Cultural Czarina

5.7.2008

By Out.com Editors

For unstoppable socialite Zelda Kaplan, the champagne flute is always full, the velvet rope invisible, the pleasure infinite. When she's not running off to India and Africa, the charitable, club-hopping nonagenarian can be found sipping Syrah at Manhattan's trendiest haunts or appearing in ads as a new face for M.A.C. cosmetics' Originals collection. She's seen Edith Piaf perform live, danced with legendary jazz musician Tito Puente, received a thumbs-up on her fashion sense from Marc Jacobs, and chatted about public policy with George Clooney. The same 91-year-old nightlife darling who breezes through runway shows is also a skillful ballroom dancer who doesn't own a cell phone, doesn't watch television, and refuses to party on Saturday nights, instead staying in to avoid traffic and read the Sunday Times in her midtown apartment, where she's resided for more than 40 years. She rarely wakes up before 2 p.m. and generally arrives home from her nocturnal revelry sometime after 4 a.m.

With credentials like these, who needs self-righteous pundits and haughty critics? Herewith, Out's new cultural czarina discusses what's hot and what's not this summer:

Patti LuPone in the 2008 Broadway revival of Gypsy:
"I saw the real Gypsy Rose Lee. That woman had no top -- itty-bitty things -- but, boy, could she move. The musical? Well, Patti LuPone is a marvelous performer -- her acting is so real and her singing is wonderful -- but I found the show superficial and boring. It was just a souffl', fluff. I like drama'theater where you worry about the characters and become involved." Gypsy is playing at the St. James Theatre in New York City.

Swingtown, CBS's new series about pot-smoking swingers:
"The cast is attractive -- and I love the landscaping, pools, parties, and champagne -- but they get ready to make love so early in the show. I don't travel with people like that. I was invited to a swingers party around 1960, and I didn't go. Maybe I read the wrong books, but when I was with my husband, I wasn't attracted to anyone else. But if people enjoy it, God bless 'em." Swingtown premieres May 29 on CBS.

The recent invasion of chart-topping British ingenues:
"I like Kate Nash's style (Made of Bricks), but I don't think the swearing is necessary. Leona Lewis (Spirit) is a performer with a lot of tricks, while Nash is a singer. Some of the best singers of all time -- like Sinatra -- sang the notes as they were written. Duffy (Rockferry) is almost screaming, but she has the best arrangements of the three and is my favorite overall." Made of Bricks, Spirit, and Rockferry are in stores now.

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