NY Mirror

In the overrated Motorcycle Diaries, GAEL GARCIA BERNAL plays the young Che Guevara, who, with his pal, travels around South America meeting all sorts of whores and lepers while being transformed into a major idealist with a hack cough. It's sort of like a Latin Jack & Bobby.

At the premiere, the adorable-even-when-earnest Bernal gave one of those "this journey has certain stages" speeches, which had me wanting to star in a road movie heading to the after-party. Alas, once I got there, I suffered a claustro attack and had to run outside, where 60 publicists couldn't get Bernal to speak to me on his way in (or later), apparently because all access hinged on his personal gorgon from PMK. That's a shame; I wanted to tell him how stunning he is in drag in PEDRO ALMODOVAR's upcoming Bad Education, giving BILLY CRUDUP (who's coming up in Stage Beauty, a/k/a Shakespeare in Gloves) a run for his trellised hose.


ONWARD, CHRISTIAN SOLDIER

I hit the road and headed to the Crobar party for The Machinist, for which CHRISTIAN BALE not only didn't add heels, he subtracted the weight of three female Friends stars. But as he pulled up in his Batmobile, Bale looked in the human range again and he even had extra poundage with him—namely stepmom GLORIA STEINEM, who I hear might write an op-ed piece about the movie for The New York Times. (I bet she likes it more than The People vs. Larry Flynt, which she excoriated in one of her last Times pieces.)

The freaky film has the skeletal Bale as a blue-collar worker who never sleeps, eats, or stops being paranoid. ("It's not a popcorn movie," he agreed with me, smiling.) Was his Ally McBeal diet plan sheer self-inflicted torture? "It was tricky," Bale told me, "but it's punishing to have to get into good shape for a movie as well. Losing the weight involved a great deal of restraint, and once you get there, it's a calming place to be." Wait a minute, you Hollywood hunk, starvation is fun? "You get used to that," he swore. "It was something I chose to do—and I knew I was always able to go grab something." And not his agent's neck.


DIRTY ROTTEN SCANDALS

Next thing you know, we all grabbed our sex organs and took them to NO, I mean NA, for the Paper-hosted premiere of A Dirty Shame, the JOHN WATERS comedy about wanton perverts who can't even dance the hokey pokey without getting moist. At a corner table, the movie's reliably fun co-star SELMA BLAIR—who plays a large-uddered gal—spent the party sardonically trying to put a cat-o'-nine-tails that happened to be laying around into her purse. It turns out Blair's next project may not be much of a stretch, except physically. "I'm doing a short film called The Big Empty," she said, "about a girl with the biggest frozen vagina wasteland. You can't see from one end of it to another. Men get sucked in and come out with icicles on their noses." Note to self: Don't go into the big empty without a scarf! Blair's also snatched a role in the sexual harassment epic Pretty Persuasion with EVAN RACHEL WOOD, about whom she beamed, "She hangs the moon!" Goshers, do kids really talk like that nowadays? "No," Blair deadpanned, "just us, on the fly."

But hop into your shiniest whip and drive over to my mad flow of gossip, won't ya? (Or all right, don't.) First of all, the recent Actor's Fund benefit performance of Hair starred a stellar batch of Tony-award types and of course HARRIS DORAN. Who? Well, one disgruntled insider buzzed to me that Doran—who played Claude—is the boyfriend of Avenue Q co-composer JEFF MARX and has no Broadway credits whatsoever (though he's done theater). "He will disgrace himself!" came the warning—but no one who reported on the show afterward said he did!

In other legit news, spies say that people who want to invest in the upcoming Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? revival are being, let's say, highly advised to also put some dough into Peter and Jerry (ALBEE's expansion of his Zoo Story), which might be New York bound. Everyone will deny.

It wasn't a zoo story, but STAR JONES's red-carpet Emmys gig on E! did put a needy, unctuous face on celebrity interaction. On the bright side, Star managed to keep up a steady stream of blather, she knew who everyone was (and even whether they were nominated), and she didn't make fun of anything sartorially left of center. End of bright side.

