Dear Shaded Viewers,
This year marked the 10th anniversary of my annual Christmas tree-trimming party and it was a night for the ages. Each year I choose an ornament theme (Alfred Hitchcock, 1970s New York, Fellini vs. Pasolini, Oscar Niemeyer’s 100th birthday) and draw up a guest list based on the strategy developed in My Way of Life by Joan Crawford (except that barefooted hippies are allowed to attend. You just don’t find many of those in the winter).
This year, based on a wonderful exhibition at my place of work, MoMA, (Club 57: Film, Performance, and Art in the East Village, 1978–1983) I chose the theme Club 57 and pitted it against its antithesis, Studio 54. The dress code:
Klaus Nomi otherworldliness, Bianca Jagger floor-length furs and Steve Rubell Norma Kamali sleeping bag coats, John Sex towering pompadours and nubile sensuality, amyl-nitrate-soaked hanky code hankies, Nomi-Bowie Tristan Tzara Dada dandyism, man-in-the-moon coke spoons, B-52s beehives and Kenny Scharf fluorescent body paint, Truman Capote catatonic stupors, Ann Magnuson magnetism, Liza-like ‘lude behavior, Wendy Wild Joey Heatherock runway realness, Halston ultrasuede jumpsuits and Victor Hugo jockstraps, James Chance skinny ties and No Wave attitude, Grace Jones Azzedine Alaïa femme fatale couture, Fleshtones paisley shirts and love beads, and partial or total nudity.
And now, onto the party….
Suzanne Batmanghelichi and Patrick McDonald
Writer Bruce Benderson tackled the ornament theme gamely by morphing John Sex with Liza Minnelli.
Susan, the photographer behind the project “I Am a Rent-Stabilized Tenant,” made an ornament with the now-iconic photo of Keith Haring performing his Dada-esque TV piece at Club 57. You can see the video of this at MoMA’s exhibition.
Designer Sylvia Heisel and her husband artist Scott Taylor (who was a bartender at Studio 54 in the late ’70s) made this 3D-printed ornament representing Club 57’s logo. The Liza Xmas tree is by Carly Sommerstein. I remember those Peretti cuffs from my dog days at Tiffany’s!
The Club 57 ornament glows in the dark!
Sylvia and Scott also made a 3D-printed Studio 54 logo ornament.
Designer Nile Cmylo, Glennda Orgasm video archivist and art collector Stevin Azo, and Warhol Superstar Bibbe Hansen. Stevin is dressed as Bianca Jagger’s white horse.
Nile Cmylo attempted to exorcise her Trump-news obsession by creating this sequined DT doll. Why such a glamorous costume for the fascist troll? It’s a nod to the days Trump spent hanging out at Studio 54 with his arch-McCarthyist buddy, Roy Cohn!
Bibbe Hansen made this hand-sewn homage to Keith Haring’s Exploding Head artwork.
Like Batman’s The Riddler, Stevin Azo riddled us this: What is the difference between Club 57 and Studio 54? Don’t ask me about the chunky debris at the bottom….I am sure it is fake! And not the only “I wonder if these drugs are real” ornament on my tree….
Front and back view of the ornament brought by Catherine Talese: an early ’80s party invite for the club Area. Catherine has an extensive and very impressive archive of club invites from the ’80s. This one is famous—and rather notorious. Honored to have it on my tree!
Regarding that aforementioned white horse, Shawne Riley sent me her handmade wooden ornament all the way from sunny New Mexico: Bianca Jagger riding into Studio 54 on a white horse on her birthday.
Shawne sent this photo along for reference.
Hot stuff! Editor Carly Sommerstein, Studio 54 legend Snoogy Brown and writer Nancy Stout.
Nancy Stout’s No Wave Disco meteorite.
Oh, I love this one! What seems like a random Dadaist gesture from Ben Shields is actually steeped in history: Before Studio 54 was the most famous disco in the world, it was CBS Studio 52, where The Jack Benny Show was filmed in the 1950s and 1960s. I always loved the conundrum of Benny being a faggy skirt chaser. Skirt chaser? Are we still allowed to say that?! TRIGGER WARNING.
The angel on top of the tree this year is performance artist Rebecca Goyette’s homage to Club 57 manager, DJ and all-around ring leader, Ann Magnuson, here in Bongwater “Power of Pussy” mermaid mode.
The flip side has the lyrics to “The Power of Pussy.”
Following in the footsteps of Mark Morgan Perez (who couldn’t make it this year), my friend Dana turned one of her empty prescription bottles into a festive ornament.
Janet Rosen’s tribute to Club 57’s Bill Landis. Landis screened exploitation films for his Sleazoid Express film series at the club.
The flip side.
Girls’ Night Out by artist Scott Neary. I believe this was the night Elizabeth was photographed in her limo for the cover of Hollywood Babylon 2!
Fashion legend Lauren Ezersky came over early to help me with my equally legendary radis farcis au chèvre.
I love it when people make new friends at my parties! Snoogy and Rebecca from MoMA.
We were all WOWed by fashion curator Alexis Romano’s trompe-l’œil dress!
My parties are a dictatorship at the door….and a democracy on the dance floor! Sometime past midnight we all did the Frug, the Watusi and the Mashed Potato to the B-52s “Quiche Lorraine” and continued on to Richard Hell and the Voidoids, the Ramones, The Jam and, of course, Blondie. It’s true that my bedroom sees a lot of action but usually not this kind of action!
Kyle from the National Arts Club brought an Andy teddy bear from the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh!
Klaus Nomi in my kitchen. I wore a Klaus Nomi t-shirt to the party and well, there are no photos of me from the party. Someone who shall remain nameless had to delete all the photos of me from their prehistoric phone before they boarded a Texas-bound WWII-era propeller plane. Oh mary, don’t ask! And the rest of my friends were having too much fun to take photos. They get drunk, converse, eat and dance—just like our flapper fore-mothers did! Even Snoogy refrained from taking selfies….
An image of John Sex from my invite.
My tree this morning: still holding up.
Happy holidaze, dolls.