NY Mirror

Alas, it's not clear which is the gay Wiggle, since the one who wears purple doesn't also carry a magic purse.

 Interview's Float dinner for photographer David LaChapelle's Shafrazi show was a riveting study in dusk-till-dawn dichotomy. There were half-naked transsexuals and overdressed transcontinentalites. The food was fancy stuff courtesy of Osteria del Circo, but my seat was a toilet bowl, and I'm not being metaphorical— it was literally a toilet bowl. Despite, or maybe because of, all the mixed signals, the bash was zanily effusive, especially when, in between movements— I mean courses— Soleil Moon Frye of Punky Brewster fame bizarrely dropped by, and not only didn't want to flush, but the Nick at Nite lover in me was absolutely orgasming.

As I'm finally ready to admit, I used to be mordantly mesmerized by Punky Brewster back when I was drinking a bit— it was half car accident, half junior-league Hazel— but how does she look back on that cheerily relentless exercise in laugh-track reliance? "I love it and I have no regrets," said spunky Soleil (who's since gone to the New School and done an indie movie called The Girls' Room). "Punky was such a big part of my life and of who I am. Even if I'm 90 and people are like, 'Punky!' it'll be great. It's fun to have been part of a show that inspired people so much." I know you're all gagging on your Trix, but I've doled out enough fetid sarcasm in my life and do not want to become best known as the man behind any new Dana Plato­type tragedy, so this time I say: Yay, Soleil!

And if there was any lost girl represented at the LaChapelle party, it was Naomi Campbell, who was pictured on the side of a milk carton that said, "Have you seen me? Last seen: London Paris Tokyo Milan." LaChapelle was showing the carton around and explaining that it was a satirical prop Naomi used when he shot her for Playboy. I hope this isn't a new trend— supermodels pretending to be missing.

I eventually got off the bowl and went to the Tony Awards, which were marred only by that ungodly tragedy medley (which some likened to the Saving Private Ryan interpretive tap dance on the Oscars) and the blues show guy's irritating comment— you know, "Who says the book has to be dialogue?" (I do, OK, freak?). Otherwise, it was a pretty painless excursion with the requisite number of half-naked transsexuals, and, correctly enough, Dame Judi Dench copped a trophy and Sammy Hagar didn't. Among the more quote-worthy press room remarks— you know, dialogue— the Parade composer smirked and said, "Oh, did I forget to mention Garth Drabinsky in my speech? Gee!"; Uta Hagen commented on slumming movie stars, "They fill a theater for 12 weeks and then they quit. That's not helping us!"; the Parade guy smirked again when a rude reporter wondered how it feels to win by default; and Dame Dench, asked what award she hasn't won, quipped, "Crufts. It's a dog show!"

Speaking of getting down on all fours— if we can veer far away from the legitimate stage— am I the only one to notice that, ever since Hugh Grant's episode with Divine Brown, Elizabeth Hurley has been dressing like . . . Divine Brown? In fact, if she weren't already such a highly dignified actress and model, the woman could easily sell it by the highway.

Staying in that vicinity, Rachel Griffiths plays a prostie in the cross-cultural love story My Son the Fanatic— a/k/a My Girlfriend the Hooker— and the woman truly did her raunchy research. No, she didn't trick with Hugh Grant— she interviewed oodles of streetwalkers about their craft. And what did she learn, pray tell? "They're providing a service for working-class and unemployed guys," Rachel told me at a Nirvana party for Fanatic. "This is not glamorous work. It's done in the back of cars and behind brick walls." Sounds good to me. In a non-prostie vein, Rachel, who was Oscar-nominated for Hilary and Jackie, said that this year's awards were "the greatest circus on earth," then looked around at the second greatest circus— Nirvana's exotically transporting decor— and exulted, "Wow! I should have a party here!" I was kind enough not to mention that this was her party here.

But if we can get back to the legitimate stage, Twiggy is selling herself by the river as a musical-comedy star again in If Love Were All, an "And then I wrote . . . " compilation that's sort of a Smokey Joe's Cafe version of Noel and Gertie's greatest hits. Though the period-perfect Twigster comes across très soignée and it's kicky to see the Coward guy crooning "Mad About the Boy," the overall production too often feels like it should have been a one-night benefit concert for Alzheimer's on Fire Island.

I was mad about the boys dressed as Ms. Garland at "Judy in June," a fundraiser for In the Life at Eighty-Eight's. The highlights were the priceless drag duet of Tommy Femia's fizzy Judy with Steven Brinberg's sardonic Barbra, and the offstage dialogue between my fellow hosts Michael Mayer and Terrence McNally about the Tony circus. (The words "ugly" and "looked like public access" came up a lot— and Mayer also seemed annoyed that Charlie Brown's producers pulled the plug despite the show's awards boost.) But then McNally turned on me when I made some perhaps ill-advised remarks to the crowd about Lorna Luft's version of "The Man That Got Away." Seriously dismayed, he muttered, "Leave Lorna alone!"— though later, when Femia's Judy called Lorna illiterate, McNally roared with laughter. I guess those textures are what make him such an unpredictable talent. After the playwright left, Brinberg said, "I was going to tell him I saw Lucie Arnaz do Master Class in New Hampshire." I wanted to scream, "Leave Lucie alone!" but he was serious.

Closer to Punch and Judy, the Wiggles— Down Under's answer to the Teletubbies— sang 'em all and stayed all night at the Australian Consulate last week. Over the din of cheering children, the quartet performed goodies like "fruit salad, fruit salad— yummy, yummy" and "wag, wag, wag, cockadoodle do." These chirpy creatures make Punky Brewster look like Masterpiece Theater, but after a while I became so mesmerized by the adorable insanity of it all that their messages started taking on trenchant overtones. Fruit salad became like a god to me, and wiggling was suddenly the most intense form of prayer since the last Madonna video.

My head filled with visions of spotted dinosaurs and chocolate syrup, I learned that these Wiggles (as seen on the Fox Family Channel) frolic and cavort with people in large, smothering animal costumes— Wags the Dog is my favorite— while selling yummy-yummy kazillions of videos and CDs. Dubbed "the Fab Four for kids," they appeal to the rambunctious toddler in us, especially since one of them is narcoleptic and has to constantly be yelled back into the waking state. Alas, it's not clear which is the gay Wiggle, since the one who wears purple doesn't also carry a magic purse (those darned mixed messages again). Help me understand, oh mighty fruit salad deity!

Finally, I wag-wag-wagged into some cockadoodle-do gossip— Ione Skye and Samantha Ronson have been closerthanthis lately— but also one embarrassing star encounter: Besieged's David Thewlis told me where he went to acting school, but I'd never heard of the place and (again ill-advisedly) said so. He wincingly replied, "Well, Ewan McGregor went there. Maybe you've heard of him." You win, David. I'm going back to my bowl now.

e-mail: musto@villagevoice.com

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