A few weeks ago we received a suspicious package at the Chelsea. A large envelope with no return address, we opened it cautiously. Inside was a silver origami unicorn encased in a plastic box. “Undo me” the label demanded. No way, we said, figuring it was probably a stink bomb of some sort, at best, and at worst it was laced with anthrax. We tossed it in the trash.
A couple of days later we found out that it had been an invitation to Cindy Gallop’s futuristic theme party (L.A. in 2019) in her huge apartment across the street at the old Y. (She was nice enough to send us another invitation: it looked better before I unfolded it and then tried to fold it back.)
After this inauspicious beginning we breathed a sigh of relief, knowing things couldn’t possibly get any worse. Entering through the basement lobby, which has finally been renovated, we rode the elevator up to the black lacquer, art-and-taxidermy stuffed “Den of Cin” and ran into Cindy first thing. She wore a striking leather bustier, giving her the look of an atavistic post nuclear S&M High priestess. Perhaps she came up with the idea for the party so she could wear the stunning outfit, though it appealed to me as more Mad Max than Blade Runner. Or maybe something out of the pagan version of A Canticle for Lebowitz. Why walk, indeed!
Most people were about like us: oh this shirt or this dress looks kind of futuristic. (Like Rohit and Lizzie, the British couple who were staying in the Madonna “Sex” room, and with whom we walked across the street to the party.) One guy wore a plastic silver lame jacket we had seen the week before in American Apparel. A woman in a pink skirt simply put a tin-foil bow in her hair; her date wrapped foil around his wrist. Several women dressed up like the “replicant” played by Daryl Hanna in Blade runner—going to various lengths to replicate the look. Five men showed up in orange prison jump suits (go figure), while another, bafflingly, had attired himself as a cowboy. At least nobody showed up as Snow Fucking White or the Lion King (though that’s probably much closer to the future we will have to endure).
Due to racy accounts of past Cindy Gallop parties, we were looking forward to seeing the waiters prancing around with loins girded solely in Y towels. On this night, however, they were merely shirtless. (Though very buff: Debbie thinks they were running down to David Barton’s gym to do a few reps between carrying out plates of hors d’oevres.) This sets a bad precedent, certainly; who wants to live in a future where waiters are allowed to keep their pants on?
We partied as if an asteroid were on course to vaporize our planet by dawn. (Now there’s a future I could “live” with: why don’t the developers just nuke the whole city instead of agonizingly chopping us up knuckle by knuckle and joint by joint?)
Those of you who have been following Legends for a bit know that we met Cindy after I criticized her apartment on the blog (actually, I confess, more for its very existence in the old Y building than for its artistic/design shortcomings), and so I was kind of worried that one or another of her friends might recognize me and punch me in the nose. Mainly they said, “Hey, you’re the guy in that movie with Cindy.” But sure enough, one of the first people I ran into was, Stefan, the guy who designed the apartment. He was dressed as an old time Chinese cooley; his explanation: “We’ll all be Chinese some day.” We talked about how gentrification is a double-edged sword: while the city is safer, much of its vibrancy has been drained. (This is certainly true, though actually, if you don’t have a lot of money, it’s pretty much just a single-edged sword.)
And no, he didn’t punch me in the nose. Nor did the artist who designed the gold Gucci chainsaw and the Chanel AK-47—and, more recently, the gold-plated Gucci alligator. He and his girlfriend were dressed in running suits and had lots of knives and axes strapped onto themselves: “Take everything literally,” he said when asked to explain.
Serena Bass (who used to have a club in the basement of the Chelsea) catered the event, providing yummy appetizers including tomato-coconut discs, cheese sticks, black angus skewers, and mini lox-and-cream-cheese wraps. I meant to say hi to Paul Richard—whose photo (by Julia Calfee)appears in Legends much in the tricksterish spirit of his own art, but he left before I could say Hello, off to the Gagosian, no doubt.
The only other Chelsea resident in attendance was the fashion designer Zaldy (17 years at the hotel), who wore a gauzy cape (I think), his vision of the future looking oddly similar to one of his own forward-looking designs of today. Well, at least some of us are prepared for what’s to come. -- Ed Hamilton