NY Mirror

Private parties are allegedly devised for the sake of joy and celebration, but when you've been going to them as long as I have, these calculated fiestas-cum-photo ops can also be harbingers of pure irritation and hate. Not that you asked, but here, in all of their bitter triviality, are the things I detest most about such diabolical events: Tip sheets that list the same old Z-List models and cable stars, none of whom show up anyway. Caca-for-brains doorpeople who couldn't find their own names on a guest list if they had to. Guests who station themselves by the one table of food, acting like this will be the last sustenance ever offered to them. Dingbats who insist on ordering elaborate martinis, with hundreds of specifications, when there are throngs lined up behind them just wanting a simple Diet Coke. Bores who keep yammering away at you as your eyes glaze over, your nostrils steam, and you start to nod out. Crashers who latch onto you so it'll look like they were invited. (Alas, you're crashing too.) Promoters who spend the whole party inviting you to something else. Dates who spend the entire night talking to other people they bizarrely refuse to introduce you to. People who don't say hello because they said hello last time. Slimeballs who, while kissing your ass, will carefully dart their eyes around to look for someone better. Has-beens who emit long-rehearsed quotable comments on their wacky sex life. Never-was-beens who volunteer a verbal résumé about their dinner-theater tour of the Ozarks. Big stars who won't say anything. Waiters who refuse to accept the fact that you don't want white orred. A celebrity VIP room that leaves you with all the press dregs in the main area, thereby forcing you to realize you're one of them. No gift bag.

But otherwise, I simply adore parties and will continue to attend them and even write about them through eternity. After all, parties and I inexorably belong to each other—and all the otherdingbats, bores, and crashers.

And so: David Geffen was just at Pork, the night they had a spanking demonstration. I wasn't there, mind you, but only because I have a home tutor. . . . Endearing jazz singer Peggy Cone got a bit of a public spanking at a party fashion doyenne Eleanor Lambert had recently. The Times just ran a picture of Peggy and Eleanor schmoozing it up at the bash, but what the caption didn't say was that Lambert later realized Cone wasn't invited and asked her to kindly exit. And it was a full buffet!

The party for the thought-provoking political drama The Contenderwasn't punishing, and not just because I wasn't thrown out on my ass. It was inspiring to note that writer-director Rod Lurie used to be a film critic, a fact that has every press dreg on both coasts digging their screenplays out of mothballs for one last marketing push. The movie's most indelible image has Gary Oldman sporting weird sprouts of hair as the McCarthyesque bad guy. "He created the whole look himself," Lurie told me at the premiere. "He had an official hair plucker." I'm starting to need one for my nose and ears.

Pubic hair ran wild at the bash for Robert Altman's Dr. T & the Women, which is highly enjoyable, despite the absurdity of its assigning romantic overtones to gynecology. (Oh yeah, shove that speculum way up there, you hot babe!) Kate Hudson just told me for Outmagazine that the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders rescinded their uniform when they realized her character dykes out. What cowgirls! But at the party, everyone was dressed up and fancy-free, with Liv Tyler's mother, Bebe Buell, asking me, "How did you like my daughter as a lesbian?" "She got it from you," I cracked. "Oh, please!" exclaimed Buell. "When did I ever date women? She got it from her father, dear."

I got it from the grapevine that Will & Grace's hot mama Megan Mullally just shot an Old Navy holiday commercial—and, even better, she wasn't union-busting by doing so; the advertiser signed a strike interim deal. Carrie Donovan, however, scabbed before the deal was made, and is now being unfashionably called up on union charges! Show her the exit, Ms. Lambert.

Brimming with will and grace, I ran into director Joel Schumacher on a bench outside a bagel store in the Village and realized that not all parties have to be indoors. Between bites of low-fat cream cheese, Joel said he'd been asked to do the Queer as Folkpilot for Showtime, but it didn't work out because he was busy finishing up Tigerland (a/k/a Straight as Folk). I told him that what Showtime ended up with sounds dirty and racy enough, but Joel said, "It seemed dirty and racy for the sake of it—not character driven. I told them, 'Why not just show the British version?' Remember when they were going to do an American version of Absolutely Fabulous? Why bother?" How true, sweetie, darling, especially since, a bunch of years later, the Brit episodes are still running!

As American as tucked penises and party crashing, Doll—Theatre Couture's mixing of Ibsen and Barbie via The Carol Burnett Show—has Sherry Vine as a windup housewife with an even skankier past than Joan Allen in The Contender. It's low-reaching but fun, especially when the delectable Candis Cayne performs a wild tarantella exhibition laced with moonwalking, mime, and the Robot!

Ibsen meets Here's Lucy for Bette Midler's new series—daringly called Bette—but at this point it's the kind of party I'd rather watch from a distance. The jokes are mostly feeble and self-deprecating, and we're supposed to believe that Bette is an insecure mess who'll knock herself out to please some shlubby husband, whereas he should be licking hertawdry toes at every moment. The show comes alive whenever our star is allowed to be Bette, not "Bette." Let's have more of that, please.

"Here's Lezzie" was the unofficial theme of the Miss L.E.S. (Lower East Side) 2000 contest at the Slipper Room, where I was a crasher, bore, and judge. Miss Delancey (Adyka Jones) deservedly won, replete with kneepads, tap shoes, and a platform that called for the initiation of LSYNC—a fund for Lesbian Seagull Youth in the Closet. They're probably all dressed like Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.

Finally, a viewing of the Dresden Green Diamond at Harry Winston exemplified the best and worst that private parties have to offer. On the bright side, there was glittery jewelry, an occasional nibble, and a performance by the formidable Patti LuPone. On the minus front, there was a mime and a juggler, too many of those women with their stomachs stapled shut and their eyes stapled open, and no gift bag. "It's a great event if you're interested in gemstones," said an editor, sincerely. I was—but the damned diamond was stuck in a glass display case so you couldn't take it home or even play with it. What kind of party is that?

And now, go to your destiny—or at least your buffet.


musto@villagevoice.com

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