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Monday, May 11, 2009

Saturday Night: The 20th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at the Hilton

Posted By on Mon, May 11, 2009 at 12:03 AM

click to enlarge Chelsea Handler
  • Chelsea Handler

GLAAD Media Awards
May 9, 2009
The Hilton
Review and sketches by Evan James
Better than:
All six volumes of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

So much great writing has been done about gay media awards shows--The Sound and the Fury, Moby Dick, Little Women. So when I was asked to attend the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defenestration Media Awards, to mix fast-talking red carpet reportage, penetrating psychedelic insight, and light-hearted mendacity like some kind of Joan Rivers-Marcel Proust-liar figure, I felt honored, and more than a little queasy.

I woke up at three in the morning for a full 12 hours of primping and hyperventilating before press check-in. I brushed my teeth, washed my neck, and gave myself very small cornrows into which I sewed a full head of European hair. After that it was just a matter of throwing a little pomade in my eyebrows and I was off.

click to enlarge glaadpic4.jpg

The scene at the press check-in was a zoo. That's when I realized that I had mistakenly arrived at the San Francisco Zoo, and that while GLAAD event staff and Sumatran tiger cubs bear certain resemblances in common, I was getting nowhere reiterating my credentials to a pack of adorable, carnivorous felines. So I high-tailed it back to the Hilton, where a pack of adorable, carnivorous humans reiterated me into the basement with the rest of the press, who swarmed around a makeshift red carpet bludgeoning late-night television stars and vicomtesses with their tape recorders. I clutched at the vial of smelling salts hanging around my neck as the first celebrity walked into the room, but it was already too late. Suddenly I found myself lying on the floor in the corner, surrounded by the one Sumatran houseboy on hand who had noticed me faint. He threw a glass of cold vodka in my face--the only drink I had all night. Then I was taken to the ballroom for dinner.

click to enlarge Jason Lewis
  • Jason Lewis
The ballroom was crystallized with dripping chandeliers and bombastically described as being dramatized by an ever-shifting melodrama of colored lights. Dinner consisted of typical gala fare-- pan-fried bumblebees, buttered palms, driving dance music. We ate to the music as quickly as possible, and then the awards ceremony began.


Anybody who was anybody who was supposed to be there was there: a blonde woman named Godfrey Chandler who kept hosting the event; transsexual reality television star Hyperbole Adams; and violinist Nautica Palermo-Saucisson, resplendent in striped pants. Champagne corks popped, teleprompters rolled, and lesbian financial guru Suze Orman arrived on what seemed to be the white horse of the Holy Rapture but was in fact a sizable security entourage. After lacerating the crowd with her razor-sharp hair and sensible wit, she flew away in a gold helicopter.

The award show itself included such highlights as Laverne Cox, who became the first transsexual woman of color to win an award for being on a Puff Daddy-related television show before our very eyes, and a video montage depicting propaganda images of gay television characters over time. Former award recipient Wilson Cruz's attempt to auction off a night of his own dinner table companionship, starting at $5,000 was met with excruciating silence, defused only once the bombshell of ceremonies came on stage to pay the ransom. I would have given my entire fortune to the My So-Called Life alumnus if I thought he had any use for a small plastic bag of chewable vitamin C tablets and 50 Ethiopian birrs.

At the after party, two showgirls handed me a plastic sack of festive garbage, and I spent the remainder of the evening searching in vain for the actual gift bag I had been promised. Somewhere, a black canvas tote full of age-defying creams and syrums lies unclaimed, literally picked over by actual vultures, a poignant testament unrelated to the growing
visibility of gays in the media.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: Bad with names, but I never forget a face.

Random Detail: Dustin Lance Black, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Milk, received a Special Recognition Award. Jason Lewis won Most Likely to Succeed, and Michelle Clunie won Biggest Flirt.

By the way: Side effects can include nervousness and insomnia, loss of appetite, dizziness, and psychotic episodes.

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Evan James

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