By Jena Ardell
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Last Friday, I attended what had to be hands down one of the best parties this town has seen in a long while. Mass Appeal cover face, artist Lee Quiñones, had gotten together with RoStarr and Easeof the Inkheads to stage a collaborative show. French fashion magnate Agnès B. heard about it, and let the guys use her old temporary store space at 76 Greene. No big deal at first.
Somehow, everyone and their fucking grandmother found out. By 8 p.m., a block-long line of people was waiting outside. Door drama ensued as the P.R.s slowly fielded the crowd for invite holders (thanks to slapdash planning, there weren't many to go around). At 8:30, they gave up on the list and let everyone in.
In 10 minutes, a flood of the wildest assortment of peoplefrom fashion editors to photographers, coy streetwear designers to straight-up street urchins, as well as a lot of Japanese kidshad filled the space, eagerly staring into the trio's massive-scale works. DJ Atomik Rage's hip-hop beats boomed over the speakers, graf artists scrawled tags on the walls, and people who had never had a reason to hang out with each other were chilling. In the middle of the mini-culture clash, photographers François Hugon and KT, former Sopranos moll Annabella Sciorra, and equally legendary graf artists Futura2000and WKswarmed around. The line grew outside, even though the roomy storefront was totally filled. In a turn of bittersweet justice, V/Visionaire magazine honchos Cecilia Dean and Stephan Ganwhose shindigs are notorious for being as snottily exclusive as their annual fashion portfoliowere turned away. Suckas!
In an age where hip-hop culture is the mainstream, Quiñones is iconic enough to be on a magazine cover, and a huge crowd of people turns up for an art "reception," it would seem like graffiti is accepted in fine-art circles. Not so, said Ease, a/k/a José Parla. "I still gotta defend the movement against conservative people," said the artist, sipping on a beer. "And the fucks who don't see the truth about the culture right now. It's not easy."
Quiñones, who played Chico in the hip-hop film classic WildStyle, started planning the exhibit six months ago, shortly after 9-11. In his work Chapter 11, a huge overhead view of the city stands submerged in water, with a note at the bottom telling us, "What Comes Around Is Already Here." Ro's work, Between the Lines, was equally massive, a myriad of faces and explosions and birds singing for peace, while Ease's Geminis depicted a raging cascade of fire and smoke.
Andy Warhol protégé Benjamin Liu had come to admire the work. "I met Ro while I was at a rave on Ecstasy," said Liu. "He gave me a body massage." Liu's been an ardent fan of hip-hop culture and its global impact. "Andy would have loved the show," he added.
Agnès B herself showed up, surprised at the throngs that had amassed into what was probably supposed to be a more subdued affair. "I love you all! Thank you so much!" she screamed into the mic.
Agnès, I have to admit, is pretty dope. She rushed around excitedly in black pants and sneakers with her printed-blouse untucked, jumping over cushions to talk to friends. Most fashion designers sacrifice every aspect of their personalities in the name of decorumthis woman doesn't give a fuck and still gets paid. She had already shown works by graffiti art stars like Os Gemeos, BadBC, Jon One, A-One, and Futura2000 late last year at her gallery in Paris. I later found out that she bought all the paintings hanging in her Soho space. Ro's work alone cost a cool $80,000.
"I hate racism, and this goes against racism," said B. I was impressed, but also slightly annoyed about her indifference to the drops of water that kept splashing us from the broken AC unit overhead.
Downstairs in the basement, photos of the Inkheads' work were projected on the walls while Chez Music's Neil Aline banged out a house set as the drunker guests tried to dance in rhythm. There was one bathroom in the entire place, and one person (who shall go unnamed) actually relieved himself behind the scrim hanging in back of the DJ setup rather than wait in line.
Things went out with a bang around 2:30 a.m., when two guys began fighting over a girl. Bouncers kicked them out, but apparently the guys were too wasted to cool down. They actually took the velvet-rope stands on the street and threw them at security! The cops were on the scene by three, when I ambled out. That's a fucking party for your ass!
Monday night at the Park was hot as hell. RoStarr had told me he was spinning at Vice magazine's little soiree, and I went to watch. I wanted to catch "Party Till You Puke" rocker Andrew W.K., who was supposedly stopping by after his riotous Irving Plaza gig.
I used to abhor the Park. I'd never heard of any restaurant where you actually have to stand in line to be admitted, reservations or not. I went inside once for a friend's party, and I was disappointed to find lame brokers and their Manolo'd cohorts attempting to be social. The decor had always smacked of a tiki room from hell. The upstairs party, however, was a more languid affair, with Stevie Wonder and Erick Sermon oozing out of the speakers. "Maybe it's more Billy Baldwin than a Disneyland thing," I reasoned about the charmfully mismatched interiors. Rosario Dawson was sitting with some friends on the patio. Dawson is totally busy: She's currently in Ethan Hawke's Chelsea Walls, just finished wrapping up Men in Black 2, and is doing a new Spike Lee joint, The 25th Hour, with Ed Nortonand Phillip Seymour Hoffman.