Table talk with George Wayne, the celebrity writer spilling Hollywood’s tea
For over 30 years, unrestrained celebrity writer George Wayne has probed into the minds of every megawatt star. Starting out at Interview and then penning a long-running column at Vanity Fair, G.W.—as he’s known to everyone including himself—turned the tried-and-true Q&A into an art form. Notorious for asking the questions that everyone’s thinking but are too afraid to ask, Wayne has collected some of those boisterous conversations in his new book, Anyone Who’s Anyone: The Astonishing Celebrity Interviews, 1987-2017 (Harper Collins). Featuring snappy chats with everyone from Kate Moss, to Carrie Fisher, to Ivana and Ivanka Trump, Wayne’s tongue-in-cheek approach has reinvented the art of the celebrity interview.
“It’s everybody’s dream to have a book, to be an author,” Wayne told me over a long and leisurely lunch at the iconic Café Luxembourg on New York City’s Amsterdam Avenue. Although Wayne arrived fashionably late, wearing a cool-kid army workman’s jumpsuit, we made up for lost time over French onion soup, lobster rolls, and fries. Here, Wayne shares interactions with and impressions of some of the legendary VIPs he’s crossed paths with over the years.
GEORGE WAYNE: When Andy walked into the room, even to this day, if he showed up anywhere, it was like magic. You could feel the charge, the electricity jolt. The room just took on a whole new meaning. I came to New York and had my first job in advertising, but I wanted to work at a magazine. I went out every night wanting to meet Andy. If you were a young kid in a creative field, you went out every night wanting to meet Andy, because he could change your life. After he died, I got my first paid job at Interview. I worked with Ingrid Sischy at The Factory and it was magic. I wanted to have the conversations that Andy had. My ethos was to have a conversational approach to the interview like Andy did, but mixed with the journalistic and intellectual rigor of Oriana Fallaci, who is a brilliant Italian journalist. Her book, Interview with History, is my bible.
WAYNE: It was 1996, and I flew to Washington for Vanity Fair. She was still a senator’s wife at the time. We meet in a restaurant in Watergate district. She sits down, and we’re having the best conversation. I said to her, “Arianna, can we talk about your gay husband?” She grabbed the tape recorder and ran through the restaurant. Jaws dropped left and right. I’m chasing after her, saying, “Arianna, give me back the tape!” We end up outside the restaurant entrance and she says, “George, this interview’s over.” She took the tape recorder and she was gone. I had to call Graydon [Carter] and say, “I have no interview. Arianna grabbed the tape recorder and ended the interview and ran through the restaurant.” It was on Page Six. Ever since that day, there’s always one tape recorder on the desk and one in my jacket. The Arianna Rule came into effect ever since that day. You know what happens six months later? She divorces her husband, moves to New York City, and reinvents herself. So she owes me!
WAYNE: Graydon’s a little freaky. He loves when I ask the freaky questions. He gets a kick out of all of that. I told Graydon, why don’t you publish my book? His excuse was that, “If I publish GW’s book, every other writer is going to want me to publish their book.” He said if I wanted to do the book, I had to go on sabbatical. So I gave up my column to try and get this book done. Once the book was done, signed off on—he decides to resign the same month the book comes out!
WAYNE: I hate doing phoners, but when you get Faye Dunaway, you gotta just go with the flow. She was a nightmare. She kept hanging up the phone on me every five minutes. I had to call back, “Ms. Dunaway, please pick up the phone!” And she picked up the phone and we’d start the conversation, and then she’d hang up again. “Don’t ask me about my son! I don’t want to talk about Warren Beatty!” It was hell. I managed to squeeze an interview out of that nightmare. She was crazy. She is the true definition of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. She was just a mess.
WAYNE: I’ll never forget when I interviewed 50 Cent. We had lunch at Da Silvano. During the interview, I asked him about the time he got shot. He was like, “Yeah, I was almost assassinated. I still have the pellets in my tongue.” He was like, “Feel them!” I was like, “What?!” He was like, “I want you to feel my tongue.” So I was probing the back of his throat over lunch, feeling the pellets. And I look over the table and said, “You know what, 50? I’d rather put something else down your throat.” He was so shocked. He finally got the joke and laughed. He didn’t punch me out, thank god. He’s like a teddy bear, he’s really cuddly.
