Actress and activist Susan Sarandon was onstage at Avery Fisher Hall on Monday, May 5, after a two-and-a-half-hour tribute that had featured many film clips. Batting her trademark bulging peepers (not a euphemism), Ms. Sarandon looked toward her family in the balcony.
“My kids … they haven’t seen most of these films,” said the actress with a guileless smile and an apologetic shrug.
The Transom gazed balcony-ward too, shuddering with the sympathy of one who was once also a preteen, but mercifully never had to watch her mother sing “Toucha-toucha-toucha-touch me, I wanna be dirty” in front of several hundred people at Lincoln Center.
It was hard to see the reactions of Miles Robbins, 11, and Jack Henry Robbins, 14, during the Lincoln Center Film Society’s tribute to their mother, Ms. Sarandon. But they must have been writhing in agony as speeches from Ms. Sarandon’s friends punctuated memorable moments from her film career.
The boys got to see Ms. Sarandon tongue-bathe a cherry in The Witches of Eastwick , suck on Kevin Costner’s nipples in Bull Durham , and rub wet lemons over her bare breasts in Atlantic City . The actress was also felt up by Burt Lancaster ( Atlantic City ), by Catherine Deneuve ( The Hunger ) and by-“Chill me, thrill me, fulfill me”-Peter Hinwood in The Rocky Horror Picture Show .
As Ms. Sarandon’s smoldering Bull Durham character Annie Savoy might say, with a throaty sigh: “Oh, my!”
Tim Robbins, Ms. Sarandon’s partner of 15 years, and her 18-year-old daughter, actress Eva Amurri, flanked her sons in the balcony, along with author Gore Vidal, director Paul Schrader, singer Harry Belafonte and co-stars of Ms. Sarandon’s like Geena Davis, John Turturro, David Bowie and Tim Curry.
The Film Society, which two years ago honored activist Jane Fonda, could have made the night easier by just picking someone more … popular. But they insisted on Ms. Sarandon, who, with Mr. Robbins, was recently disinvited from the Baseball Hall of Fame’s planned 15th-birthday celebration of Bull Durham because of her vocal opposition to the war in Iraq.
But despite empty balconies and some initial nervousness-Film Society chairman Ira Resnick was so flustered in his introduction that he forgot to find the onstage microphone-the night was both good-spirited and openly political.
“She does not need to be liked,” said a silver-bearded Mr. Curry, Ms. Sarandon’s Rocky Horror co-star, who praised the actress for creating a “platform for dissent” that “has often been transformed into a pillory.”
Mr. Vidal, the godfather of one of the Robbins boys-“always a godfather, never a god,” he said-saluted Ms. Sarandon as “a wife … uh … friend [Mr. Robbins and Ms. Sarandon are not married], a mother and an enemy of 19th Century Fox Television,” a reference to the reactionary Fox News Channel. Mr. Vidal also made the most pointed political statement of the night, when he said that since “there are no longer two political parties” in the United States, “if celebrities don’t speak out, nobody does.”
But Mr. Robbins, whose public speaking has occasionally prompted listeners to chew tin foil as a distraction, was the surprise hit of the evening.
Calling Ms. Sarandon “my partner in crime, my wife, my best friend-held in high esteem by waitresses and nuns, minor-league ballplayers and drag queens alike,” Mr. Robbins was funny, touching and really quite likable.
“I could tell you things,” said Mr. Robbins of his domestic life, “but I value peace in my home. And I would quickly tire of the phrase, ‘Like that night at Lincoln Center, you son of a bitch!'”
Mr. Robbins also reeled off a list of qualities for which his partner is known: “She is extremely photogenic when getting arrested,” “doesn’t look cute when she gets mad,” and “[former New York City Mayor Rudy] Giuliani developed a noticeable tick on mention of her name.”
Mr. Robbins also bragged that as a guest on The View , Ms. Sarandon made broadcasting history by talking about “fuck-me pumps” on live television.
“She has no jump shot, but she can still make me laugh,” said Mr. Robbins. “I am proud to call her my friend … [and remain] unmarried but forever committed to her.”
At the end of the loooong proceedings -note to Film Society: Paul Schrader rattling on about a “two-shot master” is called overkill -Ms. Sarandon took the stage in an essentially frontless black dress.
“I’m very happy that you didn’t cancel,” she said to the room.
But after apologizing to her children for the film clips, she managed to twist the knife just a little deeper into their prepubescent hearts.
“Tim,” she purred. “I’ll thank you when we get home.”
When Scores is too lewd and the belly-dancing lounge Casa De La Femme too prude, what fills the gap better than a midtown Kama Sutra lounge?
K, created by spiritual guru Deepak Chopra’s children, Gotham and Mallika, and their pal, hotelier-playboy Vikram Chatwal, is not just about sex.
“It’s really about awakening everybody’s inner fire,” said Gotham.
