When it comes to dispensing etiquette tips on appropriate party behavior, I always chant the mantra: Elsa, Elsa and more Elsa. I may be dating myself, but I’m a devout follower of the great guru of entertaining, the legendary Elsa Maxwell. In her heydey, the 1920s to mid-1950s, Miss Maxwell was recognized as the supreme arbiter of international society and one of the world’s most famous party hostesses with the mostest on her hairy eyeballs.
Yes, the divine Elsa was the first careerist dyke. She was frumpy, and even when she was young looked just like a middle-aged man, which worked in her favor — women were never jealous of her, and men weren’t intimidated by her. Like me, she came from poverty, with just a slight disdain for the wealthy. Yet she managed to give the best parties in the world, to which European nobility and Hollywood royalty were desperate to attend. Interestingly enough, she set as her standard one simple rule: The rich were only allowed entrance to her soirees if they had something more important to offer than money.
Elsa knew that the privileged and famous never make the most interesting party guests, and their manners are sometimes atrocious. The best parties are mixed with all types of people, from the upper echelon to someone just released from prison.
When I co-hosted a Too Much Makeup Thanksgiving back in the mid-’80s with photographer-filmmaker Rick Castro (Plushies and Furries, Hustler White), hat designer Richard “Wanda” Coleman brought his gangbanger boyfriend and the boyfriend’s schizophrenic ex-wife to our shindig. Not only did the cholo and his nutters ex put on more makeup then anyone, but they were the most fun — a high-spirited hoot. Everyone was to come to this gathering overly made up. If you didn’t have on any war paint, we had ample supplies on hand. The guest list included punk tranny legend Jayne County, performance artist Glen Meadmore, R&B singer Iris Parker, male ingenue at the time and now a successful film director John Stockwell (Blue Crush, crazy/beautiful) and entertainer Lipsynka. Ms. Lipsynka came in John Epperson boy drag, which was fine (gorgeous as a woman, odd-looking as a man), but haughtily turned her nose up to putting on any makeup. I’ve been sour on her ever since. So to avoid my wrath, pay very close attention to the Unabashed Condensed Vagimulic Rules of Party Conduct.
Rule 1. Don’t pull a Lipsynka and act all above it. By accepting an invite you have made a tacit agreement to be a cheerful and a willing participant in all party activities unless physical restrictions short of anal warts or emphysema prevent you from doing so. When invited to my Naked Party, you’d better get into the spirit of things and chuck those clothes.
Rule 2. Being fashionably late is so mid-to-late-’90s, the soireeic equivalent of identity politics — snore. Arrive fashionably early (very acceptable these days) or on time to the Diana Ross-dot-over-the-eye or pre-arrange a late arrival if there are any conflicts, like John John Kennedy Jr. being resurrected from the grave. For formal dinner parties, if your delay will be longer then 30 minutes, just decline the invite. And don’t call ahead on your pathetic cell phone to say you’re going to be late. I can’t tell you how much I hate cell-phone queens.
Rule 3. When you first arrive greet your host in a cordial manner, don’t monopolize their time by showing off that exotic piercing deep inside your bunghole. No grifting or asking for favors, no matter how congenial the host may appear, and by all means refrain from pimping the host or other guests.
Rule 4. Never make disparaging remarks. One locally based, nationally read gossip columnist got her big white panties in a bunch all because at my infamous shindy for the late, famed NYC fashion maven George Byron, held at the seedy speed-freak cantina The Pub (now the Parlour Club), my invite read: “Do you like cute young white boys with great bodies, and pink puckery bungholes, who are distant, aloof, arrogant, self-centered and live off a trust fund? Well, you’ll feel welcome at the Snow Party.”
Rule 5. Never try and steal the spotlight from the host. For example: If the host is sucking on a juicy plump penis, don’t grab it out of her mouth and stick it in yours.
Rule 6. If someone asks you to dance, even if you’d rather undergo a double bypass or hysterectomy, graciously accept and endure it.
Rule 7. Don’t yawn at parties. If mired in a tedious conversation, yawning won’t make the person speaking more interesting.
Rule 8. Know when to leave a party. If it’s a sit-down dinner, leaving right after coffee or tea is perfectly acceptable. Leaving while your host is flossing and brushing his teeth is not.