What We Talk About When We Talk About Rain Forests

Chris Noth and Whoopi Goldberg.

Chris Noth and Whoopi Goldberg.

When Chris Noth invites you out on Valentine’s Day weekend, you don’t say no. At least that was the Transom’s theory as we set out Sunday night, looking to get friendly with the actor best known for his role as Mr. Big on Sex and the City—and, oh yeah, with the rain forests—at a benefit auction for the Rainforest Action Network hosted by Mr. Noth at his Midtown East venue, The Cutting Room.

Casually dressed in blue jeans and an untucked white button-up, Mr. Noth made his way along the red carpet, sneaking sips of dark liquor. Love or something was in the air, and the Transom caught Mr. Noth’s eye from across the way. Drunk on good intentions, if not yet on booze, the strong-browed actor, like every other man in attendance, had only one thing on his mind: the environment.

Mr. Noth was sounding a bit like some Glengarry Glen Ross character—if that character were frothing at the mouth over green energy, that is. “We have to do radical transformation of energy and find ways to make people understand that green energy isn’t some archaic, eccentric idea,” he said, “but a place people can profit from, and so we make profit, but with principles.”

And then suddenly Mr. Noth morphed into some red-faced basketball coach giving a halftime speech. He was infused with passion and urgency. “Get up, get active,” he said, now singling out the Transom (be still our heart). “Make your president do what you elected him to do. Stop sitting on your ass and expecting it to come to you. We have to fight for it.”

For our part, we were ready to grab climate change and deforestation by their ozone-ruining necks and squeeze them into submission. Or at the very least hit our foul shots. Alas, as man of the night, Mr. Noth had to run off to pose for some photos.

Feeling a little stood up, we watched then as guests piled in, stopping at the bar for glasses of red before being escorted to their assigned seats. Flirtation and friendly bidding were in order. And over by the paparazzi section, in the exposed brick lobby across the room, the Transom was awarded a full glass of positivity—or maybe it was bourbon.

Underneath the shadow of a guitar-entwined chandelier, we managed to chat with the unmistakable Whoopi Goldberg, co-host of the evening, who for some reason was holding a Starbucks cup that read “Gary” on the side. Unlike Mr. Noth, Ms. Goldberg took a more self-reflective tack when discussing the theme of the evening.

“The younger generation doesn’t need to be told, they’re already on top of it. It’s us,” the 57-year-old actress said. “We’re not dinosaurs. It’s just reminding ourselves not to be too lazy, and it’s hard to do, because we work our asses off and we get lazy.”

As if to defend her record, Ms. Goldberg listed off all the projects she is currently part of, including her work with AIDS awareness and pro-choice organizations. “I do a lot of shit,” she said. And then she began to sound an awful lot like some sidewalk doomsayer.

“Crazy shit is happening,” she said. “Now some of it is because of global warming, but asteroids are falling out of the sky, the fucking pope left. We’re dealing with a lot, so I kind of think it’ll just take a minute.”

The gavel sounded as auctioned items—like Sting’s autographed guitar and a wild art piece painted live on stage by Jessica Gorlicky—found new homes. We soon found ourselves near R.A.N. founder Randy Hayes, who said he has already been arrested 19 times for civil disobedience.

“You have to deliver tough love sometimes to these governments and these transnational corporations that are cutting down the rain forest,” he said, with the hint of a delinquent smile. What else was in store for the Rainforest Action Network, we wondered?

“We have a series of house parties across the country,” said Mr. Hayes. “Well, some of them are really quite fun.”

Hmm. Transom does love a good house party, but whatever would we talk about?