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Bad news for the stuff-and-tuck crowd: The next Wigstock drag festival is being billed as the last! Insiders tell me that the all-day prance-o-rama is becoming rather daunting to mount (much like myself) and the result always comes out even more in the red than Lady Bunny's nails. So let's polish those pumps for one last fabulous blowout and then go back to doing drag indoors.

But wait—first you must kick off your shoes for the Foot Friends party every Monday at the Lure, a frisky get-together for gay men who fetishize those little piggies who go to the (meat) market. I ventured into the most recent such bash—yes, I walked—and what seemed potentially terrifying turned out so casual and accepting I wasn't ashamed of my blisters and hangnails anymore. There was even a Foot Code on the wall, generously explaining that number one means massage, two equals foot-licking, and so on, all the way through 10 (trampling)! Promoter Alan Prattgamely trampled my fears by explaining that though nine is bastinado, which signifies torture, "We don't allow breaking of bones or actual damage. Tickle torture is good for you, though," he added. "It oxygenates the blood and makes my dick hard." (Funny, it oxygenates my dick and makes my blood hard.)

But I was tickled on finding a curtained-off area, where a smallish crowd was licking toes and rubbing soles. (Mercifully, no one was doing number nine.) Mid-nosh, the patrons were asked to crawl into the main room for the Feet of Flavor Sole Train contest, whereby men of color could show off their tootsies in hopes of winning a $100 prize. After much prompting, the five contestants stripped off their Birkenstocks and wiggled their digits as the DJ played a very special toe jam. The Q&A segment became moderately charged when a contestant was asked to spell podiatrist.He flawlessly did so—but the winner, Troy, beat him in the creativity section, dexterously picking up his sneaker with two toes! He was a shoe-in.

The footwear was on and aisle-bound for the outdoor Gay Pride Day ceremony organized by the Wedding Party, a coalition supporting equal marriage rights in a big, public way. Dozens of same-sex couples were "married" across from the Plaza, and it was extremely touching, especially when the preacher asked the betrothed to pull out "a ring, bracelet, or even just a kiss." How refreshingly sincere and/or cost-conscious! But when there areexpenses, of course, the father of the bottom pays for everything.

This little piggy went to the (meat) market: Foot Friends at the Lure.
photo: Brian Finke
This little piggy went to the (meat) market: Foot Friends at the Lure.

At the gay parade, the well-heeled float promoting the Janis Joplin show Love, Janis rode by as I screamed, "Thanks for cutting out the fact that Janis was bisexual!" Janis's flack later countered to me that the show is based on Joplin's letters and interviews, in which she didn't bring any of that stuff up. Then write it in!

Rather than "keep it gay," the hilarious Mario Cantoneturned down the chance to costar in The Producers(but naturally he hasn't refused tickets). Cantone told me he played Carmen Gia in the show's workshop, after which Mel Brookswanted him to sign up for a year on Broadway. "But though it's a great part," says Cantone, "it's not that big and people have seen me do that before." Instead, he's taking a shot at Sondheim's Assassins, playing the guy who wanted to crash a plane into the White House and kill Nixon. That's notbeen done to music.

The ultimate killer musical, Gypsy, was just put on by the Narrows Community Theater on the Fort Hamilton Army Base, so there I was, schlepping on a subway and trekking (in Blahniks) through a Brooklyn military enclave to watch everything come up roses. I braced for a bomb, but the production was extremely sweet and zesty, the cast summoning images of sunshine and Santa Claus. If I happen to sashay back to that army base—well, don't ask, don't tell.

A return trip to the weird revue called The Vaudeville Showat the Supper Club had me even more enamored of the light-headed MC, Viviana, who misses cues, sings almost on key, and laughs at her own jokes—delightfully. The club's camera lady for decades, Viviana was plucked for "stardom" because of her wacky willingness to do as told—or try to, anyway. Insiders told me she once announced a performer named Vasilly as "Vaseline" and another time was found drinking at the bar during the finale. She is such a star! The show's other nut is Martha Shoeman, the rapping granny ("Let me know when my teeth fall out . . . "), who gave me her number on the back of a reminder card for a doctor's appointment.

My appointment with Spielberg's A.1 sauce—I mean A.I.—was climaxed with the revelation that the robotized teddy bear "supertoy" seems borrowed from that Cottonelle commercial! At the screening, director Amos Poetold me that in the '70s he was promoting his proudly raw The Blank Generation at a festival, where Spielberg confided to him that he was hoping to do his own low-budget 16mm flick about an extraterrestrial. So E.T. was his idea of an indie?

On a much more grandiose scale, I've been interviewing celebs on a Metro Channel show called New York Central—plug, plug—and would adoreit if you'd let me recap some recent highlights. John Leguizamotold me that Toulouse-Lautrec was so well-hung he was called the tripod. (I guess no one was too loose for Toulouse.) Jackie Collinssaid she's never read her sister Joan's novels, explaining, "I felt it was more prudent not to because it's not really what she does. I probably would love them, and one of these days I'll get around to reading them." And Rufus Wainwrightsaid that Sinead O'Connor, who dropped out of the all-gay Wotapalava tour, "is now black."

Oh, speaking of Sinead, she provoked guffaws two years ago when she claimed to be a lesbian, and now, sure enough, she's gotten engaged to a man. (She has the kiss—I mean the ring—to prove it.) In fact, I hear the little devil was recently spotted ripping up a photo of Melissa Etheridge.

But please don't shred the following helpful hints about where you should direct your feet, entertainment-wise. The best place to play pool is Pressure (upstairs at Bowlmor), which is sleekly Austin Powers-y and blissfully not pressury at all. The movie to avoid is The Closet—it's a gay Soul Man. The best porno title of all time is The Courtship of Eddie's Finger. And one of the liveliest reads—let your fingers do the walking—is Shadow of the Dolls, Rae Lawrence's follow-up to Jackie Susann's Valley of the Dolls, which was an even dishier romp about three saucy starlets than the inevitable Behind the Musicon Destiny's Childwill be. Yes, I felt it was prudent to read the sequel and even go to its party at DKNY, where Lawrence told me she hates the Valleymovie's ending, with Anne leaving Lyon behind. "But it's a feminist twist," I balked, and Lawrence said, "But feminism is about telling the truth!" Then tell me this, woman: What would have happened to Jennifer North (the busty showgirl-turned-porn-star character) had she lived? "If she had lived?" shrieked the nearby Lisa Bishop, the manager of Susann's oeuvre. "But Jackie killed her!" No doubt using number nine.

Late-Breaking Item!

The new Natalie Wood bio, Natasha, is fascinating not only because of its sexual revelations about Robert Wagner, but also because of the lengthy investigation it provides into Natalie's tragic death by dinghy. Interestingly, an actor friend of Natalie's is quoted as being skeptical that Natalie was alone when she died and that her death was purely accidental. And who is this guy who seems to be hinting at foul play? Robert Blake!


musto@villagevoice.com

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