By Anna Merlan
By Albert Samaha
By Tessa Stuart
By Anna Merlan
By Roy Edroso
By Carolyn Hughes
By Chuck Strouse
By Albert Samaha
South Beach just played host to Fashion Week, the Winter Music Conference, and spring break all at once, and if you weren't there, you were either unfashionable, tone-deaf, or doing your term paper. Some man-tanned crashers even got into the act. The second I arrived at the Fashion Week tenthaving been sent down by the organizersthe very first person I saw was that Chia Pet-like SHAGGY creature! Horrified, I immediately called everyone in New York to say, "You're safe this weekend!"
But it's no wonder the SoBe fashion experience has officially become something worth crossing admission lines for. Even if the clothes were a mixed bag, the body parts weren't, from the six-packs (Sean John) to the almost exposed nipples (Dragana Ognjenovic) to the Dusica Dusica shoe show trotting out dozens of leggy models in skimpy outfits that almost let you see if they had doucheica-doucheica-ed.
The toned-and-flaunting-it town itself has also been so converted and refurbished that even your Cuban sandwich seems to have a new attachment every time you look down. In fact, now that his noncompete contract with IAN SCHRAGER has run out, PHILIPPE STARCK is redoing the Ritz Plaza, right across from his original masterpiece, the Delano, and I hear Schrager is as thrilled about it as JACKO was when the old diddling allegations became admissible.
Where to go till it's ready? Well, the Raleigh had all the hardcore music people, Mark's South Beach served the most aesthetic food, and KEVIN AOKI's Doraku had the most civilized placement in the otherwise crazed-with-guidebook-zombies Lincoln Road mall. But the campiest nosh is still Miss Yip Chinese Café, via JENNIE YIP (a/k/a Jennie from the wok), a blood-red den where our waiter heard one of us say the refurbished Hotel Victor looks like a high-end whorehouse. "High-end whorehouse?" he chirped. "I used to run one!"
Being a high-end whore, I worked the streets and ran into DJ PETER RAUHOFER, who recently stormed out of his Roxy booth and into a new gig at Spirit. "No matter who's at Roxy, nothing really changes," Rauhofer griped to me. "You get stuck in a loop. A little risk is good for me." For me too, so I hopped a car, a ferry, and a shuttle bus to get to the Fisher Island party for the NASDAQ-100 Open 2005 players hosted by Ocean Drive (which I write for). At the beachside bash, I found a girl spinning fiery hula hoops, some wildly famous athletes even I'd heard of, and people begging us to go on their yachts. I adore SoBeespecially since the crashers had already been overnighted back to Gotham (no signature required)!
HEY SISTER, GO SISTER, SOUL SISTER, FLOW SISTER
Eventually, I was too, so I could throw on three sweaters, force-withdraw from hedonism, and catch up with Broadway's latest problem playDoubt, which needs my validation like PAULA ABDUL needs another prescription, though I'll give it anyway. It's a drama based on blabbing more than doing, but I found it cracklingly good, with towering performances by CHERRY JONES as the steely nun with a habit of conclusion jumping and BRIAN F. O'BYRNE as the suspected pedophile priest who wants to update the Christmas pageant. The period storya boy reeks of altar wine (you know, Jesus juice) after an encounter with a grown-up he trustscertainly has contempo relevance, doesn't it? Doesn't it?
Doubt is being turned into a career move with Sweet Charity's we're-closing-no-we're-reopening spectacle, the season's most feel-weird development of all. My reaction? Well, Charity's a purely lovable show, but it's always depended heavily on Bob Fosse's genius staging and an incandescent star as the high-end 'ho. With neither, it's like a fully clothed porno movie. At a press sampling in January, adorable CHRISTINA APPLEGATE danced well, but failed to wow the assembled observers with her singing or acting. We cut her a break and figured she might improve on the road, which she supposedly was doing, but then she hurt herself and they brought in CHARLOTTE D'AMBOISE, who's a total pro but couldn't instantly become a superstar just because the WEISSLERS needed her to.
