"MY NAME is Pussy Galore."
"I must be dreaming!"
So went the famous exchange between Honor Blackman and Sean Connery in "Goldfinger," the third and still perhaps the most famous of all 007 films.
THERE WAS ANOTHER nod to a provocative nom de guerre in New York last week. Two former members of the all-female Russian activist punk group Pussy Riot visited Manhattan, spoke to The New York Times and appeared on television with Stephen Colbert. (Three members of the group were arrested and jailed after a political protest in a Moscow church. A strenuous worldwide campaign supporting the women was at least partially responsible for their freedom, which came slightly ahead of their two-year sentence.)
I caught the two young women -- Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina -- on "The Colbert Report" and thought they were adorable. This was their first visit to the U.S., and while they seemed to enjoy themselves, they are going back to Mother Russia to continue their battle against Vladimir Putin and his government. Well, they have to do what they feel is right, but too bad they can't stick around for a while. They were a refreshing change from the usual celebrities and/or politicians we are forced to suffer.
I loved one response to Colbert regarding Putin's promise to lead Russia to a "bright future." Miss Tolokonnikova said: "We have different ideas. We don't want a shirtless man on a horse leading us into that 'bright future.'"
LESS AMUSING is the video circulating on YouTube of homosexuals in Russia being beaten and tortured by anti-gay vigilante groups. Horrible stuff, but apparently allowed by the Putin government. And this is the land where Edward Snowden has made friends and been feted.
GOOD NEWS for those of you who were worried about the fate of the famous "Picasso Curtain," which hangs so prominently in The Four Seasons Restaurant. (If you weren't worried, you should have been!) After several reasons given why it should or should not be removed, the verdict is in -- the 19-by-20-foot canvas created by Picasso for the Ballet Russes in 1919 will remain right where it has hung so gloriously at the Four Seasons since 1959. Removing it at this point -- to repair some damage to the wall behind -- might, as one of the movers put it, cause it to "crack like a potato chip." And while none of us can stop at just one potato chip, there is only one Picasso Curtain (aka "Le Tricorne")
So, thanks to the efforts of The New York Landmarks Conservancy and The New York Times, which put the story on its front page, people are just going to have to work around this great work of art. The Curtain Stays On The Wall.
GOOD DEED Done. The amfAR event last week honoring Vanessa Redgrave, Joely Richardson and Peter Lindbergh in New York raised a nifty $1.7 million. The battle against AIDS continues, despite the drug "cocktails" that have saved and extended lives. In Africa and Asia the disease rages, and even in the U.S., there are 50,000 new cases every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This has remained a steady statistic for some time, but it is an indication that the need for education remains vital.
AS FOR the event itself it was one of the more emotional of the annual galas. Vanessa and Joely spoke of carrying on the tradition of the fight in memory of their late, beloved Natasha Richardson. Liam Neeson surprised Vanessa and Joely by appearing onstage to introduce them. (His two strapping sons by Natasha were in the audience.)
Other highlights included a speech by Harry Belafonte, who must have a portrait hidden in his attic, because he looks that good, Chelsea Clinton recalling being with a now-healthy little boy of eight in Africa, who would surely have died at age two had it not been for the intervention of her father, Bill Clinton. And Kenneth Cole spoke hopefully about a cure, but reminded the stellar audience that there are still 35 million people living with AIDS worldwide.
Also in attendance were Elizabeth Taylor's four children. Miss Taylor, of course, was the co-founder of amfAR with Dr. Mathilde Krim and remained passionate and dedicated to the fight all the way to the end of her life, no matter how painful her life, physically, became. (She also created her own organization, The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.)
It always stings me to refer to Elizabeth in the past tense. Even in her wheelchair, she was a life force. But the sight of her children, who adored her and have remained faithful to her privacy, took away some of the sadness.
And, amusingly, Taylor's opulent presence was felt each time the giant screen upfront thanked one of the evening's hosts -- "BVLGARI." Bulgari was one of Elizabeth's favorite jewelry designers. (Though to be honest, as Richard Burton said, "You could give her a fake diamond from a Cracker Jack box and she'd be equally pleased. She's just mad for presents!") Bulgari designed many one-of-a-kind pieces for Elizabeth over the decades, and when the time came for her possessions to be auctioned off at Christie's the jewelers bought back all the extraordinary, ornate baubles. Nobody could pull off that big stuff like Elizabeth could, anyway.
P.S. TO our item yesterday on Justin Bieber. (Talk about going from the sublime to the ridiculous!) In the wake of Selena Gomez's "people" saying Justin was a bad influence on her and essentially caused Gomez to abuse substances and go into rehab, Justin's "people" are declaring that she was a bad influence on him! I won't go into the details, but gallantry is apparently not part of Bieber's DNA.
(E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com.)
(c)2014 TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.
Russian activists amuse and interest Manhattan
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