NY Mirror

Avenue Q, that Broadway smash salad of flesh and cloth creatures, has birthed a whole other production in Las Vegas, and co-star JOHN TARTAGLIA is going along for the ride, puppet in hand (or rather, hand in puppet). At a celebration at HK for the show's expansion, Tartaglia told me he's never been to Vegas—or to me—but he's totally ready for the 24-hour neon, sensible buffets, and re-created landmarks. "I'm gonna be on top of the fake Empire State Building drinking strawberry margaritas," he exulted, laughing. "I want to go to the theater where those scenes in Showgirls were filmed and do this." (He acted out a famous-among-certain-people bit of ELIZABETH BERKLEY hand choreography.) "And my biggest goal is to get married by an Elvis impersonator —to BRITNEY SPEARS!" I told the guy that LIZA MINNELLI might be a little more up his Tin Pan Alley, but he said, "I like her too much to break her heart like that. There'd have to be ground rules!"

In Cherry Grove, the queens have finally gotten some ground rules and moved all the way into the near present. In fact, they've actually started impersonating Ms. Spears—a relatively current star—at last giving the old Vegas-type Judy-Liza-Diana-Bette gals some temporary hemorrhoidal relief. At the Ice Palace the other Sunday, drag star ARIEL SINCLAIRcame out all preggers and passing gas to "Oops, I Did It Again," after which a scruffy guy playing KEVIN FEDERLINE emerged to lip-synch "Having My Baby" while blissfully eating out her swollen privates. A lovely time was had by all.

Of course there are more tastefully individualistic divas du jour—like the Black Eyed Peas' FERGIE, who, at Paper magazine's dinner at Luda in her honor, was sweet and effusive in all her Heatheretted-up glory. She was so sweet, in fact, that I hated to corner her with a pesky question involving personal hygiene. Had she seen the photo from their recent San Diego concert, linked on gawker.com, in which a giant, crescent-shaped stain jazzed up her pants crotch? (Reports claimed that since she and the Peas had arrived late, Fergie was in a bind and had to relieve herself onstage.) "I had a bad day that day," she told me, not moistening—or clarifying. Point taken—but did the Black Eyed pee? "No!" she exclaimed, half convincingly. "Well then," I generously stammered, "maybe it was perspiration?" She half nodded, still smiling, but being as much of a gentleman as she's a lady, I didn't pursue that or other far worse options. (You know . . . never mind.)

Like I said, she's sweet—so much so that when I asked if she caught WHITNEY HOUSTON messily lip-synching to her music on Being Bobby Brown, Fergie the diplomat said, "No, but I consider it an honor. I used to sing along to her." Well, we'll soon be singing along to Fergie as the lounge singer in the remake of The Poseidon Adventure. I kid you not—thereis a morning after.


Hocus pocus ballyhoo

Fergie was dryly present at Heatherette's retail launch party at Bendel's, which mixed some wild nuts with the editorial assistant pool for a bracing excursion into lunacy. Co-designer RICHIE RICH—the little drag queen that could—told me, "I love bringing downtown uptown!" And I absolutely adore the cab fare and the 10-day nosebleed. Anyway, what else had the darling diva been up to? "I just got back from Palermo," he said, "with DAVID LACHAPELLE and the gang. We stayed in a big mansion that was right out of Grey Gardens. AMANDA LEPORE said, 'This is too much room for me!' Tonight she looked around and said, 'Whatever happened to downtown?' I said, 'Get used to it. Move on!' " He paused, then added, "Said with tongue in cheek."

At the height of the party, Amanda performed her by now familiar balloon-trick act, but later on at Beige, she showed me a bruise on her arm and said, "They didn't tell me the middle step on the stage was hollow." It was too much room for her. Still, miraculously her balloons didn't break. Said with tongue in cheek.

Celebrity bubbles burst with the double bill at the Cutting Room last Wednesday—gently satirical Times columnist BOB MORRIS preceded by hatchet-wielding comic JOAN RIVERS. They should tour as part of a Sweet-and-Sour fest. Joan did her usual incorrect, venomous, too tasteless, too funny spiel, ragging on ANGELINA JOLIE ("Her lips looks like an inflamed asshole"), DONATELLA's looks ("I think Gianni killed himself. 'Here's your sister.' Bang!"), the Peter Jennings coverage ("Nobody mentioned him for weeks before. Who gave a crap?"), KATHY HILTON ("She had call-waiting 20 years ago in her IUD"), MICHAEL JACKSON's payoffs ("I wish I had a son. 'Come on, you little shit, lie down! Do it for the family! Disneyland for all of us!' "), and SOPHIA LOREN's claims that she's had no surgery ("Please! She shits through her ears"). Oh, as for doing charity work in an age when AIDS is supposedly just chronic, Joan said, "If I'm bringing meals to people who are dying, then die."

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