LL COOL J
WAYNE: I interviewed him over lunch, and he walks in with 20 guys. I’m like, “Are you fucking kidding me? You guys, sit over there!” I said, “I didn’t come here to interview 20 people, I came here to interview you. The posse can sit in the corner.”
IVANA AND IVANKA TRUMP
WAYNE: I’m a little upset with Ivanka, I’ll admit it. I’ve known her since she was 11 years old. Her mother is amazing. Ivana is the most amazing woman in the world. I’ll never forget, back in the Go-Go ‘80s and early ‘90s, when Ivana was running the Plaza Hotel. She had the best dinner parties in the kitchen with 12 people, her posse. In the book, I talk about the night of the first Gulf War, when they invaded Kuwait. I asked [Ivana] if she was going to cancel her dinner party, and she said, “Hell no! I’m not cancelling!” I’ll never forget, we were watching CNN live and eating foie gras in the kitchen. I’d go to Ivana’s house and we’d sit in the mansion. I’d see Ivanka running around. She was a sweetheart, always with her mom. Me and Ivana would be sipping champagne, we’d finish a whole bottle of Veuve Clicquot, then we’d go downtown to Cipriani. I’ll never forget, one Thanksgiving weekend, Ivana said, come to Palm Beach and stay with me. So I go to Miami, I was in South Beach first, drunk as hell the night before and the next day I go to Ivana’s. I go to this posh dinner party with Lynn Wyatt, all these ex-socialites over dinner and I’m like, sloshed. She says, “Don’t worry about it, go lie down.” She’s like that, just kind and amazing. But lately, I don’t know…
CHRISTY TURLINGTON AND BRIDGET HALL
WAYNE: [Bridget] is kind of a recluse now. Café Tabac was one of a kind, it was crazy. I’ll never forget when Christy Turlington came in with Bono, who’s the godfather of her child. Back in the day, Christy was never the crazy one—that was Naomi and Kate. But she got so drunk one night that she was behind the bar squatting [and peeing]. I’ll never forget that. Bridget is the sweetest girl in the world. We did an interview and she told me the actor that deflowered her. It’s so obvious who it is. I’ll just say, it’s a serious modelizer. I think she was the first one. After he deflowered her, he kept going back to models.
WAYNE: Kate is the sweetest girl. She was a waif. She was 16 years old when she first got to New York City. She walked into a photoshoot with photographer Michel Haddi, and she was so shy and unassuming. Then the whole CK One and Calvin Klein era happened. Steven Meisel put me in the first CK One commercial with Kate. I was on set with Kate for like four days. We’d be waiting five hours on set for Kate to arrive. She was always late. She just showed up whenever she wanted.
WAYNE: Of course, the lawsuit with Claudia Schiffer took my career to a whole different level. [She sued me for] $30 million. I put a picture of her topless backstage at the Chanel show [in my zine R.O.M.E.] The funny thing about it was, when she sued me, it made headlines across the globe. This was before the internet. If we talk about breaking the internet, back in the day, that was the equivalent. I was at the Chateau Marmont in LA and all of sudden, I get a phone call. “Entertainment Tonight wants to talk to you.” I’m like, “What happened?” I was freaking out. I said to my friend Kelly Cutrone, the publicist, “What am I going to do?” She called Raoul Felder, who was a divorce lawyer, to represent me. Raoul took on the case and he handled it. He said, “We made an arrangement with them that you will never write about her again, you will never print anything about her or mention her name, anytime, anywhere. I was like, done. The funny thing was, the season after she showed me, she saw me backstage at the Chanel show and Karl Lagerfeld was so nice to me, and kind and welcoming. I remember Claudia turned around and sees me, and she was fuming. She was furious. I’m thinking I should reprint that R.O.M.E. issue and restart some drama.
ANYONE WHO’S ANYONE: THE ASTONISHING CELEBRITY INTERVIEWS, 1987-2017 (HARPER COLLINS) IS AVAILABLE NOW.