As I blog, beloved movie star and Nicki Minaj impersonator Timothée Chalamet is being lauded by various publications and Twitter accounts for wearing a metallic Tom Ford suit and holding hands with Tilda Swinton at the Festival de Cannes, where I am sure he has been running around impressing various supermodels with his mostly fluent français (a French friend says she has heard him make numerous errors while speaking and that he has likely yet to master le passé du subjonctif). But alas, I personally do not love Timothée Chalamet, because three years ago he spat at me in New York City at the now-shuttered “downtown boîte” China Chalet.
On the night of February 9, 2018, I attended three fashion week parties in the interest of writing a party report. I was exiled from the first event, an affair for the relaunch of a Russian oligarch-funded magazine held at a velvety bar with an official scentscape by Le Labo. And so I headed to Century 21 for a Telfar afterparty, where the door was your standard mosh pit, a sea of limbs all jostling for attention, none of which would gain admittance. My puffer, acquired at an Opening Ceremony sample sale, ripped, and feathers floated into everyone’s mouths.
In the interest of getting enough quotes so that I could go home to file my report by 4 a.m., I went to the Telfar after-after party at China, where I made a quotation-motivated beeline for a group consisting of a genius stylist, a photographer known for sugary portraits of teen girls in their bedrooms, an unidentified friend toting a luxurious hand fan, and Timothée Chalamet. I politely spoke to the stylist, asking if he would like to be featured in a party report. He snorted — which was very much his prerogative, I have also wanted to snort at many journalists — turned on an elegant heel, and walked away, leaving me alone with Tim. Before I could so much as utter a single syllable, he stood very close to me and started to yell.
It is oft-said that actors are shorter in person (they also have uniformly large heads). According to Google, Chalamet and I are the same height, 5’10. But in that moment he seemed like a titan, a giant, as opposed to a boy prince suffering from a virulent case of hemophilia. “No!” he screamed. “No! No! No!” (perhaps it was in French: non, non, non). So forceful were his screams that flecks of Oscar-nominated spittle landed below my eyes.
He then stomped his foot hard four times like a spoiled toddler. One of the stomps hit directly on my foot, and despite Chalamet’s famed wafiness, it was painful. When he was finished with the screaming, the photographer laughed, and the unidentified friend waved his éventail in my newly wet face, saying, “not today, honey.” They all strutted away, chortling.
Being a movie star is wonderful in many ways, but it is also surely annoying, and I have sympathy for those who wish to party in peace without a nosy his-girl-Friday getting in their business. And Chalamet was only 21 at the time, a freshly minted sensation. But as a lackluster journalist with jobs primarily held at fashion magazines, I have interviewed countless celebrities, and many have managed to tell me off without shouting at me so forcefully that their spit made contact with my face.
It is a lonely experience, being spat at and stomped on by a movie star adored by millions. My only true allies in this incident were my friend Ashleigh, who lives in England and was thus awake and receptive to complaints when I got home from the party, and my mother, who keeps a running list of celebrities who have wronged me and sends me links to Yahoo News articles about their misdeeds. In the years since, I have written several articles in which I was forced to praise Chalamet’s outfits and movies (not the one with Steve Carrell). I guess I forgive him. I have reached out to Chalamet’s reps for comment, and will update this post accordingly should he choose to speak and/or apologize.
(My other favorite run-in with a famous person at China Chalet was with Chalamet’s high-school girlfriend and Madonna’s daughter Lourdes Leon. In 2019, she stole my dongle after I had commandeered an aux cord to play Larry Levan’s “Stand on the Word” remix to the delight of all party attendees. “Bitch,” she said. “Don’t dangle my dongle.” It was very much my dongle, but I absolutely forgive her. It was so fun. I wouldn’t be mad if she got a little spit on me.)