By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
In lieu of a Gatorade Conservancy for the Performing Arts, I went to the opening of the Snapple Theater Center, a Times Square culture palace born from liquid treasures like Go Bananas and What-a-Melon. In addition to selling Snapple merch, the center has two Off-Broadway houses, one with Perfect Crime and the other making way for a revival of The Fantasticks, which last time around ran longer than Raspberry Royale and Samoan Splash (until they were tragically retired and sent to the home for forgotten flavors).
At the opening, we chugged demon orangeade on outdoor bleachers, waiting to watch an across-the-street sign with gigantic bottle caps and a ginormous replica of a bottle of lemon iced tea (my third favorite flavor) spin, tilt, and light up. "It's like when we used to see son et lumiére illuminate the pyramids," said Fantasticks co-creator TOM JONES, invoking some very chic memory I must have lost track of. As long as he was there, I asked Jones if he feels weird that RITA GARDNERThe Fantasticks' original ingenueis now the rapping granny in The Wedding Singer. "Everything makes me feel weird," he said sagely, "and nothing makes me feel weird."
Just then, WENDY THE SNAPPLE LADY appeared, and I felt weirdly happy that she had slimmed down and in fact was way thinner than the Ditech man. "I lost 55 pounds on Celebrity Fit Club," Wendy exulted. "I did it by shutting my mouth and starving myself and making myself miserable in the first year of wedded bliss." So she couldn't even eat at the wedding? "Thank God the show started right after the wedding!" she told me, cracking up.
And on came the BROADWAY KIDS, a bunch of thin, baby-faced belters who are younger than the Jersey boys and who were ready to unwittingly bring jailbait back to Times Square. With braces, tonsils, and arms akimbo, they loudly chirped "Snapple debuts on Broadway" to the tune of "Give My Regards to Broadway," as I clumsily tried to applaud while massaging my aching teeth.
Finally, we tap-danced up several flights to the theater center and saw the plush seats and bizarre sight lines. (Everything makes me feel weird and nothing makes me feel weird.) I was all set to move on to the Sunny Delight Playhouse when I got a serious invite toand this is truea "Sprite street-couture showcase"! Attention all sodas and beverageskindly stay in the can until further notice from either me or Starbucks.
SWEATIN' TO THE OLDIES
With a free bottle of diet schnapps, I went to the Chelsea Art Museum benefit for Live Out Loud, whichrather than dole out redundant fruit drinksgives scholarship money to young gays. "You've given money to young gays," cracked at least five former friends that night. Anyway, charming host CHRISTOPHER SIEBER was trying to calm the chatty crowd by saying, "I turned down the Butterfly Awards to be here!" (That must have been at the Kool-Aid Pavilion.) Once he got their attention, Sieber said how important it is that there are gay icons for youth to look up to nowadays. "As a gay kid in high school," he revealed, "I didn't have any role models. I only had RICHARD SIMMONS, Snagglepuss, and Charlton Heston." I was stunned! I didn't know Richard Simmons was gay! (Or Luther Vandross. I'm sure the velvet-voiced singer of odes to women would have been thrilled to know that ELTON JOHN recorded a duet with him after he diedLuther, that isand it's included on the all-star CD tribute to the late warbler that landed in the gift bag for the Live Out Loud event promoting out role models! Tee-hee.)
The crowd moved en masse to the Plumm for one of those "complimentary medium-shelf vodka for an hour" frolics where 80 queens are on the committeeeveryone except JIM MCGREEVEY's truck-stop boyfriend, mainly because they couldn't track him down now that the glory hole's been boarded up. At least there were no drinks or punches flying, like when puppet-faced Axl Rose dropped by the club; with the gays, only shade is thrown, occasionally accompanied by a phone number and some used lip gloss.
By the way, I love how the only people outing themselves these days seem to be potential criminals trying to get off. "My client is gay!" shrieked the lawyer for the latest Natalee Holloway suspect, as if that automatically cleared him of wrongdoing. Guess what? So were Leopold and Loeb, Andrew Cunanan, Jeffrey Dahmer, Michael Alig, Hitler, Aileen Wuornos, and Vito from The Sopranos!
I also adore that when music-murderer CLAY AIKEN appeared on American Idol last week, press people were warned not to ask scandalicious questionslike, say, "Is it true about the cum rag?" I guess that means it's not true, right? Expect a tribute CD to Clay to appear in future Chelsea gift bags.
But back to healthier fluids: After some sparkling-water clink-clinking at MOMA last week, they honored director JAMES MANGOLD, who was floridly articulate, telling the crowd that for Walk the Line, he emphasized sweaty onstage close-ups more than cheering audience shots, and his job involved "sometimes just telling the actors they're great. But in JOAQUIN's case, that wouldn't work. He hates hearing that." I hate hearing it tooI mean that Joaquin's great. (Kidding. He's my favorite harelipped hottie. I think he should have also played Ray Charles.)