By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
By Roy Edroso
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
By Zachary D. Roberts
Gene Simmons—rocker, reality star, author, and world-famous tongue—called from Germany for our scheduled interview. So how was Gene Simmons doing? "I get to be me another day," he responded, blithely. "And that's never a bad thing."
Before you go after him with a cartoon buzzsaw, you should know the man's not exaggerating. He's on fire—and not just because he's usually breathing it onstage. All at once, he's started the fourth season of A&E's hit reality show Gene Simmons Family Jewels; Kiss keeps selling out tours after what he calls "35 years of confounding the critics"; and now he's authored the must-grab book Ladies of the Night, "a personal and historical overview" of the fine art of whoring. Is he a client? "I never have delved, as they say," Simmons swore. But he's apparently researched the subject even more than Eliot Spitzer has. "It's often called the oldest profession in the world," Simmons related, "and it is. At the dawn of man, in what was then known as Eastern Europe in the middle of the Ice Age, one of the first Cro-Magnon females turned to her male counterpart in the cave and said something like, 'Ugh. Why don't you get your hairy ass out there and bring me delicious mastodon meat, and I'll trade you some of mine for some of yours?' "
An exact quote, I'm sure. "The 15-year-old pimply-faced boy next-door," he went on, "wants the sunshine-faced girl next-door, and he'll pay. He always paid and he always will pay. It's not prostitutes as such, but let's be honest—if you take anybody out, you're paying for it. Whether you call it going to dinner or prostitution or even matrimony, you're paying. With marriage, there's traditionally been payment on the way in—a dowry—and on the way out—alimony!" No wonder we gays are fighting for the right to marry: It'll legitimize our whoring!
Anyway, Simmons interviewed tons of 'hos for the book and told me: "They said, 'I love my family and kids, and I'm well-educated. But since I enjoy sex, I thought: Why shouldn't I get paid for it?' And it's on their terms. They decide who they're having sex with and how much they'll charge." And whether to do a skanky music video when their politico client is caught by the big guys.
Can a self-empowering dame make it with Simmons (who's long been married to onetime Miss November, Shannon Tweed) or does he treat them like caca doody? "Any girl can go to the media," he argued, "but you've never heard anything like that." But didn't some of his famous '70s conquests claim he was, uh, arrogant? "Everybody says I'm arrogant," he replied, sensibly. That tended to remind him of a story: As God is sitting on his throne, various holy figures from Gandhi to Mother Teresa knock on the door and come in to explain what they believe in. (Love, peace, and other feelgood stuff.) Then Simmons arrives, no doubt in full Kiss makeup. "What do you believe in?" asks God. Replies the rocker, "I believe you're sitting in my fucking seat!" It is good to be Gene Simmons.
Gay Trophy Boys
From their own glittery throne, the people at HX magazine handed out awards for DJs, drag queens, and Sex and the City in a ceremony that brought out some wondrous oddballs with extended hair and even longer acceptance speeches. Accepting an honor, a rep for Governor Paterson likened the gov's disability to the plight of the gays, but no one can remember exactly what he said, so any discomfort went up in vodka bubbles. But Perez Hilton's pre-taped speech for Best Blog definitely got boos when he used his time to plug an indie film project he's in and did a song for. Still, if he was there in person, I assure you the drag queens would have been crawling up his ass with heels on.
The [title of show] guys, on the other hand, darted on and off for their presentation rather than toy with the crowd's attention span. I asked that show's book writer/co-star, Hunter Bell, what their promo campaign will consist of now that they're on Broadway. He gamely tried to come up with a catch phrase and arrived at " 'Closer than the Cort and less haunted than the Belasco.' Or how about 'Buy a ticket!?' " (The next day, I picked up a gay magazine and found that the show already has a tag line for that market: "Gayer than . . . well, you.")
In that same geographical region, South Pacific's hunky Paulo Szot turns out to be gayer than me. (A homosexualist on Broadway? What next? A tourist at Abercrombie & Fitch?) I blogged about the distinct possibility of this last week, and then afterelton.com followed up by asking his publicist, who said yes, he's assuredly that way. But he's definitely not Nelly! (That would be Kelli O'Hara.)
Speaking of treats for the gays, I know someone who knows someone who sees Mario Lopez regularly work out at Equinox. (Yes, I know people in low places.) Apparently the Saved by the Schlong—I mean, Saved by the Bell—star sports one singular sensation. Says the source: "Mario is more blessed than he deserves to be. Basically, he's hung like a horse, and he doesn't feel shy about whipping off that towel in the locker room to show it!" Yum. No wonder Mario's Dancing With the Stars partner never got too close! (Alternate joke: Some say he pings, but I say he pingas.)
Moving right along, I managed to schmooze with some Oscar-caliber types at the Zeitgeist Films 20th-anniversary party at MOMA, where Todd Haynes and Guy Maddin proved to be so nice they even like each other. Haynes told me his I'm Not There didn't make a lot of money, "but it'll be fine—it's doing great on DVD. All the boomers buy the ancillary Dylan stuff." But shockingly, Haynes doesn't have another film in the works, though he's itching to do Freud's life story sometime. A great idea—Cate Blanchett would be amazing as Siggy!
Maddin, meanwhile, has been promoting My Winnipeg, his documentary about the Canadian city that has been called the Chicago of the North, "but the comparisons are spurious. They were both train-based cities, but Winnipeg died and Chicago didn't." Blame Oprah, I guess. Maddin's approach to creating film magic? "I try to keep a day-care craft-hour spirit," he explained, "where I'm allowed to make a mess and seek parental approval." He also keeps in mind the integrity of Luis Buñuel, who said he never included a frame he didn't like. Nor did he ever do a Matrix sequel. In other words, he wasn't a whore!