Haven Can Wait

Rehab as a beautiful experience, plus cracks about pies. Psst! Ted Haggard was a top.

Luscious '07—a benefit for the Ali Forney Center, which provides a safe shelter for homeless LGBT youth—gave me the safe shelter of an after-party, where all the evening's stars gathered around a bowl of gay olives and radiated intensity. TV personality BOBBY RIVERS griped, "If I was on fire, GLAAD wouldn't get a hose to put me out!" Dance artist KEVIN AVIANCE told me, "I've been living in Minneapolis, where I spent a month in rehab"—i.e., he has been put out, and much more effectively than LINDSAY LOHAN. "I never thought I had a problem, let alone such a deep one," Aviance went on. "It was a beautiful experience to find myself again. It turns out you're not old and washed-up and last year's news. You're just a person growing up." (Speak for yourself, honey.) And finally, the always relevant comic/singer LEA DELARIAtold me she loved ANGELA LANSBURYon the Tonys because "she exudes 'I know exactly what I'm doing' even when she doesn't. Something was off—maybe the monitor had words missing—but nobody would know that from her end of it. 'Welcome to the 20. . . 19. . . 2007 Tony Awards!' I loved her!"

And while we're talking about the 20. . . 19. . . 2007 Tony Awards, I just remembered that at that after-party, I asked costume-design winner WILLIAM IVEY LONG (Grey Gardens) what CHRISTINE EBERSOLE's marvelous snoods are made from. "They're sweaters!" he exclaimed. "I know that because I tied them personally!" Well, maybe Ebersole's was on extra tight that night, because her speech said the show is about innate goodness—which is very sweet, since I remember it being about a mother who destroys her daughter's chances for happiness, then holds her physically and emotionally captive!

A Mount Rushmore of Tony types held me delightfully captive at last week's Drama Desk panel at Sardi's, where I fell in love with the angsty charm of Talk Radio's LIEV SCHREIBER, Radio Golf's HARRY LENNIX, LoveMusik's MICHAEL CERVERIS, and Company's RAUL ESPARZA, all of whom had me cheering while holding a knife to my wrist. Schreiber set the tone by revealing that as an actor, he's driven by "a terrible anxiety and neurosis. It's what I love and hate about myself." He went on to reveal that the reason these four are all character actors is "we're funny-looking," and that he wouldn't mind reviews that say he has a "head like a watermelon" so much if they also said the plays themselves have theatrical impact. Esparza, who seems sensitive almost to the point of tortured, admitted he sometimes cries himself to sleep and said his advice to young actors is, "You will cry, I will cry." Party! Esparza's deepest pain, perhaps, was doing Chitty Chitty Bang Bang ("I was miserable. There was nothing to play!"), though even in Company he's found that while he welcomes cast members into his gigantic dressing room, "ultimately, we all are alone."

Not just pretty faces: Esparza, Schreiber, and Lennix at Sardi's
photo: Andy Kropa
Not just pretty faces: Esparza, Schreiber, and Lennix at Sardi's

Adding to the pitch-dark honesty, Cerveris admitted, "The process of acting is not always a fun thing. Digging stuff up only to have people criticize you or fall asleep is tough." Wide-awake Schreiber added that he didn't get star billing with all those Public Theater Shakespeare revivals ("I would have liked to have been on those posters. I wasn't") and, what's more, he generally loves rehearsals and opening week, but then an actual run in a play can be absolutely agonizing. At least his Talk Radio gig got him an offer to do a real show on Air America, and he was thrilled—"then I realized that I'm an actor. I said, 'If you can have ERIC BOGOSIAN write a script for my radio show every day, then fine.' " He's awaiting an answer.

At the spectacular benefit Broadway Bares, performers with watermelon-shaped breasts danced around the Roseland stage as leading lady LESLIE KRITZER cracked, "I didn't know Equity's health insurance pays for these." Having just come from the Folsom Street East street fair, where teams of bears were licking pie off each other's cracks for a gift certificate to the Nasty Pig, I truly needed a hose to put me out.

Theater folk with clothes on turn up in the movie Evening, which has dying VANESSA REDGRAVE lying around and remembering when she was CLAIRE DANES. After a Walter Reade Theater screening, Pulitzer winner MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM said he adapted SUSAN MINOT's novel mainly by performing "population control. I knew I had to cut the population way down. But I made Buddy—who was a fringe character—bigger, deciding he needed a promotion." The audience applauded wildly, seeing as Buddy is played by the adorable HUGH DANCY.

The film's budget, said Cunningham, came in at a reasonable $13 million, partly because instead of shooting in Maine, they went to Newport, where they got some lovely tax breaks. Fortunately, Minot didn't mind all the changes, to Cunningham's delight. As he put it, "I hate the notion that one's book is the fingernail of a saint that must be kept in a reliquarium. That kind of obsessive preciousness about one's work is the mark of a hack!"

Eschewing hackdom, FARLEY GRANGER is the '50s matinee idol who, shockingly, left Hollywood to become a real actor. The other week, Granger was appearing at the Loew's Jersey Theater—a sumptuous reliquarium in Jersey City—so I hopped the PATH train, having enjoyed his Include Me Out book even though it gives almost as little insight into what it was like to be not-straight in Hollywood as TAB HUNTER's did. After a showing of Strangers on a Train—one of the few times movieland didn't waste him—Granger was interviewed onstage and kept his rose-tinted glasses (and hair) on. What was Hitchcock like? Absolutely great, he enthused. Nicholas Ray? Supremely terrific, he swore. Was there any gay thing going on in Strangers, especially since the flashily dressed Robert Walker seems to be trying to seduce Granger? Nah, Granger said, "but take it however you want to—I don't care." I guess the guy wants his otherHitchcock flick about two hotties plotting murder—Rope—to be the only one with gay subtext.

En route back to New York, I met some strangers on the train and ended up hitting the clubs with them (though ultimately we are all alone). At the Monster, we spotted a drag queen gleefully spinning something called the Wheel of Foreskin, while at Pieces a black guy was vowing not to go to Chi-Chiz because "I'm not a thug—I'm a Huxtable kid."

On the rooftop over at Pop Rocks, the guest of honor was MIKE JONES, the escort who blew the whistle, among other things, on REVEREND TED HAGGARD. Jones—who poetically looks like a cross between JEFF GANNON and JOHN PAULUS—told me that "when the mass media converged on me, I needed help, but the HRC never called back. I guess they think I'm a poor representation of the gay community. It's disappointing to me. But some gay people see me as a hero. Even KARL ROVE mentioned the Haggard scandal as one of the reasons the Republicans lost!"

Is saggy Haggard a professional liar? "He says he only met me one time for a massage," related Jones, "and he bought drugs from me and threw them away. But it was actually three years of more than massages. And I didn't buy him drugs, I hooked him up—and he did not throw them away." Most importantly, darling: top or bottom? "He was a bottom one time," said Jones. "He wanted to try it, but he had a hard time of it." (Eww. I have something in common with Ted Haggard!)

"Ted Haggard is a sad man," Jones went on. "Until he's honest with himself, he'll never be happy." Before Jones went off to spin the Wheel of Foreskin, he handed me a condom with his book title, I Had to Say Something, on one side and the word hypocrisy crossed out on the other. "I gave one to ESTELLE PARSONS," he told me, "and she said, 'I love chocolates!' " mmusto@villagevoice.com

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