December 6, 2023
Queer 'Gilded Age' Actress Responds to Being Mentioned on Grindr
READ TIME: 3 MIN.
Do you "Fish Play?"
It is a term that came to light this week in an unlikely scenario -- talking about the HBO hit "The Gilded Age" on Grindr, specifically referring to the character -- Mrs. Fish (aka Maggie Fish) -- that Ashlie Atkinson plays.
Atkinson, who calls herself queer on Instagram, shared in the fun when she saw a Grindr message that referred to her character and made a cheeky response. Mrs. Fish in a strap-on? I doubt Christine Barinski's Agnes van Rhijn can top that!
As reported by JustJared, "Twitter user @andyrockcandy shared a screenshot of a conversation he had with someone who said, '"I'm getting a group of guys together for some fish play, interested?' Andy responded saying he wasn't sure what that meant."
The person responded, "It's just a bunch of chill guys getting together on Sunday nights and gooning out to 'The Gilded Age' whenever Ashlie Atkinson is on screen. She plays Mrs. Fish."
On the show, Atkinson may not have the screen time of Baranski, Carrie Coon, or Taissa Farmiga, but her moments are quick, tart and biting.
What isn't likely known is that Maggie Fish was, like many of the show's characters, drawn from real-life by series creator Julian Fellowes. She was one of the best-known members of "Four Hundred," the elite group curated by Caroline Astor and her friend and confidante Ward McAllister, played on the show by Donna Murphy and Nathan Lane. Their attempt was to codify the fast-changing NYC's social whirl, which saw an influx of new money into the city, and keep it intact. One of the plot memes of the show's second season follows the attempts by society newbie Bertha Russell (Coon) to take control over the group by favoring a new opera company, the Metropolitan, over the old, the Academy of Music. A box at the Academy of Music was a gateway into the "Four Hundred," but the Academy capped the number of boxes available, making it next to impossible for anyone with new money to find their way in.
When Astor died, Fish joined two other socialites -- Alva Vanderbilt Belmont and Tessie Oelrichs -- in overseingg the "Four Hundred." But Fish is best remembered for her sharp tongue and pranks, such as (supposedly) giving a party for a royal who turned out to be a monkey, at another guests fed peanuts to an elephant she brought in.
"Mrs. Fish gave the most original and sparking entertainments of any New York hostess," wrote the New York Times in her obituary published on May 17, 1915 when she passed at the age of 61. At her town house, 25 East Seventy-eighth Street, she entertained with a series of dinners followed by various forms of entertainment at which all sorts of novelties were given to amuse the guests. She wa the first to have Japanese dancers, and later she had Ruth S. Denis an her Indian dancers."
At her country house Glenclyffe, Mrs. Fish would give a lavish Halloween dance, and each season at the Crossways, her Newport villa, she gave a ball that "was the first of its kind," according to the Times. One summer she had guests come dressed as flowers; but her most famous was her Mother Goose ball, in which all the characters from Mother Goose appeared. "And there was also a fairy feature," the Times added, "and the hostess arrayed herself as the Fairy Queen."
She was also known her tart tongue. "When Theodore Roosevelt's wife sought to keep a frugal household, Fish was quoted as condescendingly saying of Mrs. Roosevelt 'It is said [she] dresses on three hundred dollars a year, and she looks it'," reads her Wiki entry.
"On another occasion, Alva Belmont angrily confronted Mamie after hearing that she had been telling everyone that Alva looked like a frog. 'Not a frog!; Mamie replied. 'A toad, my pet, a toad'," wrote the Newport Daily News in a profile on her.