I almost didn't go to GLAAD's big bash in honor of New York's marriage-equality victory on Tuesday sponsored by ROKK Vodka, Delta and FV Events, but was drawn in at the last second and wound up having so much fun I almost put a ring on it.
With José as my wingman/videographer, I arrived at 230 Fifth and took my place on the ramshackle press line. The fans were overwhelming! (No, not admirers, the big metal kind that pump air through a room.) All of the papers noting where each outlet should stand were blowing around the room. The reporter from OK! thought she was meant to sit on a couch across from us because of this.
As it turned out, some of the press skipped out—summer!—so my spot improved dramatically, though I was still just after the People and Us quote-miners, pleasant girls half my age with 10 times my importance in the eyes of the reality TV-heavy celebrity guest list.
It helped that my pal Kenneth—of Kenneth in the (212) infamy—was to my right because he wasn't about to try to push me aside to score that all-important interview with someone whose name neither of us could guess.
First up was Village People legend Randy Jones, who genially micro-managed José's angle ("Shoot me from slightly above," he requested, a tall order considering how tall he is and how tall José and I aren't). Randy is a gushingly nice guy and has the gift of gab, talking about gay rights eloquently and reacting to that funny Glee-cast-as-Village People PhotoShopped picture.
I got some quick quotes from RuPaul's Drag Racers Carmen Carrera (she's already married and didn't need New York for it!), Mimi Imfurst (of my new fave band Xelle—I'm in their EPK for raving about "Party Girl"), Stacy Layne Matthews (who just closed a show here that people say was brill) and that cheerfully horny couple Manila Luzon and Sahara Davenport (when I suggested José and I flip spots to take pictures with them, Manila noted that it's good for partners to flip)—all pictured.
I met Real World Denver alum Davis Mallory (pictured) for the first time—his hair and face and bow-tied outfit were having a contest to see which was the cutest—and saw glamazon Laverne Cox (pictured) again. Jonathan Adler and Simon Doonan (pictured) provided some caustic comic relief, nightlife kingpins Brandon Voss and Tony Fornabaio provided some insight into New York's party pulse and model/actor Jonathan Ledee was a model of cooperation, gamely answering me when I asked him to name two male stars he'd like to see get "gay-married."
I'm not a big A-List: New York fan, but had recently tweeted back and forth with Reichen Lehmkuhl regarding his appearance on a friend's gay-dating blog so figured we had something to talk about. But I was a bit nervous because that gutting New York Times piece was still fresh and he'd been engaging in some rather passionate Twitter wars over it and I knew I'd have to ask about it. The four who did the line—Rodiney, TJ, Reichen and Derek—were extremely nice and polite and engaging. When I asked about the Times, I was a little surprised how much at least some of them had taken it to heart. I guess you expect notorious reality stars to drink up all the attention they get, good or bad, but they are so new to it (unlike the Housewives, who sailed through the press line later like tanks into a village), so the guys definitely emanated the hurt feelings it had caused.
Reichen started to talk about how the article was inaccurate. "Horrible," he called it before thinking better of getting too far into it. A shockingly pumped-up Derek stepped in and said "it is what it is" and asserted that they couldn't really do anything about it. He and some of the others also seemed sensitive to the fact that the show's title is a lightning rod for some of their harshest criticism, disavowing any notion that they consider themselves "A-list" in the first place.
After the brief Q&A, I told Reichen I had a bone to pick with him because during his Twitter war with the Times writer, he'd slurred the guy as a mere "blogger." I said it very jovially, but he defended himself in all seriousness, saying in a wounded way that bloggers always write mean things (Perez Hilton was his first introduction to us) and asking me not to. I haven't written much about The A-List, so I think I'm off the hook. But as I was posing with them for a second picture (the first one had me so fat I looked more ready to join The Biggest Loser than The A-List for Old-Timers), I muttered jokingly, "Now I can't write anything mean about you guys," and TJ said through his huge smile, "Yes you can!" So I guess I'd say TJ had the most carefree reaction to the hatefest they're currently enduring, even if I liked Rodiney's remedy to the A-list issue the best—he said being A-list didn't mean they were rich, just special. (And I understood him perfectly without subtitles, LOGO, gah!)
Sadly, Ryan was there, too, but skipped doing press. Austin was a no-show, probably flashing his butt somewhere. (I'd been planning to ask him for that. Who cares if you like the show or not, that is an A-list backside.)
