By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
The most honest pitch of the week came from a press release about Supermodel, a one-sentence, 179-page "epic poem" loosely inspired by the story of tsunami survivor PETRA NEMCOVA. (Stop with the triple takes and frenetic eyeball rolling. You heard me.) "This book can be fairly daunting," admitted the release, "and in fact it may also tug on your last nerve." Enough saidI'm sold.
The week's most unsurprising news is that the gay sex club El Mirage was recently shuttered by the health, police, and fire departments, as well as the New York City Task Force and various lawyers, all of whom descended on the place en masse to sniff for unsafe sex, dim the lights, and call it a gay. Gosh, I guess that answers the old question, "How many uptight men in uniform does it take to stop a sex act that's not in the bible?"
The lingering argument that still tugs at my last nerve is that gays can't get married because it's imperative to preserve the sanctity of that institution as it applies to opposite-sex couples. You know, WHITNEY and BOBBY, REESE and RYAN, BRITNEY and KEVIN, PAUL and HEATHER, O.J. and Nicole...
The weirdest multisexual pileup happened when CLAY AIKEN put his hand on KELLY RIPA's mouth, then Ripa moaned, "I don't know where that hand's been, honey," after which ROSIE O'DONNELL chimed in that Ripa wouldn't have said that to a straight guy or someone whose sexuality wasn't questioned. Well, first of all, we know exactly where it's been JOHN PAULUS. Secondly, I love the way Rosie-in defending her friend Clayis screaming to the world that Clay's not straight and that Kelly's reponse was homophobic! That's something he'd never want said in a million closety years. In fact, Clay will probably put his hand on Rosie's mouth next!
The saddest departure is that of Robert Altman, who was great when he was good, and when he wasn't, let's not go there. In any case, his freewheeling ensemble-piece sensibility certainly lives on. EMILIO ESTEVEZ's generally likable Bobbythough it dangerously verges on Babel for Dummies with a hint of Love American Styleis sometimes reminiscent of Altman's great, sprawling Nashville. After all, both films center on a political campaign, throw in an aggressive foreign female journalist and a wildly neurotic chanteuse, sprinkle in a case of adultery, and end with an innocence-ending assassination. Yikes. Could it be Bobby that killed Altman? (No. That's tasteless, and it sounds more like an OLIVER STONE premise anyway.)
The second biggest heartwrencher is that the Avenue Q book sheds.
The most intimidating new Broadway drama would have been part one of The Coast of Utopia, but it puts Pushkin in your babushka and is amazingly not boring, partly because it's directed with an overheated samovar full of energy and accents. (ETHAN HAWKE sounds like HARVEY FIERSTEIN at his gayest and raspiest and BILLY CRUDUP is really souped up, maybe on borscht). The playpart sitcom, part sweeping soap operakeeps you glued, and not just because one of the actors recently had a heart attack onstage. In the audience, six-foot-five actor JAMES CROMWELL was heard understandably moaning about the horribly cramped seats. A fucking serf has more leg room.
The boldest revival is Company, which has the openly-something RAÚL ESPARZA as a closeting-something bachelor avoiding commitment while his friends warmly embrace all sorts of gimmicks. You knowthey're all onstage for the entire show, they dabble in instruments, they never touch, they wear black (especially the bride), and they amble around like warring pieces on a chess board. And despite a couple of drawbacks, I fucking worshipped it! In fact, I want to marry this bravely confident production and have its African babies! For the ads: "Company is so good it could turn me straight. Except then I wouldn't like Broadway musicals like Company."
Another show about running from public sexuality while always seeming to bump into it, The Little Dog Laughed starts very KEVIN SPACEY (an overemphatic awards speech to someone named Diane) and ends very action star-yand I'm sure Clay's in there somewhere too. Along the way, some folks have been getting the crazy idea that the JULIE WHITE character is some kind of unadulterated hero for closeting almost everyone in sight and leading them toward greater financial gain. I think this is partly because White is so magnetic in the role that her character's soulless views start to become seductive, and also because people are sort of dumb.
Still, Waters runs deep
Completely outand aboutJOHN WATERS has upped the shock threshold of the entire modern era, and I love him for it while averting my eyes from the result (i.e., reality TV). So now he has the right to play wry uncle and perform a traveling stage lecture, which has just been filmed as the highly diverting This Filthy World. In it, glib Waters gives on-set tidbits ("Meeting KATHLEEN TURNER is like going to prison. Show no fear and you'll do great"), offers insights about Divine ("Even he had limits. The first time he met RICHARD SIMMONS, he felt homophobic"), and reveals where he draws his own line. (When a fan asked him, "Will you sign my colostomy bag?" Waters responded, "Yeah, with a felt tip, no Sharpies.") This movie could easily destroy the guy's imagehe comes off as nice!