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.)
Gossip break: the DIXIE CHICKS just apologized for apologizing for apologizing for being from Texas. I'm so sorry for this interruption.
But again, back to the column: I was thrilled to recently hear from DEBORAH SCHOENEMAN, who wanted my help in getting a blurb for her roman à clef about the gossip bizfrom JEANNETTE WALLS! Because she's literary!
Socalm down, meis the Kitchen, that "multidisciplinary nonprofit performance and exhibition space," which is not the kind of place where you scratch your crotch and pop open a Snapple Apple. At their Spring Gala Benefit at the Puck Building, modern-day Lucrezia Borgias sipped fine wines and watched performances by MIN XIAO-FEN ("a virtuoso on the ancient Chinese pipa") and ARTO LINDSAY (known for "his early noise records," back when that sort of thing was allowed in New York). Suffice it to say that no one at this artsy-smartsy party ran up to me and gushed, "I saw you on the E! True Hollywood Story about DEMI MOORE!"
DO AS I SAY, NOT AS I POO
But I do have some valuable knowledge to share, and I'll unleash it now if you promise not to snort up your soft drink. First off, here are some things you should never say in a club: "You look vaguely familiar. Where do I know you from?"; "Who am I? Come on, who am I?"; "Smile! Why aren't you having fun? Let's see a big smile!"; "One drink won't kill you"; "What are you doing here?"; "I haven't seen you in 15 years. What's new?"; "Write down your number on this wet napkin. I'll call you tomorrow, I swear"; "Give me some gossip!"; "Feel my ass. Isn't it tight?"; "Maybe you know my work. I was an extra in [unreleased indie] six years ago"; or "Hi! I once had dinner with [name-drop]. Well, not exactly with him. We just happened to be in the same restaurant on different nights. Impressed?"
While we're at it, here's a handy list of human (and barely human) types who should never be seated next to me at a dinner party: anyone who emits any of the above utterances; who doesn't have cable; who only talks about what's on TV; who's wearing a suit (unless they're female); who's visiting from Chicago; who doesn't read the tabloids; who complains endlessly about how New York has gone downhill; or who doesn't think the Urine Gone commercials are extremely funny.
And since I'm on a roll, or at least a croissant, let me address the freaky club people I like to be placed with and unveil the wacky nicknames I've concocted for them in my overabundant free time. (In the old days, club kids made up their own crazy monikers remember JENNY TALIA? WALT PAPER?but nowadays they're so busy multitasking that you have to do it for them.) I assure you this idea was executed out of sheer lovecall it the Red Bull Nicknaming Projectso the clubbies should be delighted as they try to guess which of these fractured-fairy-tale creatures they are to me: Lestat, Cyclops, Meth Mouth, Sheniqua Lee Curtis, Missing Link, Tennessee Tuxedo, Edwina Scissorhands, Aberzombie, Cokie Roberts, Thighmeat, Frank Lloyd Wrong, Glazed Eyes, Señor Ass Crack, Blunt Cut, and of course the immortal Hatchet Face Hannah. I'll see them all tonight at various Absolut pavilions and I'm expecting their guesses especially you, Low Hangers.
But stop everything, here's one more rule: Don't ever ask JARED PAUL STERN if it's true that his indictment is indeed coming to pass. He will answeras he just did to me"Are you crazy? Is that from your legal correspondent, AMANDA LEPORE? There's as much chance of that happening as there is of you being chosen to replace KARL ROVE." Oh yeah, well, my phone's ringing right now and I just know it's my good buddy Knucklehead, I mean DUBYA.