Snap shots: ‘Bill Cunningham New York’ turns the camera on fashion’s most influential paparazzo

LENS ME A SHOE | The Times photographer documents foot fashion in ‘Bill Cunningham New York.’

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

Maybe Project Runway’s to blame, maybe The Devil Wears Prada, but for the past few years there has been a surplus of documentaries about the fashion industry, with profiles of designers like Valentino (Valentino: The Last Emperor), Yves Saint-Laurent (several in fact), even young designers (Seamless) and Vogue magazine’s editor (The September Issue). (By contrast, I can only recall one fashion doc from the 1990s: Unzipped, about a young designer named Isaac Mizrahi.) Is there really that much to say about dressmaking?

Maybe not, but while Bill Cunningham New York fits broadly within the category of fashion documentaries, its subject is unusual because he eschews the trappings of haute couture even as he’s inextricably a part of it — a huge part, really.

If you don’t read the New York Times, you might not recognize Cunningham’s name, and even if you do read it, it may not have registered with you. For about, well, maybe 1,000 years, Cunningham has chronicled New York society with his candid photos of the glitterati on the Evening Hours page. At the same time, however, he has documented real fashion — how New Yorkers dress in their daily lives — with his page On the Street, where he teases out trends (from hats to men in skirts to hip-hoppers allowing their jeans to dangle around their knees). Anna Wintour may tell us what we should wear; Cunningham shows us what we do.

“We all get dressed for Bill,” Wintour observes.

What makes Cunningham such an interesting character is how impervious he seems to the responsibility he effortlessly wields. He loves fashion, yes, but he’s not a slave to it himself. He scurries around Manhattan (even in his 80s) on his bicycle (he’s had dozens; they are frequently stolen), sometimes in a nondescript tux but mostly in jeans, a ratty blue smock and duck shoes, looking more like a homeless shoeshiner than the arbiter of great fashion. He flits through the city like a pixie with his 35mm camera (film-loaded, not digital), a vacant, toothy smile peaking out behind the lens, snapping the denizens of Babylon whether they want it or not.

One of the funniest moments is when strangers shoo him away as some lunatic paparazzo, unaware how all the well-heeled doyens on the Upper East would trade a nut to have Cunningham photograph them for inclusion in the Times. Patrick McDonald, the weirdly superficial modern dandy (he competed as a wannabe designer on the flop reality series Launch My Line a few seasons back), seems to exist with the hope that Cunningham will shoot him. And shoot him he does.

Many artists are idiosyncratic, even eccentric, but Cunningham is supremely odd by any standards. He lives in a tiny studio near Carnegie Hall filled with filing cabinets cluttered with decades of film negatives on the same floor as a crazy old woman, a kind of urban variation on Grey Gardens. He knows tons of people but most of them seem to know very little about him. By the time near the end when the filmmaker, director Richard Press, finally comes out and ask him outright whether he’s gay, Cunningham arches in that prickly New England way, never really answering outright, though he says he’s never — never — had a romantic relationship. Things like that were simply not discussed by men of his generation.

In some ways, we never really know any more about Cunningham at the end than any of his friends do, and perhaps even him. Cunningham comes across as defiantly non-self-reflective. He lets his work do all the talking for him. And that work has a lot to say on its own.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 8, 2011.

—  John Wright

Equality Advocates Un-marry in New York

UnMarryCeremonyx390 (Screengrab) | Advocate.comThe Church of Life After Shopping held an “un-marry” ceremony in New York City for couples to demonstrate their support for marriage equality.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  David Taffet

Miss New York to champion gay rights at Miss America pageant

Very cool:

Leave it to a New Yorker to shake things up at the Miss America Pageant.

Instead of sticking to something safe, Miss New York Claire Buffie will be championing gay rights as part of her campaign to become the next Miss America.

Never in the 90-year history of the pageant has a contestant gone to bat for gays. And the 24-year-old brunette knows she’s taking a risk with her “Straight for Equality: Let’s Talk” platform.

But this, she says, is the civil rights struggle of her generation.




