A book signing for Kim Kardashian West’s “Selfish” at a midtown Manhattan Barnes & Noble Tuesday started out as a peaceful gathering of fans, but soon turned tense as animal rights activists transformed the gathering into a protest and a few fan altercations took place.
The book, which debuted this week, is full of selfies — some never before seen by the public — of Kardashian and her friends and family.
The star was at the store to meet and greet fans, and we went to check out the scene.
For all the details about the signing, click through this slideshow.
People were lined up outside Barnes & Noble, from the store's Fifth Avenue and 46th Street entrance to the middle of 46th and 47th streets, almost to Sixth Avenue.
'Selfish' came out yesterday and is actually Kardashian's second book. She co-authored 'Kardashian Konfidential' with sisters Khloé and Kourtney in 2010.
Barnes & Noble employees were tasked with crowd control, continually asking Kim fans not to block the footpath.
Kardashian was ensconced on the second floor of the store. As guests continued to wait, the temperature outside climbed. Rumours flew that the air-conditioning was broken inside and that, worse yet, Kardashian would not be taking any selfies with fans.
Brendan McCann, center left, arrived at 6:15 a.m. to wait for Kardashian to sign his copies of 'Selfish.'
'I just love Kim,' he said, 'and I've never gotten a chance to meet her before. I love that she has this platform, especially with the stuff Bruce is going through... I think she has made girls feel more comfortable in curvy bodies.'
When asked how he'd respond to people who might criticise anyone who buys a book of selfies, McCann said, 'Look at the business side of it. This woman literally released a 450-page book of pictures of herself that she took on her phone, and has hundreds of people showing up to meet her... If I could sell my book of selfies for $US20 at Barnes & Noble, I would too. Why wouldn't you?
Meanwhile, Jessie Valvo, 14, and Jamie Valvo, 12, were on the street wearing homemade 'Kim K Is Bae' T-shirts.
The Belmar, NJ, natives begged their parents to let them miss school in order to see their idol, and their parents finally relented, they said. What draws them to Kardashian?
'She just is who she is,' Jamie said. 'Her show is super awesome. She has seven shows and we watch them all.'
We asked what Jamie and Jessie would say to the naysayers who argue that Kardashian has no talent, and they were armed with answers.
'She has talent,' Jessie said. 'She's a model and she has TV shows.'
'It takes some talent to entertain so many people,' Jamie said. 'She's had 10 seasons of her TV show. She has to have some talent.'
The sisters also said they relate to the Kardashian-Jenners because of how close they are with their siblings.
'They always hang out together and we always hang out together, too,' Jessie said.
'I love the Kardashians, I'm sad -- or happy -- to say,' Rouse said. 'I just love the personality of the stars and, I don 't know, the ability to do nothing and make a lot of money. They're pop culture icons because they're able to manipulate the system. I'm a person who likes to be at the peak of pop culture.'
He had two books to be signed -- one for him and one for his girlfriend. He expected he wouldn't have much to say to Kardashian, though, due to nerves.
He admitted that he was nervous about being interviewed, too.
'I'm ashamed to do this,' he said, 'because I'm a retired teacher. My kids will be like, 'That's Mr. Rouse. He's going to see Kim Kardashian? He should be downtown marching.''
Nery Flores (from right), Michelle Cardona are a couple, and they met Shaobo Han while waiting in line.
Cardona looks up to Kardashian even though many criticise her. She finds it funny that Kardashian put photos that were leaked during a celebrity hack last year in 'Selfish.'
'It shows you that she doesn't really care what people say because she's still doing herself,' Cardona said. 'She's like, 'Yeah, I took it, oh well. It's for my husband anyway.''
When it comes to people who criticise selfie culture and call millennials narcissists, Cardona said, 'Those people aren't fun. They don't know what life is.'
We asked Cardona if she'd wait in line to meet any other celebrity.
'Maybe Beyoncé,' she said. 'Maybe.'
Han, who works in graphic design, admitted that from a design standpoint, 'Selfish' is just 'ok.'
'It's not about the layout anyway,' he said. 'It's about her showcasing herself. You can't look at it the same way you look at a famous photographer's work.'
He admires the Kardashians' empire-building abilities.
'(Kim Kardashian) is like a Marilyn Monroe of our time,' he said.
He also took issue with the classification of selfies as inherently narcissistic.
'People are really loving themselves, especially women,' he said. 'Kim Kardashian is bringing an aspect of beauty we haven't seen before. Bigger girls are looking at her and feeling good about themselves as opposed to seeing Kate Moss, who makes them feel bad... (Kardashian) is a strong woman who people should look up to.'
