long hand, 32 New York Timesbest-sellers, and five of them after being diagnosed with the breast cancer that eventually killed her.
Our daughter had just turned 3 when we applied for admission to the nursery school of the Lycee Francais de New York. At the time, the Lycee occupied one of the Upper East Side’s most impressive buildings, a Beaux Arts mansion on East 72nd Street just off Fifth.
The reception room, with 40-foot-high ceilings and a marble staircase curving away into who knew what nether regions, was daunting enough, but when a pale, thin woman dressed all in black came sweeping down the steps and crossed the enormous room to stop, scowling, before the row of seated infants and their jittery parents, all hell broke loose.
Summer reads should be engrossing, entertaining, escapist fun. But occasionally, one comes along that also makes you think.
For me this year, it’s “Primates of Park Avenue,” (Simon & Schuster) by Wednesday Martin. Her memoir chronicles her arrival as a married mom on the Upper East Side of New York, a newcomer who tries to fit in with the ultra-wealthy mommies dominating the landscape.
“Wives are lonelier now than they have ever been,” Nora Johnson wrote more than half a century ago.
Those words became the first line of a searching and startling essay, a unique amalgam of first person narrative, popular ethnography, and call for social change entitled “The Captivity of Marriage.” It ran in The Atlantic in June 1961.
Fifty-four years later, I read Johnson’s sentence on my iPhone, in the midst of the blaring chaos that I have come to think of as the psychopathology of everyday working motherhood—one kid on his iPad, another rattling around the house, my mind working over dinner and a deadline, my husband in the house somewhere, all the other details.
On Saturday, June 20th, the Children's Museum of the East End (CMEE) hosted CMEE Author's Night to celebrate the launch of Dr. Wednesday Martin's new memoir, "Primates of Park Avenue." Guests enjoyed cocktails and hors d'oeuvres before hearing an excerpt from the book, read by Dr. Martin herself.
The book details the author's drastic move from Manhattan's West Village to the Upper East Side. Readers will find an eclectic collection of stories from Dr. Martin's pursuit of a Birkin bag to the exhausting application process involved with getting her kids into the top-notch public schools of the area.
On a rainy Saturday afternoon, Wednesday Martin, the author of the phenomenally popular and occasionally polarizing "The Primates of Park Avenue," was in a small children's museum in Bridgehampton, on the eastern end of Long Island.
The putative purpose was a charity for underprivileged local children, though it was also the latest tour stop in a long circuit, and a victory lap of sorts for the bestseller, which has just sold its movie rights.
Debra Messing attends "Primates of Park Avenue" by Dr. Wednesday Martin Release Event at the Children's Museum of the East End on June 20, 2015 in New York City.
Last night, The Children's Museum of the East End celebrated the release ofPrimates of Park Avenue, the recent New York Times best seller penned by Wednesday Martin. We discovered that the author has a lot to celebrate- MGM bought the rights to the book. Hello, Hollywood! It remains to be seen who will star in Martin's memoir, but we are brimming with anticipation. Watching the elitist norms of apartment hunting, drug use, and harrowing parking lot experiences in the Hamptons play out on the big screen clearly has shades ofThe Devil Wears Prada. Congrats on the fancy-ass reading! When can we expect a sequel? We are rather partial to the title, The Ladies of Lily Pond Lane.
SAGAPONACK, N.Y.—One of the most favorite pastimes of spending time in the Hamptons is coveting other people’s money.
“I joke with my husband that each Birkin I own is worth a year of our future child’s college tuition.”
One of the most-talked-about details in Wednesday Martin’s book, Primates of Park Avenue, is the author’s all-consuming quest for a Hermès Birkinhandbag. It is, she said, to be her “sword and shield” as she navigates Manhattan’s most elite echelon. When her husband agrees to get one, she laughs–you can’t just go out and get a Birkin.
As the rain gently fell through the lush green trees surrounding The Children's Museum of the East End, just off the Bridgehampton Sag Harbor Turnpike in Bridgehampton on Long Island yesterday evening, dozens of little children ran about, laughing and shouting at each other as their parents attempted to get their attention and whisk them off before the museum closed at 5:00 PM. Many of the kids could not resist one last goodbye for the large black and white bunny with floppy ears who sat in a pen near the door, parents snapping pictures with cell phones while little fingers attempted to reach fluffy ears. As the museum staff announced the imminent closing, black Escalades and Range Rovers began pulling up to the doors, catering staff and PR people entering as parents and kids exited. Young men in orange CMEE t-shirts started setting up for the evening's event, a night of celebration for a mommy whose book has stirred up a frenzy of controversy and excitement, as well as a movie deal with MGM.
