Does A-Rod Swing "That Way"?

Next year in Orlando! Nailing Florida's born-again theme park. Back here, the usual unholier- than-thou experiences.

A friend of mine recently visited the Holy Land Experience— a born-again theme park in Orlando—so I wouldn't have to. It turns out that while Coney Island may be more inspirational, the place isn't really exploitative enough to be all that hilarious. A touch of old Jerusalem in Central Florida, the park provides a soothing sanctuary for those who will never make it to the real Holy Land (and no, I don't mean Dollywood). For a $35 one-day admission—unless you have a $120 Jerusalem Gold Pass for unlimited visits, and I just bet you do—you get sacred acres of religious-themed shopping, eating, and faux spectacles designed to make you an even more devout believer in a higher being than Katie Holmes.

According to my friend, a worker was running around the place gushing, "You have to see the crucifixion! It's the equivalent of our Shamu show!" And did they nail it? I don't know, but the show started with a pretend Roman soldier baiting the audience with remarks like, "He thinks he's king of the Jews . . . I understand that there are some of his followers here today!" True—and one of them was bravely wearing a shirt that said, "Jesus—Tough as Nails" written in railroad spikes!

Once hammer-don't-hurt-him time came, another festive onlooker was heard to mutter, "This is wrong! There was a thief crucified on his left side. Where is he?" Probably at the concession stand. And that was not the end of the Bible-icious thrills. There was the Garden Tomb replica, the Scriptorium Center for Antiquities, and the Edy's ice cream served at the Royal Portico Eatery. And even more fun than the crucifixion was the gigantic whale you enter in the kiddie section—it's their real Shamu show—while trying to stay as far away as possible from the large sphincter opening. In the mammal's belly, an animated Christian octopus teaches you about Jonah, who floats around on his back as if in a heroin daze. Calamari's never been so educational.

Martyr complex in Florida
Courtesy The Holy Land Experience
Martyr complex in Florida

But let me move on to the blasphemous thoughts of yet another friend of mine. (Gosh, I'm popular.) This one thinks A-Rod must be a gay-rod because, first of all, Madonna likes him; secondly, he said he favors female strippers who look like bodybuilders; and thirdly, his (ex-)wife has a hint of Dina McGreevey about her. Whatever the case, it all boils down to Madonna imitating Marilyn Monroe one more time and shtupping a Yankee— a distinct improvement over her recent Angelina aping.

By the way, Christopher Ciccone battled Christie Brinkley last week for the title of "best public exploiter of one's private victimization," and I feel it's a draw. Christie's "gotcha" campaign grew tiresome, as if she was the only one who'd ever realized that men are pigs, while Christopher similarly acted as if only he had ever had the sneaking suspicion that Madonna's a tiny bit self-centered. Besides, his revelations (she kissed Gwyneth; Warren went through her trash; etc.) basically help bolster the unbesmirchable image of just one person: Madonna.

In more festive news, Mr. Black hasn't been raided—today—and in fact it seemed like a super-clean sock hop last Friday, except for the liquid mysteriously leaking onto my foot, the mascot walking around with that exposed ass, and a wasted guy doing elaborate hand dances left over from Burning Man. But things were more way controlled than on opening night, when, according to Ladyfag, the air conditioning didn't work, so the place was filled with bitter queens dancing in a puddle of Man Tan.

The "lesbros" were dark and lovely at Murray Hill's annual Miss Lez Pageant at the Zipper Factory, though judge Julie Goldman, a comic from Logo's sketch show, gave low points to one swaggering contestant, telling me, "I'm not impressed by ego alone." I am! I was also awestruck when another judge, The World Famous *BOB*, gamely picked her cocktail straw off the floor, confiding, "I've put worse things in my mouth. I worked at the Cock for five years, and every time I sat down, I thought I was going to get pregnant." Maybe the Cock should become a religious theme park featuring the Immaculate Conception ride!

Speaking of tainted female breeders, Mamma Mia! is the jukebox show that became so warmly embraced because it opened shortly after 9/11 and people (and critics) were desperate for any escape from the horror, even if it came in the form of a meal totally consisting of Jell-O cubes. But I always felt the fact that this slow-witted tuner was in the works is what caused 9/11. And now comes the movie version, which is every bit as giddy, candy-colored, and junky as its stage counterpart. Watching Meryl Streep sing ABBA songs is possibly the most bizarre spectacle since Sir Laurence Olivier's Polaroid commercial. She was way better as Mother Courage than as Mamma Mia. The movie made my teeth hurt—and yet I must admit I never looked at my watch that much.

Meanwhile, how slow are things this summer? I actually paid to see Kit Kittredge: An American Girl at 14th and Union Square—I didn't have my Jerusalem Gold Pass on me—though when I asked for tickets, the cashier looked dumbstruck and said, "Huh?" That's because the ticker listed the film by a shortened version of the subtitle, simply calling it "AN AMERICAN GI." It sounded like a war movie! It turned out to be a modest but cute period mystery, and I swear there's a little black drag king in it!

In other weird movie news, Wall-E is obviously a gay robot. He watches that Hello, Dolly! clip even more than I do . . . There's also a lisping miniature character in Meet Dave, one who goes particularly homo when he hears disco or A Chorus Line. Is it cute or offensive? Well, you could have asked Eddie Murphy if he had shown up for the L.A. premiere . . . But what have they done to Eddie's Dreamgirls co-star Jennifer Hudson? They made her all soft and corny in Sex and the City, and now her new song is a completely disposable mid-tempo easy-listening thing that I'm telling you should be going! . . . And what's up with gay bars? The fucking Depression is taking all the fun out of them! Last week at Beige, I plopped my ass down in a chair, as I've done every week for 10 whole years, and was greeted by a waitress insisting, "Tables are for service only!" Fine—then serve me a free drink! (She did after my annual "Don't you know who I was?" rant.)

Over at Barracuda, they didn't serve DayQuil, but drag performer Shasta Cola did extol its virtues onstage. As Shasta talked about the joys of mixing the stuff with Red Bull, I heard DJ Qualls (the cute weirdie from Hustle & Flow and Road Trip) turn to his friend in the crowd and say, "DayQuil makes you horny, dude." And now you know that DayQuil doesn't quell DJ Qualls, though you probably don't know what he was doing at Barracuda.

At least social suicide has become more appealing now that Costco—you must believe me—actually sells coffins these days! Go on, order 10 for the whole family! Just keep the receipt and return them after the resurrection.

musto@villagevoice.com

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