While patient fans wrapped halfway around the block outside, the inside of Barnes & Noble wasn't too crowded. On the first floor, shoppers minded their own business like any other day and largely ignored the megawatt superstar who was waiting upstairs.
Barnes & Noble employees were tasked with asking customers to keep away from the curtain while others guided a few fans at a time upstairs to meet Kardashian.
She was wearing a lacey white outfit, reminiscent of her much-talked-about look at Monday night's Met Gala. After the photo op, photographers came outside and the first fans were led in to see Kardashian.
Meanwhile, excitement moved through the crowd outside as the first customers came out of the store and reported that Kardashian had changed her mind and selfies with the star were now being permitted.
Then, animal rights protestors caused a commotion when they emerged from the store brandishing posters plastered with Kardashian's image alongside skinned animals.
The group of about 10 activists posed as Kim Kardashian fans and waited to see the star since 6 a.m. When they went inside and saw Kardashian, they confronted her. Then, security removed them from Barnes & Noble. They came out of the store chanting, '50 dead animals, one fur coat.' They had posters showing Kardashian wearing fur, edited to look like she was holding up a dead rabbit.
'You can't pass up an opportunity to see her,' Rob Banks, one of the activists, said. 'We waited until we got up to her, confronted her, told her she should be ashamed of herself. We were escorted out, but we had a pretty big effect.'
Banks works 50 hours a week and took time off to see Kardashian and protest, he said.
'I'm a student,' another protester, Maca, said. 'We're just like these people who are camping out since 12 at night.'
The protestors said Kardashian didn't have much of a reaction when they confronted her about her apparent use of fur.
'She didn't really have much to say,' activist Jaime Lee said. 'She can't say anything to defend herself. She has access to the information.'
When asked how the activists know Kardashian is wearing real fur instead of faux fur, Lee said, 'We can tell by the pictures.'
Phoebe Crouse, 21, was inside with Kardashian at the same time as the activists. She didn't appreciate the interruption.
Crouse (pictured above brandishing her signed copy of 'Selfish') and her two childhood friends, Haley Sirisky and Helen Ball, were next to the animal rights activists the entire time.
Crouse came barreling out of the Barnes & Noble, yelling at the activists about how they'd ruined the visit for Sirisky, a die-hard Kim fan.
She and Ball described how the interaction transpired.
'They had this black folder and I thought they were going to show her these beautiful drawings, but they had these pictures of dead animals,' Crouse said.
'As soon as the first guy got up to the table,' Ball recounted, 'he said, 'I just want to say you are a disgusting human being and you don't deserve to be doing this.''
'We should have known something was up because the whole time we were in line, they were just talking about being vegans,' Crouse mused.
Kardashian 'kind of ignored' the activists, Crouse said, but did seem shaken up afterward. Crouse, Ball and Sirisky were peeved that their visit with Kardashian was tainted by the activists.
'I'm not a supporter of buying fur,' Ball said, 'but that's absolutely in no way how to go about it. They're not inspiring anyone.'
Sirisky was happy to meet her idol, though, and still seemed choked up when we spoke.
'She's taught me so much about self-confidence and just embracing everything about yourself and loving all your flaws,' she said. 'So many people in the media pick on her and I just think she's a wonderful person, being able to be strong. It just teaches me a lot about self-confidence.'
Crouse, for her part, is not the biggest Kim fan, despite having attended the signing.
'I'm definitely going to be selling this online,' she said, holding up her 'Selfish' book. 'They're going for $US150 right now.'
The fans had been placid all morning, but after all of the yelling, fans and activists traded insults and a few squabbles broke out between fans. Another protester attached himself to the line of animal rights activists and started yelling about the Bilderberg Group and accusing everyone in attendance of eating meat.
Police arrived to make sure nothing got out of hand.
'Yeah, you think you're better-looking than us,' we heard one woman scream at another fan while being pulled from the line by a police officer. We later learned this was the result of a fight over line-cutting.
'You're a pathetic little girl,' we heard one activist scream at a teen waiting in line to see Kardashian.
'Hey, come on, man,' an NYPD policeman admonished him. The protestor apologised to the cop.
The police, though, didn't seem to be fazed. As with all things Kardashian, all the controversy seemed to ratchet up interest in the products. While walking away from the scene later on, we heard one cop remark to his partner, 'You know, I might buy the book online.'
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