Monday, June 17, 2024

Flashback: P Diddy Sean Combs’s 35th Birthday Party Was Off the Hook, Mariah Wore a White Wedding Dress, Dozens of Celebs Sang “Hey Big Spender”


Happy Birthday, Sean Puffy Combs. I see that his 50th birthday party in Los Angeles was quite the A list affair, with Jay Z and Beyonce, Kanye West and his in-laws.

Fifteen years ago, Puffy had a blow out birthday at Cipriani Wall Street. I was there, and I’ll never forget it. It was just one of many Puffy parties at the time that were memorable. And here we are 15 years later. Back then, the Kardashians didn’t exit. Neither did Kanye. Or Beyonce in a big way. Jay Z was just a name on the list.

Sean Combs has always been the nicest, most agreeable and interesting person in hip hop. Even when he was connected to unsavory moments that involved the police or Champagne bottles. And he’s still here, more successful than ever.

Here’s what I wrote 15 years ago:

from November 6, 2004:

Nobody has ever accused Sean “P. Diddy” Combs of doing anything the small, elegant way.

His 35th birthday party last night should have been called “The Sweet Smell of Excess.”

If nothing else it proves that the rap impresario — who cannot sing, dance or act — is a phenomenon unto himself and has perfected life as a post-millennial Jay Gatsby.

More than 1,500 of Combs’ closest friends packed themselves into Cipriani’s ballroom last night — the same place where Combs celebrated his birthday five years ago. The event was an elegant black-tie affair, although not everyone adhered to the letter of the law.

Mariah Carey came in a white Vera Wang wedding dress with flowing tulle and sported a diamond tiara. Vivica A. Fox wore a flowing gown and diamonds from a Toronto designer. A tuxedo-wearing Tony Danza looked sheepish when I asked him if he didn’t have to get up early to do his show the next morning.

Also spotted in the perfect sea of beautiful — and I mean gorgeous — supermodels and young women with long, long legs: George Hamilton, Ben Chaplin, Carson Daly, Guy Oseary, Jay-Z, Nia Long, Usher, Bruce Willis, Ingrid Casares, Clive Davis, Rocco DiSpirito, Suzanne Bartsch and David Barton, art dealer Tony Shafrazi and, of course, the ubiquitous Paris Hilton.

Supermodel Frederique, dolled up for the occasion, sat in the lap of nightclub owner Amy Sacco. Universal Music Group chief Doug Morris, with Island/Def Jam’s L.A. Reid, kept an eye on Mariah and on the enormous cost of the party.

“Do you have to pay for this?” I asked Morris, who was accompanied by his new Motown chief Sylvia Rhone.

“I hope not,” Morris shot back.

Who exactly was paying might have been a question that crossed people’s minds as more than a dozen gussied-up violinists greeted people in the entryway. Once inside, huge video screens projected film clips of Combs’ life while giant pictures of him as a boy with his late father adorned the cavernous room.

The ballroom itself was flanked by raised levels where guests could congregate as they watched the dance floor. Later, curtains on the levels were pulled back to reveal beds, booths and water-filled porcelain bathtubs. Higher video screens flashed the words “KING DIDDY.”

Was there a cake, you ask? Were there hookers, acrobats and go-go dancers? Yes, to all of the above.

I don’t remember anyone singing “Happy Birthday,” but at some point Combs was treated to a musical number when some long-legged dancers climbed out of a gigantic cardboard cake and serenaded him with “Hey, Big Spender.” At the end they altered the lyrics to “Hey P. Diddy.”

Combs was flanked by his criminal-defense attorney Ben Brafman, his regular lawyer Kenny Meiselas and, of course, his mother Janice Combs.

Who and what we didn’t see: Ron Burkle, “Vote or Die” shirts, Fonzworth Bentley, Lil’ Kim or Mase.

Who and what we did see: ice sculptures with the P. Diddy logo, Denise Rich, and Donna Karan fresh from the Ovarian Cancer Research dinner in Chelsea, where she honored Trudie Styler.

By 2 a.m. the crowd was going strong, the lights were nearly out and the thud of bass reverberated off the marble in what used to be a bank. Doug E. Fresh, calling out raps and emceeing for the night from above the stage where Combs and about 300 people milled about, took the hour to make a political speech. “[Expletive deleted] Bush!” he cried over and over. The crowd, swathed in anonymity, echoed the sentiment.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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