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Overheard: Befriending Rufus Wainwright Easier Than You Might Think

Downtown dandy Rufus Wainwright finished up a four-night run at the Gramercy Theater on Friday, joking, “At 33, I’m no longer the object of desire. I’m the john — but I can afford it.” At 33, he was also perhaps one of the youngest people in the theater: the audience was strikingly middle-aged, with a good share of near-fanatical suburban-mom types. We set out to ask a select group of rabid Rufus fans at the show which of his New York lyrics they loved most, before realizing that everyone in the audience seemed to know him personally — everyone except for us, that is.

Gillian Masland, 23
Bumble and Bumble Employee

Favorite New York lyric?
“Drunk and wearing flip-flops on Fifth Avenue.” It makes me feel like getting drunk in the summer in New York.
What would you say to Rufus if you had the chance?
What I said to him Tuesday — I saw him after the show at a little thingy: Congratulations.

Alice Kasik, 54

So you’re meeting Rufus’s cousin and uncle here tonight?
Yes. I happen to date his uncle, who lives in Brooklyn.
Are you going to party with him after the show?
Yes, we are.
What’d you think of the lederhosen?
I have mixed thumbs about it. But if anyone can pull it off, he can.

Jared Geller, 26
Theatrical Producer

Favorite New York lyric?
From the song “Fourteenth Street.” It’s about a stroll down Fourteenth Street with a lover.
What would you say to him if you had the chance?
I’ve spoken to him many times. We’re fairly good friends.
Oh. So what would you say to him?
“Thank you.”
For being a friend?
Don’t put words in my mouth! Just “thank you.”

Nicole Brown-Williams, 31
Environmental Engineer

Favorite New York lyric?
I like “Fourteenth Street.” I spend a lot of time around there. “11:11” is a great one, too, about how he felt the morning of September 11. It’s not overly dramatic, but it’s real.
What would you whisper to him?
I’d make him sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” to me. Or I’d ask him to sing a duet. He can be the star and I can be his back-up.

Doug McKeown, age withheld
Actor/Writer/Photo Archivist

It looked like you were having a religious experience during the show.
In 1998, I heard a Rufus song that a co-worker was playing in which he sang, “You broke my heart, Danny Boy.” I went, This is a guy singing about a guy. Holy shit! Who wrote this? The next day I saw his show in Jersey City, and since then I’ve been to 32 performances: Philadelphia, Chicago, Pittsburgh.
You’re a groupie! Have you ever met him?
I was always right up front, and then in Chicago, at a restaurant after the show, he kisses me and says, “Are you coming to [the show in] San Francisco?” I was so flustered.
What would you say to him tonight?
What I said to him at CBGB: “I love and adore you.” And then I ran away!
—Tim Murphy

Overheard: Befriending Rufus Wainwright Easier Than You Might Think