AMERICAblog Gay

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Miss New York To Compete For Miss America On LGBT Rights Platform

Last July, Claire Buffie was named Miss New York after competing on the platform “Straight For Equality: Let’s Talk.” On January 15th, Buffie will be the first-ever Miss America contestant to compete in the name of LGBT rights. Buffie is a board member of NYC P-FLAG and works at the Genius Bar of the Fifth Avenue Apple store. Do I hear the sound of pageant-watching parties being planned all over Chelsea? Count me in!

Joe. My. God.

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What Went Down On The Season Finale Of The A-List: New York?

A friend of mine recently told me that The A-List's Rodiney Santiago is a mean-spirited, dumb as rocks diva whose number one relationship issue with Reichen is that they're both bottoms. I like Rodiney (and not just because he's hiding a man-hammer in those briefs the producers force him to wear every episode). I find him as endearing as a Golden Retriever with a brain tumor and after watching this circus of shame for an entire season, I finally stumbled upon an essay which nails why Rodiney's the only likable character in this entire meat-puppet show:

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How Can The Cast Of A-List: New York Say ‘It Gets Better’ When They Bully Other Gays?

Well isn't MickeyRants the eloquent youngster! If you happened to tune in to last night's episode of A-List: New York, you'll know exactly what he's talking about: The cast "presents a poor image to gay youth," but on YouTube they're "trying to promote anti-gay bullying." A half dozen queens manage to escape childhood without killing themselves because of classmate torment, only to turn into sniping gay adults who call each other fat, talk shit behind each other's back, and force an unrealistic idea of beauty and status upon other gays. "When you grow up, you little gay depressed teenagers, you can deal with people like me. I'll judge you, don't worry. You don't have to have the homophobes judge you, we will." Maybe Ronnie Kroell was on to something. Or maybe LOGO's gays are just as guilty as MTV's straights in exploiting the It Gets Better campaign.

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NOW PLAYING: Join The A-List: New York Live Blog!

Did I really just stop jerking off to lesbian wrestling for this? Ugh. Alright… so this week marks episode number whatever of She-cat Gutter Heat (aka The A-List: New York – "A show for families"). If you haven't been watching, Lord please don't start now. But if you simply must, here's a quick recap. Austin and Reichen wanna fuck, but Reichen's boyfriend Rodiney and everyone else are like "Nuh-uh, no you din't." That's literally everything that's happened over the entire season of this miserable little show.

 

 

9:02 PM CST - The gays decide to have a tete-a-tete in their natural habitat: a hair salon. Mike is such close friends with Ryan that he's never even been to his dumb salon. But girlffriend needs Ryan to cut that wet mop on his head. It looks like a wet cat and sea kelp mated and had a love baby on his head. Seriously, gurl… tragic.

Reichen complains that his boyfriend Rodiney misunderstood his text to another man. Bright TJ, Ryan's hairdresser assistant says, "Does Rodiney not understand? I mean, English IS his second language." Um, yeah because a text message saying, "I loved having your dick in my mouth" is so ambiguous.

9:06 PM CST - Poor dumb Reichen is waiting for Rodiney to text him back so they discuss their post break-up living arrangements (because that wicker laundry hamper and hanging lantern from World Market are really worth fighting over. But Rodiney is busy having a par-tay in Miami getting comforted by a girl who has bat wings for eye-lashes. Hell, if underwear modeling Rodiney needs female comfort, we'll get breast implants. His friends in Miami are so close to him that they refuse to hear about his breakup that just happened.

Meanwhile back in Reichen's man stanky bed, the past few days have been a really hard couple of days for Reichen… like, really hard, especially when Austin comes over in the one wifebeater he owns and drinks champagne in bed with him. Very very hard… like priapic.

9:10 PM CST - Commercial: The only way Julia Stiles would only fuck herself if she could first get drunk and mock her career choices first.

9:11 PM CST - Commercial: Do Lysol's kitchen wipe also work on manholes?

9:14 PM CST - Finally we get a shot of Rodiney in a bikini and his bulge is obscene! Yellow sausage bikini time!!! CHORIZO MAXIMO!!! Aye, yai, yai!!! I'm surprised they didn't bluer it out like they blurred out Austin's buttcrack two episodes ago. But we love that Rodiney's living like a superstar while Reichen rots in bed and watches his play go to hell.

