By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
With staggering predictability, I went to the first party at Avalon, which last year was the disastrous Estate and before that was the scandalous, long-running Limelight. So how is Avalon different from Estate? Well, children, it's actually quite similar, but with more of a starship Enterprise feel, lots of chairs on the main stage, and white overhanging stretches of fabric that look like flying thongs. How is it different from Limelight? Well, on this nighta Ford Models partythe music was eerily the same (old Madonna and Prince), but instead of screaming club kids and Clara the Carefree Chicken, there were models, more models, some model wannabes, and an occasional booker. Maybe I've lived too long.
I need to buy a boweloy, these crampsbut in the meantime I'll gladly buy a vowel and a new TV set to watch Wheel of Fortune, which rolled into town to celebrate 21 seasons and 4,000 syndicated nighttime shows. (Add seven years of daytime shows for the full amount. I'm better at spelling than math.) Backstage at Radio City, letter-turner supreme Vanna White was awestruck, saying, "Do you know how many miles I must have walked?" (She meant to the board, not the studio.) Bouncy Vannawho told me she's rarely repeated an outfitsaid the show's updated the set to look like the Jetsons (or maybe Avalon), but otherwise the attitude is "Don't fix it if it ain't broke." The most memorable episode for her? "A gentleman got so excited he kissed Pat Sajak's feet. Crazy, huh?" (Only if Pat had no shoes on.) And her biggest joy? "My son, Nicholasthat's N-I-C-H-O-L-A-Sand daughter Giovannathat's G-I-O-V-A-N-N-A." She was spelling the names! And giving me free vowels!
Just then, the equally googly-eyed Sajak came around and admitted that memorywise, "Your mind becomes like a blender, and it's on puree right now. It's hard to isolate moments." He wasn't even sure about the foot kisser. But he was certain that Wheel is a great gig because of "the enormous wealth I've accrued" and the light workload. ("My kids barely know I have a job," he said, not spelling their names.) As for the durability of the show, Sajak said, "With all the electronics today, the idea of a clunkety-clunk wheel seems ludicrous, but we can't get rid of it!" If they ever do, I'll go A-P-E-S-H-I-T.
However you spell it, I found Woody Allen's Anything Else to be pretty leadenall the minimally amusing white, straight neuroses mixed with obvious-jazz appreciation and Holocaust jokes put my brain on pureethough it's probably more appetizing to see Jason Biggs romancing the de rigueur castrating nymphette than watching Woody doing so again. At the premiere, Biggswho plays a sort of Woody-in-training, with the Woodman himself as a psychotic guardian angeltold me, "Woody's said he would have played it had he not wanted to cast young actors." But Biggs is a pretty good fit because, he said, "My own vocal cadences and mannerisms have always been kind of like that. I remember Woody saying I'm the only actor who stutters more than he does." Except when Woody gets caught with a stepdaughter.
But let me stammer out some updates on the white, straight-to-hell neuroses detailed in Party Monster: The co-killer's mother just called me to bitch out that Sharon Osbourne stinkfest for bumping her after she said she'd be accompanied by her son's lawyer (I know the feelingthey bumped me too, even without a lawyer); the same mom called the co-killer's ex-boyfriend to moan that her poor baby just collapsed in jail; the ex-boyfriend told me there's a general lack of feeling toward the victim's family, so he wrote them a nice letter; and a performer who was slipped an extra $100 at the premiere bash says she got a call asking her to send it back because the party went over budget! But the clubbie buzz on the movie has been better than what most critics saidand the chicken's not squawking.
As for the latest on Sofia Coppola acting out her personal issues through indie flicks, my sources swear she's currently shopping around a project about an egomaniacal artiste who's basically a no-talent hack. That should put a Spike through those marital-problem rumors, not. (Yes, I feel not jokes are now old enough to revive, along with old Madonna and Prince songs.)
While we're on strained couples, it was five weeks ago that I said here that Bennifer would never have a wedding, and I expressed the very same sentiments in Radar even before that! Move over, Nostradamus and fuck you, Sylvia BrowneI'm the hot new prognosticator in town. (And last year I was right about Swept Away bombing, too.)
Alas, though I predicted I wouldn't make myself privy to any Fashion Week gossip, there I was, with ears akimbo and my shoes matching my colostomy bag. Insiders buzzed that my pal Cindy Adams's famous dog, Jazzy, had gone forever bye-bye, but there she was at shows with Jazzy (unless this is one of those cute Siegfried & Roy hoaxes). Meanwhile, the doggy behavior at the Marc Jacobs show had Seal finding Zoe Cassavetes in his assigned seat and being kind of a dick about it. Crazy, huh?
The next night, the Heatherette show had an audience of trannies, Japanese investors in kimonos, and Liza Minnelli (who was in the wrong place if she was looking for a straight husband). I made it to the after-party at Morgans Bar, where the young, style-drenched crowd was getting down to, yep, old Madonna and Prince tunes. Stealing everyone's spotlight, good-time model Omahyra Mota was flashing booby and loudly announcing that she likes three-waysall while working the door!
And suddenly it was theater week, too, filled with the kind of exhibitionists that stick to the script. Avenue Q met Mary Tyler Moore when radio personality Ken Dashow's comedy The Wingding Doodle Club got a staged reading at the West Bank Cafe. The plot involved a rinky-dink kiddie show with a psychotic, gun-toting puppeteer, but the audience didn't have to be threatened to laugh, especially with cast members like kooky Kim Cea, who's stolen so many shows they're starting to call her "Winona Jr."
Uptown, I saw four of the six 24 Hour Playsthe annual array of playlets written and thrown onstage in one dayand felt that in the move to Broadway, a little of the profundity got lost, but the urgency still mothered much invention. I especially enjoyed my good personal friend Rosie Perez screaming at an offscreen character, "You are not asleep, Mr. Gomez. You're jacking off to the Spice Channel!" Even the one-line bios in the program were poetic, like "David Lindsay-Abaire can rearrange all the letters in his name to spell 'Daddy lives in Arabia.' " Right, Vanna?
Too bad the wheel of fortune is spinning in weird ways when it comes to my once racy icons. Ellen DeGeneres, who smooched with her girlfriend in front of the president, now has a talk show on which she told Betty White that "clean" entertainment is timeless. (White even looked startled, reminding her that Golden Girls was kinda saucy.) And Madonna, who made the world her gynecologist and seemed ready for the Spice Channel, is now teaching spiritual life lessons to children as a modern-day Dr. Slut, I mean Dr. Seuss. Right-wingers are thrilled, but I say, "What the fuck is the world coming to?" (And I know I thought her Britney kiss was tired too. There's just no pleasing me.)
But wait, there is. Don't swoon, kids, but the cutest new guy in town is Heathe St. Clair, the charming co-owner of the aggressively unpretentious Aussie restaurant the Sunburnt Cow on Avenue C. Believe me, you'd love to go Down Under with this wholesome hunk. And he no longer drags around the stupid C-O-W!
SPECIAL TO THE WEB: That kiss wasn't the last high-profile interaction between Madonna and Britney. They duet on "Me Against the Music," the first single off Britney's upcoming The Zone album, and DJ-Grammy-winner Peter Rauhofer is already working on the remix.