NY Mirror

A lady named Madonna put on a special concert for me at Roseland and, annoyingly enough, a few thousand other people showed up to watch it. In case they haven't told you about it by now, i'll give you that rare invited-guest's-eye view. Dolce & Gabbana decorated the club as a big glam ranch, with features like a front-area tableau consisting of trannie cowboys skating around and snapping their fingers and so many sparkly gold cacti on the bathroom walls I was convinced I was peeing glitter. The crowd was eclectic to say the least, from two-year-old girls in Muff Daddy hats to the expected packs of Chelsea boys in Western wear (West 20s, that is) to a wide-eyed young woman who admitted, "I've never seen her before. I'm afraid." So was I when she came onstage and looked and sounded a little husky—though when the smoke cleared, it turned out to be the opening act, Everlast. He was fine, but smart to stop after three songs to avoid a mass lynching.

Moments later, it was Madonna time as a gigantic, crumpled American flag lifted up on the side stage and revealed a white pickup truck on the prairie, in the back of which Miss American Pie sang in a black sparkly outfit as four half-nude go-go boys jumped out and pulsated their pelvises. It was slick, exciting, and tended to blow Britney away, though Madonna nodded to the younger singer (via irony and iron-ons) by having the upstart's name emblazoned in shiny letters on her Dolce tank top.

Frenetic video clips of urban life played on the big screen as Madonna was dramatically carried to the main stage by the crowd (her idea—and they were no doubt her staff) and continued singing and cavorting, dancing more like a motherfucker than a mother. "As you can see, having children has fucked with my memory," she said, meaning I'm not sure what, since the show seemed flawlessly rehearsed. After a few more songs from her latest CD—stuff about never wanting to quit and such—Madonna asked us if we like to "boogie-woogie, chicken lickin', ride the white pony, and ride the black pony." The crowd roared its assent, so she sang "Music," backed by her greatest video hits as the expected hailstorm of silver glitter shot out, probably from my engorged penis. She didn't need it. In fact, Madonna was so good I'm tempted to go to the video store and reevaluate Body of Evidence.

A diva with a real British accent, Marc Almond, played the proverbial white pickup truck known as Barracuda—again, just for me—and also let himself get pawed by the crowd that had strangely gathered. Marc delivered a high-powered dance set, climaxing with "Tainted Love" (you know, "touch me, baby, tainted love"), on which he bravely sashayed into the audience to be vigorously touched and tainted. The Barracuda boys were entranced, as if playing disciples in a porno production of Godspell.

A return pilgrimage to the reopened Studio 54 found a frolicky night of pure abandon enjoyed amongst no one you'd ever know, to the tune of Madonna's "Music." The nouveau-54 crowd mainly consists of New Jersey straights, some of whom look like they've been waiting to get in since the club's heyday and finally made it. They truly show their appreciation and so do the young ones, who are done to the nines in mall fashions—"I Love New York" halter tops, midriff-exposing pink vinyl pants, crocheted bags, and drop earrings the size of Madonna's babies. These outfits say "Britney Spears" without actually saying Britney Spears. You're agog at some of the looks and positively ready to vomit when an eightyish man walks by with two, count 'em two, bosomy female escorts. But though a friend of mine remarked that 54's old doorman would probably run through this place with a machine gun, another pal gushed, "I like any place where people have fun," and I have to second that emotion. It's fabulous!

Spa is a sleek and kooky dance club, but the night of the You Can Count on Me premiere party, the VIP crowd horded itself into an overbaked, underventilated part of it without so much as a cactus on the wall. "It's not my style," griped writer-director Kenneth Lonergan, unhappily surveying the ultrawhite joint. "It's horrible in here," agreed costar Mark Ruffalo. "I feel like I'm in 2001: A Space Odyssey." Ruffalo fits better in his own movie, a beautifully crafted tale of a brother who proves himself a better mother than his sister is to Macaulay Culkin's brother (you must believe me). Ruffalo told me that Lonergan assured him he wouldn't get the part—"It was a mercy audition"—but things changed when he swaggered in radiating the arrogance of the character. "Actually, I'm pretty self-deprecating," the actor told me. "I don't have much arrogance at all." In fact, he seems to think this big break is also his apex, and admitted, "I'll never have a part this good again." When I told him they might musicalize the movie—a fanciful lie—he played right along, serenading me with an impromptu tune called "You Can Count on Me." It was better than most of the shit on Broadway.

But hey, Off-Broadway rocks, like the new musical A Class Act, which puts obscure Ed Kleban songs together into the life story of Madonna—I mean Ed Kleban. Ed who? Well, he was the neurotic and frustrated lyricist for the quintessential theater queen's toe-tapper, A Chorus Line, which was so named, we learn, because the "A" automatically put it at the top of all newspaper listings. The same idea must have spawned the icky title A Class Act, and fortunately, the engaging show is much better than it sounds.

Harold Pinter's Betrayal—or A Betrayal, if you prefer—goes pretty much chronologically backward and so does my review of the play's new revival: Chic and dry is it. Fine are Schreiber Liev, Binoche Juliette, and Slattery John. But electrifying not it's partly because cavernous so is stage the that diminished totally become betrayals the. Got that?

If I can project chronologically forward, wouldn't it be madcap if drag diva Charles Busch ultimately replaced Linda Lavin in his hit comedy The Tale of the Allergist's Wife? "Sorry," I was told by an insider, "he likes a real woman to play the part." OK, how about RuPaul?

Real men of all genders might want to just stay home and check out a Web site called Abercrombie and Filth—an obscene (and pricey) catalog takeoff where you get to boogie-woogie, chicken lickin', and ride all sorts of ponies. I hear.

Rounding out my week in the big glam ranch of life, I rode my hot black bike to photographer-to-the-stars Patrick McMullan's dinner at 98 Kenmare, where I celebrated celebrity with a bunch of saucy celebrity celebrants. Techno whiz Moby told me he's become friends with his idol David Bowie, who e-mails him stuff like "We're moving. We packed the socks today"—the kind of intimate detail even Madonna generally withholds. This night, Bowie must have been busy sorting out his underwear, but his wife, Iman, was at the party, scarfing down her entree with a refreshing zest. "I didn't realize you eat," I cracked to the model citizen. "Honey," she said, "if you saw my ass, you'd know I eat." Oh, please, she looked fabulous, and having a child hasn't fucked with her mammaries at all.


musto@villagevoice.com

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