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A heady mix of goths, cineastes, and suburbanites filed into the Walter Reade Theater for a special screening of Tim Burton's Corpse Bride, the stop-action puppet parade that shows what happens when you propose to a stick and it turns out to be the severed finger of a horny cadaver. The movie only has about 30 minutes' worth of plot, but it fills it out beautifully with shticky worms right out of a Friars roast and more dancing skeletons than an OLSEN TWINS video. In an onstage Q&A afterward, Burton said he tossed some Disney touches into the flick, but "instead of birds dressing the girl like in Cinderella, we had spiders, and instead of Jiminy Cricket, we had a maggot." (Hey, who you callin' maggot?)

Burton—who's always seemed to mix Edward Scissorhands's brooding with Ed Wood's endearingly half tanked flights of lunacy and Willy Wonka's chocolaty mischief—came off refreshingly direct and self-deprecating. "I was a terrible student," he admitted with terrible humility, "and a terrible busboy and a terrible waiter and a terrible pretty much everything, so just follow your passion." Speaking of his terrible passions, Tim was asked why he always seems to cast the same actors, and he responded, "Well, I'm boffing Helena . . ." (Kidding, she's actually fine. He only answered that JOHNNY DEPP is a fun-loving, risk-taking guy. I'm such a total maggot.)

Yet more non-Disney creatures of the forest—and of F.I.T.—came together for some puppet-like Fashion Week high jinks catering to the creatively scissor-handed. The first stop was the denim show by ASFOUR, who are now just three but are determined to hold on to their name just like JENNIFER ANISTON probably still runs around saying, "Come visit us!" Even as a trio, they brought swarms of gussied-up trendies to a bakery-hot warehouse-type space in Soho, where bird screams—if not maggots'—cried out as if sent by the former fourth member. (It turned out to be ambient music, not any kind of horrid infestation or revenge plan.) As we gasped for air, the models started sashaying onto the stage in their baroque finery—the fanciest use of denim I've ever seen—backed by SEAN LENNON banging a piano like an even more intense and scruffy version of Schroeder from Peanuts. "That's my son!" said YOKO ONO, beaming in the front row, in case we didn't know. Just then, amid recorded coyote yelps, MICHAEL PORTNOY—the "SOY BOMB" guy from the Grammys a few years ago—started wailing along in some unknown language (Huffalump?) while striking affected artiste poses reminiscent of the phrase "Now's the time on Sprockets when we dance." As Yoko seemed to muffle her own shrieks of "Aye! Aye! Aye!" Portnoy emitted more of his own guttural sounds, then dramatically ripped off his shirt for a final primal flourish, as I applauded while running for some oxygen. Don't you love Fashion Week? ( I do.)

Tim Burton: Death becomes him.
photo: Warner Bros.
Tim Burton: Death becomes him.


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Animal noises were coming from the excited crowd at BOY GEORGE's B-Rude fashion show, especially when the last lippy model flipped everyone the finger. "She's fierce, that drag queen," innocently gushed porn mogul MICHAEL LUCAS near me. It was JANICE DICKINSON.

Another altered icon was the focus when people held " LIL' KIM, Shut Up Bitch" signs outside the MARC JACOBS after-party, which was featuring the li'l demon as a charity-promoting co-host and performer. A vehement protest against celebrating a convicted perjurer in a drive-by shooting case? "No, it's her new single," one of the sign carriers told me, beaming.

More hilarity: We were told to stop bowling, bitch, at the fun Bowlmor Lanes party for Lacoste, where male models were assigned to make sure our full names were entered on the computer scorecard; otherwise we wouldn't be eligible for some mysterious cash prize. Unfortunately, they couldn't figure out how to do so.


Let's sashay the heck out of Fashion Week while continuing to examine the line between genius and mental illness. That's the focus of the filmed play Proof—which is potent but mopey—but in the premiere's audience, DUSTIN HOFFMAN was strictly genius. I heard two-time Oscar-nominated Sylvia Miles ask Hoffman how a certain project of his is going, saying the script looked terrific to her. "I think it's good," said the actor, grinning. "But I thought Ishtar was gonna be good!"

On Broadway, turning Tourette's and OCD into singing and dancing is the uphill challenge of the upcoming In My Life, the rare show with lemons in its logo. At a press rehearsal, we learned that even if the ailments don't sing, there are other offbeat plot points to drive things along. "God has decided to create the first reality opera in heaven," an assistant director said to the riveted crowd, explaining the unorthodox framing device. And if that's not enough, well, there are some other ailments thrown into the aggressively kooky stew. "Later in the story," our tour guide informed us, "we learn that J.T. has a brain tumor and is losing his vision." Honey, if you think I'm missing this one, you've never seen my Playbill collection.

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