My husband Monte Farber and I attended a book-signing party for Primates of Park Avenue: A Memoir by Wednesday Martin at the Children’s Museum of the East End. It is a new book, published June 2, 2015, that looks into a secret, elite world within a world—the cultural codes, habits and privileged culture of a certain group of Manhattan mothers on the Upper East Side.
The release of Dr. Wednesday Martin’s new book, Primates of Park Avenue, was celebrated at the Children’s Museum of the East End in Bridgehampton on Saturday at the inaugural CMEE Author’s Night.
Martin, the #1 New York Times bestseller, made an appearance and treated guests with a short reading, along with book signings. Copies of the new release were sold and the proceeds benefited the Children’s Museum of the East End’s Head Start Program. Among the notable individuals who attended the event were Debra Messing, the actress renowned for her role in the 1998 television series Will & Grace, Leven Rambin, the actress known for her appearances in The Hunger Games, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, and All My Children, and Becca Tobin, the actress who played Kitty Wilde on Glee.
The Upper East Side will soon be getting even more screen time: MGM has bought the movie rights toPrimates of Park Avenue, Wednesday Martin's account of life among the Birkin-wielding moms of the Upper East Side. And this weekend, at a party in the Hamptons to celebrate the book, Martin talked to the Cut about bringing her story to the big screen.
First order of business: Whom to cast?
NORTH of New York’s 59th Street and just east of Central Park is the natural habitat of a peculiar breed of higher-order primates. Among the females, a fiercely competitive tribal culture and a dramatic imbalance in sex ratios (reproductive females outnumber males by a factor of two to one) have yielded some evolutionarily extravagant adaptations. Food is plentiful, but calories are severely restricted and often consumed as fluids. To reinforce status and strengthen monogamous pair-bonds, females engage in extremes of ornamentation and elaborate “beautification practices”, which include physical mutilation and gruelling endurance rites. Although they appear powerful, these females occupy a socially precarious position: they rely on males for access to scarce resources and their lives are almost wholly consumed by descendant worship. Because children are such costly status objects, large numbers are a conspicuous sign of wealth.
When news broke Monday that MGM had snapped up the movie rights to Wednesday Martin’s just-released memoir, Primates of Park Avenue, we immediately started shuffling through our mental IMDb pages for actresses to play the wealthy Manhattan mothers Martin studies in the book. Here’s our dream roster, and let us know your picks in the comments!
It is the book that everyone in New York has been talking about for weeks. Or at least, everyone in one particular neighbourhood.
Wednesday Martin’s first-person study of women of the Upper East Side, an enclave of the spoiled, precious and pampered, has shocked and surprised in equal measure. The one reaction it has not generated is that of envy.
Indeed, the leitmotif of Ms Martin’s Primates of Park Avenue is that we should feel sorry for for these wealthy, privileged women, and see them as victims of a tight controlling social structure. She nicknamed them the Glam SAHMs, or glamorous stay-at-home-mothers, but their lives are barely their own, she suggests.
The film rights to Primates of Park Avenue, Wednesday Martin's controversial book about wealthy Upper East Side women, have been acquired by MGM.
The book sparked a bidding war with multiple bidders in the mix to pick up the memoir about the lives of rich young mothers in New York City.
Wednesday Martin’s book, Primates of Park Avenue: A Memoir, has gotten all of New York talking. And it only hits the shelves today. Martin, who holds a Ph.D. in comparative literature from Yale University, considers herself a cultural anthropologist. By rooting through the social research, Martin turns an academic eye on a small “tribe” in a big town: mothers on the Upper East Side.
As an Upper East Side mom of four children, I was quite interested in learning more about Wednesday’s findings. We sat down in her office to discuss, only interrupted by a call from her nanny reporting that her son was happily ensconced in a eucalyptus steam shower. She was ready to chat.
When did The Times’s coverage of Wednesday Martin’s book, “Primates of Park Avenue,” reach critical mass? Or perhaps the question should be: When did it catapult into excess?
