By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
A little gay birdie told me to attend Next magazine's Out There Awards at Crobar because I was definitely, certainly, probably receiving one of the major honors. Panting with excitement, I started rummaging through the windmills of my mind to figure out which of my blinding talents the gay-bar rag would recognize me forrefusing to stop going to clubs, making up nicknames for celebutantes (Hi, Cum Dumpster!), or maybe playing "Swanee" on my jowls with a rubber band and two safety pins.
Well, I got there and graciously accepted the award for . . . Press Whore of the Year! Mama say what? Nah, heck, I deserved it. I showed up, didn't I? And I'll do anything, as long as it's not in any way high-paying or career-enhancing. Thank you, Next. You are where I turn for both high culture and hustler ads. You are one-stop shopping for opportunities for risky sex and then info on what to do about it afterward. Just spell my name right.
At the awards event, I embraced Lifetime Achievement winner KEVIN AVIANCE, who's risen way beyond his gay-bashing incident and told me he's coming out with a line of high heels "from six to 16, girl." Are they to kick the bashers with? "No," he said, "they're to uplift everyone to a higher place." Where the bashers can't even reach you!
In the backstage waiting area, the set list was being frantically restructured because two Project Runway queens and WENDY WILLIAMS hadn't gotten into their heels and shown up (though Wendy was sweet about it, explaining that she couldn't get a sitter for her son that night. Thankfully, JOHN MARK KARR wasn't available. By the way, I love where Karr drew the line: "I'm a pedophile and I swear I killed JonBenet, but I'm not gay! How dare you!"). Playgirl cover model JULIAN FANTECHI and Dante's Cove actor CHARLIE DAVID did show, but according to recording artist KEO NOZARI, Fantechi's manager strangely told him the model wouldn't say a word onstage. (Was that to protect Fantechi, the audience, or both?) And he sure didn't! He and dazed David missed their cue, leaving co-presenter Nozari as alone up there as KEITH URBAN on the day of a Botox sale. "Both of these guys had handlers," Nozari relates, "yet Iwho was by myselfwas the only one with the presence of mind to get onstage and present when the category was called!"
Practically everyone else had the presence of mind not only to speak, but also to indulge in more plugging than at a gay toy store. They promoted their club events, CDs, media appearances, shoe lines, and everything but their latest blood works. By the time I received the Press Whore award, I came off like a humble virgin preparing to lay myself before bin Laden compared to these hard-sell hucksters. Even zippy host PEPPERMINT GUMMIBEAR went in for some light bragging. "I borrowed my jewelry from the Harry Winston store," she told the crowd. "They don't know it yet."
ONE HARDLY SINGS; THE OTHER DOESN'T EITHER
The jewel-like (if not JEWEL-like) JESSICA SIMPSON showed up at her Roxy skating party, but her voice didn't, no doubt thanks to that acid reflux thing, which is really going around. "She's not talking," a PR person assured me, making me wonder if this was the same handler from that Playgirl model. "But she's upstairs shooting Extra," yelped a photographer. Well, I guess they were doing a really funky segment on the resurgence of celebrity mime. Flailing their arms about for different reasons, about 30 girls and PEREZ HILTON were skating around the dancefloor while I busied myself at Yahoo's free-candy stand on the outskirts. As Jessica came down to do her "skating moment" for the mediahow spontaneous and heartfeltI danced an ASHLEE jig over to the Sherrybaby party at the Soho Grand, only to find Ashlee herself had just arrived there andher reflux having long recededshe was yakking away on her cell phone in the lobby! My life is so cyclical!
Sherrybaby has a superb MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL as an ex-jailbird reconnecting with her child, much like that other MAGGIECHEUNGin CLEAN, but different. I was told I could talk to Maggie Gyllenhaalbut I couldn't ask anything about JAKE or the baby. Damn, that killed my first question: "What does Jake think about the baby?" Instead, I smirkily asked Maggie if the movie is for Jersey Boys fans, and she said, "Is that a show?" (Yes, I explained, it's the Four Seasons story and one of their biggest hits was about "Sherry baby." Bad joke. I was glad she didn't get it.)
Anyway, two, three, four, was it harrowing to shoot on such a tight schedule? No, she said, "it actually helped bring out some of the themes. The kind of desperation Sherry does everything with is helped by calls of 'We have 10 minutes! We have to get this scene!' " Maggiewho's clearly a glass-half-full kind of galeven feels it's made things smoother that five of her movies have been coming out in a row (including World Trade Center, in which she's havingdon't aska baby. I wonder how Jake feels about that). "There's less drama around it," she explained about the onslaught of product. "It's easy to get my hair done for the premiere because I just did it for two other ones." As I left, I faced more drama on noticing that now Jessica Simpson was entering the hotel! But not on skates! So my life isn't cyclical after all.