By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Where are you from?" and "Are you doing a load?" are the two most common questions in the air Wednesday nights at King Sized Laundry, a 24-hour Chelsea laundromatdry cleaner that's been playing host to a cleansing event called Spin Cycle Comedy for the last bubbly year. The riotous, only-inNew-York happening provides a bracing mixture of clean clothes and dirty jokes, of bleach and blecch. As unwitting customers fold and separate, various comics desperately try to elicit a response over the din, telling the inevitable hecklers to go jump in a machine. It's a pretty tough room, and when the jokes bomb, the whirring of the laundry sounds like screamingthough after a while, the captive audience loosens up, and a few even stop their sudsing processes to listen. Throw in a couple of stragglers, some nutty regulars who don't even have laundry, and an occasional tour bus group, and honey, your mindis spinning. After a while, you forget you're even in a laundromatthough you do remember to be grateful for the lack of a cover charge, not to mention the absence of overly desperate performers who might smell some kind of career op.
Two weeks ago, the comics were a game bunch, the sharpest of whom was Andrew Donnelly, who said he was going to play a revolving door next. It's also hard to scour out the memory of Rock Albers, who wore a suit and rabbit ears as he screamed bitter observations into a bullhornthe better not to be upstaged by the spin-dry with. After tons more comics and Clorox, lines and linens, the deadpan Janet Rosenclosed the show, cracking, "My gay friend told me he and his boyfriend are into fisting. I can't even stuff a turkey!"
Bravo (whir-whir-whir)and that's not the end of the wash. Organizers-MCs Danny Cohenand Jodie Wasserman have been fantasizing about doing a "Cheer Up, America" tour sponsored by Cheer, though right now, their motto is "Today the laundromat, tomorrow D'Agostino's!" Actually, Krispy KremeCohen and Wasserman put on a show at the 8th Street branch every Tuesday, and crullers have never been so hilarious.
Rather than air dirty laundry in publicnot that she has anyJennifer Lopezlikes to put on a happy face and live la vidaetc. (though my department-store-worker friends say she's not always so serena). The actress-singer just had a birthday party at Halo, a cozy West Village club which was pumping with nonstop, exclusively '80s music, plus the new song by Jennifer Lopez. Her mammoth cake looked like the entire stock of Krispy Kreme and D'Agostino's combined, and Lopez was the proverbial cherry on top. Like something out of a movie starring her fellow Jennifers, Beals and Grey, she danced her culo dance for hours as a sycophantic mob gathered, drop-jawed, around her. I was disgustedespecially when I realized I was one of them.
I'm even more appalled to have to print a correction. It turns out that Spike Lee's not developing a movie about club kingpin Peter Gatien after all, but Summer of Sam cowriter Victor Colicchio is. Colicchio told me he's using Gatien's plight as a springboard from which to investigate ethical issues, and he's also working on a script about the equally controversial Notorious B.I.G., which Lee may eventually be interested in directing. And I caneven stuff a turkey!
The notoriously big balls of South Parkhad phones ringing all over America recently when two characters engaged in the following exchange: "I heard that he's gay." "Who?" "Ricky Martin,the singer." Even in South Park they've heard about this! (By the way, hear about this: My spies say that Playgirl is planning to run nude beach shots of Ricky, presumably revealing la pinga loca.)
Meanwhile, Cher, the singer, just came out as a Sex and the Cityfan. My spies say the one-named wonder bumped into Sarah Jessica Parkerand various writers for the HBO series and told them she watches the show and believes she'd love to be on it. (Her fervor may be augmented by the fact that she claims to have been celibate for years.) I guess she can play the bagel-boy fetishist.
Sex-changes and the city are a hotter issue than ever. Talented celeb photographer David LaChapellewas planning to have a party at the drag restaurant Lucky Cheng's, but after three weeks of preliminary chitchat, the event was moved over to B Bar as quickly as a laundromat can become a comedy club. Cheng's rep, Alan Rish, claims a turning point happened when LaChapelle dined at Cheng's with the place's owner, Hayne Jayson, and Stephen Baldwin, who dropped by with friends. At one point, Codie Ravioli, a trannie who works there, playfully sat on the lap of Baldwin, who joked to his tablemates, "Can I fuck the waitress?" The next morning, said Rish, LaChapelle's publicist, Adam Nelson, called him to say, "David felt uncomfortable about Codie being on Baldwin's lap. He thinks the drag queens may be too aggressive. He feels, 'What if Tina Brownor Graydon Cartercomes to his party and they're accosted by trannies?"' This attitude would be strange, since at the last LaChapelle party I went to, he was surrounded by nakedtrannies who happen to be his best friends (though they generally keep their distance).
LaChapelle responds that, though he loves Lucky Cheng's and is an old friend of Jayson's, the B Bar folks offered him a party "because they know that if I'm in town on a Tuesday, I hang out at Beige [the weekly event there]. It just made more sense to do it there, and I like the idea of eating outside." Hopefully, so do Tina Brown and Graydon Carter.
Oh, here's another trannie in your lap: In the dense, intriguing French drama calledThose Who Love Me Can Take the Train, Vincent Perezthe cutie from Indochineand Queen Margotplays a droll transsexual named Viviane who floats around like a hardened Tinker Bell with a wry smile and a marshmallow wand. Vivacious Viv emits dry utterances like, "Don't call me Frederic. There's no more Frederic. Didn't Dominique tell you?" and "No more body hair or erections. Heaven!" (I'll let you discover Viv's line about "eating out ass"as opposed to eating outsidefor yourself.)
At a promo lunch for the film, director Patrice Chéreau told me that Perez specifically asked to take on that hormonal role. "One day we were drunk in Madrid," Chéreau related, "and Vincent said he'd love to play a woman. We decided to make his character a female who arrives at the cemetery [for the central character's burial] and helps bring people together. The problem was to not have a drag queen or a transvestite, but a real transsexual person, well-researched." And that's what they gotso much so that her penis is briefly seen in a shower scene. ("Viviane is before the operation," Chéreau told me, when asked.)
Was the film popular in France? "Popular is not the word," the director said, cringing. "It's been received well as an art film, but there are too many gay people in it to be that popular." Still, if Hollywood somehow smells le cash cow and decides to remake Train with Ted Danson, will he sell the rights? "They will never ask," he said, "so I'm not worried." Neither am II'm too busy folding and heckling.& firstname.lastname@example.org