NY Mirror

The Roundabout just had a sold-out hit with The Women, but the enormous overhead must have made Clare Booth's profits very luce. In fact, there were so many wenches running around that stage, it finally proved that the chick from Welcome to the Dollhouse is not the same person as the girl from the Pepsi commercial. So now they've gone minimal and brought home the (Kevin) Bacon with An Almost Holy Picture, a one-man show, set in a patch of dirt, about a soul-searching ex-minister with a daughter who's born covered with hair. Sound interesting? Maybe, but it's mostly heavy-handed, thanks to unearned references to The Glass Menagerie and lines like "Who am I but the man in the cloth, running, silent, naked, alone in the dark?" Clearly this guy's not an ex-priest at all, he's a former short-story writer. Run silent and naked to something less pretentious.

Taking the opposite trajectory, the legendary Elaine Stritch has run (but not silent and naked) to a larger, splashier theater, and that's good news because I hear she spearheaded all sorts of fun havoc at the Public. My friends in low places say that a whole new dressing room was built for the golden girl, closer to the stage. ("Part of it is because we were under construction," explains a press rep.) But since there wasn't a bathroom anywhere close by—that construction thing again—Stritch became adept at relieving herself into a trash can! (What a pisser.) Equally memorably, the darling diva reportedly came in one day with a batch of old-looking clothes and announced, "Here, dry-clean these. It's in my contract." ("That one I didn't hear," says the press rep.) They probably jumped to it rather than attend to the other task at hand—emptying the trash can.

Sadly, Broadway now is the wee-wee trough—not because of Urinetown, but because it's the exclusive home of revivals of revivals, masturbatory solo sessions, and '70s schlock pastiches. (Move aside, ABBA lovers—Billy Joel's a-coming.) At least One Mo' Time has only been Off-Broadway before, and judging from a press sampling offered over collard greens last week, the '70s show about the cakewalking '20s has got the '02 hot sauce. I asked creator-director-star Vernel Bagneris if he's the only original cast member still in the thing. "Yes," he said. "The ingenue is not really ingenue material anymore, I hate to say. But luckily, I named my character Papa Du, not Son Du." (Or Du Du.) After seven more bites of peach cobbler, I told Bagneris I missed out on the original production, though I was certainly around back then. "So was I!" he exclaimed, jubilantly.

Breathing the chaos: The impatient Mira Nair, director of Monsoon Wedding
photo courtesy of 2001 USA Films
Breathing the chaos: The impatient Mira Nair, director of Monsoon Wedding

In other everything-old-is-new-again Broadway gossip, the columnists have reported that Steven Weber may replace Matthew Broderick in The Producers, and I hear everyone from TV star Malcolm Gets to complete unknowns tried out for the job. But excuse me, not long ago, Roger Bart—who plays Carmen Gia—was announced by Mel Brooks as having next dibs on the role. I'd be outscreeching Stritch over having been denied my schlemiel-ticket, but I hear Bart's OK about it.

Meanwhile, Broderick and co-star Nathan Lane co-hosted the AmFAR "Seasons of Hope" gala at Cipriani and were adorable, with jokes about whether Matthew's marriage to Sarah Jessica Parker is pure Scientology Du Du. (They decided it's not.) The evening's eclectic entertainment also included Barry Manilow saying, "New York's the greatest city in the world!" (wait, didn't he move to L.A.?), and Sheryl Lee Ralph doing a rousing Thoroughly Modern Millie tune called "Only in New York." Cindy Adams should sue.Only at Cipriani did I learn that Alicia Keys's people turned down a chance for her to duet with Marc Anthony at the Super Bowl. Because they wouldn't do her dry-cleaning? No: "We didn't think it would be right."

An imminent movie that's all right? That would be Mira Nair's Monsoon Wedding, an exuberant epic—only in Delhi, kids—which uses the matrimonial occasion to celebrate the human spirit. (But it's way better than that sounds.) As a fellow cineaste, I recently asked Nair how she feels about other such conjoinment-oriented flicks. She said she rented Robert Altman's A Wedding, "but never got around to watching it, though I love his work." Betsy's Wedding? "I haven't even seen Muriel's Wedding. I have no patience for weddings!" But she did enjoy The Celebration, the Dogme film about a birthday party, which has a dramatic Act II revelation, much like Monsoon. And that was the end of our celebratory-cinema talk. In fact, Nair's first Monsoon cut didn't even include the ceremony! "The film is not about the anthropology of ritual," she explained. Please—what is these days?

Nair has also shot an HBO movie called Hysterical Blindness with Uma Thurman and said her mission with that was "trying to breathe life into New Jersey, which is sometimes a visual challenge." Speaking of challenges: India versus the U.S.—discuss. Well, she said, "the challenge I feel in America is to breathe life into the extreme orderliness of a set, whereas in India it's chaotic and you have to choreograph the chaos and make it pulsate. Here, you have to breathe the chaos—otherwise the orderliness can kill the spirit." Especially in New Jersey.

I was all set to breathe life into a birthday bash for a male model last week, but it was already pulsating with choreographed chaos. The real-life Dogme film at the Smithfield Lounge celebrated an often shirtless Bruce Weber find named Juris, who turned out to be delightful if clothed. But Juris showed no prudence when I—hoping for an Act II revelation—asked him if Weber ever made a pass. He took a long pause, sipped his drink, then said, "He shoots very good stuff." His tone changed when I asked again later, and he said, "He's a very nice guy. There's no dirt on Bruce. He's wonderful!" Still, I'd like to do Juris duty.

On a whole new subject, johns search for trade at Red, an East Side boîte on the second floor of a townhouse, which admirably aims for some of the old Rounds crowd. While you're negotiating, they might throw in a drag diversion—like Sultana, who last week performed the appropriately clinical "Justify My Love."

On yet another subject, male4maleescorts.com is a brilliant site filled with reviews of hustlers, as written by their sugar daddy patrons. It's the Zagat's of pay-for-gay. Logging on for a kick (not a dick), I found a few negative reviews, like one of a hustler who wanted to shower first "because my penis is uncut and it smells." But most entries are aromatic, like this one: "Whether I was playing with his ass, riding his cock, or just cuddling, he was great—the perfect cumhole with brains." Sounds like two thumbs up—way up.

Speaking of wacky reviews, I worship Victoria Gotti, but was disturbed by her Post column in which she slimed the media for making such a distasteful fuss about Rosie O'Donnell's gay sexuality. Moments later, she went on to seriously gloat that she's now a celebrity reporter on TV's Extra! and had a tête-à-tit with Pamela Lee. "Is she that hands-on of a mom?" wondered Gotti. "Is she that much in love with Kid Rock—and does she really have a stripper's pole in her bedroom? Yes, yes, on all counts!" And they said irony was as dead as nontraditional urination skills in the theater!

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