The writer and raconteur embodied the hip, downtown Manhattan of the 70s. Now she is winning new fans in her friend Martin Scorsese’s documentary series Pretend It’s a City

Almost from the moment she set foot in New York more than 50 years ago, Fran Lebowitz has been part of the city’s social firmament. Like it, she has moved inexorably upmarket since she first made her name as a humorist in the 70s with a column in Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine. Back then, she hung out with the likes of photographer Robert Mapplethorpe and the New York Dolls as well as jazz legends such as Charles Mingus and Duke Ellington. These days, she rubs shoulders with fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg and former Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter, while the late Nobel laureate Toni Morrison was a close friend and confidante.

One person who has remained a constant in her life, though, is the film director Martin Scorsese, who, like her, came of age in a time when the city was tougher, scuzzier and seedier. Until the pandemic put paid to her socialising, Lebowitz would spend every New Year’s Eve with Scorsese and a select few others, watching a classic Hollywood film in his private screening room.

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