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August 3, 2000 (NY POST)

SOCIETY TAKES A SCALDING ON-LINE

By RICHARD JOHNSON with Paula Froelich and Chris Wilson

NEW York socialites are waging their own gossip wars on Vogueís website. The well-connected and catty are ruminating on the sex lives of Samantha Kluge, Bijou Phillips and Carolyn Bessette Kennedy via the forum part of Vogue.com, which theyíre calling the best guilty pleasure of summer.

The most gossiped about? Paris and Nikki Hilton, the duty-free Miller sisters, and Liz Cohen. (Nikki Hilton said she was unaware the site even existed.) Topics range from such weighty matters as Where are the Hilton sisters going to college? to who is cheating on their famous spouses.

The site has received over 90,000 postings, many anonymous, since its launch last September, according to executive producer Anne Buford. The forums are very lively and active, and seem to be New York-based.

Itís bitter people, said constant subject Samantha Ronson. "Itís obviously someone I know, because they are up on my life. Ronson herself is one of the few brave enough to use her own name when contributing. I have done defense for myself and my friends, she explains. "Itís lame when people donít have the b--s to use their name.

Ronson told PAGE SIXís Jacquelynn D. Powers that a frequent source was a former employee of the spa Bliss, who electronically divulged all gossip she overheard there.

Aside from allegations of adultery, and, worse, over-exposure, New Yorkís pedigreed set is fastidiously dissected. Alex Lasky is a social climber, reads one anonymous posting. Bijou Phillips is accused of having no manners. On the Hilton sisters: Even New York magazine called these two pathetic. I donít see them as having staying power on the social circuit.

Users of the site must agree not to use any obscene, indecent or offensive language, or to place any material that is false, defamatory, abusive, harassing or hateful. Buford points out that her staff monitors the forum daily, and that it is edited to enforce those rules. Ronson confirmed that an especially cruel story about herself was yanked after she protested.

This is a way for people to settle scores, said one society princess. It perpetuates rumors. And like all gossip, thereís a bit of truth there. Itís very personal.

One recent posting read, Venting is healthy. We are a tribe. Letís look out for each other. With friends like that, who needs enemies?


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