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18 Oct '16


Posted by K. Cooper Ray

I am nearly finished with the book and ready to release. Just a bit longer, but here's a juicy excerpt from Chapter 13 to whet your appetite. You can catch up on the long and tortured journey of the life of this long-awaited novel HEREEnjoy! Cordially, Cooper





Judge leaned against the sink in his kitchen, waiting for the car to fetch him. He finished his shot of confidence and set the glass down next to the near empty tequila bottle. He wondered if he should eat something. When was the last time I ate? Lunch with Scarlet?

Scarlet had been a quiet revelation for him. He walked away from the interview unsure of his impression. She was beautiful, absolutely. Was she smart? He couldn’t decide. He was impressed with her Goulue research, but after that presentation she retreated back into southern belle platitudes, which was as carefully a crafted act as any he’d encountered. Judge never revealed his Alabama roots to her, effortless because he had learned long ago to suppress his accent. He allowed himself to be lulled into chivalrous romanticism on the trill of her song. She regaled him with visions of New Orleans society and Mardi Gras balls and he felt like he could fall in love with her. Judge held New Orleans in a special place, as did most southerners. There was a land of voodoo magic and Mardi Gras Indians, sultry jazz and foot-stomping zydeco, mystical dreams and literary muse. Tennessee walked those streets. Capote was born there. Judge dreamed of moving there one day, maybe soon. He’d been there for many a New Year’s Eve and Sugar Bowl football games, but his New Orleans experiences were limited to collegial drunken jags on Bourbon Street. New Orleans society and Mardi Gras seemed as exotic to him as a Sultan’s court, or a page out of Gone with the Wind.

Scarlet did make a few missteps. Her questions were unguarded, her ambition a little transparent. But, he thought, fuck it. She’s pretty, she’s charming and she obviously has money. I’m going to let her in. And with that, he’d begun the article, written in a haze of southern romanticism, moonlight and magnolias. He created an idealized dream of little miss Scarlet Goodman and posited her on the antebellum pedestal of divine womanhood, a hackneyed and historically misogynistic angle he was aware, but good enough to please Jet Set’s readers and his editor. It was a done deal.

He pressed, once again, into his dinner jacket. He swallowed his tequila snort, only now it was taken for tolerance, not courage. He pulled a black cashmere scarf around his neck to push away the cold. This was all the protection he would need as his hired driver would deliver him door to door tonight and a winter coat would only weigh him down. Judge was aware of a new belief that waiting in a coat check line was beneath him.

His first stop would be the Metropolitan Club for the Save Venice Gala. Judge entered the cavernous room of orchestra sounds and cocktail chatter and was dwarfed and deflated. His first impression was depressing. He unwittingly approached a group of women he didn’t know or care to, the result of entering a party solo, he was unprotected before the lionesses. This pride were blown out blondes with Palm Beach hides wearing dresses so revealing, he had one word at the front of his brain. Hooker. What is it with these middle-aged women and their cleavage he wondered? After his afternoon with Scarlet, he had journeyed to a place of Old South splendor only to be assaulted with big hair and wrinkled, pushed-up tits.

“Hello, Judge. I’m Buffy Harrell and this is Serenity Johnson. We’re friends of Carina’s from Palm Beach. We just loved your story on the Coconut party.”

Judge couldn’t take his eyes off the bugle bead-accented pumped-up breasts, until, like a bass catching a glint on the lure, he was drawn to the flash on their fingers. Each woman wore a diamond so large, it nearly covered two knuckles. Hands posed on protruding wrists, splayed fingers rocked slowly like tiny boats. The stones sought the light and flashed each woman’s worth. They pointed the rocks at each other, weapons of the duel. These displays were not for him or for any man for that matter. He was an innocent bystander caught in the cross fire. Women whose husbands paid them little attention retaliated with Uzi diamonds, shooting each other to reclaim small dignities. He now knew why they were standing there on the outside of the throng. They had moved into position under a direct beam of light falling from the fifty foot ceiling onto their crude theater of diamonds and breasts. This was pure display of their most treasured assets. He was amused now as the tequila warmed him inside and his eyes followed the dance of assets.