But back to the fashionably cross-dressing Mr. Crudup: I hear some women's mags are shunning his lady love, CLAIRE DANES, because, as you know, Billy supposedly dumped MARY LOUISE PARKER for Claire practically as Parker was about to squeeze out their baby. These people—who are probably still mad at Ingrid Bergman—feel female readers won't respond favorably to such a supposed big empty. I guess they can't crucify Billy himself because he already hardly does any press (and probably wouldn't do drag photo spreads anyway). Everyone will deny.

Meanwhile, I'm told 60 Minutes is undeniably doing a segment on all the arty books coming out about porn. I guess they read the Times. But did you read the Post's headline "MOMSTERS: Lesbian duo beat son to death: cops"? Gee, for consistency's sake, I hope they'll label O.J. a "black murder suspect" and JOEL STEINBERG "a straight Jew psychopath!" (At least the dailies' nice CYNTHIA NIXON outing helped make amends.)

As for gay celebrations, the PR director of Valentino recently threw a party for VALENTINO's ex, but spies say the designer didn't show, instead going out to dinner with his current beau. He still thinks the ex hangs the moon—it's just that he didn't want to be the only star in the room. (God, I love being the only star in the room. Feel free to invite me to second-rate shindigs anytime.)

But here's an invitational nightmare: What fearless publicist called to get herself into that chic author's book party, only to grab two display books at the bash and have the author sign them for society men the flack was dining with later that night? Huh?

And why does BRITNEY SPEARS insistently sing "My perogative" when the actual, grammatically correct title of her new song is "My Prerogative"? Is she illiterate or just plain spunky? Damned if I know. This journey has reached a certain stage.


Litter Box

Kos célèbre

The opening-night dinner at the new Bowery lounge Kos was so relaxed and friendly, you could not only talk to DENZEL WASHINGTON, you could even call him "D." It turns out D is "an investor and supporter" of the place—along with LENNY KRAVITZ—as well as of the spruced-up Bowery in general. "It's a different neighborhood now," he told me. "It's kind of funky. It's nice." But where did my beloved Bowery bums go? (I'm glad they're not "cleaning" my windshield any more, mind you, but I hope they're chillin'.) "Yeah!" agreed D. "Was that a GIULIANI thing?" Yep, Rudy apparently locked them up in some underwater vault, bolted by BLOOMBERG. But wait a minute, where did the city's streetwalkers go? "I don't know," said D, laughing, "but they're having a good time."

I also got to meet ANTOINE FUQUA, the Training Day director who's now doing Tru Blu, a '70s drama starring, of course, D. As Antoine (or, perhaps, F) noted, "Maybe the trendies and the bums can coexist. The trendies can get more humble and the bums can raise up a little!" As a representative of both communities, I'm cool with that.


Web Extra

What about the media outing of CYNTHIA NIXON, so unabashedly carried out in both the Daily News and the Post? Some of the same columnists who are now either breaking that story or jumping on it used to crucify the likes of me and outing pioneer Michelangelo Signorile for routinely announcing the gay sexuality of celebrities. But years of whittling down at prejudices have made gayness more reportable, especially since the entertainment landscape now includes positive out gay images, making queers more visible and appealing to the masses. (Sex and the City itself, interestingly enough, helped contribute to that phenomenon.) A legal decision earlier this year also argued that it's not intrinsically libelous to say someone's gay, even if they're not!

On top of these developments, a lot of the show biz press have finally realized that (a) Saying someone's gay doesn't make them gay—you're just reporting it; (b) If you're gonna dig into "dirt" that these people don't want in print, leaving out homosexuality is hypocritical and biased; and (c) It's OK to be gay, so outing someone isn't a condemnation at all, it's just a fact!

Things have progressed so much that, far from the old-style furious outings of a more closeted era, the Nixon reports were done in an angst-free, even positive way, with pains taken to point out how successful and happy Nixon is. I'm thrilled she has an Emmy and a girlfriend. I'm just upset that this is one scoop that eluded my otherwise perfect gaydar. I thought she was just a fag hag!


musto@villagevoice.com

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