If a bomb had gone off at the VH1 Fashion Awards, there wouldn’t be any stylists left! The event was the usual bizarrely compelling hybrid of knowingness and not-in-on-the-jokeness, with pretaped comedy sketches spoofing the inanity of fashion, followed by many real-life examples of the inanity of fashion. One left feeling that models should never speak and maybe shouldn’t even model (Claudia Schiffer to Wesley Snipes re a garment he admired: “I’ll borrow that to you”). Tellingly, the award was in the form of a book!
The evening’s intermittent ditziness was apparently infectious, and though Photographer of the Year Steven Meisel at least seemed to be intentionally doing his Garbo-esque shtick by failing to articulate (except for “Thank you very much”), others had no such excuse. The usually flamboyant Jennifer Lopez became almost dumbstruck as a presenter; the pretaped Best Personal Style–Female winner, Cameron Diaz, kept laughing at her own non-jokes; and the Male Model of the Year turned out to be one of those affable dude types who probably won’t be reading his award any time soon.
Of course it was nice to see that Stevie Nicks was nominated for that dirty old shawl and also that Marilyn Manson wasn’t the only nominee with fake breasts. But while the ceremony’s glam-rock fashion show was jazzy, I refuse to buy yet another ’70s revival just because a bunch of bored editors have decided that glam is the navy blue of India. My outright rejection of this force-feeding frenzy was confirmed when Iggy Pop and Lenny Kravitz (the new Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach) performed a “Rebel Rebel” duet that came off like a drunken karaoke party you’d inadvertently walked in on and weren’t allowed to leave.
During one of the breaks, I heard Michael Kors murmur, “disgusting outfit!” forcing me to quickly glance in a mirror and realize he couldn’t possibly be talking about me! More Zenlike was Marc Jacobs, who has a healthy perspective on the voting process and cracked to me, “I voted for Clinton–and look what happened.” (Marc ended up winning for Womenswear Designer of the Year and accepting with a nod to loyalty over competition.) Most high-minded of all was Madonna, the Meryl Streep of the music channels and a spiritual lady who wears her heart on her jewel-encrusted sari sleeve. Madonna performed “The Power of Goodbye” and did it well enough that one was sort ofglad she didn’t say goodbye to live singing after her MTV Video Music Awards debacle. And she definitely wasn’t lip-synching when she told the crowd, with great seriousness, that she hoped Versace was happy wherever he is. Gee, I bet he’d rather be on earth–but at least he wasn’t here.
At the after-party at the Chelsea Piers, MTV VJ Jesse Camp–you know, the fun one from outer space via Connecticut–told me, “This party is so animal, man!” When I brilliantly pointed out Camp’s endearingly giraffelike tallness, he said, “My dad has these same long arms and legs, but he has a pregnant belly. My girlfriend’s gonna make sure I don’t get that.” I wonder if he’ll make sure she doesn’t get it, too.
The glam-rock craze continued to clutch us with its silvery talons at the Velvet Goldmine premiere, and by then, I was more willing to suck down the whole thing. While the movie is as posey and surfacey as its characters, it’s a rouged joyride of retro romping that viscerally brings back the days when nobody said, “disgusting outfit!” The corporate world is so deludedly primed for the potential velvet goldmine of it all that “Rebel Rebel”–the real version, not the Pop-Kravitz one–is used on a Mazda commercial, though somehow they only co-opted the guitar licks, not the vocals (“Got your mother in a whirl/She’s not sure if you’re a boy or a girl . . . “).
Alas, there aren’t even Bowie instrumentals in Goldmine. As writer-director Todd Haynes told me at the Bowery Ballroom after the movie, “Bowie put a lot of thought into it, he watched my movies on tape, he said he liked Safe, and then he said no.” Todd’s actually happy about that because if the lead character, Brian Slade, were running around singing Bowie hits, the film would be less believable as the work of fiction it semi is. Haynes, by the way, said his casual outfit that night was “not very glam-rock, but it’s tight!” Even more revealing is Ewan McGregor‘s ensemble of nothingness in his big Goldmine concert scene, his least substantive one since we avidly read his privates in The Pillow Book. Ewan not only mooned like the script called for, but he flashed from the front, too, and the ad-lib stayed in because, as producer Christine Vachon told me at the party, “You can’t cut that out.” Of course not; cut penises are the worst!
A few glam-rock twirls away, the lovable Toni Collette–who plays the Angie Bowie type (though it’s fiction, remember)–was fully dressed and seemed to be feeling no angst. “You should have a drink!” she said, generously. “Here, I’ll have a sip for you!” She downed some champers, then, looking disturbed, picked something off her tongue. “I’m swallowing glitter,” Toni exclaimed, with bemusement. I’m sure Goldmine‘s makers hope America will do the same.
Earlier in the evening–if I can use one of the Citizen Kanelike chronology tricks Haynes pays homage to–I called myself Velvet Goldberg and went to the premiere screening and party for the sweet Living Out Loud,where I overheard a whole shitload of stuff out loud. It was so animal, man. Queen Latifah said to Jon Bon Jovi, “I’m a Jersey kid who grew up on MTV. You’ve represented the state very well.” Bon Jovi turned to me and said, “Do these things ever start on time?”Christian Slater said to Anthony LaPaglia,”I’ll hook you up with the real estate agent from hell!” The woman who plays the sick old lady asked me for her table assignment. Latifah surveyed the buffet spread and announced, “I’m gonna get me some of that!” And Ivana Trump said she was going out on Halloween dressed like a Playboy bunny. I bet that made the Donald want her again.
As long as we’re blurting out loud, let me interject that–while I’m living in terror that someone will do a Prefontaine movie with insects–I’ve already been tortured by Pleasantville, which takes a winning high concept and executes it in an uninspired, un-fun fashion that’s way more vile than pleasant. In fact, watching this big bore was the most painful experience I’ve had since finding a coupon for my dentist in a Val-Pak. But the Big Apple Circus’s Happy On! show is giddily entertaining and really pleasant, if more ring-a-ling than Ringling. At one point on opening night, the star clown handed out bells to the audience for some interactive musical number he conducted, and one of the recipients turned out to be Katie Couric. Katie was a good sport about her concert debut, but was so off, she ended up apologizing to clownie for her severe lack of rhythm. Still, even her off-key ringing is better than the low-key cacophony emanating from her rival show, Good Morning America.
Now, may I borrow you my stylist?