Pink Martini+Pasta Fresco: Her Majesty Kim Hastreiter Holds Court in L.A.

By now, it should be no surprise, that if the inimitable Pink Martini is playing in Los Angeles or New York or even now Paris (more on that later), among the shifting ensemble of guest musicians and singers is one performer on the triangle who has become a near-regular: the equally inimitable Queen Bee of Pop (Counter) Culture and co-founder of Paper Magazine, Kim Hastreiter.

Pink Martini was on its annual New Year’s Eve storming of the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and so, too, Kim at her customary suite at the Hollywood Standard Hotel, home base as she juggled a slam-bam extended weekend of meetings for business and fun.

Kim hadn’t seen Nina since our visit to the Paper Mag offices in New York in May, so we swung by after lunch at Food+Lab to catch up with her a few blocks over at Silver Lake’s Sunset Junction. It was the day before the concert and, not surprisingly, we found her surrounded by a handful of cool kids in an art-filled loft with an enormous dining table, up the steps above Intelligentsia Coffeehouse. The space, along with this corner of real estate, including Cafe Stella, belongs to Gareth Kantner, who also joined the impromptu gathering. A supper for Kim’s L.A. pals was quickly planned for a couple of nights later there, with Gareth promising to roast a porcetta.

But there would be no savory oink. No surprise, within the day, Kim’s guest list grew beyond what the loft could comfortably seat. And so to Speranza, a neighborhood Italian restaurant nearer to my ‘hood for the Monday night supper. And what a divine way to spend an evening it was, catching up with old and new pals alike over shavings of cheese, prosciutto and, later, a hot bowl of ziti all’ Amatriciana which was worth blowing any aspirations of New Year calorie-cutting.

Among the new pals is baker Vanessa Lavorato, newly arrived from S.F. to L.A. and whom Kim has already put to work as a writer! Vanessa is pictured above with performance art icon Joey Arias and Pink Martini’s Thomas Lauderdale.

I hadn’t seen Joey since his show with Basil Twist shook up the RedCat in late 2010. A cameo player in Pink Martini, too, he spent New Year’s Eve not at the Disney Hall with Basil, Kim and the orchestra, but bringing down the Chateau Marmont with his own cabaret show (had Andy and I not already planned on spending the evening with Barbara Bestor, who was also at the Monday night supper, I would’ve popped my gold turban-topped head at his gig). Two nights after the Chateau and sans drag, Joey made me dizzy telling me all he had going on for 2012, including a lengthy run of “Arias with A Twist” in D.C., recording with Pink Martini and—most exciting—the release of a film directed, costumed and produced by his longtime collaborator Thierry Mugler. Cannot wait to see that!

Another dinner guest with exciting news for the new year was Jeremy Scott. The project has not been announced yet, but suffice it to say, having been one of the first people who met the designer when he plopped down here in L.A. a lifetime ago, I’m so proud of him—especially the way he has managed to find sanity and success in this cuckoo fashion biz by writing his own ticket.

There were plenty of guests at Madame Hastreiter’s table who are all about writing their own tickets—artist Adelle Lutz, publicist Jen Gross, photographer The Cobra Snake. Seated on Kim’s right was Jeffrey Deitch who certainly keeps writing and selling tickets to the galas and exhibitions now under his care as the director of MOCA. He talked to me about the upcoming show on Rudi Gernreich that he’s been madly collaborating on with Decades‘ Cameron Silver and inviting me to sit in on one of their rendezvous in the next couple of weeks. I just may take him up on it…

The invite I would so love to accept, however, is joining Kim in Paris come March when she and Pink Martini ring in the anniversary of the house of Lanvin. In that delciously dry way Kim has of retelling a story, she told us how she had to twist Alber Elbaz’s arm to come see the band when they played Paris this last fall. He would only go, he insisted begrudgingly, to see her perform. Before the concert was over, Alber was apparently on stage singing his heart out with the band and a booking for the grand party this spring promptly followed.

Paris is likely not in my cards for March, so instead I’ll make due with the parting gift from Kim that evening, a copy of PM’s latest “A Retrospective.” Get it.

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