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Courtney Love at the Elton John Foundation Benefit

Last night, at the Eighth Annual Benefit for the Elton John Foundation, Vulture bathroom buddy Courtney Love was very active, putting on the expected Courtney Love show: After showing up hours late, she stole Anderson Cooper’s star-table seat when he exited the soirée early to anchor his evening show. She grabbed a votive candle off a table near the ladies’ room, grabbed her pack of cigarettes, and came out coughing. (Guarding the bathroom door for her? Gossip Girl’s Matthew Settle.) She bid $10,000 on a polo lesson with Nacho Figueras and $120,000 on a date with Bill Clinton, tonight’s honoree, who was present (and presumably terrified) when Love stood up to make her bid, waving her white napkin around wildly.

Later on, outside on the Cipriani steps, she was balancing yet another cigarette with a piece of cake, disappointed that she lost out on the date with the former president. “On Clinton, I was like, ‘That might be fun!’ I would never bid if I didn’t want to. But after 120 [thousand dollars], it’s like, I don’t have a plutonium card.” Anyway, she continues: “I had breakfast with [Hillary Clinton] once at the Chateau Marmont in about 2004. We have the same hairdresser. We had a great breakfast — she’s great, she gossips. We gossiped and we talked about corporate mergers. She’s a lot more fun than you would think.”

Last night, Love was wearing a slinky black dress on her hanger-like frame. We noticed that there was still a tag on it, and she politely asked us to rip it off, before hesitating: “Oh, no — what if I want to return it? No, no, I can’t. That’d be bad.” We hand her the evidence of the $7,800 dress she bought at Bergdorf Goodman today, and she laughs. “You know, I lived on this [amount of money] for like four months. My bank account was shut down.” But that’s all taken care of now, she says. “I hired a good New York law firm. It wasn’t a lack of money — it was that they froze the account. It’s very nuanced. It had nothing to do with the IRS, either. The blogosphere is wrong. It’s far more nuanced.”

Along with her money problems, Love’s spastic and self-revealing Twitter recently vanished: “It just wasn’t doing me any favors,” she says. Her new record — which she’s currently mixing — will come out the first of January. “I self-funded this record. It’s so funny, because Alice in Chains, a male band, is doing really well, so now I get the EMI deal. It’s an astonishing album, though.”

But Love seemed much calmer and more serene last night than we’ve come to expect. Since moving back to New York, she’s had to worry about lighter matters: “I was at Bergdorf’s today and someone said, ‘There’s uptown blonde and there’s downtown blonde.’ And I was like, ‘Really?’ But this is a phrase I’ve heard now quite a bit.” A Cipriani employee comes by and reprimands Love for eating her dessert outside. Surprisingly, she hands him the plate without an argument. When he leaves, she says: “That was random. It was just a pricky thing to do.” But not worth fighting over? “Well, actually I’d had enough of [the cake], so it was fine. I just didn’t understand why that was an issue.” She pats down her dress. “You know — I’m sitting down in a fucking evening gown. Like, I’m vulnerable.”

Courtney Love at the Elton John Foundation Benefit