What would Sandra Lee cook if she were catering the GLAAD Media Awards? The gubernatorial girlfriend, best known for her open-up-a-can recipes, didn’t hesitate. “I would do a Burrata cheese, heirloom tomato, an amazing olive oil, crispy pancetta … right next to a big, beautiful Bellini.”
Ms. Lee was on the blue carpet at Times Square’s Marriott Marquis to celebrate this year’s GLAAD awards for excellence in portraying gay figures in the media. Who was her favorite gay icon? “There are so many of them…Cher!”
Laverne Cox, the statuesque, transgender star of VH1′s TRANSform Me, adjusting her low-cut champagne-and-silver frock, was full to bursting with diva appreciation: “One of my all-time idols is Leontyne Price. There are so many, but for an opera queen like me, those older singers …” The Observer interrupted to ask if she liked any current singers, like Renée Fleming. Ms. Cox’s exaggerated pout grew grave. “Renée Fleming’s cool. I don’t love the current singers.”
Stylist Phillip Bloch floated down the red carpet, eager to talk. The celebrity dresser best known for getting Halle Berry, John Travolta and Drew Barrymore red-carpet ready had just moved to Spanish Harlem: “I can spend time in the hood, and getting downtown is easy enough.” He was also looking forward to meeting the recently de-closeted Ricky Martin: “What he did takes courage-even though we all kinda knew.”
Mr. Martin was honored with the Vito Russo Award at the ceremony, but meeting him proved impossible, as the ex-Menudo singer breezed down the red-carpet flanked by two security guards to protect him from the elbow-throwing crowd (who knew so many yearned to live “La Vida Loca”?) and didn’t show up at the after-party.
“I’d like to meet him-did my voice just go up?” said Mr. Bloch. “I think he’s great. I mean, I never had a crush on him or anything.” He may have been the only one: a preshow auction included a puppy-adoption package, and the auctioneer called one puppy “the only attendee cuter than Ricky Martin.”
Not all were quite so eager-Tony-winning actor and True Blood actor Denis O’Hare in particular. “I’m an opera fan, so where he and opera intersect, that’s where I’m a fan.” Mr. O’Hare, who was already planning his visit to the Met’s Valkyrie production, named Truman Capote and Gore Vidal as his favorite gay icons: “Truman, so massively witty. Gore, so massively talented.”
After the ceremony, which featured a performance by a Cirque du Soleil contortionist and a presentation by the Rev. Al Sharpton, the after-party quickly blossomed into a swinging bash. Gift bags were strewn across the floor as guests danced to Rihanna and Britney Spears remixes by DJ Tracy Young (favorite gay icons: “Madonna, hands down! And Marilyn Monroe”). Assistant Deputy Secretary of Education Kevin Jennings was grabbing fruity drinks for friends at the bar, wearing a flashy Glen plaid blazer. He loves a costume: “When I was in fifth grade, I dressed up as Cher for spirit day.” How did that go? “Not so good.”
The Observer stumbled into Lawrence O’Donnell, of MSNBC, deep in conversation with Mr. Bloch. Mr. O’Donnell just loves Lady Gaga: “She’s great musically. … She has more mystery around her than anyone who’s ever occupied that section of our consciousness.” The newsman had joked about the gay meet-up service Grindr during the ceremony-had he heard of the site before his presentation? “Yes.” Had he ever used a dating site himself? “No. It’s never occurred to me.”
The Observer hoped to ask Ms. Lee what she thought of the menu, but, after sipping the lemonade-and-raspberry vodka “Swedish Stunner” cocktail, she was flipping the tassels on her white sequined minidress and mouthing the words to (how apropos!) “Sex on Fire” on the dance floor. Although Mr. Martin was nowhere in sight, drag queen Sahara Davenport, in a Balmain-ish sequined concoction, slyly noted, “Ricky told me he’d meet me behind the DJ booth! LOL.”
The 1970s drag queen Rollerina, in leopard-print housecoat, orange pillbox and veil, tottered on the dance floor, never without a handsome younger man holding her up. Had she made her own outfit? “I’m not a designer-I go to parties.” And who was her favorite gay icon? “It has to be Andy.” Rollerina had befriended Warhol years ago, at Studio 54. “She’s one of a kind,” said Rollerina waggishly.
Edited by Daisy Prince
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