Just An Online Minute... Starved, Cramped In VIP Room: Getting The 'Special' Treatment From NYWIFT

New York Women In Film And Television Event

May 23

Macy's NYC

To say I went to better keggers in high school would be an understatement when talking about this event.

I'll start at the beginning. The New York Women in Film and Television Designing Women event sought to honor the "unsung heroes" of film and television -- the behind-the-scenes women experts in costumes, makeup and hair who make the proverbial magic happen. The lineup was fantastic: A-list celebrities, an Oscar winner, my favorite character from "The West Wing." I was even granted VIP green room access beforehand so I could schmooze! 

I walked over to the 34th Street entrance of Macy's at around 6:15 and was greeted at the corporate entrance by two Macy's girls whose list I wasn't on. After consulting God or whomever on their BlackBerries, they granted me admission to the green room, where I was going to ask Glenn Close a question I had yet to formulate.

I arrived on the 13th floor and entered a gorgeous room that seemed straight from an Edith Wharton novel. The rooms were eerily silent and unfolded like Russian dolls into more beautiful and ornate rooms until I was finally at the end and greeted by a sweet PR girl, Jennifer Moses, who confirmed that I "wanted to talk to Glenn, right?" I was ushered to Glenn Close's handler who asked my name four times in two minutes before I was thrust into the beaming lights that radiated from Miss Close's halo.

Now what to say. "You were hilarious in 'The Devil Wears Prada!'" No, that's not right. So I smiled. Extended my hand. Introduced myself. Kept extending my hand. Oh, my bad, Glenn Close. I didn't realize you were holding a wine glass in your right hand and couldn't be bothered to be polite. I asked her a media-related question about "Damages'" switch to DirectTV and she gave a nice, thoughtful answer. And even though she asked me questions about MediaPost, I was still a little bitter over handshake-gate-2011.

My plus-one, Caroline Harrison, trotted in shortly after I was finished being scorned by Glenn. She's a lighting designer for Abercrombie & Fitch and travels the world ensuring that the hard-bodied models are properly lit in each store, so I thought that NYWIFT would be right up her creative alley. 

At 7 we were told to head to the 16th floor for the awards ceremony. The elevators were reserved for honorees, so the bottom-rung VIPs, myself included, were forced to climb three flights and snake through the bowels of Macy's corporate offices under oppressive fluorescent light and by cubicles that induced panic as I remembered my own past as a corporate goon. Caroline and I trailed behind an older lady with sunworn skin who eavesdropped on our conversation, wherein I mentioned that Caroline worked for Abercrombie. Sun Spots turned around: "Um, you work in retail?"

We entered the auditorium and I was embarrassed for Macy's. It felt like the basement of a Ramada Inn by the Sioux City airport. It was terribly hot, we were served small portions of stale popcorn, and the stage used what appeared to be a shower curtain (probably from the Martha Stewart line being sold downstairs) as the backdrop. To make matters worse, I heard someone mention that the ceremony would last until 8:45. They were going to hold us hostage, starving us in this sweat lodge for almost two hours. I thumbed through the program of the fabulous women who were being honored for costumes, hair and makeup and chuckled to myself over the contrast of the disgusting venue.

I lasted about 30 minutes before I began to feel panicked by the cramped quarters, the drop ceiling, the fact that at 25 I was having my first hot flash and the fear I would probably die of starvation in the ugliest room ever. So I fled, leaving Caroline to endure alone. I flew through the maze of office space and made it to the street where the filth of the Herald Square winds felt like angel kisses and the humid, salty smell coming from the hot dog vendors became an odoriferous siren song that beckoned me to eat street meat. And I did. And it was good. I was calm, happy, beginning to really believe in miracles on 34th street.

I went back inside with a renewed attitude, a sense of euphoria, determined to have a great rest of the evening. I slid back to my seat next to Caroline, whose face looked gaunt and pale. The woman on my other side was dining on a tin of Altoids. The misery of the room -- people fanning themselves with programs, tipping wine glasses on end in their mouths to get the last drop -- once again penetrated my good spirits.

The show ended and someone announced that the after party was on the 13th floor and that it would be catered. I was happy again. Caroline and I made our way out of the auditorium and toward the stairs when a large man told us that we must take the elevators. Picture this: 200 hot and hungry women waiting for the million-year-old Macy's elevators to take them down three flights of stairs. I was at the end of my rope when I was ushered into a tiny elevator with 15 other people. The lady whose body was pressed against mine looked into my face, saw the panic and discomfort, smiled, and told me that she had Xanax if I wanted it. 

The after party was the most disjointed experience I've had at a party in NYC (and I'm including those warehouse raves in Brooklyn I was once fond of). The railroad-style rooms proved difficult to maneuver, and finding the food and bar was near-impossible. I beelined to the last room, grabbed a glass of champagne and began to look for the food. I shot through each room back to the front, looking for any traces of sustenance -- napkins, people chewing, cater-waiters with empty plates. And then I saw it: a shiny tray full of what looked like beef cubes on crackers. I was in slow motion. I grabbed two and handed one to Caroline, who was mumbling about how the lights were too low and no one could see anything. I told her to get off the clock and bit into the cracker. And -- oh my God. It was a bamboo spoon. Teeth hurt. Time to go.

We grabbed the 15-pound gift bags full of books, including a cookbook -- funny -- and went to Korean BBQ and ordered too much food and sake. I was full, I was happy.  Since I was so hot and hungry, I forgot to take pictures. NYWIFT sent some over that were taken by Eileen Miller at the event.

I want to come to your party and drink your booze, so email carrie@mediapost.com and invite me to things! Also, follow Just an Online Minute on Facebook -- "Just an Online Carrie."

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