The long-running performance space known as The Kitchen had its annual Spring Gala at Capitale, where all kinds of corporate types gamely tried to digest a sardonic Laurie Anderson performance that managed to span topics like Oprah’s show and wartime torture, followed by Sonic Youth engaging in some adventurous noise of the type you’d never hear above Houston Street. I considered the evening a success—especially since Kirsten Dunst was throwing me knowing looks from the next table, clearly remembering that she’d approached me at Beatrice Inn, then clammed up when she realized I’m a columnist. And as an extra treat, each guest was gifted with a little netted bag of crystals designed by ThreeAsFour!
The same kind of boho spirit was honored by the Obie Awards (produced by my home base, The Village Voice), which brought theater’s brightest lights to Webster Hall, including Oscar nominee Anne Hathaway. Don’t laugh—she was starring in a production of Twelfth Night in Central Park, which makes sense seeing as Shakespeare was married to another Anne Hathaway. And this one has real feeling, not just the actressy kind. When 82-year-old actor Earle Hyman was given a Lifetime Achievement Obie, his moving speech had Hathaway sobbing even harder than when Miranda Priestly was mean to her.
At the same venue, I hosted the after-party—called Creative Block—where singer Joey Arias and puppeteer Basil Twist performed a number from their acclaimed Arias With a Twist show, along with various aerialists, gender benders and half-naked dancers. It was like the Downtown scene meets Cirque du Soleil—though the line between the two has blurred ever since Arias spent seven years emceeing a Cirque show in Las Vegas.
The Gotham circus of clubbies and fashionistas went en masse to the Life Ball AIDS benefit gala in Vienna, and this time I was content to stay home and read all the incoming gossip being texted my way. (I hate jet lag. I’m giving it up for three weeks!) The fun apparently started on the flight there, when Katy Perry kissed a sleeping man on a dare from a woozy passenger. (Katy can now sing, “I kissed a boy and I liked it….”) To even the score, she then dared the same passenger to wave wet tea bags in the face of Mickey Boardman from Paper magazine, who woke up and pushed the tea bagger away, which was followed by the guy spilling his Champagne in the messiest way imaginable. And this was all before they even got there!
Back in New York, we toasted our old pal Lisa Edelstein on her success in television’s House M.D., which came after Lisa had appeared in so many other shows she lost track of the amount. Along the way, she turned down a callback for what ended up being the Debra Messing role in Will & Grace because, as she told me, she didn’t think the part was right for her, especially the way she was being directed to play it at the audition. “I have to know I can like the person for seven years,” Lisa said, sans regrets. And in the case of Will & Grace, it ran eight years, so it would have been a total disaster for her!
But wait! One more party! FIT had a glamorous opening for their Isabel Toledo show, featuring artfully made gowns by the Cuban-born designer who famously did Michelle Obama's inaugural swearing-in ensemble. That moment, Toledo told me, changed the design of her whole life. "I'm being heard," she said. "It has given me a platform to express myself. You're here asking me questions. You wouldn't have cared before!"
Rather than argue—especially since she had a point—I sauntered over to promoter extraordinaire Susanne Bartsch for some very different career talk. Bartsch told me she turned down a chance to be in The Real Housewives of New York City because "I just don't feel it. I want to be in something with intelligence and a message." I bet she would have turned down Will & Grace, too!