Mrs. Newton appeared abruptly between two pairs and kissed him on the cheek, bumping the burlesque aside.

“Judge, you’re late! Victoria warned me that you arrive late and depart early, so I forgive you. Come let me introduce you to a dignitary or two and then you’ll be free. Are you heading directly to Victoria’s dinner at Doubles?”

“Well, good evening Mrs. Newton,” he said as he snapped into character. “You look absolutely ravishing this evening.”

“Oh you flatter,” and she pulled him away toward some Venetian royalty. He hadn’t even found the bar.

“Welcome to Save Venice, Mr. Mender,” the organizer said and launched into the group’s latest philanthropic pose.

Fuck Venice, he thought. I’m out of here.

Judge excused himself from further introductions and elucidation and headed for the door. He looked up and saw Scarlet and her escort walking in. Judge felt a shade overwhelmed as he took in the grandeur of her entrance. She wore a long black Valentino gown in a clingy fabric draped across the front. It had a gracefully draped neckline that asymmetrically showcased her milk-white shoulders. Judge made quick inventory and noted that none of the junior set were at this party. Even Victoria was hosting a rival dinner next door and her mother was the host of this thing. It struck him as very odd that unconnected Scarlet would be at this party.

“Hello, Gorgeous.”

“Hello Judge! What a gorgeous room!” Her blues blinked up the walls soaking in the splendor. “This is Harrison Jackson.”

“Nice to meet you.”

“A pleasure,” Judge said distracted.

“Are you leaving?” Scarlet said as confusion wrinkled her forehead.

“Yes, I’m running over to Victoria’s dinner. Aren’t you coming to that?”

“Uh, why no, I thought everyone would be here? Victoria is having a dinner? Now?”

“Yeah, she’s over at Doubles. I’m headed over there. In fact, I’m very late. I’ll see you later. Nice to meet you Harrison.”

Scarlet stared after Judge, shook it off and walked confidently into Save Venice where she soon realized that she did not know a soul.

Judge strolled out of the Metropolitan Club on Sixtieth Street confused as well. Why would Scarlet go to Save Venice instead of Victoria’s dinner? It was a very strange party choice. None of the juniors went to that event. Judge only went as a favor to Victoria’s mom and to mention it for the column as a thank you for his stay at her house. He’d only stayed long enough to say hello to Mrs. Newton and some board members. The juniors had their own version later in the spring, Young Friends of Save Venice. Very strange that Scarlet would go to that party. Maybe she really loves Venice, he mused.

He walked the half block down Fifth to the Sherry Netherland Hotel. Victoria Newton had put together a casual dinner dance at Doubles, the private club in the hotel’s basement. He descended the red stairs – those stairs! It looks as if you’re about to be transported through time to a speakeasy bordello, he mused. The reality couldn’t be further from the impression. These red stairs went straight to the heart of WASP Manhattan. He was greeted at the desk by an attendant seated before a table of tiny envelopes with names he did not recognize. He was almost surprised to find his own and quickly put the little cream card in his pocket. He walked directly to the bar to order a double scotch. Doubles is a private club of the oh so WASP variety, and alcohol lubed the room. Judge had been to enough parties at Doubles to know not to enter the dependably all WASP stiffness until he was at least two insurance drinks into a good time.

This was Victoria’s real stamping ground, he thought. These were her school chums and neighborhood buds from Newport and Palm Beach. And it was high contrast to the beaded breast and diamond show at the Metropolitan Club. These girls were blond and prim and pearled. They wore little ribbons in their hair and held their mouths in little purses. They talked confidently in pinched accents and danced stiffly with bland boys with slicked back hair in navy business suits and moneyed futures. These were the children of the first party and they were in reverse roles of their less inhibited parentage.

Victoria spotted him as he entered the dining room and waited for him to cross to her. She had been chilly since he’d called about Scarlet, but he would not discuss it with her tonight. He figured since he showed at this dinner dance, this was allowance enough. He approached her on the outside of the band of Buffies and bowed slightly when she noticed him.

