NY Mirror

Springer loves playing Ed Sullivan to all those lesbian stripper nuns and their disgruntled drug dealers. 'These people don't have

Please don't poke my eyes out as I try to say some nice things about Jerry Springer. His hostility-filled show is the most compelling trashathon that no one will admit to watching, and in its own raunchy way, it's helped make sexuality issues second nature to Middle America. And he just hosted my birthday party at Lucky Cheng's.

Alas, I'm not thrilled that the show— which irritatingly promotes hair pulling as the answer to every debate— has spun off a movie called Ringmaster (not to be confused with Jerry's book of the same title), the result being an embarrassment of bitches that's not at all my cup of pee. The dark white-trash comedy du cinéma is a fictional story about The Jerry Springer Show, which some observers contend is a fictional story in itself, so what you get are actors pretending to be people who are pretending to be angry— a very surreal and removed experience. In the movie— which unceremoniously begins with a blowjob— Jerry plays a talk-show host named Jerry, and some of his audience might not be able to figure out who that's based on. In his typically agreeable manner, the Jerry guy calms down lascivious guests, sings a country-western tune, and autographs a pregnant belly. ("I'm always being asked to sign body parts," the real Jerry told me in an interview at the Plaza, which made me hope he knows calligraphy.) The multimedia star also told me that he's already prepared his Oscar speech, "and it goes like this: 'Come on, let me in, please! I'll stand in the back!' "

Jerry deserves some kind of award just for taking his shirt off in Ringmaster, something he says he'll never do again in public because at the premiere, everyone laughed their heads off. But on his talk show— if we can get back to that, please— everyone's too busy biting and kicking to engage much in the giddy pursuit of laughter. At least Jerry has a healthy perspective on the whole circus and seems to realize that his role in it is ludicrous, but possibly even more rewarding than, say, being the mayor of Cincinnati (which he was in the '70s). "I'm just hanging on for this ride," he told me. "I admit it's the stupidest show on television, and I happen to be the host, and I'm having a wonderful life because of it. I feel like it's an out-of-body experience. I'm just watching my career go. Nothing in my life prepared me for this job. I came out of nowhere. I didn't audition— I was assigned to it. And it's been terrific." I interjected that Just Shoot Me is actually the stupidest show on television, and Jerry said, "OK, second stupidest."

Jerry Springer: "I'm just hanging on for this ride."
Meg Handler
Jerry Springer: "I'm just hanging on for this ride."

Jerry denied that the third stupidest show, Good Morning America, is trying to lure him for credibility (oh, those tabloids), though he admitted that he might do a sitcom someday— a real sitcom, that is. But whatever else he does on the side, he's committed to the talk show for five more years and loves playing Ed Sullivan to all those lesbian stripper nuns and their disgruntled drug dealers. "These people don't have airs," he said. "They're not thinking, 'I won't still belong to the country club.' They have not yet been warped by the trappings of status and wealth."

Yeah, yeah, yeah, but what about "I Married a Horse," the notorious Springer episode that was absurdly banned, as if it might prompt others to suddenly drag their animals down the aisle? Jerry told me there was real affection between the guy and the horse, "and I know this because when I stood between them, the horse nudged me away. And there was no sugar involved!" Well, I could certainly see what the guy saw in the horse, I trenchantly remarked, but what the fuck was in it for horsey? Deadpanned Jerry, "As the horse put it, 'I'm with him because he's hung like a man!' " I know the type.

Anyway, there were tons of women hung like men at that party I mentioned earlier, the entire room being filled with either trannies or chasers (or my family). Even Jerry looked a bit shocked, managing to find solace in the three biological women there— big-bosomed, blond ex-Scores dancers who were perfectly, um, natural looking. Pulled away from them for a few seconds, Jerry came onstage to announce, "I used to be a woman. I used to be Sally Jessy Raphael. Different colored-glasses." After I revealed that I used to be a man, an in-house performer who had a similar experience gave Jerry a lap dance that even rivaled the ones at Scores (though it clearly didn't satisfy Jerry, who later asked a female friend of mine for her number).

By the end of the night, Jerry was covered with lipstick and battle scars, thanks to all the photo-op-hungry drag queens, who never seem to realize that these parties are designed for me to filch press! A more subtle act of extortion came at the height of the evening, when another friend of mine admired Ivana Trump's necklace and Ivana simply ripped it off her neck and gave it to her! After that, people lined up to admire Ivana's rings, bracelets, gown, and purse.

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