Meet the Goopies


Back in the studio, the tuffets had been cleared and replaced with spongy cylinders: equipment for a “foam rolling” class taught by Lauren Roxburgh, a fascia and alignment therapist. If a quarter-century ago fitness mavericks climbed onto steps and nibbled fat-free Snackwell cookies, now they are flattening their bodies like the pastry shells they eschew.

“Give yourself a little hug,” Ms. Roxburgh told everyone, and they readily complied in this synod of self-care, this vertex of vigor, this … holistic hostage situation?

“Ouch,” said Eric Hefner, 52, rising from his mat. His wife, Margaret — “she is a Goopaholic” — remained on the floor, tilting her hips skyward, stretching out her arms like Supergirl.

“She’s trying to make the world a better place,” Ms. Hefner, 47, a stubborn fan since Ms. Paltrow’s 2010 movie “Country Strong,” said later. “Why the hell are you going to hate on somebody who’s doing that?”

Is Mr. Hefner into Goop too? “My wallet is into Goop,” he said with just a soupçon of rue.

The Hefners had flown in from Macon, Ga., where he is a franchisee of Zaxby’s, a chicken fingers and Buffalo wings restaurant, and she tends to their four children. They were among those who had paid $1,500 apiece for a first-class “Clear Quartz” ticket to the event — these sold out most quickly — granting them valet parking, preferred seating at presentations and lunch in the garden with Ms. Paltrow. The other ticket tiers were “Amethyst” ($1,000, including a cocktail party featuring martinis spiked with collagen powder) and the lesser “Lapis” ($500). The latter rank were excluded from the fitness classes, leaving them with many idle moments to have their faces kneaded, their nails manicured, their nostrils tickled by herbal concoctions — and their credit cards swiped. A hair oil called Uma ($70) conjured one of the few of Ms. Paltrow’s showbiz colleagues who has not “entered the wellness space” (an example of the Goop argot whose keywords floated around the hall: “journey,” “vulnerable,” “authentic,” “layers”).


Left, matcha chia pudding with fresh berries and coconut milk in a glass jar. Right, Rachel Long, founder of Face Love, offers Elizabeth Van Winkle a massage for muscle toning.

Amy Dickerson for The New York Times

Brandi Bakewell, 43, a marriage and family therapist, was browsing a rack of Tory Burch exercise clothing, wearing a “Lapis” bracelet and a blissful expression. “I’ve just been on such a health-wellness journey — for me this hit all the buttons,” she said.

Noting the large number of pale-faced Paltrow clones present, several of whom had pulled up in Jaguars and Range Rovers, Ms. Bakewell, who is African-American, addressed the oft-made charge that Goop is homogeneous and elitist. “I guess I want to say that I don’t think that is her fault,” she said. “Other communities of color aren’t necessarily at this point of the journey where they’re like ‘Let me think about vaginal steaming.’ I feel proud to be here representing. For me coming was about learning and not about my status.”

And even the Clear Quartz buyers had to delay immediate gratification on occasion. In the courtyard, Andrew Matthews, 43, was waiting patiently for a reading with Colleen McCann, a shaman whose “Medicine Bag” is among Goop’s top-selling products (though eclipsed by the $90 vitamin supplements).

“I’m more tagging along but I’m actually getting very into it,” said Mr. Matthews, who works for Uber and had on a T-shirt that read “Comey is my Homey.”

His wife, Shayne Matthews, 44, a business operations manager in the semiconductor industry, sprung up from her holding position on a white blanket. “This is what I chose in April to celebrate my birthday,” she said. “She’s doing exactly what I would want to do. Explore. Not just base everything on assumptions or take it as science, but go re-explore for yourself.”

Much of the exploration here took place in a large auditorium filled with white chairs, under which bottles of electrolyte-infused water had been placed. Sitting there attendees heard Ms. Paltrow reassure them she still occasionally smokes a cigarette at a party. They watched a rambling if heartfelt presentation on “cosmic flow” given by Dr. Habib Sadeghi, founder of an integrative health center in Agoura Hills. (“This is not a convention,” he said. “This is a pilgrimage.”) They flinched through a demonstration of a “10-Minute Face-Lift” involving an organic sugar thread inserted through a woman’s cheek.

And they nodded in sympathy as two psychotherapists, Phil Stutz and Barry Michels, authors of a best-seller called “The Tools,” considered the relationship troubles of a redheaded lady of athleisure named Kathy.

“Come on up; we want to hear you,” Ms. Paltrow said kindly. “You can have my chair.”

Kathy complained that she and her partner lived in separate houses. “We had a disagreement about the furniture,” she said. Clad in a silk crepe toile dress by Vilshenko that soon thereafter sold out at Net-a-Porter, Ms. Paltrow sat at Dr. Michels’s feet, hugging her knees. The doctors discussed how hard it is for women to reach “a primitive level of entitlement.” Soon they had the audience screaming, in unison:

“I’m an animal!”

Yes, it was time for lunch. For the Lapis and Amethyst participants, this meant glass jars filled with something that looked like moss, or artfully composed salads in compostable bowls. Dan Stayne, a paramedic strolling the premises, said he had treated some people for allergic reactions: “There was a lot of food getting thrown out that they didn’t know had peanuts in them.”

The Clear Quartzers, meanwhile, filed into a back garden, sat at a long table and dug into grilled avocados, sliced papaya and other delicacies, as Hall and Oates’s “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)” played in the background — aptly echoing the most famous Goopie credo, that of refusal.


From left, Seamus Mullen, Dr. Alejandro Junger, Dr. Amy Myers and Dr. Steven Gundry during the Gut Check panel, which focused on clean eating.

Amy Dickerson for The New York Times

Ms. Paltrow may be opposed to factory farming, but reporters were shunted to speak to her in short segments like cattle, though exquisitely fed. Her goal for the event, she said, had been “to create, ideally, a resonant experience for our readers to come and have a meaningful day.”

“Because of course when you read something on a website it can be impactful but to sit and listen to people answer questions,” she continued, “it’s another level of meaning.”

She had enjoyed the gasps at the face-lift demonstration. “I like the idea that wellness for us is a broader thing — it’s not just ‘oh go eat some quinoa in a corner and meditate,’” she said. “It’s like ‘no, we’re modern women and we want to feel good and optimize our lives in a lot of different ways.’”

One of these will involve an old-fashioned magazine, released by Condé Nast in September, the presumptive heiress to the now-defunct print edition of Self. “I’m a real magazine girl,” Ms. Paltrow said. “I love the idea of creating meaning for people and there’s something about a magazine, where you’re taking 15 minutes for yourself: You’re on a plane, you’re by the pool — if you’re lucky — or taking a second in bed.”

Which brings us to the 3:45 p.m. “dialogue about orgasm equality,” but — oh, never mind.

Back in the courtyard, ignoring a marketing representative pushing cannabis pens, Gina Cooper, 38, of Atlanta and Emma Barry, 47, who moved to Redondo Beach from New Zealand, were grousing gently about the long lines for some of the day’s “activations.”

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