By Albert Samaha
By Darwin BondGraham
By Keegan Hamilton
By Anna Merlan
By Anna Merlan
By Tessa Stuart
By Tessa Stuart
By Albert Samaha
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 Vegasor to mebut 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. Spearsa relatively current starat 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 jourlike 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 moisteningor clarifying. Point takenbut 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 sweetso 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 notthereis 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 RICHthe little drag queen that couldtold 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 Wednesdaygently 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."
Then the softer-pitched Morris told witty stories lampooning the quest for fabulousness, as well as the poignance inherent in attempted escapes therefrom. He interwove the tales with spoofy songslike "You're a Loser From Islip" (to the tune of "Native New Yorker") and "Walking in a Walker Wonderland"that drew knowing giggles from the tony crowd. I might have to start up my Motown band again so he won't be the only multitasking journo with a two-drink minimum.
But back to the straights. At the premiere of the well-baked vengeance tale Four Brothers, director JOHN SINGLETON praised star MARK WAHLBERG as "a man's man. He doesn't take no shit off nobody." And that's exactly why I always stand at least six blocks behind him. At the after-party at Aer Lounge, Singleton told me that audiences normally go wild over Wahlberg's climactic appearance on the ice. "Tonight was a premiere," he said. "You gotta see it with a real audience." I will, if I can find onebut anyway, why does Wahlberg call his little brother a fairy all the time (in the movie, that is)? "To bust his chops, like everyone does with a younger brother," said Singleton. "You got a brother?" "No," I said, "but everyone called me a fairy anyway because I am one." He laughed, then wisely wrapped up the interview.
Imagine there's no audience
Bisexuality gets short shrift in Lennon, which is a surfacey if seemingly heartfelt telling of the late Beatle's life, using his songs to take him from birth to stardom to Yoko to drug bust to Hallmark card. The first act is breezy enough, with the game cast trading off on roles and the great CHUCK COOPER letting it rip on "Instant Karma." At this point, I could have been convinced that Lennon was nowhere near a lemon. But when the actors ran into the audience to hand out flowers, I smelled desperation, and in Act Two, things got duller than SUZANNE SOMERS, prompting my now familiar narrated-biographical-show cry of "Who cares?" That wasn't the only unscripted utterance. When Yoko first met Lennon and he told the audience, "She had no idea who I was," someone near me muttered, "Yeah, right!" I almost did a Fergie.
Gays on the roof
Marrying out: Alison Walla and Rosie O'Donnell
photo: Bill Sumner
In other gay-straight news, MELISSA DE LA CRUZ (The Au Pairs) and TOM DOLBY (The Trouble Boy) are editing an anthology of essays about the friendships between straight women and gay men. It's been described as a literary Will & Grace. A much better idea than a literary Stacked.
But back to just gays: The hot new go-go boy on Sundays at the Park is a spiky-haired skinny guy with a wonderfully dirty edge. I asked his name and he simply bumped his crotch into my face. Works for me. Over at the Maritimewhere Amanda Lepore was making out with her new 19-year-old boyfriend and wags were saying OK! offered Fergie a trip in exchange for a photo sessioneveryone eyeballed a scorching shirtless waiter named Alex, even as he kept exclaiming "I like girls!" Doesn't work for me.
As you know, a battle royale started recently when composer MICHAEL JOHN LACHIUSA dissed Hairspray, and that show's tunesmith, MARC SHAIMAN, fought back like a gay pit bull. Well, this is clearly a trend! Few seem to remember that back in 03, FRED EBB, of KANDER AND EBB fame, trashed Hairspray in an interviewjealous much?and that started a mini contretemps of its own when Shaiman shot back in a Broadway website opinion piece (though he quickly had the anti-Ebb graph taken down). I worship ALL these people, but the next person who says Hairspray isn't a well-made gem will be clubbed over the noggin with eight Tony awards.