Beats, Pies and Life: From Groovy Tunes to Delicious Desserts, Everything Is Just Divine

Divine.

Divine.

To Shindigger, Nile Rodgers has never ceased to be relevant. The legendary producer was a founding member of Chic—a band that’s one of our personal faves—and we’ll go to our grave clutching other Rodgers projects, like Diana Ross’s Diana, Sister Sledge’s We Are Family and Madonna’s Like A Virgin. For those with shorter memories, Mr. Rodgers has surged back into the mainstream this summer with chart-toppers for Daft Punk. And for those with even shorter memories, the dance music genius was just in New York for a charity event benefitting his We Are Family Foundation.

As bartenders mixed sturdy cocktails, a stream of socialites trickled into Cipriani on 42nd Street. There was Amanda Hearst, Kelly Killoren Bensimon and actress Jo Champa. Eventually, everyone sat down to an intimate dinner, a live auction and a rare performance by Mr. Rodgers. Maybe it was our nerves at meeting such a hero, but we couldn’t get anything juicy out of the groovy Mr. Rodgers.

“It is very inspiring to see great names such as Susan and David Rockefeller and Girard-Perregaux uniting to support We Are Family Foundation,” he said of the evening’s sponsors.

So the quotes were canned, but the food was delicious. And by the time desserts hit the table, diet-conscious guests shimmied onto the dance floor as Q-Tip manned the ones and twos.

For those with more classical musical tastes, the New York Philharmonic also just celebrated its fall gala with Yo-Yo Ma, who gave an opening-night performance in Avery Fisher Hall.

“We’ll be hearing some Piazzolla,” Phoebe Tudor, NYPH’s gala co-chairwoman, divulged to Shindigger. “It reminds me of our family’s trip early this past summer when we got to experience fall in Argentina and even take a tango lesson.”

Ms. Tudor and her husband, Bob, were part of an impressive array of high rollers who turned out for the event. “This is a great mix, isn’t it?” cooed another gala co-chair, Antonio Quintella, chairman of Credit Suisse Hedging-Griffo.

Meanwhile, Special Events Committee Chairwoman Karen LeFrak had autumn on her mind. “This is the start of the cultural season in New York,” she proclaimed.

Ken Buckfire, gala co-chairman and an investment banker, agreed with Ms. LeFrak. “New York is a world city and has always blended culture into its own distinctive culture,” he said. “This concert is a great example of what New York has always done best.”

The black-tie event brimmed with sophistication—and with desserts! Restaurant Associates’s sugary finale in the tent of Josie Robertson Plaza was a real showstopper: crèma catalana with orange caramel, orange segments and zest, and chocolate-dipped almond cookies.

“What would you have served at the gala?” we asked Fernanda Capobianco, owner of Vegan Divas, a few days later at a launch for her forthcoming cookbook.

“Chocolate liégeois with tofu tahini ice cream,” she replied. “It’s a very elegant dessert in a glass, and you can see the layers of it.”

“Think more fashion,” we begged, needing something a bit lighter for maintaining a svelte figure.

“Well, I would serve all the desserts gluten-free, since most of the fashion people are gluten-free these days,” Ms. Capobianco responded. “Gluten-free raspberry cheesecake served in the glass, because it’s very light and tasty.”

Fair enough.

One person who would have never shied away from a good dessert is the documentary subject of I Am Divine. The New York premiere of Jeffrey Schwarz’s stupendous new film about the iconic actor, singer, drag queen and John Waters muse Divine was held at BAM’s Rose Cinemas in
Brooklyn. The film focuses on the camp star’s rise to fame and gives a detailed backstory into the man behind the façade, born Harris Glenn Milstead.

While the documentary was amazing, the so-called after-party felt a bit too much like a John Waters film.

“The place was packed with old gays who just wanted to talk about themselves,” meowed one attendee. Nonetheless, the documentary was worth our while. And a significant portion of Divine’s story rings true today, with America’s ongoing plight of bullying.

“As a teenager, Divine was bullied mercilessly,” Mr. Schwarz explained. “When he met John Waters, he was able to take all that trauma and channel it into the Divine character and throw everything that people made fun of him for back in their faces.” Mr. Schwarz claims profiling Divine gives people hope that anything’s possible. “It’s kind of the ultimate ‘it gets better’ story.”

The must-see documentary is full of hilarious anecdotes and moving struggles of the actor. “Divine wasn’t a drag queen. He was a character actor who played female roles,” said the filmmaker, who was surprised to learn about different aspects of Divine’s life, like his high school girlfriend, Diana.

“They dated for about seven years,” he said. “Divine, who was still Glenn, took her to the prom, did her hair and makeup and told her how to dress. She was really smitten with him, in a very sweet high school puppy-love kind of way.”

As with any documentary, pieces got left on the editing-room floor. “There are so many hilarious and legendary stories about Divine,” Mr. Schwarz went on. “You’ll have to wait for the DVD to find out about Divine being a suspect in a murder case, his adventures in Provincetown with Holly Woodlawn and how his high school girlfriend came to terms with Divine’s new identity.”

Shindigger will be ready to watch those tasty moments, dessertspoon at the ready.