I found myself sitting next to British fashion TV personality Nigel Barker at the Blonds fashion show and thought I’d be all chipper and upbeat just to play the game.
“I find that Fashion Week is so much more fun and diverse than it used to be,” I chirped with an uncharacteristic grin. “It’s a long way from the days when it was so stodgy.” But Barker didn’t look happy. “It’s actually the opposite,” he scowled. “They’re selling tickets to Fashion Week now, and you get VIP dinners and backstage access at the shows. It’s fashion tourism!”
Well, I’m actually OK with all that and would rather not join the choruses of “Ugh. Just about anyone can get in nowadays if they have the cash.“ But I then realized that when I had been thrown out of a VIP area during the pre-show part of the evening, it was because that section was reserved for the unwashed masses who’d paid, as opposed to dazzling journalists like myself! You’re right, Nigel. F*ck you, Fashion Week!
It was all pretty fun anyway, and I got to catch up with Countess LuAnn (She spent lockdown promoting a sparkling, non-alcoholic wine and hanging in the Hamptons) and party-throwing queen Susanne Bartsch, who said Janet Jackson recently came to her On Top party and was really nice. “And last night, I had 1,000 people there at 4 a.m.,” laughed Bartsch, “and I don’t even get a cut of the door because it’s free!” Ah! The way Fashion Week used to be.
Downtown came uptown for Machine Dazzle’s “Queer Maximalism” opening at MAD Museum (Museum of Arts and Design) on Columbus Circle, where our nosebleeds matched our outfits. Justin Vivian Bond, Dirty Martini, Darlinda Just Darlinda, Christeene, John Epperson, and many other boho icons turned out to celebrate the flamboyant designer of collagey ensembles of pure magical madness. “Less is more” is not Machine’s motto — and if it was, we wouldn’t have been there!
The gala opening was adorned with performances by the reunited Dazzle Dancers, a semi-clad group of sparkly interpretive performers that always seemed catapulted out of a 1960s variety show, but with extra LSD. Machine was part of the group — and also their designer — and at MAD, announced to them, “You are my original family. You were my first guinea pigs. I basically performed on your bodies, and you let me do that!”
Getting into the spirit of doing whatever Machine said, we all moved to a host committee dinner at the museum’s Robert restaurant, where the room was buzzing, the speeches were teary, and Matthew Rolston told me he doesn’t do photography anymore. (“It stopped being fun.”)
I asked Machine about the pink Chanel suit he had recreated for Taylor Mac’s show A 24-Decade History of Popular Music, where the actor/playwright referenced Jackie Kennedy. (The outfit is in the exhibit.) He told me about the context of the recreation, then ruefully mused, “The President was shot and killed, but there’s still no gun control!”
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The sad moment was disrupted by some nightlife-is-back-bitches annoyance when a queen at my table wondered, “Michael, what do you think of monkeypox?”
Stunned by the inanity of the question, I replied, “I love it! It’s the best thing since AIDS!”
“No, seriously,” he continued, unfazed. “Monkeypox — go!”
“Gosh, you’ll have to pay me,” I challenged, though I eventually relented and said I think it’s awful, but I’m glad the NYC numbers have been down. (Real controversial stuff, I know, but I just wanted this moment to end.)
“I just moved from uptown to the Village,” the guy carried on with a whole new line of inquiry. “What do I do and where do I go?” Ugh. So now I had to fill out this person’s entire schedule and pretend he was going to actually listen and take my advice? I gamely rattled off some names of bars, then knew exactly where I had to go — home. But it was a hilarious, dizzying, and never boring night of queer maximalism, down to that very conversation. Cheers to Machine’s dazzle.
Blind item mania
What former First Daughter, who talks like a narcotized Barbie doll whenever in public, actually speaks more like a hard-bitten truck driver behind closed doors?
Which late movie legend, who unsuccessfully battled issues with his sexuality for decades, once grabbed a gay newspaper out of a friend’s hand. “You want to look at the ads?” the pal wondered. “Yeah,” said the star. “To see if they spelled mine right.”
Which late fashion editor had every right to gripe against his boss, though the reality is she paid for his rehabs, indulged his inflated expense reports, and once had to deal with him having invoiced for an unauthorized stay in an expensive faraway hotel, followed by a threatening note from Johnny Cochran? (Terrified, the lady boss acquiesced and paid up.)
What’s a currently shooting Netflix special that I’m wildly looking forward to? (Free answer: The History of Lesbian & Gay Comedy.)
And finally: How have the creators of the imminent gay romcom Bros reacted to a white nationalist publication’s crazy article titled “The Jews Behind Bros: Another Homosexual Propaganda Film”? Easy. Marc Shaiman, who wrote the score for the film, posted: “If you’re a friend of mine, this should REALLY make you want to run out and see it. Do it for the Jews!!! Do it for the Homosexuals! My people!!” And Billy Eichner, who produced, co-wrote, and stars in the flick, commented, “I hope Rotten Tomatoes considers this a positive review!!!”