Anyway, I thought they were nice, as per my usual experience when meeting notorious media figures. (Reality-wise, only Jill Zarin has so far lived down to her TV image for me.)
I was stressing about getting Ramona Singer from The Real Housewives of New York City because while it's a show I "don't watch," I've seen every episode via José, who screens them while I'm blogging...and I love her. So while she was being quizzed by People, I was waiting my turn. And waiting. And waiting. And waiting. It went on forever! Finally, the person I was most excited to meet—Lisa Lampanelli—hopped past People to me and I got to ask her why she gets away with saying the stuff she says while some other comedians get in trouble. (Not that I think there is any comparison to what Michael Richards once said or what Tracy Morgan more than once said and what Lampanelli says as part of her act.) She was so frickin' effusively friendly and nice. I guess they say you have to be smart to play dumb, and maybe you have to be nice to be acceptably mean.
When that was done, People was still quizzing Ramona and the natives were getting restless, yet I still managed to squeeze in an interview with her co-stars Alex McCord and Simon Van Kempen before finally having to tap the People girl to hustle her along. She must have had Ramona for 20+ minutes! She looked at me like I had just attempted to push her off a subway platform, but Ramona got the picture and things broke up. (I later apologized and she apologized even harder; I think another guy on the line had ripped her a new one, but she seemed not to have realized she was causing the five reality-star pile-up and was sweet about it.)
Finally got Ramona, who was very nice when I told her she was my favorite and who seemed pretty together, in stark contrast to that fabulous Ann-Margret-in-Tommy crying jag from this past season. She gamely recounted her first experiences meeting gay men and admitted she'd had no idea what gay even was before college. No worries—Marcus Bachmann still isn't sure.
I believe it was during this time that I missed out on Ben Harvey and Dave Rubin, who are peers and great guys. Dave's so cynical about the gay community I just know he's hating me for spending my time talking to straight, er, allies. And I later barely got to say hi to Ben while posing for a picture with adorable Jonathan D. Lovitz (pictured, and who's got an equally cute and sweet partner)...but at least I threw him over for a gay person!
I enjoyed my chat with Lance Bass, who seems very down to earth, in stark contrast to his ability to swat down all that A-list tail (in both senses of the phrase) since coming out. As a teen magazine editor, I'd always wanted to ask him if being asked "girlfriend" questions as a closeted teen had messed him up in the head, and I was relieved to hear him blow it off as a non-issue. He also talked about his absent spikes (they'll be back), articulately voiced support for GLAAD and expressed how geeked he is to have his own SIRIUS show.
The last star I nabbed was the late (the press line had all but broken up!) Kelly Killoren Bensimon. She is so not my favorite Housewife. She might be my least. But again, meeting her in person was a very different experience than watching her shush Alex on the show. She was radiant and could not have been nicer. We joked around a bit in our brief exchange and she rubbed my back while we posed for a picture. I'm so glad Alex didn't catch this or I feel certain she'd have cut me a look that said, "Traitor!"
We went up to the party, which was fun for a party (I can't stand parties). Guys in swimsuits were modeling them in hopes of having attendees bid on them in an auction to raise GLAAD some cash. The first pair I grabbed for a pic were so frickin' unthrilled I almost had to slink away, shot down. I think it was because I'd interrupted their work in getting a guy to bid on them. But you can't tell from the picture—all smiles:
The next one I snapped was this sexy number. Tall, lean and flaunting butt cleavage, he definitely had me cracking a smile. So flirty and funny:
But the model who stole my heart was the sly guy whose face and bod opens this post, who was paired up with a high school friend (unless they were goofing on me). When Kenneth suggested the swimsuits would probably be laundered before people won them, he dryly said, "No—and I've been pre-cumming in these all day." He forced me to bid on his trunks before agreeing to pose for a picture. I bid $50—and lost. So somewhere, a middle-aged man is $50+ poorer and is masturbating with a pair of several-days-old swimwear strewn across his face and his bald pate. (I figure he's bald from all the testosterone?)
The party was too packed for us to stay long (we even skipped Shontelle's performance), but at least I got to say hi to Lovitz & lover, scold Ryan for skipping the press line ("sorry, baby..." he cooed as he breezed past) and take in some Kenneth snark. At our dinner after, Kenneth opined that I am a bit of a stick in the mud as well as a bit of a pervert—I really have to follow up with him on how one can be both. But at any rate, I think we were both GLAAD we went.