By Everett Potter
“Zany” was one word I’d use to describe the writer Suzy Gershman. “Smart” and “funny” were two others, and I think she was the embodiment of the term “kooky.” Suzy, who wrote for Everett Potter’s Travel Report from time to time, passed away last week, leaving behind a family and “a gazillion” friends, as she might have gushed. She was the “Born to Shop” lady, penning guides to every major city and selling millions of books in the process. I first met her in Hong Kong in the mid 1990’s, in the China Club, where she managed to steal the limelight from Richard Branson. We had a long layover in London on our return flight so she hired a car to take us from Heathrow to Windsor. She wasn’t going to see the Queen – she had grilled the front desk at our hotel and learned that there was a “car boot” sale that afternoon. A car boot sale is not Portobello Road. It’s the flotsam and jetsam of the antiques trade, with dealers huddled over cups of tea, the trunks of their cars and vans open with highly used goods on display. The picture of this six footish Auntie Mame type in an ankle length fur coat floating among the dealers was a bit like performance art, and they seemed to regard her as a creature from another planet. She smiled and talked to everyone, non stop, and praised the odd Toby Jug or tea pot even as, under her breath, she told me what was junk, crap, fake and words that I don’t usually print here. Still, I think she bought something. She had a killer eye and enough enthusiasm for a dozen people. Her 50th birthday party, in what had been Cary Grant’s old apartment at the Warwick Hotel in New York City, was also memorable, and classically over the top. Suzy had many sayings and rules, born of years of hunting down bargains, sales and rarities. My favorite, which I am still apt to quote, is her “Moscow Rule of Shopping.” It refers to turbulent mid 80’s Russia, when goods would appear in the morning and be gone by noon. Suzy’s version basically states that when you’re traveling and you see something that you like, buy it, because chances are that you won’t see it again. I like to think that Suzy took the same approach to life.