Dear James and James,
My Mum, a.k.a. ‘the Hun,’ started throwing parties long before I came along, and for as long as I can remember; literally, my first cognitive memory was somewhere between the age of one and two, or maybe it was near two o’clock in the morning? In any case, my bedroom door was slightly open, the glow and melodic chatter of a happening party seeping through the crack. I was standing, holding onto the edge of my crib, screeching at the top of my lungs, overwhelmed by an urge to join in the festivities and fun. If this event is so well imprinted into my memory bank it’s because I can clearly recall the feeling of fresh pooh in my diaper bouncing along to the rhythm of my discontented feet. (TMI? We’ve all crapped ourselves, darling.)
What I was later told, yet have no recollection of save for in imagination and dreams, was that on nights like these the Hun would gather me and sit my down in front of a VHS of Blade Runner, and when guests seemed stunned she would say, “It’s the only thing that stops her from crying.” Cool is the Word.
Still, I tend to be a bit socially awkward beyond parties of two or three people. Unless I’m dancing, in which case nothing matters other than body motion, electric heartbeats. Not exactly shy, sometimes insecure among the crowd, I like to play the clown, get people to laugh, or cringe. It’s kind of sick to admit, but I like pushing buttons, seeing how far I can go with my wacky show, even get a bit grandiose with the inappropriate things I say. I have a penchant for flamboyant gestures, though this occasionally gets me into trouble. But it’s all good-hearted fun. This probably has something to do with all the musicals I watched once I grew out of my sci-fi thriller phase.
Honestly, sometimes we have to get a little surreal to make reality more piquant.
Come what may, I know as long as I have the Hun laughing, I’m on the right track. She has always been a social butterfly, and in due course blossomed into café society’s Queen Bee. Her parties are always the coolest, the smartest, the chicest. Last month she was invited to host and perform for a Byronesque event in NYC, a website devoted to fashion icons’ iconic pieces.
I thought I’d pick her brain and share with you about what it means to Party in Style. I haven’t edited her responses; the all caps are entirely hers and relevant.
Me: What was the first party you ever planned, how was it, and where?
The Hun: I DO REMEMBER A GREAT ONE. PERHAPS NOT THE FIRST BUT ALMOST -1969 OR 1970 ….IN ONE OF OUR “COMMUNE IN PARIS -ALL LIVING TOGETHER -HELENE AND MARIE FRANCE …CREATURES + LABORDE PEOPLE /+REVOLUTIONNAIRES!!!!!! AND HUMBERT CAMERLO -THEN DIRECTOR AT THE LYON OPERA HAD COME WITH A FAMOUS OPERA SINGER (DON’T REMEMBER HER NAME RIGHT NOW -BUT SHE WAS THE MISTRESS OF RALPH LIBERMAN ! AND WE WERE SINGING OR SHE WAS …
IN A CRAZY WAY ….WE DID NOT NOTICE FIRST -BUT SOME ENGLISH LADS THAT HAD COME BY -HAD DROPPED ACID IN ALL THE WINE BOTTLES –TOTAL MAYHEM…I REMEMBER THAT I HAD COOKED A POLENTA THROWN ON A LARGE WOODEN DOOR FOR TABLE -WITH A POULET BASQUAISE !!!
What are the most important elements to a successful party?
GOOD LIGHT AND TEMPERATURE …GOOD MUSIC. …LIGHT FOOD (EXCEPT FOR THE POLENTA !!!!!) AND A VERY CONTROL SENSE OF DANGER (WHAT’S SOMEBODY IS GOING TO SAY/WHO IS GOING TO SHOW UP –THIS KIND OF DANGER.)
[Funny side note: there must be something about partying and polenta, for whenever I have a gathering that wanders into the wee hours of the morning I find myself half-consciously whipping up a batch. Maybe it’s a family thing, or that it’s just so easy to make, and wonderfully absorbent.]
What should one never talk about at a party?
ABOUT OTHER PARTIES ………
What can ruin a party, besides running out of alcohol?
NOT EVEN THE FIRE MARSHALL -AS YOU REMEMBER AT LES DEUX [The restaurant in Hollywood where the Hun was hostess for years] ….IF YOU LOVE YOUR COMPANY.
What is the most fun party you’ve been to, who threw it? What is the best-loved party you’ve thrown so far?
OUR LATEST CLUB NIGHTS ARE PRETTY GOOD AND LAST YEAR THANKSGIVING AT THE PALAIS WAS AWESOME …..COULD NOT DO IT THIS YEAR : (
[Imagine 60 people all seated at the same table and a French chef cooking a traditional American feast.]
What is the most memorable moments or parties at Les Deux, or anywhere else for that matter?
THE CHAINSAW JONGLEUR PARTY —WHEN PETROL FUMES GOT ALL THE SMOKE DETECTORS ON (EVEN IF WE DID NOT HEAR IT AND GOT ALL THE BEAUTIFUL FIREMEN IN…. THEN THERE WAS THE HUGE MADONNA BIRTHDAY/GRAMMY BASH WHERE SHE GOT HER HAIR DRENCHED IN BURNING CANDLE WAX ….MY “FAKE BIRTHDAY PARTY ” WITH HELENE NAKED HITTING HERSELF WITH A WHIP AND SINGING “MES BLEUS SONT MES EMERAUDES”, ME DOING MY FIRST KING KONG BLUES WITH BOBBY WOODS BAND; AND JONI MITHCELL NOT REMEMBERING THE WORDS TO HER OWN SONG ALL IN THE SAME NIGHT !!!
If you could throw your next party anywhere in the world, where would it be?
IN DUBAI WITH THE SHEIKHS IN ALL THEIR FULL REGALIA.
And finally, were you always a social person or was it a confidence that developed over time?
REMEMBER I WAS RAISED IN BOARDING SCHOOL. …ALWAYS A TRIBE.
My discussions with the Hun are ongoing. I am blessed to share so much of my life and work with the person who gave me life in the first place— it’s a rare, treasured relationship.
I thought I’d leave you with a video that came out recently about that relationship. See below.
Scarlett Rouge xxx