NY Mirror

Believe-it-or-not department: Christopher Walken—currently knocking 'em dead in The Seagull and on MTV—started out as a backup singer-dancer for oddball personality Monique Van Vooren, who persuaded him to change his name from Ronald Walken because it didn't sound stellar enough. Ask Ronnie, it's true!

By any name, dance music performer Kevin Aviance seems to have it in for that other drag diva RuPaul. I've repeatedly gotten publicity releases from Kevin's people denigrating Ru as tired and passé and promoting himself as the more captivating alternative. But Kev, dollface, there's room for both of you gammy gals. It's downright meow-trageous to put down another queen in order to emphasize your own giddy glory. Flog your flacks and rise up with pride—and don't take it out on me.

Another gorgeous sister, Jennifer Holliday, has her own glamorous ax to grind. She's been trying to revive Dreamgirlsfor years, and is freaking that other people beat her to it with that upcoming one-night-only benefit. But while I feel Jen's pain, I was dumbfounded to hear that she feels her exclusion from the benefit is racist—does she think they got a Caucasian woman to play big, black Effie? (They didn't!) Actually, she meant that original stars are more likely to get dissed if they're African American, but what about the "Encores!" series, which revives oodles of hits without even phoning the (usually white) people who first starred in them? Jennifer, pumpkin, the new Dreamgirlsis a revival, not a reunion. And anyway, you can relax knowing that even if you don't own the part, you do ownthe part.

On Broadway, If You Ever Leave Me . . . I'm Going With You! is sort of Renée Taylorand Joe Bologna's "Drowned World" tour—a summation of their years of kooky artistry, but done with bathrobes instead of kilts. For a Westbury Music Fair-style audience, Joe and Renée cutely re-create scenes, tell jokes, and even divulge their sexual secrets. (Renée pretends to be a hooker and accosts Joe at a bar at the Plaza.) They're talking to Jennifer Holliday about the revival.

The hottest new, old, whatever showbiz couple is Drew Barrymoreand Mama Jaid—they've reconciled and are now busy clearing up each other's unbelievably intricate gossip legends. When prompted, Jaid just told me that Drew's Limelight years were greatly exaggerated. (I saw the mother-daughter duo there when Drew was nine and assumed the little one was downing margaritas by the thousand.) Jaid said they only went there once, having been invited by a promoter, and became overly identified with the club and its excesses. Me too! More recently, Jaid says, she controversially put some of Drew's stuff up for auction, but only to benefit Gilda's Club. Oh, one more hot-button issue: Does Jaid still prefer women to men? "It's six of one, half a dozen of the other," she told me, blithely. That's much better than RuPaul, who only likes men!

And what about Rudy? He loves opera, does drag, and is now living with two gay guys. Sounds like he's ready for Scientology! But—moving right along—Kyle Bradfordsure isn't. The second my report went out last week stating that the Tom Cruise-smitten porn star had a new Web site that thanked people for "cruisin' by"—get it?—he changed it to "stopping by" and even took out the misspelled mention of his having played a "Capanchino vendor" in Days of Our Lives. (Now it just says he was "featured.") Who says I don't have power?

And I have gossip, too. An insider who's "featured" at the high-powered PR firm Rubenstein Associates is reportedly telling people they might drop the beleaguered Lizzie Grubmanbecause she's not up to the caliber of their other clients. And I thought they likeda challenge. ("It's absolutely false," responds Howard Rubenstein. "We are not dropping Lizzie.")

A pretty solid PR client these days, Bebe Buell, celebrated her Rebel Heart memoir at Don Hill's—the book talks about her Barrymore-like reconciliation with daughter Liv Tyler, by the way—and drew so many Max's Kansas City survivors it was like an "Encores!" revival. Buell's coauthor, Victor Bockris, told me that writing the book "was a real roller coaster," adding, "I think Bebe discovered her life by doing this book. More people should do it. Bebe got very depressed at one point, and that produced the greatest chapter." Which one? "I don't remember. But the book is a Candidefor the modern age. She's Candy for our times." I cornered Candy, I mean Bebe, and asked who the hell Gary Sunshine is. (According to the sex-romp-filled tome, he actually rejected her.) "I don't know!" she exclaimed. "We've all had bumps and bruises." But I guess we haven't all had our Gary Sunshines.

Get bumped and bruised all you want at the Brawlers' Fight Club NYC, a monthly event at the Manhole Mens' Club, featuring wrestling, grappling, gut punching, and everything but reconciling with your famous daughter. The motto? "If you got the balls, we got the space!" And indeed, the cozy basement—dotted with guys in their underwear paddling and massaging each other, in that order—is centered around a mat, on which some serious antagonism is worked out. Who aresome of these people off the mat, pray tell? "There's an Ivy League professor," an insider told me, "and a Broadway producer . . . " Enough—let me at 'em.

And now, to cleanse your palate, here are some soothingly bootylicious blind items: What young socialite had a thing with that female "photographer" and a German shepherd? (If you've got the balls, she's got the space.) What substance-challenged model has a child who was generously fathered by her uncle? What downtown legend was lusted after by a lesbian who didn't pursue it because she decided said legend is a trannie and might not get moist between her legs? (But she's nota trannie, I swear, and gets even wetter than a hurricane.) What moralistic figure isa trannie? (Well, he likes to dress up in drag for sex flings with women?)

What married club owner is dating someone I know, and I'll slap him senseless if he breaks her little heart (not to mention that of his wife)? What famous brother got a blowjob at a peep show in Arizona—from a guy? What superstar pulls her face together with lots of tape rather than get surgery, which, you know, would hurt? What other superstar has scars all over her noggin because she's already been lifted more than once, thank you? What was the best Behind the Music ever? (Free answer: the one about the Bangles, which ended with the gals beaming about how happy they are to be reunited, only to have Susanna Hoffsinterrupt a rehearsal by saying, "Someone's playing the wrong chord. Who is it?") Who's The Opposite of Sex creator Don Roos's longtime boyfriend? (Another freebie: All Over the Guy writer-costar Dan Bucatinsky—Dan told me!) What gay director married that big-time sapphic sister he's worked with? What rowdy matinee idol danced at a club with a girl who impulsively handed him a beer bottle that he promptly shoved up her privates? What series star let his child pee in the big Central Park fountain when nobody was looking? Now do you know why I don't drink out of the Central Park fountain?

But let's do hang out nearby at the Plaza. I'll pretend to be a hooker.


musto@villagevoice.com Musto can be heard weekdays at 3 and 7 p.m. on Voice Radio.

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