A Steven Saban Story
So back when he was working for the Soho News (before most of you were born), Steven was doing exactly what every mother tells their son not to do: He was guilty of HORSEPLAY. He had bummed a piggyback ride from a friend (legend has that it was Joey Arias, never one to be relied on for such masculine endeavors, Joey was more skilled at the fine art of nipple-pinching, something he did to strangers with giddy abandon) one fateful late night (it was questionable whether alcohol was involved), and somehow he fell off said friend, breaking his hip of all things.
He was rushed to St Vincent’s hospital in NYC, where he had a nice comfy bed in a starkly blank room with an ominously large cross of Jesus hanging over his head.
Cookie Meuller had to write his column that week, going into wonderfully graphic detail of the entire ordeal.
So me, being this enamored high-school student (I went to this pathetic institution called City-As-School, or ‘city-as’ for short), I paid him a visit, and in my complete insecurity that I should be in the presence of such a venerable demigod journalist of nightlife, I affected a British accent. (I carried on that way with him for at least a year.) The first thing he said to me was, “Aren’t you sweet to come visit me!” Keep in mind I was a total stranger, all of 17 years old. Take that as you will.
So now I’m visiting him once a week in the hospital, and I’m completely humbled, because all these infamous literary figures and nocturnal ne’er-do-wells are strolling through to visit him in his invalid state, and he’s introducing me as “my new friend Ross.” Can you imagine how unbelievably flattered I was?
Anyway, so we’d been aquaintances for a few years there, we’d see each other everywhere because I was this bratty club denizen, and after the Soho News went down in a gloriously flaming financial catastrophe, he started Details magazine, (to this day still the singularly transcendent periodical to ever be published in NYC, back issues selling for unheard-of sums on eBay), and every so often I’d visit him in his apartment on Houston Street…. and then I somehow lost contact with him.
Until I found this website. I wondered where he’d gone. STEVEN, YOU’VE GONE GRAY! (and you look good too!)
Anyway, can you do me a huge favor and forward this to him? Tell him it’s Ross, and I miss him alot!!! I really appreciate it! Thanks!!
[Ed. reply, speaking uncharacteristically in the first person: Well, I’ll be damned, Ross! You old, much-younger friend. How nice to hear from you. Now, I feel I must set the record straight about certain details of my hip break, before careless memories turn into fact. (When James St. James tells the story, he has it that I slipped on a pork sandwich.) OK, I was not piggybacking. I was hoisted onto the shoulders of Joey and his boyfriend Charlie against my will as a bunch of us were leaving an art gallery one afternoon, not late at night. I had not been drinking, though I can’t vouch for the others. I didn’t fall, I was dropped by Joey, who’d tripped, and then I was fallen onto by Charlie, my acetabulum bearing the brunt of his 6’4″ weight. That “starkly blank room” at St Vincent’s was actually a ward with nine other men. It was Mudd Club legend Marilyn who wrote my column for me, not Cookie Mueller, though Cookie was one of my hospital visitors. And damn, Ross, that was a convincing British accent. And one last thing: It’s Stephen, not Steven. Let’s keep in touch.]
Photo of Saban with Cynthia Heimel and Carole Goldberg by Allan Tannenbaum