Sir Ivan, the infamous Hamptons party host, musician and philanthropist, celebrated the start of his campaign to raise awareness for transgender issues such as bullying and suicide prevention with a party and screening of his documentary I Am Peaceman at the historic Angelika Film Center on Wednesday night.
Dressed in his signature cape adorned with a huge glittering peace sign, Sir Ivan proudly introduced the documentary, an hour-long feature about his Peaceman character and lifestyle he created for himself at the age of 45 when he transitioned from finance (working at the Trust Company of New Jersey, his billionaire father’s bank) to music and peace activism. Like the man himself, the film was a fascinating mix of almost absurd spectacle and deeply touching personal moments. Sir Ivan is himself almost a caricature: a mix of Batman (an heir to an immense fortune who decided to become a super hero that wears a cape and calls himself Peaceman) and Hugh Hefner (a poly-amorous playboy who throws wild parties in the gigantic castle he built in the Hamptons). Many of the most entertaining parts of the documentary consist of simply watching Sir Ivan interact with people as he records his music and sets up his parties – his larger than life charismatic persona rivals any reality TV star (if he ever does make a show it would be equal parts Osborne and Kardashian).
However, in contrast to the lightness and absurdity on display, the film contains a real emotional undercurrent, courtesy of Sir Ivan’s late father, the legendary Siggi Wilzig, who survived Auschwitz and the decimation of his family in the Holocaust before making his fortune in America. The film is never more fascinating than when it touches on the complex relationship that Sir Ivan had with such an accomplished and demanding father. The film’s heart lies in Sir Ivan’s need be the extravagant entertainer that he wants to be even if it means resisting his father’s expectations. After the screening, when Sir Ivan presented a $10,000 check to LGBT charity the Trevor Project, the audience understood his empathy for the transgendered community – we had just seen Sir Ivan’s own personal transition onscreen.