is pure delight to listen to someone very accomplished share their life
experiences. That is why an Oprah’s
Master Class really interests me. The other night I was struck by something
that was said on that show. It was not a novel idea or something that I didn’t
already know, but something I hadn’t really heard so clearly said by someone so
successful, like Jane Fonda. The main point was that we should always pay it
forward, no matter how much or how little we have in life. We each have our
blessings, in different shapes and forms. That was it. Simple concept, right?
old episode of
went on to be discussed, and what I pondered extensively, was that most people
in the world today are obsessed with their own lives. It’s all about “will I
get a promotion? Where can I park my car? How can I cross the street faster?
How can I make more money?” So on, and so forth. People spend a great deal of
time obsessing about how to get ahead, rather then actually doing something
that’s good for the person standing next to them or to the world as a whole.
the movie Pay It Forward (Warner Bros. 2000), a young boy comes up with a
concept that for every generous act done to him, he must pay forward with three
generous acts to three different people, and tell each one of them, to do the
same for three others. A simple concept that could make peoples lives that much
better and as a ripple effect create a psychic change in entire communities and
then possibly in the world. Somehow that concept did not catch on.
people make lame excuses instead of paying forward. “I don’t make enough money
to make donations, why should I give money to this cause when it’s the
government’s job to take care of this issue?” And it goes on, one after the
next. But the point here is not how much money can you give back, or how much
time you have to dedicate to doing volunteer work; it’s how do you behave in
society, in your daily life? How do your daily actions affect the world that
surrounds you? And then maybe, depending on who you are, what job you have and
how much money you make, what type of bigger contributions can you make to the
betterment of the world?
have worked with many successful models and artists in the entertainment
industry. Over the years I have come across many generous souls who have
contributed to a plethora of causes. I have also met many who simply go through
life as if it was a party, with no consequences and no interest in doing
anything for anyone else. One of my most inspiring muses is one of my most
loyal clients, a successful model who has always worked extremely hard for obtaining
success. Proportionally at the same time, this girl has always taken a portion
of her time (and her earnings) to apply towards charity, volunteer work and
political lobbying to change the roots of the problems. Her goal, from the very
start, when nobody knew her name, was to achieve fame so that she could
leverage change. She had made a conscious decision that if she was going to
give up university to a life of globetrotting under the spotlight, then it
better be worth it. She has, to some extent, accomplished all that.
story illustrates that we must always give back. We must always pay it forward,
in any scale that we can. It’s from those little acts, of holding the elevator
to the person who is running a little behind to making a five dollar donation
to a homeless shelter (or whatever else interests you) or giving a lecture on
what you’re an expert on to those who wish to learn. A little help goes a long
way in our world today.
who give something back and share their fortunes with the world, generally live
a much happier and fuller life. What I didn’t know when I was younger and I
know now, is that by giving myself to others I find real fortune. Happiness
lives in honest altruism. The idea that I could go through life not giving
anything in return for all the good that came to me is daunting.
dreams truly blossomed and concretized after I started giving myself away to
others and also discovered I could learn and let my life be enriched by each
and every one of these encounters. There is so much we can learn from day to
day life, but it takes an open mind to see it and an open heart to understand
real master class is not on Oprah Winfrey’s network, it is all around us.
Not that long ago the Meatpacking District, a web of cobble
stoned streets, was the sole source of meat products for New York businesses –
whole skinned cows and other animals literally hung from hooks on the
streets.Fueled by crack, in the
evening the area became a lurid labyrinth of pathways and hiding places for
transsexual prostitutes seeking an extra buck or two.The merchandise of the morning wasn't that different from what was available in the evening; meat in large quantities for a low rate.
Around that same time West Chelsea, a sea of empty
warehouses and abandoned industrial businesses, had little but the Roxy, a
drug-fueled gay disco, and dirty streets.Then came the art galleries and real estate developers.Then came Films, fashion shoots and TV shows,
like Sex and the City, which made a walk through hookers and junkies to get to
a lofty apartment seem rather glamorous.Once again, fashion and film forge the founding of the latest hot
Since the early development of the High Line, the now famous
park that occupies abandoned railroad tracks and that cuts through these two
now visually striking neighborhoods, these Summoning the
expertise of the word-famous designers and architects; fancy hotels, galleries,
residences and restaurants sprouted deep roots in the area. One after the
other, block-by-block, cleaning up what was once a secluded and blighted area –
a true real estate metamorphosis has occurred.