With the box office phones ringing off the hookfor refundsthe Weisslers promptly pulled the plug (and at least they didn't do a Terri Schiavo's husband and say, "Charlotte looks so serene right now"). I started to think they should have stuck with an earlier choice, JANE KRAKOWSKI, but you'll remember she told author NEIL SIMON he needed to make the dialogue more contemporary and feminist and he furiously showed her the door, then rewrote the dialogue to make it more contemporary and feminist! Anyway, in a plot twist right out of 42nd Street, spunky Applegate's now back aboard, checkbook out, for an official May opening (d'Amboise will do some of the previews), and all we can say is, "Don't break a leg, darling!"
The other big Broadway mishegoss is the firing of La Cage aux Folles' DANIEL DAVIS for being such a meanie weenie, and I'm appalled. This is the musical that aims to show the tourists how sweet and loving gays can be, and now it's ended up proving what vicious old bitches we really are!
I'D LIKE TO SPANK THE ACADEMY
But who cares about Tony-grubbing old musicals? I just won a real award, people! A GLAAD? Well, no, it was the even more important fraank, dedicated to "fags recognizing artists actually needing kudos"! The honor was given on FRANK DECARO's Sirius OutQ radio program to everyone from myself to axed Air America host LIZZ WINSTEAD (a friend of the gays), who told me off the air, "They replaced us with Jerry Springer! How embarrassing!"
This ceremonylive from the Dorothy Zbornak Pavilionwas all about triumph as we were handed commemorative mugs designed for holding our old sour grapes. Honoree LADY BUNNY called in from Miami (she was there for spring break, no doubt) and said, "There are so many hot Latin men here that with all the meat and cheese I'm eating, it's been easy to stay on my Atkins diet." "Hag of the century" Winstead controversially announced, "The way you people spread disease around the world leaves more for me at the buffet table!" And ROBERT VERDI seemed genuinely touched, though fellow winner BOBBY RIVERS(of the Food Channel) lamented, "If GARY COLEMAN played me in a TV movie, he'd get a GLAAD Award and the free grilled-chicken-breast dinner I've long been denied!" And even for a gay man, there's nothing sadder than a free breast held just out of reach.
Speaking of gays and body parts, WORLD OF WONDERthe producing-directing team thatrecently did the documentary Inside Deep Throathas optioned VICTOR M. GUTIERREZ's Michael Jackson Was My Lover: The Secret Diary of Jordie Chandler, the shocking book that will get me through my twilight years. (I have multiple copies and it sells for a fortune on eBay.) Let's raise a humble toast of altar wine.
photo: Sony Pictures Classics
In his raucous, high-end Kung Fu Hustle, STEPHEN CHOW turns cartwheels, eyes a-bulging, as he indulges in chop-socky-to-me hilarity. But in person, at his premiere party at Oceana last week, he was reserved and almost dour as he bore into me with doleful eyes. Who does he admire in American comedy? "Chaplin," he said, seriously. Is he like a rock star in China? "Rock star?" he said, not blinking. "I don't realize it. They treat me as a filmmaker, not an icon."
Well, I treated my bike as a bullet train and flew down to Duvet, where all kinds of fabulous freaks were romping around the bedroom furniture as KENNY KENNY and the old Plaid gang launched their fun Distortion Disco Thursdays. "I'm tired of puritanism," Kenny told me, "and club owners who say, 'We don't want that gay crowdcan't you do it Sunday or Monday?' I won't be driven underground! I want a fabulous gay Thursday night and this club is welcoming it." Well, sort of. In fact, the goon who'd earlier screamed at me, "Mandatory coat check$3!" was now yelling that I couldn't leave through a door marked "exit." Just a couple of little kinks that need to be ironed out before the kinkies can feel at home!