Tuesday, May 25, 2021. Noticeably cooler yesterday in the 60s, and now so sunny heading for Memorial Day Weekend coming up. Meanwhile, the city continues to open up and it’s beginning to show on the social calendar.
Last night I had a dinner date with Paige Peterson when I got a phone call from Steve Millington, the GM at Michael’s restaurant. Michael McCarty himself was in town from LA and wondered if I could have dinner. I told him my plan and so Michael and Steve joined us at Sette Mezzo.
The place was packed, inside and out, full of the familiar faces one sees in a neighborhood restaurant. Dining with restaurateurs like Steve and Michael is an interesting adventure because they tend to order the menu — try a little of this, a little of that; Michael also ordered three different pastas (for the table along with our individual orders), and three main courses to add to our plates.
And then there was the wine, and then the desserts (Michael ordered three for the table) along with the Grappa. Michael lives with his wife Kim, an artist, in the hills above Malibu overlooking the Pacific. Aside from the fabulous house (and two guest houses) by the pool (along with an outdoor pizza oven), they have three acres of vineyards surrounding the house producing one of the most popular pinot noir they sell in the Santa Monica restaurant.
So a lot of the talk was about restaurants, about the menus, and how these guys are dealing with the past fourteen months of closures and now opening up both here in New York and in Santa Monica. It’s been a major challenge but with restaurateurs the show must always go on, and that was the talk around the table. That and a feast for all.
Meanwhile back to business. Last Thursday night, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) held their Virtual Hot Pink Evening, taking their renowned Hot Pink Party to a virtual platform for the second year in a row. The evening raised $6 million — a record for a BCRF virtual event (or any event) — to support BCRF’s global legion of 275 scientists whose work is pursuing high-impact breast cancer research that is helping save lives.
The virtual evening was hosted by Elizabeth Hurley, Global Ambassador of The Estée Lauder Companies’ Breast Cancer Campaign. The evening featured appearances by Jordana Brewster, Edie Falco, Cheryl Hines, Patti LaBelle, Lisa Ling, Joan Lunden, Carolyn Murphy, Emma Myles, Amy Robach, Molly Sims.
The evening opened with an all-star performance of “Cabaret” from the musical Cabaret. Among the cast was a breast cancer survivor and BCRF Advisory Board Member Mandy Gonzalez, Tony Award-nominee Kathryn Gallagher, BCRF ambassador Carly Hughes, Catherine Brunell, Dwayne Clark, Lulu Grant, Drew Gehling, Nicole Van Giesen, Becky Gulsvig, David Josefsberg, Jamie LaVerdiere, James Moye, Josh Andres Rivera, Josephine Rose Roberts, Julia Haubner Smith and Stephanie Styles.
Gayle King introduced Miriam Dance, a singer, songwriter, theatre director, teacher, and breast cancer survivor. Miriam, who was diagnosed with breast cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic, captured hearts in an Instagram post where she sang “One Song Glory” from RENT. Last Thursday night, she sang it again, and this time she was surrounded by original RENT cast members and Broadway performers, including: Sebastian Arcelus, Will Chase, Wilson Cruz, Carly Hughes, Jose Llana, Adam Pascal, Charlie Pollock, Anthony Rapp, Mary Testa, Tracie Thoms, Daphne Rubin-Vega and Rema Webb for an unforgettable performance.
BCRF’s Founding Scientific Director Dr. Larry Norton of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center introduced Paul Shaffer who was joined by Motown legend Valerie Simpson for a performance of “You Make Me Feel Brand New.” Dr. Norton himself even joined in on bass guitar.
It was a performance-packed evening. Also featured was Broadway star and breast cancer survivor Mandy Gonzalez leading a performance of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” which included Bradley Dean, Jenna Leigh Green, Andy Karl, Telly Leung, Laura Osnes, Orfeh, Shayna Steele and Eric Jordan Young.
Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka introduced Sir Elton John who has devotedly performed at every BCRF annual dinner going back to Evelyn Lauder. Sir Elton closed the evening with a spectacular performance of “Tiny Dancer,” in tribute to Evelyn, BCRF’s Founder.
He told the audience, “When I reflect upon my favorite memories of your beloved Founder, my dear friend Evelyn Lauder, I am thrilled to think how proud she would be that BCRF is now the largest private funder of breast cancer research in the world. No force of nature, no pandemic, can stop Evelyn’s dream of saving lives from breast cancer.”
