After a Fashion

Chronicle style avatar Stephen goes to some parties. So you weren't invited; shut up and come along anyway …

THE PARTY CIRCUIT Summer 2002 in Austin ushers in a round of those parties that come in a wide variety of themes and play themselves out on hot, sultry nights. How much more "Austin" does it get than to be with 25 friends and acquaintances celebrating the 44th birthday of artist, sculptor, and signmaker Evan Voyles at a party given by his wife Gail Chovan? Evan and Gail's new house is a quaint 1930s bungalow that they are turning into a charming home. It's small, so the guest list was, too. The yard was beautiful, and the food was interesting without being pretentious, and the table was crowned with magnificent peonies -- my favorites. Guests included Randy Franklin, owner of the fabulous Yard Dog Gallery and the seriously pregnant Jann Baskett (partners with Kat Jones in Milkshake Media, who just landed an account with one of the most glamorous and most well-known design houses in the world; I promised to keep the secret of who until they give me the green light); Mike and Karen Lindner, who are among the most visible faces on the scene; and architect Chris Wise and Party Girl #1 Laura Cisneros. I tell you what, even when she's doing nothing, that babe puts the Energizer Bunny to shame. Other guests included the lovely Claudia Voyles, Liz Aston and Michael Hall (do they really need an introduction?), Steve Wiman and Emily Cowart of Uncommon Objects, and Gail's sister Shakti LaGow, with whom I feel like I'm entering into some kind of conspiracy every time I see her. We spent a good portion of the evening gossiping our little hearts out in a corner of the lovely garden. It was a pleasure to welcome Evan to Club 44; among my handful of closest friends, most are 44 now ... I led the way (naturally), followed by Gail, the extraordinary Bob Sherman, and now Evan. Happy Birthday Evan, and welcome to Club 44! Now we can all begin the arduous task of turning 45.

I also attended a lovely dinner party given by Maris Stella Ostrewich who runs the José Eber Salon at Saks. She and her husband Jay Schutawie (an excellent host) have a gorgeous secluded home in the winding and hilly roads off 360 & West Lake. The house is filled with the original art that they collect, often from Maris Stella's homeland of Venezuela, which is also where a large contingent of the guests were originally from. The dinner, catered by the fabulous Kurant Events, was at a table seating 20 on the terrace overlooking the pool, decked with stunning floral arrangements from the always-fabulous Verbena. Notable guests included advertising maven Sherry Matthews and chic architect Bob Clark, Phillip Marrus of the attorney general's office, Dr. Tad Davis and Marina Sifuentes, Pink Salon's Deborah Carter, Cynthia Murray, manager of the José salon in Houston, cardiologist Arthur Smith and his lovely wife Margo, and Norbert & Rania Lemke -- he is stylist to the stars at José Eber (and once tried to have Ozzy Osbourne ejected from the Beverly Hills salon, thinking he was a homeless person) and Rania is simply magnificent.

And then ... and then a devoted reader invited me to a party, the Psycho Bikini Beach Birthday Bash on the Enchanted and Terrifying Tiki Island of the Damned. The invite said, "Wear your fave swimwear or something tropical." But maybe because we arrived much later than planned, there was very little swimwear to be seen ... or any other kinds of outfits, either! In fact, what we appeared to have entered was an all-male suburban sex party. Settling in with a margarita, I confessed to the towel-draped gentleman sitting next to me that I felt overdressed in my jeans and Phat Farm shirt. He remarked that I would have been overdressed if I were wearing anything more than a watch. My companion, Neil Diaz, who has requested anonymity ... (Oops, sorry Neil!) remarked that we had so many stops on our agenda for the evening that we'd simply have to be moving on. So I downed my margarita and we departed, trying not to imagine what might have occurred if we'd stayed and had several more of those drinks. Thanks for the invite, David, and for a very memorable, if brief, evening.

A SITE FOR SORE EYES I came across this gay Web site ... well, the Web site isn't gay, but its content would have to be described by that nebulous and vague phrase "of gay interest." It is a somewhat megalomaniacal affair called www.chaosinaustin.com (Readers Poll winner, "Best Local Webzine," 2001, Austin Chronicle "Best of Austin"), and after discovering it, I couldn't tear myself away. I looked at every department, and every issue. I wrote the guy and said, "Your Web site is vain, self-centered, indulgent ... and beautifully designed, as well as very entertaining." He wrote back saying, "Yes, I'm thinking of changing the site name to whenegositesgobad.com but I think people might spell it like Eggo, and I hate frozen waffles." I assured him that his site could never be confused with frozen breakfast food. Photographer and designer Bryan Ockert is smart and funny, which you know is the highest compliment I can pay anyone. Chaos in Austin (or CIA) combines current events, entertainment, gossip, male erotica, and much more. Ockert's monthly column and photo journal are a personal look into the events that shape his life, with commentary that runs the gamut from sensitive and introspective to wry and sarcastic. But it's not nearly as intimate as the Web cam that allows viewers to sign on and (for a small fee, of course) follow Ockert through his daily routines. This is an interesting phenomenon that is widespread across the Internet, and watching Ockert is not unlike watching many people's lives, sometimes it's so mundane and boring you wonder what the point is, other times it's frisky and voyeuristically fascinating. The fashion column by Tyler Reeves called "F-Victim" is written with humor and style, and though it differs vastly from my own approach to style coverage, I find his point of view to be the most amusing out of the plethora of style columnists in Austin. Of course, his column looks great, the whole site does. Obviously, I was impressed.

CHRISTINA, BRING ME THE AXE The invincible and dauntless Lonny Stern is putting together what sounds like a wonderful benefit for KOOP Radio (91.7 FM): the Mommie Dearest Roast (Thursday, June 27, 7-9:30pm at the Alamo Drafthouse Downtown, 409 Colorado). You are invited to come bash the Kweenie Kamp Klassic with the help of The Capital City Men's Chorus, assorted celebrity appearances, and a costume contest. So put on your favorite Joan Crawford outfit (come on, we all have one ... or two) and be prepared to scream along with such immortal lines as, "It's not you I'm mad at, it's the dirt!" ... "I might have known you'd know where to find the boys and the booze," and, of course, "No wire hangers EVER!" And that's not all: the Queen of the Silver Screen benefit at the Forum (408 Congress, $5 donation) happens right after at 10pm, featuring a raffle and performances by many of Austin's foremost female impersonators.

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