Nightlife Titans Not Gaga For Fashion Followers
Nightlife Titans Not Gaga For Fashion Followers
By: Gerry Visco
The New York Times is usually about 10 steps behind on the latest trends, and yesterday’s piece claiming Lady Gaga‘s influence can be spotted at Susanne Bartsch’s parties, Vandam and Bonbon, is one more example of the Gray Lady missing the forest for the trees.
Thain Torres, writer and performance artist who is a regular on the gay scene articulated what many of us partygoers have been feeling. â€œDid Lady Gaga define club fashion or did club fashion define Lady Gaga?â€
On the one hand, Lady Gaga’s influence has definitely had an impact on the younger, less chic crowd. Brian Mills, a regular in the club world and editor of Fierth, a new blog chronicling New York City’s nightlife and arts scene, was appalled by the scads of Lady Gaga wannabees at her recent show at Radio City. â€œThey turned out in exact duplicates of her outfits,â€ he told me. Though he admires Lady Gaga, he’s less adoring of the army of imitators flooding the nightlife scene. â€œIt’s similar to the 1980s when Madonna arrived and rosaries and fishnet gloves emptied store shelves.â€ Mills is pleased, however, by the influx of creativity in New York City right now. â€œThe renewed sense of fashion and creative expression should inspire everyone to turn out new looks and truly push the envelope. Nightlife zest and homemade fashion is what is propelling the new excitement in nightlife.â€ Nonetheless, Mills bemoans the fact that innovators like Joey Arias, Leigh Bowery, Acid Betty and others are overlooked while Lady Gaga enjoys the fame.
One of my friends who prefers to be anonymous remembers seeing Lady Gaga perform in 2007, opening for Semi-Precious Weapons (the amazing local rock group who is opening for her on a current tour) when she had a very different look: dark hair wearing a bikini and spiked heels. â€œShe was coming from a burlesque place then, and has since drawn inspiration from people like Grace Jones and European pop star Roisin Murphy,â€ he said. But as for the Lady Gaga imitators, he is dismissive. â€œFans who copy their idols always misinterpret the look and never quite get it. They lack creative vision and taste.â€
Performer Deryck Todd created the popular glam event BowieBall in 2006 and told me, â€œThere was no definitive Bowie event going on in New York City, just little glammy ones here and there.â€ Todd is not one to wait around. â€œIf you don’t see what you want, create it yourself.â€ Todd’s currently working on a collection of â€œurban glamâ€ caps encrusted with metal studs and rhinestones and finalizing the contract on the next Bowieball. â€œThis is New York City. What dies becomes reborn and back again,â€ Todd referring to the so-called renaissance of club kids. â€œI think the emergence of a few new parties have provided a platform for shenanigans,â€ he said.
Nightlife entrepreneur Gregory Dimwoodie, who organizes parties popular with the twenty-something beautiful and fashionable set, agreed that Gaga has become a buzzword for some of the younger less sophisticated members of the nightlife world. He told me with a laugh, â€œEvery time the bitch is in town, these kids are like, ‘I hear Gaga‘s out tonight,’ and they go on a club crawl, searching for her.â€ He finds the whole scenario a bit hilarious with the little wannabes dropping names. â€œ’I don’t go to gay clubs,’ they’ll say but alas too late, since the next day they discover their idol had gone to Splash. I went to Germs, which is a horrible fucking party at Club Europa way out in Brooklyn, and all the kids there were dressed like Lady Gaga,â€ he said, appalled at their desperation.
From my own perspective, I moved to New York in the 1970s to become a fashion designer and was on the scene when Madonna took the world by storm with her layered look. All of my friends watched Madonna’s rise with some jealousy because she took what we all were wearing and popularized it. Well, I say more power to both her and Lady Gaga, who’s doing it all over again. If the two queens of pop were savvy enough to take what’s out there and make it their own, I say good for them. Like the others who’ve been doing it all along but not capitalizing on it by making millions of dollars, I just wish I’d done it first, but unlike some of my friends, I don’t need to denigrate their prescience. In fact, now when I wear one of my outrageous costumes to my day job, I’m comforted by the fact that some of the dweebs at my office are perhaps less outraged since Lady Gaga’s outrageous getups has even reached their non-fashionista sensibility. My gladrags don’t seem as crazy to them as they used to.
Everyone agrees, though, that the scene has become more energized, but not because Lady Gaga has made it ok to be a club kid again. â€œPeople are out in New York City again, in droves. Finally nightlife is actually about the good times rather than commiserating over what it once was,â€ Mills said.
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