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The Haves 

Of jet-setters and 18th-century teenage queens

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You should never ask anyone who looks fabulous at a party what she does for a living, and certainly don't ask her her name--always pretend you know. Especially when the person in question is the ravishing Sofia Lamar, New York social royalty who's been keeping company with the likes of Richie Rich, Amanda Lepore, and Kenny Kenny for over 20 years.

Lamar came to Funky Buddha's Outdanced! party a couple Tuesdays ago on the promotional tour for the Last Nights Party book release. The elusive Merlin Bronques (who goes by Bronques) started the frustratingly unpunctuated Last Nights Party two years ago as a photoblog of the more glamorous and debauched moments in fashionable New York partying history. Since then he's hit the other coast quite a bit, made a splash with his mile-high pinups--dirty pics taken in airplane bathrooms, kind of like a hipster Girls Gone Wild--and made a photo book, which was nowhere in sight on Tuesday. No one seemed to care, though--attendees were there to hopefully get their pictures taken, hopefully doing something like choking on champagne or pouting coyly half-naked in a bathroom stall, both popular themes on Bronques's site.

Sofia Lamar--wrapped like a pin-thin, doe-eyed present in a dress that looked like a wool army blanket remixed into a short, complicated concoction of loops and bows--pointed out some dude in a floppy beret and a pirate pendant. "He keep asking me my name," she said in her vaguely European accent, "and what I do." I shook my head in disgust. "I tole him, 'Google me. Jus' google me,' I say."

Bronques came up and rubbed my belly. "Hey, who said you could do that?" I asked him. "It was just intuition," he said silkily. Then he slinked up to a blond woman who'd been sitting in the corner of the VIP booth all night, rubbing her temples and incessantly checking her cell phone. Turned out she was a cocktail waitress-slash-poet named Lauren. She and Bronques met on a plane, where they did a photo shoot in the latrine. "He called and said, 'Hey, baby, I'm in town,'" she told me. So she showed up at Funky Buddha for support. "And I'm watching his bag," she said.

Two lesbians with dubious balance careered into me, setting off a stupid pushing and kicking fight that sent my gold leather bracelet flying. Sofia Lamar took a little more interest in me after that. "What your name again?" she asked. "Jill?"

"Google me," I said.

Ever notice how nothing actually happens in Sofia Coppola's movies? Unless, that is, you were sitting in the back row last Friday for River East 21's 10:50 opening-night screening of Marie Antoinette. It was a night of cake, champagne, and bloodshed, and I'm not talking about the action on the screen.

For my 29th birthday a dozen of us dressed up in our own take on fancy--mine included my actual senior prom dress, a gothy black affair of lace-up satin corsetry and a shimmery floor-length skirt; my friend Matt wore an 18th-century soldier uniform replica he had left over from his dorky war reenactment days. Two girls in the incredibly long line in front of us wore saggy sweatpants--one of them had "Royal Pink" written in fuchsia Gothic lettering on her ass. One of my friends overheard a woman with a crispy poofball hairdo tell her similarly coiffed companion, "Those must be those artsy types," as we walked into the theater.

Coppola's taken undeserved flak in reviews--who cares if the movie was revisionist or frivolous or might be her own privileged take on privilege? The costuming was a delicious whisk into a period of fashion when perverse distortion and grotesque excess were the order of the day, just like they are on today's runways. Royalty expanded the gap between the haves and have-nots, running the country into the ground, which reminds me of what's going on in this country right now. It's the perfect time for this movie. But I kept waiting for action, for a rude remark with some bite, for the gluttony to become overwhelming--if only to break up the quiet monotony of the film, which sounded like everything was recorded from the next room and played back on low.

It was taking forever to get to the part where the extremely boring and not that cute Kirsten Dunst says "Let them eat cake"--which she does toward the bitter end, lounging in the bathtub wearing near-black lipstick--so during one of the movie's many, many parties we busted out the gluten-free, dairy-free cupcakes my boyfriend had made. We'd already downed our first bottle of sparkling wine--popped open during a fake coughing fit that didn't keep the whole audience from hearing us anyway--but the next bottle had a regular old cork and we'd forgotten a corkscrew.

Thank goodness my friend Lindsey had given me a tiny antique pocketknife as a birthday gift--I passed it to my boyfriend and firmly suggested he give it a whirl. Two minutes later it slipped on the side of the bottle and sliced the side of his hand so badly he started squirting blood all over himself. He stood up to get to the bathroom and splashed blood all over my dress, then slipped on the cupcake tray, which went flying into the back of someone's head.

It's tough to follow an act like that in 2-D. Marie Antoinette was all ambient noise and thick, buttery sunlight--Coppola's trademark. But so what, Sofia Coppola? So what if you can make light pretty? You make exciting stories ho-hum, you wallow in poignancy, and you overdo restraint. I don't want to watch time stretched to artfully detached milliseconds. I want a little something, somewhere, somehow, to burst forth.

When the credits started rolling we weren't the ones who started the booing, but we were the loudest. It was a miniwar between the defenders and the offended, those clapping with nervous politeness and those of us hooting like scorned monkeys. It was the most drama we'd witnessed in two hours.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Andrea Bauer.

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