Public eye: Kathryn Hausman, 60
New York street interviews: Stories from the sidewalk as told by real New Yorkers about their lives in the city that never sleeps.
Wed Sep 7 2011
Photograph: Zenith Richards
35th St between Fifth and Madison Aves
What are you up to? I've just returned from the Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island. I'm president of the Art Deco Society of New York, and they gave us a table there.
Ms. President! Do you wield your power responsibly? Oh, I think so. I've been president for 11 years. We do walking tours, we have book events and hold cocktail parties in different Art Deco places around the city. I'm going to Rio next month for a congress of people from all over the world.
What's the appeal of Art Deco? I fell in love with it in my college years. I liked the art, the fashion, the jewelry.... I've collected more than 200 bronze and porcelain statue ladies.
Your apartment must be creepy. I have a brownstone, actually. I did something smart and bought it when I was young and successful. It's on 89th Street and I bought it for $155,000 in 1978.
No fair! What were you successful at? I have a hair-accessory company called Medusa's Heirlooms. I wholesale hair accessories. I bought that brownstone with money I made from hair accessories. I'm proud that, as a woman, it's not from marriage or inheritance.
That must have been one hell of a lot of hair clips sold. It was so easy back in the '80s. But I'm still around—I have a big following. Bendel's is my best New York customer. I have so much fun with it—it's like I get to play every day.
Doesn't the vintage thing ever get old? Not at all. I'm totally obsessed. I just love the style and the energy and how they glorified the beauty of the woman then.
It's cool, minus the misogyny. And Prohibition. Right. [Laughs] I try to educate people and live the whole spirit of it.
So why Medusa? Lady Godiva was already taken. Medusa had serious hair and was able to turn men into stone.
Would you like to turn men into stone? Sometimes. No, no. Not really. [Laughs]
More from Kathryn
"I always dress a little costumey. I like vintage clothes or a bit of eccentricity."