PartyLines- photographs by Patrick McMullan

 
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Mandela Day Gala Dinner Hosted by Bill Clinton and Graca Machel

Vanderbilt Hall. July 15, 2009. By Bennett Marcus

Where would you take Nelson Mandela to celebrate his birthday in New York? “I’d take him for a run in Central Park.” On his 91st birthday? “If anybody could do it, he could.” —Bebe Winans

Bill Clinton

What was it like the first time you met Nelson Mandela? “I completely came undone. I was just trembling; not with fear, just with joy and energy. And I think I was levitating.” —Alfre Woodard

Graca Machel

What about meeting Nelson Mandela surprised you? “His humility. He seems totally unperturbed by his immense popularity, and by his immense historic presence. You couldn’t compare anyone in America with that.” —Al Sharpton

Morgan Freeman

How did you feel when you met Nelson Mandela? “I was sweating I was so nervous. My luggage got lost, so I ended up having to borrow our tour guide’s dress, and she had a size F breast, so I had to make it work with safety pins.” —Keisha Whitaker

Alicia Keys

Have you ever caught Nelson Mandela tapping to the music when you sing for him? “I hope that any of us who get to perform for him inspire some toe tapping out of him.” —Josh Groban

Russell Simmons

Where would you take Nelson Mandela to celebrate his 91st birthday? “I’d take him to the George Washington Bridge so he could look over New York and see how splendid it is.” —Earl "the Pearl" Monroe

Spike Lee

What was it like meeting Nelson Mandela for the first time? “I was shooting Ali in Mozambique, and it was like meeting my grandfather. I was nervous to find compelling questions to ask because this is a man who is the embodiment of many things that I aspire to be.” —Jeffrey Wright

Harry Belafonte

Where would you take Nelson Mandela to celebrate his birthday? “I would take him to church, because I’m sure he would love that—especially my church, the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, which is wonderful.” —Gloria Gaynor

Jane Rosenthal

Which designers should Nelson Mandela wear to celebrate his birthday? “It should be a kind of organized quilt of everybody’s work, because he represents so much of the world and working together; it should be a collage of everybody’s inspiration.” —Fern Mallis

Vivienne Tam

Donna Karan

Where would you take Nelson Mandela to celebrate his birthday? “Sylvia’s.” —David Dinkins

Richard Stengel

You recorded a duet with Whitney Houston. What was it like working with her? “Amazing. She hadn’t lost it, you know. I wasn’t expecting her to be that, you know, powerful, but she definitely showed me something there.” —Akon

Eric Ripert

You're pregnant. Is this the first time your pants are getting tight? “Oh, no, I’ve experienced definitely my jeans being too tight, and, you know, rollers; you know, something that’s really tight, starts coming out. But this is a different type of belly. Even if I try to suck it in, that trick doesn’t work now.” —Karolina Kurkova

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