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Swan Balls

The Nightfly's feathery tribute to BjŲrk

Few figures in pop music are as divisive as Björk, that pint-sized Icelandic pixie princess with the Grand Canyon-size voice. Her fans border on obsessive. Her detractors are, quite frankly, freaked the fuck out by her. There simply is no fence-sitting about the tiny fairy-dust-sprinkled soprano/baritone/ bass…what can'ther voice do?

Hadeel Assali and Selina Pishori understood the potential of a theme party based around an artist who has completely leapt the ho-hum void. Fans, of course, would be compelled to attend. Those on the "bitch is crazy" side of the fence wouldn't be able to drown their curiosity about what exactly a Björk dress-up party might look like.

Perhaps even that prune-skinned bag of hot hate Joan Rivers, who famously announced she'd commit suicide on an Academy Award red carpet if Björk's infamous swan dress with giant egg purse ever made an appearance again, would be tempted by fate to ride her wrinkles into town.

Well, Joan, start tying the noose. Yours truly commissioned the local designers/artists of Kunst Fascion to mock up the dress so that I might be the belle of the Björk ball.

And what, save for a world without lawyers, would be better than a planet rid of Joan Rivers? We'll call this installment of The Nightfly "Doing my part for world peace." The Charities

But I won't be the only one. The cover charge went toward a couple of charities that Assali and Pishori handpicked and believe in strongly: the Palestinian Children's Welfare Fund and Youth Solidarity Summer, respectively. You can read about each at www.pcwf.org and www.youthsolidarity.org.

The Fitting

Mariana Saldana and Jason Villegas -- Kunst Fascion -- did a superb job. They'd had a day's notice to make my swan dress with less-than-exact measurements given over the phone. When I arrived at their workspace in the part of town known as, according to Saldana, "uh, the ghetto," I was ushered to a workbench studded with little felt dollar signs, pins, ribbons that say "Chanel" and a half-empty bottle of Don Julio. Plunked down in the middle of it all was my beautiful bird. It was made of various materials the two had found lying around. They didn't spend a penny on it.

They improvised -- cutting up orange washcloths to simulate a beak and stuffing the fowl's long neck with spongy cotton. I strapped it on and stood on a makeshift stool as the two made minor adjustments. We all agreed, I looked gorgeous.

The Venue

For the uninitiated, Helios (411 Westheimer) is one of the most underrated spots in town. Its exterior looks like Hansel and Gretel's cottage -- faded yellows and browns swath old smog-stained wood. Metal sculptures abound in the front courtyard, which is the perfect spot for Montrose people-watching.

The bar hosts poetry slams, spoken-word events and music ranging from old-time country to jazz to underground hip-hop. There's another stage upstairs, and out back you can usually catch someone breathing fire or juggling chain saws or kittens or some such on a huge stage. There's more inimitability here than in a dozen other hot spots. Tonight's Björk party all but sews that up.

The Perp Walk

Walking down Westheimer near Montrose draped in a swan dress isn't all that scary, granted. The neighborhood is Houston's Hollywood -- let your freak flag fly.

On the other hand, walking to the car in my own 'hood while drunken across-the-street neighbors catcall is another story. I've never walked faster -- lest their words fill me with anger and I end up spending the night at the Harris County Hotel in this getup. Drunken jealous toolbags!

The Reception

From the second I make my donation to charity at the door, Björk fans are smitten. I can't walk three steps without hearing the words "awesome," "amazing," "killer" or "great idea." Of course, I hear "obese" too, but that obviously has come from a playa hater.

A few girls tell me they had the same dress-up idea but no way to execute it. Thank you, Kunst!

The Event

In the main room, DJs spin Björk's angelic vocals mashed up with hip-hop beats. Screw Mary J. Blige. If she ever wants to, Björk can add Queen of Hip-hop Soul to her eclectic résumé.

Outside I find a spot on the upstairs balcony and take in a DVD of Björk videos on a giant screen hoisted onto the backdrop of the back patio's stage. Houston's wet blanket of unforgiving humidity has taken the night off, and those outside are treated to a nice, cool breeze as we ogle Björk's titties in the "Pagan Poetry" video.

The Fans

Not as many fans play dress-up as I'd expect. There are a few girls in dresses covered in stars and others whose hair is done in homage to Björk's "Big Time Sensuality" vid. All in all, the fans of Ms. Gudmundsdóttir have decided to lay low and take it all in.

More Björk Fun!

Later in the night, Assali plays a home-burned DVD of Björk rarities, stuff like the singer's performances on late-night talk shows, concert clips and interviews. It's a fascinating look into a career that has often been a little outside the focus of the mainstream scope.

Sitting on the balcony, being kissed by the gentle caress of a Gulf Coast breeze and wrapped firmly in Björkian growls and wails, I feel euphoric. Or maybe it's just because I look so goddamned pretty!

 
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