By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Always in the market for new nightlife frontiers, I journeyed downyes, downto Heaven, a restaurant-dance club in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, that looks like a high-tech airport lounge of the future as envisioned by a very kooky tycoon from the recent past. The sleek hangoutsmack-dab in a neighborhood mainly known for fishy aromas and joints like For goodness steak and Loehman'spositively swarms with clean-scrubbed Russian youth who drink fig-flavored vodkas and party on, even if they've been seated in Siberia. Everyone raises his glasnost to heaven as the trio of house entertainerswho come off like the Russian Sinéad O'Connor, Nelly Furtado, and Nick Cartergamely belt out numbers till the yaks come home. These divas take turns delivering original dance tunes and '80s classics, never dabbling in the stereotypical anthems and/or cossack dances I foolishly expected. Between sets, you enjoy the fascinating "fusion" food, duck the seizure-inducing strobe lights, and marvel at the fact that a touch of Russiathe land of flashy new nightlife and overnight millionaireshas been effectively brought to the boroughs. Honey, Moscow does not believe in tearsit believes in fierce.
On the mainland, things seem to be getting friskier, obviously in tongue-wagging anticipation of Premier Giuliani's departure (though state officials are having the last sick laugh by crunching down on Peter Gatien's clubs). The Knock-Off bash that happens Fridays at the Slipper Room serves up a racy, multigender revue of kitsch, though I'm still smarting from the performer dressed like a giant vagina who enfolded me with her labia while singing "Lick Me in My Wet Spot" to the tune of Pat Benatar's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot." Help!
They dressed like they hadgiant vaginas at the Miss All That Contest, a demented drag pageant that I helped judge at Cheez Whiz (Sundays at the Parkside Lounge) in exchange for two Diet Cokes. After four hours of jury deliberation, the crown went to Pastiche Mélange, a flat-chested beauty with a penchant for jaunty berets and Lou Reedsongs. The prize? According to organizer Sweetie, it was "a Jeep Cherokee, sexual reassignment via Puket, Thailand, and a year's worth of Percocet." Hopefully not in that order.
"Fusion" drugs were advisable for the HXAwards at Limelight last weekthe club was even allowed to serve booze back thenespecially since the set list contained the very surreal sentence, "Rue McClanahanwill present a special award to Junior Vasquez." This actually wasn't all thatshocking, considering Rue has been hosting something called Faggot Feudat a Chelsea bar named Blu. (What nextEstelle Gettyat the Manhole?) Alas, Rue didn't make it to Limelightshe'd never confirmedbut Junior did, announcing that, with Twilo shuttered, he'll next spin at Exit rather than enter unemployment. (The girl who plays the lesbian on All My Children showed too, but she got carved up by the drag hosts, who deadpanned, "Wow, she's thin and can read a prompter.")
The city's high-cultural landscape might not be providing tons of work these daysit's off-seasonbut it's hitting with its best shot. Off Broadway, tick . . . tick . . . BOOM! proves that Jonathan Larson was a cranky, self-possessed nightmare, but one whose angsty talent makes this minor bauble brim with poignancy. What a sweet little flat-chested beauty of a show! And the late legends keep on coming. At a gala screening for the gushy Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures, I asked the director's widow, Christiane Kubrick, about the nuclear bomb known as Eyes Wide Shut. "It was hugely successful in southern Europe and Japan," she insisted. So am Ibut why did the film fail in America, pray tell? "It was badly advertised," said Christiane, "but Stanley couldn't stop it. He was dead already." I hate when that happens.
In the land of more upbeat promotional possibilities, I hear that author Tama Janowitzwill be on the cover of Modern Ferretmagazine with her pets, as photographed by Todd Oldham. Anyone for the back cover of Contemporary Gerbil?
Monkey talk dominated Paper's Tribeca Grand party for sultry Planet of the Apescostar Lisa Marie. The model-turned-actress told me that the movie's simian costumes transformed the cast so dramatically that "when I looked at Tim Roth, I couldn't see Tim in there." (Maybe if you handed him a banana?) Interestingly, Randy Harrison, who plays the lovestruck twinkie in search of Brian's banana on Queer as Folk, was standing nearby, talking about how peeling offhis costume in the show's King of Babylon contest episode utterly unnerved him. "The sex scenes are fine," he told me, "but to get up there and strip for 40 extras was humiliating. It was so hard for me to fake that kind of confidence." Honey, try dressing up like a giant vagina.
I stripped down to my realfake personality for the American Fashion Awards, where the apexnot just of this event, but of the history of mankindwas Diana Rosspresenting an award to Bob Mackieby flicking back her extensions, spinning around like a sequined dreidel, and cooing, "Fashion and glamour have been my life." We know, dear, we know.
Those other disco survivors, the Village People, may be a tad unfashionable these days, but they're still carrying on like macho men. The sextet's Native American character, Felipe Rose, got his feathers ruffled when cable host Barry Zasked him why the group calls itself the Village People. Prickly Rose seemed half bemused and half horrified, snarling, "I'm not going to tell you. . . . Don't ask me these questions again!" Fine, as long as you don't sing "Y.M.C.A." again!