Last night was GLAAD Manhattan (tons more photos at Guest of a Guest), an event held at 230 Fifth's swanky rooftop garden and bar that was hosted by Bethenny Frankel. Well, she hosted it in the sense that she showed up looking smashing, GLAADly did unguarded interviews with every outlet on the red carpet and then split without ever setting foot in the party.
It was a steamy affair—New York + humidity = everyone swimming in their underwear. To make matters worse, I'd walked over from Times Square in my jacket. There was a tropical theme but I don't look good in floral shirts, so I had to improvise, grabbing a Hawaiian T-shirt of mine that has since become one of José's pajama tops and wearing it under my jacket. Of course, half the people arrived in shorts and tank tops. Leave it to the guy who has worn long pants once all summer to be overdressed.
Speaking of which, the first thing I spotted when I got off the elevator was a mass of barely-clad models showing off their swimsuits. Turns out they were auctioning off their worn Speedos. I got close enough to see that they were wearing something under the Speedos (so fetishists would think this auction failed the smell test), but I didn't have $90+ on me anyway. I have no doubt they found plenty of takers at varying price points.
The carpet was as small as the minds of the people GLAAD is up against, but quite chummy. The lesbian videographer next to me from Go nudged me out of her shot so gently it felt like I was being put to bed by Mother. There were some Z-list celebs to contend with—bless them, though—which is only difficult in that you feel like an asshole having to discreetly ask who they are. The only one I really had to roll my eyes at was a blonde bombshell who told me, when I asked why coming out to this event was important, that she loves parties.
I was shocked when several of the evening's drag performers blew off the cute reporter next to me. Apparently, he was friends with them, so they weren't taking him seriously. Lookit, if you're a drag queen at an event, you better be willing to pose for photos until the flashes die out and answer every question asked of you.
John Bartlett (pictured) confirmed for me that orange is the new black, Jujubee spoke about the stereotype-busting nature of RuPaul's Drag Race (and introduced her sexy loverman of four years, Christopher) and I wound up falling in love three times last night—which is okay, because my loverman of 15+ years, José, was my cameraman so was doggedly keeping an eye on me.
First, I'd heard of Scott Herman from Real World: Boston, but seeing is disbelieving—he's impossibly cute and was beyond game as he modeled his swimwear, even throwing me a va-va-voom arms-over-the-head shot. He cheerfully talked about being a straight ally who's as disgusted by homophobia as his gay fans are distracted by his physique. (And "physique" is the right word; shoot him in black-and-white and it's Dave Martin all over again.)
Scott Evans, ex-One Life to Live, also stopped for me (later telling me it was because I was cute...I'd be a terrible journalist because he could kill a baby and I'd find the silver lining after that compliment), telling me about life after soap operas and giving me the exclusive news that he's going to film a new movie in Cape Cod called Dead Reckoning. Even more interestingly, he's got a masturbation scene on an TV show that, er, coming right up.
And then there is CSI star Gerald McCulloch, a sexy, self-described "silver fox" who is all the more appealing for being openly gay and pleasingly polite—he worried about the sound in his interview and hoped he was being articulate. He was, talking about his new flick BearCity and about how he'd coach a peer on the decision to be an out actor.
Crushes aside, I was also pleased that I got four minutes with Alex McCord and her husband Simon van Kempen from The Real Housewives of New York City. I kinda hated them on Season 1, but they've grown on me a lot. In person, they were very down to earth about their very not down to earth fame cycle and didn't bat an eye on gay issues, even when I asked about how they handle rumors that Simon's gay. (The idea of "gay" being used as a slur.) I think some people down the line were annoyed that I had them for so long, but I only asked four questions—they just gave thoughtful answers.
Miss New York, Claire Buffie, struck me as a no-nonsense type, someone I just couldn't imagine hanging out with the big-haired Miss America contestants she'll compete against on a national level at Planet Hollywood in January. Her gay-rights platform is a first for the organization (and possibly a first for any pageant system), one she embraced in honor of her lesbian sister. She told me she was able to persuade a pageant girl from Tennessee to support marriage equality—Buffie the Bigot Slayer!
The big "get" of the night was Frankel. I was concerned she'd skip over most of the line, but she didn't—she spoke to all of us. I was not a fan of hers when the show launched, but post-Jill she's risen in my rankings considerably. In person, I found her to be quite striking—that lean body and those big boobs, however they got there, more power to ya—and completely unguarded. A youngster asking questions for one of the big outlets (People and the New York Daily News were there) had the temerity to ask her to identify "the worst Botox job in Hollywood...or just the worst plastic surgery in general" and instead of walking away Frankel thought about it and kind of played it off. But she didn't act offended.
I asked her the same question I'd asked McCord and VanKempen—about "gay" being used as an insult—and while she didn't relate it to Omarosa's recent commentary on Frankel's husband, she agreed it's a product of ignorance. She seemed amused when I asked where her cute husband was and if she didn't trust the gays around him. "No, I don't!" She's smart because we are rapin' ever'body out there, homebody. Liked her very much.
Didn't love that right after the line, she vamoosed. But hey, it was hot upstairs on that roof and she'd Tweeted that she felt sick earlier in the day, a sickness that a yoga session had held at bay. Perhaps only temporarily.
Surprisingly, after having to bypass me just due to the timing of the line, Johnny Weir came back specifically for me—very nice of him. I kinda hated him for his pro-fur (as opposed to not caring about fur issues, he's pro-fur...which is like being pro-abortion, I guess) stance, but he was extremely nice and personable. He recently said he didn't care to hear the facts about animal suffering regarding fur because he's always going to do what makes him happy, so I asked him how he would react to a person who said, "I'm anti-gay, I don't want to hear anything about suicide rates or other facts, I'm anti-gay and that's how I am." His response was that while he respects people's right to their opinions, he's against hatred of all kinds. He also teased that his upcoming book will go over his sexuality in detail, including talking about to whom he lost his virginity. (Which kind, I wondered.) Must say he was a very nice guy even if I wouldn't leave pets in his care. And his publicist was a real bombshell.
I ran into fellow bloggers/famewhores Kenneth ("Who ARE these people?"), Ben & Dave ("Liked Johnny Weir the most, but don't think he was too happy with us..."), Matt Maggiacomo (who was reading parts of my novel, which apparently sits on a shelf at his Fire Island share) and Mike Diamond (in person, he's built like the hunks he harasses on video and can turn his character on and off like Marilyn Monroe did).
I also got some good shots with the people I'd just interviewed, and had to force a shot with sexy MSNBC newsie Thomas Roberts. (Kenneth volunteered to take that picture, but I thought not)...he really didn't seem thrilled that I asked, but didn't seem about to say no. You can't tell this from the picture, in which he looks handsome and happy enough. I guess that's what counts when you're dealing with a starfucker like me.
It was a fun, if moist, night; I hope GLAAD raked in some moolah. As I told its head honcho Jarrett Barrios (pictured), I don't see "Gay, Inc." as my enemy; I think GLAAD does great work. It's not always right, it's not always perfect, but it's on our side. Otherwise, I would turn down their free shrimp and free fried chicken strips and interview opportunities. Well, maybe I'd take the food. But I wouldn't enjoy it.
*Courtesy of Gregory Pace