On a rainy Monday evening I found myself in the Explorers Club library, sipping red wine while looking up at a stuffed polar bear. Emily Doubilet, she of burlesque legend and swinging Williamsburg garden parties, was joining with her Suspicious Package partners–Ashlynn Manning and Bad Brilliance–to present on “bio-pop”, a fusion of song, performance and nature. Their first bio-pop sung, Hummingbird, a hit on MTV, features Emily and Ashlynn feeding hummingbirds through sweeteners in their mouths to the backdrop of their music. Their next song will involve a falcon (the falconer was on hand to watch), and future songs will involve apes and jellyfish.
Visiting the Explorers Club seemed appropriate. The cozy old building is nestled amongst opulence on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Becoming a member requires some level of scientific accomplishment broadly involving exploration, in addition to hefty annual dues. The building seems like it’s from another time, with its wood paneling, stuffed animals and well-heeled, entirely white membership. Everywhere you turn there is a restrictive “Members Only” sign, ironically confining guests to small, prescribed spaces.I snuck through the back staircase and meandered around the fourth floor, which was filled with old photographs of African and South American tribes. I figured if anyone questioned why I was there, I’d say I was exploring.
Suspicious Package was the opening act for Emily’s mom, renowned diver and photographer, Anne Doubilet. The event was great–Suspicious Package is usually used to performing in front of drunken hipster crowds, but they know how to turn on the charm for rich old folks while staying true to their mission. Anne Doubilet’s presentation was absolutely baller–incredible photos from under the sea, the Arctic and Antarctica. Anne stressed that even within her own lifetime, man-made climate change has not only put beautiful and complex eco-systems at risk, but already caused great destruction.
Between the great dÃ©cor, complimentary wine and fabulous presentations, the night was a total hit, but until Sustainable Party co-owner Jessica Holsey (business partners with Emily Doubilet) arrived, Cristina and I were the only minorities in the building. Maybe minorities should start the “Explored Club”, which would feature awkward photographs of white people visiting exotic places around the world. The Explorers Club has events often, so check their site for chances to set foot in one of NYC’s most fascinating buildings, planted firmly in the past and into the future.
Look out for Suspicious Package when they rock out at a locale near you and get some great party gear at Sustainable Party. Untapped will be checking out the next upcoming event merging the two this coming Valentine’s Day.
Author Janos Marton is the founder of LivingtheDream.org. This article was originally posted on October 5, 2010.