MICHAEL MUSTO: The 10 Best Parties I Ever Went To

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When it comes to nightlife, Michael Musto's dance card is always full and celebrity-filled. Here are the 10 best parties the man about town has been to. (Photo by Ben Buchanan)
When it comes to nightlife, Michael Musto’s dance card is always full and celebrity-filled (hi, Diana Ross). Here are the 10 best parties the man about town has been to. (Photo by Ben Buchanan)

As a nightlife journalist, I’ve been to more parties than Melania Trump has been to nail salons, and I’m here to look back at the mountain of buffets, guest lists and gift bags and tell you which were the most memorable of all time — as opposed to the mediocre ones I go to every night. Here are the 10 best.


In the ’80s, promoter Vito Bruno pioneered the idea of the “outlaw party,” concentrated bursts of fun whereby the “in” crowd knew to go a certain public spot at a certain time and make a party of it before it got unceremoniously busted. Having such a bash on a garbage pier was inspired because the sight of fabulous people carrying on amidst mounds of trash was hilarious to behold. The party doubled as a birthday celebration for then-Details editor Annie Flanders, and I vividly remember me and my fellow band members singing “Happy Birthday” to Annie very quickly, as we were told to disperse and leave.


This was a lavish 1984 “private supper dance” to celebrate Diana’s Radio City Music Hall engagement, and it was everything a party should be — including the celebrity hostess making herself accessible, talking to press and other admirers and making everyone feel so tickled they almost forgot to eat. But I did — a LOT!


At the peak of her fame in 1995, Madonna threw a swell bash that was also an ingenious stroke of promotion because it happened to be televised on MTV. I was one of the lucky invitees who got to go to Webster Hall and watch not only the premiere of her expensive “Bedtime Story,” but also the sight of Madonna emerging in person — in bedwear — to read a children’s book called “Miss Spider’s Tea Party.” The whole thing was bizarrely fabulous (especially since I was interviewed on-camera at the end of the bash) and way better than the so-so “Sex” book party Madge threw three years earlier.


The gala hotel/casino/spa opening in Connecticut in 2002 served up a brilliant array of entertainment and food. First, we saw Cher in concert with a pretty decent opening act named Cyndi Lauper. The next night, we were treated to lazy Susans full of turf and turf as we watched a couple of wannabes named Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles sing, plus Rosie O’Donnell dropping her “Queen of Nice” tag and diving into her return to standup. I’m still belching from the glittery grandeur of it all.


(gaycities.com photo)
Grace Jones closing out 1978. (gaycities.com photo)

Ringing in 1979 at the ultimate disco was a surreal blowout to end all blowouts, especially when exotic singer Grace Jones appeared onstage in stripe-y hair and a shimmery, revealing outfit and, backed by dancing boys, ripped into her hits. Crepes were served at one point, but since you couldn’t get through the crush of people to get fed, it made more sense to head right back to the dance floor and boogie your ass off some more. Pure, mindless, exuberant fun, fun, fun!


In 1998, I got an invite to visit a 44-acre resort on Paradise Island and to “explore the tropical waterscape, brave the five-story Mayan Temple, walk the ancient dig and marvel at 40,000 fish of 150 species.” Plus there was the sight of Larry Flynt wheeling up to blackjack table! And Oprah and Gayle, Leonardo DiCaprio, Julianne Moore, Donald Trump and Lee Majors! Plus food options like “seafood bounty” with KC and the Sunshine Band performing by the lagoon or “rotisseries and Bahamian specialties” with Albita crooning! At the height of all the excessive, orgiastic hedonism, Michael Jackson sang “Heal the World” on top of the Mayan Temple, backed by a gospel choir! I’m still pinching myself.


(observer.com photo)
Michael and Joan. (observer.com photo)

Throwing a party is such a vulnerable act because so much could go wrong — and believe me, I’ve had my stinkers — but in 2010, with the help of celebrity hosts Michael Urie and Joan Rivers, I was feted by throngs of media people, drag queens, friends and family as the club kept cranking out fabulous food and drinks. This was by far the most fun I’ve ever had at one of my own events, and I must say when I arrived early and there was already a line of gorgeously bedecked people wanting to get in, I knew it was a smash.


In 1999, Tina Brown’s mag launched with a gala party on Liberty Island, where the Statue was just one of many illustrious guests. There was so much media there, and lots of notable names — John Waters, Vera Wang, Conan O’Brien, Willem Dafoe, Donna Karan, plus Dr. Ruth screeching, “Where are the gift bags? Where are the freebies?” I liked the picnic-style food and the entertainment, and though the whole thing actually sounded way better on paper than in reality, I’ll still give it a high rating for its lofty aspirations in bringing the crème together.


It was a seated dinner at Casa Lever for the film “Broken Embraces,” and director Pedro Almodovar and star Penelope Cruz were there, as were Paper cuties Kim Hastreiter and Mickey Boardman and also someone named Madonna, who seemed to love schmoozing with the gems of world cinema. The whole thing felt so cultured and yet so giddy and fun, making for the kind of party that happens only when all the elements neatly fall into place.


In 2013, I was invited to go to a Manhattan pier and get on a boat to an undisclosed location for Gaga’s ARTPOP rave, done in collaboration with artist Jeff Koons. It turned out to be a huge warehouse-like space in Brooklyn, filled with art pieces (like a massive Koons statue of Gaga) and tons of food (trucks outside were also doling out the chow). So much money was spent, but it was all done so artfully and organized so well that it seemed like a sensible expenditure (even if the album didn’t soar as hoped). Gaga, by the way, arrived in a flying dress and proceeded to sing her guts out. Magical.

Michael Musto is  a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.

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