WASHINGTON — Yes, the number of quasi-stalkers in yoga instructor Hilaria Baldwin's New York classes has spiked since she married Alec Baldwin. But guess what? Joke's on them.
“My yoga classes are hard!” Hilaria told us Thursday before heading to the District of Columbia with her famous husband to co-chair the Freer and Sackler Galleries' yoga-themed gala that night. “So it's sort of like, well, this is karma. You have to get your butt kicked if you just wanted to come here and try to snap a photo with your iPhone.”
Paparazzi cameras — the bane of her volatile husband's existence — were poised Thursday night as the A-list couple, married this past summer, arrived for the museum's “Some Enlightened Evening” fundraiser at the Mellon Auditorium.
After submitting to a brief TV interview, Baldwin got distracted by a woman performing complex yoga stretches on the ground — one of the many performers on mats around the giant ballroom. “Have you met my wife, Hilaria?” he asked her, guiding his spouse away from the cameras.
And really, what could be a better way to end this stressful week in Washington than an evening celebrating the art of staying calm? The black-tie, $1,000-a ticket evening (relocated from the gallery to the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium because of the partial government shutdown) celebrated the debut of the Sackler Gallery's “Yoga: The Art of Transformation” exhibit, which opens Saturday.
Because there was no time to move the gala back to the museum after the government reopened, photos of sculptures and paintings from the exhibit were shown on video screens on the wall of the dimly lighted room, with soothing, dreamy music piped in throughout the night.
Several hundred guests showed up to the event, which raised about $450,000 — though a rep said that amount could change because of the last-minute venue switch. VIPs included the museum's Jillian Sackler, Smithsonian Secretary G. Wayne Clough and Indian Ambassador Nirupama Rao.
The Baldwins — who made a donation of an undisclosed amount to the fundraiser — were tapped to co-host the event months ago by the Smithsonian because, well, he's a big star, and she knows yoga. With the high-profile marriage, Hilaria, 29, has suddenly transformed herself into one of the hottest names in the yoga world. Alec, 55, has jumped on the bandwagon, appearing in his wife's prenatal yoga video — although it didn't prevent him from getting into a shoving match with a photographer days after their daughter, Carmen, was born in August.
Later, Baldwin wanted to make sure everyone knew who the real yoga expert is in his house. “You all know I don't do that much yoga, don't you?” he asked the crowd. “I think I write more letters by hand than do hours of yoga.”
Hilaria told us that though her life has become a lot busier in the past couple of years (she's now a lifestyle correspondent on “Extra”), she still considers yoga her true calling. “There's many downsides to becoming famous, but one of the nice things is that I teach yoga because I want to help people,” she said. “And the more people that find out about you, the more people I feel like I can help.”
Like, say, Congress? If only.
“I see these guys, and I see them almost like children, and the way that they're arguing and how petty they can be,” she told us. Yoga, she said, could teach them “how to breathe a little bit.”
In response to what yoga position he would recommend for members of Congress to avoid another shutdown, Baldwin was initially stumped. But he later said: “My wife came up with a brilliant idea.” The position: bed of nails.