I’m not sure if the vodka-soaked television host recalls but, seemingly apropos of nothing, Chelsea Handler came from behind and started grinding on me last Thursday night at the after party for Creative Time’s annual gala. The episode put me into a rare moment of starstruck speechlessness, mostly because I had no clue that the late-night comedienne was going to be there. Plus, I’ve never been just a silk dress away from celebrity cooch.
Handler wasn’t the only glittering star partying it up at Chelsea’s High Line Studio, either: guests ran the gamut from art-world luminaries (honoree and generous art patron Liz Swig, Creative Time founder Anne Pasternak and party promoter Susanne Bartsch), a random assortment of musicians (Moby, whom we’re told was a big bidder at the event’s silent auction, R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe, Talking Heads head David Byrne and Courtney Love).
Alas, the rendezvous between my derriere and Handler’s coslopus, like so many things in this ephemeral world, was fleeting. Within seconds she had retreated, though her posse was still in attack mode. Soon enough, I felt another soft touch from behind—this time, it was a cheesecake-filled white chocolate lollipop that had been pelted from a few feet away.
I turned around and surveyed the suspects: chief among them was Andre Balazs, hottie hotelier and Handler’s beau. The man behind The Standard Hotel was whispering what I can only assume was Mean Girls-style disparagement of my rather short yellow shorts to a scraggly-haired couple who then turned to point and giggle at me. Undaunted, I approached them and asked what seemed to be the problem.
"What were you thinking?" Balazs said, pointing to the offending shorts. It’s true—I didn’t give much consideration to the theme, which was a revisiting of "the 1980s nightclub scene," specifically of the legendary boite AREA. They even reunited the original team behind the spot, including Serge Becker and Eric Goode, to design a voyeuristic "special installation," which consisted of two small peep show rooms. Partygoers were encouraged to sashay into the room, join in on the live performance art and drink champagne with the scantily clad, heavily made-up live mannequins.
I mustered up a corny response for Balazs’ cutting takedown, one which referenced my makeshift boutonniere, and then, as crickets cheeped louder than the speakers blasting DJ Johnny Dynell’s favorite remix of Katy Perry’s "Firework," I sheepishly withdrew from Balazs and his friends—but not before the female friend loudly asked, "Who let him in?" When I wasn’t having awkward run-ins, I chatted up art-world doyenne Pasternak. I posited that there might have been some awkwardness between Love and Balazs, considering the two had dated in the past. Pasternak schooled me, saying, "I think they’re still very good friends!" On the subject of whether the event, obviously exclusive from the outside world but interactive to the attendees, could be thought of as public art, Pasternak said, "I would say that dancing in New York City should be a public art."
And I agree, even if some aging hoteliers aren’t enlightened enough to appreciate it.