It was an evening of celebrities, socialites, and drag queens at last night's 24th Annual Bailey House Auction and Party, where famous faces such as Gillian Miniter, Kipton Cronkite, Alex McCord, and Simon Van Kempen raised their bidding cards to support the housing of homeless people with AIDS/HIV.
The Lexington Armory was transformed into a Carnivale-like atmosphere for the charitable occasion. Puppeteers and performance artists danced through the glamorous crowd, which circulated among the silent auction displays of art, furniture, vacation packages, handbags, and other luxury items, including a Steve Jobs photograph by Christopher Griffith and an original cartoon sketch of Wonder Women. Small Blackberry-ish devices perched on every surface, waiting for connoisseurs to make their bids.
The stylish parade was being tracked by the discerning lens of Bill Cunningham, out to spot new trends. Upon entry, Mr. Cunningham breezed right past the red carpet. "I'm looking for the real fashion," he confided, before snapping a picture of a drag queen bedecked in jewels and swaths of turquoise and green, while a trio of svelte, fur-coated young ladies looked on in envy.
An affable Gillian Miniter floated through the crowd, stopping to pose for photographs. "I have the same camera," she said, winking, then rejoining her bow-tied companion. Further down the bar, a dapper Kipton Cronkite also posed for a picture. "That one's okay," he said, pausing, before pulling an attractive, blonde friend to his side for a retake.
Cocktails catered to every taste, including Ultimat vodka martinis, Patron liqueur-laced hot chocolates, Macallan whiskey, and the old standbys, wine and beer. The hors d'oeuvres selection was equally impressive, boasting such decadent treats as truffle-infused mac & cheese by Abigail Kirsch, Soba noodles, Columbus salami, and even hot dogs served from a vending cart.
After everyone had a chance to get tipsy, the bidding wars began, and Real Housewives alumni Alex McCord and Simon Van Kempen kicked off the proceedings with a package for a decadent evening on the town. Other crowd favorites included a photograph by Robert Mapplethorpe, Opening Day seats at the Yankees, and a meet and greet with Andy Cohen, who was not present.
Then, the donations began. One gentleman in the front row immediately raised his hand for a contribution of $10,000. When other guests were slow to follow, he stood up and said "C'mon!," prompting a few shy philanthropists to loosen their purse strings. By the end of the evening, about $25,000 was raised in general donations, with at least $360,000 made from the silent auction.
All in all, a fabulous evening for a worthwhile cause. Congratulations, Bailey House! For more information on supporting Bailey House, go HERE.
[Alex McCord, Simon Van Kempen]