It all began, reasonably enough, with a Sunday Review cover story last month by Ms. Martin, in which she told of her experience moving to Manhattan’s Upper East Side and the strange beings she found there — women who were (gasp) blonde, wealthy and fit.
Plenty of Birkin bag-carrying blondes on the Upper East Side hate the new book “Primates of Park Avenue,”Wednesday Martin’s “anthropological” study of their hierarchical behavior.
But some might hate it even more because they are alluded to — though not named — in the Simon & Schuster book.
New York (AFP) - It's a mommy memoir causing a rumpus in New York: how pill-popping, wine-quaffing, uber-rich mothers on Manhattan's Upper East Side get year-end bonuses from their husbands and hire tutors for toddlers.
"Primates of Park Avenue" is the latest in a long line of books devoted to the unimaginable wealth of the one percent in a city where some estimate that more than 20 percent of children live in homes without enough to eat.
From Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities to Candace Bushnell’s Sex and the City, New York’s Upper East Side has long offered novelists and satirists a rich seam to mine. But until Wednesday Martin came along, no one had thought to use primatology in a portrait of one of America’s wealthiest – and most competitive – urban enclaves.
The metaphor of city as jungle is a familiar one, but Wednesday Martin's new book Primates of Park Avenue zooms in closely on one particular patch of tropical concrete.
In the Upper East Side of Manhattan, tribal social structures and cutthroat survival tactics matter to its wealthy stay-at-home mothers as much as they do to the lawyers of Wall Street.
One day, shortly after moving to Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Wednesday Martin was walking home with a carton of milk when an elegantly dressed older woman came barreling toward her on the empty sidewalk. Martin inched closer to the curb to get out of her way, but the woman kept bearing down until Martin found herself pressed against a trash can. Then the woman smacked right into Martin with her gigantic designer handbag, smirking as she passed. “I had been charged,” Martin says, as if the woman was a rhinoceros. “At least that’s how it felt to the anthropologist in me.”
"Why in the world are you studying rich mommies on the Upper East Side? Who cares?"
Like everyone at the dinner party, my questioner was highly educated, politically progressive and no doubt a feminist. I was slow to answer, in part because I had to wait for the loud laughter that had erupted all around the table to subside. The short answer was "I do. Their lives are interesting and full of surprises." But the question itself, one I have heard repeatedly over the last several years, raised a much more urgent one.
Are there any creatures on the planet more fascinating than the impeccably groomed, spectacularly attired, strikingly thin, exquisitely (and expensively) blonde women of America's 0.001 percent and Manhattan's Upper East Side? For much of the New York and national media, the answer seems to be "absolutely not." FromThe Real Housewives of New York to the fictional uptown private schoolers ofGossip Girl, we're captivated by a few square miles sandwiched between a park and a river on the east side of a densely populated island — and especially by its glossy female inhabitants.
Thursday, June 4, 2015. Rain goes away, leaves a sunny day with the temperature touching 70.
News from the nabe. Doug Blonsky,President and CEO of the Central Park Conservancy, announced and welcomed the newest residents of the Park: the chipmunks.
I quote: “For decades, there were no chipmunks in Central Park. No flash of black and white stripes on ruddy brown fur ... no staredown from bright eyes ... no conversational chattering from the trees ... But now, thanks to the work of the Conservancy, they’re back. The Conservancy introduced a new trash management system in the Park’s 130 acres of woodlands, reducing the amount of garbage in the area.
Are you thinking about adding “Primates of Park Avenue” to your reading list?
Hidden in the debates sparked by Wednesday Martin’s book, a mock-anthropological study about her years spent ingratiating herself with the “tribe” of uber-wealthy Upper East Side mothers (and by her recent New York Times Opinion piece on the same topic) is this: The book itself is an entertaining and even mildly thought-provoking read. In other words, perfect beach and plane material, even for those of us reading in coach.
Ever wonder what it's like to be an uber-rich Upper East Sider?
Now you can learn all about it from author and social researcher Wednesday Martin, who lived among New York City's most upper-crust moms for six years and survived to tell the tale – the tale being her buzzy new book, Primates of Park Avenue, which explores annual wife bonuses, $6,000 parties for 6 year olds, and other rituals of the rich and restless.
