BEVERLY HILLS, CALIF. - No host. No problem.
After the first DIY Oscars in decades, both Freddie Mercury and Queen Anne having been summoned, courtesy of the Best Actor and Actress wins, it was officially Vanity Fair o'clock on Sunday night.
Held once again in a custom aerie designed by Basil Walter in the inside-outside space that is the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, the whole party - which did come with a host in the form of editor-in-chief Radhika Jones and this year an 80-foot chandelier made of moving motorized spheres - was, as always, an ever-cresting wave, encompassing everyone from Marilyn Manson to Mindy Kaling to Rupert Murdoch.
There's Lady Gaga on a stool on the terrace, smoking a stealth cigarette as her Oscar statuette sits next to her: the portrait of an almost post-coital exaltation after a long awards-season hustle. There is Richard E. Grant jettisoning his suit blazer and bowtie, fully untucking his shirt to dance madly, first, with Marisa Tomei, and then - to "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" - with both Amy Adams and Melissa McCarthy (who, incidentally, arrived at the VF party wearing hilarious his-and-hers Adidas tracksuits with her husband). There is the one-time homebody-turned-Harlequin stud Jeff Bezos, crossing paths - only in Hollywood! - with William Morris co-head Patrick Whitesell, whose wife just left him to be with Bezos in that great, ongoing soap opera of 2019.
Chris Evans stalks the room. Tom Ford gives good Tom Ford. Joni Mitchell is frail - but there! Big smile. Miley and Priyanka and Liam and Nick: say hello to the newlyweds!
The absolute fun of the party, as I have long said: watching stars watch other stars and seeing different factions of fame intrude on another. It all reminds me of what writer John Updike once said when he mused, "Celebrity is a mask that eats into the face." Or, likewise, when that other great oracle of our present age, Cardi B, declared, "Fame isn't art, but the person you become when you're famous - your alter ego - that's art."
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