Monday, February 25, 2008

Gold Flinger

The last time John Stewart and I were in the same room and both wearing tuxedos, we were both slaving away for a certain high-end catering company in Manhattan, probably at the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the New York Public Library.

Actually, Stewart wasn't in the room, but projected on a screen as he hosted the Academy Awards, and I was with my pal Stephen as a press guest at the 23rd annual Academy of Friends gala at Fort Mason.

The festive gala was the best one in years (last year's was a bit cramped).
The "Shaken Not Stirred" James Bond theme worked well, despite it being a non-Bond film year.
The various themed rooms were elegant, roomy, and well spaced, with an array of themed furniture providing a lot of lounging space for guests. My favorite was the Diamonds are Forever room, with groovy 60s furniture and decor, and a few huge plastic diamonds on tables.

In my old cater-waitering days (fictionalized in my 2nd novel, Monkey Suits), a few parties had such amusing decorations that the waiters were known to pocket more than a few. My favorites were the piles of plastic jewels and gold-painted sea shells from Saul Steinberg's birthday party (written up in a GQ magazine in 1988). Mine ended up over the years as gift decorations.

While there were more gold-painted Oscar women than before (a dual reference to Goldfinger?), there were of course a nice gaggle of bikini-clad gold hunks.

"Bond girls" and guys (a la the classic opening credits for Bond films) added a bit more human scenery.

A personal note: my third uncle, Cubby Broccoli, was the executive producer of the early Bond films, and my distant cousin, Cubby's daughter, continues the tradition.

Although a simple black tux was of course the classic outfit for the event (and the Bond theme), some chose drag, kilts or other garb.

And although martinis were available, I stuck to Barefoot champagne. They're always donating wines at the best fundraisers, and it tastes good.

Oh, and the Oscars themselves? Well, congrats to Javier Bardem, Tilda Swinton, and the short documentary Freehold, about a lesbian couple. As for the rest, it was an expected bunch of "dramatic" wins. As for the inane Juno? Puh-leeze. I was disappointed Viggo Mortensen didn't win, but Daniel Day Lewis' histrionics seem to always please the Academy.

It was also the lowest rated awards show ever. Sorry, John. Among the other controversies, the omission of Brad Renfro from the honor roll of the recently deceased, and the deliberate omission of Whoopie Goldberg from the montage of previous hosts.

Ever since they snubbed Brokeback Mountain for the Scientology-produced Crash, I've lost interest in caring about who wins. And with their soggy ratings, it seems a lot of other people feel the same way.

The Academy of Friends party, however, continues to raise funds for AIDS/HIV nonprofits, and lets us San Franciscans feel a bit "Hollywood" for a night.

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