First Annual TURTLE BALL at The Bowery Hotel Ballroom Benefiting Turtle Conservancy

 Link to the Art Auctioned at The First Annual Turtle Ball: Paddle8

I am one of those lucky people who doesn’t have to pause before saying, “I love my job”. Don’t get me wrong – it’s hard work. As one colleague once put it to another, “Miye does a lot of the drudgery that no one else likes doing.” Which is an opinion relative, say – to someone who actually relishes midnight itinerary-change phone calls, or someone who doesn’t mind being in the middle of the Monte Desert with a fever and dysentery. Or maybe for someone who relishes being the resident expense report nag. I get to travel, I have an amazing team, and I help save turtles.

First Annual TURTLE BALL at The Bowery Hotel Ballroom Benefiting Turtle Conservancy

When I met Eric Goode, our first “date”, was a snowy Saturday jaunt to the Natural History Museum to attend a symposium on turtles. Sexy.

Of course I thought it was a little weird and eccentric, but I ended up enjoying it. Up until then, I only knew Eric as my former boss at The Maritime; NYC notable for his long history of nightclubs, restaurants, hotels, and foxy women. This was either some strange joke, or I was on a date with his paranormal double.

Rumor had it that he dug turtles, but I had no idea of how deep those passion rivers ran. Seven years later, and after a series of experiences, staffing changes, fate,and maybe a bit of luck,  I have the pleasure of helping run the operations of a non-profit organization that is committed to protecting threatened and endangered turtles and tortoises and their habitats around the world – The Turtle Conservancy.

First Annual TURTLE BALL at The Bowery Hotel Ballroom Benefiting Turtle Conservancy

This past Tuesday, we held our inaugural Turtle Ball at The Bowery Hotel. New York City decades of people, stories, and wonderment spilled into the second floor terrace, and art donations from Eric’s friends of pre-turtle past lined the walls for the silent auction. In the melee of production, greeting, and making sure my staff was okay, I would catch glimpses of the past converging with the present. Dedicated conservationists and biologists were mingling with fashionistas. Kenny Scharf’s BB and BoBo stacked-turtle painting hung a few feet away from Tom Sachs’ custom paint, steel, and plywood TC logo. Eric’s nephew Nicholas cooly directed the volunteers, while clad in his father’s vintage Gaultier blazer from the AREA era of the 80’s.

Towards the end of the evening, I chatted and held Nan Goldin’s hand as I led her to coat check; her childlike smile gleaming over the fact that she had fun amongst friends, turtles, art, enthusiasm. Perhaps she was also smiling at the knowledge that her At The Bar: Toon, C, So., Bankok print was going to mean even more than gracing someone’s wall. A sort of significance that a work of art and the art of work could find a new context in nature and destiny. That the same passion that can drive an artist to paint, or a photographer to capture a moment, can also compel a nightlife impresario to pursue a vision for the unconventional… for turtles.

First Annual TURTLE BALL at The Bowery Hotel Ballroom Benefiting Turtle Conservancy

Early this morning, in one of those moments suspended between wakefulness and sleep, a Turtle Ball flashback moment made me giggle. I realized how odd I must have looked that night, after spotting a discarded crab claw a few feet away on the ballroom floor. I excused myself mid-conversation and shuffled over to the wayward pincer in my Zac Posen gown. And In all airs of sobriety, I curtseyed down to pick it up and  throw away before it could become a (different kind of) morsel for the next day’s  Page Six opening line… “Celebrity XYZ slips and falls on a crab claw at the Bowery Hotel’s inaugural Turtle Ball.

First Annual TURTLE BALL at The Bowery Hotel Ballroom Benefiting Turtle Conservancy

So yeah. I guess I do a lot of the drudgery that no one else wants to do sometimes, but I love doing it, so who’s complaining? I can do it in a gown and 6″ heels, without batting an eyelash. There’s no rule that says work has to be unpleasant, just as there’s no rule that says conservation can’t be glamorous. So I’ll pick up the trash, expedite visas, pour over spreadsheets, and talk to art icons and fashion magazine editors about the declining population of Cuora trifasciata in China, with dual pleasure. Because I love my job, and I’ll never feel guilty about that. I guess that makes me a pretty lucky girl.