The tagline for the NFT project, the combined World of Women Pride party and Madonna concert last week, was “Finally Enough Love,” the title of her new remix album. For me, it might as well have been “Finally COVID”.
After nearly two and a half years of successfully avoiding the virus, I jumped hot Sunday night, about 72 hours after attending the crowded event at Manhattan’s Terminal Five. Just across the Triboro Bridge in Astoria, my brother, my plus one at the event, also tested positive for the first time.
It might have been worth it for a full Madonna concert, but it turned out to be more of a Madonna and Friends variety show.
The evening was hosted by Bob the Drag Queen with about 20 other fabulously dressed co-performers, lip-syncing and dancing to “Vogue” and “Bitch I’m Madonna.” For most of this action, the real Madonna remained out of sight.
Her limited time on stage included a duet with rapper Tokischa over a mashup of the latter’s “Linda” and Madonna’s “Hung Up,” as a video by artist Marilyn Minter. Pink Green Caviar play behind them.
In the tones of the 2003 VMAs, Tokischa and Madonna then began kissing. In fact, Tokischa outdid Britney Spears by first dropping to her knees and burying her face in Madonna’s crotch.
The performance ended, way too soon, with a group number set to the pop star’s 2009 hit “Celebration.”
My brother and I were, I suspect, the only guests at the crowded event wearing sequin masks, in honor of the occasion, above KF94s. (I’m rarely fashionable enough for event photographers to approach me, but he seemed to appreciate our scintillating, if ultimately futile, nod to COVID safety.)
Also in attendance were actors Julia Fox and Zachary Quinto, DJ Leigh Lezark, Quarterly Gagosian executive director Derek Blasberg and fashion designers Christian Siriano and Alexander Wang. I don’t know if all of these stars are actually WoW holders, though the event was billed as an exclusive appointment for those who own NFTs from the collection.
There were, to be fair, a few women wearing colorful wigs and face paint all over their bodies, in costume like the NFTs of the women’s world. In fact, I don’t know if they were real fans or models paid to attend.
“I don’t know anything about it,” comedian Billy Eichner, star of upcoming LGBTQ rom-com Brotherstold Artnet News when asked if he owned any of the 10,000 colorful digital artworks of comic women designed by WoW founder and illustrator Yam Karkai. “I’m too old for NFTs.”
The WoW logo was prominently displayed on the sides of the event marquee. Still, this was Madonna’s World: most of the room was decorated with Madonna-centric posters and video screens, with only a short advertisement running through a pitch for a sort of multiverse my brother described as “Minecraft with a rainbow filter.
Madonna herself seemed blithely uninterested in promoting the NFT line, focusing her remarks during the performance instead on New York and the LGBTQ community, with no mention of WoW or the NFT NYC conference that had just ended in Times Square. (Two WoW NFTs transferred to him wallet the day of the concert.)
“New York City [is] the best place in the world because of the queer people here,” Madonna told the crowd between songs. “Let me tell you something, if you can come here, then you must be a fag.”
The singer recently released her first NFT, in collaboration with the artist Beeple, which put the concept of NFT art on the map (at surprisingly modest returns, in terms of sales, for a team between two such big stars). It seems likely that Madonna was dragged into the WoW event by her manager, Guy Oseary, who added the NFT project to their list in January and had the singer immortalized in a WoW-style portrait for an NFT magazine cover project with Billboard. (The NFT and the world of celebrities have become quite entangled.)
The floor price of a WoW NFT is down from its highs at the start of the year. Still, WoW is fine. He has since sign a television and film production deal with Reese Witherspoon’s female media conglomerate Hello Sunshine, and just announced this week that it will be teaming up with Hasbro for the first Collaboration with NFT Monopoly. And Witherspoon, Eva Longoria, Selby Drummond, and Shonda Rhimes all have (or had) Twitter avatars of their WoW NFTs.
But I didn’t learn any of that at WoW’s big NFT NYC night, where I expected at least more talk about the WoW community and how its members got such special access to a exclusive event via their digital artwork. NFTs were, at best, a facade here.
However, I eventually caught COVID.
See more photos from the performance below.
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