Over at New York today you will find an excerpt of Kevin Roose’s new book, Young Money. The passage is an extended version of a story written by Roose for the Times, about a 2012 gathering of the members of a “secret Wall Street fraternity” called Kappa Beta Phi (which included Wilbur Ross, Ace Greenberg, and Robert Benmosche). Like college-age members of Greek organizations 30 and 40 years younger than the people assembled that night at the St. Regis, “Wall Street Kappas” initiate newbies (called “neophytes) with hazing, enthusiastically take part in cross-dressing, and are blissfully unaware of how embarrassed they should be for each other. In the extended version of the piece, we learn that the fraternity’s motto is “Dum vivamus edimus et biberimus” (Latin for “While we live, we eat and drink”); that private equity exec Paul Queally wrote and delivered this joke: Q: “What’s the biggest difference between Barney Frank and a Fenway Frank?” A: “Barney Frank comes in different-size buns; and that Fortress exec Mike Novogratz would have lifted Roose up by the tux lapels had his “brothers” not intervened.

The neophytes – who had changed from their drag outfits into Mormon missionary costumes — broke into their musical finale: a parody version of “I Believe,” the hit ballad from The Book of Mormon, with customized lyrics like “I believe that God has a plan for all of us. I believe my plan involves a seven-figure bonus.” Amused, I pulled out my phone, and began recording the proceedings on video. Wrong move.

“Who the hell are you?” Novogratz demanded.

I felt my pulse spike. I was tempted to make a run for it, but – due to the ethics code of the New York Times, my then-employer – I had no choice but to out myself.

“I’m a reporter,” I said.

Novogratz stood up from the table.

“You’re not allowed to be here,” he said.

I, too, stood, and tried to excuse myself, but he grabbed my arm and wouldn’t let go.

“Give me that or I’ll fucking break it!” Novogratz yelled, grabbing for my phone, which was filled with damning evidence. His eyes were bloodshot, and his neck veins were bulging. The song onstage was now over, and a number of prominent Kappas had rushed over to our table. Before the situation could escalate dangerously, a bond investor and former Grand Swipe named Alexandra Lebenthal stepped in between us. Wilbur Ross quickly followed, and the two of them led me out into the lobby, past a throng of Wall Street tycoons, some of whom seemed to be hyperventilating.

One-Percent Jokes and Plutocrats in Drag: What I Saw When I Crashed a Wall Street Secret Society [NYM]

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Comments (17)

  1. Posted by Guy who digs Becky | February 18, 2014 at 3:30 PM

    Boy, that's something to aspire to! Those guys sound cool!

  2. Posted by Flo | February 18, 2014 at 3:40 PM

    If 'cool = douchey', then, sure

  3. Posted by biglawinsecure | February 18, 2014 at 3:44 PM

    I never understood this aspect of the WASP (and the Jews in high finance who imitate them) high culture, whats with all this homo-eroticism?ButNow Berlusconi or Qadafi, those swarthy titans of the party scene knew how to get down.

  4. Posted by guest | February 18, 2014 at 3:48 PM

    Um, I think he clearly does?

    -guy who gets sarcasm, particularly if it's laid on pretty thick

  5. Posted by Ping Jiang | February 18, 2014 at 3:50 PM

    Yea, really disturbing stuff, never did get that either.

  6. Posted by Charlie Gaspipe | February 18, 2014 at 3:52 PM

    I'll get him back on twitter though.

  7. Posted by Dutch Priscilla | February 18, 2014 at 4:04 PM

    Meh, in Holland we call tis a morning meeting.

  8. Posted by Barclays | February 18, 2014 at 4:52 PM

    There's nothing funnier than a man wearing womens' clothes

  9. Posted by HighFrequencyHater | February 18, 2014 at 4:53 PM

    Since when are cum jokes homophobic?

  10. Posted by Hobbes | February 18, 2014 at 5:03 PM

    So a reporter has no problem sneaking into an invite-only event for the Times, but suddenly has to abide by a code of ethics when asked who he is.

    No wonder they don't invite twats like Kevin.

  11. Posted by RBS | February 18, 2014 at 6:42 PM

    Hey! I resemble that comment.

  12. Posted by Guest | February 18, 2014 at 9:53 PM

    Fair point. Couldn't Roose be charged with criminal trespassing if the organization wanted to make an issue of it?

  13. Posted by guest | February 18, 2014 at 10:55 PM

    ^ still bitter he didn't get a bid

  14. Posted by scallywagy | February 19, 2014 at 8:30 AM

    One can't help feeling a certain intrigue and similarly disgust at the ongoings and attitudes of the plutocrats in party mode. 

    One can argue that our society is riven with extreme social disparities, inequitable distribution of wealth, inequitable mobility and access to wealth as well as wonder out aloud given the obvious why we as a society have yet resisted to call into question the behavior of this set and fought for structural changes that might bring a more equitable alignment amongst our lot.

    But the irony of all this is, despite the moralizing, finger pointing, the guilt, there are many who aspire to be as rich and powerful as the plutocrats and who use their education, their talent towards those ends. Which posits the question, aren't we all in some way being just as hypocritical and divorced from reality as we claim these people are when we aspire and still believe in the American dream of wealth and power? It isn't just what these people do that ought to concern us, it's the way that so many of us in the end ultimately idolize and lionize such characters and jealously wish such existences for ourselves …..

  15. Posted by Guest | February 19, 2014 at 3:09 PM

    Take it easy on him hes from another country.

  16. Posted by Roose | February 19, 2014 at 11:42 PM

    I feel bad for all the members who are exposed because of this because of a non diplomatic way of handling the situation and the scrutiny we will get because of this in this environment. Terrible!

  17. Posted by Could be Wong | February 20, 2014 at 1:04 AM

    A quick survey of YouTube and World Star offers anecdotal evidence that "partying like an asshole" is a pastime enjoyed by individuals at all socioeconomic levels.