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Travel & Leisure's Fabulous Birthday Bash

Claudia Shear, the star of Broadway's Dirty Blonde, sang "Happy Birthday" to Travel & Leisure magazine and its editor, Nancy Novogrod, in front of an elaborate cake from Isn’t That Special Outrageous Cakes.

Magazine industry cocktail parties happen all the time. And fairly often it's impossible to distinguish one from another. Yes, there are always issues of the magazine lying around on the cocktail tables or stuffed in a giftbag; maybe there's a blow-up of a cover in a corner of the bar somewhere. But sometimes by the next day you can't remember which magazine sponsored the party.

Not so with Travel & Leisure magazine's 30th anniversary. There was no elaborate theme, no in-your-face marketing effort. But the magazine put on a party where small details combined to make a classy, memorable evening. Much of the feeling of the event was dictated by its location, Strip House, a new steakhouse on East 13th Street. A bit like a brothel, a bit like a mafioso's favorite Italian restaurant, Strip House is covered in patterned red wallpaper and hundreds of black and white photographs of strippers, opera singers and other celebrities.

The magazine took the restaurant's blazing red color and slightly sinful feel and added a couple cigarette girls (hired by Hollywood Pop Gallery) and a metal decor piece (by Kadan Productions) near the entrance that showcased photos from the magazine. Red cocktail napkins printed with the magazine's logo reminded guests who was sponsoring the event--a simple, effective idea that we don't see that often anymore.

The most memorable moment of the evening was when Claudia Shear, the star of Broadway's Dirty Blonde, sang “Happy Birthday” to the magazine and its editor, Nancy Novogrod. (Her birthday happened to coincide with the magazine's.) Shear sang in front of an elaborate cake from Isn't That Special Outrageous Cakes, which was topped with a tiny sculpture of a woman's leg. It's called “Strip House,” remember.

The guests proved to be an interesting bunch. We spotted Julian Niccolini from the Four Seasons, Vanity Fair's Amy Fine Collins, playwright Wendy Wasserstein, The View's Star Jones, event photographer Patrick McMullan, hotelier Andre Balasz and PR mavens Susan Magrino (of Susan Magrino Agency) and Harriet Weintraub.

On the way out, guests received a truly unique giftbag (from Harvey's Boutique) in the form of a red plastic sphere slightly larger than a basketball, filled with fun props including a red Zippo lighter with T&L's logo, a red candle from gift company Red Envelope, a T&L t-shirt and a small box of Godiva chocolate.

--Chad Kaydo

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