By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Hey, everybody, it's still dead legends month, with musical tributes to Judy Garland, George Gershwin, and Mark Twain providing a nonstop Behind the Music for the criminally insane.
At the bustling piano bar Don't Tell Mama, Judy & Liza Live! brought back one legend and one career, with Tommy Femia delivering a pricelessly sung Judy Garland, joined by the talented Christine Pedi as spunky daughter Liza Minnelli. (A woman as Liza? In a club setting, that's almost revolutionary.) The two divas served full-throttle renditions of the stars' greatest hits, and Femia's Judy even tried her hand at "Cabaret," deviously changing the lyrics to "Put down the knitting, Lorna's book, and the broom." Wacky Judy also took pains to tell us about the recent TV movie about herself, saying, "They had this marvelous young girl playing me from 12 to 21, then the next thing you knew, there was this 80-year-old woman called Judy Davisand she did a marvelous Tallulah Bankhead. I didn't know Tallulah did 'The Trolley Song'!" She certainly didn't sing it in Lifeboat.
Take a streetcar named dire to George Gershwin Alonehe's alone all righta heartfelt but lame "And then I wrote . . . " one-man long shot at the Helen Hayes. That's the theater whose owner dissed the Pulitzer-winning Witbecause it was too depressing, instead bringing in a musical about Nazi Germany that bombed. (Springtime for Hitlerit wasn't.) Now he's edged out Dirty Blondein favor of thisthing, making you wonder if he issome sort of modern-day Max Bialystock.
The ever whirling Stevie Nicks gets better treatment with the Jackie Factory's annual Night of a Thousand Stevies, where divas-in-training exchange Stevie lore, leather, lace, and love. Remember when a mentally ill man plotted to kidnap Stevie, thinking she had the magical power to turn him straight? Well, at the Stevie-thonat Don Hill's this yearher music has the opposite effect, instantly making hundreds of adoring people gay. In fact, they comegaythough the event's gotten so major it's also attracting a mixed crowd of T-shirted arena-rock fans practically holding lighters and looking for a souvenir stand.
At peaks in the evening, everyone sang along with the performers, so you'd hear a deafening roomful of stuff like "I'm getting older too!" The stars included drag regulars like Cashetta, TV names like Sara Rue(from Popular), and a bald guy with a shawl and a tambourine, all capturing the unique combination of fierce determination and witchy preciousness. Stevie is a talisman for the ages; we've but to rub her twirling tummy for good luck. In fact, she's everything: white-winged dove, gypsy, earth mother, sprite, tofu, pineapple. No, it doesn't make senseshe transcends all that.
Another impenetrable comeback gal, Belinda Carlisle, just told me she's sorry she did that VH1 Behind the Musicabout the Go-Go'sbecause "I felt uncomfortable having that much dirty laundry aired." Ididn'tI watched it three times. Carlisle also hates going behind today'smusic; she said she dislikes a lot of current female groups because "most of them are contrived and put together by marketing departments. It doesn't come from an organic place, so it doesn't interest me. . . . We [the Go-Go's] are white women in pop of a certain age, so it's going to be a little more difficult for us." But . . . no, my lips are sealed.
Not a white woman in pop at all, Roger Bartwho brilliantly plays the flaming director's mincing assistant in The Producerswas glued to his female date (reportedly his daughter) at the opening-night party for the show and was later announced in Page Six to be "spectacularly straight." Similarly, several Queer as Folkcast members have taken every opportunity to remind us how deeply, truly hetero they are once the director yells "Cut!" It's all very weird, since Anthony Hopkinsdoesn't constantly inform the press, "By the way, I'm not actually a cannibal or a serial killer." But if stars who play gay roles continue to feel the need to come out as straight, I do hope the opposite becomes common: You know, "So-and-so plays a heterosexual action hero who kicks ass, but in real life he'd like you all to know he regularly takesit up the ass."
But back to Queer as Folk: Gale Harold, who plays the slut, just told the Postthat he won't reveal his sexuality for fear of alienating either side, but when asked what he wears for a night on the town, he said, "If I'm dressing up, maybe a sharkskin suit. Or a microdress." Was he serious? Sounds straight to me.
Moving on to a more complex sexuality issue, Rush & Molloyreported that the beautiful Miss France, Elodie Gossuin, was interrogated by Miss Universe pageant officials because they heard rumors she was a transsexual. (They decided she's not.) "All delegates must be natural-born females," a pageant spokesperson dutifully explained. Quelhorseshit! Firstly, allthe contestants look like transsexuals, so why should a real one cause a problem? Secondly, a trannie is a woman, just as those who've converted to Judaism because they always felt Jewish belong in a synagogue. Hey, pageant freaksstart embracing all forms of womanhood and stop wondering if you've got male.
You want pale? Back on Broadway, The Adventures of Tom Sawyerpasses before you without much weight, pizzazz, or purpose. It's another one of those pleasant but colorless by-the-numbers adaptations of the type I used to perform for my cousins in the basement. The lead guy seems like an escapee from a Pippinrevival, and the brooding Injun must have run across the street from Cuckoo's Nest. Swap-um ticket now.
But people went cuckoo at the premiere of HBO's Billy Crystal-directed baseball opus, 61*, set in a misty, watercolor era I loved. (I'm getting older too.) Throngs of paparazzi and fans were lined up outside, and I wanted to grab them all by the neck and yell, "Relax! It's only a TV movie!" but I was the one pushing and screaming the most. "Bar mitzvah flashback!" said Crystal, faced with the appreciative throngs, who were hot for the movie, and not just when Mickey Mantle emitted lines like "I bet I got more pussy than Babe Ruth" and "I like women with small hands. Makes my dick look bigger."
At the after-party, all the guests had their balls out and were getting them signed by a myriad of baseball legends and cable stars. "I'm blushing from meeting Yogi Berra," gushed The Sopranos' Aida Turturro, who then looked at her drink and said, "Whose is this?" before downing it with brio. And Berra himself told me, "They did a good job with the movie. I wish I was in itin person." Sorry, guy, you're still alive.
Finally, some new life is on the way via preggers Ricki Lake, who told me at a Paper party at Thom's Bar that she'll have the baby at home and that her four-year-old son might even cut the umbilical cord. "We're not doing things the conventional way," said the TV host, who I hear has already booked the cord for a very special Ricki Lake Show!
Kyle Bradford, the porn star who's being sued by Tom Cruise for an interview he reportedly gave to a French magazine called Actustar describing an alleged relationship he had with Cruise, tells me he never GAVE the interview! This is corroborated by Actustar, a representative of which tells me they never ran any such interviewjust a short piece addressing some internet rumors. A Spanish language magazine named TV Y Novelas recently ran lengthy quotes from Bradford, attributing much of their story to Actustar. The plot thickens! P.S. I know for a fact that Bradford did give an interview to a British tabloid journalist, though the tab didn't go with the firstname.lastname@example.org