NY Mirror

Once again exploring the subtle whoring that costs too much to be free, I agreed to be a keynote speaker at Spin, a student journalism conference at a Holiday Inn a whole hour away in Toronto. I was anxious for a chance to not only stay at a Holiday Inn, but to appearat one too—and maybe even drop by the Laugh Resort comedy club in the lower level in between inspiring young minds and raising the literacy level of an entire nation.

Amazingly, I managed to practically turn this into a visitation from the queen. Thanks to PR man GRANT RAMSAY, I had The Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, and Fab magazine all chasing me around for features, brag, brag—a situation I could get used to, especially since in New York I generally get major doses of "What was the name again?" or, more poignantly, "Die, fag!"

And the speech was pure gravy. It lasted all of two minutes, after which I fielded such heavy-duty journalistic questions as "How did TINA FEY get her scar?" and "What's your favorite song to slow dance to?" (It's "Don't Cha" by the PUSSYCAT DOLLS, naturally.) After that, Ramsay and artist DAVID HAWE corralled the local elite to a frothy loft party—everyone from a transsexual dominatrix professor to a drag queen who keeps e-mailing OPRAH WINFREY because they're on the same Trivial Pursuit card.

En masse, we moved on to Screww, the retro queer night at Buddies, where a fresh-faced piece of jailbait was begging the DJ for late-period WHITNEY HOUSTON. (I guess for certain age groups, two years ago is really retro.) For the grown-ups, the Remington's club gave good love via male strippers who—this not being New York—are actually allowed to bare every last inch and a half. But they talk to you for 10 whole minutes before popping the big question—no, not the one about Tina Fey, but "Do you want a private dance for $20 per song plus $2 admission to the upstairs V.I.P. room?" Sure, if the song is "Don't Cha." Actually, before a hairlessly intoxicating dancer even broached that bargain bonanza, he tried to engage me in a different offer by letting on that some extra-well-hung guys were stationed in the back. "But I'm not a size queen," I said smirking. "Don't you have anything smaller? "I don't know," he said, gratuitously adding, "I did once sleep with a hairy customer who had a small dick and it was kind of cute." Eew, not that small. As for himself? "I'm a grower, not a show-er," the dancer crowed. Well, I eventually turned down the lap dance; I don't bite wad, I'm a tightwad.

As I left Toronto, throngs of queens announced that they'd see me in New York because they were flying themselves in to catch the Grey Gardens musical, which obviously has some serious international pull. After that, I'll no doubt run into them again when I send myself back north to finally experience the Laugh Resort.

The night I came back home, Canadian strippers were shipped to our shores for the opening of the 20 Club—a weekly gay event at V.I.P.—but they had to be on their most skittish behavior; disrobing entertainers only come to Gotham nowadays in order to taste the perversity of keeping their undies on. (Branson's where the real fun happens.) So there was more tease than strip at this place, and besides that, the spotlight operator must have been epileptic because rarely did the spinning lights settle enough on the ecdysiasts so you could see what they looked like. (Thank God, in one case.) Add $14 cocktails—for others—and straight goombahs at the door saying "How ya doin'?" and the result was uniquely weird—but I loved the chance to inspire young behinds and raise the literacy level in our own fine country!


AN OFFER HE COULDN'T REFUSE

Marlon Brando is stripped bare in the new book Brando Unzipped by DARWIN PORTER, which has all the goods on the late legend's affairs with everyone from Rock Hudson to Monty Clift (and some real women too). But it's worth it alone for having printed the photo—which Porter says is completely authentic and was done on a dare—of Brando sucking on his aptly named roommate Wally Cox's large penis in tight close-up. If it's true, Cox was clearly a grower and a show-er.

As for gay sodomites, Brokeback Mountain is now being used as a moral weather vane to determine how brave and liberal straight people are. "She went with her husband to see it!" someone recently gushed to me about a professional type. Ooh! Bravo! Well, guess what? I saw The Color Purple!

I have another tidbit about a gay who got screwed: In case anyone's way prematurely preparing a glowing eulogy for GERALD FORD, let's not forget that, though ex-Marine Oliver Sipple saved Ford's life by helping deflect a bullet aimed at him, Ford adamantly refused to meet Sipple or invite him to the White House and wouldn't even send him a thank you note until a huge fuss was made by politico Harvey Milk. Why? Because Sipple (who later killed himself) was gay! Charming! Let's have no more gays helping presidents, OK?


