By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
By Roy Edroso
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
By Zachary D. Roberts
If a bomb had gone off at the VH1 Fashion Awards, there wouldn't be any stylists left! The event was the usual bizarrely compelling hybrid of knowingness and not-in-on-the-jokeness, with pretaped comedy sketches spoofing the inanity of fashion, followed by many real-life examples of the inanity of fashion. One left feeling that models should never speak and maybe shouldn't even model (Claudia Schiffer to Wesley Snipes re a garment he admired: "I'll borrow that to you"). Tellingly, the award was in the form of a book!
The evening's intermittent ditziness was apparently infectious, and though Photographer of the Year Steven Meiselat least seemed to be intentionally doing his Garbo-esque shtick by failing to articulate (except for "Thank you very much"), others had no such excuse. The usually flamboyant Jennifer Lopez became almost dumbstruck as a presenter; the pretaped Best Personal Style--Female winner, Cameron Diaz, kept laughing at her own non-jokes; and the Male Model of the Year turned out to be one of those affable dude types who probably won't be reading his award any time soon.
Of course it was nice to see that Stevie Nickswas nominated for that dirty old shawl and also that Marilyn Mansonwasn't the only nominee with fake breasts. But while the ceremony's glam-rock fashion show was jazzy, I refuse to buy yet another '70s revival just because a bunch of bored editors have decided that glam is the navy blue of India. My outright rejection of this force-feeding frenzy was confirmed when Iggy Popand Lenny Kravitz(the new Elvis Costelloand Burt Bacharach) performed a "Rebel Rebel" duet that came off like a drunken karaoke party you'd inadvertently walked in on and weren't allowed to leave.
During one of the breaks, I heard Michael Korsmurmur, "disgusting outfit!" forcing me to quickly glance in a mirror and realize he couldn't possibly be talking about me! More Zenlike was Marc Jacobs, who has a healthy perspective on the voting process and cracked to me, "I voted for Clinton--and look what happened." (Marc ended up winning for Womenswear Designer of the Year and accepting with a nod to loyalty over competition.) Most high-minded of all was Madonna, the Meryl Streepof the music channels and a spiritual lady who wears her heart on her jewel-encrusted sari sleeve. Madonna performed "The Power of Goodbye" and did it well enough that one was sort ofglad she didn't say goodbye to live singing after her MTV Video Music Awards debacle. And she definitely wasn't lip-synching when she told the crowd, with great seriousness, that she hoped Versace was happy wherever he is. Gee, I bet he'd rather be on earth--but at least he wasn't here.
At the after-party at the Chelsea Piers, MTV VJ Jesse Camp--you know, the fun one from outer space via Connecticut--told me, "This party is so animal, man!" When I brilliantly pointed out Camp's endearingly giraffelike tallness, he said, "My dad has these same long arms and legs, but he has a pregnant belly. My girlfriend's gonna make sure I don't get that." I wonder if he'll make sure shedoesn't get it, too.
The glam-rock craze continued to clutch us with its silvery talons at the Velvet Goldminepremiere, and by then, I was more willing to suck down the whole thing. While the movie is as posey and surfacey as its characters, it's a rouged joyride of retro romping that viscerally brings back the days when nobody said, "disgusting outfit!" The corporate world is so deludedly primed for the potential velvet goldmine of it all that "Rebel Rebel"--the real version, not the Pop-Kravitz one--is used on a Mazda commercial, though somehow they only co-opted the guitar licks, not the vocals ("Got your mother in a whirl/She's not sure if you're a boy or a girl . . . ").
Alas, there aren't even Bowie instrumentalsin Goldmine. As writer-director Todd Haynestold me at the Bowery Ballroom after the movie, "Bowie put a lot of thought into it, he watched my movies on tape, he said he liked Safe, and then he said no." Todd's actually happy about that because if the lead character, Brian Slade, were running around singing Bowie hits, the film would be less believable as the work of fiction it semi is. Haynes, by the way, said his casual outfit that night was "not very glam-rock, but it's tight!" Even more revealing is Ewan McGregor's ensemble of nothingness in his big Goldmine concert scene, his least substantive one since we avidly read his privates in The Pillow Book. Ewan not only mooned like the script called for, but he flashed from the front, too, and the ad-lib stayed in because, as producer Christine Vachon told me at the party, "You can't cut that out." Of course not; cut penises are the worst!
A few glam-rock twirls away, the lovable Toni Collette--who plays the Angie Bowietype (though it's fiction, remember)--was fully dressed and seemed to be feeling no angst. "You should have a drink!" she said, generously. "Here, I'll have a sip foryou!" She downed some champers, then, looking disturbed, picked something off her tongue. "I'm swallowing glitter," Toni exclaimed, with bemusement. I'm sure Goldmine's makers hope America will do the same.