By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Why the preeminence of clichéd, boring clubs, whine-whine-whine? Well, to answer my own query, bottle service may effectively cater to rich people's wallets, but it certainly doesn't tap into any form of intoxicating creative expression (especially since it's usually Mommy and Daddy's money that's being siphoned). Add to that the city's relentless surveillance, which means that though you can buy $200 decanters of vodka, you can't do two-bit tina unless you want to spend your formative years as MARTHA STEWART's bitch. Plus, for the last six years, people who would have been labeled lazy-assed couch potatoes started being deemed ultra-cool simply because they were sitting at home watching the "edgy" premium channels (or playing around online, where muss-free intimacy is just fingertips away). The result is that a recent three-hour open-bar party at a big dance club barely drew flies, and though there was a drag queen, she was the saddest one in town, in a beret and a long face and with no discernible personality whatsoever. (This could be a reversal of the usual syndrome. Maybe as a man, she's wild and utterly hilarious.)
That's not to say that there aren't lengthy lines outside so very many places, even in that three-block West Twenties area where there's a new, soulless club for every available part of your body. (Something statusy there called Quo just had a busy bash featuring B-list Gersh Agency TV stars and stuck-up L.A. publicists keeping you from them. At least the Scores across the street is more honest.) And if you stick to your niche, there's still fun to be had in Fun Cityespecially since my niche happens to be lively gay raunch. To wit: A return trip to the Roxy found it alive again, and with a less Chelsea-specific slant to give it rhythm. And at the old Tapis Rouge on Avenue A, MICHAEL FORMIKA has opened BoysRoom, which on Saturday nights has porn videos, go-go gods on stripper poles, and some local 'hos and notables enjoying the potent potables.
In Times Square, somehow the Gaiety is still there, right next to the HoJo'sdo they have blackmail material on City Hall or something?for a quick chicken-and-clams combo plate. And there's some fun intergenerational flirting at La Fleur's (which the city naturally is trying to shutter), though I always get nervous when the death-row-looking dancers come at you for an obligatory grope and a tip. I find that the five dollars to make them go away is a much better bargain than the one dollar to lure them over.
Still, I'll fight for the right to have sleaze, especially since in that neck of the woodssidebar comingthey're still trying to convert it into tourist attractions, with icky (if not sticky) results. In fact, two minutes into the gala opening of the Laugh Factory at 42nd and Eighth, I realized the place used to be Show World, where the hordes once lined up to laugh at my penis. Now it's a spankin' new comedy joint, but it still feels like a porno palace, with its hyper air-conditioning, guilty decor, too-small main room, and faint whiff of Fantastik. Besides, it's next to the remaining Show World video store! As the owner spotted me and yelled, "You didn't return my calls!" and JOE FRANKLIN snuggled up to promise "anything you want at my restaurantfor life," I got mildly depressed and left before headliner DAMON WAYANS could go on and tell some "Don't you hate it when . . .?" jokes. Don't you hate it when that happens?
But back to the upbeat clubbing: Randy straights party down at the Cutting Room, which is in the dreaded West Twenties, but a more civilized part of them, I totally swear. I hear that a recent Saturday Night Live after-bash there was highlighted by the machinations of former host LINDSAY LOHAN, the greedy little vixen who's already had AARON CARTER and chased COLIN FARRELL, and she's only about 40! Lohan was caught squealing, "Where's Jimmy? Where's JIMMY FALLON?" with a sense of determination not seen since the OLSEN TWINS first grabbed for menstrual pads. Observers feel either she's had him or she wanted to have himand sheesh, haven't we all in our more sensible moments? Alas, Fallon wasn't there, so the big-boobed starlet got to work trying to reach him on his cell phoneagain, haven't we all?and, being both a moral citizen and a college graduate, I don't even want to know what happened next. Besides, oglers were already immersed in the sight of NIKKI HILTONthe Hilton who doesn't go to parties anymorethrowing herself all over CHRIS KATTAN like a Labels for Less suit, though admittedly it could have been an act of Mango worship, a display of celebrity kinship, or maybe just a meeting of remarkable behinds.
STOP THE PRESSES: VIRGIN ON TV!
Down in the meatpacking district, Virgin king RICHARD BRANSON turned up at PM to swat off non-virgins anxious to be in his upcoming Fox reality show, Branson's Big Adventure(which will travel even beyond the West Twenties). The mogul told me that the series will put wannabe tycoons through international challenges en route to major bottle service. How will he keep the bullshit level down? "I'll be in every episode," Branson promised. "I've got 50,000 people who work for me, and I'm really good at dealing with people. You're not gonna find the 'You're fired' sort of thing at the end of every show." Oh, goodeven "You're outta here" would be wittier. Fuck, even "My milk shake brings all the boys to the yard" would be wittier!
To his advantage, Branson has lovelier hair than TRUMP, not to mention more generous attitudes. "One of Trump's famous statements is 'You can't trust your best friend,' " said Branson. "I think quite the reverse. You've got to trust people, and if you do, you'll be surprised how much you get back." Good pointand so is the one on the knife I regularly use to backstab loved ones.
But trust me, kids: Sight Unseen is a superbly acted, challenging play about a selfish, hypocritical artistwhom I love. Please make Sight seen, but not if you need linear plots or circular fountains to round out a fulfilling evening.
More urgently, will GWYNETH's APPLE fall very far from the tree? I mean, what's that about? How sick is that? That's a good thing. There you go. What part of no don't you understand? Not a problem. So we're on the same page? I hear you. You're fired. Wait, am I sounding clichéd?
FOX AND THE HOUND
Over at my ex-employer Vanity Fair, where there are more investigations going on than into the American military presence in Iraq, a Condé Nast rep tells me the rumor that disliked scribe GEORGE WAYNE has been suspended isn't true. Maybe it's not the right time there for the boss to point fingers at anyone else. As for the folks who think we're doing great in Iraq, is it possible that onewell, at least oneof the right-wing maniacs on the Fox News Channel is "fairy and unbalanced"? The Washington Blade's KEVIN NAFF just wrote an editorial saying that on a recent visit to a New York gay bar, one of that channel's anchors got a wee bit tipsy and hit on him Lindsay Lohan-style. Naff responded by telling the sauced star that he's not single, and besides he would never date anyone in the closet. (Same hereI won't take anyone out unless he's already out.) Spies tell me the guy in question is the one who said "blowjob" on the air and was recently linked to NICOLE KIDMAN. How poetic! Maybe gay boîtes should start "Closeted Only" nights, with half-price poppers bottle service.
In sadder news, Bar D'O, the sleek drag entertainment boite for open-minded oglers, is bye-bye, the rent raise having become a drag.
Moving on to a drag inspiration, I hear crinoline-wearing kook Cyndi Lauper will most likely be the next Audrey in Broadway's Little Shop of Horrors, casting that's so perfect it's amazing it took so long for the "True Colors" gal to be up there singing "Somewhere That's Green." But spies say someone that's Greenenamely Ellen Greene, the original Audreywouldn't mind another chance at the role, though producers have been resistant. What horrors!