By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
On entering a performance of the Broadway revival of Electra, I peskily asked the usher, "Is this a fun show?" "How fun can it be?" she responded. "It's a tragedy!" . . . A seriocomedy ensued when gay artist Russ Turkrecently ran into Leonardo DiCaprioand showed him a comic book he'd done in which Leo's featured. "Wait is this a gay comic book?" Leo asked, according to Turk. The artist nodded yes. "This makes me look gay," balked Leo, "and I'm the furthest thing from being gay!" I guess as evidence, he could point to the fact that he's never sucked my dick.
Sexy speculation is also raging on the Internet, where wags have been going into a frenzy weighing the pros and cons of the upcoming The Talented Mr. Ripley,in which Matt Damonplays a bisexual murderer. On the one hand, the flick won't exactly provide a bi-pride bonanza, but then again, a lot of folks are really excited about the prospect of Matt pairing up with Jude Law!
Meanwhile, Cher is bicontinentally slaying them with her song "Believe." Ms. Sarkisian LaPierre Allman, etc., is the oldest person by a long shot to have had a number one in England, and in fact, the old bag has topped the charts in practically every country in the world except ours (though the song's finally climbing that hallowed Billboard list). About the initial resistance to the song here, one insider told me, "American radio doesn't go for older artists." Perhaps they'd like some of her boyfriends.
The youngest person to ever achieve a top five album in the U.K., Charlotte Churchis a 12-year-old soprano who packs the essence of Renee Fleming into the body of a young Hayley Mills. In between belting arias at a Sony reception in her honor, Charlotte played with toy dragons and emitted banter like, "The next song, like, is from Carmina Burana." She was, like, delightful, and afterwards filled me in on the various notables she's either sang for, posed with, or been blessed by. There was Prince Charles ("He had the most perfect complexion"), Geri Halliwell ("Remember how she used to pile on the makeup? Well, now she looks so pretty"), George Michael ("Lovely!"), and Pope John("That was such a moving experience. We're Catholic, so we really enjoyed it"). Charlotte loves Cher's new song too!
If we can keep throwing media together into a big, pop cultural Cuisinart, the last interactive theater event I remember was that really lively faux funeral, but now the genre has gone to an even more perverse extreme and mimicked a fashion show! The Collection, at the Center Stage, is an ad-libby spoof of a runway event, replete with mock models pitching fake fits as make-believe stylists cower behind pseudo scrims. Call it Tony 'N' Tina's Hemming. The night I went, it was exactly like the real shows at first, because the ticket lady couldn't seem to locate my name on the press list. When she found it, she instructed me to join the action by picking a character for myself, the choices being Press, Celebrity, and Buyer. I picked Buyer, since I already knowhow little fun it is to be press or a celebrity.
Whatever I was, the show turned out not to be interactive at all thank God except for the publicist character telling me he was a fan (of what my buying?). Mainly, you sit back and take in the formless bustle and screaming that leads up to the big trash-bag runway extravaganza. A couple of laughs pop up, but basically, a real fashion show is painful enough, thank you.
The smallish gay lounge called Pegasus is a sort of interactive trashin'show filled with young Asians and older Caucasians, all making nice-nice. It's incredibly tacky and yet undeniably fabulash in a way that seems perfect for the Bloomie's environs. Past the packed front bar, the trellised dance area sports a disco ball, some hanging cardboard snowflakes, and two Saturdays ago go-go boys stripping in quick succession, after which they showed a video concert version of Les Misérables. (I guess Carmina Burana wasn't, like, available.) One little queen was working the room like a demon, piling up more phone numbers than the FBI. And then there was the thong-clad stud who leaned enticingly toward me and said he likes my work. Not to seem repetitive, but what my buying?
While we're out shopping, I didn't buy Lou Diamond Phillips in Another Day in Paradise he sets gays, Hispanics, and drug dealers allback 25 years. And let's also return Blast From the Past, a sweetish but skippable fish-out-of-water comedy that would barely make it on UPN. Christopher Walken's cute, though, and at the premiere, Sissy Spaceknot surprisingly told me, "I loved working with him. What a nut!" While there, I asked that other goofball, Dave Foley, if he likes watching himself. "Who doesn't?" he said. "I mean, like watching me." At the Webster Hall after-party, we watched swing-dancing contest winners who spun each other around as if in a vivified Gap commercial. It didn't have that much to do with the movie (though Brendan Fraser's time-warped character jitterbugs into the '90s), but it was way more fun than a fake fashion show.
Bill Murray provided his own swingin' entertainment at the Harvard Club party for Rushmore. The event became more like Gushmore when star Jason Schwartzman announced to the room, "I love Bill Murray!" Well, the Saturday Night Live vet who's also smitten with Bill Murray responded with a sardonic speech: "I'm winning all these awards and thinking, 'Why? It's the same old shit.' But then I looked at the movie tonight and realized, 'I'm really good!' "
A real blast from the past and it's really good comes via publicist John Springer, whose "Forgotten Films To Remember" event at the Players Club serves up a cult classic, a celebrity Q&A, and a choice of omelettes. Last time out, he showed Powell and Pressburger's A Matter of Life and Death,a celestial experience starring the Oscar-winning guest of honor Kim Hunter. Hunter told me she loved working with Michael Powell, though he had a hideous sense of humor. "He'd put you down," she said, "and if you let him get to you, he'd put you down again and again until until you died." Of course, hedied first.
Hunter who admitted that most of her fan mail these days involves Planet of the Apes is the one to whom gorgeous gorilla Marlon Brandoyelled "Stella!" in Elia Kazan's A Streetcar Named Desire. How does the once blacklisted actress feel about the special Oscar being awarded to McCarthy-informant Kazan? She's actually delighted, and said, "We're through with that friggin' period. Let it go!" All right, all right, but did she watch Andre Previn's friggin' opera version of Streetcaron PBS? "I tried," she said, "but I ran after the first 20 minutes. That's no comment on the performers. I just can't be objective about anyother production of Streetcar." She made sure to add, though, that "Andre Previn knows nothing about the South!"
And finally, if I can board a streetcar named nasty, I was all set to raise an omelette to God's Love We Deliver, which does incredible work but then I caught a TV commercial of theirs which takes great pains to note that the male patient being visited in the ad has children. I.e., he's not a fruit! Gee, thanks! It's a tragedy!