Two-Bedroom Apartment in New Building

 Location Hell's Kitchen
Rent $3725 (rent-stabilized)
Square feet 982
Occupants T.J. Mitchell (assistant to the president, major record company); Lori Davis (hairdresser, the Face Station)

You're like two birds up here, looking down on New York. [T.J.] Every time it snows, I'm so excited. Whooo-ee.

This building with concierge, "lobby as lounge," "rough-hewn concrete water wall," and Juilliard concerts, has a name that makes it sound like some factory from 1840. It wasn't built until 2001. The brochure has photographs of poor women sweeping tenement steps. I came from L.A. for a job relocation interview in September 2001. This was the only place I looked at. Nobody had ever sat on my toilets before. Whooo-ee! I had to make 45 to 50 times the rent to even qualify for the apartment. Lori and I had savings. The management said, "We don't care. We want to know what you're making." I said, "Great, I'll let you know when I'll give you my first-born." That was only my second time to New York. I was like a kid coming into a candy store. I love that I can get a cheeseburger delivered at four in the morning, whooo-ee. You come home, have a little hangover thing goin', you need something, big.

Whooo-ee! Lori Davis and T.J. Mitchell in Hell’s Kitchen
photo: Robert Hale
Whooo-ee! Lori Davis and T.J. Mitchell in Hell’s Kitchen

The two of you remind me of a TV show, I don't know what. We are Sex and the City. I'm definitely Samantha. She's probably Charlotte. Samantha doesn't live by women's rules. Yes, we go to lots of parties. [Lori] Last fall, we went out five nights a week. [T.J.] On a normal night, we might go have a burger and a Bud and then we're hanging out with Gene Simmons and the prince of Saudi Arabia. I'll sit in bed at night and say, "Damn, we did that." We met President Clinton. No, he didn't hit on us. I saw him again a few weeks later and he said, "So nice to see you again." He squeezed my hand. We were backstage at Creed. Mark Tremonti is playing Ping-Pong with a six-year-old girl. I said, "So this is it?" [Lori] My mom owns a nightclub outside Dayton. She has these matchbooks. They say, "Our customers always come first at Bojangles." [T.J.] You open it up and it's a condom. We met in Houston, where I'm from. She was dating one of my best friends. Then I met a guy in L.A., moved there. Lori said, "Find me an apartment." [Lori] The weather was so perfect every day—actually, so boring. [T.J.] I worked for ICM, Capitol Records, Oprah. I'm your typical Texas cheerleader. Oprah said, "I hired a beauty queen from Texas." My dad was a fireman.

Now you have the comas in common. [T.J.] At 21, I was in a nearly fatal car accident. I had eight surgeries. Before that I was a bathing-suit model. They cut me from the breast to the belly button. I said, "Oh God, I'll never put on a bikini again." [Lori] Mine was a motorcycle accident, '95. I broke my face. I was 32. [T.J.] We have our bad days. Lori's got steel in her face. I have it in my neck.

No wonder you're always talking about the weather! After I woke up from my coma, I'd argue with my grandpa. I'd say, "Who promised you tomorrow?" I'm kind of fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants, see the sun, whooo-hoo. I just went to Paris for my 36th birthday on the Concorde. [Lori] I was raised by a single mother. My whole life, I didn't spend my money. I had savings when I moved here. Now I've only got half. Do I have enough to cover my rent? No. When I moved, it was a bad time for building clients. Now I'm at my third salon, I'm happy. T.J.'s rubbed off on me. [T.J.] I'll never be homeless. We're both too smart, have too many friends. When I see Lori down, I feel responsible. [Lori] T.J.'s seeing someone. He's over a lot. No, it doesn't bother me because he's a really nice guy. It was a little tough around the holidays. I felt like everyone was a couple except for me. My mother came in for New Year's Eve. She's my best friend. We sat here, drank champagne, ate lobster, and watched the ball drop.

 
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