New York City charity circuit regulars are a bit spoiled when it comes to the locations of their nocturnal activities. While we may drone on about having to go to Cipriani 42nd Street yet again, when all is said and done, at least you’re just a cab ride away from bed when the evening ends.
Saturday night made me realize just how blasé I’ve been about the convenience with which I drop by events when I headed out to Bridgehampton for the annual Cocktails at Sunset benefit for ACRIA, the AIDS Community Research Initiative of America, held at Steven Klein’s house. As I was only stopping by for the evening, there was the Jitney ride out there in party-ready attire, and then Juanita, the lone taxi driver whom my friend hailed down to shuttle us to Klein’s house.
After making Juanita promise to return at 9:45 p.m. (we had to make the last Jitney home or we were stranded), we were then shuttled yet again on two sets of golf carts down a bumpy grass road lined with tiki torches illuminating the vineyards on one side. Our second of two golf cart drivers was nicknamed Sugar Ball Butts because of his love of derrieres. Charming.
There were quite a few of those on display, by the way, in the silent auction portion of the cocktails, housed under a white tent next to a dance floor, bar and deejay booth. There, works by the likes of John Baldessari, Dan Colen and Herb Ritts—many showing the male form in all its unclothed glory—were mixed in with Baume & Mercier watches and plush weekend carryalls. Perhaps inspired by images of such physical perfection, the one item with the most bids, at least early on, was a fitness package with trainer Louis Coraggio, including Barry’s Bootcamp sessions.
Not that guests like Kelly Klein, Olivier Theyskens, Nacho Figueras and Calvin Klein had to worry: food wasn’t terribly easy to come by or in large quantity when found. But the party was packed despite the 90 degree heat, perhaps because as Helen Schifter explained, contrary to my personal trek, the benefit had a feeling of laissez-faire to it.
“It’s so nice because it’s a charity, but you can just roll in from the beach,” she said, looking much more like she rolled in from a well-stocked closet.
Others were, well, more audaciously clothed (or not). One fellow was topless, save for a cropped leather vest. Another had a red kerchief around his neck. And muscle tees and barely there tank tops abounded.
I had some fun playing a game of Where’s Waldo, the Steven Klein version. The elusive photographer supposedly popped out of his house early on, then disappeared, reemerging after I’d already left. His grounds certainly provided quite a lovely scene, with a fire pit going and a pool lit by candles.
It was unfortunate I had to leave so early into the night, but alas, my Jitney beckoned. Though Juanita, did not. Instead, my friend and I stumbled upon a limo driver, Patrick, there waiting for a bachelorette party of girls to return from their follies, who in the interim ushered us into his car after clearing the back area of their detritus. Sketch city, but we were desperate.
Part-way through the drive, I felt a furry thing fly over the divider between the front and back seats and land on my arm. Lucy, his shitzu, who apparently keeps him company up front. And likes pink bows in her hair. She promptly collapsed on me for the rest of the ride, which fortunately got us to the Jitney stop with minutes to spare.
Come fall, I will probably bemoan again the hours I clock rotating between the Plaza hotel, Cipriani and Lincoln Center. But hopefully I’ll have the wherewithal to recognize how lucky I am not to have to rely on Juanita for my ride home.
Photos: Patrick McMullan Company