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DIARY OF AN ART STAR
by Reverend Jen
 
Something about Fashion Week makes me want to stop bathing, throw on a pair of elastic waistband sweats and eat a large, greasy pizza.

Of course, this will never happen, as I’m far too vain. I’m so vain I put on false eyelashes just to go to Kinkos.

I try always to be camera-ready. You never know when you’ll have a date with destiny, and as Coco Chanel once pointed out, "It’s best to be as pretty as possible for destiny."

I love Coco Chanel. Not only do her clothes look fabulous, but they also allow women to move and be comfortable at the same time. What an idea! Every time I see a woman hobble miserably down the street in a pair of pointy stilettos or some other uncomfortable contraption, I imagine poor Coco rolling over in her grave while some evil Fashion Avenue executive chuckles sadistically. For this reason, I generally avoid fashion shows like the plague.

Instead, I design my own clothes. My latest is an ultra-limited edition -- there’s only one -- Bambi Dress, which is designed as a reaction to the fashion world’s continued use of fur. I figure if you throw red paint on someone’s coat, they’ll just want to kill you (along with the animals), whereas if you wear a Bambi-print outfit you provide a stylish reminder that where there’s a fur coat, there’s probably a tiny, orphaned animal somewhere in the forest.

I also have some custom-painted jackets that feature Chihuahuas, unicorns and beloved pets.

I’m hardly the only fledgling designer doing things differently, needless to say. The Bowery Poetry Club in Manhattan recently presented its own "Fashion Weak" show, featuring Rosie Rebel, the comedian, performance-artist and YouTube sensation. She roller-skated across the stage, modeling her signature brassieres to a packed house. She made orange juice using her Juicer Bra, did action painting with her Paintbrush Bra and inspired patriotism with her Helping Hands across America Bra, which has its own prosthetic hands. This last is recommended for politicians who have to do a lot of hand-shaking and baby-holding.

Other models at the show included teen pop group Supercute!, who wore outfits of their own creation, including ladylike bows made of neatly folded potato chip bags, plus faux-fur hoop skirts and a shirt made of measuring tape (to prove that measurements don’t matter!)

In another wacky venture, Kansas City-based artist Cody Critcheloe teamed up with rockin’ KC designer Peggy Noland and several other artists from Kansas City (including photographer Jaimie Warren, who has exhibited at Higher Pictures on Madison Avenue) for "BOY," an exhibition and fashion show in early September at the Hole, Kathy Grayson and Meghan Coleman’s new gallery on Greene Street in SoHo. This Hole, which I didn’t know, is not to be confused with the now-defunct East Village bar, the Hole, which I went to plenty.

The press release promised a "sweet hangout zone," so off I went. Those kids from KC had indeed converted the Hole into a dark tunnel of a space, painted in dizzying black-and-white patterns, with a kind of video lounge at one end, furnished with a bunch of big, cozy cushions.

I immediately lay down. I am always grateful for the opportunity to do so.

Off to one side was designer Peggy Noland’s fashion boutique, whose walls were made entirely of garbage. It contained a rack of the most hideous clothes I have ever seen in my life. Harem pants. Oversized jackets in black-and-white cow print, accented with orange. I wondered how they would translate to the runway. Cow-print is notoriously hard to pull off.

In the lounge, a 60-minute-long rockumentary about Cody Critcheloe and his band SSION was playing a scene where Cody is trying to trade a guitar, which he claims is golden, for a puff of a psychic drag queen’s cigarette. The exchange then devolves into a music video for Bullshit, a song so catchy that, had it not been for the cushions, I might have danced. Damn you cushions!

In Bullshit, Cody plays with a band comprised of women dressed as Roseanne Barr, Madonna and Courtney Love. The ladies traipse up a cartoon Wall Street where they run into an animated, bespectacled turd, which they destroy. I loved it.

In Street Jizz, Cody tosses around piles of money and wears a pair of pants with a painted mouth on the crotch. In between music videos, the documentary has interviews, backstage footage and concert highlights. The music is danceable and electronic, though when the band began to "smash" its instruments, I was almost grateful.

Still, I was entertained. Had it not been for the fact that my fave TV show, TMZ, was about to come on at the gym, I wouldn’t have left.

A few days later, my friend Faceboy and I headed over to an old gym on Mulberry Street for the Peggy Noland runway show. Outside it was sweltering, not at all the weather for fashion, or for any clothes at all, but inside they were offering free Gatorade, which probably saved our lives. The show also had cheese-flavored popcorn, which was surprising. I didn’t think anyone ate at fashion shows.

"I was prepared to hate the whole thing," Faceboy said. "But this popcorn is good."

I was still prepared to hate it, though I held out hope. I’ve long coveted Peggy Noland’s earlier rainbow-hued sequined catsuits.

Pretty soon, the first model appeared on the basketball court. She wore a figure-skater-style cow-print mini-dress with a bold orange "69" emblazoned across the chest along with an African-style orange headdress.

Next came a male model in a mesh shirt with miniature basketball halves sewn onto it. And then another model wearing a black lace "69" dress with basketballs sewn into her headdress.

What hair bows are to Valentino, basketballs are to Peggy Noland. And strangely, the models pulled it off, even in their white lipstick, which should generally be avoided by all members of the human race. The models also came in all shapes and sizes, a nice change of pace from the emaciated zombies-on-the-hunt-for-brains look found on most runways.

The show ended with everyone on the court playing a game of basketball. It was better than a Knicks game, and probably more athletic.

"That was awesome," Faceboy surmised.

I agreed, saying, "Cow is the new black."


REVEREND JEN is the author of Live Nude Elf: The Sexperiments of Reverend Jen (Soft Skull Press, 2009), available on Amazon for $10.17 ($14.95 list price).



 



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