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September 15, 2011 7:34 PM

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The Androgyny Question

Seeing model Andrej Pejic as Marilyn Monroe creates all sorts of issues....

Seeing model Andrej Pejic as Marilyn Monroe creates all sorts of issues.

On Wednesday night toward the tail end of yet another dizzily busy New York Fashion Week, V magazine took over the Boom Boom Room for its Truman Capote-inspired Black and White Ball. The party was glitzy and glamorous and buzzed about and occasionally strange -- but that's nothing new.

Next door at Le Bain, something definitively more underground was happening between the hours of 8 and 11 p.m., where the coquettishly named LoveCat magazine held a party for their latest issue.

Lindsay Lohan is featured on the cover of the latest LoveCat. Paz de la Huerta (shot by Ellen von Unwerth) covered the last issue, with a provocative term for female genitalia printed on an image of her lifting her skirt. Lohan's cover is a still taken from a film released earlier this year by Richard Phillips, in which Lohan wears a white bikini very well and licks her mouth repeatedly. The human-tabloid-fodder was at the fete and flitted through both venues to a crescendo of popping flashbulbs: at the Boom Boom Room for tossing a glass at a photographer whose attention she wanted, at Le Bain for her plunging neckline and proclivity for provocative posing.

However, Lohan was far from the most interesting cover girl at Le Bain that night. Andrej Pejic, clad in a white shirt with a ruffled neck and barely there sequined short shorts, held court in a far corner of the inkily tiled dance space, flicking his long blonde crimped hair and presiding over a circle of revelers near where the hot tub lives during the summer months. Wednesday night it was covered by a raised structure like a fresh grave, even though the air outside was balmy. Behind Pejic, perched on a leather couch, played a loop of videos, one in which he starred as Marilyn Monroe, wearing little other than a pair of bikini briefs and a string of pearls, with footage of Monroe's famous lovers spliced in. He appears as a beautiful waif who potentially has sexual interest in a large flower. "CNN is doing something with it, I heard," Pejic shrugged of the film, which is called "Norman Jean." "And maybe some German television outlets."

Pejic is not your average LoveCat model. For one thing, he's male, and the magazine (which pitches itself as a "model fanzine") is dedicated to publishing exclusively the most hyper-sexualized shots of female models in various stages of undress, a sort of less-exclusive Pirelli calendar. Watching Pejic walk for Jeremy Scott earlier that day, the effect was that of seeing Lauren Bacall hauling out the garbage: confusion. He didn't belong there, with the oversexed girls and boys whose bums hung out of Scott's open-backed chaps. Gliding down the runway in a waxy pink button-down shirt and shorts covered in cactus drawings, Pejic didn't fit. He was too elegantly featured, well-proportioned, porcelain-skinned. He had closed for Gaultier last season, for Pete's sake. He wore the wedding dress. He is beautiful, frankly. And his name could have been Frank. It's confusing.

"The thing to understand about Andrej is that he is so g-ddamned beautiful," Jenna Elizabeth explained from a waterbed on the rooftop of Le Bain, resplendent in purple satin Gucci pants and a black lace vintage top embroidered with gold beads. Her brogues were Prada. "He's so beautiful that it really makes people uncomfortable. It makes people insecure about their own sexuality...and he just maintains this elegance and confidence."

Elizabeth, a young up-and-coming photographer and director, chose Pejic for one of a series of short films that she made for the magazine's party: the others stick to a more typical LoveCat mold. In "Grown Men Cry," Chanel Iman crawls around seductively in leather to Jimi Hendrix inter-spliced with "Beatle Mania" footage, and in "Oral Fixation," Ashley Smith flosses and brushes her teeth to the Mr. Clean theme song. Clearly, Elizabeth is not shy.

"Androgyny is nothing new in fashion....I mean, it can be so played out. Every model wears boyfriend jeans with a T-shirt and calls it androgyny. But Andrej is so far from anything cliche. He's the real deal. We shot at Patricia Field's house, so naturally that lent itself to exploring a different frontier." Elizabeth continued, "I asked him if he was comfortable with everything, the Marilyn stuff and the underwear, and all. And he said, you know, 'let's just push it as far as we can go.'"

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