By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
My fun, relaxing Hamptons weekend began on the jitney, a $22-a-pop busapalooza jam-packed with uppity white people on cell phones (though there was one lady of color, her job being to collect the fares and hand out the corn chips). These pampered preppies resent having to share space on the way to their private estates, but have to because, for the sake of convenience, they left the Land Rover out there. I don't have a Land Rover, but am now thinking of getting one--and learning how to drive it--just to avoid the jitney.
The hell started when the woman in the seat next to the one I chose muttered, "Couldn't you sit somewhere else? The work I'm doing requires me to be a little sprawled out." Well, I came here to play Twister, but sorry, honey, this happens to be a vehicle of transport, not a personal playland. I lowered my ass there despite her qualms, and soon enough learned that the brunt of the woman's work involved reading People! I'll read people all right. In another corner, my friend was fighting with an eight-year-old boy who wouldn't move his life's belongings to let her sit in the seat next to him ("But he's just a kid!" shrieked a nearby man who was just a nightmare). A few rows back, another charmer had reclined her seat, and the princess behind her was not having it, prompting a verbal tussle that climaxed with the offending woman snarling, "Shut up!" Amazingly, it worked--I guess no one had ever said that to the creature before.
Just then, that persnickety People-wielder tapped me on the shoulder with an all-new request. "Would you mind angling yourself differently?" she had the three balls to murmur. "Your sleeve is rubbing against my arm." Ohhhh, shut up!I spent the rest of the ride flipping through the big-dicked hustler ads in HX and Next, angling them right in her horrified face. And then it was vacation time.
Things picked up in Southampton, though the people there were pretty much the same ones who were on the jitney. I quickly tired of all those CEOs in blue blazers and the Clairol-dependent women in twin sets, some with so much surgery they looked like botched lab experiments with expense accounts. For an escape, I rented a bike to commune with nature--not misguided attempts to defy it--but got lost and ended up on a road called Tuckahoe (which sounds like something you do to a transvestite hooker). I eventually found my way back for the special screening of Return to Paradise,ironically enough, and came equipped with lengthy queries for Vince Vaughn and the fab Anne Heche--not about this flick, mind you, but about their other scary remake, the upcoming color Xerox of Psycho. Alas, Anne and Vince were busy at the Bates Motel, and apparently so was everyone else involved in Paradise, so the only introductory speeches at the theater were made by people lining up before me to needlessly announce, "You're out of your element!"
The movie--about a vacation ruined, not by snobs on a bus, but by draconian Malaysian drug penalties--was quite watchable until it segued from Vaughn going back to Penang to his going back to poontang. In fact, there's a bathtub scene between him and Heche that should not only quell Ellen DeGeneres's fears, it might render unnecessary the actors' upcoming shower encounter in Psycho. Afterwards, we flagged down the town's only cab to go to the post-party at Life's a Beach and the driver said, "You don't want to go there!" We insisted, and it turned out to be adjacent to Pier 1 Imports and dotted with a few thousand too many little black dresses, but not all that bad. And then I returned to paradise--New York--waving bye-bye to screaming babies in designer bonnets; $21 lobster sandwiches; eyes that can wince, but not blink; and historical museum displays of whipping posts for drunks and the sharp-tongued.
Back in my element, I wasn't flogged at all at the premiere of the undernourished, but often endearing, Slums of Beverly Hills; my tongue behaved, since the event actually brought out a few celebs (plus the movie features a vibrator dance). Rosie Perez was intoning, "I can't stand him!" about god knows who (probably that eight-year-old boy). Slums's writer-director Tamara Jenkins beamed, "There's a Star of David hanging over our heads!" The movie's Kevin Corrigan told me, "I confuse showbiz with art, but if you're lucky, you can take the one thing and transcend it into the other" (I know--I turn art into showbiz all the time). And Jane Pratt said, "I totally related to the fucked-up family in the movie, though in North Carolina, we didn't even have glamour that close."
As for the bums of Beverly Hills, my West Coast spies insist that Chastity Bono just gave an interview to The Advocate that could stir up Ellen's fears all over again. Supposedly, Chas says she meant her remarks about Ellen being perhaps "too gay" for America to handle. Rather than rely on that old "My comments were taken out of context" excuse, she sticks to her guns, but they're guns that should probably be revoked. I guess Chas has a right to feel Ellen pushed the gay thing too hard for mass acceptance, but the reality is that ABC had way more problems with the show than the public did (or would have if Ellen had been promoted), and even theyonly axed it once Chastity gave them the gay world's blessing to do so. As for her own pushing--out of GLAAD--Chas now admits that she was indeed shoved out of the group, and she's furious at Lea DeLaria and others who loudly called for her dismissal. Show of hands for how many say Chastity should be pushed out of the whole community.