There are exactly two places in New York on a Friday night where Zayn Malik can smoke Marlboro Lights as liberally and openly as he pleases, unencumbered by gawkers or the city's increasingly draconian anti-smoking laws. The ﬁrst is Zayn Malik's SoHo apartment, where he spends the majority of his time, zoning out, reading books, listening to music, and "partaking in the herb," as he says. The second is the Mary A. Whalen, a 172-foot-long restored-tanker-ship-turned-nonproﬁt-hangout-spot that is docked off the shore of Red Hook, Brooklyn. The ship is closed for business after 6 P.M., but tonight its leader, a hardy blonde ship preservationist named Carolina, has agreed to keep it open late to accommodate us. No crowds, a few plastic chairs, and a gently lilting surface that is basically a giant ashtray.
There is just one problem: The temperature on deck is decreasing rapidly with the setting sun, and Zayn—the 25-year-old former British-boy-band member, current solo pop-ish star, and all-around inscrutable avatar of contemporary celebrity—has arrived with nothing on his person but a lighter, a backpack, and an iPhone. No jacket on his rail-thin five-ten frame—just a pair of charcoal skinny jeans, a distressed Pink Floyd T-shirt, a bright pink beanie that obscures his new ﬂower skull tattoo (or "tah-oo," as Zayn pronounces it). He looks so modernly cool, blending a hip-hop swagger with a punk-rock edge, that he should receive a cut from Urban Outﬁtters every time someone makes a purchase. He is the only man whose Disney-princess-long eyelashes seem to bolster his machismo rather than diminish it. Nobody this dreamy has ever bothered to check the weather to see if he should grab a jacket before leaving the house. Through chattering teeth, he rejects multiple offers of blankets. "It's all good," he insists, burping faintly after taking a swig of his Peroni. "I'm cool."