“Good evening, Mr. Mender,” she said with plastic formality. “So glad you could join us this evening. Did you pick up your seat card?”

“Yes, thank you. What a nice gathering you’ve assembled on this chilly night.” He responded with equal aloof.

“Well who wants to sit home on a Tuesday night? Please, enjoy yourself.” She turned her back to him and walked away.

Hmm, Judge thought. She’s a cold fish tonight. What the hell is going on? He walked toward the center table, assuming he would be seated next to Victoria but did not see his name. He walked around the room confused, a little lost. He pulled the envelope from his pocket and pulled out the card from the envelope. Number 32.

“Judge! Hello!” Sally Banning was at his side. “You’re at my table! Victoria was so kind to give you up. We’re in the back corner. I’ve been so busy with the Frick I haven’t seen anyone lately. You will be in town, I hope.”

Judge looked in the direction of her finger toward the furthest table from the dance floor – Siberia – and inventoried the drips already seated staring blankly into space. Well, that confirms it. His first thought was to walk out. Show her. But he chickened out and followed Sally to Table 32. If he’d gotten there earlier, he could have done the unthinkable and switch his seat. He shook hands all around with puffy young men who looked prematurely jowly in their banker suits and chubby women in pastel sweater sets and pearls and headbands. These were the types of people so far removed from the Jet Set crowd that he didn’t recognize a single face or name. And they had no idea who Judge Mender was.

“Everyone, this is Judge Mender,” Sally Banning boomed. “Judge, this is my book club from Rumson.”

Judge nodded as she introduced each of them, but did not recall one of their names. He took his seat next to Sally and nodded hello to the Buffy at his right. He looked at her place card. Constance something.

“Hello, Judge. That’s an interesting nickname. Where are you from?” Constance asked.

“Originally from Montgomery,” he said. He had no desire to explain where Ophelia was. He sunk lower in his chair and realized he was about to have to practice the fine art of small talk with someone he had zero interest in. He glanced toward the dance floor and Victoria’s table. She nodded at him and smiled stiffly.

“I was named after my grandfather who was chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. I’ve been called Judge since I was born.”

“Isn’t that fascinating,” Constance said. “And you’re a lawyer?”

“A lawyer?” Judge laughed abruptly.

“Yes. Aren’t you following your grandfather’s path?”

“Uh, no. I’m a journalist.”

“Oh. For whom do you write? The Journal? The Times?”

“Uh, no. I write for Jet Set Magazine.”

“Oh,” she said deflated and embarrassed for him. “I’m afraid I don’t read that.”

Judge looked at her and felt a shade of her embarrassment at how suddenly lacking his place of employment had paled in comparison to her expectations of serious journalism. Fuck it, he thought. What do I care what this chick thinks.

“I write a column called Seen.”

“How nice,” she said in the Yankee equivalent of the southern “Bless your heart”. A condescending dismissal if he ever heard one. She shifted in her chair and withdrew from the conversation. Judge didn’t mind. He let her go. He turned back to his left for redemption but Sally was engaged with the fellow on her left. He looked up to find everyone at the table engaged in conversation, other conversations. He was socially stranded. He looked around the room. These were Victoria’s people, he thought. She had only recently begun to circulate in the Jet Set crowd, but she was the grand dame of this group. Old wasp money, old rules, old clubs. He had a crystal realization. She’s as new to the Jet Set world as I am, or Scarlet. She is making her stride just like the rest of them. He looked back at his table mates. They were still engaged. Outrageous! He laughed to himself. At no other table in this city would he be so completely ignored. Hell, even at Save Venice he would’ve been fawned over. Maybe I should head back there for dinner. He thought Constance had turned to him, but she merely reached for her water glass. He looked at her place card again. Constance Peters. Peters! Is she related to Chase? He looked up and over at Victoria again. She raised her glass and winked. What a bitch! He resolved to make the most of it. I can talk to these people. He dusted off his small talk arsenal and gently tapped Constance’s arm. She turned stiffly in his direction.