The Chopras intend to awaken that fire through the use of natural aphrodisiacs. The scent of jasmine hung over the new lounge, which opened May 5 above Mr. Chatwal’s father’s restaurant chain, the Bombay Palace.
Beyond the lounge’s entrance was a dimly lit room with low plush couches, an ornate bar and a dance floor. A second room was choked with diaphanous silk drapes. Waitresses walked around in revealing saris as Indian music pounded from the speakers.
“Everything else is very minimalist and very modern, so we kind of wanted to do the complete opposite-create a mix of all the senses, all the colors, all the sounds,” said Gotham. To draw customers, the trio kept K quiet. “We kind of want people to sort of know about it, almost like a private destination,” said Gotham. “It’s to keep the mystery.”
A speech by Gotham’s father, Deepak, entitled “Sensuality and Exultation of the Human Spirit,” added to the evening’s mystery.
After the guests, including Marisa Tomei, Alexander von Furstenberg and Karenna Gore-Schiff, watched a scantily clad dancer named Manjit gyrate to Indian-inspired rap music, Mr. Chopra doled out some romantic advice.
“Love is the mirror of our souls,” he told the audience, most of whom were still staring at Manjit. “We start with attraction, then infatuation and then communion, and then intimacy and then sexuality. When you are having your peak experiences of sexuality, you lose all sense of time-hopefully you’re not looking at your watch.”
Mr. Chopra had aroused the attentions of his audience. He went on: “Male energy has so taken over this environment, especially in the West. I’m sure you know what a missile looks like, the ultimate phallus out there.”
Mr. Chopra’s concluded by instructing everyone to close their eyes and listen to a song.
“Feel it,” he said. The crowd felt it all right.
“Sex is something that we live,” said model Patricia Velasquez. “If that makes you have a better relationship with your husband or keep a family, that’s good. Sometimes we have such a hard time touching the physical subjects. When you’re getting your period for the first time when you’re young, you don’t talk about it.”
Socialite Ann Jones was right there with Ms. Velasquez. We think.
“Sex is good,” said Ms. Jones. “The whole club scene has an underbeat of sex. So why shouldn’t the club be called Kama Sutra? Let it feel sexy, but it doesn’t mean you have to have sex. I think Kama Sutra is safe sex. You can just seduce and feel sexy and not have to go further.”
Nothing draws press and checkbooks like young girls and dogs in designer clothing. Perhaps that’s why both species filled West 24th Street’s Eugene restaurant on May 1 for “Paws for Style,” a fund-raiser for the Humane Society of New York hosted by Animal Fair magazine-the only publication more important to dogs than yesterday’s New York Times .
Christian Dior, Alice Roi, Kate Spade and Vivienne Tam were among the designers who donated both canine and human clothing for the festivities, which featured a silent auction of items including a pink-fringed Cece Cord–designed dog bed and a Dyson power vacuum called “The Animal.”
But the main event was a runway show to the tune of “Who Let the Dogs Out.” First down the, er, dog -walk was New York Post columnist Cindy Adams, with her ubiquitous Yorkie, Jazzy, both of whom wore clothes by Joanna Mastroianni. Elite model and First Niece Lauren Bush and her Jack Russell–Chihuahua mutt, Angel, were next, in outfits of Ms. Bush’s design.
Nearby, Stella Keitel-the radiant 17-year-old daughter of Harvey Keitel and Lorraine Bracco-snuggled with her husky seven-year-old yellow Lab, Oscar, next to a large ice sculpture of a dog and a hydrant.
“Oscar got his name because he’s the exact same color as the Academy Award,” said Ms. Keitel, a New Jersey high-school student with heavily lined green eyes. The lithe brunette was wearing a St. John black-and-rhinestone-studded jacket with a short skirt. Oscar had on a matching black T-shirt, emblazoned with the St. John logo.
“My dad lives in L.A., and I really wanted a dog; he’s more of a cat person,” Ms. Keitel said. “But he came home one day and was like, ‘I have something in my jacket and I can’t figure out what it is.’ And I’m like, ‘What are you talking about, Dad?’ So I look in his jacket and there’s this little pup sitting there, and I was like, ‘Oh my God!'”
The Transom wanted to know if Ms. Keitel ever shared her clothing with her dog.
“No … he’s probably a size 10, and I’m a two. I have two other dogs, too. Chandler is a Jack Russell, and Luca is a Lab. But they’re not so fat. Oscar is a little chunky,” said the abstemious dog owner. She rolled her eyes and made a comment about her father’s size.
“I’m always telling both of them to go on a diet,” she said.
Nearby, 10-year-old Hallie Kate Eisenberg, of Pepsi-commercial fame, was flashing dimpled grins next to her six-year-old golden retriever, Tara. Both were wearing Jessie USA baby-blue cheerleader-inspired outfits. They sported matching white knee socks.
Poised and practically edible, the young actress explained to The Transom that her family adopted Tara from a professional animal trainer in Canada while Ms. Eisenberg was there shooting The Miracle Worker .
