CPAC 2011: Big Ol' Gay Party

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Feb. 11 2011 9:18 AM

CPAC 2011: Big Ol' Gay Party

WASHINGTON -- On January 7, Andrew Breitbart said he was fed up with the social conservative groups boycotting CPAC over the inclusion of the gay Republican group GOProud and wanted to do something about it.

"I will be the harshest critic of the activist gay left, who I fear more than al Qaeda," said Breitbart . "But for these people not to exist in the two party system, for you tell them they're not welcome in the big tent, I have a huge problem with that, and I'm going to indulge my alt-80s, Depeche Mode, Cure, New Order fetish, and we're going to have a big ol' gay party at CPAC."

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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Thus was born Big Party (a wink at the Big Government/Big Journalism/Big Hollywood Breitbart website naming convention), an invitation-only event at D.C.'s 18th Street Lounge. It was co-sponsored by GOProud, whose Chris Barron and Jimmy LaSalvia took a few hours off from media requests to party in short-sleeved shirts; the Competitive Enterprise Institute, whose president Fred Smith donned an "Enjoy Capitalism" T-shirt under his blazer; and the Poker Players Alliance, who have become semi-controversial* CPAC mainstays. This paid for a completely open bar and the musical stylings of Sophie B. Hawkins.

A word about Sophie B. Hawkins. Michael Steele, who was chairman of the RNC until last month, showed up at the party and stayed a while. Right before I showed up, in an exchange witnessed by several people who described it to me, Steele met Hawkins. She explained her political philosophy to him.

"I'm not a conservative," said Hawkins, "but I'd like to [expletive] Sarah Palin."

Steele reacted quickly. "Well, she's very attractive," he said.

[UPDATE: Hawkins's management disputes the anecdote. A publicist, Lisa Lori, says "Sophie is not crass like this and would never say something so disrespectful about anyone like this." And Steele subsequently denied his part of the conversation. The people who originally shared the story have stood by it, but since Steele and Hawkins both say they never said these words, let the record show that they didn't. I do apologize for causing Hawkins and Steele some angst over this.]

Depeche Mode was played; a fight nearly broke out between two people who were too drunk to explain what they were fighting about; some people were convinced that Dana Loesch, who was wearing leather pants, couldn't have possibly been Dana Loesch, because she was wearing leather pants. If it was any more entertaining, Stephen Glass would have made it up.

*Very semi; they're only controversial among those who see a campaign for Internet taxes in their campaign to legalize more online poker.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.