Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Broadway Cares Easter Bonnet Competition
Long time, no blog...I know. I have been sick, moving my studio, and working on my favorite annual benefit, the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS 24th Annual Easter Bonnet Competition. This is a big two-day show every year (sometime near Easter, but never on it!) when the big Broadway shows put together a show and compete over who makes and presents the Best Easter Bonnet. Right up my alley, I know. Nine years ago, I was approached by one of the actors in the huge hit show, "The Producers" who was familiar with my work to make their bonnet. I was nervous as hell, just a couple of months in New York and I would be competing with the big boys. I did my best, including a spinning Swastika (remember it was for "The Producers"...we were making fun of Nazis, I assure you!) and we won. They were all shocked at my 13 foot tall hat with remote control motors, and they never forgot my name. Over the years, I made 5 bonnets for "The Producers", and then I was asked to make the special opening bonnet for their 20th Anniversary show...that had a drag queen pop out the top of it(!).
Fast forward, and they asked me to appear in a "Project Runway" themed opening number, and to be a judge for the competition...what an honor. This year, they also asked me to make the special bonnet for the opening number, and to be a judge again. How could I say no? Every year, a very special lady makes an appearance at the show, and this year she was to wear the opening bonnet I was making. She is Doris Eaton Travis, the last surviving original Ziegfeld girl. And she is 106 years old. That's right: 106! I was so thrilled to make one of my contraptions for a woman who was in the show that started it all, "The Ziegfeld Follies". In my career I have gotten to visit, re-visit, and work with many institutions and people that I consider to be legendary, and today's opening number brought alot of greats together at once. I was grateful to be able to participate.
Doris is a little shaky these days, but still teaches two dance classes a week (!) so I made her a giant Easter Basket to sit in, and she was "wearing" a pair of 10 foot tall bunny ears in a "Lady Gaga" themed sketch. She came downstage to thundering applause and a standing ovation. Like Cindy Adams says, ".....only in New York kids, only in New York."
PS--The show this year raised $3.27 million. Wow...