NY Mirror

How gloomy is the post–9-11 pop cultural palette? Extremely so. In fact, the five Oscar nominees for the best picture of '05 are so oppressively dark that you can add them up into one big horror show with the combined premise: Gay writer investigates the murder of Israeli cowboys in a racial incident involving a hateful commie-baiter and they all hang for their sins. Fun, fun, fun, right?

By the way, I agree with LIZ SMITH that HEATH LEDGER and JAKE GYLLENHAAL were a little too campy introducing their own sad-sack Brokeback Mountain at the SAG Awards. Yes, I've made more jokes about that thing than anyone, and sure, the shit they were asked to read sounded like bad trash-novel flap copy, but why is it always the gay movie that gets the stars a-giggling? (Remember DENNIS QUAID's "rhymes with chick flick" remark at the Golden Globes, where even a Miss Congeniality 2 would have gotten a "glorious journey into self"?) Uncomfortable much?


DOGGIE STYLE
That movie came up again when RICHARD TURLEY and YUE-SAI KAN—the overseas Oprah—invited us to PM Lounge to kick off "the year of the dog," though the buffet mercifully stuck to heaping slabs of real chicken, pork, and Peking duck. While ushering in 4704, I was horrified to realize that I'm now 4724 years old (shut up), but I enjoyed chatting with timeless director PAUL MORRISSEY, who prefers his own 1971 classic Women in Revolt to Transamerica ("Why didn't they use a man to play a woman?" he griped to me. "Idid. Is there something to be ashamed of?") and his own gay western Lonesome Cowboysto Brokeback Mountain. ("Do these cowboys have an ounce of humor in their lives?" asked Morrissey about the latter's dark duo. [Aside: Yeah, off-screen they do.] "Doesn't anybody ever ask them to dance? And God forbid either of them should be slightly effeminate. Everything's a cheat! The man who wants to be a woman is already a woman and the cowboys in love are macho, so it's OK. A cheat, a cheat, a cheat!")

Meanwhile—calm down, calm down, calm down—while RON REAGAN JR. used to get asked to pirouette, his more recent career as an anchor has suffered a temporary sitdown. At the same party, MONICA CROWLEY told me she'll be reappearing on MSNBC, this time in a simulated radiocast without her former co-host Reagan. (Back to the Capezios, I guess.) In another corner, sunglassed socialite ANNE SLATER must have been trying out her running shoes; she was darting away from shutterbug PATRICK MCMULLAN, who wanted to shoot her with REVEREND AL SHARPTON. "I don't want to meet him!" Slater shrieked, cementing this as the year of the dodge. Or maybe not. "It's the year of the chicken!" insisted Kan, fluffing up her expensive feathery outfit.


TEETH TOGETHER, LIPS APART
McMullan had his own PM Lounge party a few nights later for his Kiss Kiss book of celebrity smooching, with a cover shot, poignantly enough, of NICK bumping lips with JESSICA. (Couldn't you just cry? Their breakup was a cheat, a cheat, a cheat!) I'm in the book, dodging—yes, dodging—an air kiss from JEAN-PAUL GAULTIER, and I can only pray we're both also in the inevitable sequel, Piss Piss.

With my fist-fist poised delightfully up my own ass, I proceeded to the Fashion Week launch party at Sol thrown by Mao Mag, which was fresh and zingy until the place got so crowed that the NYPD came and threw the lights on and everyone could see it was actually the year of the Dermablend. Until then, nouveau burlesque performers like B*O*B, DIRTY MARTINI, and CANDIS CAYNE vamped their femaleness onstage in a kitschy coup. And for a main course, ballsy LADY BUNNY lipsynched off-color versions of pop songs ("It takes two to make a hole feel tight"), told topical jokes (" BOY GEORGE and KATE MOSS are together in a car. Who's driving? The police!"), and did a rousing tribute to "that very lovely and talented crack-addicted lesbian, Whitney Houston." Bunny was kidding, of course—Whitney's not lovely or talented, womp-womp-womp.