The focal point of the area is the The Standard.From the top of this sleek and sexy hotel, New
York City looks like a playground.You
can sip drinks among Marc Jacobs, Alessandra Ambrosio, Lorenzo Martone and Anna
Wintour, while gazing down at Diane Von Furstenberg’s glass-encased loft
apartment - one that has become a New York landmark, much like the designer has become a fashion legend.Rumor has it that in the morning you can spot Ms. Furstenberg having breakfast while still in her nightgown, sitting in her
dining room, which stands underneath an impressive diamond shaped glass dome.
The Standard however, is not only famous for it’s penthouse
bar, but also for its pool parties, which are now a second club, known as Le
Bain.There, you can simply undress and
enjoy the evening while sipping drinks in the pool in the company of local
luminaires like Terry Richardson and Paz de la Huerta.
The seductive nightlife of the big apple is not complete
however without two of the most popular nightclubs in town: Avenue and 1 Oak.It was at Avenue that Lindsay Lohan allegedly
got in a fight with the blonde Tiffanny Mitchell over The Wanted’s Max George.
The brawl resulted in yet another arrest for Lindsay, who once again denied
everything.Lohan somehow managed to get
herself back in that club even after being banned after some indiscreet tweets
about Justin Timberlake.At 1 Oak, the
scene is less dramatic, but never less flashy.Rihanna has been known to celebrate a couple of her album launches at
the spot alongside fellow musicians like Jay-Z. It was also at 1 Oak that
Donald Trump held a bash to celebrate his modeling agency’s fashion week
With the rich and famous, fashion comes hand in hand, and the area does
not disappoint.From the Meatpacking
District all the way up among the galleries, a cadre of some of the most exclusive
designers in the world have set up shop in the vicinity.Balenciaga, Comme des Garcons, Alexander McQueen,
Yigal Azrouel, Moschino, Helmuth Lang, Tory Burch, Christian Louboutin, Maison
Martin Margiela and Carlos Miele are only a few of the shops worth
visiting.For a unique experience, why
not try the department store Jeffrey’s, which has one of the most renowned shoe
departments in town. Or, stop by a Scoop
sale for fancy jeans and hip t-shirts.After
all, a good designer bargain is never a bad idea!
Since most of the shopping is done by foot, a stop to refuel
the energies seems more than called for.Whether it’s for a lunch, a mid-day snack or a celebratory dinner, some
of New York’s most celebrated restaurants are in the area; the menus here no
doubt indulge any palate.From a good
steak at the biergarten of The Standard Grill to the innovative Thai Cuisine of
Sea you can find it all.At Pastis you
can have French and at Buddakan you can have Chinese.But if the mood is for some American
contemporary all you got to do is take a walk up 10th Avenue to try
the tasteful delights of The Cookshop. If a simple slice of pizza is what’s called for, don’t you worry,
because Artichoke Pizza is right around the corner with its award winning pies.
The most important part of this area remain – sometimes
secreted - within the giant warehouse spaces, which once used to host heavy
machinery, grains and pieces of meat and now have given room for multi-million
dollar pieces of art.
The art galleries of the area remain the heart of the
cultural trading life in this city. The Gagosian Gallery, David Zwirner and
Pace Gallery are among some of the most important outposts for art in the
world.Representing artists like Jeff
Koons, Cindy Sherman, Cy Twombly, Francis Bacon, Julian Schnabel, Roe Ethridge,
Dan Flavin, Chuck Close, Willem De Kooning, Pablo Picasso and Ed Ruscha, these
galleries are an international force.Put
on your walking boots and allow yourself to go from door to door in every block
between 9th and 11th avenues from 19th street
all the way up to 27th and experience contemporary art, free of
charge, like nowhere else.
Even though this may not be the most celebrated neighborhood
for its residences, some of the most famous people you know now reside
here.Whether it’s in the classic London
Terrace or in the ultra modern glass buildings by Richard Meier, Jean Nouvel or
Shigeru Ban; a fascinating residential occupation took place over the last
decade. This neighborhood currently hosts names like Nicole Kidman, Julianne
Moore, Hugh Jackman, Olivia Wilde and Katie Holmes, all of which can be seen
calmly strolling around at any given time during the day or the night.
The most remarkable and breathtaking feature this area still
holds true – the Hudson River, which bathes the west side of Manhattan in full
splendor.To sit at a bench on the
Highline and watch the sunset from above is one of the most rewarding and
relaxing activities one can choose to do at the end of a day.And believe me, many New Yorkers do, why
don’t you give it a try too?
