Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Miss Manhattan Hangs Out...Takes A Break!

There are some exciting goings-on here at Miss Manhattan HQ! With that in mind, I’m taking a break from Miss Manhattan Hangs Out for a few weeks to focus on these other projects, of which I will certainly keep you posted. I’ll return in March to celebrate the two-year anniversary (!) of the project. In the meantime, if you need something to read, you may avail yourself of some of my favorite pieces of (non-MMHO) writing from 2018, which I kept meaning to share but never did. These should last you awhile :) They are below, in no particular order. See you in March!

Love,
Miss M

VICE
Life After a Double Mastectomy at 33
A young, single New York City woman is diagnosed with the genetic mutation that gave her mother breast cancer. After removing her breasts, unanswerable questions about her future loom large.

From my “Woman Seeing Woman” column at VICE:
These Intimate Portraits Are an Antidote to Icky Ads
Talking with photographer Zora Sicher about the importance of having a dialogue with your subjects.

How Deborah Willis Made Space for Herself in Photography*
The renowned photographer and historian conquered the photography world when others said she couldn’t.
*This essay was anthologized at the end of last year, in Deborah Willis’s book, In Pursuit of Beauty.

These Haunting Photos Were Inspired by a Near-Death Experience
When a car crash left her unable to speak, Cig Harvey used photography to examine life's miracles and misfortunes.

Radically Intimate Photos of Parenthood
In spite of the world’s cruelties, the Israeli-born photographer Elinor Carucci chooses love.

From my Drag Herstory column at them.:
-Crystal LaBeija
-The Cockettes
-Joan Jett Blakk
-José Julio Sarria

Artsy
Vivian Maier’s Never-Before-Seen Color Photography
Vivian Maier's square-format black-and-white images became beloved worldwide, but her color photographs have mostly remained a mystery until now.

Venice
A Natural Thread
In her latest exhibition, Mira Lehr traces a fine line to enforce environmental conservation.

Cools
Rising Singer-Songwriter Raffaella Prefers Salinger to Sororities
A profile on one of New York's newest voices

For Francisco Correa Cordero, Running a Gallery is an Art Form
How the gallerist makes his teeny space in Manhattan a must-see, artist-friendly spot

Tablet
The Forgotten World of the Badass Valeska Gert
On her 126th birthday, measuring the influence of the incomparable ‘dance performance artist’ who inspired entertainers from German Expressionism through to 1980s punk

The Young Women of Mah-Jongg
How I found culture and community playing the game my mother—and grandmother—loved

Billboard
Sasha Velour's Nightgowns: Inside the Eclectic, Wild & Highly Personal Drag Show
Performances at Nightgowns are not just fierce renditions of pop ballads with death drops and splits.
'RuPaul's Drag Race': As Season 10 Arrives, What Does the Show Mean to Pop Culture?
Drag Race isn’t niche like it used to be. It’s popular culture now, for people inside and outside the communities where it started.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Miss Manhattan Hangs Out...at New York Fashion Week

I photographed New York Fashion Week every season with religious fervor for a few years. I still get backstage from time to time now if I’m not totally swamped with other work. This season one particular invitation was to Pamella Roland’s Fall/Winter 2019 show and backstage. Known for her elegant formal wear, Roland has been beloved by the likes of Angelina Jolie and Halle Berry since she first showed at New York Fashion Week for Fall 2002. With hair by Frederic Fekkai and makeup by Rick DiCecca for Artistry cosmetics, backstage was a flutter of spritzes and shadows. Influencers pranced about wearing heavily drawn-on eyebrows and silk dresses with sneakers while speaking into their iPhone cameras in selfie mode.

And then I arrive in my Olsen Twins Circa 2005 ensemble, a giant Michael Jackson t-shirt over ripped pants and gold boots hiding under my giant red furry coat. I gobble down a coffee and probably one too many Laduree macarons (the vanilla ones in particular are delicious). I start taking pictures, doing my best not to get in anyone’s way but not always succeeding. The shows always start a half hour late and yet everyone’s in a tizzy as ever. Models are still arriving from other shows when rehearsal begins. They strap impossibly slim stilettos to their ankles and stand in line, waiting for instructions while dawdling on their phones, texting and taking selfies with hair is still in curlers. They will never not be a sight to me, these slim giraffes who from birth have the jawlines and cheekbones some Park Avenue women have certainly given their literal eyeteeth for.

Some sonorous, elegant, yet upbeat music blasts around the runway’s white walls as the models begin. They’re still in street clothes that, despite being as simple as a black t-shirt and jeans, look impossibly chic solely because their collar and hip bones point through them with force. Bored, they walk a walk they’ve walked a thousand times possibly that day and will walk more as the week progresses. Yet everyone in the photo pit at the end of the runway takes pictures as if it’s something they’ve never seen before. On the sidelines, I’m not immune myself.

After rehearsal, more primps and pumps before dressers adorn the models in the sequinned, beaded, ruffled gowns and cocktail dresses Roland has made her signature these last 17 years. The show space fills up with sleek-haired, coated attendees. Among them is the actress Patricia Clarkson, who somehow looks just as charming and lovely in person as she does on screen. Seats fill and an epileptic attack of photographers’ flashes points itself in Clarkson’s direction before the show begins. I sit on my perch for a short while, and when the fateful music starts rise to take pictures, ruffle after ruffle catching light after light as a vision of stylish youth makes its way down the runway a half hour late as usual. And in a few short minutes, it’s all gone.

