By Carly Petrone
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Like a moth to a flame, celebrities and literary figures came together Tuesday night to celebrate Martin Scorsese.
The Academy Award-winning director was honored at the annual Moth Ball, an event benefiting The Moth, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the art of storytelling.
National historic landmark and event space Capitale served as the backdrop for the star-studded gala. The Storyville theme encouraged guests to wear their most colorful feathered headpieces and flapper-inspired attire.
Tyra Banks, Padma Lakshmi, Rev. Al Sharpton, and Ophira Eisenberg were just a few of the celebrities that stopped by to show their support for the man best known for his legendary film style and trademark horn rimmed glasses.
CBSNewYork spoke to some stars to get their take on what makes a good story.
First up: Darryl McDaniels of Run D.M.C.
“The key to telling a real good story is to be honest and straight forward,” he said.
Comedian and actress Rachel Dratch agreed.
“I would say honesty is the most important thing,” she said. “And then adding some sense of humor to it.”
Bonnie Hammer, Chairman of NBC Universal Cable Entertainment and Cable Studios, was also recognized for her work creating the nationally recognized public service campaign: Characters United, aimed at ending prejudice and discrimination.
She walked away with the 2012 Corporate Award while Reverend Al Sharpton presented the MothSHOP Community Scholarship Award to Heriberto Dela Cruz Altieri, a New York City high school student.
“If it weren’t for The Moth I’d still be a scared kid. I learned about myself. My life can go forward,” Dela Cruz Altieri said.
Moth storyteller and Barney’s Creative Ambassador-at-large Simon Doonan hosted the benefit while shamelessly plugging the auction going on throughout the evening.
“Simon Doonan reminds us of the auction,” Doonan said in the middle of the awards ceremony.
Guests could bid on everything from lunch with Momofuku chef and owner David Chang to a one-week stay in a nine-bedroom house in the South of France.
The Moth StorySLAM, the event where people from all walks of life tell their stories in front of a room full of strangers and judges, is one of the organizations most popular programs.
Grand slam winners from New York, Chicago, Detroit, and Los Angeles told condensed, one-minute long versions of their winning stories ranging from getting a ride with a convicted murderer to phone dating disasters.
Executive Director of The Moth, Joan D. Firestone, also surprised the audience with a proclamation from Mayor Bloomberg, officially declaring May 8th Moth Day.
Scorsese graciously accepted his Moth Award, which was created by designer Jonathan Adler.
In lieu of of a traditional speech, he began telling his own stories about growing up in Manhattan.
“I lived on Elizabeth Street. The old Elizabeth Street – not the new one,” he said.
He also reminisced about the first time he touched a one thousand dollar bill, something he said he’ll never forget.
This led to a joke about his upcoming film called Wolf of Wall Street.
“It’s a comedy,” he said. “Everyone gets screwed except for a couple of people,” he added. As the audience laughed, he thanked the organization for the award and ended by saying “It’s really wonderful to be able to be here tonight and to again be a part of The Moth.”
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Carly Petrone is a freelance writer living in New York City.