By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Things have been extraordinarily slowso slow that I was ecstatic to get a press release announcing, "Kenny Rogers song to be featured on upcoming Touched by an Angel episode" (if not slow enough that i actually watched the show). So slow that i have been watching tapes of upcoming sitcoms. (I love musical-comedy baby Kristin Chenoweth, and the good news about her 'Kristin' series is that it's so weak that the little diva will surely be back on Broadway soon enough!) So slow that, in lieu of taking in that Touched by an Angel, I've been wallowing in lots and lots of commercials. (Gay writer Brad Goochappears in one for Allure perfume, cooing, "Wanna marry me?" That would have to be in Vermont, wouldn't it?)
Soslow that I orgasmed on being gifted with a DVD of a 1969 TV special teaming Carol Channingand Pearl Bailey in an endearingly thrown-together-looking mishmash. Among the highlights, Pearl rips off unwieldy props and accessories and flings them to the stage, and Channing puts a gray scarf atop her blindingly sequined outfit and unironically sings "If I Were a Rich Man." The DVD also includes outtakes, which aren't all that different from the stuff they aired.
The 1950 movie version of Annie Get Your Gunfinally came out on video and DVD after decades of unavailabilityagain, I was beside myselfbut it turns out to be a sad experience, with little overall vision and the usually delightful Betty Huttonhamming it up on every bizarre syllable. By way of outtakes, you get the footage Judy Garland shot as Annie before her messiness made the studioget its gun and drive her out of town. Judy looks roughlike an urban crack addict who wandered in sporting a Joan of Arc hairdobut she's absolutely mesmerizing, giving the character real poignance and toughness. Amazingly, she performs perfectly in one long-take scene, only to have someone elsescrew up by yelling, "Cut!" before he's supposed to!
But things are so slow that I went to yet another dinner theater in Pennsylvaniacut!catching something called I'll Be Home for Christmasat the Dutch Apple mainly because I was hungry, it was there, and the sound of ringing holiday bells proved hypnotic. The buffet turned out to be delightfully elaborate, but the slick, well-meaning show was weird, including an episode about Scotland that didn't even mention Madonna's wedding but did have a guy in a kilt making sure to tell us he has a wife (and not one he married in Vermont). Things picked up with a teen-group knockoff called 'N Season and a female version of the old "Who's on first?" routine, but as game as the performers were, a kid at our table kept waking up and moaning, "This is awful!"
At least Pete 'n' Keelywhich I suddenly had time to catch up withis supposed to be like a kitschy TV special. The Off-Broadway tuner stars Sally Mayesand George Dvorskyas a showbiz couple who've had a dvorsky but are reunited for a Pearl 'n' Carol-type prime-time romp in which all their antagonisms and longings come to the fore even more loudly than their Bob Mackieoutfits. The show reminded me of skits I wrote in high school, which is fine because I loved those skits, but it's all pretty thin and as strained as Pete 'n' Keely's relationship. Still, the spoofing of lounge-singing mannerisms is very kooky and the stars truly twinkled in the face of a stony audience.
Moods picked up with the premiere of Before Night Falls, artist Julian Schnabel's lovingly made movie about gay Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas. (Message to star Javier Bardem: Wanna marry me?) In fact, everyone was so hungry for this eventthings were slowthat people were lobbying for placement in the overbooked theater as Schnabel advised, "If you don't get a seat, take out a knife." As the crowd organized itself without weapons, Schnabel prepared to address us, only to have his friend Lou Reedshout out, "Sing!" The movie, which sang for itself, is a walk on the wild side, especially when Johnny Deppturns up as a drag queen who smuggles Arenas's novel out of jail via his anus. From the looks of it, he probably could have performed a similar stunt for Tolstoy.
The equally overattended after-party was at Schnabel's loft, where Ross Blecknergrinned and said, "Beautiful! I can't imagine where he learned to make a movie!" I asked Schnabel if this one was harder to direct than Basquiat. "No," he tossed off, "it was more like a DNA print for me." More meaningfully, is it easier now to be gay in Cuba? "For some gays, sometimes," Schnabel said. "It depends on Castro's whims." He added that not long ago, designer Jean-Paul Gaultierwas arrested just for being in a Cuban gay jointthe ultimate fashion victim.
With my latest novel tucked up my ass, I chased some more thrills before night fell and ran into Spa honcho Steve Lewisoutside that wildly popular club. In between telling desperate would-be entrants, "That's not my job," Lewis revealed to me that he exclusively loves Asian women. "I haven't slept with a white woman in seven years," he said. "Pamela Leelet me touch her breasts once and it did nothing for me." Me neither!