NEW YORK (AP) — Rudolph Giuliani donning drag. Edward Koch stepping out of the mouth of a man-eating plant. Michael Bloomberg wearing a harness and flying 20 feet in the air while dressed as Spiderman.
The annual Inner Circle, the New York City news media’s answer to the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, gives mayors a chance to let their hair down — or, just as likely, put on a wig — and poke fun at both themselves and the city they lead. Their appearances, which attempt to earn goodwill with the reporters who cover them, also can help shape their image in the public eye.
“At a time when it is hard to break through the 24-hour media cycle, this is one way to do it and to do it in a way that is positive and self-effacing,” said Jeanne Zaino, political science professor at Iona College. It will give new Mayor Bill de Blasio “a chance to reach a broader and different audience in a positive way.”
Saturday’s show, which features a two-act reporters’ production followed by the mayor’s rebuttal show, will mark de Blasio’s debut and comes at a time when the mayor could use a good headline. He has seen his poll numbers tumble, he’s dealt with a few political missteps — from calling the NYPD to inquire about the arrest of a political ally to the handling of a pair of snowstorms — and he has enjoyed less-than-warm relations with the City Hall press corps.
But de Blasio seems game to make a good impression. The mayor, who frequently cracks jokes at public events — to varying levels of success — released a video this week in which he “trains” for the performance with actor Steve Buscemi. In the short video, de Blasio practices his jazz hands, pretends to growl like an animal and even uses a ventriloquist’s dummy to poke fun at an incident earlier this year when he was caught not using his hands to eat his city’s signature dish.