JAGLOM LITTLE PILL

My own disses in political settings have been way too idiotic to drive me to the brink, or even to drink. At a special screening of EUGENE JARECKI's documentary Why We Fight, Jarecki told me he liked Walk the Line because "it was a period film that didn't feel jive." But something did feel jive when another filmmaker breathlessly approached me—as he always does—to bray, "I shot you for the documentary about HENRY JAGLOM. Do you remember? Huh, huh, Huh? Do you remember?" Yes, and I also remember how you cut me out of it, schmucko!

No nationality is cut out of SARAH JONES's one-woman Bridge & Tunnel; the woman does so many accents it's no wonder MERYL STREEP once produced this thing. The theme is the cross-pollination that makes America great, from a Muslim man tossing off "rap" puns to an old Jewish woman making "jiggy" jokes. Jones is a protean mimic and hits home when she spoofs poetry slams or makes statements about American foreign policy. But her thinnish characters—including a too-cute homeless woman—don't exactly develop into a searing tapestry the way ANNE DEAVERE SMITH's real-life ones do. Or maybe I was just distracted by the unwanted extra character—the critic sitting near me who kept turning to his date and asking, "What did she say?"

It was all about "What did she do?" at the Maritime's Cuckoo Club, where delightful drop-in Lindsay Lohan was ditzy-witsy enough to leave her diary behind. (Can you imagine all the interventions that can be staged just from reading one entry? Oh, well. At least she didn't leave her diaphragm.)

And over at Happy Valley, the cross-pollination was complete as a jiggy group sporting Hasidic chic had the throngs gagging over their look, until everyone realized it wasn't a fashion statement at all, they were real Hasidic Jews on a bender. I adored it down to every last payess. Never has orthodox been so unorthodox.


Litter Box
Gay for play

While we're boîte hopping, let me say that, despite all the genital limits, gay nightlife is at a new peak, with at least three must-go nights swishing up my life—Tuesday (the resurging Beige, the mixed Happy Valley), Thursday (the twink-laden playpen Duvet), and Sunday (Maritime, Avalon, Spirit, APT). Thanks to these buoyant bashes, the body-fascism ethic and tuneless music that suffocated gay club life for so long have officially been booty-bumped out the window. The spots are filled with such irresistible pop that I even inadvertently danced to a PARIS HILTON song recently until finding out what it was and running home in tears. And the clubs teem with guys who don't work out so obsessively that they forget their boyfriends' birthdays (though they do occasionally forget they have boyfriends). At Duvet, I actually touched a guy with love handles.

But all's not enchanted. The other week, a customer at that very club started disrobing and shamelessly dancing on a go-go box while the professional dancer was off on a break. The tipsy exhibitionist (who would never cut it at Remington's) was thrown out of the club—or was about to be until they realized he'd just spent $380 for bottle service.

Of course, whether gay or straight, the most annoying people in clubs are the ones who spend the whole night text messaging their friends, "Where are you?" They're somewhere hiding from you, that's where!


WEB EXTRA

The SAG awards were both a rehash of all the other awards shows and a spot-on precursor to the Oscars, so the telecast had a been-there-done-that-GONNA-do-that feel to it that was reassuring in its predictability. The winners did all the same shtick I've seen them trot out on other shows—REESE is big on that "Hi, y'all. I'm just a simple Tennessee girl deep down" thing, SANDRA OH likes to pant and thank "my cast," and S. EPATHA is the queen of "I'm a 50-year-old divorcee and just beginning" routines. Blowing them all away was the biggest little professional in town, DAKOTA FANNING, whose tribute to SHIRLEY TEMPLE was rendered without a stammer or a hitch and came complete with dramatic cadences and significant pauses. Everyone in the entire business should sit back, watch the bitch, and learn! (Just get away when she eventually hits the crack or the weaponry.)

It was also heartening to finally see RYAN PHILLIPPE on an awards stage for a change; the cutie was up there for the final triumph, when CRASH won for best ensemble, and I cheered, though it was less inspiring when they started fading toward a commercial and you could still hear Ryan shamelessly kissing up to MORGAN FREEMAN. ("I've always wanted to meet you. You just met my wife, Reese)." By the way, the worst ensemble was whatever RACHEL WEISZ was wearing. 


musto@villagevoice.com

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