Waiting in the lobby of the Midtown East home of the interior designer wet dream penthouse apartment of John and Andrea Stark, we heard the bellhop turn to one of our companions waiting in line for the elevator.
“You’re the Hulk, aren’t you??!” The young man asked feverishly, as if hoping that the actor in our midst would suddenly turn green and start screaming in nouns and verbs.
“Yes, Mark Ruffalo, nice to meet you,” he said. The elevator doors opened, and the anti-hydrofracking advocate attempted to enter, as we were already running a little late to an event for The Common Good, Patricia Duff‘s non-profit public advocacy group.
The bellhop stepped in front of the open door, barring entrance. “Hey, can I get a picture?” He asked, breaking really the only rule of being a good hotel employee.
The door almost dinged shut, but we grabbed it with our hands. Mr. Ruffalo looked slightly pained, but put on his game face. “Sure!” he said, while one of his people snapped a picture.
“Okay, up we go! Can’t keep the ladies waiting!” The Hulk took a dapper step into the elevator and winked at us.
Upstairs at the rug mogul’s lavish two-story condo, we grabbed a Grey Goose and introduced ourselves to Ms. Stark, who didn’t seem at all worried that her guests might spill canapes on the floor. Ms. Duff, wearing a stunning red ensemble, confidently introducing guests to Mr. Ruffalo before a short presentation up on the deck. Among those in attendance were philanthropist Elaine Sargent, lawyer Jonathan Goldberg, mystery writer Harper Dimmerman, tea guru Tracy Stern, fashion writer Michele Gerber Klein, plastic surgeon Dr. Stephen Greenberg, artist Jenna Lash, actress Cassandra Seidenfeld, Dr. Robert Grant, actor Franco Porporino Jr. and Bar Candy’s Erica Lancellotti.
Fashionista Jean Shafiroff, fresh off her stint as a tastemaker on Ike Ude‘s the Chic Index, was also in attendance. Over by the entrance, the parents of Buzzfeed’s John Steinberg were talking about their son’s culture site.
“Maybe I’m biased, but it’s my homepage on the Internet,” said the proud father. “It’s just a great source of political information.”
“You should tried to get a job there,” his mother stage-whispered to us. “You know they just hired someone from New York Magazine!”
Producer Austin Stark strode in around 7:30.
“What are you doing here?” we asked. We hadn’t seen Mr. Stark since the premiere of his latest feature, Detachment.
“Um, this is my parents’ house,” he told us. Oh: Stark, Stark. That made sense. We were waiting to run into Tony Stark at the bar. (It would fit with The Avengers theme of the evening.)
Ms. Duff reintroduced us to Mr. Ruffalo. “We met on the elevator,” he replied drolly.
Seeing if we could actually make Hulk smash, we asked Mr. Ruffalo about his current work opposing hydrolic fracturing.
“At first I believed what people said, that it was going to save us from our dependance on coal, that it was going to be clean energy,” Mr. Ruffalo told us. “But then my family moved upstate, where they are actually poisoning the drinking water with all the carcinogens. You can’t drink the tap water where we are. And all this toxic water has to go somewhere. It’s filled with carbon dioxide, it’s just poison sediment leaking into the water. Do you know that soon there will only be 2.5 million liters of clean water left in the world? All our wars are going to be over drinkable water. And it’s going to be found on the coasts; at the Finger Lakes and the Hudson. And we’re depleting it! We’re speeding up the process of running out of water!”
By this point, Mr. Ruffalo was almost yelling.
“You might want to save your voice for the speeches,” one of the guests said gently. Literary agent Karen Zahler told him he should be writing a book.
“Right, but when am I going to find the time?”
As if on cue, the actor was whisked away upstairs to speak to the crowd. One thing can be said about Mr. Ruffalo: he is much more articulate about his chosen cause in person than he was on The Colbert Report.
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