By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
Brad Walsh might be considered a modern-day St. Patrick, single-handedly driving the scenesters south of Broadway in Brooklyn this past weekend, if only for one night. (Not that I'm likening scenesters to snakes. Not really.) The DJ/photographer/Junk magazine editor—and current boyfriend of last week's Project Runway winner, Christian Siriano—invited 200-plus people to his South Slope pad Saturday night for "Cameo," a collection of his club-kid photographs. Siriano hosted alongside "living doll" Anna Rexia, a cherubic blonde with a passion for flash; the MisShapes DJ'd for the first few hours. One was leaving just as I was arriving, but I'm not sure which—depending on hair color, I sometimes can't tell those guys apart. A number of attendees expressed surprise at the nabe chosen for the party. I was thrilled: I live six blocks away.
Walsh's bright, glossy pictures documenting youth and excess saturated two walls, save for a large hole above the couch where one had gone missing. ("I used to be there," actor Kit Williamson told me forlornly. "Sophia Lamar knocked me over.") The usual party people were represented two-dimensionally—the Maddens, Agyness Deyn, and a number of subjects in the flesh there to admire their likenesses. Walsh seemed surprised to find that five of his photos included people I know who currently live in Kansas City, a locale not exactly known for its hipness quotient around these parts. The portrait of Siriano, sprite of the hour, occupied prime real estate in the center of the larger wall.
The party host and pint-sized designer—I can't even explain how tiny Siriano actually is—seemed somewhat subdued, given the excitement earlier in the week surrounding his reality-show win. "I'm tired," he admitted when I said hello. "I fly to L.A. tomorrow to do Ellen and some of the other talk shows—Bravo's got this whole schedule worked out. It's crazy. But it's good." I kept thinking: "You've just won $110,000. So why's the bar out of mixers?" (We had to break that news to off-and-on Gawker Josh Stein, who, by the way, is just as cute but shorter than expected in person.)
Most of the group hung downstairs and out back (no smoking inside), but a claustrophobic room upstairs housed a close-knit group rifling through boxes of T-shirts. The next day, I was rehashing the party with friends, and one said: "I just remember a bunch of people sifting through shirts up there. This boy came down the stairs and handed one to his boyfriend, mentioning that they couldn't wash them because they only had smalls. Then he said, 'But that's OK—as if we'd wear, like, mediums.' "
In the bathroom, where spraying the Apple Cinnamon Renuzit seemed to be the second most popular activity, the wall was covered with Polaroids and postcards of famous works like Picasso's Blue Nude. We had a small reproduction of that painting in my house when I was growing up, and for years I never could discern the sad figure of the unclothed woman, balled up and seen from behind. I only saw Jiminy Cricket, grinning cheerfully in a teeny-tiny top hat.
Those events can be kind of insufferable, but Pepsi and ginseng-infused vodka notwithstanding, the party was pretty great. Kids danced to Biggie Smalls and House of Pain, and though some were predictably smug, the location (a cramped basement as opposed to a cramped bar) seemed to lighten the mood for others. My friend Megan told me the next day, after waking up with a bruised foot and a crippling hangover, that her "fierce fag-hagdom" was restored when several boys at the party told her how fabulous she looked. (When she mentioned that she bought her coat on sale at Macy's, budding men's-wear designer Michael Venker—who couldn't be cuter if he tried—squealed: "I love it! Most people in there would die if they heard you say that.") And so "fierce" rages back into the American lexicon. Thanks, Christian.
Fans of Bushwick's Market Hotel were worried that the success of Brooklyn's latest DIY music space would be short-lived after cops busted a Showpaper benefit there three weeks into its tenure (a link to Camille Dodero's post about it on the Voice's blog inspired 150 comments over at Brooklyn Vegan—just try wading through that sludge). But that's the nature of the game, and performances in the week since have gone off without a hitch. (No "beverage cart," though—it's BYOB, and DIY overlord Todd P pleads with the under-age audience members not to drink, or at least not to make it quite so obvious.)
Of course, all the makeshift music venues will be pretty quiet for the next week as everyone in the entire borough flees to Austin except me. Todd's free "SXSW/Not SXSW" all-ages lineups are crowded with most of New York's best and most beloved performers of the moment: Ra Ra Riot, Dan Deacon, High Places, etc. Upon everyone's collective return, however, Japanther will celebrate its homecoming from Europe with a March 29 show at Market Hotel. I'd expect kind of a full house.