Shocking Secret About Gay Porn Star!

Agnès Varda, speeding at 80; Cowardly behavior

Frenchies are tres fabulous, seeing as they were way ahead of the curve in hating on the war and loving on Mickey Rourke. As the annual Rendez-vous With French Cinema series proves, they also have a way with moviemaking—historical, romantic, sometimes dull, often gorgeous—which is extra-delicious over freedom popcorn and soda.

At a French Institute lunch for the fest last week, one visiting auteur told me that Parisian teens wouldn't be caught dead seeing a French movie—"They have a reputation for being boring"—but that's the very same quality that translates into art house magic below 14th Street!

And what characters create this stuff! Ilan Duran Cohen, who directed the well-received semi-nude romp Le Plaisir de chanter, told me he'd been hanging at places like the Cock and the Cuckoo Club, and now he was so hung over that he couldn't even look at his plate of veggies, let alone eat it. But he summoned the strength to introduce me to a French journalist at the next table—"our version of you"—who promptly had me write down the names of local gay bathhouses for him to visit later that day. Le plaisir, indeed!

In two-toned hair and a blinding floral top, legendary director Agnès Varda (Cléo From 5 to 7, The Gleaners & I) didn't ask for any such thing, but she did give me a challenging verbal workout that had me craving a cigarette afterwards. "The noise! The noise!" Varda moaned, whooshing me into another room when I asked for an interview. Unfortunately, now there was no din to drown out my inane opener: "Do you feel 80 years young?" "How can you say that?" Varda squawked. "It doesn't make any sense! I feel 80 years old." Le pause. "But it's good to be old," she went on, softening. "You have stories to tell and feelings you've learned." I know, mon cher. But how do you feel physically, doll? "Do I look very ill?" Varda rasped, getting as crusty as burnt French toast again. "I have a metal hip replacement made out of titanium, and I feel fine!"

And her autobiographical documentary, Les Plages D'Agnès, is doing titanically, too, she insisted. "I'm covered in flowers—literally," said Varda, referencing her eye-popping outfit. "The Césars—do you know what that is? You only want gossip, you don't watch movies—gave me Best Documentary, and a critics' group gave me Best Film. But I remain a modest filmmaker because my success is in the category you call arty. It's more of an experience than a film. It's what we'd call, how you say, a non-identified flying object." Well, it was identified upon landing at the festival, and they even called it "affecting."

Before I ran for my life, Varda had one more power play up her floral sleeve. "Don't you want to write on real paper instead of on the festival brochure?" she purred, noting my adorable quirk of using any available materials as scribbling pads. She handed me a piece of her hotel stationery, but realized it was the only one she had and snatched it right back as if it were cash. "Don't eat at that hotel," I urged her, trying to regain control. "People got sick there two years ago." "You think I'm here for food?" she bellowed, taking me seriously. "I'm here for movies!" I love this nut!

I floated like a very identified flying object to Beige the next night, where I entertained director Ilan Duran Cohen and his enjoyably trashy young friend ("I'm a bottom!" the pal announced practically on introduction. "I like to get fucked," he added for unnecessary clarification). But Cohen was simply taking in the sights, not looking to buy. He has a boyfriend back home and told me, "I have to have one because otherwise I spend too much time trying to get laid, and it takes away from my work." You mean a boyfriend could actually help one's career? I'm gonna get one!

Porn idol Michael Lucas has a husband, so when I saw Lucas at Beige that night, I asked how they'd spent his birthday—which I'd gotten a press release about—that very evening. "We went to see Il Trovatore at the Met," he said through those luscious ducky lips. Huh? The guy who pees in guys' anuses for a living has a taste for high culture? Gross!

For my own taste of uptown chic, a friend invited me to see Tom Waits at the Algonquin, and I ran there so fast I almost snapped my metal hip. It turned out to be Tom Wopat, which is OK, too; the Dukes of Hazzard star turned Broadway leading man delivered a smooth evening of pleasurable vocals and chit-chat and even previewed a number from Catch Me If You Can, in which he's playing the Christopher Walken role. "If you didn't like the show," Wopat concluded, "I'm John Schneider."

By the way, my friend had gotten the tickets through Audience Extras, which, for a small annual fee, gives you freebies to performances that aggressively need filling. His confirmation interestingly warned, "Keep confidential the fact that you have received comp tickets anywhere near or at the theater. We don't want to hinder the show's ability to sell full-priced tickets." So, to see a cabaret show for free, you have to be a sort of tight-lipped Secret Service agent? Alas, I didn't know that till later; I kept running around the lobby before the show, squealing, "I got free tickets! Woohoo!"

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