It seems all the world — and by world, we mean New York City — is abuzz about Wednesday Martin’s new book, Real Housewives of the Upper East Side “Primates of Park Avenue.” When Martin, a writer and social researcher, moves from the West Village to the Upper East Side to raise her children, she becomes fascinated with the neighborhood’s unique species of woman. A hybrid of two Janes (Goodall and Birkin), Wednesday tries to find ways to fit in. Being thrust into this peculiar tribe is a writer’s dream, and she chronicles the quirks of the elite with wit and elan. Martin takes us along for the ride as she learns how to adjust and flourish, changing her parenting, shopping, eating and social activity to be accepted. The book also explores the mad world of New York City real estate as it relates to this particular area of the city —navigating the strange rituals of finding a home, assimilating into one’s building and neighborhood and learning the language of the island’s “vertical dwellers.” As Martin ultimately settles on the purchase of a cond-op at 900 Park Avenue, she emerges an expert on all things New York City real estate.
On the surface, Primates of Park Avenue is an examination of a lived stereotype: an anthropology-inflected, lightly analytical memoir of coming to belong within an Upper East Side community where blonde, thin, status-obsessed moms hip-check each other with their designer bags, where absent men dole out “wife bonuses” for good performance, where maintaining your appearance can cost $95,000 a year, where dinner parties are segregated by gender.
Last month, anthropologist Wednesday Martin introduced the world to the concept of a “wife bonus”—an annual shopping budget based on a husband’s earnings and his stay-at-home spouse’s domestic performance. And today, Martin offers a closer look at the recipients of said bonuses with the release of her Upper East Side ethnography, Primates of Park Avenue.
Everywhere you look on the Upper East Side and in the East End are women, women, women—astonishingly and comprehensively sex-segregated
Nothing could be more foreign to the tribe I studied and lived among than giving up on their own personal upkeep—the zealous, dedicated striving to be a particular kind of fabulous, fit, and chic Manhattan Geisha with children. The type of women who get “wife bonuses.” But what was the point of all this effort, this endless fighting and trying and depriving and especially all this working on and working at our selves? It certainly wasn’t sex—you could call uptown a sexless Sahara.
"There is a fair amount of dish, but it's dish with a doctorate," says Wednesday Martin as we sit down at a cafe on Manhattan's Upper West Side. She's talking about her new memoir,Primates of Park Avenue, which examines the lives of other wealthy Manhattan moms almost as much as her own over the course of six years she spent living on the posh Upper East Side. The book is framed as an anthropological study of sorts—hence the title—but it's Martin herself who has been keenly observed leading up to its release, whether on Facebook feeds or in the press. Ginia Bellafantewrote in The New York Times that Martin "seemed to so thoroughly embrace the manners of the women she had written about with such an imperious strain of sympathy." Page Six claims that women in Martin's circle have been "panicking" about what she might reveal.
In Primates of Park Avenue, an anthropologist researches her neighbors
Motherhood, like yoga or eating, is not supposed to be a competitive sport. But some people can’t help themselves, and just as with yoga or eating, among certain types of humans, it can become quite a contest.
Consider the prototypical Upper East Side mommy: bleach blonde, whippet thin, perfectly manicured, stay-at-home, chemically preserved. Polite but not warm. Type A. Beautiful, sexless. Multiple houses, expensive preschools. Well educated. Volunteer. Designer handbag. To that list, Wednesday Martin wants to add: Subservient. Retrograde. Self-selecting. Self-segregating. Aggressive.
A new book, "Primates of Park Avenue," reveals one woman's encounter with multiple Upper East Side families.
If you don't live in Manhattan, it may seem slightly insane that two words could hijack the conversation in Upper East Side zip codes for several weeks. The phrase -- "wife bonus" -- refers to a payment that highly credentialed stay-at-home moms get for managing the household, mothering the offspring and looking good in a size 4 gown at society galas. It's given usually by upper echelon bankers and lawyers, the kind of men who can, months ahead of their firm's annual awards, calculate their own bonuses to the penny.
|Monday, June 1, 2015. Another beautiful weekend in New York. Very warm, sunny and bright with skies darkening by late Sunday afternoon, followed by the predicted rains, steady although not heavy, for a couple of hours. At nightfall came the breezes that brought in the cooler air. The rain and the wind gave the city a fresh, end-of-weekend feeling, as if promising a good week.|
This week, Judy Blume talks about her new novel; Liesl Schillinger rounds up new travel books; Alexandra Alter has news from the publishing world; Vanessa Grigoriadis discusses Wednesday Martin’s memoir, “Primates of Park Avenue”; feedback from readers; and Gregory Cowles has best-seller news. Pamela Paul is the host.