“Tara was in movies, actually,” Ms. Eisenberg said, opening her eyes wide. “She was in Animorphs !”
Ms. Eisenberg is currently starring in her New Jersey middle school’s production of Annie (“It’s just a fifth-grade play,” she said), but Tara didn’t make the final cut for the role of Sandy the dog.
“Sandy is being played by a kid dressed up in a dog outfit,” she said. This deeply troubled The Transom.
“Oh, no! He likes it!” Ms. Eisenberg exclaimed.
-Anna Jane Grossman
Don’t Shoot Me …
On April 7, pianist Michael Garin was fired from his gig at the Hotel Elysée’s Monkey Bar for allegedly having ignored the prostitution going on in the establishment. Now he’s penned a ditty about his travails, sung to the tune of Billy Joel’s “Piano Man”:
… So I’m playing piano and singing,
From Dylan to Lerner and Lowe,
And a guy in a suit
Sees a blonde who is cute
And asks me if she is a pro
… Though I did nothing wrong I was fired,
And I gotta tell you it stinks
The real prostitution
In that institution
Are the prices they change for the drinks.
Mr. Garin, whose family and friends are deciding whether to nickname him “The Mack-Daddy Pimp of Midtown” or “Pimp-Daddy Mickey Keys,” is actually not amused by the set of bizarre circumstances that led to his dismissal from the Monkey Bar after eight years entertaining its patrons.
In its storied past, the Monkey Bar attracted Joe DiMaggio, Marlon Brando and Tennessee Williams, but has recently come under police scrutiny for its clientele of alleged call girls and their patrons.
Peter Glazier, who has owned the Monkey Bar since 1994, said that he fired Mr. Garin for willfully ignoring the sex trade going on under his nose.
Mr. Glazier told The Transom that he only became suspicious about the bar’s illicit influx of prostitutes a few months ago, at which point he requested a police investigation.
After an undercover operation by the NYPD confirmed Mr. Glazier’s suspicions, he promptly fired five employees-including Mr. Garin, whose popular act won a 2000 Bistro Award for Best Singer/Instrumentalist.
“It was more a question of [Mr. Garin’s] loyalty than [potentially lost] business,” said Mr. Glazier.
Mr. Garin confirmed that “[hookers] have been coming in, having a drink, and then leaving for every one of the eight years I was there,” but stressed that he was “just freaking the piano player.”
“It’s my job to entertain people, and all customers are treated equally,” Mr. Garin added.
Many claim that it has been Mr. Garin’s noodling, and not any unseemly canoodling, that has packed the Monkey Bar in recent years.
“Mike is amazing! Not too many performers can go from James Booker to James Brown to belly-dancing,” said longtime Monkey Bar patron Steven Meyer, who said his children have spent time with Mr. Garin’s children in Manhattan. Mr. Meyer denounced the accusations against Mr. Garin as “nonsensical.”
The NYPD declined to comment for this story, as a broader investigation into the situation is still underway.
The staff of the Madison Avenue restaurant La Goulue was not thrilled when The Transom brought Nikki-a $10,000 life-sized silicone sex doll featured in the Tribeca Film Festival entry Love Object -on an experimental outing to the restaurant on a recent Friday afternoon.
“I have not agreed to have this doll here,” said a man who identified himself as La Goulue’s manager, but declined to give his name. “If the doll were nice-looking, maybe-but this is a disturbance.”
When it was explained that Nikki was the star of a new movie, he said: “Look, I’m talking nicely here. The customers want privacy. I am going to call the police.”
As Nikki was reluctantly rolled away in her wheelchair, La Goulue’s manager caught up with The Transom for one last comment. “Look, I know what you’re trying to do. I understand,” he said. “But the problem is that she looks too much like our customers.”
-Ronda Kaysen & Shazia Ahmad
The Transom Also Hears …
… Le Bernardin chef and co-owner Eric Ripert didn’t just win the All Clad Cookware Outstanding Chef award at the James Beard Awards on Monday, May 5. He also got some wisdom from the Sphinx of French restaurateurs, chef Alain Ducasse. Mr. Ducasse, whose company operates some 14 restaurants around the world, was among the culinary cognoscenti who attended Le Bernardin co-owner Maguy Le Coze’s annual post-awards dinner at Balthazar, which also drew chef/author Anthony Bourdain, Mr. Ripert’s wife Sandra, GQ writer Alan Richman and writer/socialite Nina Griscom, artist Valentino Cortazar, and chef Rocco DiSpirito and his date, Italian actress Yvonne Sciò. Shortly after the festivities began, Mr. Ducasse, whose company owns his eponymous restaurant at the Essex House, told Mr. Ripert something French that Mr. Ripert translated as: “No more joking. Time to make money.” Perhaps Mr. Ducasse should have a talk with Mr. DiSpirito, who posed for several photos sporting a long black Ostrich feather boa.