New York is a glamorous and
gritty maze of dichotomy: from the Chanel-suit-wearing ladies of Park Avenue to
the leather-wearing divas of downtown, there is huge gap.The cultural (and financial) divide between
the creative caldron that resides in Brooklyn and the refined and established
richness of the West Village is increasingly apparent.From Harlem to the Upper West Side, the
distance is not long, but the differences are vast.
This complex labyrinth of
opposites actually propels the machinery of the city and is, in fact, what
makes New York City great.New Yorkers
remain creative, independent and powerful as always, continuously imbibed with
the alchemy generated from its diverse population. This population, unlike any
other I’ve seen, exudes camaraderie, compassion and colossal creativity.
Most New Yorkers have their
favorite neighborhood and mine is SoHo.From my abode I can observe all the greatness of this cosmic collection
of counter culture.Thousands of
tourists walk these streets daily, searching for bargains on products not found
in their native land.Locals, who vie
for sidewalk space, have learned to live in the midst of chaos.Adding to the mix, are street vendors,
paparazzi and hundreds of celebrities who aim to remain incognito.
Before moving here, I always
thought SoHo was an unbearably messy and pretentious neighborhood.Over time, I began to realize the charm
hidden in its cobblestone streets and the historic cast iron buildings, which
once were the homes and studios of virtuosos like Keith Haring, Maripol, Andy
Warhol, Donald Judd and Basquiat. These same buildings have evolved into
something a little more mainstream and now house every major fashion brand.Prada, Chanel, Alexander Wang and Catherine
Malandrino are only some of fashion giants that make of this neighborhood an
economic gem of the fashion world.
Over time I have learned to
navigate the side streets, away from the crowds, and to discover hidden
treasures of the locals.From
restaurants to spas, from local brands to obscure cafes, everything here has a
special feel and a unique story to tell.Once again, opposites sit side by side, smiling – the tiny, family-owned
Italian café is around the corner from the home of $1800 shoes and $6000
handbags.I prefer the café – espresso
Sadly, but no less exciting,
my neighbors are no longer famous modern artists (most of whom are no longer
with us), but young models, actors and singers.Claire Danes, Justin Timberlake, Tyra Banks and Adam Sandler are just
some of the people with whom I share my favorite spots.At Café
Café I make my daily stops in the morning to grab some iced tea.At Ground
Support I can’t pass on a grilled ham & cheese and a soy latte made to
perfection.At night, a stop by Butter or Indochine for a meal remains a sure bet.There, an encounter with Anna Wintour,
Madonna or Fran Leibovitz is a strong possibility.
A recent addition to the
neighborhood is the beauty clinic Erno
Laszlo, named after the legendary dermatologist
who is known for his miraculous
lotions and potions.Dr. Laszlo had
royal treatment during the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s – for it was in that time that
he looked after the beauty of the queens of Hollywood’s silver screen.Marilyn Monroe, Greta Garbo, Ava Gardner and
Katherine Hepburn were part of a very select group to receive his
attention.For each of them he developed
individual and secret formulas.After
nearly twenty years away from the public eye, the same team responsible for the
celebrated Molton Brown has acquired the Erno Laszlo brand.Inspired by Laszlo’s principles, this team
hopes to restore the brand to what it used to be, a place in which its clients
can expect the most exclusive treatment available anywhere, just like Marilyn
Perhaps one of the most
talked about and sought after shops in the area is Treasure & Bond, part of
the portfolio of Nordstrom. The appeal is its luxury items available for
affordable prices in two gigantic floors.Selling furniture, housewares, books and clothes for all ages, this
store reserves all its profit for charity.To make sure the wealth is distributed equally to those who in need, the
charities change every six months
A stop for lunch is a must.Along with 100 Acres and others, The Dutch is
another new arrival and its American Cuisine doesn’t disappoint.Starting with its freshly baked corn bread
and onto fried chicken, every bite here feels like a little piece of heaven.
SoHo is also home to one of
the cities most renowned and successful Japanese restaurants.After more than twenty years, Blue Ribbon
Sushi remains a favorite.The absolute freshest
fish make this highbrow restaurant one of the best.Don’t be fooled by its discreet setting
however, its permanence in this city is proof that the food is impeccable.
