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 concert version of Jerry Springer the Opera at Carnegie Hall was much better than Bill O'Reilly the Ballet or Lipstick Jungle the crossword puzzle. A musically highbrow version of lowbrow culture, the fun of the show is in making trailery sayings like "Poop your fucking pants!" into fucking arias, that particular one sung by a diapered adult with a pot belly and a booming tenor. Springer's TV show deals in operatic situations anyway, its parade of sexual secrets lending itself to musical bombast and a Greek chorus singing punctuations like "Crack whore!" or "Bug-eyed loser strip slut!" But the giddy energy of Act I deflated with the higher-concept second half, as Jerry (who's "bigger than the fucking Pope") was forced to moderate a battle between Jesus ("Talk to the stigmata!") and Satan (a/k/a Jerry's warm-up guy), with drop-ins from a trailer-trash Adam and Eve and a screechy unwed teen mom known as the Virgin Mary ("raped by an angel," chanted the chorus). Harvey Keitelwho's worked with Jesus beforewas unobtrusively low-key as the endlessly befuddled Springer, while Max Von Essen positively sizzled as a tempestuous trannie, Luke Grooms ruled as a put-upon God in a country-club outfit, and the protesters outside with signs saying "Stop blaspheming our Lord" were even more fucking fabulous than the show's tap-dancing Klansmen (though I'm not totally sure those were two different groups of people).
At the HBO premiere of Bernard and Doris, I ran into Joy Behar from The View (which hasn't been made into an opera yet, though it's sometimes a soapopera). Joy had been at the concertyou know, Springer Awakeningand told me, "There were too many doody jokes and it's too long! But what great voices!" Tonight, Joy was voicing a whole other concern, confiding: "Rush Limbaugh just attacked me! He came up to me and kissed me! And he's deaf!" That's good. Maybe he didn't hear the retching sounds.
They took Joy away to test her for OxyContin breath and then they showed the TV movie, in which Susan Sarandon is haunting as eccentric socialite Doris Duke, with Ralph Fiennes much more refined-looking than the blowsy gay butler he plays. But a friend of mine, Colin Shanley, who was Duke's personal cook, had seen the flick and found it "beyond the beyond." As Shanley tells it, "Doris was a really cool lady and never deserved this. She's portrayed as some Leona Helmsley desperate housewife who's blotto on hooch and Spanish fly . . . It's hard to find something this offensive and laughable. The only thing they got right was the spelling of the names." Well, the moviewhich everyone seemed to likedoes start with the disclaimer, "Some of the following is based on fact. Some of it is not." Check out my blog at http://blogs.villagevoice.com/dailymusto/ for more on thisall based on fact.
As long as we were dealing in crass exploitation, I cornered Mo Rocca at the same event to ask which celeb will next drop into the great beyond. "Joan Fontaine will be the next starlet to go!" he asserted, brazenly. That's good news for Olivia de Havilland. Another guest, director James Toback, told me that Mike Tyson isn't only alive, he's the star of Toback's new documentary, about which Tyson has remarked: "It's like a Greek tragedy. The only problem is, I'm the subject!" Sounds like it would make a great operathe ear-biting recitative alone!
In operatic style, Scott Siegel's annual Nightlife Awards at Town Hall cut down the blather and pumped up the singing, the winners having been asked to perform in lieu of speaking. There were no boring-ass, sanctimonious speeches with fake tears, unconvincing nods to Jesus (or Satan), and gratuitous references to Heath Ledger. But, fortunately, there was some talking, like co-host Charles Busch relating that the recent stagehand strike had his Die Mommie Die! getting The Grinch's usual crowd, which on one night meant that 200 members of an Oklahoma marching band gloried to a farce in which Busch's character murdered her husband with a poisoned suppository. After those doody jokes, I suspect only about 50 of them will come back to New Yorkbut they'll be the right ones.
Another underground gay act is going mainstream now that the Whore's Mascara video for "All I Want" (in which I brilliantly cameo) has been handpicked for airing by Logo. But the duo's Chaz Kourday tells me that the channel is making him cut the word cocaine(from the phrase "All I want is a cute blond boy who snorts cocaine . . ."). "Can you imagine?" he said. "Would Logo have censored the great Cole Porter, too?" Probablyand he was a top, I mean he was the top.
Yet one more gay reaching out to the massesbut without censorshipJim Neal is the 51-year-old exinvestment banker who's battling incumbent Elizabeth Dole for Jesse Helms's old Senate seat in wacky, multi-textured North Carolina. The Post said Helms will be rolling in his grave if Neal wins, but as the Democrat told me in an interview at B Bar: "He's not dead! That's the thinghe's in a nursing home." Yeah, but a Neal victory could be the very last straw here. "The symbolism of it is very appealing," he said, holding back a smile. In the meantime, Helms is no doubt pooping his fucking pants.