NY Mirror

Transsexual superstar AMANDA LEPORE just shot a segment for TYRA BANKS's daytime talk show, divulging her secrets about nightlife, merchandising, and scar tissue with her usual kooky coo. As Lepore related to me after the taping, "I told Tyra I had my breasts done three times. We also talked about rib removal. Tyra said she used to see models with scars and little waists. I said, 'I had it done, but I don't have a scar there' and she said, 'Oh, the scars must have been from something else!' " Giggle giggle. Showing her scar quality, Lepore told the sassy host her philosophy of going out: "You have a good time and see your friends, then you go to the bank in the morning." She also managed to plug her doll and perfume—two more good reasons to go to the bank—saying the latter is "virgin juice. It makes you feel younger and smell great." Yeah, it practically grows the hymen back. The overall Tyra experience? "The audience was young and cool," said Amanda. "Tyra was cutting me off a lot of times, but she was nice. It was, like, retarded." Before she could go on, I cut her off. (And soon enough I'll be off to a surgeon to cut mine off.)

Any movie subtitled A Cock and Bull Story doesn't require any formal segue right here, and what ho, I've found just such a film. It's Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, and it's like a giant goblet of virgin juice with a twist. The MICHAEL WINTERBOTTOM joint adapts a winky-nudgy picaresque novel by adding a winky-nudgy making-of-the-movie framing device, and eventually you realize there's way more framing device than movie. But that's pretty bold, and there's plenty of dry wit to make the journey hysterical, if not historical. At the party after the New York Film Festival showing, star STEVE COOGAN—an occasional scandal column drop-in—took a surprisingly sobering approach. All earnest, he told me, "I didn't want to make a movie about me being self-indulgent because that would just be masturbatory. But I realized that using myself as an extraneous tangent made sense to the ethos of the novel." Hello! Coogan also said he's not surprised Winterbottom was attracted to Shandy "because it's an anarchic novel and he likes to break the rules." As he so genteelly emitted these well-turned sentences, I bravely resisted the urge to yell, "But did you really impregnate COURTNEY LOVE?" (Let's not be daft. Coogan's denied it. Courtney's probably having breakfast on Pluto as we speak. Her ethos is quite novel.)


LaChanze (center) and other
photo: Cary Conover
LaChanze (center) and other

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ONE TOUCH OF PENIS

From Shandy to a shammy, I read with interest the New York article casting aspersions on JT LeRoy's identity. I alluded to the possibility of this cock and bull story back in '01 and started wondering more about the situation as I was lured into the author's elaborate publicity web. Lavished by e-mails of praise from "him" and his camp, I emceed various events in his honor—I have no problem with being masturbatory—starring various celebrity guest stars, who were also clearly attracted by both the flattery and his work. The guy's endearingly aggressive weirdness—down to those signature raccoon penis necklaces—always seemed a little calculated, and it was hard to reconcile the supposedly terrified, shaking elf with the ass-kissing fame seeker, but we fell for it, hook, line, and raccoon penis. Of course once JT (or whoever) ensnared a higher level of personality pal, I was cut as emcee faster than a model's rib—and it didn't help that I wouldn't read aloud every single word of the seven-page celebrity intros he'd hand me with endearingly aggressive weirdness at the last minute. What's worse, when he, or whoever, started planting fake items in the press, the columnists who'd helped his PR campaign suddenly became victims of it and the con became super- annoying. I once bristled at him for feeding me lies and got a nasty e-mail back saying that he was a hustler and I'd know if I'd been had. I guess so.


LOGUE-ORRHEA

If you hustle your way to some seats for Latinologues—the evening of Latin character monologues that's sort of like a Spanish Hee Haw—you might initially want to pile the logues in a bunch and throw them into the fireplace along with your raccoon thingie. You wonder if it's still 1961 as actors with exaggerated accents trot out an assortment of busboys, janitors, and other lowly types who start sentences with non–Steve Cooganish turns of phrase like "Sitting in the toilet, where we Mexicans do our best thinking . . . " Yes, there's a successful Hollywood character, but he's a "born again" Latin who just discovered his ethnicity—and he's a stereotypical gay to boot. But—and you knew there'd be a but, and not just a culo—the show has some belly laughs and the Hollywood sketch is actually hilarious, so chomping on this particular chorizo would not be a totally bad thing en route back to the toilet. Just don't mistake it for no art.

Downtrodden people of color triumph over adversity in the musical version ofThe Color Purple, about an oppressed woman who turns to ultra-close female relations. No, it's not the ROSIE O'DONNELL story. It's an OPRAH WINFREY production—in fact, O is one of the producers along with Q and even some people with actual names. The show just gave us press folk a sneak peek full of sassing and hallelujah-ing, after which ELISABETH WITHERS, who plays the ever loving Shug, told me the script stays close to the ethos of the novel. (I guess the ribs haven't been removed.) So will we see hot sex between Shug and Celie, maybe on a Posturepedic? "You'll see intimacy," she said. "Beautiful intimacy between friends." We all need more friends like that. At that point, I befriended LACHANZE—who plays Miss Celie—and she told me how her story mirrors that in the show. "Celie's a young woman who's survived tragedy," she said. "I have also survived a traumatic experience [sadly, her husband died on 9-11]. And I have come out on the other side feeling pretty good about myself and understanding the value of faith and taking each day as it comes." Forget mattresses—this show is going to be a giant ad for Kleenex.

A comfortable couples comedy that builds to a lovely melancholy, Absurd Person Singular is that rare production brave enough to have not only one intermission, but a pair of them! Most Broadway plays these days are so terrified people will bolt midway that they'll practically strap you to your seat and electrify the exits as they unfurl their lengthy stage torture without pausing for breath.

At Feinstein's at the Regency, legendary CAROL CHANNING doesn't pause at all, and you'd be a moron to want her to. The sublime person singular goes nonstop with her droll stories and saucer-eyed show tunes, even bumping and grinding her tiny waist to "A Little Girl From Little Rock." She's eight times older than DAKOTA FANNING and just as much a dewy child, but without the scary edge. I adore the woman! Now I'm off to the bank.


Litter Box
Elton: Straight to the mulitplex?

Call me crazy—or better yet call me madam—but has that designer's daughter really snuggled with KID ROCK, STEPHEN DORFF, and practically everyone else PAMELA ANDERSON ever had a thing for? And will MADONNA offend yet another religion with her inevitable Buddha-licious album? And did that guy who claimed a priest's abuse turned him gay really say his life would have been different otherwise and he'd be married and living in Greenwich? (Yeah, now that Connecticut has same-sex civil unions.) And did I honestly just get the year's most shocking press release, saying that ELTON JOHN's production company is shooting a romantic comedy called It's a Boy Girl Thing?

And is CYNDI LAUPER a doll or what? She had a boy-girl-everything lunch at Coda for her forthcoming The Body Acoustic album, where I naturally asked the singer what her favorite Broadway musical is. "The South Pacific," she cutely said, adding, "I always wanted to play Bloody Mary, but I don't think they'd let me." They must be Bali high.

But here's some interesting casting: Spies who've seen Two for the Money swear that MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY's character is humiliated by "a golden shower" performed by two thugs in Central Park. That must have been even more mortifying than Sahara.



WEB EXTRA

Some gossip about my favorite person. I'm going through the change of life, kids, complete with dry vagina and hot flashes. Antidepressants don't seem to be gelling with my old seizure disorder, and I've been carrying on like a displaced goldfish. But the fun will go on, especially if you send over your own words of inspiration—or tales of horror, if you prefer.


musto@villagevoice.com

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