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Special Events
Perle Mesta at the Copa: Michael Musto's Book Party
Mark Thompson & Robert Doyle
Sep 19 2011
Knife on the Left, Fork in the Back   photo album 
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The twentieth century's "hostess with the mostest" was a D.C. socialite named Perle Mesta - and it was the spirit of Madame Mesta that NYC nightlife doyenne Michael Musto summoned for his most recent book party. While Mesta was the U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg, Musto is certifiably NYC's nightlife ambassador to the world, as evidenced by the cluster of nightowls and celebrity fireflies that flickered at the Copacabana in celebration of Musto's latest book, "Knife on the Left, Fork in the Back." The 26-year veteran of the foibles of NYC (and his employer, the Voice) has seen it all - and yet, Musto retains a boyishly contagious enthusiasm for the playground shenanigans of his fellow New Yorkers, which is detailed in his collection of wickedly incisive essays.

The two-level, conga club on 47th Street was a petting zoo of Manhattan's most lovable and flamboyant creatures, including Murray Hill, Jackie Hoffman, Dirty Martini, Kenny Kenny, Andrew Andrew, Robin Byrd, Dallas DuBois, Dandy Wellington, Basil Twist, and scores of other aptly-named specimens from the NYC menagerie. Nearly everyone wielded a camera, which burst in an explosion of flashes when Anna Musto arrived. A crowd favorite, Musto's mother seems invariably bemused by her son's collection of friends, several of whom gave performances that might have made your own mother blanch.

Thanks to New York impresario Chip Duckett's flawless orchestration (as well as an open bar serving Bacardi and a "Tony-and-Tina's Wedding" buffet), the Copa was as animated as Peewee's Playhouse and Romper Room, with squeals of delight and genuine horror when recognition kicked in. Jerry Springer was there, along with "Sarah Palin," and also Nick Adams, Countess LuAnn de Lesseps, Lisa Lampanelli, Michael Ellis, Tony Fornabaio, and Daniel Nardicio. Bridget Everett sang "Purple Haze" with a ferocity befitting the lovechild of Mama Cass and Janis Joplin, while Murray Hill made mincemeat of the fact that Musto was the last man to write a book, "a real book, with pages you turn."

Ah, but Musto had the last laugh, leaping onto the stage with the nimbleness of Pan and showering everyone with his fairy dust. Perle Mesta, Auntie Mame - he's ours for life. And no doubt we'll still be reading Musto in the Golden Gays Retirement Home.