The Austin Chronicle

After a Fashion

By Stephen MacMillan Moser, June 27, 2008, Columns

BAT-TERY The e-mail said, "Come in your best Austin party attire." Well, don't I always, since that's all I really own? I chose one of my favorite holiday ensembles – black leather jeans, cashmere turtleneck, white fur coat, my faaabulous Roberto Cavalli sunglasses, cowboy boots, and my usual lavish assortment of jewelry. It was for my comeback on the stage – or, as Norma Desmond said in Sunset Boulevard: "I hate that word. It's a return, a return to the millions of people who have never forgiven me for deserting the screen." (Remember, I wanted to be an actress before I discovered costume and clothing design a thousand years ago.) The e-mail was from the charming Kevin Patterson, general director of the Austin Lyric Opera, asking me to be a guest at the big party scene in The Bat, the opera formerly known as Die Fledermaus that ALO, in association with Esther's Follies, brilliantly Austin-ized. The dramatic and droolingly handsome Richard Buckley conducted the orchestra – from the stage I got to see much more than the back of his head. I don't know why he doesn't return my calls, letters, e-mails, and text messages. The production was a scream: The Austin in-jokes were plenty, and the direction was very clever. I had assistants who guided me around the stage, whispering where to go and what to do next (thank you, Celeste and James!). I made snide remarks, smoked a fake joint onstage, and generally behaved like I do at every party ... well, not every party, thank God. Soon it was all over, and it was back to the salt mines for me and my other co-guests for the evening: the Biscuit Brothers, Wammo, Brewster McCracken, and Betty Dunkerley. As I walked through the lobby to the valet, a woman stopped me and said, "Who are you supposed to be dressed like?" Peering over my sunglasses, I intoned, "Liberace, darling," and sped off into the night. Thank you, ALO, for orchestrating my comeback ... I mean, return.

FREEWHEELING I recently went to Tribeza's party at Lance Armstrong's new venture, Mellow Johnny's Bike Shop at Fourth and Nueces. I suppose if I were really into bikes, I'd have been in hog heaven, but I made do with plenty of socializing with old friends instead. Lance greeted me warmly; I thanked him for the marvelous sponsor party he gave before the Texas Film Hall of Fame. He, in turn, was most solicitous about my cancer and gave me a big spiritual boost that made the rest of the evening fly by. I especially laughed over the in-store coffee shop called Juan Pelota Cafe. You figure that one out. Speaking of bikes, my heart began to turn to stone as I was stopped at Riverside and Lamar watching a parade of bikes indulging, presumably, in some form of civil disobedience. What that meant was that dozens of clowns on bicycles took up the entire street and brought most traffic to a standstill. After several minutes of obnoxious waving and smiling from the riders, I was ready to pull a Lizzie Grubman and plow right through them and be on my way. But I was hesitant to rack up a lot of hit-and-run charges against me ... and then there would be all that damage to my car. The thing is, all the smiling and waving did not make me sympathetic to the scofflaws' "cause." It made me think: "Don't give bikes the right. Give 'em the finger."

DRIVE-BY MOMENTS With my chauffeur/sister-in-crime Stephen Rice commandeering the Champagne-pink 1965 Cadillac Coupe DeVille convertible, we sailed (well, crawled) through the streets of Austin along the Austin Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce's Pride Parade route. I kept wondering what I really wanted to throw from the car: Rocks? Cocktails? Bon mots? Instead, we settled for tossing garish beads and Twinkies. Good time had by all... Went to the launch party for the Artsträda Magazine, a new venture between Jaclyn Havlak, Patrick Labay, and their dedicated assistant, Treva McCroskey, who have produced a slick and stylish publication that seems to encompass fashion, fetish, and motorcycles... Dropped by Anne Elizabeth Wynn's booksigning party for Sarah Bird's new book, How Perfect Is That, and brought Kevin Pruitt and the Downtown camera crew with me. Seems the crew has been following me around to events, shopping, even to the hairdresser. Don't know what the piece will look like, but I have a feeling I'd better check my apartment carefully for hidden cameras.

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