NY Mirror

The gay-friendliest camp on TV is still The Nanny, whose reruns, thankfully enough, seem to have an eternal lifetime channel slot, right after the equally fag-haggy Golden Girls. So imagine what a shock it was to be watching that poufy-haired show, only to have a commercial come on asking, "Are you among the millions who suffer with sexual addiction, rape, pornography, or homosexuality?" Suffer with homosexuality? This not only in the midst of Fran Drescher's butler's happy (if closeted) vamping, but during Gay Pride Week, just days after the Supreme Court nobly decided that two queers can actually have sex if they want to! (By the way, I love the way the Post only put that earthshaking little tidbit on page 26. But I digress.)

Of course this product turns out to be for those who don'twant gay sex anymore—or at least that's what they say with their legs up and their wrists flapping. The ad is for Molly D'Andrea's book Set Free!, which is filled with the wisdom of "people who've survived sexually abusive lifestyles. . . . There is help for the sexually wounded." Before you run toward Molly's butt with a flaming skewer, let me tell you that writer-editor Matthew Rettenmundcontacted Lifetime to express his dismay about the crass commercial. A rep for the channel apologized for the offense but added, "The ad originated from your local cable operator. Lifetime is deeply committed to promoting diversity, tolerance, and understanding." All right, let's all run toward Time Warner's butt with a flaming skewer!

But first let's cool our buns and go back to Gay Pride weekend and all the sticky, wicked nightlife we indulged in, with no chance of ever being Set Free! The meatpacking district bar Hell attracted all sorts of giddy types, like a guy touting a musical he's written in which Madonna songs reflect the changing face of gay culture. (He seemed "Borderline.") The place has pictures on the wall of hateful celebs with penciled horns added (no, not Molly D'Andrea—hers are already on), an idea I swear I first saw upstairs at a club called Heaven. So we winged over there—going from Hell to Heaven seemed a natural progression—and found that, though those photos are gone, there are still hordes of real-life gay college kids, the kind too young to know that porcupine hair is a no-no and "I'm still Jenny from the block" is smirkable, not danceable. What a teeming teeny treasure; if this place ever turns into a Pottery Barn, I'm leaving New York.

"From cradle to tomb," as Sally Bowles would say, the evening climaxed at Marie's Crisis, the fabulous wood-paneled West Village dive with hanging balloons and a piano player with a scarily encyclopedic knowledge of show tunes (though he probably doesn't know that Madonna musical yet). All the future, former, and imaginary stars gather here to tipsily "sing out, Louise" on numbers from A Chorus Line and Chicago, and terrifyingly enough, they know exactly where the pauses, modulations, and finger snaps go. When a solo performer—often a twinkly-eyed waiter with a tray and a dream—steps forward to deliver a spotlight turn, everyone warns "Shh!" as if this were Carnegie Hall, even if it's a white man belting out "Ol' Man River" or a middle-aged guy doing the starlet's number from Nine. And they're right—attention must be paid to anyone with nerve enough to sing those tunes (or "Mr. Cellophane" or "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee") in public. Time has frozen here along with the margaritas, and it's so comforting you want to kiss today goodbye and point me toward Sheridan Square. Nobody, no, nobody is gonna rain on this—pivot, twirl—parade.

And it didn't rain on the parade the next day—thank you, Sam Champion—allowing for a wondrously mixed tapestry of gyrating go-go boys and ominous health messages. I had a special soft spot for the guy holding the sign that said, "We Want Anal Penetration, Not Israeli Occupation" and the AIDS-center float full of officials unsure of what pose to strike as the DJ played "So many men, so little time. . . . How can I lose?"

Not surprisingly the Rambles party at the Park had its most entrancing exercise in sexual subtext ever that night—good golly, Miss Molly—and though most attendees are no doubt still haunted by the two shirtless twinks in the hot tub, I only remember the now-you-see-it-now-you-don't moon-shaped butt of go-go boy number three. Thank God he didn't turn around quickly, though, or I would have been sexually wounded.

By the way, now that straight guys have adopted all the narcissistic trends that were once started by gay men, the gays will surely reassert some specialness by loosening up a little, vanity-wise. (Yes, queens have been "straight acting" for years, but for straights to suddenly be "gay acting" is their worst nightmare.) The only cutting-edge thing to do now that hetero men get Brazilian waxes would be to totally let oneself go and maybe even pull the duct tape off those love handles. Sure enough, some gay bars are already attracting more diverse physical types than just the usual buff-bodied gym bunnies. (Not that I have anything against buff-bodied gym bunnies, mind you, blah blah blah.)

There are well-groomed straight people in Legally Blonde 2: Red, White, and Blonde, but they have gay dogs—you know, the kind that don't stop at just sniffing each other's butts. The flick—like all sequels except for The Godfather II and Julio Iglesias Jr.—is strained and manipulative, but it's ultimately smile inducing, sending home the profound message "Speak out for the land of the free gift with purchase!" Aptly enough, the premiere's invites came replete with tickets redeemable for gift bags, which turned out to brim with hair curlers, eyebrow-pencil sharpeners, and a Reese Witherspoon doll—yes, the little moppet has now officially become a Mattel product.

The loot was snatched up at the post-screening bash, which turned Christie's into a sprawling mass of nail salons, candy counters, and wafer-thin girls staring at the mounds of sweets as if they were creatures from 28 Days Later. (Even more poignant was the breaking news that Carolyn Bessette Kennedy's last plane ride may have been doomed by her pedicure scheduling. This movie argues that grooming principles can save lives.) Jennifer Coolidge—who's priceless as the manicurist who squeals, "Let's start discharging!"—was being lavished with praise but confessed to me, "I can't tell you how uncomfortable I am watching myself. I can't stand looking at the terrible choices I made!" Honey, I want that etched on my tombstone—though I'm sure that's just another terrible choice.

By the Rice Krispies cakes, Justin Bond(a/k/a Kiki of Kiki & Herb fame) talked about his own offbeat trajectories, admitting he's been palling around with movie presence Tilda Swinton and adding, "She's a gay man in a Scottish woman's body." Send over two copies of Set Free!

Or just one copy of How to Become Famous in Two Weeks or Less, which co-author Melissa De La Cruz tells me is being adapted into a movie in which publicists (one of whom they'd like to be played by Salma Hayek) turn an It girl into a nobody and a nobody into an It girl. And youthought there was no difference.


musto@villagevoice.com

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