The private club chain was saddled with debt. Now it’s prepping for a hedonism boom—and plans to IPO

Photos: Jeff Schear/Stringer; Jennifer Graylock/Stringer; Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty

When Nick Jones, the founder of Soho House, the chain of swank private member clubs, began plotting his invasion of Hong Kong more than a decade ago, he never could have predicted how bad the timing of its actual debut would be. The city, a former colony of the British Crown, was home to a booming economy, and a thriving urban creative elite — the type to which the London-based club has long catered. Meanwhile, the 50-year “one country, two systems” deal under which Great Britain had transferred sovereignty back to China wasn’t set to expire until 2047.

By the…


Lee Grant was shut out of work for 12 years—and she cautions against snubbing the president’s loyalists

Sidney Poitier comforting a distraught Lee Grant in a scene of In the Heat of the Night
Sidney Poitier comforting a distraught Lee Grant in a scene of In the Heat of the Night
Sidney Poitier and Lee Grant in a scene from ‘In the Heat of the Night’ (1967). Photo: Mondadori Portfolio/Getty

In early November, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez posted a tweet wondering whether anyone was “archiving these Trump sycophants for when they try to downplay or deny their complicity in the future.” At the time, it seemed obvious the president’s enablers would eventually come to regret their association with one of the most pernicious regimes in American history. They’d try to move on, furiously deleting tweets, editing Wikipedia pages, or attempting a pasodoble on Dancing With the Stars as they scrambled to maintain a grip on public life.

In the replies to AOC’s tweet, Hari Sevugan, Pete Buttigieg’s former press secretary, said…


Illustration: Nicole Rifkin

The young Black mayor of Stockton, California, was a progressive superstar. Then a feisty local blog decided he had to go.

The plot against Michael Tubbs, the first Black mayor of Stockton, California, and the youngest person ever to run a major U.S. city, was conceived even before he took the oath of office, at the age of 26, on January 9, 2017.

The mayorship was not a job for the faint of heart. The former incumbent, Anthony Silva, whose antics included donning medieval-style armor during a state of the city address and giving God a key to the city, had left office under a cloud — accused of everything from financial improprieties to hosting a teenage strip poker game. Meanwhile…


There aren’t a lot of Democrats up here, which is why I got the job

Photo illustration; source: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

I didn’t check the box volunteering to be an “election inspector,” as poll workers in New York state are called, just to have an excuse to stay off my phone on November 3. That would be the bonus. I did it to be civic-minded. To support the democratic project at a time when it seemed uniquely threatened. To thwart whatever chicanery the powers that be in my newly adopted rural burg might have up their sleeves. …


Rumors of War

Our First Amendment right has been systematically dismantled — just when we might need it most

Photo illustration: Anthony Gerace; source: Ira L. Black — Corbis/Getty Images

Nobody sets out to be a political prisoner. But as Lillian House sat in a 7-by-14-foot cell, listening to the faint hum of chanting supporters in the distance building to a roar as they approached the Denver County Jail to demand her immediate release, the 25-year-old Etsy seller realized maybe that’s what she’d become.

House, who is white, stands six feet tall and has green eyes and straight brown hair. Though she’s most often seen in a red T-shirt promoting the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL), House has a keen eye for fashionable vintage wear from previous decades, and…


Illustration: Paul Hoppe

A Black Lives Matter confrontation pitted neighbor against neighbor — and displayed the raw power of a social media flash mob

Steven “The Worldwalker” Newman found himself in some unnerving situations while circumnavigating the globe on foot as a young vagabond and writer. On a journey that began on April 1, 1983 — because people said he was a fool to do it — and ended on the same day four years later, he saw British troops patrolling the streets of Belfast in armored vehicles, narrowly escaped a robbery by machete-wielding bandits in Thailand, and was arrested and beaten by Turkish police as he made his way toward the Iranian border.

But none of this shook his faith in humanity like…


Illustrations: Glenn Harvey

Astrology, private equity, a $1.1 billion gender discrimination lawsuit, and a precariously built bangle behemoth

Patent No. US D487,709 S was granted on March 23, 2004, to Carolyn Rafaelian-Ferlise of Cranston, Rhode Island. The application captured the concept in a mere five words: “an expandable wire bangle bracelet.” Further details would have been superfluous. The bracelet’s design, as illustrated in a set of accompanying renderings, was astonishingly straightforward, familiar to hard-core rock climbers and Eagle Scouts as a double fisherman’s or a grapevine knot. Somehow, though, no one had ever thought to patent it for jewelry.

Rafaelian, a thirtysomething mother of two daughters, and her sister had recently taken the reins of the modest jewelry…


Mylinda and Matthew Mason in the mid-1990s, during much happier and less complicated times. Photos: Cayce Clifford

A portrait of a modern family undone by the political zeitgeist

He may have been just 16, a sheltered bookworm from a conservative evangelical family, but when it came to public speaking, Matthew Mason had the poise of a veteran statesman. Captured on video addressing an appreciative crowd at a 2007 anti-abortion banquet at Chico State, he wears a black suit and wire-rimmed glasses. He paces the stage with practiced confidence, hitting his marks, making good eye contact, nailing his jokes, and then pausing with an easy grin to wait for the applause to subside. He has a story to tell, and he delivers it flawlessly.

It begins in 1990, when…


There’s a lot more going on here than just wanting to get back to work

Photo sources: Karen Ducey, Spencer Platt, Joe Raedle, Irfan Khan/Getty Images

On Monday evening, as Georgia residents began speculating about the motivations behind Gov. Brian Kemp’s decision to begin lifting restrictions on gyms, hair salons, massage parlors, and bowling alleys, among other businesses — even before the state had met federal benchmarks for easing up on social distancing rules — one of his constituents offered a theory.

In a Facebook post that quickly went viral, George Chidi, a former council member in the metro Atlanta area who now works in public policy, suggested Kemp was simply motivated by a desire to save money. If businesses reopen, state labor policies will prevent…

Aaron Gell

Medium editor-at-large, with bylines in the New Yorker, Vanity Fair, the New York Times and numerous other publications. ¶ aarongell.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store