WWD photographer Steve Eichner lives to tell the tales from his 50th birthday party and after party.
42 West Club, New York
6:36 p.m.: Latex pants, harness and bullwhip. I’m channeling my inner Peter Marino as I get dressed for my 50th birthday party. The theme? “50 Shades of Steve.”
6:47 p.m.: Whips and chains over there by the photo booth? Check. Guest list? Check. Agency photographers are in place on the red carpet, let’s get some music going, 13 minutes until doors open. I scream, running around frantically making sure everything is set: “Where are the go-go dancers?”
6:49 p.m.: I run down to the dressing room and give the dancers their instructions for the evening. Notice a cool shot of my reflection in the mirror with the dancers preparing. Click, click.
7:00 p.m.: “The doors are open. Let the games begin!”
7:07 p.m.: “Sorry I’m a bit late.” My DJ NappyG arrives. I run him up to the booth.
7:37 p.m.: I do an impromptu photo shoot of my girlfriend Josie on a black shiny wall. A crowd gathers around to watch. Red latex minidress, red wig, red thigh-high boots, all tied together with red rope. “50 shades of red,” I giggle as I snap away.
7:45 p.m.: “Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the stage: Delysia!” MC Extra Cheese, the evening’s master of ceremonies introduces the first burlesque dancer. I’m photographing her in various stages of undress when one of the public relations people whispers in my ear, “Miss USA Nia Sanchez is at the step and repeat.” This is getting interesting.
7:46 p.m.: “Hi, Nia, thanks for coming! Let’s put your sash on and get some photos.” She’s a pretty good sport. We do some “Home Alone”-type scream poses and then my trademark “hang loose” hand gesture. “How about some pics over there by the red room of pain photo booth?” Thought not.
7:49 p.m.: On my way to the bar to get some wine courtesy of Josh Cellars…A man in a thong is dancing on a riser…This party IS over the top!!!
7:57 p.m.: The Standard’s Joey Jalleo turns up!
7:59 p.m.: Here comes someone else that really knows how to use a leash: Wendy Diamond!
8:04 p.m.: Jennifer Creel and Hilary Dick at the photo booth with a dancer in his Calvins. I have actually never seen two socialites have this much fun at a party!
8:21 p.m.: It’s quite a feeling on the other side of the lens, all the cameras pointing at me. “One more! Look here, Steve on the right!” I have a moment of sympathy for my subjects until I remember “they” are getting paid to do red carpets.
8:28 p.m.: “Look what I brought!” Jean Shafiroff exclaims as she shows me her solid gold whip. It’s good to be a socialite!
9:00 p.m.: “Happy Birthday” is being sung from the stage. I make my way up and motion for my mom and Josie to join me as well as some of the dancers. Of course, I forgot my speech in another pair of pants, so I wing it. I don’t remember exactly what I said but it started with me being grateful for my friends, family and colleagues joining me and went on to thank everyone involved with planning and ended with me saying that I’ll be in the back of the room, so “Bring your floggers.”
9:04 p.m.: I do a photo-op with my famous comedian brother Billy Eichner. People used to ask him if he is Steve Eichner’s brother, now people ask me if I’m Billy Eichner’s brother. Billy is impressed with the cake we are posing with. It’s a giant Nikon D4 camera, the same model I use. “The Cake Boss made it for me,” I tell him proudly and proceed to hack it apart with a big knife.
9:16 p.m.: Kim and Andy Hilfiger quietly taking it all in.
The After Party at No. 8
10:57 p.m.: Huge line at the door. I push my way up to the biggest bouncer and tell him, “I’m the birthday boy, Steve Eichner.” “Yes, yes we have been expecting you. Right this way, Mr. Eichner.” A hostess leads me up to the intimate Rec room upstairs. It is packed with my friends and they all cheer as I arrive. Now I know how the celebs feel when they enter an event that I’m covering.
11:44 p.m.: The music is pumping! DJ Nicole Leone is really keeping the dance floor going! “Shots! Shots! Shots!” I yell over the tunes. “Please line up 20 shots of Patron,” I tell the bartender. He pours them and I hand them out one by one, doing a shot with each person that toasts me. Must have done that at least 10 times.
12:01 a.m.: It’s my actual birthday now. All of a sudden, a cake covered in sparklers is danced over to me by the gorgeous servers.
12:07 a.m.: I see Cinema Society impresario Andrew Saffir and Daniel Benedict enter the room. I’m so happy to see them! I jump up and down on the banquette like I’m a kid jumping on my bed.
12:22 a.m.: The queen of No. 8, Amy Sacco, is dancing at the DJ booth. I bring my mom over to say hi. They start dancing together and pose for an iPhone photo for me. After that, it’s all a blur.