By Steve Weinstein
By Devon Maloney
By Tessa Stuart
By Alison Flowers
By Albert Samaha
By Jesse Jarnow
By Eric Tsetsi
By Raillan Brooks
This column may not be suitable for anyone with certain types of heart disease, bladder problems, or uncontrolled blood pressure, or someone who's swelling, nursing, or taking medications. Read on only after consulting your doctor. But anyway: At the New York Film Critics Awards, I got all of the above conditions when I happened to sit next to the very woman who'd denied me an interview with Catherine Keener. I cuntI mean can'ttell you how charmed I was. Rather than ventor try to talk to Keenerwe focused on the evening's expectedly quirky highlights, from Alexander Paynerevealing that Pauline Kaeltold him, "The last half hour of Election gets a bit wobbly, doesn't it?" to John Waters saying that Pedro Almodóvar's characterslike "grateful rape victims" and a wheelchair-bound guy who likes cunnilingusare the type he'd like to have over for dinner. Waters must have done the guest list for this event, where Richard Belzeradmitted he was on the toilet when he got the call to present an award to the South Parkmovie. Mr. Hankey would have been so proud!
At the gigunda Harper's Bazaar bash at the Robert Miller Gallery, there were no grateful rape victimsonly gleeful fashionistas lining up to vehemently air kiss the mag's new editor, Kate Betts. They were all wearing black and playing that party gameyou know, you snub everyone until they say hello first, and then you gush over them as if no one else ever mattered. I took a number, then asked Betts if she agrees with what Gwyneth Paltrow says in the magthat fashion's the only way women can express themselves on a daily basis. "No, not the only way," she said. "Let me list the ways!" Well, one way would be to tell me whether she saw the Page Six item anticipating a possible catfight at the party between Betts and her ex-boss, Anna Wintour. "Oh, yeah," Betts said, mildly amused. "I mean, please!" I took that to mean there would indeed be a vicious brawl involving lots of flying Prada, so I fled in a panic.
Even quicker than they scan Monica Lewinsky's new body on those Jenny Craig commercials, I went uptown for the Downtown party for Paper, which at least was sit-down. Model Karen Elsonis semiexposed and seemingly elongated on the mag's cover, but at this Brasserie event, she told me it's all her. "Fuck yeah, it's my body!" she declared. "And I'm not ashamed of it. I might as well show it while I'm young!" It's the only way women can express themselves on a daily basis.
Everyone was covered up again at the Holy Smokeparty at Nicole's, that department-store boîte where, having nabbed a pricey ensemble, you can promptly flaunt it over veal sausages. Famed (for other places) restaurateur Drew Nieporenttold me that Nicole's got two stars in the Times, but then, "their new food critic can't count past two." Nieporent gave this bash higher marks, especially when Kate Winsletentered and he blurted, "They said she was too heavy for the Titanic, but if you ask me, she's got it in all the right places tonight!" And she's not ashamed of it!
That was clearly the best recent night out for heteros and foodand tramping around town in a tutu has helped me uncover some other high points of modern life. Ready? The best cruise spot is the main listening wall at the downtown Virgin Megastore. Simply strap on your headphones, shake your bon-bon to Macy Gray, and throw a wanton smile at the person next to you (unless they're listening to Jewel). Before you know it, you'll be making beautiful music togetheror at least you've gotten to tighten your culo and hear a few free tracks.
The most bizarre new cooking/chat show is the one hosted by Ainsley Harriott, that British creature who, after telling us how his wife and kids are his whole world, minces around the kitchen in a flamboyantly wrist-flapping way that makes RuPaullook like Ving Rhames. Harriottwho was discovered by Merv Griffinshoots his show, appropriately enough, at the Chelsea Piers (and actually, it's an occasionally funsy romp).
From the kitschy kitchen to the awful office, the wackiest newish excursion in theater is Becky Mode's Fully Committed, with the amazing Mark Setlockas a restaurant reservations clerk and all his tormentors. When I called for comps, I was aptly told that the play was fully committed that week. It was worth waiting for, deliciously littered as it is with references to "global fusion cuisine" and "Mr. Zagat's headcheese," not to mention relentless digs at Naomi Campbell. It's a fabulously droll commentary on the hollow absurdity of myI mean thatcrowd, but though I give it way more than two stars, next time I want an even better seat, with more flattering lighting!
The most popular new East Village restaurantand it's not the one Fully Committed's based onis Leshko's, the former beloved Polish dive, which is now a sleek and lively trendoid spot courtesy of the Barracuda guys. The global fusion food is tangy and there's still an occasional pierogi to remind you of the days before gentrification.
The cutest moment in that perennial pierogi Eartha Kitt's act at Café Carlyle comes when she tells the audience, "I've found my birth certificate and I'm proud to reveal that on January 17th . . . I want presents!" But if you want presence, the equally long-running Jackie Mason is still the best solo kvetcher since before Mark Setlock was born. Alas, in his Broadway show, Mason continues to dabble in ancient ethnic stereotypes, not seeming to realize that people have become more similar than different. Mason clings to the idea that Puerto Ricans are violent and Jews always go to doctors, and even as mockable clichés, these are as moldy as escargot jokes (which he also does). Still, the devilishly deadpan comic's riotous about what I assumed had been a spent subject, as it wereClinton's sexuality. Long may he run!
Speaking of Clinton's sexualitylong may he run at the mouthI recently happened to appear on a talk show with Paula Jones, the subject, naturally, being celebrity plastic surgery. Someone in the audience asked Jones, "Do you pick your nose?" and she seemed mildly outraged, saying, "No, I don't do that. I'm a lady!" When they came back from the commercial, it was explained that the guy actually meant, "Do you chooseyour nose?" "No, I left it up to my doctor," responded Jones, more calmly.
By the way, now that two-faced Linda Trippgot a facelift, what about her otherone, ba-dum-pum? And while we're talking shiny purple faces, the most entendre-laden merchyes, we're still doing bestsremains the endearingly innuendo-filled Teletubby stuff. I was recently gifted with a Tinky Winky scrubbing device, which consists of the Tinkster wearing what looks like a flowing purple gown (actually the scrub part). The name of this fey trinket? "Bath and shower pouf." You heard mepouf!
But back to Clinton's sexualitypoof!how dare Hillarydefend marriage as an institution so sacred it shouldn't be extended to gays? Her idea of marriage has her only speaking to the hubby when it comes time to swallow his endless stream of public apologies for whatever trick the dry cleaner just uncovered. And now, are you all a little nauseous? I admit the last half hour was a little wobbly.