The Rad and the Beautiful


Since 2004, tight-lipped tastemakers LVHRD (“Live Hard”) have been throwing mostly monthly parties intended to facilitate interaction between the creative disciplines–architects meeting artists, actors meeting musicians, everyone trying to meet models, etc. In recent months, these get-togethers have included a single-elimination karaoke tournament, a large-scale dating game, and a vending-machine challenge (as in: who can empty one the fastest). The locations are not disclosed to the general public; they’re released only to LVHRD’s membership by text message that day. Overexposure? Even less desirable than vowels.

The latest party took place last week in DUMBO at Smack Mellon, a 12,000-square-foot waterfront gallery space with 35-foot ceilings and 25 windows overlooking the East River. Five teams of photographers, stylists, makeup artists, and models had two hours to create images for the latest in LVHRD’s Master-Disaster Duel Series, titled (what else?) PHTHRD. The early favorite was Brazilian-born Leo Zacharias (whose first model donned a hollowed-out watermelon as a helmet), but as time passed, most of the attendees I chatted with were pulling for Nate “Igor” Smith–including host Richie Rich.

“Everyone’s great, obviously, but Igor’s photos are so real,” the Heatherette designer and former club kid explained to me. “He’s got that whole sexy, American Apparel thing happening.” True to form, the Driven by Boredom photog–that’s Igor’s website, the one that displays out-and-about New Yorkers in various states of undress—was rarely to be found in his allotted Smack Mellon space, instead roving about the gallery (and the bathrooms, reportedly) for inspiration. Other candidates included Alison Grippo’s not-so-blushing brides, Phil Toledano’s scantily clad redhead, and�my personal fave�the duo Kate & Camilla’s grown-up glamour. (Voting commenced July 30; check for results.)

As for the rest of the scene: Flash-happy snap-shooters illuminated pretty girls in high-waisted hot pants dancing in front of the DJs. The rest of us stood close to the Dewar’s-sponsored bar, choosing our whiskey one of four ways: on the rocks, with cider, with ginger beer, or in some manner I obviously didn’t consider an option. There were not an overwhelming number of straight men. It was fun and all, but after an hour and a half, we left.

Back in Manhattan, lo-fi art collective Paper Rad (Jessica Ciocci, Jacob Ciocci, and Ben Jones) was taking over the Museum of Modern Art for the latest installment in the PopRally series, designed to entice the young and the restless with bands, live installations, and an open bar, all for the low, low price of $10. (MOMA’s new media installation Automatic Update–which includes work by Cory Arcangel, one of Paper Rad’s co-conspirators, as well as five others–was also an option for attendees.)

I’m minimally familiar with Paper Rad, but wasn’t aware that there were also going to be performances by members of the group’s various musical offshoots (Dr. Doo, Extreme Animals), as well as a set by the Slow Jams Band. Plus I was really, really late–LVHRD and PopRally both started at 8 p.m.; I walked into the latter closer to, say, 10. So when I complained later to the boys from Chief magazine (Andy Smith, Ed Zipco, and Adam Bezer) that I was unimpressed by the crowd response for the event’s final hour, they patiently explained that if had I been there on time, goddamnit, I would’ve had a much different experience. Then they showed me the pictures. They were right.

Paper Rad melds pop-icon footage with original animation to form prismatic jungles of bygone fads: Any kid who grew up in the ’80s is bound to love this. What I saw in person was an impressive array of tastemakers and their ardent followers above 14th Street on a Tuesday night, standing dutifully in front of the stage and sorta paying attention to the Slow Jams Band, who were wearing masks and lying down sideways onstage. The pics, on the other hand, showed a packed house having a truly enviable time.

Wish I’d been there then.