BLIND BOMBSHELLS
While we're diving headlong into the toilet bowl, I'll leave you with some nattering blind items because I'm a sadistic top and am desperate to ream you a new mental asshole: What TV personality who's perennially chased after drugged-up young'uns is still at it and in fact recently almost had a breakdown when one such boy rejected him? What other TV personality actually dated that rocker he's a fan of? What '80s singer, when asked what she thought of KANYE WEST, cutely said "Who?" What superstar's sometime publicist "accidentally" e-mails his friends gushy love letters to himself from hot guys, mythical missives that he actually wrote himself? Which gadfly do people buzz about by noting, "Everyone knows he's gay except his wife"? What 4725-year-old ex series star was seen in Bangkok not long ago, making lurid eye gestures at a young boy? (At least he didn't have a breakdown when rejected.)

What hottest man on earth in the '90s—an actor with sizzling ethnic looks—once had an affair with a guy I know who I swear didn't deserve it? What forgotten singer was even more of a total bitch than called for while being filmed for a reality show? What daughter, say the rumors, doesn't look like her world-famous Papa, no doubt because he's infertile and is not her father? (To conceive, her world-famous Mama supposedly did it with a co-worker who the daughter does look like, goo-goo eyes and all.) Which rival producer, at the intermission of an autobiographical musical, was heard telling someone, "You can't not like it, but it doesn't kill you. It's the script!"

What chef wouldn't mind a taste of that clubbin' transsexual? Which dead black comic's son once had a relationship with that live black comic, a fact the son revealed at his dad's wake when the live comic (a friend of the deceased) didn't show? Which famous mother once said, "That director was the only straight man I married"? What star enjoyed Spermalot at a midtown gym's steam room and sauna with a hunky young African American? What sauced starlet showed up at a gay bash and promptly set to work asking the powers that be how she could get some booger sugar? What actor who's played gay was supposedly going to come out as bi on that talk show, but naturally didn't? And what gay director, say the rumors, wants to out his male discovery, but will no doubt succumb to similar pressure not to?

While we're asking questions: I mentioned how the five nominated movies are totally Gloomy Guses, but doesn't it seem as if LGBT-themed plotlines need to be extra doomy and deadly to be so honored? After all, Oscar has orgasmed for movies in which WILLIAM HURT's cellblock love was beaten, TOM HANKS died of AIDS, HILARY SWANK was viciously killed, IAN MCKELLEN committed suicide, CHARLIZE THERON was executed for all those nasty murders, Capote attended a hanging then stopped writing for seven years, and the Brokeback queens . . . well, I won't give that away, even with a joke. At least FELICITY SEYMOUR HUFFMAN, as it were, earns some joy and—spoiler alert—her son even goes on to be a porn star, a much more exalted way to sell sex than his previous gig, hustling.

One last question, to lighten the mood: Don't cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me? Don't cha?


Litter Box
TRUE COLORS

On Theater Talk, the Post's MICHAEL RIEDEL suggested that Oprah (the real one, not the Chinese one) is guilty of two frauds—the JAMES FREY book and telling people to see the Color Purple musical.

In revival news, darling CYNDI LAUPER was passed over for Sweeney Todd in favor of PATTI LUPONE, but now that she's got that plum role in The Threepenny Opera, wouldn't it be delish if she and Patti eventually go head to head for the Tony Award? Am I the only one who thinks of shit like this?

That new drama about grief, Rabbit Hole, is pristinely acted and utterly sensitive, despite its TV-movie platitudes about being in a good place, being there for each other, and letting go of it all. In the audience, I wasn't in a good place when I excitedly went up to JERE BURNS and said, " MALCOLM GETS!" Over at the Zipper Theatre, Lenny Bruce . . . In His Own Words is a slavish re-creation of a Bruce monologue that's not pointless, mainly because the cocksucker who plays the guy is really good. So was the Downtown Book reading, where ERIC BOGOSIAN said he's been battling the "performance art" label for years. I valiantly lent support. We're there for each other.


musto@villagevoice.com

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