“So what is your club reading, Constance? I find book club dissection to be the best way to really get at the meat of the matter. Don’t you agree?”



18 Jul '16


Posted by K. Cooper Ray




Fitch’s Corner, an equestrian event that brings as much authenticity to the sport of horses as it does to butterflies of the social whirl, is this weekend in Millbrook, New York. Horse lovers of all breeds will gather once again on the farm of former Tiffany’s & CO VP Fernanda Kellogg to partake in a uniquely American pastime. And what better venue to introduce the latest American brand in menswear HOPPER by Marin Hopper, the daughter of American original Dennis Hopper. Karen Klopp of What2WearWhere & K. Cooper Ray will host a curated POP SHOP at the Fitch’s Market over the weekend. Cooper has invited Brackish Bow Ties – the hand-made feathered brand favored by Bill Murray – to represent his home base of Charleston, South Carolina.



Fitch's Corner Horse Trials | July 23 & 24, 2016  Millbrook, NY TICKETS HERE

The 2016 Fitch’s Corner Horse Trials mark the 23rd Anniversary of a country weekend and horse competition, which competitors, enthusiasts, and the who’s who of Dutchess County simply don't miss. The elegant setting, challenging courses, and wide array of associated activities attracts both amateur and Olympic competitors. Fitch’s Market offers more than 50 exhibitors selling items from fashions to home and accessories for horse and hound. Fitch’s Food Court presents healthy and hearty fare in between the social events which include: the Blue Jean Ball Saturday night and the Spectator Luncheon, benefiting the Millbrook Fire Department and Rescue Squad on Sunday and featuring a Collector Car Show and Parade.

HOPPER Goods – HOPPER is a new menswear and accessories brand inspired by the life and spirit of Dennis Hopper, a photographer and a filmmaker, an artist and an actor. A lightning rod to half a century of pop culture who used his lens to document the high and low of world ‘on fire with change.”


Brackish Bow ties – The toast of Charleston, these hand-crafted bow ties are individual works of art that a man can wear! Every tie is handcrafted locally in South Carolina. And because every single feather is hand selected, no two Brackish bow ties are exactly alike. Every tie is a sustainable work of art. “We have put painstaking effort into our products and pride ourselves on genuine, intricate detail not found in mass production.” The artisanal brand held close to the hearts of southern gentlemen found itself in the glare of international spotlight when acclaimed actor (and local man about town) Bill Murray sported Brackish as the Academy Awards.


Saturday   Fitch's Market Open 10 AM until 8 PM

Noon:          K. Cooper Ray Book Signing and Reading

6:00  pm:    Cooper Ray & Karen Klopp book Signing

8:00 PM      Blue Jean Ball

SUNDAY:  Market Open  10am to 4pm

Noon        Spectator Luncheon

12 Jul '16


Posted by K. Cooper Ray

Last Night at Moomba was a story -- is a story --  I had to write. It marked my progress from an earnest Creative Writing student yearning to be the next great American writer to a writer comfortable enough in his skin to write with confidence. You see, until the writing of this novel I suffered from the writer’s pretension that unless it was great, it shouldn’t be written. In those student days I also only read classics, telling myself (and unbelievably others) that I did not want to be influenced by any other writer’s style. We all began at the same starting line – I pompously believed -- immersed in the classics and only through divine inspiration (and perspiration) could we break through our culture and experiences to find our own voice. Yes, it’s pretentious as hell. This was the time when I was deep in academia, attending the Sewanee Writers' Conference, applying to Masters’ programs and living a writer’s life. Don’t get me wrong. I loved, still love, that life. Surrounded by writers, joyfully sitting through countless readings, rubbing shoulders with greats, attending workshops. Living, breathing, eating, blissfully enraptured with all consuming words. Would I be a playwright (like Tennessee) or a poet (like Uncle Walt)? Would I write a collection of short stories or embark on a novel? Would I seek refuge in a university, studying, and teaching? This was my young-artist living dream. As it is with most serious writers, I imagine. “Have you been to Bread Loaf?” “Oh, yes, but Sewanee is so much better now”. And on and on we talked under the Banyan Tree at Benedict Hall on the mountain all while consuming copious amounts of liquor and trekking to the grave of Alan Tate. What fulfilling times those were. I count them as some of my best.

