RIP, Events! I Know Who Killed Them!

Enough with canned PR at nonevents—I miss poorly behaved stars

Who killed the Event? I'm determined to find out because they owe me my entire lifestyle back. For years, I proudly identified myself as "an event columnist," a dweeb-on-the-town who hopped around like a loony to cover all the happenings that made NYC sparkle. But calling yourself that today would be akin to boasting, "I'm a video store owner," or, "I run a mom-and-pop pharmacy in midtown." It's over!

Events have been pummeled, sucked dry, run over, spit out, and run over again. That turns out to be OK for me because I've simply evolved into a ranter full of high concepts, information, and interviews. (And if someone does throw an event, I'm there with my tongue out, ever hopeful.) But lordy, how I miss getting invited into a room where wacky, wonderful, and appalling things could happen as a result of natural combustion, not the rote, protected atmosphere that pervades today's PR-driven nonevents.

Naturally, the economy has been a factor because no one wants to spend money on a party unless it's specifically publicity-related and seems absolutely necessary to the brand. Clubs don't have exuberant, lavish bashes anymore—in fact, there aren't many clubs to begin with—and if dragged there, celebs are always trying to watch their behavior in an era where their every gaffe is capturable and mockable.

Michael Hirshon

What's more, niche marketing destroyed the concept of a mixed crowd, draining all the surprise out of any gathering, while the ease with which people can sit at home and find fuck buddies took away the sexual urgency that once made events hormonally sizzle.

And not only is the Internet where humans—even New Yorkers—do most of their socializing, but it's also where they wax journalistic, leading to an unmanageable proliferation of alleged entertainment media. With kazillions of Web commentators—in addition to scores of TV channels—there are just too many press people for publicists to allow to roam free and intermingle with their hallowed clients these days. So everything has become red carpet oriented and preapproved, turning events into giant photo ops rather than any kind of happenings that would generate press for actually being interesting.

I did red carpet (as press) once in my life, and I'm still trying to recover from the abject horror. You stand there, bravely trying to hold your place in line as barbarian reporters do everything they can to jostle you out of your spot so they can gain territory. Finally, a supporting player from the movie comes around and everyone goes wild, like a pack of starved wolves fighting over a cheese cracker. The reporters ask him or her about the scandal of the day, to fit the celeb's bite into some package they're doing, like "What did you think of Angelina's leg?" (Ninety percent of the answers aren't used anyway.) Fifteen minutes later, the supporting player finally gets to you—and the publicist pulls him away!

Yes, as I've noted before, premiere access requires approval by three sets of publicists, so you feel like a circus performer jumping through multiple hoops of fire. And at the after-party, you're often told, "No interviews," because the stars already did red carpet. Some party! You pick at the (really cheap) food and smile wanly at the star, who summons her best thespian skills and blithely looks away, toward the DJ playing a Flock of Seagulls. And she's not even as famous as you are!

The irony is that celebs are more accessible than ever thanks to social-networking tools. They'll tweet out any brain flatulence that comes to mind and will immediately respond to issues whereas in the old days, you'd have to wait a week for a full-of-shit press release. But at a party, they're guarded like asthmatic old ladies who are finally brought into the world but are terrified to draw breath.

My pile of musty links and clippings proves that events used to be zanier, filled with colorful people spouting amusingly unselfconscious wisdoms. Some celebs were way less sober than now, so—sad as it is to admit it—they were a lot more fun as they floated around dance halls, magazine launches, and Madonna Sex parties with radioactive abandon. I'll never forget a club bash where flamboyant singer Grace Jones struck wild poses for the cameras, then jerked off a microphone and told me off for something I'd written—a far cry from the fake-smiley stuff celebs are now forced to assume on the "step and repeat" where they position their heads in between all the sponsors' logos.

What's more, a lot of bohemian energy moved to the boroughs years ago, so the Manhattan parties are now filled with way too many suits sitting in head-to-toe poly blends and ordering overpriced vodka. Often, I think, "One drag queen would quadruple the energy level in this room." But they're not invited! They're too busy on TV anyway!

So you go to whatever zany club parties are left and find that even the club kids are well behaved now! Some of them even have publicists!

Promisingly, I was recently invited to a gathering for a transsexual beauty contestant, which sounded like an enticing old-style affair worth running to. Alas, I was forewarned, "This event is not for publicity purposes—though we'll have a documentary camera shooting the whole thing." I.e., we can get press out of you, but you can't get press out of us. Ugh. Back to the high concepts.

Read more Michael Musto at La Dolce Musto

musto@villagevoice.com

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14 comments
Missthang696969
Missthang696969

Everyone will always wax nostalgic about their youth and how those were the good old days, everything sucks now blah blah blah. But really nothing changed and it's only you that got older and more boring.

Stevart
Stevart

Every week you grow more and more disenchanted with out society Musto... Why? Because the counterculture (liberal) crowd is running the show and so the $$$ and values of a straight society (in all ways straight) have lost out. If you think things are bad now you asshole just wait until you live in a country that really IS like a third world cesspool. After all Obama IS fundamentally transforming America. But then again, you might like typhus.

beaubrummell
beaubrummell

Bravo dear MUSTO WE WILL ALWAYS HAVE THE MUSTO COLUMNS DEAR INGRID.Let us not revel in elegy but let DANCER FROM THE DANCE,inspire youwe need you thank you

Yvonne De Carlo
Yvonne De Carlo

That motherfucker Frank Langella outted me in his book as serial nymph whose pussy forever belts out "I'm Still Here." I don't deny I didn't point my juicy, moist, wet labia lips in his direction...but for the record,and I would have said this at any event, I never offered mike hunt to the cast of "The Munsters." .......hmmmm....not true. Grandpa Al Lewis did have a mammoth fang and a massive bite...

bitchtrollfromhell
bitchtrollfromhell

Loved the like a pack of wolves fighting over a cheese cracker bit. Good one, Michael. Celebs aren't as interesting, talented or likeable today either.

Jessie
Jessie

At least we still have you, Mr. Musto, to put into words the thoughts that have been swirling around our heads for the last few years. I thought it was just me, slipping into middle-age crankiness, turning into a nostalgic cliche. But alas, no. Everything, and I mean, everything is, in fact, worse now.

Nonplussed
Nonplussed

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times" we didn't realise it at the time, but it was so much damn fun. Who dreamed it would end?

Ralph
Ralph

Great piece Michael.Long ago I had the 70's at hand. They remain in the mind shining brightly. When trying to explain to the younger set, they reply: But how ever did you live without a cell phone. Gone are those days. Thanks for sharing.

Honks
Honks

Excellent!!!! We did live through the greatest times, though, didn't we? One of your best columns ever!

egghumor
egghumor

One of your finest rants in a long time! Brava!

Chris
Chris

I was all set to move back there. Why do you stay Michael? It has to be extremely frustrating watching the hippest place on Earth turn into the blandest. Come to San Diego. At least we have good weather :)

Istanbull
Istanbull

You're so right about the lack of sexual tension killing events. People get fucked before they go out or after they go out. So why go out?

Redondobeach
Redondobeach

Brillliant column! I never went out in the first place but I agree with everything you said, and you said it really well.

 
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