As Kevin Cosner was called Dances With Wolves in the hit 1990 western, Richard Osterweil has given himself an Indian name as well: Stands with Celebrities.
In Painting the Town, a wonderful, hilarious documentary screening at International House on Saturday and into next week, Osterweil, a painter, cabdriver and part-time coat-checker at a fancy Manhattan eatery, recounts how he bamboozled his way into a slew of high-society pofrees, siding up to the rich and famous simply to bask in their glow.
This is a man who talks about the "interesting frisson" one expression in proximity to Jacqueline Onassis, a man who crashes composer Richard Roger's funeral ("It was such an invigorating occasion") and departs sandwiched between Lillian Gish and Helen Hayes-neither of whom he'd exchanged words with before in his entire life.
Osterweil, whose pursed lips break into a wicked grin as he rattles off his exploits, is a master freeloader, a connoisseur of catered affairs who delights in the presence of sociales, movie stars, foreign counts and couturiers. This likable rapscallion, who arrives by subway when everyone else comes by limousine, is the Great Mingler--a harmless huckster with fast wit and erudite manner more than equal of the company he has shrewdly foisted himself upon.Back to the home page.
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