Village Voice: In Defense of Ultragrrrl

She’s coming off a cold and has a little cough. Her eyeliner is, as always, smeared.
Unlike the other 500 girls roaming the Lower East Side, this is not an affectation. Part of her charm is her ability to seem completely uncalculated and tuned-in at the same time. She’s just out there having fun, listening to bands, and letting people know about it.

“I’m an easy target,” she continues. “I open myself up a lot. I don’t take myself very seriously, which I think bothers people a bit. A lot of people are very calculated in the things that they do, and I’ve never calculated anything. So I didn’t plan on being where I am today. It bothers people that I step into lucky situations all the time. I think it’s because I’m not sitting there ruing everything. A lot of people rue situations, lost opportunities. Whatever, I don’t care.”

She used to be hurt by all the nasty comments, by the people who would post anonymously on her own blog, calling her fat and untalented. But she’s realized most of it is just envy. “When I read shit like that, it’s as if they are talking about Lindsay Lohan and, like, Nicole Richie,” she says. “I feel like the person they talk about isn’t even me. Maybe that’s kind of sociopathic, but I recognize they are so far off they obviously don’t know who I am, so I can’t even be offended.”

For dinner, Lewitinn opts for all side orders: a salad with blue cheese crumbles, mashed potatoes, and sauerkraut. A modern Orthodox Jew, she’s also kosher vegetarian. She goes home every Friday for Shabbat dinner with her family in Cliffside Park, New Jersey. Her parents are Egyptian Jewish immigrants who fled the country during the Sinai campaign in 1956, signing away their property. Her brother Lawrence, who frequently defends her on blogs and tends her Wikipedia entry, is a real estate investor; her older brother is a TV producer for CNN. Her mother is a real estate agent, while her father is a perennial salesman with a colorful career selling everything from jewelry to real estate to his current product—art on eBay.

One of the biggest fallacies about Lewitinn is that she’s a trust-fund baby with a rich family, a misconception perhaps stemming from a high-profile 1995 incident in which her father, having discovered some Torah scrolls in a museum on a family trip to Egypt, sued the Egyptian government for the scrolls to the tune of $500,000,000. (He wanted the scrolls moved into Jewish custody—the courts threw out the case, though another organization took up the cause later.) “The judge said, ‘You need to give a numerical price for these Torah scrolls,’ ” Lewitinn recalls. “My dad’s like, ‘It’s priceless; I can’t give a figure!’ And like, in an Austin Powers moment, my dad said they’re worth $500 million.” She laughs. “Both of my parents are not afraid of failure, and I’m not afraid of failure, which means that if you can go headfirst into something, you’re gonna do really well or do your best, because you’re not worried about making a wrong move.”