Ryan McGinley in Gucci.

“It’s a little hard for me to breathe, not because I’m nervous, just because I’m uptown,” said Ryan McGinley Wednesday night. He had been lured above 14th Street by the Art Production Fund’s annual gala, which this year honored him alongside artist Jane Kaplowitz Rosenblum.

Inside The Diamond Horseshoe, in the underbelly of the Paramount Hotel in midtown, Joyce Pensato branded guests with temporary tattoos, Steven Klein took portraits, and Petra Collins was led around on a chain dressed as a toddler. It was a piece of performance art reminiscent of the Queen of the Night cabaret show that sometimes occupies the venue—or perhaps more precisely, the massive gay-friendly "Prettyugly" parties that once took place here.

This was a decidedly different crowd - Cindy Sherman, Chloë Sevigny and Rachel Feinstein dressed in Gucci (the evening’s sponsor) - and ready to plunk down serious cash on artwork up for auction by the likes of Alex Katz, Kenny Scharf and Yoko Ono.

The evening’s MC was a throwback—Fab 5 Freddy (“I lived for MTV raps when I was a kid stuck in the suburbs, and Freddy introduced me to hip hop which changed my life,” said McGinley), but the performer was as fresh as they come. Lion Babe, the soul duo made up of Vanessa William’s daughter Jillian Hervey and producer Lucas Goodman took to the stage at the end of the evening, which had the likes of Thelma Golden on her feet attempting to capture that hair for Snapchat.


With the first day of spring fast approaching, early thoughts of summer vacation took hold. McGinley for one, is abandoning his annual road trip and staying put in New York this season—appropriate for the “Urban Jungle” theme of APF's party.

“I love New York, first of all because of it’s energy. It’s really nonstop, it keeps you on your toes, it keeps you productive,” he said. “It makes you feel bad about yourself if you’re not doing something.”

As the guest of honor, McGinley offered up profuse thanks to many of the people in his life, especially his mother. "She’s still coming around to the nudity in my photographs," he told the audience. "But mom, just remember, Jesus was a nonconformist and a radical questioner of authority too."