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...And that's how I met Grace Jones and Philip Treacy

…And that’s how I met Grace Jones and Philip Treacy

On Wednesday night when I was draping a red silk chiffon skirt into an Arabian themed, Grace Jones inspired look, I had no idea that just a few hours later I would end up with her and Philip Treacy in her room at Chateaux Marmont. I was on the phone complaining to my friend Simon that I had nothing to wear to the inaugural Room Service LA at The Standard. He suggested dressing in festive colours, so I pulled all sorts of red things from my wardrobe and went to work. The look was quite fabulous. Very un-Courtney, no wig, but I liked it. I toddled off to Room Service to see the darling Jodie Harsh who has just flown in from London.

Draping

As I was coming out of the bathrooms a gentleman stopped me to compliment my look, “Darling you look fabulous”. “Thank you”, I replied. “I’m Philip. The hat maker? From London?”. Gobsmacked by what was possibly the most understated introduction for one of the most prolific designers and milliners in the world, I was indeed talking to Philip Treacy. The night continued with Philip conducting countless iPhone photo shoots, at one point taking over the dance floor so that he could photograph me strewn across a grand piano. When the 2am LA curfew kicked in my friend, and House of Gaga elite, Perry Meek and I walked Philip and his partner Stefan across the road to the Chateaux where they were staying.

Philip Treacy & Courtney Act

“Should I see if Grace is up?” said Philip. The woman is probably fast asleep, I thought. “Darling hello?” the unmistakable voice of Grace Jones was on the speaker phone, “I’m downstairs by the Christmas tree, come join me”. We joined Grace for a drink but alas it was past 2am in Los Angeles and the bar was closed. I was already contented with hearing her voice on speaker phone, let alone sitting next to her, having her examine my outfit, seeing how my headband was attached and admiring my eyelashes. “Come up to my room, we can have a drink up there” she said.

Posing for Philip

Up in Grace’s room we all sat and chatted for a couple of hours discussing everything from RuPaul’s Drag Race to the year she performed at the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras and some queen mopped her black, full length, patent leather coat during a quick change. She told them to stop the party and lock the doors, she refused to continue the show untill it was returned. It never was.

Grace was in town to perform at the amfAR Inspiration Gala, honouring Goldie Hawn the next evening. They invited Perry and I to come along and enjoy the performance. The first time I saw Grace Jones perform was at The Sydney Festival in 2009. It was an outdoor concert and one of the most brilliant live performances I have ever witnessed. I was so inspired as an entertainer. Her presence, costumes, showman ship and unique style created such a powerful dynamic and captivated the sea of thousands. What a woman. At one point the weather took a turn for the worse and Grace was suddenly being blown by a gale force wind. I felt patriotic shame for weather that could interfere with this legendary performance. The tension was so high, there was a hurricane that some how perfectly captured the endless meters of fabric on her costume and lifted them into the air causing the most beautiful scene. Then I realised the air where i was sitting was dead still. Could the storm be that isolated? As I diverted my eyes from the main attraction I realised there was a jet engine sized fan on the side of stage that was intentionally causing the fabric to bellow so beautifully. Brilliance.

So, I am sitting at a table at the amfAR Gala with Perry, Jodie Harsh and Stefan in a star studded room. Chelsea Handler is hosting, Sharon Stone is on stage performing the auction, Goldie Hawn’s speech when she receives her award is inspiring. That is another woman that has influenced my path greatly. She radiates sunshine. Then Grace Jones comes on stage. She is wearing her quintessential black velvet corset. Her body is flawless for any age, and she is 65. Long legs, glistening dark skin, red lips. We can’t see her eyes yet as she is wearing a Philip Treacy hat that blocks our view. She performs Pull Up To The Bumper, the 1981 hit that may very well be about anal sex with a black man (Pull up to my bumper baby / In your long black limousine / Pull up to my bumper baby / Drive it in between). Between every song she ducks behind a large black staircase, that is her set, to change costumes. Next she comes out for La Vie En Rose in the Jones/Treacy Swarovski bowler hat. For the finale she emerges with the hoola hoop to gyrate  her way through Slave To The Rhythm. The front of the room rushed, Jake Shears, Kelly Osbourne, Cheyenne Jackson, Sam Sparrow, Jodie Harsh and I all watched in awe as Grace mesmerised the crowd. Captivating. Stunning. Powerful.

Courtney, Jodie and Grace backstage after the show

After the show a small group headed up to the dressing room to say hello. Already running late for my regular Thursday night at The Abbey, I was torn between commitment and legend. I chose legend. Grace sat in the mirror touching up her makeup. I pulled out a small gift bag, “You said you liked my lashes last night so I brought you a pair”. “Darling, only if you can put them on me?”, Grace replied. We posed for some photos but I had to rush off to work. The lashes will have to wait until next time.

 

  • Michel Banen

    What a lovely story ! Thanks for sharing !

  • Richard

    I was at her Mardi Gras performance and vividly remember the incident with the raincoat! Her performance was absolutely amazing, something I will never forget. I’m going to see her again in Sydney at Carriageworks on 01 June, can’t wait! Love you Courtney, can’t wait to see you perform when you next visit Sydney. Chookas!!