There's a revolution looming and you don't even know it yet, if we're to believe diminutive Discovery Channel decorator Christopher Lowell, star of the oddball, drag-at-home, how-to hit "The Christopher Lowell Show" and legend in his own slightly triangular mind. Lowell has invaded the Hard Rock Hotel for a hush-hush private affair and has taken some of his valuable, decorous time to entertain an interview by the sloppiest vagabond this side of the gay scale, yours truly. His revolution is of personal space, predictably, fought in the wall-papered trenches with (and somehow against) Ma-Ma Martha Stewart and Blah-Blah Lynette Jennings -- only if he's to be fighting anything, he's going to have to lose the black linen sling on his sprained arm. How'd it happen, princess?
"A stupid thing at home," quips the flamboyant yapper who is teaching housewives the world over how to do it like they do on the Discovery Channel. Personal space, indeed!
Anyway, having already been cell-phone summoned by a suspicious sidekick presence ("When you see us in the lobby, you come to us"), I am in no mood to wax awe-eyed and Elsa Clench at his manicured press-release delivery. Even if he's thrown his arm out.
We make our way to the lobby sitting area and the one-armed, leopard-print Cher couch. "Who gets to be Cher?" I giggle. No response, as Lowell takes the regular chair to the couch's right. So I get to be Cher. But I don't feel like Cher.
He, however, is starting to sound like her.
"I'm actually a person who really has had a great life in the arts," flourishes our pinhead pin-up. "I was evolving in the thickest worlds of art and fashion: I started out as a concert pianist, from there I went into costume and set design on Broadway, and then from there I opened up my own advertising agency -- which I still own, and I'm basically my No. 1 client."
I look down at my notepad atop an uncracked copy of his vainglorious publishing foray, "Christopher Lowell's Seven Layers of Design," and start to lose hope for any comedic one-liners such as "Whose husband hates you most?" Christopher Lowell is not the Designing Woman I had designed him to be. Instead, he's a one-man army in a corporate battle of quilted self-promotion: "You can do it," his trademark effeminate epithet, amended by a smug, "I already have!"
"Over the course of these incarnations -- I've had about five major lifetimes all in one -- I got very obsessed with the idea of ... " and now the seven layers of reasoning are making their publicity filibuster formations, as Lowell clicks into autopilot. "I think part of my life's journey was to learn the difference between artistic acceptance, socially, and personal creativity -- my job was to deal with a lot of sycophantic people in a lot of different worlds. I was always very obsessed with the idea of personal creativity. And the big plaguing question to me was, how come some people have a ton of creativity and then somehow lose it, and how come some people have tons of creativity and can't seem to push through it, and how come some people have no creativity and love to be around people who are creative," blah blah blah. Stop it!
So, uh, what does any of this have to do with a design show on the Discovery Channel where you, y'know, make over rooms for the entertainment of people who buy their creativity?
"When we saw the home-improvement category -- this was seven or eight years ago -- what we realized at that time was nobody was addressing any of the real stuff. What about self-esteem?" (Yawn.) "You have to feel really damn good about yourself to get up off the couch and on a ladder with a paint brush in your hand."
More mission-statement self-exploration continues as Lowell's voice fast becomes buried in the wash of Billy Joel's "Piano Man" blaring overhead, spinning its yarn of weakness and projected influence all around Lowell's own platform of manipulable aesthetic sensibilities. What sets you apart from the hens of the beige revolution?
"We sort of as a group said, what would happen if you could get a pretend Martha Stewart with a little bit of the Tim Allen, "Tool-Time" thing thrown in?"
Tim Allen, then. Except Tim Allen would never drop his tool belt and say this: "When I made the correlation between ones mental interior and ones physical interior, I went, aaah, this is a great platform. It would give me a great opportunity to develop my platform on personal creativity." And hurt your arm.
By now I'm practically waving my hands in front of Lowell's eyes. Am I even here? Or, as I fear, have I become the one-armed Cher chair of his design? Time for Oprah, then. What about Oprah? You sound like Oprah.
"Oprah will take some leading guru of the time, turn her show over to them, that person will do 28 hours of psychotherapy condensed into an hour, and women will watch it because they're compelled to watch it, but they turn off their TV and they're devastated. They're like, ‘Oh my god, I have so much personal work that I don't even want to get up out of the chair.'"
I do. Quite badly at this point, really. So I hazard the final of my questions -- my favorite, really, as I've never had the chance to appropriately use it. Applying a big old press to the brakes, I blither, "What's your favorite color?"
"Terra cotta," he sneers.
That's all I wanted to know. The rest of the revolution will be televised. I won't be watching.