I’ve been praying a lot lately. I even did it with Patti LaBelle. We stood in a circle in her trailer—me, the great Lady Marmalade herself and her bandmates—while her drummer led us in a pre-performance affirmation. Ms. LaBelle, I should explain, was the star attraction at the opening bash for the new Barneys store in Dallas.
The prayer worked. Wearing a gold mini-dress and matching sling-back Christian Louboutin shoes, Patti then tore into the party tent, which we had constructed in the parking lot, and blew the lid off the Northpark mall with a spirited rendition of “New Attitude.” As mind-blowing as her performance was—at one point, she kicked her legs in the air and sent those spike heels flying across the stage—the most joyful God-given moment came when Patti summoned me back to her trailer for an après-show chat.
Though her Marmaladyship was attired in a black, floor-length velvet Donna Karan kimono lined in ivory silk charmeuse, she was far from ready to hit the hay. It was 11:30 p.m.—past my bedtime, but not hers.
“Darlin’, I’m ready to shop. Can you open the store for me?” she purred, referring to the brand-new 88,000-square-foot Barneys fashion palace scheduled to open to the public the next morning. “I’m a very busy girl, and I don’t have the time to go shoplifting.”
While the security staff banged on the lights and turned off the alarm system, Ms. LaBelle and I drove, in her stretch limo, the 14 yards from her trailer to the store entrance.
The next hour was like a dream. My colleagues and I sat mesmerized in the shoe salon and watched Ms. LaBelle—one of the great shoe connoisseurs of our age—try on, and critique, the styles of the season. Height was her primary concern: Though she loved the lace Alaia ballet flat, anything less than a four-inch heel was dismissed as “a baby’s shoe” or “a starter kit.”
As I watched Ms. LaBelle clunking across the carpet in this season’s massively orthopedic Balenciaga platforms, I realized that I was in the company of one of the most glamorous people in the world. She literally shimmers from top to toe—especially her legs, which have fewer veins than mine and were liberally anointed with a RéVive crème lustre ($375 at finer beauty counters), an unguent which gives the skin a metallic sheen.
Back in New York—and suffering from post-Patti depression—I resumed another prayer vigil. My entreaties concerned the speedy completion of the endless apartment renovation I have undertaken with my husband, Jonathan Adler. We are currently sequestered in our bedroom, while the rest of the rubble-strewn abode is inhabited by an army of workmen. We have dubbed our refuge “the Anne Frank suite.” Poor, beautiful, doomed Anne Frank has become one of those historical figures whose name we disrespectfully toss around like a Louboutin sling-back to signify something quite mundane. Living in cramped quarters? “Very Anne Frank, dahling!” Ditto Helen Keller. How many times a week do I use her name to verbally bludgeon those who have done something dopey where perceptual skills are called into question? If God grants me my wish and the reno wraps up soon, I vow to mend my ways and cease this dreadful practice.
More prayers: Last Tuesday night, during the Elton John AIDS Foundation dinner at the Waldorf, I found myself praying that Elvis Costello would stop singing. Though clearly a really nice bloke and undeniably talented, Mr. Costello and his oeuvre—all those hetero songs with girls’ names like Allison, Veronica, whatever!—have zero appeal for we members of the GLBT (gravy, lettuce, bacon and tomato) community.
Given the predominance of Judy Garland fans in the audience, Mr. Costello was an odd choice. (I guess Melissa Manchester was busy that night.) Ditto Neil Young, who followed Mr. Costello and sang and sang and sang. But guess what? Neil Young is so bizarre and talented and such a wacky poet that he was able to reel in the gays. The entire audience became transfixed by the painful melancholy of that whining voice. Nobody talked. You could have heard a David Yurman earring drop. By the time he did “Harvest Moon,” I was praying he’d never stop.
Regarding queens: When über-publicist Kathy Berlin called me to host a screening of The Queen at the Tribeca Screening Room last Monday, I assumed she was doing so in deference to my frequent and legendary impersonations of Her Majesty. Having cross-dressed as Queen Elizabeth II on no less than four occasions—and once being paid $50 to do so, I might add—I consider myself infinitely more qualified to play the role than La Mirren. On one of my Queen outings, many moons ago, I got horribly drunk and vomited into my white vinyl purse. Such hands-on experience, one would have thought, should at least have entitled me to an audition. But no.
Despite our intense rivalry, I pray that Dame Helen wins the Oscar—anything that draws attention to Her Majesty can only result in more look-alike bookings for me.
PS: Sir Elton “Candle in the Wind” John has added a real flamer to his Slatkin candle collection. Log onto bathandbodyworks.com and buy zillions of the new vanilla-and-coriander-flavored, flatulence-masking $16.50 Slatkin/Elton John “Fireside” candle; 10 percent of proceeds benefit the singer’s AIDS foundation. Burn, baby, burn!
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