i had to share what my dear friend mark townsend wrote about my mom. he's a hair stylist extraordinaire...at my "jappiest" moment, he blew dry my hair in my apartment at 5am the morning i was to give birth to my son (i wanted to look pretty! didnt last- i sweat so much from my c-section). you can check out mark's work on magnetla.
I will never, ever forget the many colorful experiences I had with Bunny. There are so many stories, and thinking of each one brings a gigantic smile to my face, gives me a loud chuckle, and makes me thank God that I had the opportunity to know such an incredible person. Coming from a small town in the South, characters like Bunny Koppelman were things I only dreamed of. If I knew then that I would be able to one day call someone like her my friend, then maybe being the fat, gay kid on the playground in a redneck town wouldn’t have been such a struggle.
When I did escape
I was so naive then, that I didn’t realize the Barney’s sale was pretty much a full contact sport, and anything worth buying was sold in the first 19 minutes. So when I arrived, the last pair of Prada shoes in my size looked like something you put on your feet when scuba diving, or when you have to use the showers at summer camp. Of course, I didn’t care, I was determined to get myself a pair of Prada shoes, so I bought them right there and then, no matter how ugly they were. In fact, they were so unappealing to the general public that,if my memory is correct, they were 80% off the original price. This was not only my first designer purchase, but it was also my first purchase from Barney’s, even if it was the warehouse sale, so I was so proud to walk out with that black bag in hand. I was just beaming.
The next morning I showed up at 64th and
“My new shoes” I replied.
“What? You paid for those?” was her response.
“Yes, I did”
“You look like a duck!” she screamed.
“They’re Prada” I said with quickly fading confidence.
“They’re ugly” was her response.
She reached for the phone and proclaimed “I need the car immediately, it’s an emergency!” And in less than 3 minutes I was in the back of a limousine.
“We need to go to Barney’s as quick as possible” she told the driver. “Good thing we are only 3 blocks away” I thought, having no idea what was happening to me.
Upon our arrival, I was whisked to the men’s shoe department, where I saw what I can only describe as the equivalent of a gay man’s paradise. The most exquisite, beautiful shoes a man could put on his feet was everywhere I looked.
“Whoever sold these shoes to my friend here should be fired” Bunny announced to each and every salesperson in that shoe department.
It took me several minutes to regain my composure after a fit of hysterical laughter, egged on by my new shopping partner laughing just as hard and as loud as I was. But she was right and I knew it, and there was no fooling her., she knew I knew it. So she declared I needed new shoes and instructed anyone within hearing distance to bring out every Prada shoe in my size. My vision was blurred by then and all I saw was a gorgeous cloud of black leather.
“I can’t afford any of these” I whispered to her as my foot slipped into the most gorgeous ankle boot I have ever seen or felt.
“You can’t walk around this city in those awful shoes, not with the people you work with” she stated.
And I knew what she meant. She had every intention of buying me a pair of shoes. I know she saw deep inside me the second I walked into her dressing room and saw what I had tried to do. And she saved me any embarrassing future moments. She took that once fat, gay, scared kid and took him shopping and bought him the most beautiful pair of Prada boots I had ever seen.
In buying those shoes, she wasn’t saying I needed expensive shoes to be successful, she was saying “I believe in you, now you have to believe in yourself, not a pair of shoes.”
That was the day I became a new person. I realized that I didn’t need a certain brand of shoes, or any material possession to become successful. Everything I needed to achieve my goals was inside me and it took the generosity, kindness, and love of this beautiful person to show me the way.
Those boots became my magical slippers, the kind you read about in fairy tales. I wore these boots on my first day on the set of the film Vanilla Sky. I wore these boots the first time I ever styled an actress (Penelope Cruz) for the Academy Awards. I wore these boots to my first big film premiere of a movie I worked on. I wore these boots on my first visit to
10 years is a long time to hold on to a pair of shoes, boots even. But I own a pair of boots that will remain in my life forever. When Bunny touched those boots, just a small amount of her love and energy polished those boots forever, because that was her, She was born with an abundance of love and she gave it to every person she knew. I will cherish the love she bestowed on me forever. There is no way to imitate her, but if every person that was ever touched by her just tried their best to learn from her and share a smile, a laugh, and some love with the people around them, then this world would be a much better place.
Sitting down writing this now, with tears falling down my face, I have a huge smile on my face, and I almost choke from crying and laughing at the same time. I can’t help but be filled with joy when thinking of Bunny, and I can’t help but think that that is exactly the way she would have wanted it.
I will always think of her as the most wonderful, colorful person I ever met.
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