Life imitating art

The neo nude, Crocker style.

The neo nude, Crocker style.

Photo by Shoka

“Are you an employee?” the valet asks.

“No, press.”

His eyes linger uncomfortably long on me, longer on my passenger, and he asks again. “Do you work at the Crocker?”

“Uh, sure.”

He directs me to the employee lot down the way, but no matter; we find a metered spot much closer. Then the loading dock, waiting as instructed to be let in. After a few minutes, a man dressed in black emerges from around the corner. Is he here for us? No, but he can help us out. Through a garage, a kitchen, and we’re in the museum.

I’ve just crashed a party I’ve been invited to. But it’s a fun, eccentric entrance to last Saturday’s fairy-tale event: Neo Crocker 2010. Down the rabbit hole I go.

Inside the lobby, a deejay spins, avant-garde films reel, figures writhe. Girls stand atop cubes in the center of the room, modeling body tapestries. I check my coat and slip off to the ladies’ to rat my hair a skosh bigger.

Upstairs, poems are written upon request—which I decline reluctantly out of tipless destitution. Ballet dancers pose for photographers in ways only described as precarious by any layman.

Outside, dreadlocked fire dancers light up the stage. The jazz is nimble and quick—a tipsy fashion model woos her approval of the three-piece’s handiwork. Suede indoor furniture is pushed through the out door—couches for lovers, chairs for loners. Stylists make up faces of those somehow lacking lacquer, and a photo shoot area is set up—the choice pastime of the new generation.

Crocker “angels,” gray-haired gents in bow ties and large white wings, flit about the museum, holding cocktails chilled with LED ice cubes. A draq queen with butterflies buttressing a blond and neon Rococo wig rests her tootsies in a chair in the caged smoking area, losing a veritable foot of stiletto from her feet. The attendees’ cranial accouterment in general are most intriguing: colors and shapes and of unabashed size to give a Papua New Guinea bird feelings of inadequacy.

Thin people with fat wallets buy round after round at the round bar. Cleavage real and imagined is in no short supply, but hem lines often are. A couple exhibiting body paint can be construed as modest by some.

Sip, mingle, dance, sip, mingle: genuine handshakes, artificial hugs, chewing the fat and sampling sliders, truffles and Chinese food from the tiniest couture cartons. At midnight, it starts to rain, lightly. The outdoor crowds quickly run for cover, scurrying hydrophobes protecting hair and makeup, leather and false lashes. I giggle and head for home.

It’s a provocative evening full of fantasy and catharsis. With the first rain of the season, even in this light drizzle, a mix of nostalgia and renewed purpose streams through the air.

Third floor: the Crocker’s contemporary collection. Paintings hang colorful, gesticulative; sculptures stand stoic and elite. Only small handfuls of people roam the galleries this evening. Mostly, the works sit in a stentorian silence, resolute in their inspiration for all the life that imitates art below.