As you frantically channel-surf for the latest Michael Jackson tidbits, be sure not to miss out on Rich Girls , the mesmerizing MTV reality sensation starring luggage heiress Jaime Gleicher and Ally Hilfiger (Tommy’s daughter) as the two spoilt and endearingly retarded Manhattan brats they obviously are. On a recent episode, the hilariously J.A.P.-py shenanigans were punctuated by feverish but nebulous concerns about famine in Ethiopia. The two high-school grads offered different approaches to assuaging Ethiopian misery: For Ally, the solution was to call Dial-a-Mattress and demand that they send their damaged or returned mattresses to Africa forthwith. Jaime’s solution was to “write a story about Ethiopia for a teen magazine.” With Pinteresque poignancy, she reiterated this intention every 10 minutes throughout the show. It was magic!
I find I am deeply moved by the unlimited scope and deranged generosity of U.S. philanthropy. The annual onslaught of Yuletide charity requests has been constipating my mailbox since Halloween. According to the Nov. 17 New York Times , America has the world’s biggest collection of charities, with a whopping $240 billion in recorded donations last year. You name it and someone in the U.S. is ready and willing to dedicate his or her life to raising money for it. Take, for example, the American Friends of Versailles (312-943-0173), a bunch of Francophilic Yanks whose entire lives seem focused on the repair of an ancient malfunctioning fountain in Versailles. Can you imagine those stingy Frogs ever reciprocating such a gesture? Les Amis Français du Bronx ?
My fave new oddball charity is definitely Career Transitions for Dancers, an organization that empowers aging hoofers and ballerinas “with the knowledge and skills necessary to clearly define their career possibilities after dance,” i.e., how to make a living after their knees (and their pretty years) have bid them adieu. To the non-dancing community, it might seem somewhat surprising that dancers would, of all people, not be able to foresee, and plan for, the day when the elastic in that trusty dance belt would eventually perish. Apparently they cannot, so please mail a generous check to Career Transition for Dancers, 165 West 46th Street, Suite 701, New York, N.Y., 10036-2501-and while you’re waiting in line at the post office, consider some of the following spin-off charity concepts:
Career Transitions for Window-Dressers: When a wrist gets too limp to hold a staple gun, what then? CTFWD will specialize in empowering aging window-dressers with the skills needed to butch it up so they can merge seamlessly into less nelly work milieux .
Career Transitions for Models: Don’t wait till your agent starts sending you on cover-girl go-sees for medical catalogs! Call CTFM and get the emotional support you need to transition into a work environment where people are obliged to buy their own ciggies and pay for their own lunches. No more Serena Bass photo-shoot catering for you!
Career Transitions for Concierges: What happens when you wake up one morning and find you no longer give a rat’s ass about other people’s theater outings or “fine dining” experiences? Your groveling days are over! Call the folks at CTFC, where the staff is composed of burnt-out former concierges who will teach you the joys of being cunty and demanding.
Enough frivolity! Here are my five tips for happy, season-appropriate philanthropy. Remember, charity begins at home!
Have you ever held a policeman’s ball? I would happily do so, because I love policemen. Not in a kinky way: The underappreciated boys-and gals-in blue are definitely at the top of my charity list. Firemen, too! Send everything you’ve got to the New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s Benefit Fund, General Post Office, P.O. Box 26837, New York, N.Y., 10087-6837.
Need an antidote to holiday depression? Doling out 20 bucks to your local homeless guy or gal is a quick pick-me-up. I just did it half an hour ago and I still feel fantastic.
Consider the East Harlem School at Exodus House. Ivan Hageman is the best-looking and hardest-working school principal in Manhattan. The kids’ paintings are currently on view in Barneys’ windows through Jan. 6. Send a huge check to the East Harlem School, 309 East 103rd Street, New York, N.Y., 10029.
Then there is God’s Love We Deliver. The service for homebound AIDS patients is still at it, and-according to a friend who is the happy recipient of the daily deliveries-the food is more gourmet than ever. Send gobs of shekels to God’s Love We Deliver, 166 Avenue of the Americas, New York N.Y., 10013.
Re Michael Jackson: You needn’t worry about whether or not he’s a pedophile-that’s the jury’s job. So make Number Ones , his dynamite new greatest-hits CD, part of your festivity’s soundtrack ($13.99 at Amazon) and don’t feel guilty.