NY Mirror

Permanent Midnight—the second Ben Stiller movie this year about a guy who never got to the prom—could use a little more fear and loathing in (leaving) Las Vegas, but as ex-junkie-writer Jerry Stahl, Stiller's addicting—and that's coming from someone who sat across the table from Stahl in college poetry class! The premiere almost drove me to smack, though. First, ex-brat-packer Andrew McCarthy waltzed in, and not one photographer batted a lash, let alone raised a camera. Yesterday's sauerkraut, darling. But when Mili Avital arrived, they went absolutely nuts--after all, she's David Schwimmer's girlfriend and costarred with him in a movie I think came out! One onlooker even crashed into the press ranks and nabbed an autograph from Avital, then ran back outside, no doubt to pawn it off and buy a new house.

Bouncy Maria Bello also garnered lots of attention, but at least she's in the movie. "I got all my relatives together for tonight," she gushed to me, in between doing twirls for Entertainment Tonight. "It was the whole family freaking out in the limousine!" Midnight's writer-director David Veloz was enthusing, "I'm a dark guy." And when I told Stiller that the Post called him a hottie, he grinned and said, "Go ahead, go to town on that. 'He's a hottie!' " Actually I think Ben is--though he seemed a bit understandably strained as the MTV Video Music Awards' host, even more so than Madonna's mix of Hindu facial scrawls and red sequins, Brandy and Monica's hate duet from separate sides of the stage, and Courtney Love's robo-dropping of her demure Oscars persona in favor of her raunchy old rock character. (I'd love to see what she becomes at wrestling awards.) Was the gig nerve-racking? "It was," Stiller admitted. "It's ridiculous going out in front of all these people--this huge rock and roll scene. There's so much energy, and I'm not a standup comedian. I just wanted to go on to the next act!"

For my next act--the obvious question--what did they use for the semen in There's Something About Mary? Stuff scraped off a Gap dress? "Oh yeah, that's the obvious question," Ben said, laughing in disbelief. How right he was--I'm so out of touch with the fact that I'm the only one who asks about the really esoteric and important issues! Anyway, Stiller said he has no idea what that pseudo-spooge was, but when I asked if he'd pleasured himself to get it, he cracked, "Only for the first take. They kept it in a jar after that." At this point, a radiant Julia Roberts arrived and everyone orgasmed." Sandra Bullock!" I muttered, bitterly. And then Ben apologized to his Aunt Linda and Uncle Ernie for the behavior they were about to see, and the movie started.

The simultaneously premiering There's Something About Kaylie, a/k/a A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries--about booze, not dope--is a lovely mess in search of a movie, but Anthony Roth Costanzo definitely soarsas a four-octaved teen singer who redefines range. "Some people think I'm really weird," Costanzo told me at the film's party, "like, 'Why is he singing like that?' " Hell, that never stopped Frankie Lymon. Is Costanzo a gender bender? "No," he said, "but I'm certainly not a gender stereotype. The way I sing feels natural to me. I think gender stereotypes are confining to a lot of people." I know, doll, I know. As for henna-bending Madonna, Soldier's producer Ismail Merchant--swathed in his Indian finery--was the perfect person to harass about the spiritual one's appropriation of divine symbols. "I think it's good," he told me. "It has to be used properly. If it's used in some crazy manner, it's not good. If it's used in a nice way and to enhance one's beauty, it's good. By the way, you must eat at Pondicherry. It's the best restaurant in New York--it's my restaurant." Honey, a soldier's daughter never turns down free food. If it's used to enhance my tummy, it's good.

You had to grab for the puff pastries at Le Cirque 2000's 25th-anniversary party, but it was still an amusing cirque, filled with auteurs, socialites, wannabes, and fossils, all with so much Botox in their foreheads you couldn't tell if they were wincing or having a blast. It was eminently clear, though, that I was wincing at the stuck-up whore who barked at me, "You need to take your bag off. You're hitting people." I wanted to reply, "You need to take your last three face-lifts off," but gamely bit my tongue and pushed toward a better view of Woody Allen. There, past the room with the Renaissance-style bas-reliefs, modernist chairs, and neon tubing, Martha Stewart was deep in conversation with Tony Bennett, no doubt telling him how to weed his hair. And Woody was chatting up Soon-Yi, probably about Sarah McLachlan songs and Leaves of Grass. I pushed toward the gift bag and raced to the nearest Botox clinic.

My forehead looking like a buttermilk pancake, I descended on a new Chelsea bar called Dusk, a rhapsody in powder blue with a voyeuristic twist; in the john, you can see out into the main room, but they can't look back in, even if they want to. (For the opposite effect, try the park across from the Beverly Hills Hotel.) It's all very lovely, but the place hasn't found an identity yet, the smattering of a crowd seeming more like random greens than a well-tossed salad. "We'd like it to be more gay," the manager admitted to me. Attention all interesting homosexuals--meet me there next Saturday. I'll be looking out from a urinal.

Alas, with my unpopular new drag name--Rosemary Potatoes--I've been propped up in front of the TV a lot lately. While waiting for that highly original new show, Jesse Felicity Maggie Winters Costello (& Grace), I managed to catch Roseanne's premiere chatfest, which opened fabulously with a draggy looking Roseanne entering on a very sturdy crane and throwing rose petals and Polaroids of herself at the audience. The show remained bodacious as Rosie and Whoopi Goldberg brought new life to the Oral Office with a vigorously trashy debate. Alas, they made Whoopi stay for one segment too long, and when she and Rosie interviewed three self-pitying teen mothers about their plight, the show stopped dead, the tone becoming quietly caring and downright dull. The problem is that Rosie wants to be all things to all people--satirist, self-help guru, celebrity pal, carnival barker, and current-events analyst. Like Dusk, she needs an identity--though I love that she also looks out from the proverbial bathroom.

But if I can peek into a loo, please: Everyone's crucified Clinton for having lied about smoking a joint, dodging the draft, and now getting some blowjobs (not to mention "oral/anal"), but these are the same monsters that made him have to lie in the first place. If he'd told the truth about any of these fairly reasonable actions, the morality brigade would have burned him at the steak house. He lied to protect his ass from their hypocrisy, and now they're furious that he did so!

On a lighter note, but not that much lighter, Monica Lewinsky was spotted by my spies a few weeks ago jumping rope at an Equinox gym--but in a private area, of course. It seems all her talents are athletic and performed behind closed doors. And by the way, when Clinton himself jumped into town last week, there was so much security on the streets near Barneys that poor Diana Ross was momentarily detained while trying to leave the store. I'm sure she was all right about it, though; Di's biggest nightmare would be not being able to get into Barneys.

Michael Musto can be e-mailed at musto@villagevoice.com.

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