Strike While the Irony's Hot

Making lemonade from lemons; reflections about a golden eye; jousting with Joosten.

All these strikes have cut down on my entertainment options—yes, it's all about me—but I've managed to make lemonade, just like on 9/11, when I sobbingly unearthed a cineplex showing American Pie 2 for free.

Yes, the flicks are still out there, even if their sad stars can only promote them on diabetes-inducing morning shows. There's The Mist, an exercise in hysteria whereby people trapped in a supermarket by the encroaching blur stone each other with cans of corn and demand each other for sacrifice. It's like Trader Joe's on a sale day. After the premiere, cast member Toby Jones told me, "My character didn't have to be hysterical. He's the voice of common sense." But even common sense would tell you to be a little jangly in a situation like that (and Lord knows it happens all the time). Was he more terrified of the mist or the creatures (large, attitude-y insects who buzz around your body parts and sometimes nibble at them)? "The other characters!" Jones said, sensibly. Next up, the actor lends even more sense to the Frost/Nixon movie, in which he plays shiny-headed agent Swifty Lazar. I told him I heard that Frank Langella demanded to be called "Mr. President" on the set in order to stay in character. "I never had to call him 'Mr. President,' " swore Jones. Hmm, special privilege!

By any name, Bob Dylan had to suffer that lousy jukebox musical and then the unspeakably boring portrayal of him in Factory Girl. Leave Bobby alone! But now Todd Haynes's I'm Not There captures Dylan's spirit with an inventive and flavorful if sometimes unwieldy approach. Poor Richard Gere looks silly as Billy the Kid and should have been edited even more than his dancing in Chicago, but Cate Blanchett's Jude (a/k/a Bob Dylan) is better than her Kate Hepburn, and I feel she should get an Oscar nomination in whatever category Jaye Davidson was in.

Aging like a fine whine: Kathryn Joosten
photo: Alana Cundy
Aging like a fine whine: Kathryn Joosten

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Julian Schnabel could get a directing nod for the haunting The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, about the paralyzed guy who blinked out his memoirs without a single typo. At a Brasserie Ruhlmann lunch for the flick—the third meal I've had thanks to that guy's stroke—Schnabel told me, "I was interested in making perfume, so I'm feeling like I made the perfume and everyone's under the spell of it. I was able to take everything from that and put it into this." Huh? Did I miss the fact that Diving Bell is in Odorama? No—a mere Google search revealed that Schnabel meant Perfume, the German novel he was originally scheduled to film about a whole other type of menacing mist. I crawled away in embarrassment and talked to Diving Bell's star, Mathieu Amalric, who fragrantly told me, "Julian and I decided it's not because you have a stroke that you become a saint. We felt this guy had a stupid life, he loved beautiful cars, and he continued to seduce women from his bed. And at the same time there was this thing about his wonderful and desperate sense of humor." The things he could do with that one eyelid!

My eyes were a-poppin' at the Radio City Christmas show, which is 90 minutes of hedonistic glitz followed by the serene birth of Jesus. Shouldn't it be the other way around? No way—this show's got it right, from Santa's 3-D sleigh ride through the landmarks of New York (you know, like a North Fork Bank billboard) to the eye-popping Rockettes numbers (a candy-cane dance-off, with whistles blowing) to the myrrh-laden emergence of the Christ child, complete with talented sheep. Yes, there was one gayish dwarf who was overacting a bit, but as Santa himself said, "What would Christmas be without a little holiday ham?"

Thanks to the strike, swarms of Jerseyites filed into Dillons for The Ultimate Drag Off, where they were promptly put to work by vivacious host Sweetie and her high-haired sidekick Giggles. As one lucky man was plucked out of the crowd to be transformed into a drag queen named Uma Asshurts, the rest got to vote on which of the evening's four contestants had the best Britneyesque arm gestures, coke snorting, and bad parenting skills. The inspired Mimi Imfurst strangely came in last, which is what happens when drunken bachelorettes from Jersey City are in charge of something.

