Maximum Lady Time
Last week I took a conference call with Gloria Steinem while sitting in a Taco Bell. That event led to many wonderful things, not the least of which was being hugged by Dee Snider of Twisted Sister. The least of which was probably Deborah Norville asking me if she could “squooch past” me last night. She was wearing a tweed blazer festooned with tiny rhinestone shards. I was drinking green champagne and trying not to sweat through my dress.
A few weeks ago, I was asked if I’d like to have the chance to talk to Gloria Steinem, you know, just ask her a few questions. I said yes immediately, before realizing that I had no idea what to ask her. What can you ask that woman that hasn’t been asked before? I figured I’d get my feminist card revoked if I’d asked the first one that popped into my head, because it was about being Christian Bale’s stepmom. So I polled my friends and family, had three questions ready, and then five minutes into the call abandoned them all and had at least ten new ones on the tip of my tongue.
I am not really one to gush or get starstruck, but this woman was incredible. She was smart and funny and kind, and answered my question about women avoiding conflict and confrontation to their own detriment so well I wish I could call her for advice whenever I needed it. The thing that stuck out the most to me was how un-didactic she was. I feel like very few people, having spent a lifetime being such a trailblazer and lightning rod as she, having been heralded and criticized and debated for so long, could maintain such a refreshingly un-preachy manner of speaking. There was no script to her answers; they weren’t cut and pasted from other interviews or discussions. You got the feeling that she was right there with you, genuinely interested in the conversation, and wanting to know what you thought as well. I realize this sounds so forthright and aw-shucks, two things I’m usually not when I write, but I’m having a hard time conveying how honored I was to be a part of this conversation. I got chills several times. It was one of the most amazing things that’s happened in my life and I will never forget it.
Anyway, so: Dee Snider of Twisted Sister. Getting to that.
I was on this call with nine other women writers, and it was all in honor of GreenStone Media, the new radio network Gloria Steinem has co-founded. Last night was the launch party at the Museum of Television and Radio here in New York. About every third person in the room was famous, and so everyone spent their time sipping the complimentary green champagne and pretending not to scan the room for famous faces. Everyone except Heather and Michele and me. Heather would grab my elbow and hiss Look, it’s Emme! or Look, Jane Fonda! or OH MY GOD IT’S THE PLASTIC SURGERY CAT LADY!, to which the dapper man next to us spun around and said, “Where? She bankrupted one of my clients!” Only it wasn’t her (because, really, why would she be there?), but then we had someone new to gossip with. And then we got to actually meet Gloria Steinem in person, and she was lovely and amazing and looks better at 72 than I do at 29, and not to be a total Milhouse but she smelled really nice.
But the best story of the evening was when the photographer came up to me and said, “Hey, you’re Sarah Brown! Would you like to get a picture with Dee Snider of Twisted Sister?” Hello friend, are you reading my mind? And god bless Dee Snider, because I think he thought he was supposed to know who I was, because the photographer just introduced me as Sarah Brown and said she’d like to get our picture together, and he was a pro and hugged me and chatted and posed, and the whole time my brain was blaring his song from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure that goes You’re gonna burn in HELLLLLLL!
As soon as they send me the audio from the phone call, I’ll post it here. Until then, here lies the most surreal set of party pics on the planet.