Television Without Pity

In Which We Went to Bravo’s Casting Call for the Real Wantrepreneurs of Silicon Alley

It was the first tech party where anyone tried to yank up our skirt.
The scene. (Photo by Michael Gold, via Instagram)

The scene. (Photo by Michael Gold, via Instagram)

When we arrived at the Dream Hotel on 55th, there was already a substantial crowd of would-be attendees worrying that the one-hour open bar at #techdrinkup’s holiday party would end before we made it upstairs. Ahead of us, two young men were debating the relative merits of Sean Parker in the wake of Airtime’s abysmal numbers: “I’m a fan,” said Mr. Parker’s defender. “Everyone has success and failing.”

What no one mentioned within our earshot: Gotham Casting would be in the house, looking for personalities to feature in a possible New York spinoff of Start-ups: Silicon Valley, Bravo’s oft-maligned, Randi Zuckerberg-produced reality showAccording to a recent casting call getting passed around Silicon Alley, they’re looking for locals “who have a full time career and a full time lifestyle!” In a reminder email, #techdrinkup organizer Michael Gold billed the event as “not the night for name tags and demos,” but rather “the night for schmoozing, boozing and good music.”

When the elevator finally whisked us upstairs, the doors opened onto a scene that looked like, well, the set for a Bravo reality show. Tank-top-wearing waitresses slung drinks before a backlit bar; enormous picture windows looked downtown toward the bright lights of Times Square. As we surveyed the crowd, David Bowie’s “Fame” begin to blare over the loudspeaker. Seriously.

Amid the crush we spotted events maestro Gary Sharma, and we met several of the ladies of Appular, including Haley Hammerling and Michelle Lauren Addo, who pointed out the man of the hour: casting director Justin Ruse. 

“We’re finding some really great personalities in Silicon Alley,” he said. Mr. Ruse has worked on projects like Top Chef, but he’s a relative newbie to the New York tech scene. “It’s almost like an underground world.” (Vogue spreads notwithstanding, we suppose.) Then he turned the tables, asking a few probing questions about where we might find potential fameballers. Don’t worry, we didn’t name names–but you know who you are.

We were a bit surprised at Mr. Ruse’s distinct lack of a swarm, but it seemed he was operating a bit under the radar. Upon meeting someone new, he simply said, “I’m in television,” without waving an “Audition For Me” sign.

On the other hand, no one was nakedly angling for a spot either. One man frowned and said asked whether we thought auditioning might be worthwhile. Only NeNe Leakes knows for sure, and she’s too busy posing in piles of diamonds to say.

One contender emerged, in the form of a visibly tipsy woman who shrieked as she greeted Mr. Ruse. After identifying herself as a digital marketer, she complimented this reporter’s skirt and, seeing us give it a downward tug, reached over and tugged it back up. She then attempted to pull it all the way up to our waist, giggling wildly at her own antics.

Half attempting to stop the onslaught, half genuinely curious, we asked this character whether she wanted to go on the show. In response, she flung her head back and forth in an emphatic no.

We thinks the imbiber doth protest too much.

Follow Kelly Faircloth on Twitter or via RSS. kfaircloth@observer.com