- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 16, 2006

NEW YORK

One of the promotional blurbs on the back of the recently published anthology of columnist Seema Boesky’s work says her offerings “have made thousands of readers smile, scratch their

heads and wonder.”

Indeed. Wonder things like: How fabulous is it to be obscenely rich? What do you talk about over sirloin and champagne when your 7-pound Maltese terrier has impregnated a Bijon? What do you do when geese overrun your own personal orchard?

And, seriously, how fabulous is it to be obscenely rich?

These and other answers to life’s pressing questions — but mostly the one about being rich — can be found in the oeuvre of Mrs. Boesky, a columnist for the monthly Westchester Wag magazine, in suburban Westchester County north of New York.

If the name Boesky sounds familiar, it should: She is the ex-wife of Ivan Boesky, the notorious Wall Street figure who became a household name in the 1980s after paying $100 million to settle insider-trading charges and serving two years in prison.

Mrs. Boesky’s latest meditation, from the April issue, explores the importance of … closets. Lots of them, and big ones. Enough to store luggage, Christmas ornaments, summer and winter wardrobes, friends’ belongings and years of clothes she has never used.

“Yep,” she concludes, “for this you really need to be rich!”

But wait, there’s more: We learn in this latest musing that being rich also gets you easy access to plastic surgery, which — to follow her logic — gets you police escorts through crowds, plus a way out of speeding tickets.

And when the body finally goes, there will still be the money. The takeaway, quoting again: “What a blessing to be rich!”

The column is called “Seema Says,” as is the book, which features selected gems from the magazine column dating back to 1999. The magazine itself caters to the “accomplished and affluent” in Westchester and nearby Greenwich, Conn., says its publisher, Mary Ann Liebert.

Miss Liebert, in a foreword, calls Mrs. Boesky a latter-day Scheherazade, referring to the fabled virgin who staved off execution at the hands of a ruthless king by telling him spellbinding stories, and eventually became his queen.

Reading Mrs. Boesky’s columns — reading just one, actually — raises a few interesting questions. Interesting, troubling, envy- and rage-inspiring questions. The first of which, in a recent phone interview, is obvious:

Aren’t you worried people are going to hate you for writing this stuff?

Answer: No.

“All my life I’ve been received with open arms,” she says. “I think people with money oftentimes get kind of a bad rap. Aside from the zeros in my bank account, I don’t see myself as different from anyone else.”

There is, in fairness, a certain admirable frankness about Mrs. Boesky’s columns. For example, she is utterly unabashed in her embrace of plastic surgery, specifically as a way to renew one’s self-confidence.

“Seema Says” that Botox and collagen injections may work, but also may send you back for more in short order. Laser surgery is good for small veins on the face, but not the legs. And face-lifts are well worth it “if you have $20,000 or so lying around.”

“I’m really comfortable in my own skin,” she says in the interview, with no apparent irony. “I view whatever cosmetic surgery I’ve done no differently than the woman who puts on lipstick or buys high heels.”

Fair enough. And for all the easy snark the column inspires, Mrs. Boesky’s publisher says her readers — those accomplished, affluent readers — eat it up and can’t wait to meet the 67-year-old columnist.

“They love it,” Miss Liebert says. “They are amazed that she would say these kinds of things.”

Ivan and Seema Boesky divorced in 1993 after being married for 30 years. It was a messy divorce, and Mr. Boesky surrendered his Westchester mansion and a Park Avenue penthouse to his ex-wife.

At the time, Mrs. Boesky was worth $100 million. He said he had made her “rich beyond her wildest imaginings.” She said she had earned her money legally, much of it from the sale of her family’s landmark Beverly Hills Hotel.

Today the pair are on good terms, Mrs. Boesky says, because they make far better friends than they made spouses. She says she is a firm believer in not letting negative energy “eat me up alive.”

As for the mansion: With the husband out and the children grown and gone, Mrs. Boesky offered, in a 2003 column, a walk through her remodeling project.

One bedroom became a closet — the better to store all those purses and shoes. Another became an office. Another became a conference room, complete with fridge and dishwasher. Another became a media room, now housing a 57-inch television.

And, again in fairness, Mrs. Boesky talks openly about her considerable devotion to charity. She says she now pays regular visits to a 95-year-old friend in a nursing home in what she calls a “Tuesdays with Morrie”-esque lesson on how to “exit with grace.”

It is, frankly, difficult not to like her.

“I’m always personally looking for self-improvement and looking to give my life meaning,” she says, “and I know that what makes me feel good is making the little world that I live in better.”

The book itself, published by Liebert New Media Inc., will set you back $19.95. The back cover features enthusiastic blurbs by biographer Kitty Kelley and by Ivan Boesky himself, who praises its “everyday parlance.”

Oh, and the one that says the book makes readers smile and scratch their heads. That huzzah comes from just one of Mrs. Boesky’s everyday readers, someone just like you and me: Martha Stewart.


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