Saturday evening found us and along with a full motley crew of artists, musicians, writers, family and friends, descending upon Cynthia von Buhler's secret Manhattan penthouse loft birthday party... Here's the most adequate way I can think of to describe it, courtesy Mr. Wonka himself:
Come with me, and you'll be in a world of pure imagination.
Take a look and you'll see into your imagination.
We'll begin, with a spin, traveling in the world of my creation.
What we'll see, will defy explanation.
If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it.
Anything you want to, do it. Wanta change the world?
There's nothing to it.
There is no life I know to compare with pure imagination.
Living there you'll be free if you truly wish to be.
Amanda Palmer and Kambriel, your faithful Ministers of "Party Propaganda" invite you to take a step inside:
There was an art installation of mermaids in which most were tragic "oil spill mermaids" in reference to the BP disaster, but Cynthia was one of the lucky mermaids who was rescued and cleaned:
The timeless beauty of the birthday girl.... I created some decorative "mer-hair" for the Countess' special occasion out of various sparkly, seaweed/floral bits. Birthday mermaids should be indulged in a bit of added glamour:
I helped with a small, but tight team of mermaid dressers for much of the night (if there was a mermaid pit crew competition in the Olympics, we'd be set!). I think we ended up having well over a dozen throughout the various "mermaid shifts" as the night went on, first transforming them into mermaids, and then liberating them back into a vastly more mobile, re-incarnated human form. Lesson learned: it's an invaluable bonus to be experienced in yoga or pilates when being transformed into a mermaid (or when doing the transforming) ~ as there is a lot of lifting involved! One of our dressing/carrying team got a bit scraped up in the process, and we warned him that he may indeed run the risk of turning into a merman at the next high tide:
We brought Neil backstage into the mermaid dressing room (you'll notice one casually laying on the floor here awaiting transport!) to try on his newly created Kambriel coat. This time the frock was made from lush, pitch black velvet and even more pockets... I (and I daresay Molly as well!) think he cuts quite the dashing figure in it:
If you could hear this picture, you'd be hearing the sounds of perfectly suited mermaid dressing music being performed onstage right next to the dressing room, by none other than Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys.
Shortly thereafter, Amanda came back as well to do a quick fitting of a striped cheongsam I'm making her. The photo below brings to mind an old limerick I'd often hear as a child (even though my hair is naturally bone straight. The silvery-grey "Big Wig" I'm wearing here was specially commissioned from the exceptional Serret of Wig Witch Studios.):
"There was a little girl, who had a little curl,
right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good, she was very, very good,
but when she was bad, she was horrid."
There was interactive art all around, and fairground fare a plenty to eat (though I never actually managed to ~ I got as far as having a veggie dog in hand at one point, but was immediately called away for mermaid-transformation duty!), consisting of popcorn, the aforementioned hot dogs, candy floss, and perhaps other delights which I didn't happen to catch in the fantastical blur of activity...
Performer extraordinaire Jason Webley played a raucous, accordion filled round for the Countess' assembled guests, occasionally accompanied by a rather massive glass jar filled with pennies:
John Cameron Mitchell during Jason's set (I did my best to crop my giant head o'hair out of the picture!):
The musical genius Sxip Shirey was marching throughout the rooms and down the halls with his own unique blend of festive aural majesty in tow. That man literally has music coursing in his veins.
Amanda takes the stage... I love the intimacy of this moment, framed by shadows and a softness of light:
Amanda said something about her life being made at the point when these mermaids unexpectedly freed themselves from the mermaid room and scooted across the stage so they could be serenaded:
Let us toast to art, family, and enduring love!
Neil and his enchanting daughter Holly:
I'm enamoured with how it looks as if Molly dreamed up these ruffled stilt walkers in that very moment, from the depths of her own colourful imagination:
Watching the show from bed ~ is there any other way?:
Cynthia von Buhler, Molly Crabapple, and Kambriel ~ caught on film making merry mischief!
Kyle Cassidy ~ in action, while Neil Gaiman plays with an eyeball gumball and yours truly looks on:
Me, with two of the most warm-hearted and visionary gents one could ever have the pleasure of knowing:
Thank you Cynthia for bringing us all together, in that spinning carousel beside the Empire State building, underneath the light of the moon.