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
Mark Indelicato, who plays the, um, flamboyant Justin on Ugly Betty, pranced onstage at Planet Hollywood to put his finely groomed hands in a pile of cement. But before he could do so, he was faced with an onstage MC asking him questions like, "Are you close to your character on the show?" "Not really," obliged Indelicato. "I'm totally not fashion-obsessed. My closet is more filled with Target and places like that." I couldn't believe he was talking so openly about his closet! "But he's cool, I'm cool," added the young actor. "So that's what we have in common."
At that point, an assigned girl jumped onstage and started draping herself on Mark for the assembled paparazzi, who dutifully shot away as if it were a lunar landing. Was she a contest winner? A contest loser? I have no idea. All I know is that the show is supposed to be about being comfortable with yourself no matter what society says!
With Equus—a play about erasing a boy's love for male creatures—there was only one question ("How big is it?") and there's just one for All My Sons, too: "How is she?" Well, Dianne Wiest is a little unusual, playing her denial-laden character as a traumatized drop-in from a Tennessee Williams play. Oh, Katie Holmes? She plays her part harder and angrier than expected, and she's not magical about it, but like Sarah Palin on SNL, she hardly disgraces herself. By the way, the man next to me came an hour and 15 minutes late, irritably banged around in his seat through Act Two, then leapt to his feet and cheered before running to the stage door to get Katie's autograph. And that's the state of touristy theater appreciation today. (PS: The amazing John Lithgow–Patrick Wilson confrontation is the best father-son blowout about war since W.)
Speaking of battling menfolk, David Mamet's corrosive con artists now seem almost cutely quaint; with poisonous behavior having become everyday TV fare, he's sort of become the new Neil Simon. So, the revival of Speed-the-Plow—about a producer who almost decides to make an important film—is wise to go for rat-tat-tat laughs and brisk bantering. It's a zingy night out—not just when all the "maverick" remarks seem fresh as the headlines—and they speed the plow all right; the first and third acts romp so hard you almost forget that the second one is drearier than the radiation movie they talk about making.
Romping in a new medium, Richard Belzer has released I Am Not a Cop!, a novel about a character named Mark Indelicato. (Kidding. He's named Richard Belzer. Why do I smell a Charlie Kaufman movie in the works?) At a publication party at the Time Hotel, the real Belzer told me, "I'm interested in the convergence of reality and celebrity." As an example, Belzer said, a real-life shoplifter once came onto the Law & Order set and gave himself up to him. Quick, let's get Caylee's mother near a detective-show taping!
What's next for Belzer—a fragrance named Belzer? "How about underwear?" he suggested. "I once had dinner with Calvin Klein and told him, 'You're the first person I ever had dinner with whose name is on my underwear.' His reaction was the opposite of laughing. He gave me a cold, hard stare." Ah, you know how the gays are!
While we're on designers—oy, what a segue—let me confess that I have a compulsive need to label everything. To me, I've Loved You So Long is basically a French SherryBaby. Adele is a healthy Amy Winehouse (unless she's just a food binger instead of a drug abuser). And Roísín Murphy is the new Kylie Minogue—a dance-music chantoozie whose Saint at Large concert at Mansion last week brought the queens out in force, screaming their tits off on every syllable. Alas, after three sleek but rather bloodless songs, I was out of there, wondering if I'm really gay after all. (I mean, I'm not fashion-obsessed . . . )
Another reflecting-shade wearer, Lady Gaga is the new Roísín Murphy. She's the high-tech singer of "Just Dance" (off the CD The Fame), not to mention a downtown regular who played clubs and wrote for the Pussycat Dolls while aiming to change the world "one sequin at a time." She's doing just that. Last week alone, Gaga appeared on Jimmy Kimmel's show, clinched a song on Britney's CD, and, most impressively of all, got to talk to my own iconic self. Our chat went like so:
Me: "Congrats on your success, darling." Gaga: "Finally!" Me: "Huh? What are you, 21?" Gaga: "22. I've been doing this since I was little. I dropped out of college and at 18 lived on the Lower East Side and played every freakin' club. I had to hustle so hard." Me: "I'm still hustling. Were you disciplined way back then or did you party hardy?" Gaga: "I went through phases. There was a time where I'd do a lot of drugs and write music, and there were times when I locked myself in my studio and drank green tea." Me: "Blech! Give me heroin any time. Anyway, your fame obsession. Is it tongue-in-cheek or for real?" Gaga: "It's both. Sometimes I'm saying it's poisonous; sometimes I'm saying it's a dream. I was a 19-year-old trying to make music in an underground culture that thinks pop is lowbrow. So I ended up analyzing what we all have in common—that we're all pretty star-struck. What we have as downtown New Yorkers is a sense of inner fame and a passion about our art that makes us feel famous even without having it. No one knows who I am in certain parts of the world, but I get followed by cameras. Everyone wants to know who I am." Me: "Especially the gays. You worship us right back, don'tcha?" Gaga: "Of course. My gay fans are the reason I'm being played on the radio. . . . They're the reason for everything." Me: "You're welcome! Have you ever dabbled in lesbianism?" Gaga: "Of course! I don't have time to be straight every night. I don't have time to be anything every night. I'm a free spirit. I fall in love with people."
Hey, I don't have time to be straight every night, either! But I do have time—another stinky segue—to go to freakin' clubs every night, so let me uncork what I've learned there recently: At Barracuda, virtuoso drag queen Peppermint not only whooshed up a storm, she brought out elastic Brit rapper QBoy, showed a video of a dancing fat girl collapsing a table, and did a freestyle rap based on audience-chosen words like orgy, Oprah, and Obama. That song only ended when Peppermint couldn't come up with a rhyme for disease.
At Marie's Crisis—which doesn't rhyme with anything either—a drunk was outrageously telling me she wants to put out Sarah Palin, "but I don't know how to work a weapon. I'm a liberal!"
On Thursdays, I've been aiming for Mr. Black (which is "upgrading" to Club Rebel on November 7). That night has been extremely loosey-goosey, especially since Amanda Lepore's boyfriend runs around the place sweating buckets in a warm, clunky pig suit. I assumed he was getting paid to do so, but then I saw him at Hiro in the same outfit and realized—he just likes it!
In one last convergence of reality and celebrity, Moby came into Indochine, anxiously looking for some old high school friends. "I'm pretty sure they'll recognize you," I assured him. "I had hair then," he explained. He's changing New York one follicle at a time.