By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Even more fascinatingly, Lisi told me that the nurse character's outfit—a vinyl dominatrix mini with a hot-pink wig—is from Ken's closet. He collects fashion items and uses them in movies he makes for the Internet, like one in which he played a transsexual surgeon named Dr. Lucy!
But he's hardly a poufter, just a kook—the man, after all, once took out a personal ad saying, "Unbankable film director seeks soulmate" and had no trouble finding one, partly thanks to his luxurious gift for storytelling. To wit: Russell told me that for Crimes of Passion, Kathleen Turner reluctantly agreed to swallow in the blowjob scene, but only once he assured her they could use vanilla yogurt instead of mussels. (For Tommy, of course, he immortalized chocolate sauce—but he's the only Brit auteur who eschews actual poo.)
Another foodie, Altered States star William Hurt, "liked to have dinner, but he only talked about himself. My then-wife said, 'You're nothing but a talkative preppie.' The word preppie turned him into a catatonic anger." But at least he shut up for a second.
And most memorably of all, Russell collaborated on a never-produced script about Maria Callas with Faye Dunaway, who said something so insulting at a meeting that Russell impulsively lunged for her neck. "I got in the way and stopped it," Lisi told me. "I didn't want to see headlines the next day." "Damn you!" I yelled at her, fuming.
Is that still not enough range for you? Well, last week, I judged a pet talent contest for Bideawee—hello—where another judge, Ivana Trump, told the crowd that she'd noticed how one cat contestant clearly wouldn't do his tricks unless there was a treat involved. "Ivana," I said into my mic, "don't you think a lot of people need a treat before they'll do tricks?" The crowd laughed uproariously—well, a couple of them giggled—but another judge, a supporting player from Gossip Girl, strangely gave me a "cut it" gesture with her hand. And suddenly, a representative from the show that's every parent's worst nightmare became the moral arbiter of America. Now that's range.