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Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Miss Manhattan Hangs Out...with Brianne Lugo

When Brianne Lugo tells me to meet her at the Hungarian pastry shop on Amsterdam Avenue, I wonder what the name of the place is. It turns out the name of this Hungarian pastry shop is, well, The Hungarian Pastry Shop. Very easy to find and SEO-friendly, as the kids might say.

Brianne--or Bri, as I know her--is a full-time freelance violist originally from the New York area. Though by now she’s played viola for most of her life, she originally wanted to be a marine biologist but decided to study viola in college instead. After getting her MFA in Music from the Cleveland Institute of Music, she lived and worked in the Chicago area before moving back to New York in 2016. She is currently a member of the Southwest Florida Symphony in Fort Myers, Florida, but she has also played viola on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, at Carnegie Hall, with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, and for Kid Victory, a new musical written by John Kander.

The day I arrive to meet Bri at The Hungarian Pastry Shop is rather gray but not totally frigid, a welcome respite from the torture this winter has thus far unleashed upon us. Mere blocks from Columbia, the place almost carries with it the romanticism of Beats past. Its interior is dotted with late-teen/early-20-somethings hunched over Baudelaire and Montaigne, with thick, white mugs of coffee and scratched silver spoons within grasp. It feels like a relic of 60 years ago, with lights so dark and warm they feel like they’ve always been that way. Above curving glass cases bearing myriad pastries at the entrance are graying poster menus. Bri arrives and knows exactly what she wants: baklava.

The slice arrives tall and layered on a thick, white plate. We dive into it with forks and knives while discussing the freelance hustle and her violist life. She jokes she initially picked up the viola over two decades ago because the violin was too small and the cello was too big. Bri stretches her chin upward to show me her neck callus, sometimes called a viola hickey or “fiddler’s neck,” which she gets from the placement of the chinrest on the instrument. Decimating our baklava and coffee, we head back out into the cloudy day.

Across the street is The Peace Fountain on the grounds of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Assembled from several different representations of good and evil, it’s quite an experience to look at, crab claws, giraffe necks, and all. We chuckle to ourselves at the raucous collection of visuals, which also include angel wings and Satan’s decapitated head. Just, you know, some fun art to look at. Casual.

We walk over to the Cathedral, in awe of its sculptured exterior, and wander inside. But it’s a Sunday, and we’re not allowed to jaunt further than the security guard (no matter how much Bri makes him laugh, which is a lot). It’s beautiful just the same.

Learn more about Brianne on her website.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Miss Manhattan Hangs Out...with Matt Siffert

I have been to Cafe Lalo a few times, but never with Matt Siffert. The Upper West Side staple for however many years is the perfect distance between both of us. Matt arrives, fresh from a trip to Nashville, where he lived for several months and now travels to about every six weeks. He’s been able to build a life for himself as a working artist in all of his lives as a musician, including those as a solo, experimental alt-folk musician, songwriter, bassist, and band member. As the latter, he’s part of Arts Fishing Club, a Nashville-based folk, rock, blues band that will be touring parts of the midwest and south this coming February.

As a musician, Matt is inspired by the likes of Miles Davis, Leonard Bernstein, and The Strokes, among countless others. Having known Matt since college, it’s been wonderful to see him invest time in growing as a musician, from taking poetry classes and singing lessons to getting his master’s degree in music composition at the Manhattan School of Music. As our friend Brandon says, “he’s been choppin’ wood,” spending quality time working on his craft. Perhaps accordingly, his work has now appeared on or in NPR, The New Yorker, and Time Out New York, among others. His latest album, Bright Shadows, comes out on February 15.

First, though, Matt starts his winter residency at Rockwood Music Hall. For three dates, the last Wednesday of each month--tonight (8:30pm, Rockwood Stage 3), February 27, March 27--he’ll feature two other performers and then play his own work. Tonight’s event is hosted by yours truly, and Matt has also asked me to read a short piece of my own work. So if you’re in the neighborhood, come through! I remember when Matt took off to Nashville to find a home, a community for himself as a singer-songwriter, one that’s not so easy to find in New York. He returned to the city successful, and hoped to forge more of a community here. That’s one of the goals of his Rockwood residency. Tonight’s lineup features the artists Lesley Barth and David You.

At Lalo, Matt and I sip coffee from large, round mugs and shoot the shit. We come up with (or try to come up with) names for a new experimental electronic project he’s hoping to initiate soon. We eventually leave and walk down West 83rd Street to Broadway. From afar I see Matt’s socks, all covered in leaves and personality. He had been into Uniqlo socks for a while, he says, but they all ripped at the same time and was ex post facto was given a series of new ones from his girlfriend and her family. It’s good for a day like today, when it feels like it’s easily dropped 15 degrees since we first met up.

Luckily, 86th Street isn’t far. It’s around 5pm and miraculously it’s not dark yet. Matt throws his furry hood over his head, looks up at the sky, and smiles.

Follow Matt on Instagram and Facebook.
Listen to Matt and Arts Fishing Club on Spotify.
Come to Rockwood Music Hall tonight for Matt’s first residency show!

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