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Undressing for Kerry

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Evie Polesny, owner of the West Village café Doma, has been throwing clothing swap parties—colloquially called “bitch ’n’ swaps”—with her friends since high school. Last Tuesday, she made the event political. Twenty-odd women donated $10 each and lugged bags of unwanted clothes, books, and jewelry over to the Chelsea loft of her friend Eva Marer. There were brown Old Navy jeans, a J. Jill turtleneck sweater, a Dana Buchman blouse-bodysuit, and, at the bottom of one bag, a very ripe banana. Books included Relationships for Dummies and The Multi-Orgasmic Couple. I brought Traci Lords’s autobiography (snapped up) and The Perfect Wife: The Life and Choices of Laura Bush (no takers).

A film producer threw off her clothes and put on a white negligee. I tussled with a photographer over a three-quarter-length down coat. She encouraged me to take her pink plastic stiletto flip-flops that hurt. Then we realized that there was a big hole on the jacket’s side only partly covered by peeling Scotch tape.

Marer threw off a white halter top: “If anyone has nipples placed slightly low and to the right, this would be beautiful,” she said. Landscape architect Kate Orff watched a Chinese-print skirt get passed around: “Last week, three Republican senators went on TV with extreme reservations about the war—if you don’t like that, I’m trying it on—and I have to say it seemed calculated.”

After an hour, a handful of guests started to sneeze. There were several dog and cat owners in attendance whose pets clearly had been quite fond of their contributions. Between body-shaking ah-choos, I selected a black fishnet shirt. “My slutty mom gave me that,” crowed the original owner. I stuffed my potentially useless goodies in a backpack and hit the nearest bodega for a Vicks inhaler.


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