By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
The only touch of Doris Duke left in that late rich lady's apartment is a big old crack in the marble floor--and her fans will be thrilled to learn that the new owner, Cindy Adams,has kept it there as a metamorphic homage to Doris's spunk. I'm thrilled that the gossip diva's redone everything else in the place in an eye-popping style that's less Duke than empress. The sprawling habitat--which is very Citizen Kanemeets Chinese modern via early reign of terra cotta--is now resplendent with Asian sculptures, brocaded chairs, Picassos, New York Post covers, and about 300 bathrooms, which are so ornate you're too busy taking them in to even relieve yourself.
It cost Cindy and hubby Joey Adamsunspeakable amounts to buy and revamp the joint--the window walls alone were more expensive than my education--but with a spot on Good Morning America and an upcoming gig hawking costume jewelry on the Home Shopping Network, "Mother" is even more secure than I am. On my drop-in, I luxuriated in a Caligula-esque tiled tub (without water), only jumping out when Cindy happened to produce a 10-course dinner in yet another room. During the meal, the ears of every celebrity in the world--plus Linda Tripp--must have been on fire, though all that bouncy banter posed no threat whatsoever to the shoving down of food. I left ready to explode, but still too dazzled by the wall patterns to tinkle. Only on Park Avenue, kids!
In less glamorous gossip-world happenings (only on Avenue of the Americas, kids), the Fox News Channel is a nonstop jerk-off session about the presidential sex scandals that doesn't serve you dinner, and in fact sometimes doesn't serve you at all. Producers there booked me on the first episode of Beyond the News,on which a motley panel blows hot air about current-events topics, usually involving intransigent interns. They were thrilled I could accommodate them, but when I couldn't alsotape a pilot for the show, they suddenly unbooked me, saying the topic they'd planned might change--it didn't; yep, the presidential sex scandals--but they'd surely call again (they never did). Beyond this, folks.
Then the same network's Matt Drudge Reportasked me to be part of an unpaid "dress rehearsal" of regulars for thatexercise in non-vestal verbiage. That sounded pretty definite, but it proved to be just another way to shove a cigar up my ass. In fact, the only regular thing about being a regular on Drudge is that you apparently never get booked! Once, they called in a panic when they thought Lucianne Goldbergmight not be a strong enough solo guest--imagine--so they pumped me for potential dish and asked if I'd seen the X-Filesmovie before deciding that Goldberg couldblow off enough steam by herself and Drudge certainly didn't need meto discuss the movie. ("But make sure to watch the show, OK?" the producer urged.) Weeks later, they rang again to fish for some more gossip, then called back to say, Sorry, the next episode would be all about--everybody now--the presidential sex scandals, and I guess this time that precluded my appearance. I've defended Drudge, but now I think he's the dregs and Roger Ailesshould blow Monica Lewinskyout his butt. How's thatfor potential dish? (By the way, here's Monica on that alleged cigar: "I didn't inhale!")
But fuck Fox News--let's swing on down to Foxy, which comments on sex, and sometimes even presidentialsex, in ways that never get canceled. The club event, Saturday nights at the Frolic Room on 12th Street and Avenue A, is a raunchy throwback to those old Disco 2000 sexcapades, but--for better or worse--it often stays within the limits of decency. The DJ plays new wave hits as ambiguous looking Mod Squad?type trios swarm the hot, smoky dive and grab at the 50 Foxy dollars that come with admission. Their assigned task is to hand out the bucks to those who perform the most outrageous stunts onstage, and I hear people are usually doing remarkable things with ping-pong balls and privates to win the top prize ($100 in real money). Well, the night I went, the gods of sleaze were obviously on vacation in the Hamptons and had taken all the erotic accoutrements with them. The only competitors I saw were a guy in BVDs who showed us his heinie and someone else who belly-danced with a Monica Lewinsky mask on. ("Monica sucks!" said that night's MC, Mistress Formika.) The room had all the electrical charge of a night in Doris Duke's bathtub.
Still, the evening was not mirthless, even if the most shocking part of it was to learn that Alphabetland has become almost as trendily MTV-ready and internationally swingin' as Ocean Drive. Despite the occasional street vigil for a murdered gang member, you're mostly bombarded by Central Casting bohemian types en route to a sip-and-twirl at a bevy of fashionably divey boîtes. Even dinner has become studiously chic and multicultural, like at Mesopotamia, a fine Belgian bistro on Avenue B that looks like a casbah, is bedecked with Japanese posters, and serves Chilean wines and sometimes even Thai dishes. "BelgianThai," clarified the waitress. Ahh!
In other restaurant developments, I'm still waiting for the food I ordered six weeks ago at Cafeteria. But here's the good news: the sprawling, kitschy barbecue palace called Empire Korea, which--as I'd lamented--had mysteriously changed over to Empire China a few months ago, is Empire Korea again! No, I don't understand, I just gorge.