Turn on. Tune in. Drop … off your dry cleaning and head to a demonstration!
No, seriously, I am having such a totally tumultuous ’60s moment! My life has gone from light and fluffy to totally heavy, man. Everything’s coming up protests and peace signs. It’s a freaky scene. When I’m not on some crazy demo, I’m slapping counterculture slogans on Barneys’ windows and cramming them with Woodstock-abilia. Don’t get me wrong: I’m hardly Hanoi Jane. Call me Weatherman-lite. I am really more like Streisand in The Way We Were, only without that diabolical frizz.
What’s brought on the Barbra moment? Oh, just the quest for my civil rights, that’s all.
WEDNESDAY, NOV. 12
Protestors assembled outside the Mormon Temple on Columbus Avenue and 65th Street to express their displeasure at the church’s aggressive campaign against same-sex marriage in California and the whole Proposition 8 mishegoss. My husband, Jonny—we were married in San Francisco on Sept. 18 and are now left hanging—and my mother-in-law, Cynthia Adler, both attended. (If you are a Mormon, you would call her “my former mother-in-law.”)
Though vocal and forceful, the assembled agitators could not, according to my Jonny, resist tempering their earnestness with a little humor: one gaggle of gigglers got bored with shouting, “What do we want? CIVIL RIGHTS!” and switched to “What do we want? ROCK HARD ABS!”
Where was I? Across town at La Grenouille, fulfilling my professional obligations and fussing over the placements of Vogue editor at large Hamish Bowles, Princess Alexandra of Greece and heiress Daphne Guinness, amongst others, at a Barneys-sponsored dinner for perfumer Frederic Malle. His newest offering, Dans Tes Bras, is, as it turns out, the perfect activist fragrance, powerful enough to mask any stress-related demo B.O. and seductive enough to disarm even the most resolute Mormon. Turn on. Tune in. Spray on.
FRIDAY, NOV. 14
D-day for the installation of this year’s counterculture-themed Barneys Holiday Windows. I am rushing from window to window like a hippie with a hornet under his caftan. The official slogan is PEACE AND LOVE: HAVE A HIPPIE HOLIDAY. “Were you a hippie?” asks a journalist. This question sends me into a spiral of dismal recollections: a hot dog stand exploding at a free Pink Floyd concert in Hyde Park. Getting food poisoned at the Isle of Wight festival and barfing during Joan Baez’s performance. Any political activism? I think I was too busy working on my look.
SATURDAY, NOV. 15
Demonstrations are so civilized these days. The flexible time frame of the City Hall pro-gay-marriage demo—1:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Broadway near City Hall—allowed protestors plenty of time for extended lunches, pedicures or trips back uptown to take advantage of the ubiquitous plunging designer markdowns. And the same hilarious slogans enlivened the entire occasion: “It’s ADAM AND STEVE … not ADAM and EVE and EVE and EVE and EVE and EVE …”
In tandem with that good-natured gay humor, there is, however, a strong undercurrent of No More Mr. Nice Gay. Watch out, because we are starting to simmer. This is a new feeling for me. In the past, I’ve never quite managed to fully embrace an irate activist identity. At the ultra-feisty ACT UP demos in the 1980s, I always felt sad rather than mad, the deaths of so many of my pals producing despair rather than rage. Now that my civil rights are being dangled in front of me by a bunch of straight drears with bad shoes, I am starting to get cranky. Watch out. Beware the fury of a patient window dresser.
SUNDAY, NOV. 16
I had a giant mood swing. There I was standing on a cube in front of the Barneys windows attempting to introduce NBC anchor emeritus Tom Brokaw—Tom, you are a really good sport!—so that he could cut the ribbon on the Hippie Holiday windows, when the sound system failed, embarrassingly and repeatedly. Between us, Tom and I were handed about 13 replacement dud microphones. Tom kept his sangfroid, wittily suggesting in his dry Midwestern drawl that Barneys was having a sale on malfunctioning sound equipment. I, on the other hand, could feel my yuletide cheer rapidly ebbing away. I was just about to go postal on the sound guy when I spotted my Jonny’s beaming countenance across a crowded pavement. Ahhh! Those narrow-minded poo-poo heads who voted to uphold Prop 8 may try to mess with my marriage license but … all you need is LOVE!
Also some art! When you visit Barneys, don’t forget to waddle around the corner to the 61st Street window and check out the amazing Peace Sign art created by the children of the East Harlem School. Two hundred and fifty a pop; 100 percent of proceeds benefit the school.