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Martin Scorsese
Photograph: Robin Damore Martin Scorsese

Recap: The Moth Ball 2012

This storytelling gala finds Simon Doonan turning tricks and Martin Scorsese talking treasure

By Matthew Love
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Ever-expanding storytelling organization the Moth hosted its annual gala at Capitale last night, celebrating 15 years of producing shows and promoting the practice of storytelling. Here are some of our impressions:

• There were a range of sartorial responses to the "Night in Storyville" theme, which meant to invoke a New Orleans–style of dress. There were boas and hats. Writer and satirist Tony Hendra sported a crisp pin-striped suit. Darryl "DMC" McDaniels rocked a Doors T-shirt. (He was making a subtle reference to the band's last performance, in the Big Easy in 1970, of course.)

• We didn't see Tyra Banks enter or leave the building. We think she teleported into the dining room, stood in one place flapping egregiously long lashes as a cluster of people clamored for her attention and then teleported out.

• Host Simon Doonan held his own "mini Moth," telling a cinematic story about his first experience turning a trick. The crux came after the act, when the john—a cab driver—wanted to deduct a fare from Doonan's price. In the end, Doonan was paid £3. "If you are no longer wearing your foundation garments," he argued, "you are no longer in a position of strength."

• A good storyteller can harness the power of just one minute. Of all the ten Grand Slam champions who condensed their stories for the occasion, Paul Teodo's tale about hitching a ride with John Wayne Gacy left people gasping.

• Jazz bassist Christian McBride recalled his late-blooming relationship with James Brown. He recounted some things Brown had said to him, both admiring ("I like that you know everything about James Brown") and disdainful ("You ain't got no talent, you can't play…we're going to talk about this in court"). Still, they managed to patch things up and play together a few months before Brown's death.

• The New Yorker's Adam Gopnik acknowledged Martin Scorsese was a strange choice to receive an award from an organization focused on verbal tales, and then defended the choice, citing four of the director's qualities: velocity of speech, interest in anecdotes, a raconteur's spirit and the interest in making one peculiarity in his characters a model for some universality.
Scorsese, for his part, chimed in with his best reason: When he was a child and Capitale was still a bank, he and his classmates stood in line to touch a $1,000 bill.

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