Housing Works (as does Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer!)

Photo by Kathryn Yu

Photo by Kathryn Yu

Posted by TERESA

Teresa the Celebutante Week continued on Wednesday, June 3rd at SPIN magazine’s benefit for Housing Works Bookstore in SoHo NYC, featuring Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer.

One of the things I love most about events involving my favorite artists is the standing in line.  I know, that’s supposed to be my least favorite part.  But I love striking up conversations with strangers, because I know that there are at least some things we have in common (we like the same author/musician/actor/artist after all), and chances are good that there’ll be a lot more.  Before the crowd was allowed to enter the bookstore, I got to talking with one of the writers I follow on Twitter, Chelsea Summers, and a lovely friend of hers, two young female friends who’d come all the way from Denver and Pittsburgh because they are huge AFP fans (one of them had won 2 VIP tickets in a Housing Works online auction), and one adorable scientist dude who is a huge Neil Gaiman fan.  (too bad he was married.  I would’ve totes flirted more had he not been)  The conversation was a lot of fun, and included comparisons of microscopes, best routes to Michigan, and AFP sex gossip! (I won’t say who had that info)

However, there are two kinds of people you can meet at events like these.  Cool people who are interesting to talk to, like the folks above….and people who are so wrapped up in what THEY like that they have no time or patience for anyone who won’t allow them go on ad nauseum about it.  Case in point: red-head standing next to me once I got into the store and had found a place in the crowd in which to stand.  I thought she seemed nice at first, which is why I struck up conversation in the first place, but she became obnoxious really quickly.  We got to the point in our chat where we discussed whether we were NG fans, AFP fans, or both.  She went on and on about how she was an AFP fan and proceeded to list the entirety of concerts and events she’d attended and what happened at each.  Then, when I started to talk about how I was a Neil Gaiman fan first and came to AFP’s music through him, telling her about Sandman/American Gods/etc, she cut me off by saying “Yeah, I really really don’t care about him.”  Um, thanks.  Apparently, you don’t care about listening to me either.

It reminded me of when I went to see Alanis Morrisette and Tori Amos in concert at Jones Beach years ago.  I was a fan of both, but I was more excited to see Morrisette because I was more familiar with her stuff.  The Tori fans eyed the Morrisette fans as if they were an abomination (you could pick them out in their military fatigues, dark spiky hair, tattoos, Goth skirts.  The Morrisette fans were mostly in Indian-inspired fashions, or broomstick skirts and had henna tattoos), and then after Tori performed left before Alanis started.  I never understood that mentality – loving your favorite artist at the expense of all others.  Everyone has favorites, but does that mean you never expose yourself to anyone else’s work ever again?  Crazy.  What I love about any art form is that if you follow it or the artist closely enough, it will lead you to other interesting things….but I digress.

Obnoxious redhead aside, the vibe in the room was great.  Moby was there so, you know, that was intersting.  And of course Kyle Cassidy, photographer extraordinaire who photographed much of the Who Killed Amanda Palmer book NG and AFP were there promoting, was there. Although, how HUGE a nerd am I that I got all giddy and excited when I saw that Merrilee Heifetz was there? 

Me: OMG, Merrilee Heifetz is here! 

Obnoxious Redhead: Who? 

Me: She’s like this huge literary agentohnevermind…

Photo by Kathryn Yu

Photo by Kathryn Yu

The event itself was amazing.  I’d never heard AFP perform before, and she totally won me over.  As I told her later, she plays with a passion that I love, as if she’s attacking the piano.  She is an artist that I definitely appreciate more live.  Her recordings are great, but they’re merely placeholders between live gigs as far as I’m concerned.  She played a Dresden Dolls songs that I fell in love with, called “Perfect Fit”, and a solo song called “Dear Old House That I Grew Up In” , both of which I related to in surprising ways and almost made me cry.  She ended with a cover of a Tegan and Sara song called “Dark Come Soon”, which was lovely and also made me want to investigate Tegan and Sara stuff more.

Photo by Kathryn Yu

Photo by Kathryn Yu

Alternating with her was Neil Gaiman, who read some great stories from the WKAP book.  I could listen to that man read the phone book.  The highlight, however, was when he graced us with an awesome story he’d never made public before, about a guy who’s making a living as a living statue, falls in love with a passerby, and stalks her, ending up very very still in her apartment.  It was SO CREEPY!  Loved it, and can’t wait for it to end up in a collection somewhere.

After the performances/readings, we were treated to a very enjoyable session of “Ask Amanda/Neil” in which Amanda and Neil asked each other questions submitted in advance by the audience.  It was during this Very Special Q&A that Neil announced that they are dating.  A fan asked “So Neil, when are you going to admit that you’re dating Amanda Palmer already?”  Amanda chose that because she wanted to “see what [he’d] say.”  He smiled sheepishly, looked to Amanda for approval, and when it was clear that she had no problem with making an announcement said “We’ve been dating for months, actually.”  The crowd cheered!  Mostly because it’s been so OBVIOUS to so many of us for so long that we were simply relieved that we could talk about it openly without seeming like we were just speculating or spreading rumors.

Because clearly, what was important about this revelation was giving the fans the ability to gossip freely and with clear consciences.  Heh.

There was also the auction of one of the only copies of WKAP available in this country (Neil’s reading copy with his notes in it, PLUS doodles in it by the creators, PLUS additional copies of naked AFP photos) that went to one very generous gentleman for $1300, which all went to Housing Works.  And then, of course, there was the long-ass line to get things signed.  It wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected, given the lines I’m used to standing in for Neil Gaiman.  I spoke with Kyle Cassidy and Beth Hommel (AFP’s assistant), both of whom shot photos for the WKAP book, before getting into line, and I asked them to sign a page in my sketchbook that I would then get signed by AFP and NG and put into my pre-purchased copy of the book when I get it next month.  They were both so sweet!  Really good people.

Got to Amanda Palmer and told her that I was a new fan, and she was very nice.  When she signed the page in my sketchbook, she scrawled her greeting and name AAAAAALL over the rest of the blank page, leaving no real room for everyone else…Got to Neil, and I told him that, while I’d met him several times before, I’d never gotten a picture with him, and I asked if he would mind taking one then.  He was extremely nice about doing it, despite my camera being stupid and not going off when it was supposed to.  This dude I’d made friends with in line behind me took it, and I finally have my photo (below).  Huzzah!  Then, instead of finding space on the page I’d told him I was putting into my copy of WKAP, he turned the page and drew me an enormous skull and crossbones made out to me and signed at the bottom.  (this is important for an upcoming entry)

Photo by Random Dresden Dolls Fan Dude Behind Me In Line

Photo by Random Dresden Dolls Fan Dude Behind Me In Line

It was a wonderful and fun evening, made more wonderful by the fact that I’d see both AFP and Neil Gaiman again later in the week!

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