Kaitlyn Tiffany & Lizzie Plaugic, New York’s Regular-Degular Party Crashers
The “Famous People” writers on their collection of the column’s greatest parties – from a Winona Ryder-themed backyard soiree to a Brooklyn arm-wrestling competition.
Kaitlyn Tiffany and Lizzie Plaugic aren’t your typical New York City party columnists; they’re not going to club openings or railing ketamine on the dance floor. They're more interested in chasing dogs than clout. And for the past five years, they’ve chronicled parties in their column “Famous People,” which they started on Substack in 2018 and was picked up by the Atlantic in 2022. Now, they’ve released a book culminating in the best of the column: On Nobody Famous: Guesting, Gossiping, Gallivanting, which chronicles their adventures through New York City parties – which includes everything from a Jane Hotel soiree for the literary magazine The Drift to a dinner party where someone attempts Martha Stewart’s “Russian Buffet for Twenty-Four.”
Tiffany and Plaugic are interested in the quieter, stranger parts of parties – in the conversations people have about their pesky commutes or how they feel about Reddit or whether or not overhead lighting is good (Plaugic says yes!), at parties at breweries in East Williamsburg or Prospect Park, or in someone’s backyard. The column captures the idiosyncrasies of regular-degulars living in New York City in a way like HBO’s High Maintenance or How To With John Wilson: not in big bursts of glamor, but in the tiny moments of absurdity.
“We've had the experience somewhat often of thinking that something sounds really weird and therefore that it's going to be really interesting and fun to write about,” Plaugic tells NYLON. “And then it's not. It's actually really boring. And then we have a lot more fun writing about stuff that on the surface would seem like nothing happened.”
“New York is not the third character,” they wrote once on Substack. “Our friend Ashley is.” And though Ashley is a glossy figure often featured, you don’t need to know who Ashley is to appreciate the column; Ashley could be anyone; Ashley could be any of our friends, or you, or me. (Though it’s worth noting that Ashley did have magnets installed inside her fingernails, as an aesthetic choice.)
Mostly, they’re good at capturing the narrative arc of the night – the subway ride there where you have to figure out how to transport a bundt cake, to the relief of having everyone eat the appetizer you brought, to the tipsy Uber home – and every strange detail in between.
NYLON spoke with Tiffany and Plaugic ahead of the book’s release about their favorite parties, that time they accidentally shared an Airbnb with a giant bunny, and about how partying has changed for them throughout the last five years.
On Nobody Famous: Guesting, Gossiping, Gallivanting is out on Atlantic Editions now.
Many people start Substacks and they quickly die out. Obviously you're never going to run out of parties. But what has kept it going?
Lizzie Plaugic: I would say it's because we had no plan and no rules and no structure. We just did whatever we wanted whenever we wanted, so there wasn't a lot of pressure and we weren't making any money on it, which I guess has now slightly changed.
Kaitlyn Tiffany: When we first started it, we did a paid tier, so we were trying to do them really consistently. But then we stopped doing that mostly. I don't remember being like, "Oh, we can't come up with anything to write." But it was mostly because we couldn't figure out how to do the tax forms. I didn't understand how to have a Stripe account that was for two people, or I didn't know if we should have an LLC or something, and that seemed crazy because we were making probably $30 a month.
What were your favorite parties, or which columns do you feel like capture the essence of the project?
KT: I really like the fall trip ones. We have gone on our fall trip together with our friend Ashley every year since the beginning of my memory. Some of them are really good because it's shocking to look back at some of the choices we made. When you envision a fall trip, there's a quite clear image of what that should be for people escaping New York for a weekend: look at the foliage and drink apple cider and stuff. Somehow we would always wait until the last minute to plan it. We went to Stony Brook, Long Island and stayed in this truly bizarrely decorated home that had an enormous white rabbit in the basement with...
LP: ... with red eyes.
KT: ...with red eyes, and the fridge was full. I opened the fridge, and it was literally full from top to bottom with nothing except for huge bags of carrots. It was the rabbit's house. I think the rabbit was the Airbnb host. So those are really fun. And then the ones, too, where we really lean into the concept of, we don't know any famous people, but our friends feel like celebrities to us, so the ones about Jake and Lori. They probably think that we're obsessed with them and we're going to kill them. But the one about their wedding and then the one about their 10-year belated housewarming party, I feel are really good examples of that.
LP: I agree. I was going to say, I always think about one of the early ones. Kaitlyn lives above an art gallery space, though it's never really clear what's going on in there. Once they hosted a birthday party for someone known colloquially as Meme Slut and we decided to crash the party. It may have been open to the public.
KT: We found out about it on Instagram, and I was like, "Why does this party invitation say that the address of the party is my home?"
LP: It was when we first started doing this and we were like, oh, "We're going to go to this weird party hosted by someone named Meme Slut." And we got there and there were four people sitting down in a circle in the back of the room, and it was just uncomfortable and strange. And there was this one person wildly dancing while everyone watched and set the stage for what a not super cool party could look like.
KT: Just goes to show, even if you invite 20,000 people on Instagram to your party, it might be a huge disappointment. It could still crash and burn. I think that also we've had the experience, I think, somewhat often of thinking that something sounds really weird and therefore that it's going to be really interesting and fun to write about, and then it's not. It's actually really boring. And then we have a lot more fun writing about stuff that, on the surface, would seem like nothing happened.
When you're at a party, are you thinking about enjoying it, or taking notes? What kind of details are you on the lookout for?
LP: We do take notes. Sometimes it is odd to be somewhere taking notes. When we went to the amateur arm wrestling practice in Greenpoint, we already stuck out a little bit because most of the crowd was large, sweaty men. Kait and I both had notebooks, and we didn't necessarily seem prepared to arm wrestle, which I guess we weren't. So it can make you stand out. A lot of times we're also just taking notes in our notes apps, in which case, I think it probably just looks like we're being rude and texting. At this point, most people that we know know about the newsletter, so people will be aware that we may be taking notes about what they're saying during a party. In terms of what we're looking for, I don't know. I'm always just looking for people to say weird things so that I can then write it down and write about it later.
KT: I think I end up not using a lot of my notes. I don't say this to be dissing our friends at all, but there's so many conversations that seem so funny while you're having them. And then later I will try to write them in a way that will be so funny to a reader. And it's like this really does not translate at all, especially if it was timing or inflection-dependent. I feel like I usually end up discarding a lot of the things that I write down, or also not remembering what they refer to at all. I wrote down "Mouse operating a Hand Cart" and I was like, “What? I have no memory of what this refers to.”
Lizzie, you said earlier that parties have been slowing down. How do you feel partying changed for you?
LP: This question is going to make me get existential.
KT: The fact that we're getting older is the theme of a lot of them. There was definitely a different tone when I was single.
LP: I don't necessarily know if the things we do have changed so much, because we've never really written about wild nights or anything like that. I guess it's the same in that sense. Maybe the crowds shift a little bit and Kaitlyn gets a boyfriend. But it doesn't feel that different.
KT: What I mean about how being single is it's not like we were ever wild. But there were times in my post-breakup year that I feel like I was pretty manic sounding.
LP: You used to cover certain topics a lot that wouldn't get covered now in The Atlantic.
KT: I guess we're both just more settled in life in general. When we started doing it, we worked at an unnamed tech website and made no money.
LP: I'm still literally always begging for more money. Unfortunately, that's a theme of my life.
KT: I guess it hasn't changed. Maybe “Famous People” is the most consistent thing in my life.
LP: It's the most consistent thing in my life, I think.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.