By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
In my quest for Fire Island fulfillment, I've stopped favoring the honky-tonky Cherry Grove over the more nose-job-upturned Pines. It turns out the Grovewhile it refreshingly welcomes the fatties, dykes, and survivorsteems with people who'll either hug you to death on drugs or wave you over to give you a left-handed compliment that'll leave you chowing down on a shotgun. What's more, the last song a lot of these people ever heard was "I Will Survive," and not even the '90s remix. Over in the Pines, people actually seem more upbeat and future facing, and the drag queens are way better put together. But I'm generalizingwhich is very Manhattan.
Back home, with "whore" stamped on my wrist from having been to Boysroom, I made the annual trek to Marie's Crisis, the West Village piano bar where Broadway-philes group-sing to Chicago, A Chorus Line, and "Popular." (Yeah, that's one of the few recent tunes in the repertoire, but at least they don't do "I Will Survive.") The night I went, everyone in the place was drowned out by a talented guy with a booming tenor that could shatter melon ball glasses. Surely he's been on Broadway, I assumed. "No," he told me, all deadpan. "I work for the health department and I'm just relieving the stress."
Conversely, my elfin doll-face pal ELIJAH WOOD went rather mute as I stood outside his last premiere, my stress as painfully unrelieved as my low-grade gastritis. I'd been promised time with Elijah by a publicist for the event, only to have his personal flack seem to dodge me like an errant maxi pad at every turn. Am I not "Popular"? Could it be because last time around, I lightheartedly asked Elijah if he keeps up with various Internet rumors? Can I now go back to my people?
IVANA KNOW WHAT LOVE IS
IVANA TRUMP is the kind of freewheeling fun-meister I like to hitch my party wagon onto. At something called the "Voice of the Streets" Brazil benefit at Churrascaria Plataforma, serious people discussed the fate of the favelas while Ivana and I focused on an even more populous region. "Is AMANDA LEPORE a man or a woman?" the glam divorcée asked me, having just observed the transsexual diva up close. "Well, she chopped it off," I exclaimed pertly as a couple of people gathered 'round. "So is she a man or a woman?" repeated Ivana, pupils widening. "Absolutely a woman!" I shrieked, by now practically drawing a crowd. "But have you seen it?" asked Ivana, mischievously, as an undercover tabloid reporter craned his noggin. "NoI mean yes!" I boomed to the whole room. "Everyone has! She's always naked at parties! Sure, it could be a manginathough she'd still be a womanbut she says she cut it off and she's never lied before." "She says she cut it off?" said Ivana, grinning. "So is she a woman?" This went on for five or so more minutes and Ivana never seemed completely convinced, but there's no confusion as to what's between herlegs. In fact, at Heathrow recently, a security person checked her over, then asked, "Can I pull your zipper?" "No," laughed Ivana. "I have no underwear on!" Ever a good citizen, she allowed the inspection anyway.
Another accessible blonde with a vagina, '50s starlet MAMIE VAN DOREN, was the guest of honor at the Mao Mag launch party for fashion week at Glo, and she fit right in with the zanies and fashion students. I approached the fabulous vampwho's a womanto ask what's up in her career, praying for something wildly original. "I'm doing a pilot for a reality show," she predictably exclaimed, as hearts sank all through the room and across America.
Then came the original Tsunami Sue, model PETRA NEMCOVA, whose real-life reality show had her famously clinging to a Thai tree with the kind of tenacity most people I know use to clutch onto a gift bag. She was co-hosting the opening of JAMISON ERNEST's Yellow Fever store on Stanton Street, where I was crass enough to smirk and point out the big tree outside. Did it give her weird feelings? "No!" Nemcova (whom I call Petra von Can) told me, beaming. "I love trees! One saved my life!" A balanced Czech like Ivana, she said her tsunami experience ended up dramatically changing her values, but fortunately those still include going to kooky parties like this. "It's about enjoying every moment, because the next moment it could be gone," she said wisely as I dug so hard into the gift bag my fingers bled.
ALL GOD'S CHILLUN DON'T GOT WINGS
If I can continue to reduce tragedies to my level, our own weather disaster, Katrina, apparently had something to do with a Wigstock no-show. CHUCK KNIPP was booked to be flown in from Mississippi by the drag fest to perform as Betty Butterfield, his white church lady character, but Knipp didn't make it and Wigstock empress LADY BUNNYsays she never got any cancellation notice. Of course Bunny knew Katrina and the waves were about to hit Mississippi, but she later found out Knipp had told someone he actually didn't come because "I couldn't think of anything to do there that wouldn't bomb." Knipp (who also does the controversial blackface character Shirley Q. Liquor) responded to me that he thinks Betty would have been a hit, it's just that when he was about to fly to New York, they told him the returning flights had been canceled, for obvious reasons, so Knipp stayed put. His house and belongings are now tragically gone, but he's happy to be alive. I'm sure Bunny would have been more thrilled about that if she'd gotten a cancellation.
The hurricane blew ill-fated Aruba visitor Natalee Holloway right off the cable channels, and I'm not ashamed to show my "whore" stamp and admit I've missed the girl. Those channels have a way of picking up on a scandal that meets their purposes, flogging it until you can't live without it either, then dumping the whole thing when a bigger story comes along. So I've been writhing around in serious withdrawal over my Natalee needs. I miss the false leads, changing accounts, and useless donkey bones. I miss the poignant parade of soundbite givers with names like Jug trying to get results in the face of a Keystone Kopslike investigation. The case ended up pretty much the way it started, the cops apparently thinking some combination of the three suspects may have raped and killed Natalee. Even a department store mannequin could have told you that back on May 30!
The cops' approachrelentlessly asking the suspects, "OK, tell us one more time: Did you do it?"was awe inspiring in its fruitless absurdity. But hey, I'm willing to hear about it for many years to come, so let's put 'em all in custody again and bring on the tragic ineptitude.
And meanwhile, let's give DUBYA a break. He doesn't respond well to any tragedy. Maybe this time he was just trying to finally finish "The Pet Goat." But phooey on phony ARNOLD. He's emerged as that rare weirdo who supports gay adoption but not necessarily gay marriage. So he's in favor of out-of-wedlock bastard children? What a mangina.
Raw food indeed
At her hubby's restaurant Au Coin du Feu, ex-clubbie SUSAN ANTON told me she went to the raw-food eatery Quintessence mere hours after the co-owner, DAN HOYT, was charged with exposing his alleged manhood to women on the subway, and the place was more crowded than ever. (There's no such thing as bad publicity, I guess.) Word has it the salad dressing was missing a little tang, though.
Aiming for an absence of zing, the annual Tiredfest has a casual group of invitees going on a pub crawl on the Sunday before Labor Day to all the tiredest gay bars in town. It starts at the Dugout, then heads to several worn-out, used-up points east. I was invited to go along this time, but I was too tired.
I did make it to Starlight for the Tuesday night "Pu-Pu Platter" show of spirited character-driven sketch comedy, where rubber-faced JOHNNY ROBERTS plays all kinds of trashy women and club kids with demonic dash. A typical skit was a spoof of a chirpy news show (anchored by SANDRA BAULEO and guest star MIKE ALBO) trying to make lemonade out of the hurricane, with Roberts as a gay stylist who sashayed on to suggest, "Find a dog head and blot it on a sheet for an interesting print!" That's so sick and funny that I just can't pooh-pooh this Platter.
Ditto the latest gossip tidbit that the drag boîte Lucky Cheng's will open a new restaurant in the basement with an all little-people staff. More work for Dan Hoyt?