By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
This column will detail some bests and worsts in popular entertainment, and in fact, let's start by saying it's already the best column of its kind!
The best recent musical comeback was me revisiting Webster Hall with hordes of other press, celebs, and aging duranies as a smirky passerby observed, "All this hype over an '80s pop band!" But Duran Duran were never any ordinary pop band; their sleek, whiny, new wave soundportentously applied to obscure, exotic subjectsdefined the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous era for the two-hour open-bar set.
The head cheerleader for this reunion of the snake was Moby, who, contrary to Eminem, is not too old to do techno, though he has apparently been around. "I was at Duran Duran's first concert here 20 years ago," Moby told me, "but I didn't get in." Why not, pray tell? "I didn't have a ticket!" As I pondered that, the band emerged in big-lapelled '80s Eurotrash suits, sounding as wonderfully sleek and whiny as ever. But I still don't know who "Rio" is.
Moving on to "Girls on Film," the worst hard-luck story of the week had me being invited three times to a dinner for Holly Hunter and the movie Thirteen, then getting disinvited because Hunter's publicist had supposedly given another columnist an exclusive to the event. I didn't have a ticket! This hurt because, firstly, that kind of exclusionary deal making hasn't been heard of since Hedda Hopper's hat died, and secondly, I had just gone on Fox News Channel to defend Thirteen against the view that it's the devil and could ruin a whole generation.
I'll defend Thirteen anyway. Despite right-wingers' fears, its spiraling adolescent antics won't corrupt anyoneit's just one girl's story, and besides, it's so clearly a cautionary tale that anyone who runs out and mutilates herself after seeing it would probably move into a stable after seeing Seabiscuit. I'm slashing myself over that invite fuckup, thoughand I suspect what really prompted it was me saying on TV that the movie refreshingly shows what's appealing to the girl about all that "bad" behavior. But it does, snort snort!
Kids mutilating each other is the subject of Party Monster, the story of thrill-seeking clubbie killer Michael Alig, who only sounds like a character by Ali G. (All this hype over an '80s pop tart!) At the premiere party at Plaid, overheard clubbie remarks included, "We were stars who weren't stars, so I guess it's a movie that's not a movie," and of course the immortal, "I'm almost 50. How long can I keep up this club-kid thing?"
(By the way, Alig's old haven, the Limelight, is reopening this week as Avalon, and unlike the last redesign, where they had expensive "floating" private booths that no one wanted, this time they have a club within a club, the Spider Room, which they're studiously giving away V.I.P. tickets to. A better idea.)
Continuing with the bests and worsts: The most subtle yet significant bar makeover has happened at O.W., which was Oscar Wilde when it was more of a, you know, hustler hangout, but is now a less mercenary establishment, albeit one with gropable go-go boys on "Flesh" Saturdays (not to mention 2-4-1 martinis from 8 to 10).
And the most common conception of Bingo is that it stands for "Bitch, I'm not gay, OK?" but on Mondays at Global 33, the game playing couldn't be more sexually inclusive, thanks to hosts Linda Simpson and Misstress Formika. With racy banter and prizes like a "Fuck you if you don't like Bingo" T-shirt, this clearly isn't granny's toothless game anymore. Can trannie porn star shuffleboard be that far behind?
Female impersonation meets C-SPAN at Fez, where Karen Finley's lovably unruly (and extended) Make Love show uses Lizaas a spangly framework for the performance artist's shrieked and whispered thoughts about terror and its aftermath. As the mesmerizing Finley emotes, her backup players"Muslim Liza," "Fucked-Up Liza," and "Kidney Dialysis Liza"act out the title sentiment, running into the crowd to kiss you for the frightening finale. (PS: Upstairs a level, Uptown Lizaa/k/a Myawas mysteriously sitting, working on her laptop and looking very wo.)
Nearby, at the Hole, Dean Johnson and Daniel Nardicio's "Butt-Pirates of the Caribbean" night was filled with swashbucklingly cute guys, and even with an eye patch on, I could tell they were way more entertaining than that Johnny Depp epic which pirated my butt for two and a half hours. But a drop-in at that other club's secret Wednesday-night bash where they supposedly have tableaux vivants of rimming and lickinglike a Falcon Studios version of the Museum of Natural Historyfound that now they have poetry readings! How sick!
More tastefully, the nouveau-claustro boîte the Slide houses a delightfully off-kilter Sunday-night talent show, hosted by saucy Shaboom Boom and judged by Clover Honey ("I'm Paula Abdul with a dick") and hilarious dinner-theater lush Lavinia Draper. Before belting her big number, the winning contestant told the judges, "I listened to your advice from last week. I wore more jewels and this time you'll know I want to fuck Nicky Arnstein!"
As for slightly more opulent talent shows like the MTV Video Music Awards, can I tell you what the real definition of original is? Original is a one-named real-life Bratz doll humping the stage as a de rigueur rapper-for-hire runs out to lend some quick, angry credibility. I can never get enough of that scenario! But let me drop the sarcasm for a second and join the chorus of titillated tongue waggers who said that Madonna's kisses with Britney and Christina were the sexiest, most shocking, most provocative things to turn up on MTV in decades. Oh my God, it was simply the most eye-opening, alarming, thrilling, fantastic happening in all of TV history! In fact, the smooches were so spontaneous, heartfelt, and most of all, artful, I think they changed minds, lifted hearts, dropped jaws, and with shattering openness and honesty, moved society forward a few thousand years. KiddingI fell asleep halfway through. (The Page Six photo of Ingrid Casares with her hand on Paris Hilton's ass was way more resonant.)
Anyway, I woke up in time to scan that new tome about Calvin Klein, which is the wackiest mystery book since Where's Waldo? I searched high and low for the word gay and came up empty, though there were several coy references to the designer having "danced at Studio 54." Why on God's gay earth are biographers still so antsy on this subject? The divorcé himself seems more open than before, and even goes to gay clubs, Fire Island, and for all I know, "Butt-Pirates of the Caribbean." His complex sexuality infuses his life, his work, and his merchandising. But the book? Noooo!
The kookiest twist is that Rufus Wainwright's New York Times remarks about his "gay hell" days (on crystal meth) were linked so enthusiastically by Matt Drudge. I told that to the singer at Beige and he rolled his eyes and said, "Clearly, I've got some work to do."
But the most predictable outrage is that Sharon Osbourne's imminent talk show just used me to ferret out contacts for a program they were doing, while leading me on to think I'd be a guest, then, after getting what they needed, became totally incommunicado in typical sleaze-TV fashion. This show has already been pegged a stinkfest in the making by the Post, but Iwho'd actually given it good pressdidn't want to believe it because I like funky Sharon so much. Alas, now I'm convinced it's headed for the karmic toilet along with that Holly Hunter dinner and Duran Duran's inevitable angry rap album.
SPECIAL TO THE WEB:
Remember when I told you about the Oscar curse on actors relationships? To wit: When the seemingly more featherweight member of a star couple suddenly gets nominated for an Academy Award, theres trouble in paradise, and its hard to ever recover from it. Ethan Hawke was nominated in 01. I rest my case.