From dusk till dawn,
breakfast to dinner, SoHo is imbued with so many magical qualities.I have grown to adore this neighborhood.Everything I need is only a few steps away
and the word “subway” has vanished from my vocabulary.SoHo proves to be one of the most perfectly
evolved areas in town, maintaining its original character and charm, even as masses
of tourists and wealthy developers make their way through the historic
--- This article was originally published in Portuguese in Parochi Magazine, in Brazil. ---
Perhaps it was the abundant steak tartare or the ever-flowing Grey Goose; regardless, the scene at the Clarkson in the West Village was very fun and social, sheer joy and camaraderie abounded. The crowd gathered to celebrate the New York premiere for the gut-wrenching film At Any Price, directed by the talented Ramin Bahrani.
As intense as this film is however, after the credits rolled in there was no somberness to these celebrants. The model Leigh Hoby walked in to a swarm of photographers who treated her like this film's featured star; which she is not. The real star in this picture is the unforgettable Heather Graham. And even though one was wearing white and the other one black, the similarities were rather compelling. Without skipping a beat, a group of photographers made sure to put the two together for a portrait. Perhaps a friendship will blossom? Zac Efron, Adrian Grenier and Dennis Quaid observed from a safe distance and chuckled cheerfully with delight. Nat Wolff was the life of the party, flanked by his pals Heather Matarazzo and Josh Radnor. Andie Arthur exuded sweetness in her long black gown and leather jacket, a look that seemed effortless but not many could pull off.
The night resumed smoothly and soon enough a dance-floor was requested - no Cinderellas in sight here! An expert was called into action. Amy Sacco gathered a crew in a swift wave of her nocturnal magic wand and in two heartbeats they were all at No. 8. The heat in the mezzanine went up as the group could not stop the dancing. From disco to rock n' roll, it all seemed to fit in the impeccable repertoire.
Peter Beard surfaced from a dark corner escorted by a tall and impressive man. "Where is Amy!?" - he interrogated. "I'm alive, and look at who I have with me!". Amy appears with the statuesque Native American model Jade Tenholder - a rarity in this world - who just broke into the scene. After much back and forth on whether Peter could take pictures of his new muse upstairs, it was finally decided: "I wanna shoot you in Mozambique, you are the best thing that happened to me this year!".
On that note the night came to a closing, after all, who needs any more than that?
Oz may be great and powerful, but does this Disney remix of the classicreally need four premieres in one city!? Probably not. But perhaps when you have a variety of sponsors ranging from luxury fashion labels to shopping networks, you should. Since in New York anything is a good reason to party, I decided to follow the yellow brick road leading to one of these gatherings to see what the fuss was all about.
It was another cold winter night and what I found was a very warm and friendly room. Among beautiful Sports Illustrated swimsuit models of every height and ethnicity, I made my way through the crowd. And what a cheerful, star-studded crowd this was. Emmy Rossum seemed to have drawn most of the attention to herself, and that's understandable. The actress looked ravishing in a floral Oscar de la Renta number, which will hopefully be good omen for an early spring. Our leading man - and every person's favorite Swiss Army knife - James Franco, had to make a quick appearance as he dashed from one screening to another..
Some of the attendees made of this a family affair and brought along their children to witness all the magic that only3Dseems to bring to the screen these days. Richard Kind couldn't hide his excitement when leaving the venue with his girls; it was all very endearing to look at. Cynthia Rowley followed suit and was just another one in a group of fashion designers which also included John Varvatos.
Now, this is not just another Disney affair, for when Salman Rushdie and Marina Abramovic show up, you know it is serious business. Disney delivered a great prologue to the fable we all came to know since we were children. They have updated a literature classic and still did justice to the unforgettable movie from 1939. This seemed to make Dick Cavett confused as he wondered if Judy Garland would also be making an appearance on-screen that evening. The comment was nothing but a good ol' joke, I'm sure.
But who needs one leading lady, when you can have three of the most ravishing Hollywood stars of our time? Rachel Weiss, Michelle Williams and Mila Kunis not only look great on screen, but they know exactly how to deliver entertaining performances. And that's what this movie is all about, an entertaining piece to be watched with a lot of pop corn on a Saturday afternoon. No need to over analyze it.
If you ask me, however, whether this digital extravaganza will stand the test of time, I would be inclined to say it will not. I doubt anyone will ever be able to produce another Oz movie that is as timeless as The Wizard of Oz.
