My grandmother always told me that the best place to meet boys is at the museum. Not just any boys, but intelligent and educated ones, with good jobs and enough cultural depth to drive them there in the first place. For a long time, I disregarded this advice, believing that it was the lack of better options (bars, clubs, the Internet) in Soviet Russia that forced people to seek love in cultural hubs.
While I yet have to meet a man while perusing the Musée d’Orsay à la Blair Waldorf, I’m certainly willing to give the whole cultural angle a try. In fact, I recently decided to give my grandmother’s theory a modern spin and test drive it at Art Basel, the annual Miami art fair that clutters our Instagram feeds every December.
Let’s just say that I wasn’t disappointed. For once, the epicenter of all things cheesy that is Miami was populated with a vast variety of attractive, refined, clean men. The kind of men who make me realize that dating hygiene-challenged French hipsters is not my only option. There is a world out there. Even the straight-to-gay ratio was fairly reasonable – more than half of the men at Basel actually appeared to be of the hetero kind.
As usual, I did not make the best of the situation. After meeting one nice, normal guy on the second night (granted, the fall course of this remains to be witnessed), I thanked my lucky stars and stepped out of the game. However, I did accumulate many observations, resulting in this comprehensive little guide on how to ensure that you are fully prepared to become the next Dora Maar (Picasso’s muse – don’t worry, I didn’t know this either). As they say, those who can’t do, teach.
1. Know Your Art. You don’t have to be a connoisseur, but you cant afford to sound like a complete moron, considering that art will be the primary topic of small talk for 3 days. Pick up a copy of I-D or another one of those fancy $50 magazines and study up. Know some key names: Yayoi Kusama (everything has dots), Al Weiwei (everything is made out of bikes), Isa Genzken (everything is weird).
2. Know Your Shows. It turns out that there are two main show locations in Miami, subsequently yielding different types of men. It is important to understand the differences in advance, so that you can strategize your time accordingly.
Wynwood (Miami Design District) – Smorgasburg meets NYFW. An overflow of hipsters in brogues and Wang backpacks. MY FORBIDDEN HEAVEN. If you do happen to meet somebody in full-length pants, be prepared to think of clever remarks about all the fascinating oeuvres of art you will encounter.
I dare you.
Miami Convention Center – If you are the ambitious type, I highly recommend investing in a three-day pass. This is the real stuff that belongs to museums, not some papier maché collages from Bushwick. The majority of good galleries are concentrated here, which means that you are exposed to the Golden Triangle : Artists, Gallerists, and Collectors. Personally, I was a little thrown off after witnessing one too many short guys from Long Island picking out Jeff Koons oeuvres to match their pastel polos – living in France must really be rubbing off on me.
3. Have a Face Sheet. Again, this is a tip for the highly ambitious ladies out there. I thought of it after we met Mr. Brainwash, whom I recognized immediately – after all, the guy is practically a walking header for this blog. What if you simply happened to know what Damien Hirst looked like? In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with a little preparation. I heard women in Moscow do this to meet oligarchs, and look how fantastic that works out for them!
This could be you!
4. Dress the part. This is no usual Miami Hervé Leger slutfest. People look cool and you better work it. In fact, aim to look like art yourself. Conceptual designers specializing in esoteric prints and odd concepts work best – think Peter Pilotto, Mary Katrantzou, Givenchy (or its Zara copy), Olympia le Tan for accessories.
Strive to look like this.
Voilà! You are ready. Now get out there and make mama proud. Send me a care package from the Maldives or something.
P.S. In case any of you were wondering what happened to the banker-slash-art entrepreneur I met on the plane.. Well, nothing. In an effort to appear mysterious, I simply took his business card and told him that I would “find his booth”, before disappearing into the US Citizen entry zone. I did not realize how complex Basel was (refer to number 2 on the list), and that my financier was actually exhibiting at Design Miami, an interior show nearby. I finally got to the bottom of this on Sunday, even paying $20 to enter the stupid furniture show (love is an investment), only to find his booth completely empty.
Story. Of. My. Life. This is why I’m counting on you, ladies!