In January 2012, then-Dealbook reporter Kevin Roose rented an ill-fitting tuxedo and crashed the secretive black-tie induction ceremony for exclusive Wall Street fraternity — Kappa Beta Phi.
Kappa Beta Phi has been around since before the 1929 stock market crash. It’s an invite-only frat that includes some of the biggest names on the Street.
That frat also has some odd traditions. Their leaders have titles such as a “Grand Swipe”, “Grand Smudge”, “Grand Loaf” and a “Master at Arms.” Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross was the Grand Swipe when Roose observed the fraternity up close.
That night at the St. Regis Hotel in Midtown Manhattan, Roose witnessed some of Wall Street’s biggest names wearing drag and performing skits making fun of Occupy Wall Street.
Roose, who now writes for New York Magazine, left out some juicy details in his original article, though.
In his newly released book “Young Money” Roose explains how he eventually got caught for being a reporter.
While filming one of the performances on his cell phone, Fortress Investment Group exec Michael Novogratz — a former Army helicopter pilot and college wrestler — demanded to know who he was.
Things got intense.
From Roose’s “Young Money” [via Daily Intelligencer]:
Who the hell are you?” Novogratz demanded.
I felt my pulse spike. I was tempted to make a run for it, but — due to the ethics code of the New York Times, my then-employer — I had no choice but to out myself.
“I’m a reporter,” I said.
Novogratz stood up from the table.
“You’re not allowed to be here,” he said.
I, too, stood, and tried to excuse myself, but he grabbed my arm and wouldn’t let go.
“Give me that or I’ll fucking break it!” Novogratz yelled, grabbing for my phone, which was filled with damning evidence. His eyes were bloodshot, and his neck veins were bulging. The song onstage was now over, and a number of prominent Kappas had rushed over to our table. Before the situation could escalate dangerously, a bond investor and former Grand Swipe named Alexandra Lebenthal stepped in between us. Wilbur Ross quickly followed, and the two of them led me out into the lobby, past a throng of Wall Street tycoons, some of whom seemed to be hyperventilating.