Sir Elton and David Furnish were honorary co-chairs, along with Judy and Leonard Lauder and Anthony von Mandl. Gala Steering Co-chairs were Dee and Tommy Hilfiger, Kinga Lampert and Aerin Lauder. Dee and John Arnhold, Valentine and Patrick Firmenich, Terri and Jerry Kohl, Loria Kanter Tritsch and William Lauder, Adrienne and Dan Lufkin, Jeanne Sorensen Siegel and Herb Siegel, Marilyn and Jim Simons and Candace King Weir.
Steven Tabakin served as Director and Executive Producer. Batwin + Robin Productions provided creative direction, video editing and original animation.
The Event Co-Chairs were Sandra Brant; Patsy and Patrick Callahan; Shelly and Howard Kivell, Michael Kors, Jane Lauder, Jo Carole and Ronald Lauder, Laura and Gary Lauder, Bryan Rafanelli, Lois REobbins and Andrew Zaro, John Rosewald, Arlene Taub, Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch, Ingrid Vandebosch and Jeff Gordon, Vera Wang, and Nina and Gary Wexler
Breast cancer is a complex disease with no simple solution. Research is the key to stopping it in its tracks. Founded in 1993 by Evelyn H. Lauder, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation is the largest private funder of breast cancer research in the world. BCRF invests in the best minds in science — from those investigating prevention to metastasis — and foster cross-disciplinary collaboration. Their approach accelerates the entire field and moves us all closer to the answers we urgently need. We can’t stop now.
Learn more and get involved at BCRF.org.
Last Saturday night, Jack Lenor Larsen was interred at his beloved LongHouse Reserve in a small private ceremony. His ashes were placed in a shaker box wrapped in a length of silk, and are now resting in a spot he chose under a favorite tree by the pond he designed.
His longtime gardeners, Bonifacio Rojas and Josue Rojas dug his deep grave by hand. 30 friends gathered with Peter Olsen, Jack’s life companion. There were four readings: a poem read by Helen Drutt, the Bhagavad Gita read by Alexandra Monroe; Lys Marigold read from the Episcopal Prayerbook., and Peter Olsen attempted to read the Auden poem Funeral Blues but was too moved to continue beyond the first stanza. His sister finished it. And the guests place dark red rhododendrons blossoms on the grave.
More Virtuals. UrbanGlass, New York City’s only non-profit organization dedicated to equitable access to and education about glass as a creative material held its first virtual gala two Wednesdays ago, May 12th. They honored Philanthropist Barbara Tober, and acclaimed glass artist Deborah Czeresko.
The event was co-chaired by Kiki Smith and Margaret Rose Vendryes, with special appearances by glass artist Beth Lipman, philanthropist and long-time friend of Tober, Leslie Jackson Chihuly, UrbanGlass Board Chair Katya Heller, and UrbanGlass trustee Cynthia Manocherian.
The evening began with virtual VIP Cocktails and an exclusive, interactive conversation between honorees Deborah Czeresko, the groundbreaking artist, and Barbara Tober, art advocate and publishing trailblazer.
Artist Grace Whiteside, MC’d the gala in the mustachioed cowboy persona of ‘Billy Cash’ “These two fine people have truly redefined roles for women in their respective fields,” said Whiteside, “Barbara for her singular influence in publishing, and her dedicated advocacy for craft and design. And Deborah, for carving out space for women in the glass blowing studio and redefining the image of a glass blower…Hot and gay!” Devin Mathis, UrbanGlass Executive Director, followed with more praise, “Both of you have been so generous with your time, resources and extraordinary talents. For this, I am forever grateful.”
In accepting her award, Czeresko said, “UrbanGlass is where I learned to blow glass. My life was changed as a result in many positive ways.” She dedicated the award to the staff and board of UrbanGlass. “Thank you for this award, and I’ll see you in the future.”
Leslie Jackson Chihuly of Chihuly Studios said of the honoree, “Barbara really became an example to me of what female leadership is, what arts leadership, philanthropy, generosity, style, attention to detail… what that could really mean. The way she’s impacted so many artists, her deep love of artists, the way that she’s impacted and sustained so many incredible arts organizations across the country and in New York. You could not have honored a more deserving recipient than Barbara.” Which was echoed by UrbanGlass Trustee Cynthia Manocherian, “Barbara, there is no one more deserving of the award you just accepted, service to the field. No one.
Photographs by Philippe Cheng (Longhouse); Jamie McCarthy (Getty Images for BCRF).