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With anticipation in my heart and tip money in my shoes, I raced to the industry-only reopening of the Limelight, I mean Empire, I mean Escape, I mean Remote@Limelight, I mean Estate, I mean Estate@Limelight. Well, whatever the fuck they were calling it, the place wasn't open@limelight! There was no one there except for an imposing frontman standing outside under an umbrella, telling my wannabe ass, "Closed!" You mean it's a private party? I wondered, horrified. "No . . . closed," he heinously repeated. And so, without entrée or an explanation, I was depressed@Limelight.

Cheerier—and open—was "Star Tartare," Sweetie and DJ Sammy Jo's new "Cheez Whiz"-type Sunday party at Rare, where the imposing frontmen looked like women and were quite welcoming, actually. Onstage, Sweetie cracked that she hates it when cheap cocaine is cut with baby laxative, and the crowd yelped in agreement. Rather than hand out expensive cocaine, she served up the Scissor Sisters—three hot guys and a cute girl who did screechy retro-yet-electro numbers that got better as they went along, maybe because there was such a strong whiff of pot tartare in the air (wafting from outside, no doubt) that the entire audience was floating three feet off the ground. And it wasn't cut with baby laxative, honey.

The next night, I traipsed back to the Limelight, I mean Estate, I mean whatever the hell, for the press unveiling, and it was open—even more open than Christina Aguilera! What's more, publicist Claire O'Connor (who also did the club's press in the '80s—I hear) was back to explain that the other night's problems had happened because "there were a couple of things the fire department didn't sign off on." In that case, I really didn't mind waiting! The place, by the way, used to be an unofficial den of Ecstasy and Special K, where, if baby laxatives were mixed in, it was only because the patrons were still in diapers. This night, it was more grown-up, with tastefully risqué showgirls performing for the sedate-ish crowd, though the DJ did mix in a lick from Willy Wonka!

Going to the chapel: two of the showgirls from Rouge attend services at Estate's opening night.
photo: Staci Schwartz
Going to the chapel: two of the showgirls from Rouge attend services at Estate's opening night.

Designwise, the church motif is pretty much gone, which makes carousing there feel less guilty, though it also robs me of the chance to brag, "I went to church three times this week!" The catwalks are wider, the drink tickets are bigger, and the lounge and bar areas have taken on a Rat Pack-y allure. Still, despite the changes, I was flooded with memories of drugs, devilry, and blowjobs—all other people's. In line with the spiritual cleansing the club now offers, the invite for its Saturday-night "Dream" party promises "a journey into the mythical world. . . . Massage, breath, reiki healing, incense, and video engulf you." Oy. I'll stick with gay Sundays, and I'll stay in one of the VIP rooms, thank you, though at the press preview they were blocked by doormen saying—you got it—"Closed."

If we can get out of the clubs and back in front of the TV set—which never shuns anyone—you're apparently engulfed by massage, breath, and little green men without green cards in Taken, the upcoming Sci-Fi Channel miniseries about alien abductions and other ways to lose your lover. At a Bryant Park Hotel reception for the Spielberg-presented show, Dakota Fanning—the eight-year-old who was such a Precious Moments sweetie in I Am Sam (and probably an ex-Limelighter)—told me, "I look like a normal girl, but I'm really one-eighth alien." In Taken, that is. "Dakota's an old soul," said Heather Donahue, who said she plays "diabolical hellcat Mary Crawford"—a real switch from The Blair Witch Project, where Donahue was diabolical hellcat Heather Donahue (and brilliant).

Admitting she goes to some of the same emotional places in Taken, Donahue added that this time she hopes to get credit for them. "People don't think of me as an actress who can act," she said, with an in-alien-able right to annoyance. "After Blair Witch, I was discounted before I even arrived. The way they promoted it was good for the movie, but bad for the cast. They marketed it as if a bunch of kids had made this documentary, and all of a sudden I wasn't a classically trained actor who'd prepared my whole life!" Did she see the sequel? "Fuck, no," she squawked. "Life is too short to give it to that piece of shit!" (I guess it's rough @ the limelight.) All righty then, does she now run around boasting, "I'm in a Spielberg"? "Not at all," said Donahue, "because that would be really lame and I'm not that lame." I am! I saw a Spielberg!

Meanwhile, an alien has dangerously taken Jacko's baby, and it's named Jacko, honey. But rather than stand under that hotel balcony to catch the poor kid—and by the way, I bet Jacko was holding the towel on his little head so his nose wouldn't fall off—I went to the Thom dinner celebrating Alan Cumming, who likes to go out on a limb, but not a ledge. In his new column in Contents, Cumming talks about not wearing underwear for an X-Men 2 stunt rehearsal—a no-no—only to have a production assistant bring him a sort of "Wonder Bra for the genitals." The next thing Cumming remembers is four grown men on their knees "staring and poking at my behind. I think to myself that I have never had so many gentlemen this concerned with that area of my body." Then he realizes he has.

I went genital into that good night for the sixth-anniversary performance of Chicago, which is in tip-top undulating shape. In fact, if the movie version is a hundredth as tight as the show still is, it'll be better than Moulin Rouge. At the after-party at the Time Hotel, choreographer Ann Reinking was the fun one to watch, especially when I saw her tell a chorus girl, "I hope I didn't insult you before. You know you're attractive!"

The otherwise attractive (if seven-eighths alien) Kelly Osbourne has adopted the rotten trend of using the word gay to signify obnoxious. When the Post asked her what she's listening to these days, Kelly said, "This is gonna be really gay, but it's myself." Well, this is gonna be really fat, but shut up, be-otch!

Madonna's cameo in Die Another Day is really gay—literally—and it's one of the quieter moments in the deadening, deafening flick. I even like her video for the title song, though she made waves by using Hebrew symbols in it. But why have no one's genital Wonder Bras gotten into a twist over Maddy saying that all the Kabbalah rituals "have been appropriated by the Jewish faith. But I think people have misinterpreted and/or have left out the true and deep metaphysical reasons for all of those things." So the Catholic girl with a penchant for spiritual trends is telling Jews that their religion is somehow watered down and dishonest? I'm just playing devil's advocate here. (I'm not that lame.) Discuss.

No, wait, here's a movie spoiler we should talk about: In the friskily original Adaptation, Nicolas Cage plays two roles—real-life screenwriter Charlie Kaufman and his twin brother, Donald—and though both sibs get screenwriting credit and Charlie tells press people Donald's doing well, I hear there is no Donald. Case—everybody now—"closed."


ONE MORE THING: Last week, I reviewed Beyond the Valley of the Dolls—the '70 Russ Meyer camp film being revived at Film Forum—and gushed about the way Meyer pulled one over on his earnest cast, who supposedly thought the script was deadly serious. But Marcia McBroom—who played goody-goody Petronella Danforth—just called to say they were actually all in on the big, fabulous joke. "Russ told us, 'We’re taking every corny line you’ve ever heard and putting it together,’ " said McBroom, who now teaches history in a New York public high school. "We knew it was a satirical, campy film. The audience didn’t realize it because the studio was presenting it as a sex bomb, but now they see it as what it is." A mess-terpiece!

By the way, McBroom told me she had "the smallest boobs of anyone who ever worked for Russ," but just then, her assistant principal got on the phone to say, "She looks the same as when she made the movie—amazing!"


musto@villagevoice.com


Michael Musto will be appearing on MSNBC's Donahue 11/26 at 8 pm and on NBC's Today Show primetime special on 11/26 at 10pm.
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