By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
At the party for Paper magazine's "Beautiful People" issue at Temple, I was finally surrounded by some hot flesh commensurate with my own ultra-steamy appeal. There were aggressively pretty fashion plates, models, and vaudeville performers and even ex-American Idolstar MARIO VASQUEZ, who walked in looking h-o-t and tightly clinging to a person with a vagina! Mario gave me a big, hearty helloI'm pressand when he also offered a lumberjack handshake, I cracked, "So you are a man," and to his credit, he laughed uproariously.
Every inch a Scissor Sister, JAKE SHEARS was working the DJ booth and telling me his sex life has dramatically improved since he got famous. "I have a boyfriend now," Jake gushed. "I can count on sex now! He's a student at Yale. We have a mutual friend who's a very sexy porn kind of guy, who told him to bring me a box of lemon meringue cookies to our show in D.C. It was very strange and original. I'm madly in love." For me, just a hint of Cheez Whiz seals the deal.
PHONE RINGS, DOOR CHIMES, IN COMES TRIBUTE
The aural equivalent of beluga on a plate of diamonds has long flowed out of the noggin of STEPHEN SONDHEIMyou know, the guy whose songs they name episodes of Desperate Housewives after. Old Steve had a 75th birthday tribute at the New Amsterdam Theater, and for two and a half intermissionless hours we were awash in his priceless music and head-spinning lyrics like "The hands on the clock turn/But don't sing a nocturne just yet." There were so many highlights (including the fact that no one sang "Send in the Clowns"), but the absolute peak was HARVEY FIERSTEIN belting out a condensed "Rose's Turn" in full Fiddler on the Roof drag, as Tevye the dairy farmer! It was crazy and powerful and completely right, and if they don't star the man in a production of Gypsy in the Shtetl immediately, I'm returning my gay card! (To fill his Fiddler slot, why not make it Midler on the Roof?)
After tons more singing, co-host BARBRA STREISAND appearedon filmto say, "Stephen, I'll never forget the time I kept you prisoner in my Malibu house so you could write eight new rhymes for 'Putting It Together.' " I'm glad she let him out so he could make his own tribute! WHOOPI GOLDBERG was equally touching, looking out at the crowd and thanking Sondheim, "wherever you are in the great, vast blackness. [pause] I've heard that before." The man is Godand don't sing a nocturne just yet.
PLEUROSIS FOR A BLUE LADY
Meanwhile, send in the '80s starlets, who've come crawling back to Broadway with showboaty roles in theater-queen classics as I pick up the flower petals and shattered figurines. There's The Glass Menagerie with JESSICA LANGE, who's clearly trying not to repeat her comatose Blanche DuBois, though now she's gone in the opposite direction, making Amanda too effusive, actressy, and in someone's face with every single line. What's more, the fey son is played as a tough-talking hetero and the fragile daughter looks like she could slay a real unicornand they're all bizarrely flanked by a dime-store shower curtain! Of course this is all known as reinvention, but I prefer plain old inventionthough Act II does pay more attention to the play's poetry and Lange focuses with a wonderful jonquil speech that finally upstages the curtain.
Snapdragons are flung about in that twisted quartet Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (a/k/a Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice Crimmins)a charged night of pervy parlor games for literate sadists. KATHLEEN TURNER has the right whiskey voice and earth mother realness for the mesmerizing Martha, and spindly BILL IRWIN exudes the dead eyes and quirky edge (if not necessarily the vocal authority) to make a fascinating sparring partner. They sometimes seem to be rushing so the stagehands won't get paid overtime, but a couple of juiceless confrontations are compensated for by the overall humanizing effect and withering wit. I should know; I recently interviewed Turner, who was fabulous, but mid-interview asked me, "What was your name again?" It's Mud!
But speaking of not being able to quite get the name, here comes the part you paid admission for (or, rather, got on the guest list plus entourage for)some tawdry, tainted blind items to uplift the rest of your day. Yes, here comes the mother lode of deception, deception, deception, so strap on your vomit bags and start guessing, folks.
Which swiveling pop star has been known to pick up guys in the steam room at a Miami hotel gyma lot? What handsome ex-series star (a Golden Globe winner) once flirted with a guy across the aisle on a plane and even tried to follow him into the bathroom, to the consternation of the actor's young male "assistant"? What sports magazine cover model had to be reprimanded by her co-op neighbors for continually letting her dog out on the roof to defecate on the recreation mats? What drag queen was spotted in a Parisian gay bathhouse wearing what looked like dishwashing gloves? (She was obviously preparing to either perform hand jobs, finger someone, or cleanse a pile of crockery.) What marriage between a gay and a gal was partly done for the gay to get press and the gal to get a green card?