Boy howdy that Moth crowd doesn't mess around! Last night the inimitable storytelling organization held its annual gala fundraiser, called The Moth Ball, at Capitale, a dramatically-lit event space in a beautiful old bank on the Bowery. Among those in attendance: Martin Scorsese, Tyra Banks, John Turturro, Kyp Malone, Al Sharpton, and funnyman Mike Birbiglia, who opened up to us about eating sandwiches in airplane bathrooms.
"I were just flying to California for a run of dates, and I got on the plane and I am eating a chicken salad sandwich on walnut bread," Birbiglia recalled. "And this flight attendant comes over and is like, 'Excuse me, but the woman next to you has a nut allergy.' And I look over and I go, 'Oh are you allergic to walnuts?' And she says, 'Yeah, I'd have to take a shot, and I go into shock.' I'm like, 'But, not even you eating it?' And she goes, 'Yeah, if nuts are in the air.'
"And I was so hungry. I was so hungry I didn't know what to do. It was that point where I had just taken a couple bites and I was ready to plow through the rest of the sandwich. So I got up and went into the restroom and ate a chicken salad sandwich in an airplane bathroom, which I do not recommend. And it was at that moment that I realized that I have a fecal airspace allergy."
"People have sex, and it can be great," Turtorro told us. "But sometimes telling the story about it can be even better! And that storytelling is something that's being lost. Kids today just want to get away from the table. I used to sit with my uncles, my mother, and my father for five hours listening to stories, and five hours was nothing. I'd rather do that than go to a movie!" Rapper DMC also shared his thoughts on the recently-passed Beastie Boy Adam Yuach.
The affair was emceed by veteran Moth storyteller and author Simon Doonan, who regaled the audience with a particularly bawdy tale about performing sexual acts for far less than he was worth. Martin Scorsese was on hand to receive a the 2012 Moth Award, "Honoring the Art of the Raconteur." The acclaimed director seemed pleased to be there, and during his acceptance speech revealed he hadn't been down to the Bowery in a while, but he recalled the Capitale building when it was a bank. "When I was a boy we took a field trip here," Scorcese said, and described how the group was ultimately led to a cloistered room where a man showed them a $1,000 bill, and everyone was allowed to touch it.
This year’s Moth Ball came on the heels of news that the non-profit organization won a $750,000 MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions, allowing it to expand its award-winning Moth Radio Hour into a weekly series, and "preserve its vast video and audio archive of live storytelling events from the past 15 years." Besides organizing storytelling events, the Moth also does a helluva podcast, and runs The MothSHOP Community Education Program, which works with high school students and marginalized adults in underserved neighborhoods throughout NYC. They also stock an impressive open bar at their annual party. Thank God for the miracle of modern digital recording devices! Journalism!