Leading Reverend Billy Into Sin

Lord, he is consumed. Forgive him those great sweaters and pants he hath bought

Well, I'm certainly not buying less, I think to myself. Since Billy is getting colder by the minute (plus, though he doesn't say so, I sense he is dying to buy something), we go over to 10th between First and A, where a brand-new consignment shop called Matiell opened 11 days ago.

"This is the spot!" Billy says as soon as we enter. Two seconds later, he is on his knees, not praying but rifling thoughtfully through a low rack of sweaters. When he finds a knitted polo with a Barneys label, he pops it on and loves what he sees. "Wow, jeesh, wow! This is from one of those yuppies I'm always badmouthing from the pulpit. Wow, only $20!" He fingers another pullover and I notice him sneaking a glimpse at its Boss label. "I can't stop—I can't stop shopping!" he wails at the top of his lungs. "I'm glad Spurlock, who produced my movie, isn't in this store! I can confess to you, Lynn, but I don't want it on the silver screen!"

He takes another gander at the mirror and proclaims, "Woo-hoo—it's Billy time on the avenue! What we are seeing here is depraved sin." Alas, the Boss garment is three times as much as the Barneys sweater. Billy wants both but buys only the cheaper one, planning to discuss the situation with his wife, who is the director of the Church of Stop Shopping. "I'm gonna talk to Savitri about this one. It's such a beauty," he says. "It's so handsome."

Dressing down from above: In holier days past, Reverend Billy preaches at Victoria's Secret about the coming Shopocalypse.
Richard B. Levine
Dressing down from above: In holier days past, Reverend Billy preaches at Victoria's Secret about the coming Shopocalypse.

We're about to leave when Billy notices a pair of thick, soft trousers. "Wow, lemme try these on!" He drops his pants—he's not a shy guy—and says, "I think I've got permission to get a good warm pair of pants."

Yeah, but do they have to be Versace? I say, eyeing the label.

"They're a perfect fit! Oh my God, I have to buy these," he says. "I just don't care about my reputation. You think they're warm? Oh, man, feel that—it's brilliant—I gotta have them. I'm wearing them! Oh, it's terrible! Eighty bucks! Wait, I can't get them over my boots." He tucks them in, then checks the mirror like the most hardened fashionista and sighs, "OK, I'm vain. It's a different look, but it's good."

When the owner asks him if he'd like a shopping bag for his purchases, Billy is horrified—it probably wouldn't do for the head of the Church of Stop Shopping to be seen in the East Village with bags of new clothes. As we head out into the chilly twilight, I ask Billy, now snug in his Versace pants, his Barneys sweater secretly sequestered in his backpack, if he is having the best time ever. I mean the whole season, what with the book and the movie and all, but he misunderstands. "Oh, yes!" he crows. "The fun of shopping!"

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