If you throw chocolate milk martinis, real housewives and world-renowned athletes into the Waldorf Astoria’s Grand Ballroom, what do you get? Besides having quite a story to tell friends, you would find yourself amidst the sixth annual, “Heroes, Heart and Hope” Gala, sponsored by the Challenged Athletes Foundation. Wednesday night’s festivities brought together amputee athletes of all ages to raise money for prosthetic running legs and other special equipment.
Sarah Reinertsen, the first female leg amputee to complete an Ironman, said her prosthetic running leg cost $36,000 and was not covered by insurance. One of the most popular guests of the evening, Ms. Reinertsen unveiled her new “Got Chocolate Milk?” ad at the fundraiser. “I’ve actually been drinking chocolate milk for years,” she said. “A triathlete boyfriend of mine—well, ex-boyfriend—used chocolate milk in his recovery.”
What allows reality TV to exist so plentifully, and to be so successfully engineered, is perhaps our human tendency to experience the same event different ways. Liquoring up scared, fame-hungry young people gets you most of the way there, but it’s the producer-prodded endless parsing of what historian Daniel J. Boorstin termed “pseudo-events” that fill the hours and hours of cable programming we so happily consume: fights over who is a drunk, fights over who said who is a drunk, fights over what actually happened when everyone was drunk, and so on. (Mr. Boorstin also gave us a handy phrasing for the contemporary definition of a celebrity: “a person who is known for his well-knownness.”)
To test these theories, on Monday, The Observer embraced a full evening’s schedule of pseudo-events featuring celebrities and took a Rashomonic approach to the premiere of the fifth season of the wildly, bafflingly successful reality show, The Real Housewives of New York City. We sent three correspondents with varying degrees of RHONY knowledge to three premiere parties hosted by Housewives, and asked them to write honestly of their experiences.
What we learned: Despite perhaps being unwelcome, ex-Housewife Jill Zarin made the rounds. A couple of the Housewives will really miss their extra-large Diet Cokes (thanks a lot, Mayor Bloomberg). If you hang around with a Housewife long enough, you might run into someone actually famous (Liza Minnelli!?). And the show, when viewed with the celebrity cast members present, is even more uncomfortably hyperreal.
Thus we present: the Occasional Viewer’s Story, the Fanboy’s Story, and the Party Crasher’s Story.
the eight-day week
With summer comes time outside, and though we prefer a Southampton beach chair to a cabin in the woods, our friends who go up to the Hudson Valley have told us at exhaustive and disgusting length about tick-borne disease. However can we support them? Weeelll, the Tick-Borne Disease Alliance is throwing a swank benefit tonight. Read More