Of course most drag queens have been unaffected by the strikes, seeing as they haven't even heard about them—or anything else! I love the tucking haven Lips, but they might be in a bit of a lovely fog—or maybe a mist—judging from the calendar they sell there. In fact, having based my scheduling on the fact that it wrongly lists Thanksgiving as being on the 29th, I'm now visiting the folks the week after the holiday! Saner queens populate Escuelita, where they peddle energy drinks with photos of luscious boys and trannies on the can. Their lovely visages alone are what give you energy—no need to even down the liquid.

A new club called Touch was about to add some zing uptown, but then came a mass e-mail saying they were postponing the opening because the plumbing wasn't ready. But you don't go to a club to use the bathroom! You can just do your drugs and sex by the coat check!

But let me get out of the toilet and into the living room to reveal that though Desperate Housewives' writers are on strike, they couldn't stop me from meeting up with Kathryn Joosten, who's hilarious as Mrs. McCloskey, the crusty old bag that Lynette ( Felicity Huffman) threw eggs at. The character's greatest moment came when one of the kids offered her a fudgesicle if she'd show her vagina. She was later seen proudly eating a fudgesicle!

"The freedom of age is just delightful," Joosten told me at the Empire Hotel last week. "If you don't get obscene or hurt people's feelings, you can say whatever you want. 'Honey, that is not a good color for you. Stick to plaid, you're safe.' " Great—plaid's my favorite color!

Apparently McCloskey's mouth gets colorful again in an upcoming episode, when a tornado leads to much debating about whether Lynette is a pal or a shameless opportunist. "But we end up friends by the end," Joosten assured me. "Oh, no!" I shrieked in dismay. "Don't worry," Joosten cooed. "There's other people to fight with." She didn't mean the gays, thank God. "I would hope Mrs. McCloskey wouldn't care what anyone does in their bedroom," Joosten told me. "Do it in the grass in front of the house—or smoke the grass in front of the house—and that's something else."

Like McCloskey, former smoker (and lung cancer survivor) Joosten marches to her own drummer (probably the guy from Def Leppard). She started out as a psych nurse and loved it so much she didn't even mind having her hand slammed in a door and having "a couple of senile old men try to hump me." Did that experience help her deal with some actors? "Sure," she said. "You can identify a nut right off the bat: 'You're a friggin' nut!' " That brought us to her husband, who—when Joosten went into acting—instructed the kids, "Tell your mother to get a real job!" "If he had lived to see me win the Emmy," she told me, "that would have been sweet revenge. I would have called him up and said, 'Look, asshole!' "

As for a higher orifice, Joosten said she smoked so much as a Catholic schoolgirl that a nun got wise to her aroma. "My brother drove me here. He smokes," Joosten assured her. "You lied to a nun?" I gagged. "You're going to hell!" "So's she!" she said, laughing.

In the meantime, Joosten stopped by the strike-resistant The View last week to suggest that Whoopi Goldberg try to continue the habit via celery sticks and red licorice. Really? Smoking a veggie stick in public? Ah, the freedom of age. As I left, Joosten cutely demanded, "Get a chest X-ray. And a helmet for riding your bike." Only when you show me your vagina!

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But back to people without vaginas. Dan Savage's The Kid, his book about how he and his boyfriend became parents, is being turned into a musical, and I hear Scott Elliott (The Women, The Threepenny Opera) has inked to direct. That's one more reason to hope the stagehand strike ends.

And here's more happy gay entertainment news. The sequel to Another Gay Movie—called Another Gay Sequel: Gays Gone Wild—starts filming in Ft. Lauderdale in two weeks. Most of the original cast returns, along with RuPaul, Lady Bunny, and Logo's Will Wikle. How gay!

And here's more good gay entertainment news. The sequel to Another Gay Movie—called Another Gay Sequel: Gays Gone Wild—starts filming in Ft. Lauderdale in two weeks. Most of the original cast returns, along with RuPaul, Lady Bunny, and Logo's Will Wikle. How gay!

musto@villagevoice.com

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