Peter Davis, one of my favorite New York City blue bloods is certainly one to watch! I was so excited to hear about the launch of SCENE, his own society glossy backed by Jared Kushner of The New York Observer. The former Editor in Chief of Avenue Magazine and born and bred Manhattanite (he is related to the Mortimer family and his great grandfather founded The Davis Cup) gives us an inside look at NYC’s old and new elite–SCENE is unique because it is not just a magazine about them, but by them. In the first issue, biting features like Where in the World is John Galliano and The Socialite/The Shopping Site/The Scandal! are sure to ruffle a few feathers. I caught up with the stylish literati where he shares some of his insider secrets and the scoop on SCENE.
Melissa Meyers: Congratulations on the launch of SCENE. What can we expect from the publication?
Peter Davis: SCENE is all about insiders taking you inside every corner of New York. Next month, Carson Griffith’s monthly column “Haute Spot” for example gives you all the secret scoop on Super Linda, the boite of the moment – from where to sit and who to know and when to go. We also have three investigative features every month that are long and in depth – very Vanity Fair and though some are set in New York, they appeal to people all over the globe. They can be a tad scandalous and the hardest part of my job is that I by nature truly strive to be nice to everyone and I’ve had to make some hard decisions. I know that some of the articles I publish will rile people up, some of them friends, but I am an Editor in Chief and when I question how far I should push the envelope, I think of my hero Graydon Carter and say to myself, ‘Graydon would publish this story because it’s a great article and wouldn’t worry about pissing off the subjects.’ These are news stories – we are not a tabloid who goes through people’s trash, but when rich people behave badly, they need to be called out, especially when they break the law. And in addition to great features, there are plenty of party pictures, fashion, amazing things to crave and a great Pop Art influenced palate. The sharp eyes of our Creative Director Cricket Burns and Art Director Dean Quigley always blow me away. All of the covers will be supermodels (the next issue is my friend Hilary Rhoda). Celebrity covers and the puff pieces about them bore me. We will cover celebrities that fascinate us, people like the mysterious and talented Justin Theroux, but not just giving them pages as a platform to promote a movie and talk about how great they are.
MM: How did you come up with the idea of SCENE and then make it happen?
PD: Avenue was a great EIC training experience, but I grew frustrated with the creative handcuffs I was forced to wear. The magazine aimed to be best friends with everyone and that is fine and dandy, but doesn’t exactly make for compelling reading 12 months a year. I did skew younger with the magazine, putting Hannah Bronfman on one cover (dubbing her “Girl of the Year”) and Alexandra Richards on another cover with all the other hot DJ girls like Chelsea Leyland on the inside. But Avenue’s longtime publisher Julie Dannenberg and Cricket and I knew there was room for something bigger and better than Avenue. And also so-called “society” isn’t just limited to the Upper East Side, which is the only neighborhood Avenue is delivered. People who are social and interesting and innovators are all over the city from Harlem to Tribeca to the West Village and SCENE is distributed to every corner of the city as well as news stands. And it isn’t a magazine only for rich, but for everyone who loves New York, great writing (sharing offices and being able to use the amazing writers from The New York Observer is a huge plus) and beautiful, stylish visuals.
Raised in a boisterous Connecticut household with six siblings by her Algonquin father and a French mother, Countess LuAnn knows firsthand that class is a state of mind, not a birthright. Having been instilled with a strong sense of values and understanding the importance of doing for others, her first career was as a practical nurse. Through a series of luck and happenstance, the nurse became a model in Milan and the model caught the attention of a TV magnet who turned her into an Italian television personality.
The girl from small town Connecticut quickly fell in love with the Italian lifestyle and began to build a life there. After years of absorbing continental manners and style, LuAnn began a fairy-tale romance with Count Alexandre de Lesseps, a French Aristocrat of the Suez Canal dynasty, and married into high society. The Countess is a living example that elegance, taste, and chic can be acquired. It is this sophistication that she hopes to share with her fans.
I’ve realized that there is a real desire to learn more about manners and etiquette and that you don’t have to be rich, famous, or noble to have an unforgettable presence and feel comfortable anywhere, anyplace, anytime. I truly believe that elegance can be learned.
Countess Luann continues to add to her large fan base garnered from three seasons starring in Bravo’s The Real Housewives of New York City. Her decorum on the reality show, brisk sales of her book Class with the Countess, the release of her new single and music video Money Can’t Buy You Class on Ultra Records, and her frequent appearances on talk and news shows have made her a highly sought after life-style expert. Countess LuAnn can be seen providing relevant news and celebrity commentary on the panel of CBS TV’s The Insider, and in her weekly column every Monday for Ok! Magazine.com called What Would the Countess Do?
The Countess has been featured in publications around the country and internationally including People Magazine, The New York Times, In Touch Weekly, Harpers Bazaar, The New York Post, USA Today, Woman’s Day, New York Times Magazine, Life & Style Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, Gotham and Hamptons Magazine. She has appeared on Larry King Live, The Joy Behar Show, CNN Show Business Tonight, Entertainment Tonight, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Extra, Good Day New York, KTLA Morning News, E! Entertainment, The Style Network’s The Dish, PBS’s Moment of Luxury and TV Guide’s The Fashion Team. In February 2011, she made a guest appearance on Law & Order: SVU and she also made a cameo appearance on the popular USA Network series Royal Pains. She also recently made her cabaret debut at New York’s Town Hall on the bill with Liza Minnelli and Chita Rivera as part of the Jim Caruso Cast Party benefit for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
A strong supporter of giving back to the community, Countess Luann brings her volunteer leadership and resources to the American Cancer Society, GLAAD, Hetrick Martin Institute, The Auditory/Oral School of Brooklyn, and ACE’s Soho Partnership and was just photographed along with many major celebrities for California’s NOH8 Campaign.
Luann’s book, Class With the Countess is available in paperback on Amazon.com. Her single, Money Can’t Buy You Class is available on iTunes and Amazon MP3. Her new dance single Chic C’est La Vie is now available on iTunes as well as the Countess Luann iPhone App.