From Andy Warhol to Thompson Twins

Two beloved scribes release two dramatically different books, and celebrate accordingly

It's crazy to think that not that long ago Rosie O'Donnell and Ellen Degeneres were in the closet, and AIDS was infuriatingly treated like a mystery best left undiscovered so gays could die like flies. In between writing about frivolous parties and magazine launches, Musto outed celebrities and raged against the government's inaction against the disease. In the book, "I go from squeamish to screaming PC nightmare to someone more at peace with the gay landscape," he says. "People don't remember how invisible gay was at one point. I was the lone voice screaming in the corner."

As for Rosie (who he outed), "Now, she's such a hero, I can only applaud everything she's doing. If it's making Barbara Walters uncomfortable, that's great!" Of course, these days Musto's joined by bloggers galore (he's a fan) like Perez, who not only join him in the outing game, but often beat him to the punch with the tap of a key. Still, there are some benefits to the blog brigade: "I don't come off that nasty anymore. Celebrities who used to run from me, now think I'm kind of endearing." Ironically, Musto says Rosie's new nemesis, the Donald, took the column's barbs like a man. "After all the times I trashed him, he came up and said, 'You do a great job.' It was a classy way to play it. The angrier you act, the more you are egging on someone confrontational like me to take it to the next round."

While he has no regrets about anything he's written, Musto has a regret about something he never wrote: "I had my serious doubts about JT Leroy. I had a very strong feeling that the person there pretending to be JT looked like a girl in a wig. At readings, JT was literally shaking, and I felt that person had no connection with the JT that was emailing me," he says. "When I started realizing it was a hoax, my response was to just blacklist JT from the column, rather than pursue it. I'm all for a good hoax, but JT Leroy claimed he had AIDS and was asking for money. That took it to a low level," says Musto. "Normally, I'd be delighted by a media hoax. It exposes the vulnerability of all of us who run with what we believe rather than what is the truth."

Rob Sheffield (second from the left) holds court. And yes, 
that's James Iha.
photo: Tricia Romano
Rob Sheffield (second from the left) holds court. And yes, that's James Iha.

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