Mariska Hargitay is a multitalented women. She's a star of Law & Order: SVU, she's our recently canonized Patron Saint of Party Town, and she inspires a vociferously devoted following among her fans. She is also, as it turns out, a humanitarian: Yesterday she was one of about a dozen celebrity artists who volunteered to teach master classes in their crafts at the New Design High School on the Lower East Side. In her class, sweetly awkward teens performed short self-penned monologues, and Marish mostly deferred to her co-teacher, the hyperactive, class clown–ish Matthew Lillard, of Shaggy–in–Scooby Doo fame. But she flared up when a student's cellie went off. (Weren't those things not allowed in schools?) "Come on, guys, this is theater!" she barked, before covertly checking her own phone.
At one point, she exhorted the aspiring thespians to "show us those private moments" and "take us to those dark, scary places." The event wrapped with a Q&A session, in which about 500 extremely vocal high schoolers asked career questions of Hargitay and co-teachers including MTV V.J. Sway and hip-hop pioneer Fab 5 Freddy. A TRL-ish feeling seeped in as the kids went ever wilder. "I just wanna say, 'Mariska's in da house!'" Hargitay shouted when handed the mike. She denied, however, that she's in so many other houses. "I never go out," she told us, denying her Party Town honorific. "I'm a mom now." —Tim Murphy