9:16 PM CST - BRUNCH SCENE!!!! (Fucking finally, I could kill a baby for a Bloody Mary). TJ, Ryan's waify assistant doesn't have any problem with Austin personally he just doesn't want to be in the same house with him ever. Which is why he doesn't want to go to Austin's lake house in Maine. What's that, Ryan? You need TJ to stay in New York and do some more bitch errands? Problem solved.

But even though TJ and Derek are one brain shared between two twinks, Reichen and TJ are of one mind as well, especially when it comes to wanting to hump Austin's butt. What better thing to talk about over brunch? Certainly not DADT or ENDA or the recent elections or negative gay stereotypes perpetuated over reality shows that make you dumber by watching them.

Meanwhile in an alleyway next to a porn and meth shop in the West Village, TJ and Derek share a sneaky kitten laugh plotting to go to Reichen's lakehouse just to make fun of fat girl Austin over his head. Little does Derek know that TJ only wants to go the lakehouse so he can get first crack at Austin's crack before Reichen moves in.

9:20 PM CST - Commercial: Let the creepy dead voice of a disembodied child sell you jeans.

9:23 PM CST - Commercial: All elves need Christmas magic… even the Jewish ones. SANTA DEMANDS IT. HAIL SANTA!!! And talking about creepy commercials, here's the one about the Android cell phone that will turn Frosty the Snowman into KILLBOT 3000!!!

9:25 PM CST - The A-List word of the day is "brown out" which they say is like a lighter version of black out. But we bottoms who know better know that a REAL brown out is much much worse. Kinda like what happens to Spud the morning after in Trainspotting (hint: poo sheets).

Personally, we think the word of the day should be what TJ said earlier, "Vagenius." Thinking smart with your cooch.

9:27 PM CST - Rodiney returns from Miami do to a fashion shoot Auntie Mike who has made an unprecedented THIRD appearance in this show which is kinda like touching a unicorn three times (IT NEVER HAPPENS). Apparently while Rodiney was busy having an amazing life in Miami. Reichen's butthole blew up Rodiney's phone with needy booty texts.

Rodiney does a fashion shoot with DJ Tracy Young. Mike styles them in such a way that makes Rodiney look like a woman and Tracy Young look like a very tall drag queen. Of course, Rodiney is only 3 foot 7. If you hit him over the head with a stick, he turns into a pile of gold coins (thanks Patton Oswald).

9:29 PM CST - When Rodiney finally deigns to come back to their soulless apartment full of grey colored furniture, Reichen apologizes with all the compassion of a styrofoam carry out container. He apologizes. He's veruy sorry that Rodiney has never given him a chance to express how he feels in his incoherent All-American mumble speak. Are we the only people in all of gaydom that doesn't believe reichen one IOTA when he says he has't cheated?

9:34 PM CST - Commercial: Finally, a commercial that's teamed Weezer with AXE body spray proving once and for all that Weezer's second album Pinkerton wasn't a legendary album that defined my teenage years, but a shamelss cash grab that I misunderstood.

9:36 PM CST - LOGO Promo: Every episode of RuPaul's Drag Race is the Halloween episode, especially with RuPaul's maniacal cackle.

9:37 PM CST - The producers have obviously forced frenemies Austin and Derek/TJ (the Girls with One Brain) to kiss and make up while drunk, so they can get into a fight in a few weeks and stop being friends all over again. Shut up! IT'S GOOD PROGRAMMING! THE FORMULA WORKS. WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT ANYTHING???!!!!11!!

At their make-up drink Ryan and TJ scold Austin for acting like a Fire Islander while at Fire Island. Derek wears an Ellen Degeneres vest with no shirt underneath and TJ wears a a filthy white shirt that looks like it was used to clean up a Brooklyn urinal.

