NY Mirror

"The rhythms of the character were so Eve Arden and Roz Russell," Halston told me last week, "and our director, Walter Bobbie, felt we needed another woman anyway. The estate said, 'Yeah, go for it.' " Fortunately, they're aware of Halston's period flair and her aversion to paraphrasing, techniques she partly learned working with " '30s expert gender-bending illusionist" Charles Busch (who went on to work with '80s gender-bending etc. Boy George).

Her co-stars? "They're riots," she said, not paraphrasing. "Alec and I have that Long Island thing, which means you're kind of a thug. And Anne Heche is a lovely porcelain doll who happens to be a mighty actor." Any more ecstasy and speaking in tongues going on there? "No!" Halston exclaimed. "Apparently Celestia is underground. We're all meeting only Anne Heche and we're loving her!"

Ever since playing two roles in Gypsy last year, Halston's also been a convert to the shrine of moppet master Bernadette Peters. "I never quite understood her goddess status," she admitted, "but now I kneel and bow and scrape before her." The good feelings—and Tiffany earrings Peters gave Halston when she left the show—help make up for the fact that Halston's still seeing a chiropractor because of the "Ferris wheel on my head" and three huge batteries she wore (to hilarious effect) in the electrifying ecdysiast role.

"I always knew I was sort of a gay man": Twentieth Century straight man Julie Halston.
photo: Richard Mitchell
"I always knew I was sort of a gay man": Twentieth Century straight man Julie Halston.

Freed of the wheel, Halston is ready to learn more interactional performing skills, which Bobbie is encouraging. "I haven't looked at an actor onstage in 15 years, so why should I start now?" she deadpanned, though she's liking the change. And in playing Oliver-turned-Ida, she's certainly stretching gender-wise too. "I always knew I was sort of a gay man," Halston admitted. "Well, now I'm a straight man!" Heck—she's the first ex-gay that I've ever applauded.

As for the rest of them, excuse me, people, but you don't know what love is.

Web Exclusive: By now, we know David Gest's MO—zero in on a faded superstar besotted with booze and scandal, drill them back into shape so they can scare up some money and glory, and then—when they stop producing—run screaming, claiming he was hit by flying pieces of Halston furniture. Well, his next target may be all lined up, and it's his most fabulous and tempestuous one yet—Diana Ross. I hear Extra will report that David and Diana are currently "romancing" in hopes of a comeback for both of them. Honey, ain't no superstar high enough. (P.S. Diana's rep denies that she's dating Gest.)


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