NY Mirror

 DAVID BARTON is always expanding and so are his gyms, growing and throbbing like washboard abs enlivening a midlife midsection. His new spot, at the old 23rd Street YMCA space, had a gala opening last week, and rather than resurrect one of my 10-year-old body-fascism-is-sick rants, I showed up and flexed my flab for the pecsy masses. "This is the YMCA on acid," Barton told me, beaming. "It's like my fantasy of what the YMCA could look like." Inside, scantily clad guys and gals sported the motto "Look better naked" in body glitter or on T-shirts, and five wackos dressed like the VILLAGE PEOPLE pranced around a steamy stage as "YMCA" boomed out of the sound system. Oh yeah, the decor was nice too.

Will Mr. Barton (who's the Barnum to wife SUSANNE BARTSCH's Bailey—in fact, their son's name is Bailey) ever stop working out? He looked pained. "When they throw dirt on me, I'll stop working out!" he swore. "I wake up and bounce out of bed and look in the mirror and I'm so happy to be David Barton! If you didn't tell me I was 40, I'd think I was 18!" (Funny, if you didn't tell me LINDSAY LOHAN was 18, I'd think she was 40.)

Well, I'll throw some dirt on you: Near the upstairs steam room, photographer TINA PAUL wanted to take a shot of leather-clad VINCENT GALLO and even slipped him a drink ticket as an inducement, but Gallo handed it right back, pointed to me, and cracked, "No. He says I don't look good." Well, if he'd have let me see The Brown Bunny, I'd know if he looks better naked! The Republican softcore star admitted that he'd had me banned from his premiere because of his recent mishegoss with the Voice and I'm glad he barely heard me mutter, "Maybe you did me a favor." But Gallo did plainly catch my response when he said he was getting a free Barton gym pass and added, "but I don't think I'm a celebrity." "Neither do I," I quipped, and Gallo laughed sportily.

The muscle appetizer at the opening of the new David Barton Gym
photo: Cary Conover
The muscle appetizer at the opening of the new David Barton Gym


In a sweat, I ran back to the world of people who think they're celebrities and are right—like ANNETTE BENING's Being Julia character, a theater grande dame who's mounting both a hit play and a young stud. After a special screening, Broadway director MICHAEL BLAKEMORE told me he liked Bening's performance and that the film "had charming moments." In a whole new moment, musician G.E. SMITH's wife TAYLOR BARTON (no relation to David) said she admires Bening because "she's brave. She never did anything Hollywood to herself." "But she married WARREN BEATTY!" said Smith, and Barton laughed, "Blows my whole theory." I also heard someone say to WALTER CRONKITE, "You must be so upset about all the CBS stuff going on." "Yes, it's never happened before," said Cronky, but I have no idea if he meant the Reagans movie dumping, the MARTHA STEWART cancellation, the JANET JACKSON wardrobe malfunction, or the faxing from Abilene.

Theater ambience even trickled into the Shark Tale premiere; in fact, they probably held it at the Delacorte just so they could use the slogan "Sharkspeare in the Park." (If so, it was worth it. Anything for some cute wordplay, I always say!) The movie mixes appealing visuals with some dull and/or obnoxious stretches, though I welcome anything that argues fish should embrace their offspring even if they're vegetarian—i.e., are gay.

It was also a great personal triumph for me—the original gay shark—because I needed a humbling experience and got one when the check-in girl acted as if I'd landed from the planet Myanus. (This same Barbizon grad obviously works every door in town lately.) Once in, my head started swelling again—I'm so happy to be Michael Musto—so I was thrilled when the V.I.P.-area lady told me I couldn't possibly enter there, though she'd certainly swing the stars over to my seat. Well, five tubs of popcorn later, she hadn't, having clearly bolted all the Oscar winners and soundtrack stars away from my shiny fishhooks. At least theicons paraded onstage for our delectation—like CHRISTINA AGUILERA, sporting a fierce Marilyn Monroe/Betty Boop at the car wash at the end of the apocalypse look; MARY J. BLIGE, looking ready for the highway in her own wonderful sphere; ANGELINA JOLIE, oozing sultry lippiness in a leopard-print Cruella coat; and RENÉE ZELLWEGER (who has good posture), wisely cozying up to JEFFREY KATZENBERG.


Meanwhile, gossip sharks have their fins in a twist, again about goddamned stage antics. Web bunnies say Queer Eye's JAI RODRIGUEZ is telling people he was offered the lead role in The Boy From Oz (replacing HUGH JACKMAN), but he couldn't do it because of his TV scheduling. He probably would have rearranged the set anyway. . . . Off-Broadway, The Oldest Profession aims to be on the level of a very special Golden Girls and comes up short. The '80s old-'ho comedy has five expert actresses reciting often stale dialogue, and gabbing about how their geezery johns are either dying or moving away. Strangely, the play doesn't address the fact that geezery johns want young 'hos anyway!

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