Mo' Money

Tsunami benefits and political parties, oh my! Stars shine.

We're deep in the midst of tsunami benefit season, and there are so many to choose from, they're getting hard to keep straight. Good thing—it just means mo' money. I unhappily missed the Red Cross benefit last Tuesday at Spirit, where the entire trio of Body & Soul—DANNY KRIVIT, FRANÇOIS K, and JOE CLAUSSELL—played, along with Cielo's WILLIE GRAFF and NICOLAS MATAR, JEANNIE HOPPER, JOHNNY DYNELL, PETER RAUHOFER, and HECTOR ROMERO. While only 500 people attended, $11,000 was raised for the Red Cross.

And my friend TANYA SELVARATNAM, a Wooster Group actress, threw a party with Syndicate PR January 20 at Marquee featuring DJ REKHA, METRO AREA, ANGELA MCCLUSKEY, DJ SPOOKY, MOBY, and former LIVING COLOR bandmates VERNON REID and COREY GLOVER. All that star power went a long way: They raised nearly $70,000. Backstage, local musician CHRISTINA WHEELER was hobnobbing with her ex-bandmate, this guy named DAVID BYRNE. I had no idea. Someone please find out whatever magic youth potion Mr. Byrne's been drinking, because he is getting better-looking with age; he positively beams with uplifting energy. He posed with Mo and LOU REEDfor photos. The photographers were all instructed, "No flash! Mr. Reed doesn't like flash!" He glared at us anyway, so I dubbed him Mean Lou Reed. He should drink some of Byrne's magic potion. To be fair, he's been devoting time and funds to many benefits, and he's the Original Punk, so he can be as cranky as he wants to be. (Moby later told me that he's had the good fortune to meet and perform with nearly all of his childhood idols, including Mean Lou Reed, DAVID BOWIE, and Byrne. I asked him if they knew that he was really a giddy fan masquerading as a serious artist, and he said no one had figured out his game yet.)

All the tsunami benefits made me forget about last year's "in" socially conscious nightlife trend—political parties. ADAM DUGAS, filmmaker-artist SARAH SOPHIE FLICKER, and ex-STONE FOX singer JORJEE DOUGLAS produced last Wednesday night's show, the second performance of the CITIZEN'S BANDat La Bottega in the Maritime Hotel. The politically charged affair's setting was very Weimar Berlin, with lots of black knee boots, drawn-on pencil- thin mustaches, velvet coats, and sneers.

Yelena Yemchuk on the mic at La Bottega
photo: Tricia Romano
Yelena Yemchuk on the mic at La Bottega

At least one of the performers, GOGOL BORDELLO singer EUGENE HUTZ—who played a song about "troubled friends"—didn't have to draw on a mustache to fit the character since he's got the real handlebar deal. Hutz is co-starring with Hobbit ELIJAH WOOD in the movie version of JONATHAN SAFRAN FOER's novel Everything Is Illuminated, with LIEV SCHREIBER directing. Hutz nabbed the key role of Alex after meeting with representatives from the film, who wanted to use some Gogol Bordello songs. They saw the singer and had a "eureka!" moment. The film comes out in August, but by then, sigh, he'll become Hollywood A-list and never talk to me again.

Speaking of Hollywood, that night felt like I'd been dropped into an issue of Us Weekly. In the audience, supermodel HELENA CHRISTENSEN, JULIA STILES, and DARYL HANNAH watched RAIN PHOENIXand multi-talented model KAREN ELSON, as well as fashion photographer YELENA YEMCHUK and MC JOHN FUGELSANG, perform. Dugas's BF CASEY SPOONERshowed up just in time to see his man's number, and JAMES IHAwatched his ex-bandmate, former SMASHING PUMPKINS and HOLE bassist MELISSA AUF DER MAUR, growl her way through a minimalist "War Pigs." MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL and Douglas, wearing matching tan military outfits, did RADIOHEAD's "We Suck Young Blood." At show's end, singer Angela McCluskey was joined by none other than CYNDI LAUPER, looking not a day over 30. She's so obviously in the same cult as Byrne. I had the urge to spontaneously erupt into "Girls Just Want to Have Fun," and do the total "Omigod, you were my idol!" spaz-out. Instead I did like Moby: I let it all happen inside.


tromano@villagevoice.com

 
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