The Book of Lena: HBO Star Is Main Attraction at Purim Ball

Lena Dunham at the Purim Ball.

Lena Dunham at the Purim Ball.

Turns out there are at least two people in New York who don’t know who Lena Dunham is.

“Who was that girl with the two house tattoos on her back?” a couple of security guards asked the Transom as we walked into the Jewish Museum’s Purim Ball at the Park Avenue Armory last week. “The one everyone was making a big deal over?”

That, we informed our basic-cable-watching friends, was Ms. Dunham, the evening’s official Purimspieler and something of a main attraction. “Who?” they said again.

But she wasn’t the only gal with ink in the house. As we meandered alongside another tatted-up Jewess during the evening’s cocktail hour—which, like most of the event, had a distinct bar mitzvah-party feel—we overheard an old bearded dude getting a little judge-y: “Since when do Jews have tattoos?” he said.

But really, weren’t we all here to get along? From men in floral-print suits to at least one middle-aged vixen in an approximated Miss America costume, it was all kosher. Others in attendance had glitter tattoos, but we suspected those weren’t permanent.

When cocktail hour finally gave way to a seated dinner, the Transom found ourselves at a table of artists, most of whom were pals of Claudia Gould, the Jewish Museum’s director, although only some of them understood the holiday properly. So we explained, as rabbis have done for generations: Purim is that time of year when Brooklyn assemblymen learn the true meaning of racism.

To our left, Martha Rosler was very much in the Purim spirit. “Look at me,” she said, shaking her shoulders in some sort of seated dance, outfitted in a black-and-gold paisley blazer and Mardi Gras beads. “I’m wearing ridiculous things.”

On to dinner, and Ms. Dunham, as the Girls star/creator took center stage in front of the nearly 1,000 attendees, welcoming everyone to her bat mitzvah (we told you-—such was the vibe). As official Purimspieler, Ms. Dunham regaled us with the tale of Queen Esther and the Persians, all the while maintaining the speech patterns of Eloise, that children’s lit protagonist who lives on the “tippy-top” of the Plaza Hotel. “He picked Esther,” Ms. Dunham spieled, referring to the Persian king. “She was an orphan, which is pretty much the coolest thing you can be, like Pippi Longstocking or Drew Barrymore.”

With the story thus told, schmoozing took hold, and conversations naturally turned to Ms. Dunham’s breakout HBO show. Filmmaker Joe Lovett informed us he had just seen the first episode and that it was “very well done,” while some bleached blonde in a black dress had a harder time forming her opinion.

“I saw the first season and it was, like, really quite funny,” she said, “but, like, the second season? Like, I don’t know. I saw it.”

She then either stopped talking or our head exploded. It was now mercifully time to hit the dance floor. And it was just like they say in that old hip-hop ditty, which goes a little something like this:

“After Purim is the after party. After the party is (two hours of awkward middle school-grade grinding and groping just a hundred feet or so from) the Park Avenue Armory lobby.”

We just hope that, by the end of the night, someone became a man.

The Book of Lena: HBO Star Is Main Attraction at Purim Ball