Jack Benham

Staff Writer

Have you ever wanted to crash a party? Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn made crashing weddings seem way too easy in their blockbuster movie Wedding Crashers. The dynamic duo simply claimed to be some obscure or fictional relative, and just like that, they were in. Of course they got into every party, as it is Hollywood after all.

Is crashing parties as easy as it seems in Wedding Crashers? For Kevin Roose, it really was that easy. His article “One-Percent Jokes and Plutocrats in Drag: What I Saw When I Crashed a Wall Street Secret Society”reveals that crashing parties, especially those held by a secret society, may not be that difficult after all.

In January 2012, Roose decided to do some research for a book he was writing entitled “Young Money”about young men working on Wall Street. His investigation entailed crashing a Kappa Beta Phi fraternity party at the St. Regis Hotel in Manhattan. Kappa Beta Phi is comprised of the ultra-wealthy movers and shakers of Wall Street and the upper echelons of New York City politics.

Roose learned of this secretive brotherhood through the grapevine of New York City gossip and somehow discovered that they were hosting a party at the St. Regis on a specific night. Roose smartly disguised himself in the dress code of the evening: a black tuxedo. Once inside the hotel, all that stood between him and the reveling fraternity brothers was a sign-in desk, which was certainly a tricky obstacle.

But Roose remarks that: “[G]etting in was shockingly easy — a brisk walk past the sign in desk, and [he] was inside the cocktail hour.”

In the ballroom, Roose immediately recognized that he “was a good 20 years younger than any other attendee”. Concerned that his disguise might have been blown, Roose went and “slouched against a far wall of the room, and pretended to tap out emails on [his] phone.”The disguised worked. No attendees questioned him and in fact, they generally left him alone.

The evening proceeded with a lavish dinner of a rack of lamb and some weird and disturbing “comedic”acts performed by Kappa Beta Phi’s neophytes. Roose’s comments on these performances are the focus of the article.

He describes these ludicrous and off-color skits in a blunt tone as if giving a monotone play-by-play of a sporting event. He denounces a joke made by Paul Quelly and Ted Virtue, two private equity “bigwigs”, as “unfunny and sexist”and then scolds another joke, calling it “unfunny and homophobic”.

Clearly, Roose is not amused, and he wants to make that clear. He distances himself from what he perceives as sick and distasteful humor by recording the rest of these acts in this objective[RG1] , play-by-play manner. To him, the performances speak for themselves. They are embarrassing and disturbing enough that they do not require any additional scolding. Feeling that the absurdity of a parody of The Book of Mormons hit song “I Believe”warranted visual documentation, he took out his cell phoned and attempted to record the performance on video. He writes that this was the “[w]rong move”.

A brother at his table immediately confronted him about this action and questioned his identity. Roose exposed himself as a reporter, and then the brothers promptly escorted him out to the party and hotel.

His frank and scolding tone seethes through his sarcasm as he writes that the two brothers who escorted him outside try to reason with him “that what [he’d] just seen really wasn’t a gourd of wealthy and powerful financiers making homophobic jokes, making light of the financial crisis, and bragging about their business conquests at Main Street’s expense. No, it was just a group of friends who came together to roast each other in a benign and self-deprecating manner. Nothing to see here.”

He concludes the article in his post-party crashing reflections he had while walking “through the streets of midtown in [his] ill-fitting tuxedo.”Roose realizes the disconnect between these men and the impact of their actions on millions of Americans that leads them to joke and laugh about “real harm…in the form of foreclosures, wrecked 401(k)s, and a devastating unemployment crisis.”

Roose decides that these incredibly powerful and wealthy men must gather in secret to share their true feelings about the financial world and American society. In other words, they need a special place to talk to each other because nobody else, including Roose, understands them. Roose finishes the article in a slightly smug mindset, partially because he infiltrated a super secret society’s super secret party and primarily because he “caused them to throw a mass temper tantrum”.

[RG1]are his judgments objective?

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