NY Mirror

The best of New York? The fake flowers at the big 99-cent store in Corona (but the vase costs extra), the three-salad special at Michelle's Kitchen on Lexington Avenue (but a beverage isn't included), the multicolored hair clip-ons at Ricky's makeup store (but they're not for you, granny), the outdoor dining at Raffaella (but watch out for the stalkers, honey), the obscure fashion magazines at Hudson News (but it's not a library, people), and the fig cookies at Brooklyn's Villabate pastry shop (but they'll kill you, girlfriend!).

The best Miss America contestant by far—and you know I'm right—was Miss Nevada, the young lady who, in the talent competition, passionately acted out Matthew Shepard's father's speech at the hate crime trial! She lost!

The best appalling Web site anywhere is BobCrane.com, a tribute to the late star of Hogan's Heroes, run by his very own loving son, Scotty Crane. The site sells access to Bob's raunchy photos and videos of his famous hoagie getting serviced by big-titted blondes—Dad would have approved, claims Scotty—though sonny's mad at the upcoming movie Auto Focus for disrespecting pops and portraying him as some kind of dark figure. And you thought being in a sitcom about a Nazi P.O.W. camp was embarrassing.

Hair and now: Frida's Salma Hayek at El Museo del Barrio
photo: Miles Ladin
Hair and now: Frida's Salma Hayek at El Museo del Barrio

The scariest compliment I got from a celebrity relation last week came at the GQ Lounge at Pressure, where David Copperfield's mom gushed, "I recognize you! You're in magic!" Yeah, I guess my biggest trick has been making my journalistic reputation disappear.

The best life-imitates-art moment was at the Absolutely Fabulous party at Vue, where Joanna Lumley nursed champers while slapping performer Rob Roth's G-stringed butt. "I felt like I was in an episode of Ab Fab," says Roth, "and the next thing I knew, I was." Roth and Garrett Domina (a/k/a Deborah Harry's backup dancers, the Fishsticks) were promptly plucked by Jennifer Saunders to play stylists who make Edina's gay son, Serge—played by Josh Hamilton—look even gayer. The big fish, Harry, got into the episode too—in fact, every visible downtowner landed a cameo except yours truly; I guess they didn't need a magician.

The nuttiest flick coming to your local cineplex is Jonah—A VeggieTales Movie, in which vegetables—you must believe me—act out a touching biblical story filled with heart and humor. I left midway, not wanting to be proselytized to by a piece of broccoli.

The cable show that most resembles overbaked beans is, you got it, Phil Donahue's on MSNBC. Perfectly lucid and in control half the time—and he's getting much better—Phil too often comes on with boundless, unnatural energy, like he's been told to do a lefty-liberal impression of Bill O'Reilly on crack. And his sensitivity meter seems a little off. Recently, he said to Katie Couric, in a bouncy voice, "Jay Monahan [Couric's husband] has been dead for four-and-a-half years now!" She looked ready to join him.

The best new talk show by far is Wayne Brady's; he's quick-witted, effortlessly energetic, and he sings! The best radical transformation has been Rosie O'Donnell's. Cracklin' Rosie's on a mesmerizing dyke rampage, and even if she confounds or offends people with it, she's finally doing what the fuck she believes in!

The best moment that didn't happen on the Emmy Awards pre-show, mercifully enough, was Joan Rivers saying to Sharon Osbourne, "You've lost so much weight! You look amazing! How did you do it?"

The book most anticipated by '80s nightlife survivors is Jennifer Goode's look back at Area, her brother Eric's impossibly fun space, where she worked on the monthly theme changes. The club's been dead for a decade and a half now!

My lousiest new scoop is that Steve Kmetko didn't quit E! at all. After getting a biggie there mad, he was summarily fired. (I'm looking into the details.) What E!-ffrontery.

The week's most disappointing premiere was for Sweet Home Alabama—a more mechanical Green Acres, with a leaden, pseudo-homespun charm that's secretly stuffed with cynicism. At the after-party, I bonded with New York types—namely Hairspray's Marissa Jaret Winokur (Tracy) and Matthew Morrison (Link), who told me they liked Alabama, though they don't see many movies these days. Actually, Winokur had just caught a bunch because she'd taken a few days off from her show on doctor's orders, "and I was going insane at home. Lots of rentals!" I murmured, with great concern, that I hoped her understudy wasn't overly good. "It wasn't the same for me," admitted Morrison, who obviously cares for his co-star. (Life imitates musical? No, says Hairspray's publicist, though Winokur does hand out "I Love Link" buttons with alacrity.) In any case, thank God the understudy's bound and gagged again and Winokur's not only back, she's accessorized with the key chains and fake wedding rings they were giving out at the Alabama party. ("We've been taking stuff!") The girl's gonna be fine.

By the way, backstage at Hairspray the other night, gay porn actor-director Blue Blake visited Harvey Fierstein, who blurted that his "wig bitch" (the person who applies his hairdos) is a big fan. Maybe the guy can make a merkin for Blue's gherkin.

The most follicly conscious premiere was El Museo del Barrio's screening of Julie Taymor's Frida, starring Salma Hayek as—no, not the woman who sang "Band of Gold," but the hairy, impassioned Mexican artist. (Yep, move over, Basquiat. Get away, Pollock. There's a new artist in town, and this one's a dame!) The stunning Hayek arrived looking like a perfect porcelain doll, but with a serious demeanor that spells actress. (No Wild Wild West sequels for this little lady. Besides, she's already moved on to directing.) Did she have to fight for the role? I wondered, cornering her for a quickie chat. "You know that," Hayek replied, admonishingly. Thrown off, I found myself sputtering the kind of rotten-assed, hokey utterance I usually detest: "Was the film a wonderful journey?" (No wonder people suddenly think I'm in magic instead of journalism.) "Yes, it was a wonderful journey," Hayek responded, dazed, and sat down amid flashbulbs.

Come showtime, Taymor made a speech about her wonderful you know, and then she brought up Hayek, revealing, "She's mad at me because she doesn't want to talk! She talks for two hours in the film." After the movie, Taymor told me that Hayek—I mean Kahlo—never painted herself smiling because "She didn't have good teeth." But the woman gladly documented her own facial hair and even exaggerated it, to fuck with gender expectations. In the flick, Hayek looks hirsute mostly as the older Kahlo, though she sports a Matt Dillon-like unibrow throughout. (The Hairspray wig guy would approve.) A potentially hairier issue, Kahlo's bisexuality, is mercifully addressed, with hot sauce. "The words weren't used," said Taymor. "It was just an expression of her sexuality, period. That's why for the poster we used both the male and the female Frida. But my feeling is that whether she slept with men or women, she loved her husband, Diego Rivera. Some people want things differently, but I say, 'Were you in the bedroom?' " No, but I've seen In the Bedroom. At this point, a man came from behind and enthusiastically hugged Taymor, and since it was Harvey Weinstein—her boss, whom she'd recently dissed to a gossip column—I let them bond and go on a wonderful journey together.

And now, would someone kindly get this biblical broccoli out of my three-salad special?

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