9:41 PM CST - Things go well with Derek and TJ congratulating Austin on his dastardly plan to be Reichen's rebound manpussy. Well that is… UNTIL RODINEY SHOW UP and begins weaving his evil Brazilian spells over Reichen's heart with a 99-cent rose! Austin gives his totally unbi-assed opinion that Rodiney and Reichen shouldn't be dating. Rodiney responds by imitating Austin's nasally voice, but sadly you can actually understand Rodiney better when he's talking like that — like no subtitles needed!

9:45 PM CST - Commercial: A man walks on his hands across New York City to encourage you to learn CPR. Sadly we're sure he got severe hand-gonnoreah and had to have them cut off. Moments later, a baby seal started choking on one of Austin's condoms and the handless CPR man couldn't do anything but shed a single tear.

9:48 PM CST - Reichen invites TJ and Ryan to "a shit show" where all the men will drink and Austin will insult Rodiney and the two grown men will get in a fight. This will be the show's "moral lesson."

Austin says that he totally doesn't want to fuck Rodiney because he's engaged to some random piece of British scrub. Nevermind that he has spent the entire season wanting to fuck Reichen. Anyway, Reichen and Rodiney walk in puppy-eyed love to announce to their friends that THEY'RE TOTALLY IN LOVE!!! OMG YOU GUYS, LIKE WOW!!!

Ummm… Reichen, these people are not you're friends. These are people that producers introduced you to three months ago.

Austin is seething, partially out of being cock-blocked on national TV and partially because of the realization that he took all that Cialis tonight for nothing.

9:53 PM CST - Commercial: A Latina woman would like to talk about finances using an extended "box" metaphor. She would like to make a couple of of long-term deposits and quick withdrawals from your box. Like, right now. She's gonna organize the fuck out of your box… like crazy. Do you like kids, slut?


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Hate The Love! Join Queerty at 10PM EST Tonight for The A-List: New York Live Blog

Hate them or hate them, the parade of tears that is America's favorite gay minstrel show will felch your TV screens at 10PM EST tonight—and Queerty will be all over it like shit on rice! Join the bitchiness in our A-List: New York live-blog and see the show that's so bad that not even GLAAD will touch it.

 

 

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NEW YORK CITY: Cops Bust Heroin Dealers Via Google Street View

Brooklyn detectives were able to identify some local heroin dealers thanks to images captured on Google Street View, where multiple photos showed the group working the corner. Also, do dealers really still use that hanging shoes bit?

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

New York Marriage Equality Update

Kennedy: “I would like to thank the Human Rights Campaign for the assistance they have provided in my effort to change Albany. HRC staff and volunteers played a key role in ensuring a major victory."

They say everything comes in threes.

On Election Night three new marriage equality supporters were elected in tight state Senate races: Tony Avella (Queens), David Carlucci (Rockland County), and Tim Kennedy (Buffalo).

HRC played a key role in helping each of these wins by providing campaign staff, volunteers, and funds.

Unfortunately, there are also three  races that are still not officially called, and each Senator voted for marriage equality last year: Craig Johnson (Nassau County), Suzi Oppenheimer (Westchester), and Antoine Thompson (Erie County).

Earlier this week the final Election Districts were tallied in Westchester.  Now, with only absentee, provisional, and military ballots remaining to be counted, marriage equality supporter Senator Oppenheimer is ahead by 504 votes.

Carlucci: “HRC provided my campaign with top-notch organizers. Along with their financial support, HRC played a key part in my campaign and I’m grateful for their support, and I'm looking forward to working together on the issues we care about."

In the other two races,  Senator Craig Johnson trails by 415 votes and Senator Antoine Thompson trails by 598.  However, each District still needs to count approximately 4,000 absentee, provisional, or other ballots.

Avella: "Thank you to the Human Rights Campaign for their support of my campaign. I look forward to representing the values of equality and fairness in the New York state senate and to voting in favor of marriage equality and GENDA."

Most observers believe these three elections will not be officially decided until November 24 or beyond, and there may be challenges.

Party control of the Senate hangs in the balance of these three races.  However, Senate leadership from both parties support a vote on marriage taking place.  Time (and results of these three races) will tell.

HRC’s Campaign for NY Marriage has and will continue to play a key role in the fight for marriage equality.

Senator Craig Johnson trails by 415 votes.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

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