Everyone knows about the Met Gala, but considerably less know what the Metro Gala is all about. Here’s one key difference between the two red carpets: there’s a slim-to-none chance that a reporter will ask about a fabulous outfit outside the Metropolitan Museum and hear the response, “Oh, I just threw this together about two hours ago.”
The word is spreading, though, about this very DIY event that was created a few years ago by artist/performer/visionary Michelle Joni, whose resume includes being the owner of Glinda the Good Bus, which finds itself frequently celebrating anything from Purim to birthdays to Tutu Tuesday.
Monday evening, May 9, was the third time that Joni and her crew, dubbed “The Permanent Magical Culture Society,” set up their makeshift stage, taped a red carpet to the space adjacent to the Union Square subway station and celebrated fabulousness on parade.
Anyone was welcome to walk the runway to the sounds provided by DJ Vito Fun, with some spending weeks on their outfits and some grabbing something out of the closet that was just waiting for a special occasion. At times the very snazzy MC Christopher Hardwick grabbed onlookers out of the audience and cajoled them into being the center of attention.
Outfits ranged from specific characters like Andy Warhol and Edie Sedgewick to absurd versions of chic to conceptual overkill.
“America is obsessed with boobies and babies,” proclaimed Elisa Blynn, “and I have all the tools. I’m a motherf—ing Machine!”
Marz Katz, a senior marketing manager, was glowing in an outfit that took about ten days to complete. She converted her headpiece — a tag sale find from a retired drag queen — by attaching lights that are controlled by an iPhone app.
Jessica Stewart, a love and relationship coach, recalled the last time that she walked a runway.
“It was a department store fashion show, when I was eight years old,” she recalled. “But this is a whole different paradigm.”
Christopher Hardwick, who has been to all three Metro Galas and emceed for the second time, loves “that it’s so informal. It’s not perfect, it’s wacky and it’s random. It’s a lot more crowded this year. I predict that we will take over the park one day.”
Over 40 fashionistas walked the runway, he noted, “including the dogs and rats.” He’s referring to the one real dog, two people in French poodle outfits and something you may never see at the uptown soiree — a man wearing a rat mask while feeding two baby rats.
Joni declared the evening a success after giving credit to the crew that made it possible. The producers included Sara Rose, Sidney Oolongo, Heather Morowitz, Elisa Blynn, Christopher Hardwick, Dana Humphrey, Adventure Dave and Alexandra Clausner.
“It was like, wow , amazing, really cool,” Joni mused. “It was so vibrant and it really flowed. The Metro Gala proves that the world has the potential to be fabulous even on a random Monday night.”
Michelle Joni is on Instagram at @michellejoni and her chariot is @glindathegoodbus.
Ex-Brit turned Manhattan resident since 2008.