- The Washington Times - Monday, October 12, 2009

Downtown

Who’s one of the few people in the world who can eclipse the president of the United States?

Lady Gaga, that’s who. At least in the minds of many gay Americans who attended Saturday night’s Human Rights Campaign 13th annual dinner at the Washington Convention Center.

The 20-something pop sensation is the “it girl” in the gay community not just because of her best-selling debut album, “The Fame,” often heard pulsating through nightclubs, and her over-the-top wardrobe, but because of her support for gay rights.

“It’s for God and the gays,” she said when accepting her MTV Video Music Award recently.

Backstage before the dinner began, the buzz was about Gaga’s arrival, not that of the other guest of honor, who happened to be a freshly minted Nobel Peace Prize winner.

We saw the admiration first hand in the media room where we asked actor and singer Gavin Creel what his favorite Lady Gaga song was.

“That disco stick song,” he replied. “It’s so dirty and wonderful,” he noted, referring to Gaga’s signature hit “Love Game.”

By the way, Mr. Creel certainly appreciates the civility of the Washington press. “You guys are so much nicer than those [expletive] back in New York.”

Thanks, we try.

While inside the Convention Center was teeming with excitement and good humor, outside was quite a different matter as scores of protesters lined the streets with blow horns, signs and huge rainbow colored flags.

Half of the dissenters were members of the gay community disenchanted with President Obama’s lack of progress on gay issues, and the other half were evangelical Christians preaching against homosexuality.

“I’m concerned that the Human Rights Campaign is buying into [the president’s] speeches and not following through on the agenda. I don’t want them to be placated by him,” said Dan Pioletti, who came all the way from Chicago to demonstrate.

For her part, Lady Gaga was ever the team player as she spoke to the crowd praising the president. Insisting that the night was “not about me,” she declined to sing one of her tunes, but instead sang John Lennon’s classic “Imagine.”

Blocks away

While Lady Gaga toned it down, wannabe rock stars were turning the Mandarin Oriental Hotel into mayhem for businessman and philanthropist Michael Saylor’s Rocktoberfest blowout soiree, which required guests to come dressed as “rock stars, roadies, or groupies, because everyone wants to be a rock star,” according to the event invite.

We spotted lots of Alice Coopers, Blondies, and more leather, pink wigs and fishnet stockings you can shake a guitar at among the about 700 guests.

Mr. Saylor, the 40-something CEO of Microstrategy Inc. in Northern Virginia, has earned something of a reputation as being Washington’s Howard Hughes. Wealthy, charmingly eccentric, with a penchant for extravagance.

For this year’s fest, in addition to providing guests a smorgasbord of food and an overflowing bar replete with expensive champagne, the host rented out a salon so female rockers could stop by for hair and makeup attendance.

Burnt Sienna and Mr. Greengenes headlined the party because “they’re the best local cover bands,” and a “boy band” called Conspiracy comprised of area junior high students got the groupies swooning, even though most of the band members were up way past their curfew.

As we made our rounds, we saw Mr. Saylor’s friend, investor and Washington Kastles owner Mark Ein. Mr. Ein stood out conspicuously from his peers as he was dressed in a simple black button-down.

When we teased him about being underdressed, he explained that his costume for the evening was that of “a record label owner.”

Yeah, right, or as Mr. Saylor remarked, “That’s so lame.”

To contact Stephanie Green or Elizabeth Glover, e-mail [email protected]

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