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Crashing the celebrity catwalk party

Getting access to the famous, and formerly famous, is easy at Fashion Week, but finding something to say to them is much harder.
/ Source: contributor

Previously at Fashion Week: blogger Julie Fredrickson shoved a home video camera and microhpone into Anna Wintour’s face and, for one golden minute, plumbed the Vogue queen’s icy depths, completely uninterrupted. I can’t imagine what that moment must have been like for Julie.  Maybe it’s similar to the feeling you get when your airplane reaches cruising altitude and suddenly, you realize that your carry-on is crammed full of forbidden liquids and creams. It throws into question the whole security scheme. Are bag checkers not as thorough as we expect?  Is Anna Wintour not, in fact, surrounded by a magic force field that deflects hoi polloi and fatties?Having seen such renegade blogger tactics lead to an interview (though, I’m assuming, a speedy escort to the door and a guarantee that, in the future, Julie will be joining me for a round of gratis frozen beverages at the Delta Sky Bar/Media outcast holding cell in the main tent) it occurred to me: can I do that too?  Just how many invisible measures are in place to prevent me and my H&M jeans from reaching out and touching the front row?After a few days of being moved around like cattle I know the score. The RSVPs sweep in, slashing their calligraphied invitations for all the world to see. Then the standing-room-only crowd mingles behind the barriers and pretends to be RSVPs who are just stretching their legs.  When everyone else has been corralled, the celebrities enter. It’s usually not through the main door.  Most are somehow smuggled in through secret celebrity entrances, or emerge from backstage just minutes before the lights come up. I wonder: in a post Anna-Wintour-security-breach Fashion Week, will bold new measures be implemented to protect the beautiful people?

After the Monique Lhuillier show I decide test it out. I call my operation, “Operation: see how damn close they let me get to people who matter.” Lights up. Models are out. I head straight down to the catwalk. After pushing through a few fashionistas hugging on the stairs, and a few timid onlookers who keep a “respectful distance”, it’s jackpot. The eagle has landed. I’m face to face with LeAnn Rimes, though, it must be added, I have nothing of interest to say. This reminds me of the time a friend and I used to run around Cental Park, attempting to kick pigeons. The fun was in running at the pigeons, then watching them flutter their wings and narrowly escape. On one occasion my friend’s foot actually made contact with the pigeon and it was awful — awful for him, awful for the pigeon, awful for everyone who saw it.That’s what it was like when I actually invaded LeAnn’s personal space.  In the time I spent wondering if it would be sycophantic to tell LeAnn she looks good, (and she does look good) someone more pushy than me horns in, dictophone in LeAnn’s face, and asks her how she stays so slim. I sneer at the softball question, but I also stick around to hear the answer because, like I said, LeAnn does look good and I’m sort of curious too. (For the record, Ms. Rimes enjoys yoga, Pilates and finds eating disorders to be ‘so sad.’)It's all about being pushy
Those brief moments I shared with LeAnn taught me another truth about access at Fashion Week: once you’re in the door, it’s really all about who is pushy enough. At the Bill Blass show later that Tuesday, the celebrities seemed to have finally awakened from their weekends (Doubtlessly spent spooning out soup to orphans, or organizing charity walkathons) and decided to show.  Janet Jackson arrives in a black hat and hoop earrings and a gaggle of photographers trail behind her. There’s so much fuss over Janet that I barely notice Liza Minnelli, Joan Rivers and Sigourney Weaver in the front row opposite to her. In what I imagine must have been some fashion intern’s most brilliant moment in improvisational ass kissing, the overhead music suddenly changes to Janet’s “All for You.”

Actress Liza Minnelli arrives at the Bill Blass spring 2007 fashion show in New York City, Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2006.Jeff Christensen / AP

After the Blass models leave the stage again, as with LeAnn, I go right for the money. I plow through the timid types like 62 inches of entitlement. And suddenly, I’m there. The pigeon is within the range of my toe. No, not close to Jackson. She’s surrounded by too many real reporters. I’m up close with Liza. I suppose I could ask Liza what she thinks of Fashion Week, but I think that MSNBC probably has people who are paid to do that. What’s more, I don’t really care. I haven’t seen Liza wearing anything but some variation on a black suede pant suit and a colorful cape in any recent appearance. Really, I just want to breathe Liza’s recycled air, and know that — were I to be cheeky enough — I could whip out a question a la Bruno from “Da Ali G. Show.”  I feel like Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz.” Everything is in color and I realize that I have, in fact, been standing next to Liza the whole time.  So that’s my shallow lesson from Fashion Week: if you run up and rush the pigeons, every now and then you’re going to kick one. And then you’ll simply feel awful. The same goes for celebrities. Act like you’re entitled, particularly at events rampant with low self esteem (Fashion Week, karaoke nights, Air America restructuring parties.) and you may just find yourself up close with a famous person from the ’80s, ’90s, or possibly even today.   Just for goodness sake, have something to say.