By Jared Chausow
By Katie Toth
By Elizabeth Flock
By Albert Samaha
By Anna Merlan
By Jon Campbell
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
Abandoned and confusedI'm scared when there aren't flashesI sheepishly sought solace in Boy Gets Girl at the Manhattan Theatre Club, assuming it would be a fluffy romantic comedy for the Woolite crowd. Wrong! It's a hard-hitting stalking drama, and though it heavy-handedly shows how the objectification of women robs them of their identity, at least the play's thought-provokingand not just because the comforting policewoman who makes multiple office visits seems as fantastical as Miguel Adrover's fashion tips.
But the deeply moving documentary Southern Comfort has the ring of reality to it, its girl-becomes-boy-and-gets-boy-who-became-girl scenario making perfect sense when you get to know the all-accepting cast of lovable gender benders. At a party for the film at Vandam, the transsexual Lola Colawho's a lesbian nowtold me, "I didn't know if the film was very good. I thought, 'Oh God, I look so hideous!' " Please! She could easily walk a runway, and not just for you know who.
And now, prance with me down memory lane for a treasure trove of Nick at Nite-style divas who've burst out of that giant TV set/jukebox in the sky and fallen right into my wild and woolly lap. First was Nell Carter, who's tearing up the room at Feinstein'snot just singing, but being a dominatrix ("Don't look at my butt!"), cutely showing her insecurities ("How long have I been up here?" she asked, and one weirdo shot back, "Seventy-six minutes"), and spouting revelations ("I didn't think Ain't Misbehavin' was going anywhere"shades of Southern Comfort, no?). Robust, sassy, and cornet-voiced, Nell kicks ass on classic songsso much so that you'll forget she ever did The Match Game.
Another golden oldieJackie DeShannon, the blond belter best known for "What the World Needs Now Is Love"just resurfaced, predictably prompting me to set up a bicoastal phoner to cheer her on. Jackie seems thrilled with the career renewal that's spawned her new CD, You Know Me, especially since the last time around, she "felt like a child in the corner, suffering from emotional malnutrition." This time, she's finally been allowed to record without limits, and it's exactly what the world needs now. "I'm not here to be a diva," Jackie told me. "I'm sort of like Shaker furniturethose handmade jobs. I don't like pretentious things. I'm more the paint-on jeans kind of girl." So am I, and when we started impulsively duetting on "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing," Jackie nicely enough let me be Tammi Terrell!
I sang a different tune"Chica, Chica, Boom, Chic"with Charo, the long-running Spanish bombshell who wiggles, plays guitar, and turns up on more reruns of The Love Boat than there are donkeys lined up outside Elite. The "cuchi-cuchi" ladythe original Ricky Martin, in a wayis guest-starring in the Off-Broadway musical Pete 'N' Keely, a kitschy, TV-special spoof that's definitely more suited to her talents than, say, Design for Living. In an interview at her Wyndham Hotel suite, Charo was expectedly vampy and campy, and it's definitely not an act; until I corrected her, she actually thought the show was called Pete 'N' Kelly and is on Broadway!
"I am an international cucaracha," she told me by way of a greeting. "I've been doing salsa since my cuchi-cuchi was only a gitchie-gitchie. I am mental!" She looked perfectly sane in a clingy white pants suit, her cascading hair and high heels practically doubling her 5' 3" frame. Her outfits in the show are "very conservative," she said, then laughingly added, "but I really look like a $250 hooker!"
I offered to pay her double that if she explained why her English hasn't improved one bit since the '60s. "It's getting worse," Charo admitted. "That pisses me off. The problem is I only speak Spanish with my family. I say 'hijo de puta,' which means 'son of a bitch.' My son says, 'Mother, you're calling yourself a puta!' " (But a $250 one.) She feels her son looks like Val Kilmer, by the way"but I never cuchi-cuchied Val Kilmer!"