"the" Mrs. Astor

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Drag By Day Can Be Lovely, Too

Elaine Lancaster has always been a class act. During my years here on South Beach (and especially when I worked for Gerry Kelly at Level nightclub) Elaine has been the embodiment of Hollywood glamour, always shining and sparkling in the seas of a dark club like the lighthouse at Alexandria. I watched her descend the astounding, Art Deco, circular staircase one night at Level in a white beaded gown and thought, “That is what fog would move like if it had a beaded purse to match.”

There is no lip-synching to songs, no fancy dance steps, and certainly no jumping through a hoop of fire (a feat I once videoed in a Lower East Side dive) for Elaine. She graces an event with her appearance, style, and wit. I’m sure all this comes with some envy from the other entertainers in this field; from the safety of my bunker (the camera) I note that this group is always on a setting of DefCon 4.

This leads me to ponder the opportunities and pitfalls of appearing in drag at high noon. Anyone who has been to Wigstock easily sees the danger inherent in day drag, although there is a safety-in-numbers factor which would be difficult to replicate anywhere else. If evening drag is a snap in the face of society, day drag could be the tweak of the nose.

A week or so ago Elaine attended one of those benefit lunches that are ubiquitous at this time of the year on South Beach and I marvel at her approach. A gown of the type she wore for the White Party at Vizcaya--a stunning white lace number with a tulle fish tail--can’t be taken seriously at noon unless you are passed out in it on an expansive, manicured lawn (preferably with a fountain in the background).

Here is what Elaine did:

She shelved the Lana Turner glamour and substituted the Palm Beach Matron look by wearing all Chanel, and good Chanel at that. She opted for a low profile but-still-luscious hairstyle instead of the towering ones usually atop her already tall stature; it’s one thing to loom over people of the night, but you really want to level the playing field during daylight. And lastly, she followed the old dictum, “If you are going to be photographed between two damn good-looking celebrities, you’d better be fucking good-looking.”

I wish someone like Elaine would give classes in subjects like Daylight Drag to all the upcoming entertainers in this world. She could be a visiting professor at a college devoted to the drag studies, its history, place in modern society, and the applied sciences.


At 2:58 PM, Blogger Ian-Ivy du Bois said...

then make it real, Hon.
I know you´ll be a great professor for all those young queenies!

The hell with Harvard!

this will be Dragvard!!!

At 6:03 PM, Blogger Cooper said...

Thank god for tasteful drag! We're not accustomed to such class around here, but I'm glad it exists.

At 8:49 PM, Blogger Mr. Brian said...

Speaking of drag by day...have there been anymore Pink Lady sightings? I've yet to see her out during my visits. The only drag celebrity I've seen is Henrietta..and she's just FAB :)

Great chatting today!

At 8:48 AM, Blogger "the" Mrs. Astor said...

Ian, yes a new future beckons to start that college.

Cooper, James St. James wrote not long ago, "Is it the geography? Or is it just a generational thing? I don't think those old-school glamour girls even exist in New York anymore. It's changed a lot since we were there." It's still there, though.

Brian, Pink Lady has not been seen in a long time. I worried for her. Henrietta will obviously go on forever thank God.

At 11:51 AM, Blogger Ray said...

Is it true you and Coco Chanel shared the same lovers - Duke of Westminster and Grand Duke Dmitri of Russia? That's the rumor ...

At 12:17 PM, Blogger Jesse said...

Uncle Alexis,

"Daytime Drag" - LOL! That is quite possibly the best new expression/phrase/terminology I have ever heard. You just always get better and better and always keep them coming! :-) Thanks for making me smile!

Love Always,
Jesse :P

At 3:52 PM, Blogger Ed Grow said...


Descending art-deco staircases is second to none...except maybe "drinking and looking fierce." Love, as always.

At 5:02 PM, Blogger Countess Bedelia said...

Jackie O would be so proud. And Chanel !!!! *bows to couturier*

Now, about these affairs with the Dukes, Duchess?

At 5:04 PM, Blogger Ian-Ivy du Bois said...


what about them, dear?

At 9:42 PM, Blogger "the" Mrs. Astor said...

Ray, Dmitry only handed me the gun....

Jesse, please, I'm family.

Ed, You are crazy; fortunately we all accept that.

Countess, I know of what you speak.


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