Craft Fairs and Cuddle Rooms


The words craft fair conjure images of quaint, lame, handmade things—hokey knit scarves, needlepoint pot holders, tie-dyed shirts. The events are usually attended by a few bored soccer moms and held in a depressing community center somewhere in the suburbs. Not
Bust magazine’s Holiday Craftacular. This particular extravaganza, held last Saturday at Warsaw in Greenpoint (normally the site of indie-rock shows), was a craft fair on feminist steroids.

I knew things would be different when I saw a line to get inside. (Only in New York is there a line to browse a craft fair!) And the girls with pink hair—that was a clue too. Once inside, you could barely move. Onstage, DJs—including techno-electro queen Dirty Jean—spun female-friendly tunes all day, which was fabulous, except for one poor group of vendors situated right in front of the blaring speakers. (They gamely made the best of it.) I ran into Maggie Tam Clark, Bust‘s director of advertising and marketing sales, who used to be my neighbor. She’s living back in San Francisco, but was in town running the event, which is in its second year. She said they got more than 4,000 people. Besides shopping, there was drinking—the Craftacular happy hour ran from 6 to 7 p.m. Nope, definitely not your mama’s craft fair.

This year there were 60 vendors hawking their wares in two rooms. I bought a drawing of a woman dressed as a pirate from Mode Merr’s table, plus a gold Italian horn and other necklaces from Lapierre Jewelry. Elsewhere, I admired quirky shirts that read, “Starving Artist: Only the Strong Survive” and “Demented and Sad but Social,” along with nipple- and ass-shaped soaps and panties with beavers on them. (The animal, you fools.) An old friend from Las Vegas who I hadn’t seen in 12 years was there with his girlfriend,

Jennifer Baron of Fresh Popcorn Productions, who was selling T-shirts reading, “I Love
Lee Hazelwood,” and cool greeting-card sets of Vegas wedding chapels. Though I didn’t buy one, my favorite things at the fair were these demented little dolls called Damned Dollies, made by

Dana De Kuyper, perfect little re-creations of Goth Girls Gone Mad. (There’s even a Barfing Girl.)

Though we are knee-deep in the holiday season, I haven’t been feeling very festive. For the first time, I missed out on the Voice holiday party due to illness and have only managed to make it to one fete so far. Magnum PR, run by rock ‘n’ roll princess SiouxZ, determined that I was nice enough to be invited to their smashing bash Thursday night at Love, the misunderstood West 8th Street club with a heart of gold. Owner Steve Weber is so admirably committed to running a nightclub with the utmost of integrity that a lot of clued-in music heads had never been to the place, thanks to its lack of garish publicity, despite its having been open for more than a year now. Patrick “the Captain” Rood, one-half of the Cut crew, enjoyed his virginal Love experience so much he was talking about doing a night there. Others in the nightlife industry were walking around in wonderment, gazing at Love’s quirky interior design (the cave in the front room is certainly an eye-opener) and grinning at the superior sound system. “Yes,” I told many people that night, “but have you seen the Cuddle Room?” The Cuddle Room is like a playroom of nooks and crannies covered with stuffed-animal hair. (Where was that room in 1995 when I was gobbling Ecstasy by the fistful? Oh, sorry, this is a family newspaper. Right?)

In the meantime, I spent a few minutes dishing in the DJ booth with pretty lady Justine D. (Fly Life Nightlife Award winner in the Nightlife Hottie category), who was joined by
Michael T (Fly Life award winner in the Best Bootlicker category), who, thanks to me, now has to endure lines of people offering him their boots. I offer my apologies to Miss T, who celebrates his 30th birthday next month! After the terrible twosome finished, two members of
the Rapture turned up to DJ—Matty Safer and Druzzi played some nice disco-tinged dance music, so delish I actually cut a rug, an even rarer occurrence for me these days than sex. (Sorry, Aunt Irma. Just stop reading now.)

The next night, recovered from my voracious five-minute boogie-down production, I skipped over to good lady (and Fly Life award winner for Best Legend) Susanne Bartsch and husband David Barton‘s Toy Drive, co-promoted by Smart and held at David Barton Gym in Chelsea. Hosted by our very own in-house celebrity Michael Musto—as well as Patricia Field, Debbie Harry, Zandra Rhodes, Richie Rich, Narciso Rodriguez, and Sally Singer—and DJ’d by Johnny Dynell, the drive was a benefit for children and young adults living with HIV and AIDS. They collected an estimated 6,000 toys (filling three trucks), including celeb contributions from Rufus Wainwright and Dita Von Teese, who brought Carmen finger puppets and Mac makeup, respectively.

Inside, it was Night of the Living Dolls, with marionettes, nutcrackers, and self-described “demented punk elves” walking the gym’s floors. Amber Ray and Muffinhead donned the most delicious outfits: pink and orange and white, with tiny pieces of things that looked edible (but unfortunately weren’t) attached to their faces. There was also the matter of the multiple stuffed animals attached to their bottoms. Imagination and skill like this must be why Amber
designed some of the costumes for the recent Marc Jacobs holiday party.

This was the first time I’d set foot inside a gym in seven years, but with freakishly scary toy clowns cruising through the air on a swing hung from the ceiling, I wasn’t sure it really counted. The usual suspects were all there: Patrick McMullan joined mascots for the ages Richie Rich, Amanda Lepore, and Patrick McDonald, along with at least one unusual suspect: Kelis. This caused a momentary lapse of boredom—my heart rate even went up. (Maybe being in a gym counted after all.) Later, I watched Lepore do what I imagined to be exercise—I wouldn’t know, as I haven’t seen it or done it for a least a decade—as she danced on a countertop. Later, a plain, middle-aged woman approached her as we were talking. Lepore had been telling me how she didn’t keep anything and even gave away her David LaChapelle portraits. “I’m sick of looking at myself!” she said, when the middle-aged woman, who was obviously not sick of looking at Lepore, approached her and exclaimed, “Hi, Amanda! Can I touch them?” She meant Lepore’s surgically enhanced lips. She then leaned in to touch said lips as if they were an inanimate object not connected to an actual person. Lepore froze and pulled back. Nonplussed, the woman pulled out a pair of fake plastic lips and put them on: “Look!” she said, modeling her own new face. I turned to Amanda and said, “I can’t believe that actually happened.” “That actually happened,” she sighed. I almost had a heart attack. That’s the last time I go to a gym—at least for another seven years.