March 5, 2018 at 1:39 pm PST | by Susan Hornik
Behind the scenes at the Oscars with gay tastemakers

Lash Fary and his Oscar gift bag: ‘a 12-night Tanzania Adventure Package for two from International Expeditions, a 7-day Hawaiian escape in a luxury ocean-view villa at Koloa Landing Resort at Poipu, a week of total mind/body/spirit renewal at Golden Door’ and more. (Photo courtesy Fary)

Lights! Camera! A lot of LGBT action! 
 While there are months and months of planning for what is the most important event in Hollywood each year, the Oscars are always a hot topic of conversation for weeks after the awards take place. And tongues are certainly wagging anew. 
 And though most readers of the Blade may have been measuring the degree of LGBT inclusion by the nominees and winners who were LGBT or films featuring their lives, the true measure of LGBT influence is still — as it has been for nearly a century — behind the scenes.
 The Blade got an inside view of the craft makers behind Hollywood’s biggest show.

Mark Held of Mark’s Garden. (Photo by Susan Hornik)

The Flowers
Gay floral designer Mark Held, of Mark’s Garden, was the exclusive florist for the 2018 Governor’s Ball, the Academy’s official post-Oscars gala. Held and his team created table décor combining succulents and florals arranged in a variety of gold and copper containers in celebration of the 90th year. 
 “We try to stay modern with our designs, which is in line with the way people think nowadays about social issues,” Held told the Blade. “We wanted something meaningful and beautiful.”
 Inside the ballroom, Held, who has worked on the Ball for many years, arranged 5,000 succulents with thousands of roses and ranunculus that arrived from South America, Holland, and California at Mark’s Garden’s studio last week.
 “We always get an initial inspiration from the Ball chairman, Lois Burwell. She wanted something that was sustainable, that we could repurpose, as the succulent plants displayed will be replanted at the Motion Picture Television Fund for the residents to enjoy as part of the Oscars’ 90th anniversary celebration.”
 Held’s company does a lot of high-profile gay weddings, and coordinated the floral arrangements for Madonna’s Oscar party.

Celebrity connected gifting suite items included cookies from CurlyTop Bakers Gourmet Cookies. (Photo by Susan Hornik).

The Swag
As part of his niche marketing agency, Distinctive Assets, gay gifting expert Lash Fary puts together an elaborate swag bag for Oscar nominees. The “Everyone Wins” Nominee Gift Bags have been independently produced by Distinctive Assets for the past 16 years. 
 The bag is a blend of fun, quirky and indulgent items meant to thrill and pamper those who may have everything money can buy but still savor the simple joy of a gift. While this gift bag always boasts an impressive six-figure value, that is never the goal. 
 “A great gift has nothing to do with the retail value,” said Fary. “For years we have been breaking one of the cardinal rules of gift giving by disclosing the price tag. Instead we are trying to start a new tradition by simply celebrating the fun and festive nature of this legendary gift bag.”
 The bag includes a 12-night Tanzania Adventure Package for two from International Expeditions; a seven-day Hawaiian escape in a luxury ocean-view villa at Koloa Landing Resort at Poipu; a week of total mind/body/spirit renewal at Golden Door; the chance to find (or share) true love using the NeverMissed dating app; 23andMe Health + Ancestry Service; Luminosity Skin Serum and Hair Follicle Stimulant from Healing Saint by Dr. Jane 360.
 “Since I was a kid, I’ve loved giving gifts,” said Fary. “The recipients of my gifts as an adult are usually very famous and incredibly talented individuals, but at the end of the day they are just regular people who appreciate acknowledgment and the fun of opening a present … especially when it is an enormous gift bag filled with bucket list vacations, world-class beauty products and cutting edge tech.”
 Also in the Oscars gift bag is Halo Purely for Pets holistic pet food, which is owned by Ellen DeGeneres. The nominees have the opportunity to “feed it forward” by having a 10,000 bowl donation made in their name to an animal shelter or rescue of their choice. 
 Previously, animal-loving celebs Julianne Moore, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Ethan Hawke, June Squibb, Jeff Bridges, Rosamund Pike and Naomie Harris all chose shelters or rescues to receive Halo’s generous gift.

Stylist Michael O’Connor, pictured below with Jane Lynch, has a new jewelry line, available on the jewelry shopping channel JTV. (Photo provided by O’Connor)


Oscar Styling
Gay celebrity stylist Michael O’ Connor is always on the carpet. 
 “On Oscar night, we’ve seen the envelope being pushed. First, with the wearing of jewelry and accessories for men such as colorful and attention getting pocket squares and lapel pins. Second, with patterned and colorful tuxedo jackets for men and more recently, tuxedos that are more imaginative — great colors, patterns and more interesting fabrics,” he noted.
 Women in the LGBT community have also tried new things, with tuxedos, tuxedo styling and super elegant old Hollywood glamour gowns. The LGBT community continues to have a growing and more prominent profile in Hollywood and are bringing a fresh face and fresh fashion takes to the red carpet and beyond.
 The LGBT community has always been an ‘early fashion adopter’ and more willing to take a fashion risk both on the red carpet and in real life. As with every sector of the population there are some who take subtle fashion forward steps and some who like to make a big statement.

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