Then something happened that surely comes as no surprise. I returned to Manhattan through a whirlwind of opportunity and found myself in the epicenter of High Society. Suffice to say there is a huge story in between those sentences but I’ll save that for the autobiography. You will definitely come close to my experience of those heady days reading Last Night at Moomba as it is part Roman a clef, part historical fiction, part romantic illusions and nostalgic reminiscences. It was during this time I began writing what would become Moomba. The working title was An Extra Man for obvious reasons. I was, and very much am still, an extra man called upon to fill any table, outing,  party, what have you, with joie de vivre, a quick wit, ample connections and of course, devastating style. I used to add good looks (the photo is of me during those Moomba days) and sex appeal, but alas, with time, you settle for good hair and a whipped waist. Oh the days. The days – and more so the nights -- were glorious.

But as my good friend Jen Slocumb of Martha's Trouble wrote and sings, "When the night ended I was alone." Listen to this song about when I left Manhattan after September 11, 2001 to return to Alabama and in particular, Waverly. It always makes me cry.  So naturally I had to write about it.  The outpouring of the bulk of the book happened while living in Laurel Canyon (that’s the famous Hollywood Hills you hear so much about). I was living with my great friend Kevin West and we decided not to return home to our beloved South (his; South Carolina. Mine; Alabama) and stay on in LA and take advantage of the post-Christmas depression and lock ourselves up for a writing boot camp. And that we did. It also happened to coincide with the worst torrential rain Los Angeles had experienced in over a hundred years. We often looked up from our writing to see if the house would slide with the mud down the mountain. It was an ideal setting and the words flowed. I found myself in the grip of a maniacal writing surge sitting over my keyboard for 6, 8, 10, 12 up to 14 hours a day writing, writing, writing. It was the greatest time of my life. And one I hope to experience again. My body ached, my stomach churned from a steady diet of scotch and cigarettes but I lived! And wrote.

Soon after, I sent the manuscript off to several agents and took the summer off to Cape Cod. Provincetown, to be precise and found myself again. Arriving on that spit of sand with a broken spirit (if not wing) I discovered the good side of gay in that glorious summer. More on that time in the autobiography or perhaps it will make itself known another way, but not today. I received an email from none other than the hot new agent at William Morris wanting to meet me right away and could I come down to Manhattan for a meeting. Oh high hopes they do intoxicate. After a long series of disappointments and near misses let’s just say, well, the novel did not sell. I shelved it, shopped for a new agent, it was acquired by an executive at Warner Brothers television then dropped for a similar project which never made it to air either. I finally pulled the book out of the ether and started working on the blog and book that would become Social Primer and have been riding that wave to this day.

Along the way, I pulled the trigger and published the book on demand. As the covers above will attest, I was always fiddling with the story. I still may not be done with it entirely, but here is what is about to happen. I have pulled the editions that have floated around the internet like flotsam and am poised to release the original manuscript from those creative Laurel Canyon days with minimal edit and minor intro prologue. Perhaps this post is that piece. All to say, the versions that are out there are not the original. They have been edited to please others. The book I will release soon is the unadulterated, uncompromised, replete with dirty (well, naughty) scenes, language and thoughts intact. And it’s the best one.

So. If you have one of those others you will LOVE the one to come. And you might be surprised to know I have restored the protagonist’s name to its original, Judge, not Jake. Judge is the name of a family friend I borrowed for the story and changed when I felt uncomfortable using it. But now, with a clear disclaimer that any resemblance to persons living or dead is strictly coincidental, I am charging ahead. I identify so deeply with my greatest character Judge that it felt like someone else when I changed his name to Jake. Judge is back. In all his glory. And you’re going to love him too. Or at least love to hate him. So into the breach we go! Onward.


Here’s a peak at what is new, an index if you will, of the book to follow.


