NY Mirror

At Veruka, the crowd of fashion-crazed heterosexuals seemed a little lost, wanly kissing actual cheeks instead of air.

Geri Halliwell's press conference to promote her imminent record, "Look at Me," invited us to look at her, but with more restrictions than are placed on hostages in Serbia. The rules for this only-moderately-appealing-to-begin-with event were so elaborate and intimidating, you'd think you were going to meet somebody famous! We media folks were told that TV crews needed to arrive there at least 45 minutes early, other press had to be there at least 30 minutes early, power for crews would be turned off during the video screening, photogs couldn't shoot the screening either, no one would be admitted without a wristband or once the conference had started, and no one could leave with any of Halliwell's music. Oh, fuck it— I didn't want to go anyway!

A much more stimulating conference had me telling a colleague about Halliwell's attempt at a solo career, only to have her scrunch up her concerned little face and say, "Oh, no, I hope that doesn't cut into her work with the UN." The naked innocence of that remark was so sweet— as if the UN stuff might be more than a clever way to turn Geri's image into that of a caring person who's not just a fallen-off-the-rack ex­Spice Girl. Hell, even if it issincere, Halliwell lost me when she belittled drag queens by saying she used to look like one.

The only rule for the Broadway revival of The Iceman Cometh— if we can aim a little higher, culturally— is that you have to make sure you go to the bathroom beforehand because four hours and 20 minutes pass before you get to goeth (unless you climb the bladder of success and make it to the loo during the two intermission crushes). However you play it, the experience is extremely worthwhile since this is one of the two best new plays in town, the other being Death of a Salesman. In this spirited but dark production, O'Neill's pipe-dream-wielding bar crawlers make for the most affecting bunch of lovable losers since the Palladium closed, and Kevin Spaceyintriguingly if a little too showily plays their would-be savior as a high-strung evangelist with a sort of Tony Perkinsy emotional fragility. One line that's drawing special topical notice is, "You know the old saying: 'When Saint Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland, they swam to New York and joined the police force.' " Hey, I didn't say it— O'Neill did.

Visibly older, I ran to the Nylonmagazine party at B Bar afterward in hopes of looking down on some real bar trash, but while the Icemanhad cometh, all those models had lefteth. And elsewhere, it's been hard to find just the right mix of party style and substance. The Walk on the Moonpremiere had decent names, but no food, while the New Directors/New Films Festival bash had fabulous food, but no names (maybe because everyone there was, you know, new).

The opening of the Cocktail Room was promising— Upper East Siders need clubs too, and not just so they won't come downtown— but after riding by the place no less than three times, I suffered a massive anxiety attack and couldn't bring myself to go in; I'm developing a severe case of off-the-rack-naphobia.

The two-level Soho hot spot Veruka's one-year anniversary party was that rare event where "open bar" meant open bar and "hors d'oeuvres" meant real food. But with Leonardo in Thailand, the crowd of fashion-crazed heterosexuals seemed a little lost, wanly kissing actual cheeks instead of air. My beautiful face is now a giant road map of collagen burn.

Party guy David Arquettewas puckering up for the press all over town to promote Never Been Kissed, and though I've never been kissed by the guy— or anyone— I have worked with him (a long story) and found him to be delightful, even when he asked helpers for twoside orders of ranch dressing on his lunch salad (these primadonnas today!). Never Been Kissed turns out to be a surprisingly tasty non-guilty pleasure with David as virginal cub reporter Drew Barrymore's wacky but supportive brother who's so cool he's the coleslaw-eating champion of the Western world. "It was pretty gross," he told me about that unspeakably mayonnaisey scene. "But I special-ordered KFC coleslaw" — no doubt with two ranch dressings. If he'd only sent out for some in Ravenous, maybe he wouldn't have become Guy Pearce's main course.

David's other stunt in Kissed involved dressing like Tom Cruise in Risky Business, the result of which— according to David— has been an ongoing contest to win the underwear he wore. "But nobody's applied," he told me, smirking. "There was coleslaw in every crevice. I was picking bits out of you know where!" Yes I do, and frankly, my dear, I will not touch a crotch unless it has potatosalad in it.

Apparently, the movie's high-school theme left a stain on David's psyche, bringing back a swarm of bizarre, if not that painful, memories. As he remembers it, everyone made fun of him in school, "but I kind of enjoyed it. I'm a glutton for humiliation. I'd goof around and be silly. Yesterday, I was photographed by a girl from my elementary school, and she told me I was a slight tyrant back then. I'd step on ketchup packets and squirt people I didn't like. But I wasn't that bad. Cut me a break here!"

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