I just returned, with my at-gunpoint cameraman José, from the 25th annual Night of a Thousand Gowns, a benefit thrown by the Imperial Court of New York to honor LGBT activist David Mixner and Princess Boy author Cheryl Kilodavis that raises cash for the Trevor Project and the Ali Forney Center.
As you know, I have done drag—I made a right camp Sam Fox. However, the Imperial Court is not bullshitting around when it comes to drag. They're a serious (and seriously regimented) org; camp was in short supply even if half the sequins on the East Coast were in the Marriott with me.
We arrived to find a larger-than-expected area for the press line. However, as guests began arriving—I'm not sure why some queens did the photo call and others didn't—it was apparent that NO print press showed up and very few online outlets, leaving me as the first person on the line. It was awkward, so we just began grabbing interviews where we could, either as attendees arrived or after they'd posed for the photographers. I was especially interested in (my new pal) Ally Sheedy, Honeymooners legend Joyce Randolph (who later received an award for which she was asked to kneel—not cool to ask of someone cruising toward 90, girls) and Carson Kressley...so of course not one of them did the carpet. Still, the people who did were quite diverse and easy to grab and I was able to chat with Joe of Joe.My.God. and more formally meet Mr. Broadway, Michael Cusumano.
Bill Cunningham (and Matthew Rettenmund) New York
I was most excited to meet and chat briefly with Bill Cunningham, the legendary octogenarian fashion shooter for The New York Times. A new documentary on him (Bill Cunningham New York) is getting lots of good press, something he seemed a bit shy about when I mentioned it. "I haven't seen it," he told me, "but I understand the filmmakers deserve a lot of praise." He remembered my name when thanking me. It was fascinating to watch him work the line; so many of the queens had no idea who he was and seemed bemused when he would hand them a pad to write down their names. (This old-school method is fail-safe, though, if you want to avoid being Miss Identified.)
Mike Ruiz of The A-List: New York and his partner Martin Berusch are supernice and supersexy each time I meet them. Ruiz noted that two more A-Listers are on the way for season two—and that the show was seeking supervillains. Super!
Don't ask—we won't tell
I grabbed Dan Choi—with a new friend, as in, a drag queen he met at the elevator, on his arm—and asked him a bit about marriage equality. He's a nice guy to talk to always. I feel like he has his regular personality—a little shy, nervously joking around—and then when he speaks about serious subjects he kicks into his activist persona. It's nice that he has a sense of humor; he needs one considering the schism in the community over whether he is our new Harvey Milk or is just milking every opportunity for attention. I don't think he's a messiah (and I don't think he thinks he is, either), and I occasionally disagree with him, but I like him and there's no denying he's had a major, grassroots impact on DADT and other gay issues. And he's hot in a suit.
As a bonus, I finally got to meet LGBT activist David Mixner, a gracious dude with a righteous sense of conviction about getting 'er done, rights-wise.
Amanda LePore walked right past me as I asked to take her picture. It felt like there was no way she didn't hear me, but she was as methodical as a glacier if a bit faster about it. It was...odd.
Ari Gold knows how to make an entrance...
...but his slaveboys know a thing or two about making an exit!
Ari Gold—who released his new single as "Sir Ari Gold" thanks to being knighted by this group last year—made an entrance that would have had Lady Gaga gagging with jealousy: He waltzed in clad in a gold Arabian number with two boyslaves on leashes. I hope he curbed them. I wish I'd seen the reaction of the gorgeous hospice dog that was in the house! (Dude brought his parents. He's one of the lucky ones who could do such a thing.)
He looked sexy in his version of drag, but it was soon back to the more traditional, can-I-pass-as-a-flamboyant-chick style of drag.