Act One:        The Players

Chapter 1       Judge Mender’s Call of Duty

Chapter 2       Victoria Newton Stokes

Chapter 3       Maxwell Jones Gloats

Chapter 4       Scarlet Goodman Floats

Chapter 5       Scarlet & Harrison Discovery

Chapter 6       Jet Set Exposed

Chapter 7       Scarlet Rises, Victoria Reigns

Chapter 8       Lucy Shining & The Wonder Ball


Act Two:        Rise & Fall    

Chapter 9   Buddy Russ & Lucinda Walker

Chapter 10 Caleb Returns, Maxwell’s Miami

Chapter 11 Shining Achievement

Chapter 12 The Scarlet Lamb

Chapter 13 La Goulue, Save Venice, Doubles Entendre

Chapter 14 Young Fellows Frick & Victoria’s Frost

Chapter 15 The Photo

Chapter 16 Recklessness & Reckoning

Chapter 17 The Season’s It Girls

Chapter 18 The Walkers Take Manhattan

Chapter 19 The List


Act Three       Season in the Sun

Chapter 20 Into the Shining

Chapter 21 The Announcement

Chapter 22 A Flea Market Affair

Chapter 23 Last Night at Moomba

Chapter 24 The Photo Reveals

Chapter 25 Myths & Muses at NYC Ballet Gala


Last Night at Moomba on Amazon


20 Apr '16


Posted by K. Cooper Ray

I announced last year that I was suspending the bow tie business. The work was exhausting and had taken me far away from the thing I enjoy most, and that is designing. Well, a year has passed, but  the desire to create interesting bows has not been on hiatus. I’ve found myself collecting fabrics, tinkering with patterns and simply realized that I am not done with bow ties. This spring I opened my annual pop up shop inside The Hidden Countship an Italian boutique for fine living operated by my friends Count and Countess della Porta. They are lovely people with exquisite taste and have provided a remarkable inspiring little spot in downtown Charleston to work. I have my sewing machine upstairs and have found myself staying very late at night hunched over the contraption.

I am not a good sewing person. I can run the machine and make something come to life, but in my previous incarnations as a designer I always handed off the real work of sewing to the masters. I am not taking that route this time. I am sewing up these bows myself and since I do not suffer from nostalgia, I am selling them off. I’m calling this the Burns Lane Collection as I have been very inspired here at the Countship and have a collection of fabrics I would like to play with.  I am starting with this incredible printed Crewell I bought a while back intending to use it for a blazer collection that never came to fruition. The name of the print is Carolina Crewell. Need I say more? I am excited to share this new project with you. I will begin with various combinations of the Crewell, and I will certainly dally in white cotton pique for formal and informal ties. This time the play should be fun.


Play is a good word for the finished product, if you can call it finished, because it is not perfect. It is in fact far from it. You can see that I do not sew a straight line.  An apt metaphor for my life and style perhaps, but not particularly appreciated in a bow tie. But I think they are interesting and thought some of you would too. Since I have no idea what to charge for these crooked little creations, I have decided to list them on Ebay  and let you decide what it is worth.


I will say the pieces in this collection will certainly be one-of-a-kind. Ha. And they do have the Social Primer label. They are one size, no hardware. This first one is a small. Small will fit 14-16” neck size. I will make more soon. Medium will fit 15-16.5”. Large will fit 15.5 to 17”.

BID HERE Stay tuned.



05 Apr '16


Posted by K. Cooper Ray

Well, I couldn’t stand it anymore. I had to whip up a bow tie. I found these very light fabrics and dusted off the old sewing machine. I set out to experiment with something new. No hardware, easy to sew and wear. The result is here. I’m calling this little beaut Burns Lane. I’ve moved into my new little pop up shop for the Spring and boy howdy, am I inspired. I am making these myself, for now. So if you like, you’ll have to be patient. I’ll be adding more styles daily so be sure to check in. Who knows how long this will go or how fast  my sewing fingers will tire. Or, more likely, my attention turns elsewhere. But for now let’s just celebrate the birth of a new bow. Onward!


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