NY Mirror

The Mr. Gay.com Universe contest at Crobar brought out a queer quintet of dazzling international contestants chosen, I imagine, based on the profound literary value of their personal ads. They were five of the hottest versatile bottoms since *NSYNC. And what testes! The North American contestant even had his parents there, which must have been embarrassing—not because of anything sexual, mind you, but because he admitted onstage that he's a huge fan of NEIL DIAMOND. The winner was a mystery hombre from Spain (occupation: "living life") who proved he has exactly what it takes to be a beauty queen with his dazzling acceptance speech: "Thank you very much!" (Oh, fuck, he was cute, who gives a gay rat's ass?)

The emcee was GRAHAM NORTON, whose Comedy Central chat show was bumped faster than BERNARD KERIK, though he told me backstage that he's not mad, the show will resurface soon on a different network (BBC, I hear), and he adores, you know, living life. Norton's currently visible in a nativity tableau at London's Madame Tussaud's, thanks to another contest, whereby the public supposedly voted on which celebs' wax representations they'd like to see in that once-sacred scene. "I think they just put people who fitted the costumes," Norton told me, skeptically. "It's so random. The public voted me, SAMUEL L. JACKSON, and HUGH GRANT as shepherds, I'm so sure!" And God-fearing PRESIDENT BUSH wound up in the mix too, I pointed out. "As a wise man!" he shrieked. "Maybe Americans voted for that, but definitely not the British!"


Graham Norton (left) with the new Mr. Gay.com Universe
photo: Cary Conover
Graham Norton (left) with the new Mr. Gay.com Universe

DEFORMITY A-GO-GO

The Brits certainly haven't voted any awards for the Phantom of the Opera movie, but I think it deserves Best Two-and-a-Half-Hour Bloomie's Window Display. In the brown-hued photo-op-eretta, GERARD BUTLER comes off basically like a cute guy with a skin rash; EMMY ROSSUM (of The Day After Tomorrow) chirps nonstop while running from weather all over again, not to mention from confetti and chandeliers; and I hear director JOEL SCHUMACHER ran from her stage mother, who wasn't too anxious to leave the set. Anyway, it's all lavish, gorgeous, and a tad labored, without the star power that would create a Phantom menace worth obsessing about. (Three of the five quotes in the commercials are from LARRY KING.)

At the after-party at the Plaza, Schumacher discovery COLIN FARRELL didn't need a mask at all; he's even cuter in person than Mr. Gay.com Universe. And he talks too! Farrell's jacket was sprawled out on the banquette where we were all sitting, prompting him to lean over to my friend ANITA SARKO and say, "Hey sweetheart, can I grab that?" Despite the archaic use of "sweetheart," this was the height of charm and grace. As Sarko pointed out, "I bet that's the first time he ever asked a woman if he could grab something."

Next thing you know I was grabbing a seat for the premiere of The Aviator, an inflated, insane, unrealistic but entertaining movie about a man who made inflated, insane, unrealistic but entertaining movies. Howard Hughes's bisexuality, of course, is not included—my buddy Colin Farrell didn't star—but they did put in a scene where Hughes disparagingly says his decorator is "as queer as a bedbug," then mounts dykey pants-wearer Kate Hepburn. Also interestingly, you think, "This is the first movie of the year where JUDE LAW didn't turn up," and then he turns up!

But RUFUS WAINWRIGHT makes a cute cameo singing "Stairway to Paradise," and after the movie he told me, "I was great! Forty-foot-high me! Love it!" Alas, JOHN C. REILLY didn't have the same experience viewing himself as Hughes's business manager. "I liked watching the movie except for my parts," Reilly moaned to me. "It's headache-inducing to see work you can't change." Like reading my column? "Exactly," he said, laughing.

More changeable is theater work, like the musical version of Marty, which Reilly's been starring in with an eye toward Broadway. But does he want to be trapped in ERNEST BORGNINE roles? "I should be so lucky," he said. "I met Ernest recently and he said the way to play Marty is a little of this [pointing to his head] and a lot of this [pointing to his heart]." "And a lot of this," I interjected, pointing to my tum-tum.

By the way, sources tell me that if The Aviator flies at the box office, WARREN BEATTY is interested in playing Hughes in his later years in a follow-up movie. That's a much better choice for him than late-period Ray Charles.

Moving on, I don't know what KYRA SEDGWICK's doing next, but at the NA party for The Woodsman—in which she romances a paroled pedophile (played by hubby KEVIN BACON)—she told me that making that movie "was somber. I'm ready for a few giggles. I'm ready for a comedy!" Well, there was one happening before my eyes as swarms of faux-homie white guys performed all kinds of high fives while greeting each other with "Yo! Macho!"


GIVE THE LADY HER MALAPROPS

A high 10 and a "yo, girlfriend!" go out to DANA IVEY, who steals the zingy Lincoln Center production of The Rivals as Mrs. Malaprop, the lovable nut job who has great "benignity" and "affluence" on people as long as they aren't "odorous." Ivey's a nucular talent.

So's the cast of Forbidden Broadway: Special Victims Unit, which is so giddy that in the Avenue Q sketch, they miraculously rhyme "Tony" with "cloth cojone." As for forbidden Off-Broadway, cojone-laden NEIL LABUTE's haunting Fat Pig dabbles in some cutesy dialogue followed by sitcommy comebacks like "Very funny!" or "You're a piece of work, you know that!" It gets more fleshy, though, when darkly examining the universal fear of dating someone unpopular. (And I should know. I've dated someone unpopular.) Of course if the JEREMY PIVEN character just said, "I love you, pig woman, and that's that," there'd be no play. He has to be a giant wuss—almost as reprehensible as his co-worker (ANDREW MCCARTHY) who mocks the relationship and practically calls women sweetheart, all while—am I the only one who noticed this?—reading a gay magazine! LaBute is a piece of work, you know that.

And so am I, snort snort. Forty-foot-high me. Love it!


LITTER BOX
BITTER TIDBITS

The ads for A Very Long Engagement boldly proclaim it an award "winner!" But look at the smaller print under that and it's actually a Golden Globe nominee. I guess it's won a nomination . . . In the Golden Globe-nominated A Love Song for Bobby Long, JOHN TRAVOLTA gets so floridly into crossing his legs and caressing those pseudo Tennessee Williams phrases, you're amazed to find the character isn't prepping for a sex change . . . Going to hell on a streetcar named desire, SCOTT PETERSON has been the butt of some eerily vague judiciary logic. Apparently, jurors didn't like Peterson because he didn't show remorse or caring (but if he didn't do it, how would he show remorse?), he acted unemotional (but screaming in court would have been equally ill-advised), and he didn't personally plead for his life (I guess that's the only way they'd know he'd rather stay alive). Hey, I agree that Scott's the Antichrist, but I wish they'd have come up with a more substantial reason for frying him than "He didn't seem nice" (though the corpses floating near the fishing jaunt were a problem.) . . . Even more tragic was the quote heard at a recent Interview party: "I wasn't even really invited and I'm on page three of the diaries!"


musto@villagevoice.com

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