The Transom wasn’t even through the door of Bust’s 20th anniversary birthday bash at the Bell House in Brooklyn last Thursday when we spotted our first attendee in a retro ModCloth purchase. It was a preview of things to come.
Everywhere the Transom turned, we were greeted with the mixed-bag trappings of post-Third-Wave millennial womanhood. There was no official dress code, but a quick survey of the crowd inside revealed many items of vintage (and faux-vintage) clothing, including a couple of actual ’70s-era jumpsuits. And at least a quarter of the attendees seemed to be wearing skirts that wouldn’t have been out of place at a barbecue circa 1956. (Let’s not even get into the eyewear.)
As for the proceedings, the ceremony opened with a video collage of birthday wishes from celebrities. Roseanne got a big whoop; Amanda Palmer not so much. Director John Waters received the biggest cheer.
Petite Internet rap sensation Awkwafina stopped by, performing her viral hit “My Vag.” (Sample lyric: “My vag, Harvard Law School; your vag, Apex Technical.”) Amber Tamblyn performed a tongue-in-cheek poem titled “Vagina Murderous,” accompanied by husband David Cross on the banjo. (Ms. Tamblyn took a moment to declare her allegiances in the city’s mayoral race: “I’m honored to be here tonight, and to be voting for Christine Quinn in the fall, and you better be doing that shit as well,” she informed the crowd.)
SNL cast member Vanessa Bayer took a less political approach, devoting a sizable chunk of her set to the fact that, actually, if you think about it, Friends is a rude and terrible clique.
Between the musical acts, emcee Julie Klausner handed out “Golden Bra” awards to heroes and friends of Bust. Riot grrrl Kathleen Hanna accepted her award with a rambling anecdote about making friends with the resident middle-school weirdo; Margaret Cho turned up in a surprise appearance and was greeted by someone in the audience screaming, “You’re a fucking pioneer!”
But the hit of the night was the appearance of Ms. magazine founder Gloria Steinem, introduced as “the queen of feminism.”
“Know when, on Academy Award night, they get up and they say this means so much because it comes from my peers? Now I know what they mean,” she said.
A loud awww reverberated throughout the room. A woman standing behind the Transom turned to her friend and announced that she was literally crying at the appearance by Ms. Steinem, who continued in regard to Ms.: “It has been my life, and I feel so lucky.”
Looking out on the crowd, she suddenly changed tack: “Listen, don’t do retro for the ’50s,” she said. “I started out in the ’50s, and I can tell you, it was terrible.”