Of The Closet: Continued Success
"Because of such extraordinary publicity," says Maloney, "we
sent Gucci luggage to Venice, a wedding gift to the Prince of Wales, Pucci dresses to Japan, 600 LPs to Norway, tea cups
to London, textiles to Paris, fur coats to Alaska, T-shirts to Stockholm, 100 ties to Prague, CDs to Bavaria, and laser discs
to Amsterdam!" Donations through the years were astounding--from many antique dealers, sent from as far away as England,
Italy, California, and Martha's Vinyard; from personalities as diverse as Barry Diller, Mario Buatta, and Walter Cronkite,
and including items from the six major New York museums and all the auction houses. Even Bernard Lafferty, Doris Duke's
butler, promised donatons from her estate!
"Great things were given to us because people know that we take
very good care of their donations, and our tax statements are the best." Such quality helped Out Of The Closet sell silver
to Italian dealers in Rome and Milan (including Franco Zeffirelli's sister), several items to New York museums, pre-Columbian
textiles to collectors, a French Impressionist painting by Eugene Boudin to a Louisiana plantation, and in their last year
on 81st Street, an original Picasso ceramic.
"We've had such fun," Maloney continued, "dressing
people for the Vienna Opera Ball, for the wedding of a Dutch crown prince, for the Tonys, the Oscars, for Cannes, and
of course, waitering all over New York City." The shop had frequently provided props for movies and plays, not to mention
homes around the world. A Gay Cable Network show was broadcast on location, and ABC's 20/20 filmed a segment
there while several movie productions utilized the unusual "old curiosity shop" atmosphere for dramatic scenes.
Since the door was open to the streets of New York, stars and personalities happened by like Bette Midler, Patricia
O'Neil, Patrick Stewart, Edmund White and Dick Cavett (who always had a joke to tell). "After we invited Sir Ian McKellen
to the shop, there was a temporary fundraising 'Out of the Closet' in London, selling Elton John's clothes--we took it as
a compliment." The many musicians, Met conductors, composers, and performing artists who frequented Out Of The Closet
always noted the fine music that played in the background, and a few Saturday regulars came just to shop with the Met's live opera
broadcasts serenading them.