By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
If memory serves, I spent most of the '90s in camouflage jumpsuits and a babushka, running around screaming, "Die, politically incorrect stink bomb" to any cretin who veered out of my rigid set of expressive possibilities. It was so very much fun, but my mind's grip has loosened a little since then, partly out of laziness, but also because society's treatment of the gays (and other oppressed folk) has moved forward and it's no longer as big of an outrage to make a raucous little joke among friends. And now comic SARAH SILVERMAN says offensive stuff that usually has me grinning, especially since she does it with such a giant wink you'd have to be PETER BRAUNSTEIN not to get it. Silverman dabbles in knowing versions of adolescent gross-out jokes, often reveling in biased viewpoints in order to make an acidic comment on them. Or a Hasidic comment; when she talks about "the alleged holocaust," I'm pretty sure she doesn't mean it any more than she's really mad that Jews may be losing control of the media (though it is upsetting, mind you).
Her new movie, Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic, is a slight showcase for her stand-up act, interspersed with songs, shtick, and genital specialty acts. The ex-SNL writer vamps through both misty-eyed pleas ("I hope the Jews did kill Christ. I'd do it again!") and helpful suggestions (she says American Airlines should use the tagline "First through the towers!"), finally arriving at a titillating trio with her own crotch and butt. (It's like Destiny's Child all over again.)
By phone last week, Silverman told me she loves being little miss razor-blade mouth, as long as it's on her own terms, not in predictable film roles. "I'm so sick of playing the bitch," she moaned, "or the original girlfriend before he realizes what love can be, or the friend of the main girlfriend who's there for exposition and to say, 'But you love him and you're a lawyer.' That's killing me minute by minute."
She's a non-bitch in the Rent movie, but typically manages to gently bitch herself out about it anyway. "I sang two songs at my audition," she said, "and got the only non-singing role." At least it's a corker; in fact, someone told Silverman she's the funniest thing in the movie, and she was thrilled until realizing, "It's an AIDS drama. It's not exactly the biggest feat in the world to be the funniest thing in Rent!"
But Silverman's also the funniest thing in Lent; she clearly would love to nail Jesus in more than just one way. "Haven't you seen his abs?" she gushed, when prompted. "He has one of those awesome heroin bodies." Absolutely, I'd genuflect for thatbut who else is h-o-t to this perspicacious vixen? " JIMMY KIMMEL," she replied, wisely. So Jimmy and Jesus are the two most sex-tastic studs around? "I don't really find Jesus sexy," Silverman said, changing psalms. "I'm not into rock-hard, heroin bodies." I could have probably used some cognitive tricks to lure yet another switcheroo out of her mind, but she sounded a little distracted. "My dad's here," she explained. "He's so old and retarded and sweet. Walk over there, dad, and there's a present. Follow my finger." Yeah, the middle one.
I'm staying on my knees as I relate another kind of body-part symphony, one involving more ritualistic wee-wee-ing than at the old Mineshaft. At Bronx Community College, they recently filmed a "Skull and Bones" fraternity initiation scene for The Good Shepherd, which is about the early (and apparently very earthy) days of the CIA. According to an extra, MATT DAMON ended up in a giant pit of mud with five other actors, who dropped their flesh-colored thongs, though Matt discreetly (and probably contractually) kept his on. A high point came when Matt wrestled one of the naked men in the muck as the paid extras egged them on. When things couldn't get any more extraordinary, an assistant director yelled, "Cue the pee!"no, I have no ideawhich led to a yellowish flow from the rafters, complete with much behind-the-scenes fussing about the velocity and trajectory of the liquid (coming from plastic bottles, thankfully) onto the moshpit. I hear Bronx Community is now officially called Pee U.
The shit hit after a Landmark Sunshine Cinema showing of The Dying Gaul, when writer-director CRAIG LUCAS did a little onstage Q&A and apparently raised his voice a lot while lambasting audiences and critics for not thinking outside the box. I'm glad Craig's gall is not dying.
But back to the naked boys wrestling. The Abercrombie & Fitch catalog was never exactly about clothing, so it was poetic that at the Fifth Avenue store's opening, you didn't stop much to notice any of it. Instead, you were so captivated by the drop-dead-looking model help that you tripped on your tongue all the way to the bar area. Around there, one of the model studs was all over me like a seasons-old sweatshirt, and we were finally really getting somewhere when his boss lady came running out to drag him back for some detoxing. Thanks, bitch.
Let's toast Paper magazine's first Nightlife Awards ceremony, an extremely vivid quirkathon where typical backstage banter started with "My mother was schizophrenic, and when she didn't take her meds . . . " Well, I certainly took mine, and spent hours regaling MICHAEL STIPE with the wonders of Neurontin until feeling so embarrassed I wanted to crawl away singing, "That's me in the corner." Onstage, there was a series of giddy highs, like beauteous socialite TINSLEY MORTIMER chirping that her look doesn't really need a makeover and co-presenter THOM FILICIA from Queer Eye saying he agreed, "though I would give you a cock." (Honey, he could just hand one right over to yours truly.)
The big tension was all the onstage back-and-forth about which two-fags-and-an-ambiguous- girl-promoter trio started first, THE MISSHAPES or THE TRINITY. "We did," one of the MisShapes swore to me later on that night, while the official response from a Trinity member was, "I love everyone. My only concern is my hairwhich looks fabulous, by the way." Adding to the texture, one of the V.I.P.'s begged to remain anonymous as he told me he'd love to bang AMANDA LEPORE. Alas, the ceremony was set up to give out trophies, not trannies.
The award-winning club Happy Valley had its first SUSANNE BARTSCHKENNY KENNYpromoted Tuesday-night party, and out came the real heroes of BLOOMBERG's New York: the guy wrapped in plastic and duct tape; the child catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang; the old-timer saying, "It's a bunch of dinosaurs from the Discovery Channel"; and the aforementioned Lepore-lover, who was now gabbing about the go-go boy's wanton appendage. KIM AVIANCE and HARRY both managed to do sexily dramatic acts on the stairwaystages are so '04and whether the MisShapes came before the egg or not, they DJ'd so flawlessly I even did a distracted shimmy in a corner of the dancefloor, hoping no one on the balcony would cue the pee.
To demonstrate my vast range, I'll now swish over to Broadway, where Souvenir is the show about socialite Florence Foster Jenkins, the original WILLIAM HUNG, who couldn't hit a note even with a baseball bat. JUDY KAYE is perfect (if not pitch-perfect) as the perfectly awful but endearing dame without rhythm, tonality, or a singing role in Rent. The result is a neat little portrait of the type of wannabe star that chases me down dark alleys a little too often.
Off-Broadway, Bingo, the musical, is very Tony n' Tina's 25th Annual Steel Magnolias Nunsensecute but generally inconsequential, though I would have applauded louder if I'd won the $3 prize some lucky, big-haired tart from New Jersey got instead. Die, follically incorrect stink bomb.
Pride & Prejudice is a lovely Jane Austen adaptation, with lots of bee-stung lips, dewy eyes, and line dancing. At the equally nicey-nice premiere party at the Central Park boathouse, director JOE WRIGHT told me that, though someone after a suburban-L.A. screening screeched, "That movie was fucking horrible," tonight's crowd was more sophisticated, "and there was even a little round of applause when JUDI DENCH came on." Was Wright ever around Gotham when it was less sophisticatedi.e., when it gorgeously reeked of dirtbags and sleazebuckets? "I wish!" he blurted. "I like dirt. I think it's beautiful." Then why didn't he put any in the movie? "I did," he said, plainly. "There's a lot of mud." M.M.