By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
The midtown Sephora store opening drew panting throngs, the entry reward of a $100 gift certificate probably having a little to do with the frenzy (though I was there only, of course, for the aesthetic experience). This new branch, like the other outlets, is a glitzy wonderland of makeup mayhem, where you can play with the powders and frolic with the scents, and the help doesn't intrude on your cosmetic carousing unless you want it to. The perfectly rouged Christy Turlington was swirling around, but I was too fixated on shiny little Gary Coleman to notice anyone else. The bizarre, emphatic cutie kept promoting some upcoming event called "the Gary Coleman Webathon," but finally blurted his real-life goal to the assembled media: "I need makeup!" (I never realized that Diff'rent Strokes referred to a mascara wand.) The entire wait staff had makeup-they were done up in tribal war paint-and one of them turned out to be drag king Mo B. Dick, who urged, "Come to Pussy!" (She meant the club event, thankfully.) "Otter's performing. She usually does pussy tricks, but I think this time she's poking her husband with hypodermic needles." What a kidder.
Rather than catch the pricks at Pussy-or the Gary Coleman Webathon, for that matter-I put on $100 worth of free blush for The Story of Uspremiere, which was pretty gala, though even fewer gay men were there than are lining up to see The Vagina Monologues. ("Come to pussy!" you can hear their inner tormentors saying.) Aptly enough, director Rob Reiner jokingly remarked that "we knew we couldn't do a movie with two menmarried. That'snever gonna work." I'm not sure why not, but what he did make is a generic date flick for hetero couples who crave validation for their brave lifelong commitment, despite all the intermittent misery they've put each other through. In its own When Harry Met Sallycrossed with Two for the Roadway, it teaches us that "Hurt hurts," but also that "Hate fades"-and, alas, so do insufferably glib movies.
As the put-upon wife, Michelle Pfeiffer dives way too enthusiastically into that lovably unhinged, laughing-through-your-tears, Ally McBealschool of acting that her real-life husband fosters, but she iseffective when in bitter repose. As her best friend, Rita Wilson-who was the best thing in the Psychoremake-gamely tries to punch up a vagina monologue about how female genitals are peaceful and accepting, whereas men's are aggressively angry. Well, she must have been as furious as a penis at the premiere, where everyone only seemed to care about herreal-life husband, Tom Hanks.
As for Tom's upcoming starrer The Green Mile, the trailer alone is filled with so much self-congratulatory nobility, it makes Philadelphiaand Saving Private Ryanlook like frothy romantic comedies. Every second of it seems to beg for Oscar-but I'll just wait and see it before serving up any green thumbs up or down. The Straight Story(not starring Kevin Spacey) has gotten a ton of upward-pointing digits, but I found the seemingly oxymoronic David Lynch Disney film a painfully slow wallow-A Trip to Bounty Paper Towels, as it were-with endless misty shots of the old man driving his lawnmower down the highway (though Richard Farnsworth is endearing as the gooey-eyed geezer). And while The Limeyhas two eternally welcome cult stars in Terence Stamp and Peter Fonda, it's a little too much like a gussied-up Columboto be worth the admission money I didn't pay anyway.
If I can keep up this streak of cathartic negativity, thank you, I wasn't fully entranced by Fight Clubeither, but not for the same reasons as the reactionaries who are lining up to butt it in the head half-naked. Unfortunately, I've become publicly aligned with that crowd because after the screening, a man who didn't identify himself asked what I thought of the film and I muttered, "I didn't like it." He turned out to be a writer for The Hollywood Reporterand quoted me the next day in an article about people who abhor the movie because it's too violent and "socially irresponsible." But I have no problem with the violence, which stems from empty, frustrated people turning to recreational nihilism. I don't think it's urging everyone to start their own fight clubs. (And if they do, who would they be hurting but their own moronic selves?) I didn't even mind Meat Loaf's breasts. I just didn't think it was a good movie, like, OK?
Meanwhile, the planned film version of James St. James's eye-opening book Disco Bloodbath-about his friendship with club-kid-turned-killer Michael Alig-is threatening to become more of a fright club than expected. James tells me that, as of the most recent rewrite, Alig will be portrayed as a wacky Auntie Mame type who just happens to slip up-and they're gonna have the big queen romantically involved with a female protégé! It's The Straight Story all over again.
The club scene went Hollywood much more cutely with the Russian Tea Room party for From AbFab to Zen, Paper's Guide to Pop Culture-an encyclopedia of downtown's diesels, divas, and dives, courtesy of the fashion-y magazine for whom I've profiled Foxy Brown, Mark Wahlberg, and even some people who wear clothes. The place looks spectacular in its chandeliered, Anastasia-would-have-loved-it splendor, though few of the party crowd could remember far back enough to figure if it's any better than it was four whole years ago. For a lot of them, it was their first visit anyway, and it was a kick to suddenly see these south-of-the-14th-Street-border types thrown together with the Russian-themed buffet servers and Tic Tac girls in the equalizing, narcissism-friendly mirrored setting of the third floor. (But amazingly, there wasn't a single done-up drag queen in sight! Having at least onethere would have given Warner LeRoy a run for his blini.)