Going to a DJ Shadow show is like being at a Phish concert, hip-hop style. No thuggish poses, no attitude, only a bunch of shit-eating grins. Everyone is just there to hear the tunes, man. At the Bowery Ballroom last Tuesday night, lazy-eyed white kids were lost in the stardust of the vast galaxy projecting onto three screens.
“No preconceptions,” warned Shadow. “I wanna be with you. Let’s vibe together.” Hey, don’t roll your eyes. It was cute.
The show opened with Keepintime, a humorous short film in which jazz drummers Paul Humphrey and James Gadson compare notes with Dilated Peoples’ Babu and the Beat Junkies’ J Rocc, with everyone jamming together at the end. Then the good DJ started up the four turntables.
“Don’t be afraid of the feeling,” said some guy standing behind me to his girlfriend. “You’re gonna learn something tonight.” I almost rolled my eyes then.
Slow, lurching beats, intense scratches, and litters of samples ran along clips of M*A*S*H episodes and scenes of cars on the Golden Gate Bridge. It was really beautiful. You could close your eyes and forget that there were 400 other people inhabiting this Magical World of Hiphopland. It was beatmining translated for suburbia.
I was rooting for a friend who was showing in the menswear category, but most of the audience at Gen Art‘s Styles 2002 competition was rooting for the men. The not-for-profit was smart enough to cast some hot boys as models for that segment of its annual fashion contest, and the clothes got second billing.
Gen Art has come a long way and does the kinds of things the Council of Fashion Designers of America wishes it could pull off, having broken the likes of Benjamin Cho, Alicia Bell, Pierrot, and Peter Som through its talent competitions and other fashion programs, even though it has had a few, um, bugs to work out along the way. I remember coming to this event a couple of years ago, only to see model Heidi Klum struggling behind the podium as emcee. Needless to say, Gen Art wanted to go a little livelier this year, so it got NY1 reporter Arthur Chi’en and “stylist to the stars” Phillip Bloch to host.
I caught up with the unnaturally peppy Miss Phillip before the show, when he was giving mile-a-minute sound bites to all takers. “Oh, I’m doing your next cover, with Snoop Dogg,” he quipped, darting his gaze in all directions. “Shows how much you’re informed—or uninformed—over at Flaunt.” I work for the Voice! He really needs to learn how to maintain.
The ceremony went relatively smoothly, with contestants rolling out two outfits each in categories from accessories to ready-to-wear. Phillip kept getting anguished at the less-than-Hollywood production standards. “No envelope,” he huffed when announcing Consuelo Bollini and her Discola line as the women’s evening-wear winner. Bollini’s looks—tapered satin robes with Chinese prints and details—were quite elegant, kind of like the bat-wing-sleeve kimonos in Mahogany. “Culture robber!” a girl snarled, half-jokingly.
It was a cool surprise to see electro DJ Spencer Product walk for David Henry Brown, who was showing these Billyburgian neckties. I was secretly hoping that Cloak designer Robert Geller—who was assuaging his nervousness with free Heinekens—would win, only because he was really fine. But a pair of twins, Ronald & Rony Delice (or, just Ron & Ron), took home the menswear prize for their embroidered suit jackets. It was sweet to see them win, hugging and pecking each other as they clutched the gargantuan Silver Shears that were the prize. “Don’t forget to thank your mother!” twitched Phillip.
Going out every night of the week is not without its sacrifices, but the reward is when you can clean up on the good dirt. At Beige at Bowery Bar—where every five minutes a queen gets her wings by strutting down the aisle doing her best impression of Hannelor—I found out some T on the heartthrob actor of “ambiguous race.” Apparently, he surprised a female friend by stripping down to his stick shift in her living room while she made drinks in the kitchen. “You have the nature of this relationship totally wrong!” she snapped.
At the Sunday-night party at Hudson Lounge, an equally hot English film stud got so into the relaxed vibe that he began making moves on the hostess. It’s only news because I’m jealous!