On the hunt from a good public school for her son, Wednesday Martin moved from her old home in downtown Manhattan to a new one just a few miles north. The spots were no more than a short cab ride away from one another, yet she soon found they were galaxies apart in personality.
For one thing, the moms around her looked entirely different.
A few pages into “Primates of Park Avenue,” I raised an eyebrow as high as a McDonald’s arch. Was Wednesday Martin, a Midwestern-born Ph.D., trying to explain the rites of the Upper East Side to me, an autochthonous Manhattanite schooled at one of the neighborhood’s top “learning huts”? She was a late transfer to the New York troop — a particularly vicious troop, at that — and it’s a weak position to be in throughout the primate kingdom, whether human or monkey.
Wednesday Martin explores the inner-workings of the Upper East Side in Primates of Park Avenue.
Sex segregated dinners are the norm, charitable success calls for a “wife bonus” and former Disney guides have become the new nannies. Wednesday Martin had no idea what she was getting into when she moved to the Upper East Side with her husband and young son in 2004. Surrounded by these social behaviors that immediately reminded her of her undergraduate days studying anthropology at the University of Michigan, Martin began to document her journey into the jungle of Manhattan’s one percent, and her research eventually became her memoir, Primates of Park Avenue.
Upper East Side women are like baboons who display power by threatening to ram younger rivals on the sidewalk, conspicuously bidding $20,000 at school auctions for finger paintings and jealously treating nursery school admissions like “a shrinking waterhole in the Serengeti.”
Juicy, sexy, bawdy stuff — the makings of the perfect summer beach book.
The author and coiner of the "wife bonus" trains an anthropologist's eye on the wealthy denizens of the Upper East Side.
In her 26 years in New York, Wednesday Martin has lived in nearly every neighborhood, from Long Island City to Soho to the West Village. Nothing, she says, prepared her for the Upper East Side.
“It’s the most fascinating and alienating and completely separate world I’ve ever encountered,” Martin says. “This is a separate tribe in New York City.”
They are marooned in an endless routine of women-only lunches, consumed by anxiety and the need to look dazzling for their wealthy, controlling husbands. Social researcher Wednesday Martin prises open the lives of an island species.
When our family moved from the West Village to the Upper East Side in 2004, seeking proximity to Central Park, my in-laws and a good public school, I thought it unlikely that the neighborhood would hold any big surprises. For many years I had immersed myself — through interviews, reviews of the anthropological literature and participant-observation — in the lives of women from the Amazon basin to sororities at a Big Ten school. I thought I knew from foreign.
Anthropologists living among alien tribes will probably all have had their Heart of Darkness moments, when they wonder, appalled, if they can continue with their experiment. For some it will be witnessing female circumcision; for others, cannibalism.
For Wednesday Martin, the fieldworker living among the super-rich of London and New York - the most bizarre and extreme group of mothers in the world - it was the hiring of disabled Disney World guides.
There’s a certain type of New York woman who attempts to have it all: perfect family, perfect looks, perfect life. What can anthropology explain about this exotic tribe? Wednesday Martin, author of Stepmonster and the upcoming Primates of Park Avenue, breaks it down.
The anthropologist Wednesday Martin looks at the anxiety and damage from vying for status in Manhattan and Notting Hill
Many anthropologists living among alien tribes will have their Heart of Darkness moment, where they wonder, appalled, if the experiment can continue. For some it will be witnessing female circumcision, for others, cannibalism.
The secret came out in a conversation between two mothers in Manhattan. “Oh, so you are going to Disney World?” said one. “You will want to get one of those black market handicapped guides.” By hiring a disabled guide, discerning families were apparently able to tour the Magic Kingdom without suffering the inconvenience of a queue.
Who is this character in the pantomime cast list?
She is the downtrodden family outsider, unrewarded when she makes an effort and unfairly maligned when she tries to keep out of the way. She must take endless punishment, and be the target of jealous sabotage, while smiling sweetly. She must fix the unfixable while being casually hated. Even the father figure is too weak to save her from her fate. Are you thinking Cinderella? The true answer is the stepmother.