NY Mirror

I lined up to see USHER in Chicago, and I have to say she was absolutely great. She looked at my ticket stub, briskly showed me to my seat, and handed me a Playbill while mustering a warm half-smile. The star of the show was OK too—you know, Usher, who plays sleazy lawyer Billy Flynn with a mild hint of Johnnie Cochran. Can he act? Not really. Does it matter? Probably not, since he has the smooth showmanship of a variety show guest and a healthy taste for being onstage. It seemed like the guy was dying to break into a higher key and let loose, but he stayed professional—damn—and you also had to admire him for making his first fully clothed public appearance on record and not seeming that embarrassed about it. He makes me wanna!

Two nights later at "It Takes a Nation," a Crobar fundraiser for post-Katrina rebuilding, co-host ROSIE PEREZ told me she'd seen Usher in the show and "I was pleasantly surprised. The acting? Eh! But he had a lot of charisma and sang well. My friend said, 'I thought he was gonna look a little gay on the Fosse steps.' I was like, 'You're stupid.' " Yeah—you don't need Fosse steps to look gay. Look at me.

Anyway, the Public just had a reading of a screenplay Rosie wrote about two underprivileged New York kids, and they'll pair her with a playwright (maybe STEPHEN ADLY GUIRGIS) to make it stage ready. She also just shot a movie, The Take, with BOBBY CANNAVALE and JOHN LEGUIZAMO—I didn't know those were two different people—and said the latter spitfire kept telling her their scenes should be done naked. "I said, 'John, Do the Right Thing was a long time ago!' " Rosie told me, laughing.

But let's go back to Usher, whom you'll remember also kept his clothes on. PENÉLOPE CRUZshowed up to see him with her sex-on-a-stick rocker brother, Eduardo, and not only was she clothed, she was resplendent in a Chanel dress she had just borrowed from her Paper cover shoot. I hear PEDRO ALMODÓVAR told the same mag that for his film Volver, Penélope's portrayal of a busty woman in flux was influenced by SOPHIA LOREN in Two Women and (completely unrelated) they padded her butt for the performance. By the way, I've seen Volver and all is forgiven, Penélope. You can really act. You're even better than as Tom's girlfriend. No, seriously. Brava!


CONFESSIONS OF A DRAMA QUEEN

That other female-dominated family epic, Grey Gardens, is going through some changes of life in its move to Broadway. A know-it-all on All That Chat says three new songs are being written, plus the family drama will be beefed up, especially the part shedding light on Little Edie's personal damage. They'll probably get a new usher too.

Shockingly intact is the revival of The Fantasticks, that charming, fey little thing that's like a Precious Moments musical with a hint of that Twilight Zone episode about a group of toys trying to climb out of a donation box. The problem is, every time they sang the big song, I was dying to scream over them, "Try to remember the size of his member and swallow." But I stayed put and smiled beatifically.

Members were carefully tucked for drag waitressing legend ROSE ROYALLE's birthday gala at Vlada, hosted by SWEETIEand DANIEL NARDICIO. The invite intriguingly promised, "You'll be shitting glitter for a week," but it's been eight days now and I'm starting to worry. Among the highlights, JULIE ATLAS MUZ—not a drag queen, I don't think—was dressed as JonBenet and doing cartwheels as she adorably lipsynched "I Will Always Love You," and PRINCESS DIANDRA— a drag queen, I'm pretty sure—gave a touching tribute, remembering, "When security came to throw me out of Jackie 60, Rose said, 'That bitch deserves it.' But fuck me! Fuck you! I love Rose Royalle."

Extra security was needed Tuesday at Happy Valley, when half the crowd ran to the stage after it was announced, "And now for the world's most famous transsexual!" But they meant AMANDA LEPORE, who sang "I Know What Boys Like" with way more exposed flesh than Usher in Chicago. Backstage, I asked Amanda about her other immortal song, "My Pussy." How does it go, pray tell? "Pussy, my pussy, my pussy, my pussy," she recited, dutifully. "Pussy, my pussy, my pussy, my pussy. Times 15." Yikes, that's 120 gaping vaginas—more than the entire cast of The View!

"It's hotter than PARIS HILTON's music," Amanda decided, citing a socialite with a dog and a pussy. Ooh, tranny enmity, ma chére? "We had a food fight once," she admitted. "But I like how she matches all her accessories. And she's smart. She's the world's highest paid club kid." Except for my pussy, my pussy, my pussy . . .


HAIL THE CONQUERING HIRO

Over at the fruitily festive Sunday gay night at Hiro Ballroom, the highly paid club kids have moved downstairs, where host ERICH CONRAD has interestingly decreed that all the promoters now sit grandly on the stage. That makes the party like a giant Buñuel movie, and as they're all joined by their friends and hangers-on, it also becomes the most concentrated area of caked eyeliner in the world, not to mention the shakiest platform since the Republicans'.

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