Celebrities in Bushwick: An Unlikely History

From Kris Jenner to Selena Gomez.

Alexander Wang -  September 2017 - New York Fashion Week
Presley Ann

“Movie stars used to come from Brooklyn. They didn’t go there,” the great Fran Lebowitz once quipped. That is, of course, no longer the case these days—and not just for staid, family-friendly neighborhoods like Clinton Hill, Dumbo, and Park Slope. For the adventurous A-listers who have a bit of (night) time to spare, another option has emerged: Bushwick, aka Williamsburg’s warehouse-filled neighbor.

Celebrities are, of course, late in this discovery: Bushwick’s transformation from a largely Latino working-class neighborhood into a gentrified hot spot for mural tours and “thrift stores” began back in the early 2000s. And yet, just like the sight of Kendall Jenner reading alt lit, a celebrity sighting in Bushwick remains fascinating. To the point that when Vogue printed the sentence “they like to stay in Airbnbs in Bushwick” in a story about Alicia Vikander and Michael Fassbender, at least one outlet considered it worthy of a story of its very own. In honor of Selena Gomez joining the brigade just this week, take a look back at who else has made an unexpected Bushwick cameo, here.

Hillary and Bill Clinton

In the fall of 2012, Hillary Clinton and a newfound vegan Bill Clinton channeled Jay-Z and Beyoncé by grabbing a bite at Roberta’s Pizza. According to one keen-eyed observer, who wondered if the Clintons would next head to a party at the McKibbin lofts, the couple brought a few secret service agents along for the ride. (Even though the public wasn’t allowed in when they were present.)

Unfortunately, the effects of the Clintons’ visit lingered long after Bill ate his last bite of vegan pizza. Conspiracy theorists took the restaurant’s hospitality as a sign that Roberta’s was involved in the elaborate conspiracy theory known as Pizzagate, meaning that 20-something employees were forced to endure threats like “you are going to bleed and be tortured” while fielding phone calls.

Kris Jenner and Kim Kardashian

To an elite group still in recovery from being bussed to Roosevelt Island for a Yeezy show where models fainted, the invite to Alexander Wang’s spring/summer 2018 show on a dead-end street in Bushwick arguably merited a trigger warning. And yet, in a true testament to Wang’s popularity, guests like Kim Kardashian and Kris Jenner still came through for #WangFest; some even took the risk of boarding another bus. Wang seems to have gone out of his way to tread carefully: A gang of bikers and a full police squadron stood sentry at the show’s entrance, effectively separating guests from actual Bushwick. (Though they still had to deal with being corralled onto the sidewalks by metal barricades.)

Kim Kardashian attends the Alexander Wang spring/summer 2018 show during New York Fashion Week in Bushwick on September 9, 2017.

Presley Ann/Getty Images

Perhaps most impressively, Wang even managed not to actually mention the neighborhood by name: The crowns that topped off several models’ heads simply read “secret location.”

A model walks the asphalt runway at the Alexander Wang spring/summer 2018 show during New York Fashion Week in Bushwick on September 9, 2017.

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Cardi B

After proving itself amenable to even the Kardashians, the next month, Bushwick was greenlit as the location for a Halloween party hosted by Bacardi. Naturally, the evening’s special guest was Cardi B, who kicked off her performance with a salutation only Cardi could get away with: “Hi, poor people!” she greeted the crowd assembled at the House of Yes. It was not, of course, Cardi’s first time venturing to a borough other than Manhattan. But quite unlike any other New Yorker in attendance, Cardi didn’t get home by taking the L train or a Lyft Line. Instead, she headed back to the Bronx in the orange Bentley that she’d recently paid for with $240,000 in cash. (To be clear, it was her dad who sat in the driver’s seat; Cardi herself did not have a driver’s license.)

Cardi B performs at the Dress To Be Free Halloween Party at House Of Yes in Bushwick, New York City, on October 30, 2017.

Johnny Nunez/Getty Images

Mary-Kate Olsen

Last October, Mary-Kate Olsen made her way to the same dead-end street as Kardashian, though for quite a different experience. Whereas Kardashian was corralled onto the sidewalk with her mom, Olsen got to take shelter inside of a gala for the arts nonprofit Creative Time with her husband Olivier Sarkozy.

Mary-Kate Olsen, Olivier Sarkozy, and Justine Ludwig at the 2018 Creative Time Gala in Bushwick, Brooklyn, October 2018.

Mike Vitelli/BFA

Selena Gomez

After a long day of putting on and taking off outfits, Selena Gomez took it easy on Monday night by taking in the band Goodbye Honolulu at Alphaville, a typically celebrity-devoid bar. Eventually, they left to grab late-night tacos, but not before undergoing a Brooklyn bar rite of passage: piling into a photo booth with friends, and posting the end results to Instagram.

Related: Kim Kardashian and Cardi B Trek to Bushwick for “Alexander Wang, Bitch”