NY Mirror

On Divas Live '99, the bewigged trio of Cher, Elton John, and Tina Turner rocked on Elton's theme song, 'Proud Mary.'

I was thrilled that Gods and Monsters's writer-director, Bill Condon, looked so young on the Oscars last month, mainly because I'd told everyone I went to school with the guy. On the phone from L.A. the other day, Condon confirmed that we were Columbia classmates and said, "The one person we had in common was Marilyn Park. Remember her?" Well, no, but once Condon nabbed that hot little Best Adapted Screenplay trophy, I certainly remembered him.

My mind is now also seared with the image of my old pal and his boyfriend kissing when he won, though somehow the smooch appeared on camera for even less time than Ed Harris's dissing of Kazan. Much more visible was that hostile audience— "or maybe they were just bored," said Condon. "They gave me the courage to go on with that last idea about Hollywood turning its back on James Whale. It's like I was looking at the same crowd again!" He was also undaunted by the advance warning not to put the Oscar on the podium (they don't want you to get too settled), but Condon says that when he began to do so, producers seemed to get nervous that he might say something gay, "so they pulled back into this shot where I was the size of a dot!"

Later that night, a series of other rejections made the trophy boy feel even smaller— like a publicist announcing to press scouts, "I've got Bill Condon," only to be greeted with loud screams of "No!" At the Vanity Fair after-party, at least, he got to meet Annette Bening, who sardonically said no to chatting with Ian McKellen and Monica Lewinsky. When Condon told Bening he might go over to their table, the actress deadpanned, "I'm afraid to. I'm afraid they're both talking about blowjobs!"

By the way, Condon— who did I mention I went to school with?— denies that he's the first openly gay winner of a major Oscar. "Joel Grey?" he said, laughing.

A hopeful in next year's Oscar race, The Winslow Boy is one of those stiff-upper-lip sagas (starring the reluctantly openly gay Nigel Hawthorne) in which everyone's terribly noble and stalwart about all the drama happening offscreen. At least they had a nice party at the Pierre.

On the wicked stage, everyone's favorite fashion plate­turned- actress, Twiggy, will soon be stiff-upper-lipping it in If Love Were All, a Noël-and-Gertie musical play that I have every confidence Kate Moss will star in 20 years from now. In a mini-interview at the Lucille Lortel, the Twigster told me she's no stranger to Coward; she had tea with his witty ass in Jamaica when she was 18. "He had this reputation for having a terrible acerbic tongue," she said, "but he was charming to me. We got along like a house on fire." Well, the dear boy was flaming.

Twiggy also got on famously with modeling, and told me, "I didn't plan to do it, but I loved it— I'm riding in limousines, wearing fabulous frocks, and people are telling me I'm wonderful!" She couldn't have described my life more accurately— except for the limos, frocks, and flattering people. Anyway, the difference between being a mannequin then and now? "I didn't do catwalk. Today, the models have to do it all. They're always on the road, which is tough work, and it's probably the cause of the bad things we hear happen." I had no idea what she was talking about (drugs, bulimia, sex addictions), and even if I did, I want to be a model anyway!

Broadway bound, I thought I wanted to see Marlene, but it turned out to be another one of those battle-ax- having-a-breakdown- but-taking-the-time- to-reminisce-and- drop-names indulgences. And this one is even more synthetic than most, managing to unforgivably make Marlene cute. As the still inimitable diva, Siân "Puffy" Phillips squeaks orders at a mute dresser, has occasional lesbian spasms, fields messages from Picasso, and tells us how terrible the Nazis were. At least at the very end, Phillips positively becomes Marlene in a marvy miniconcert. See it for that, but what next— Judi Dench as Garbo?

Actually, Dench is right where she belongs, in Amy's View— a way too all-purpose but entertaining cultural debate ensconced in a sitcom and a soap opera— in which she's so commanding that she didn't even flinch when the scripted announcement "This is your Act I places call!" boomed out in the wrong act.

I didn't stay in place for Act II of the legal musical Exactly Like You, which is cute— that word again— but so squaresville that you can tell it was written in this century only because a musical line from Follies is ripped off. But I saw all of drag diva Linda Simpson's P.S. 122 play, The Final Episode, a wry roundup of '90s gay issues from ex-gay to post-gay in which Sweetie (who's even funnier as a guy) lent stellar support— not that Linda needed it!

Linda, Marlene, and my old college friend Marilyn Park were the only ones missing from VH-1's Divas Live '99 concert at the Beacon, an elaborate estrogenfest of screeching and soul. There were lots of icky moments— Cher's "Believe" lip sync, Brandy's live croaking, Whitney Houston's guest rapper scraping and bowing before her— but you'd have to be a diva to harp on such gaffes when there was so much that wasn't vomity. (Yes, Donatella Versace ran out in the middle of Faith Hill's schlocky solo, but she eventually came back.) The highlights ranged from Brandy and Hill singing a passionate love song to each other, to the bewigged trio of Cher, Elton John, and Tina Turner rocking on Elton's theme song, "Proud Mary." It was just like a segment from the old Cher TV show, except that they all looked much younger now.

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