By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
By Roy Edroso
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
By Zachary D. Roberts
Nia Vardalos joined the real drag queens at Bar d'O to celebrate her gals-dressed-like-men-dressed-like-gals comedy Connie and Carla, which I told her should be called Some Like It Twat. "Or Victor/Vict-whore-ia," she blithely responded. The strictly formula flick has a goofball appeal, even if the "live your dream" stuff annoys and I wishspoiler aheadthat the male character who's attracted to one of the female drag queens wasn't so relieved to find out she's a "real woman" after all.
At the bash, Sade Pendarvis rocked the rafters, demonstrating not only that she's the city's best singer, but that the movie's central premisedrag queens can only lip-synchis a myth, myth thing. ("I'm gonna have to do a sequel," said Vardalos, on learning this.) Pert Vardalos herself then launched into a version of "I'm Just a Girl Who Can't Say No" that proved she is a real womanit was fresh-faced and completely devoid of sarcasm, just like the versions in the movie that strangely take the drag world by storm.
Backstage, Vardalos told me that Shakespeare started the drag phenom, though her dad typically feels, "Greeks invented that!" More likely, Debbie Reynolds did, which is why the old-timer guest-stars in the movie, and even brought her own wardrobe. ("I tried to get that red dress off of her," related Vardalos, covetously. "It was like, 'Get away from my trailer!'")
Before I left her trailer, I had to congratulate Vardalos for being so vocal about the rotten writing on the ill-fated sitcom of My Big Fat Greek Wedding. "But I wasn't!" she balked. "There was no fight. Those were my friends." So where did that all come from? "Where do you think it came from?" she said, throwing me a mildly damning look. Hey, honey, I may have started that gerbil thing, but I am not responsible for the Nia-is-a-bitch rumor!
TWO CISSYS IN THE ROOM
Moving on to sitcoms that lasted: TV Land exploded in my face when a chicken-wings luncheon to celebrate Mike Carbonaro's Big Apple Comic Book, Art, & Toy Show engulfed me in promoting, rhapsodizing, and regretting exTV stars. Real woman Kathy Garveronce Cissy on Family Affairspiced up the Penn Plaza Pavilion event, clearing up her feelings about the recent, updated version of the show (which she guested on). "It was truly awful," Garver told me, making a vomiting gesture. "The characters didn't like each other. The original Family Affair was a nice sitcoma dysfunctional family, but it was all about love!"
Nearby, Karen Lynn Gorney, of All My Children fame, was pushing her own family affairher CD of dad Jay Gorney's hits like "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" Could sister spare me some dish on her big flick Saturday Night Fever? "The director was raised in Birmingham, Alabama, and had no idea," Gorney obliged. "He'd never been in a disco and was sort of a geek." But she liked the guy's humble style so much she gladly worked with him again! It was all about love!
And I liked another exTravolta co-star, Ron Palillo, for admitting he was trapped by his image as the über-geek Horshack in Welcome Back, Kotter and became even more upset when all the attention screeched to a halt. "I was clinically depressed," revealed the actor. "I had a hard time after the phone stopped ringing. I had to do something to show people that my life isn't a waste, so I started laying tiles!"
Once Palillo found out his depression was chemical, he nabbed a Wellbutrin prescription, "and I snapped out of it. I moved to New York and played Mozart in Amadeus." But that character goes cuckoo! "Yeah, but I could really, really relate to it," Palillo said, laughing.
CRAZY IN LOVE
I went insane with joy when even more rerun refugees turned up at Barry Z's Friday-night talent show at Helen's, emerging from years of tile-laying to work some saucy shtick. TV vet Joe Franklin and F Troop's Larry Storch served up pee-pee jokes and Buddy Hackett impressions, respectively. And there were some under-75 types too, like Ari Gold, who confronted individual audience members as he sang "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?" and the Glamazons Lady Finger, who channeled Liza as she belted, "Maybe this time, I'll be lucky/Maybe this one's not gay."
No such luck with Fabian Basabe. The Barbara Bush escort recently revealed that he's going to show guys how to pick up girls on an MTV reality show, but honey, he was quite visible at Beige the other night, where the vast majority of the girls have penises!
In other gay-girl action, Matchthe weirdest show about a search for a father since Mamma Miais emboldened by Frank Langella, who gives a master class in elevating material, swishing around the stage as an old bisexual who saves his fingernails, calls his apartment "gi-normous," and wants to perform cunnilingus on a female visitor's gi-normous vagina. He's absolutely brill-rific. (And by the way, I hear that a scene where, offstage, he did go down on the gal, got cut, along with the fingernails. Thank Godthere isn't enough Wellbutrin in the world for me to even be in the next room for that sort of thing.)