Every once in a while this humble writer is invited to join in on the fun with the Hollywood big league. “why?” you may ask, and the answer to that is very simple. My mother always said: “Honey, it’s not about how much money you make but the friends you have”. So, with some very important friends under my belt I move into the Hollywood party scene during awards season for some networking and some fun. But let’s be honest, mostly for the fun.
In a place in which orange trees grow out of living rooms and diamonds are as big as a baby’s head no excess is considered excessive. So what if I stepped on Penelope Cruz’s vitage Balmain dress and it ripped? It will most likely be in the trash bin tomorrow morning, along with the gift bags filled with all sorts of things you don’t really need.
The scene when you walk into this room is of camaraderie, there are no cameras in sight, some of the actresses aren’t even wearing their shoes anymore, they’re lounging in big white couches with their dates or their managers, always on the lookout for the funnest crowd to dance with. Could it be the comedy crowd, spearheaded by Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd, along with Aziz Ansari, Elizabeth Banks, Judd Apatow and Mindy Kalling? Or perhaps it’s the fashion crowd, in which old glam Valentino mixes in with nuveau luminaires Daniella Helayel and Zac Posen, who seem to love being sandwiched between Madonna, Ellen DeGeneres and Portia De Rossi. Madonna by the way has her make up artist within reach, a luxury that only the very top echelon can afford. Every now and then she rushes to the edge of the dance floor where this handsome and happy latin man awaits with pads to dry her skin and retouch her lips. Now, that’s what I call luxury!
On the other side of the room things are getting interesting as Donna Karan walks in with Kelly Preston and John Travolta. They join in the fun with Bono and that heavenly creature that is Victoria’s Secret Angel Alessandra Ambrosio, now in a completely different outfit than she was wearing just a couple of hours ago. Her costume changes would put Cher to shame. With Bono and Alessandra deep in conversation, John does what he knows best and takes on the dance floor. Kelly and Donna, who seem to be best buds, follow suit. Laura Dern and Kate Walsh occasionally pop in but don’t linger, instead gliding from one group to the next, looking lovely with curls which never seem to be out of place.
John and Kelly are like a young teenage couple, never losing sight of one another, until... “Stayin’ Alive” begins to blast from the speakers. Now, you may ask yourself, “was this arranged just because John Travolta was there?”. The verdict is still out per that issue but as if on cue, John and Kelly took center stage, repeating the dance that defined the disco era. I, along with the rest of the crowd, turned as fast as I could and copied the moves, the entire mass a perfect line of incredulous denizens. John seemed a bit bashful at the response, but was clearly loving every minute of it. Octavia Spencer was beside herself, was she really witnessing this? Selena Gomez, Taylor Lautner and some other teenage star which will go unnamed (At thirty I am far too old in Hollywood years to keep up with all these kids names) seemed befuddled by the entire affair, disco is clearly a memory too distant for their young minds--“what is the commotion all about?” They took in a second or two and went back to chatting about their Instagram feeds -- of course. Homework is in order for these kids.
The temperature rose and I needed to take a break for air, out through the orange trees and the piano and on to the patio, to join in the laughter of Ryan Seacrest and surprisingly, Macauly Culkin. Yes, remember him? That kid from “Home Alone” who went through all that stuff that no one cares about anymore? Yes, he was there too, along with Juliette Lewis and Jennifer Jason Leigh, which if you ask me, are pretty bad ass. A couple of Oscars walk by me heading towards the buffet, which reminds me: I haven’t eaten in hours!
I took a seat at the communal table next to Princess Mia Thermopolis Herself, Anne Hathaway. Congratulations are in order, for her, and the stunning Natalie Portman, who sat beside her. Unsure of why I was congratulating Natalie so late in the game I just went with it, I’m pretty sure she did something of merit just that morning. She gets me.
It’s nearly 4 AM and people have been dancing all night long; cute couples -- both that came together and those that found each other on the dance floor -- are beginning to make their fashionable exits one by one. Naomi Watts remains effortlessly chic, even when barefoot, accompanied by her gentleman of a husband Liev Shreiber who politely carries her shoes in one hand as the other proudly holds the hand of his wife. Another Naomi heads to the exit, this time Campbell, who remains very supermodel looking, without many smiles, perhaps only a few grins. No one cares, she’s Naomi Campbell.
People wait patiently in line for cars, already laughing over the ghosts of dance-floor's past underneath heaters and sipping hot cocoa. It is just as lively out here as it is on the dance floor and as I look around I realize: this evening was the ultimate episode of “Dancing with the Stars” except in this short instance of my life, they are all real stars.