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Musto Celebrates! 25 Years
New York City
by Mark Thompson & Robert Doyle
March 5, 2010   photo-album Bookmark and Share
Stepping from the elevator into the packed penthouse aerie of 230 Fifth Avenue, a man in full cravat with fedora, French cuffs, chain mail, and leather leggings said, “Oh, God, I feel so underdressed. Or do I mean, overdressed?” His chagrin was understandable, given the kaleidoscopic tableau of fashionistas, muses, club kidz, performance artists, sycophants--and celebs from A-list through D-, all gathered together atop Manhattan’s skyline for Michael Musto’s 25th celebration of his tenure at the Village Voice. This was a group for whom dressing up is their raison d’etre, their only reason to get out of bed at midnight—and the result made the recent fashion shows at the Bryant Park tents look closer to a mall at Levittown. Nothing was too outré—and the more extreme the better, such as a woman corseted into a leather girdle that cinched her waist to Scarlett O’Hara proportions, alongside men who’d clearly raided their mothers’ safe deposit and jewel boxes and lingerie drawers, as well as those who’d outfitted themselves with the best of Bloomingdale’s gift wrapping department.

We could tell we were in for a ride as we followed the ever-chic and sanguine Joan Rivers and her entourage through the marble lobby and upstairs, where a press scrum awaited with more wattage than Oscar’s big night. More than 500 guests poured into the retro-Seventies space with its view of the Empire State Building a mere arm’s length away. As Joan Rivers said, “You’ve all escaped from some HORRIBLE place to be here in New York”—and that view was the coke spoon over Manhattan.

“Thank you for coming to a place I like to think of as a cross between the Starship Enterprise—and the Love Boat,” Musto said. As well as Xenon, Michael—with a bit of Studio 54. For yes, even Judy and Liza were there—albeit in the form of Tommy Femia. “You’re my 550 closest friends,” said Musto, “who’ve never abandoned me.”

And what a crew it was! Guests included Michael Urie, Robert Verdi (working a gay Paul Bunyan ensemble), Frank DeCaro, Sherry Vine in silver lamé, The Ones, Bridget Everett, Dame Edna (screaming “POSSUM!” to everyone—provoking “POSSUM!” in response), the irrepressible Murray Hill (who thanked the audience for “the lukewarm round of applause” and contended that he was “the only straight guy in the room”), circuit DJ Hector Fonseca, Anna Evans, Kay Von Zand, Tara Fox, Jun Nakayama, DJ Drew G., the legendary Robin Byrd, burlesque mistress (and Karl Lagerfeld muse—could that be? That’s what’s written in our notes…) Dirty Martini who parted the crowd with her sultry rendition of “My Cuddle”—all competing for face and flash time with a broad swath of New York’s more luminous nightlifers.

“Thanks to my mother for giving birth to me,” said Musto—and yes, even Dame Musto was there, looking radiant and proud—as well she should, for in spite of the copious amounts of champagne swilled and the abundance of lip-smacking finger food spilled down the front of resplendent garments, this party was ultimately a tribute to a man who has selflessly dedicated twenty-five years of service to dissecting the nocturnal emissions of New York. As Murray Hill said, “Michael Musto is out there every night, at 4 am in a corner of the club, with his Diet Coke, scribbling in his notebook.” It’s hard work made to look easy (or do we mean the reverse?), but someone’s got to do it—and do it well Musto has for the past 25 years, paving the way for an army corps of bloggers and Tweeters who have followed in his illustrious footsteps. Without Musto’s intrepid journalistic pioneering, where would the latter-day Grub Streeter be today? “Nowhere, in the gutter”—in the immortal words of Garson Kanin.

“I’m just so happy to be here,” we overheard someone saying—in the most ingenuous, sincere tribute of the night—and that was the spirit of the entire evening: without irony, without rancor or bitterness, just happy to be there, sharing in Michael Musto’s glory. No wonder that near evening’s end, Michael sang along with Judy/Tommy, “Happy Days Are Here Again.” Congratulations, Michael Musto; here’s to the next 25.
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