Over It!

Politicking With Michael Stipe; Hanging With The Hansons; Slash In Soho

Political parties are suddenly the in thing. In one night I managed to go to two of them, when usually I can't muster that many in a year. The first event, the Air America launch party on Tuesday at the Maritime Hotel, offered a few revelations: AL FRANKEN is a friggin' genius; MARK GREEN has a really big head and looks like a giant Q-tip; JANEANE GAROFALO is really short; and YOKO ONO is even shorter, but is more fabulously dressed.

In the V.I.P. room, MICHAEL STIPE and MIKE MILLS of R.E.M. held court, the former in a dashing T-shirt that read, "Bush is over." Stipe's friend, who wished to remain anonymous, makes the shirts and puts them onto the shelves in stores like Urban Outfitters and the Gap, unbeknownst to employees there. He likes to watch the ruckus unfold when someone actually wants to purchase one. The maker says he has no interest in profit—he just wants to get the message out—but he will be selling them in small boutiques, a friend's pet shop, and on the website bushisover.com for $17.75. Mr. Stipe, we learned, is an absolute doll, an impression not at all affected by his admission that he reads Fly Life every week. (Sigh. My one fan!) I especially liked how he kept humbly referring to R.E.M. as "my band," like it was just a little project, not, you know, a multimillion-selling, Grammy-winning, history-making enterprise.

Afterward, we headed to the Gramercy Park Hotel with FANNYPACK's FANCY for a party following BEN JELEN's Rock the Vote gig at the Knitting Factory. The shindig was at the hotel's perfectly sleazy, old-world Cobalt Club, which may be demolished and turned into a modern, sleek space by new owner IAN SCHRAGER. Personal plea to Mr. Schrager: Save the Cobalt Club! Queer Eye's CARSON KRESSLEY and JAI RODRIGUEZ waltzed in with paparazzi happily following. I demanded of Carson: "When are you gonna do a Queer Eye for the Straight Girl?" "It's coming this summer!" he promised. My delicate ego was left intact when, after I spastically indicated that he should pick me, he said, "Girl, please. Like you need any help." Whew!

Stipe makes a statement.
photo: Tricia Romano
Stipe makes a statement.

The bulb flashing continued when *BOB*, the most bodacious burlesque babe in town, strolled around the bar, which by this time also included two of the HANSON brothers. She giggled: "This guy asked me why everyone is taking pictures of me. I just said"—she waved her hand in front of The Twins. The youngest Hanson, ZAC, is ad-or-able and wee and so young you feel like a dirty old lady just looking at him. I asked him if he was there to see *BOB*, and he said that not only did he not know who she was or what she did, "I have no idea what I am doing here. I was brought here." He later discovered *BOB*'s incredible assets. So busted.

Still in recovery mode the next night, I went to my weekly moonlighting DJ gig at the Soho Grand. The four hours are usually passed with mellow house music and downtempo. Imagine, then, how wussy I felt when SLASH from GUNS N' ROSES walked in, wearing his trademark leather pants and a leather jacket emblazoned with the logo of his new band, VELVET REVOLVER, his curly hair back in a ponytail, and pulled up a chair next to the bar filled with straitlaced dorks. He was in town mixing the record—"I'm the workhorse of the band," he explained later. Slash approached the DJ booth and asked if we could play some Velvet Revolver. I soon became his personal DJ, taking some of his requests (AC/DC, ZEP, and um, BEYONCÉ and MISSY). Slash was surprisingly sweet and hung out behind the DJ booth, selecting records. When he chose HOLE's Live Through This, we bonded over our love for MISS LOVE. He talked about G N' R's demise and AXL's descent. "If I hadn't left the band in 1995, I'd be a dead junkie," he confessed. "You have to move on with your life."

In between giving "Walk Like an Egyptian" dance lessons to a lady at the bar ("You put your hands over your head like this and move your neck"), the rocker almost got in a bar fight because a drunk guy didn't believe Slash was really Slash. If you ask me, that guy deserved to get sucker punched. Pow!


tromano@villagevoice.com

 
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