By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Some tawdry tidbits from the week in horrifying gossip: As you know, Paul Johnson-Calderon was caught on camera pilfering a clubgoer's purse (a big misunderstanding, i'm sure), and reports had him as a Paper magazine writer.
But that was then. That publication's Mr. Mickey tells me, "He had been Market Editor, but it wasn't working out, so we made him a blogger and that wasn't really working, either. So it didn't end just because of the bag incident, but that didn't help." And no, he didn't walk out with that much office furniture.
That hilarious scene stealer Divine had a popular mother, Frances Milstead, who sadly passed on last week in Florida. That prompted Jeffrey Schwarz, who did last year's documentary about '70s porn star Jack Wrangler, to inform me that he's been working on a doc about the late, great drag queen called I Am Divine, and he'd grilled Frances for it, in what turned out to be her final interview (except for her telling me on the phone that John Travolta in Hairspray was a horrible idea. I loved her!)
In less poignant maternal news, I hear imprisoned club kid killer Michael Alig is really over his mother, the one who's always screeching, "We have to help Michael!" Apparently, she's been acting over the deep end—even more so than usual—and he wants to cut her off. I mean, knock her off. I mean, not talk to her.
Two prized daughters, Lindsay Lohan and Samantha Ronson, have been carrying on tempestuously lately, what with all the window breaking and screaming fights, followed by the inevitable makeup sessions (and I don't mean with mascara and lip gloss. No, wait, I do). Well, a friend of mine swears that this is patented lesbian behavior. She says the obsessive-compulsive thing of getting under your partner's skin in a way where you can't live with or without each other is extremely sapphic. Really? So Sean and Robin Wright Penn are lesbians?
Gay in a male way, the Jim Carrey/Ewan McGregor film I Love You Phillip Morris might not get a U.S. theatrical release because of a graphic gay-sex scene, and if you read my freakin' blog, you'd know exactly what that is: Carrey pounds a muscle/bear bottom cellmate on all fours. (No, it's not Michael Alig.) I guess unapologetic gay sex without someone dying is just too gross for America to, um, bear—though blood, guts, and atomic-blue penises are always high atop everyone's dance card.
In the land of straight pounding, a Neil LaBute work generally involves a man saying or doing something horrible to a poor woman, resulting in much talk about hate, misogyny, and sex appeal. But it's good talk, which is why his work sells, his latest play, reasons to be pretty (about a man who calls his girlfriend "regular"-looking), catapulting to Broadway, which loves people of any gender who'll buy a ticket.
At a New York TimesTalk last week, LaBute told interviewer Patrick Healy that coming uptown "is great and scary. What was the simple pleasure of putting on a show last summer becomes 'How many people are there tonight?' "
But assuming the register still ka-chings, is LaBute maybe getting a little too hooked on the rottenness of mankind? Nah, he said. "Basically, I am an amateur in the world of bad people. Every turn of the newspaper page proves me to be an impostor at this. People do much more outrageous acts!"
Like Jeremy Piven! In fact, the whole room erupted into guffaws when LaBute discussed his play Fat Pig and told us that in the middle of the run, "Steven Pasquale took over for Jeremy . . ."—pause—". . . who had a bad reaction to some Fig Newtons."
I had a good reaction to the naked genitals in Hair (and you thought that show was anti-Bush), and I have to report that the aptly named Woof has a really nice one. Aside from that, it seems as if the cast is working way harder to make this an interactive love-in than they had to in the park, but it's still a fabulous night out for those who've seen God and learned that She's black.
Irena's Vow has some people sobbing, but there were a few unexpected comic touches on opening night. Outside, before the show, I found Jackie Hoffman trying to find a place to buy candy for her mother, who was in the theater. "She could starve," said Hoffman. "It'll work with the whole Holocaust theme. Or maybe I'll smuggle something over the fence!"
Inside, someone had smuggled in Elaine Stritch, who was sitting behind me and loudly asking the usher to find her a different aisle seat because I was too tall. I generously offered to switch seats with the legend, and she was extremely grateful. "It was too close for me anyway," I told her, truthfully. "Yeah. Elaine just said 'We're in it!' " related her friend. "I hope you know your lines," Stritchie deadpanned to me.
In the Exit the King revival, the brilliant Geoffrey Rush not only knows his lines, but also a hilarious dance routine, plus a panicked run down the aisles. I only tried to shoo him away because it brought back a nasty memory from Cats.
Exit the Audience—a/k/a Impressionism—lamely asserts that you should stand far away from something to get a true perspective on it. I longed to stand way over at Exit the King. You knew the play was in trouble when the great André DeShields told New York magazine that the writing of his role reflected a severe lack of imagination.
Over at West Side Story, Karen Olivo is stealing the show (if not the purses)—so much so that a drunk in a bar recently lurched up to me and screeched, "I'm really good friends with Karen Olivio [sic]! We're very close!" You know you've made it when they don't even know your name, but insist on dropping it anyway.
Creating my own East Side story, I dropped by the Hose, the already legendary Avenue B gay bar where you can plainly see the 'hos. It was the Wednesday night Le Raunch party, where, after a few dozen cocktails, some boys will gladly take out le noodle. Customers drunkenly strip and dance on the bar, so they don't even need go-go boys, but they usually have some anyway. Alas, all I could see were strobe lights giving me a seizure.
By the way, another noodle palace—the Cock—was recently raided, the cops putting video cameras in the place and telling the crowd their activities were being watched (meaning the sex, not the stealing). That must have really turned them on, not to mention saved them the trouble of videotaping it themselves and putting it on Xtube.
Over at the more zippered-up Beige, I happened to be seated a table away from Milla Jovovich—who's far from regular-looking—so I subtly craned my long Italian neck just to hear what profound thing such a beauty might be saying. Milla's voice was nasal and emphatic as she announced, "I did a shooting for a magazine yesterday . . ." I moved to a different table.
More sincere utterances were emitted at the New Directors/New Films Festival, which opened with Amreeka, the heartfelt tale of a Palestinian woman and her son battling bigotry in the States, where people can't even spell "Al Qaeda." Before the film, the writer/director, Cherien Dabis, read a text from her mother in Jordan: "You will love the film. I love all of you!" Sweet! No one wanted to cut off this mom.