By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
By Roy Edroso
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
By Zachary D. Roberts
The fashionista-drenched party for designer Bob Mackie's retrospective at F.I.T. brought out every drag queen in town, plus Liza Minnelli. I worship Mackie, the legendary purveyor of glitzy, ditzy glam, even if his costumes for Cher's recent concert tour were a little too mixed - metaphor - laden, especially her trippin' Pippin look and that Cap'n Crunch - cum - Napoleon - via - the - Pirates of the Caribbean number.
In concert, Cher calls that first one "Braveheart meets Bozo," but Mackie told me, "I call it . . . I forget what I call it. It's Gothic and Moorish combined." As we spoke, a video monitor showed Diana Ross in her jail scene from Lady Sings the BluesGothic and Motown combined, not to mention a creepy comment on the absent diva's interrogation in England. When a slightly more festive numberthat stripper tune from Gypsycame on, Liza became so excited, she practically jumped at the screen. "That outfit's on strings, right?" she asked Mackie, veritably jonesing with interest. Hey, no "high-strung" jokes here. We're rooting for Liza, and so is mama!
The New York Film Festival's opening night was all about Pedro Almodovar's All About My Mother,which is all about drag queens, mamas, the high- strung, and the strung out. "The festival is one of the few habits I have left," admitted Pedro, "since I quit smoking and I quit many things." Well, his diffuse but deeply compassionate flicka Ross-Hunter-via-Telemundo-style campy soap operais so hyperreal, you probably won't need "many things" to get a rush from it. The mouthy Mother serves up a pregnant nun with AIDS, a battered trannie, a lesbian junkie, and the ex-actress who bonds them all with dialogue like "That woman is his father!" Cecilia Roth, who plays the central life force, told me, "I've seen the movie seven times. I'm getting tired of crying!" At the postparty, I was getting tired of looking for Antonia San Juan, who so scene-stealingly plays the tart-tongued transsexual, but was suddenly harder to track down than Christine Lategano. "Make sure you call her she," said the publicist, who couldn't find her anyway, and then Pedro complicated things by saying, "He's over there, but she doesn't speak a word of English." Alas, Antonia had actually left, boyfriend in tow. Get her.
We got a whole new defiant diva with the festival's screening of Princess Mononoke, which has its glories, but basically doesn't translate (though I think the title translates as Princess Monotonous). The Japanese cartoon's after-party was at a Spanish restaurant, where talk centered on that British Virgin Mary that had met a bunch of American shit hitting the fan. Author John Berendt told me of the attempted censorship situation, "Giuliani wouldn't be Giuliani if he didn't do that. It's sad that a mayor of New York can get exercised by something like this. You think he'd be a little more sophisticated." Well, Rudy probably would have banned Mona Lisa for looking at him that way (though on the bright side, it's refreshing to see him suddenly act so protective of an African icon).
With a religious fervor, I soaked the festival for one more free meal a Gabriel's lunch to honor all the French talentand sat with director Claire Denis, who noticed my tres unappetizing tomato soup and said, "It looks like brain." Already we'd strayed miles away from Giuliani land. Over the more appealing entree, Dave Kehr, who's been mentioned as a possible replacement for Janet Maslin at the Times, told me Maslin really did quit and "has guts" to do so. Denis looked bewildered, so I shifted the conversation, asking her what American actors and movies she likes. "All of them," she responded, diplomatically. Hey, she should be the new Maslin.
There's no way not to love Siegfried & Roy: The Magic Box in 3-D, even if that sounds like the most redundant concept since Mickey Rooney was colorized. The moviededicated to "our three mothers" is a high-camp masterpiece, but it's not all about their mothers; it's filled with jutting scepters, wildlife, and cheekbones, all narrated by Anthony Hopkins as S&R swirl around in Bob Mackie-ish gold capes. At the Sony Imax premiere, the svelte, glistening Roy I could see myself in himtold the crowd, "May we all have the courage of living our dream. I thank one person who gave me courage to do this." No, not his surgeon, but Siegfried, whom he tried to smooch, upon which Siggy lowered his noggin, the kiss magically landing on the guy's wrinkle-free forehead!
The movie begins with the illusory duo who met on a cruise ship accosting two wandering boys and saying, "What are you doing? Looking for something?" After Roy tongue-kisses a lion and mounts a tiger, which rides into Siggy's open arms, the boys join the twosome for a final tableau of mystical maleness. At the Rainbow Room afterwards, Roy was Frenching a baby tiger I swear and since Siggy didn't look jealous at all, I cornered him to ask why the movie didn't have a single close-up of them. "Oh, no! That's scary," he said, laughing. "I'm afraid you'd count the hair under my nasal [sic]." I was delighted to see that the guy has a self-mocking sense of humorand also zero hairs under his nasal.