"I'm a cultural Robin Hood," says Lewis Frumkes, program director of The Writing Center at Hunter College. "I raise money from the rich and give events away for free." The latest was the Center's 7th Anniversary invitation-only dinner last week at Doubles, honoring the journalist-novelist Tom Wolfe, co-hosted by Frumkes and Hunter's president, Jennifer Raab. Rather than fund-raising, the annual event is designed to thank the center's benefactors and writer friends. "There are no long, windy speeches or solicitations, which I abhor, or even boring interludes if I can avoid them," Frumkes says. "The entertainment is interesting people sitting with each other and enjoying their conversation. There are usually two or three writers at each table and everyone who is invited is interesting in some way.
The Center's programs aren't limited to writers, and in his remarks, Frumkes concentrated on the Great Thinkers series of talks at the center, as opposed to the Bestselling Writers talks that were its original mission. He cited its talks by scientists and philosophers, and afterwards explained. "Writing Center is a misnomer," he says. "We're more of a Cultural Center. It's an idiosyncratic entity. I invite people I'd like to meet and think about."
Apparently, New York's elite like that. Among the guests were the monied, the ink-stained and some in-betweeners, including Maurice Templesman, Gay Talese, Mary Higgins Clark, Christopher Cerf, James Watson, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, Denise LeFrak and John Calicchio, David and Lisa Schiff, Patricia Volk, Lawrence Block, Dan and Johanna Rose, Elkan Abramowitz, Susan Isaacs, Linda Fairstein, Tina Santi Flaherty, Liz Smith, Iris Love, Meg and Hilma Wolitzer, Amanda Fillipachi, Michael Botwinick, Sam Kashner, Daphne Merkin, Richard Johnson, Mary and Ed Downe, ohn and Joan Jakobson, Bob and Barbara Taylor Bradford, Sidney Offit, Jim and Marilyn Simons, Enid Nemy and Nancy Newhouse.