It’s said that apery is the sincerest anatomy of flattery, and for the comedic writer-performer Ryan Raftery, that anatomy takes the appearance of abusive semibiographical musicals. Afterwards demography on a leash of media icons — Anna Wintour, Andy Cohen and Martha Stewart — in well-received one-man shows, Raftery is abiding to Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater this ages with three of America’s best iconic appearance designers in tow.
“The Obsession of Calvin Klein” sees Raftery demography on the role of Klein, while his two costars portray Donna Karan and Ralph Lauren. Raftery was aggressive to address his latest appearance by his own “obsession” with the astriction of Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan,” and a Fern Mallis chat at the 92Y during which he abstruse that Lauren and Klein are from the aforementioned adjacency in the Bronx (and Karan from Queens.)
“I knew I capital to do an artisan next, and the burden that appearance designers are beneath because they are on a conception calendar. No added artisan in the apple is on a affected conception agenda like appearance designers. Some appearance designers actualize up to six collections a year. Karl Lagerfeld does added than that, and I anticipation to myself, ‘That could absolutely drive you crazy,’” says Raftery from central Joe’s Pub on a contempo afternoon. “And that’s area the ‘Black Swan’ affair came in.”
The abstraction to use Klein as a antecedent for his latest activity came to him during the run of his aftermost show, “The Rise and Fall (and Rise) of Martha Stewart.” “Somebody came to see my Martha Stewart show, and Martha’s burdensome perfectionism reminded this being of Calvin,” says Raftery. “He’s like, ‘I formed for Calvin and that reminds me absolutely of Calvin Klein.’ And I was like, ‘Really? Acquaint me more.’”
The apriorism of the new show? “Obsessed with a crushing paranoia that adolescence acquaintance and adolescent mega-designer Ralph Lauren is absorbed on sabotage, Calvin Klein and henchwoman Donna Karan arrangement to ensure the connected administration over his black-and-white empire.”
Needless to say, Raftery took abounding artistic liberties for comedic effect. There are absolute elements brindled in, and riffs off the acclaimed idiosyncrasies and history of anniversary character. The appellation itself is a flash against Calvin Klein’s iconic Obsession fragrance.
“This is a adventure of one of the world’s best acclaimed names, and extrapolate it,” he says. “Everything the boilerplate being on the artery knows about Calvin Klein is in this appearance — jeans, underwear, aroma — that’s it, and aggregate abroad I’ve acclimated absolute moments from his life, but I’ve acute it for affecting and comedic effect.”
For best of the show, Lauren’s affinity is stationed offstage amidst the parlor-style audience, area he is frequently aflame to acquaint his adventure to the tune of Dolly Parton’s “Here You Appear Again.” (Klein gets the through-line of Tchaikovsky.)
“The aboriginal time you see [Lauren] he’s like, ‘1966, I’m authoritative ties and putting little ponies on them, and authoritative lots of sales, in shops like Bloomingdales’ — so he gets his adventure out, again Calvin and Ralph accept a brace of interactions, but it’s not until the end of the appearance that there’s a big battle and they’re absolutely on date together,” he says.
Similar to the characters of his show, Raftery is a born-and-bred New Yorker from one of the boroughs.
“There’s article that aggressive you to appetite to get out aback you abound up that aing to Manhattan, aback you abound up so aing to the centermost of the cosmos and you can see the barrio from your backyard, you can see that acclaimed skyline,” says the Brooklyn native. “In the Calvin Klein show, it’s the actual aboriginal song in the appearance that he sings about Manhattan and how that’s area the women that I appetite to dress live. For me, that’s area the theaters were, that’s area Broadway was, that’s area I appetite to go. I anticipate that’s article about the alien boroughs that’s appropriate because it inspires you to get out — if you appetite to get out.”
After admission from NYU, Raftery did aloof that, decamping for Los Angeles and television work.
“I absurdly anticipation aback I’m done accomplishing TV and Broadway’s accessible for me, again I’ll appear back,” he says. “And it aloof didn’t absolutely assignment that way.”
Back in New York, his aisle absolutely beyond Klein’s, admitting briefly; he formed as the now-retired designer’s claimed abettor for one day.
“I had two interviews with him, and I couldn’t get over how air-conditioned he was — he was aloof actual laid-back,” says Raftery of his bygone employer. “It aloof wasn’t what I capital to do. I amount for addition like him, he’s gonna charge addition who’s absolutely committed to that job.”
With blackout from Broadway, Raftery set out to acquisition his way aback onstage. “I started accomplishing cabaret shows that were all actual autobiographical, and again I didn’t accept any activity acquaintance larboard to mine,” he says.
But he did accept a day job alive as a p.r. abettor for Coach, which led him to the Vogue offices. It was during that visit, in which Raftery was the accepted fly-on-the-wall, that the abstraction to address a one-man agreeable banter about Wintour (channeled through the lens of Darth Vadar) came to him.
“Anna’s babe came and sat appropriate there,” says Raftery, gesturing against a café table a few rows aback from the stage. “Bee Shaffer came to see the appearance and she captivated up her buzz for the aboriginal 10 account of the show, and I knew why. I’ve never been added afraid afore or since,” he recalls. She was a fan. “She came backstage and Instagrammed a photo of us and she alleged me her agent mother, and that got us columnist in seven countries.” While Wintour herself never saw the show, she did accord a brace of sunglasses for a alms achievement of the show. Andy Cohen beatific him flowers. Raftery afresh got a selfie with Stewart, afterwards the fact, which came with a compliment: “It’s not every day I get to accommodated a acclaimed composer!”
Reaction from the Calvin, Ralph, and Donna camps charcoal to be seen. The appearance opens Oct. 28.
“I apperceive that Calvin knows about the show, and I apperceive that Calvin’s not absolutely into attention,” says Raftery, who diverges from his appearance on that trait. “I would be abnormally flattered to alike be on the alarm of geniuses on that level. I achievement they all accept that I’m a comedian, and I’m never in the business of affliction anyone’s feelings. If anything, I appetite to flash a ablaze on…how abundant accurately Calvin and Ralph accept done not aloof for fashion, but for the way we alive our lives.”
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