By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
To avoid getting totally screwed, I left Fame on 42nd Street midway, after lines like "Don't you know drugs are bad? And I don't mean good bad, I mean bad bad." (The show should know; it's bad bad.) A better idea: Let's get all of this theater season's casualtiesJenna Elfman, Jasmine Guy, Farrah Fawcetttogether in a big, one-night-only show called What's My Line?
In lieu of that, the Taboo opening night was so major that a pop star jumped out of his limo near the theater and bowed as the gathering throng cheered. Alas, it wasn't Boy George, it was 50 Cent (who didn't pinch me). But though Taboo itself occasionally teeters on bad bad, I increasingly gave in to its Rocky Horror meets American Idol via Lifetime TV movie ass. Yes, the "Give me a freak" opening number is too Annie meets Oliver! and the explanations of nightlife ("Clubs need cool people . . . ") are as icky as the narrations ("Get out of my story! Now back to George"). Plus the two main plotlines barely intersect; Peter AllenI mean Georgekeeping his gayness cloaked, as Peter AllenI mean Leigh Bowerydevelops AIDS. While the performance artist dies, his wife (no, not Liza) belts a Cristy Lane-type anthem that seriously goes, "Silence equals death, that is what they say."
But when George (as Bowery) croons a vaudeville-style hymn to sex in bathrooms, it's pure dirty fun, and so is the guy playing George (the haunting Euan Morton) singing "Karma Chameleon" as the real George snarls, "What a dreadful song!" The whole mess is such a gay celebration of freaks, it's a versatile top, and once Peter AllenI mean George and Bowerydrive away the people who love them, I submitted to the tidy wrap-ups and lessons learned, club culture colliding with Broadway to make a fascinating hybrid meant only for me.
Afterward, the real Philip Sallon told me, "Act II is better than Act I because you care about the people." Well, is the ex-club impresario really like his stage characterization? "Oh, really!" he huffed. "My whole life's a show? PleaseI'm normal!" He was wearing head-to-toe plastic trash bags. I adore my life.