More Steamy Blind Items! And Some With Names Too!

Michelle Obama swears by Isabel Toledo's gowns, and now crowds do, too.

In The Beaches of AgnèsAgnès Varda's autobiographical documentary in which she walks backward through the sands of time—the French auteur presents herself as a wistful, sensitive imp, not at all the combative borderline-nightmare I met at a luncheon recently.

I actually prefer the latter—she was fabulously charismatic—but the movie, opening soon at Film Forum, is still hypnotic and filled with all the right mise-en-scène and French cameo players. At the Forum's premiere for the film, Jonathan Demme said he wrote Varda a note congratulating her on it, and she replied, "If you loved it so much, why don't you introduce the screening?" So, he did. You don't argue with this big beach.

At FIT's museum, Isabel Toledo: Fashion From the Inside Out is a sumptuous look back at the britches of Toledo, the Cuban-born self-described seamstress who was handpicked by Michelle Obama to do her swearing-in gown as the world cheered. Is Michelle her best friend now? Does she call a lot? "Every day," replied Toledo, grinning, "and I hang up! No, she's even busier than I am." But surely the presidential association has changed her life. "In a good way," she assured me. "I'm being heard. It's given me a platform to express myself. You're here asking me questions. You wouldn't have cared before!"

Dress for success: Toledo
AP photo/Kathy Willens
Dress for success: Toledo

Say what? What an outrage! How dare you, you rambunctious-mouthed, unthinkable . . . soothsayer! But what about some of Barack's gay-unfriendly tactics lately? Don't they ruffle Toledo's couture feathers? "They'll figure it out," she replied, calmly. "They're thinking for the future and being open-minded, and that's really important." I made a very unfashionable face that scared all the photographers away. "Honey, give it time," holy Toledo added. "Keep pushing, but give it time." That's what they told Octomom!

At a Paper lunch for the Toledos the next day at Indochine—when you're hot, you're hot—hubby Ruben Toledo graciously thanked those in the crowd who gave them shelter and even food coupons when things were rough. "You're welcome!" I screamed, while scarfing down the free Thai beef salad, spring rolls, and sorbet medley.

There was steak and salad that night at the Bianca's (at HeadQuarters) dinner for Robert Siegel, who wrote The Wrestler and wrote/directed the new Big Fan, another flick about the extreme fringes of the sports world. Siegel is a humble sort of guy who told me he was thrilled to have a party in his honor. Didn't they throw him any for The Wrestler? "Not when you're a screenwriter," he said. "They don't give a shit. You just hope you get invited!"

Invited here was Timothy Visnosky (a/k/a "Petey the Pig")—Amanda Lepore's ex who told me he's found a whole new trannie. "She's Johanna Sweeney," he said, "and she's post-op. I'm going to London to see her. When I met her, we started making out, and then we went to a hotel room. One of Dead or Alive walked in on us." I bet it spun him right 'round, baby.

I spun my butt over to the Gay Pride festivities in Providence, Rhode Island, where openly gay mayor David N. Cicilline feels that once Governor Donald Carcieri is out, gay marriage will be closer to a reality there. (He's thinking for the future and being open-minded!) By the way, it's been seven years since Cicilline replaced Buddy Cianci, who once assaulted someone with a lit cigarette and an ashtray and was later incarcerated for a racketeering conspiracy (if not for his bad toupee). Cianci's now out of the clink and regularly rags on Cicilline on his radio show!

But far more despised among the gays is that pesky governor. At a Pride rally on Saturday, a drag queen MC told the crowd, "Did you see the State Capitol dome done up with rainbow colors? Governor Carcieri must have had a small, fatal heart attack! Oh, well. He has his wife to take care of him."

Back in town, I put my cig out on Mayor Bloomberg, then gathered up some quick bites to share with the public, whether they want them or not: Vito Russo, the late gay activist and film analyst, will get the documentary treatment in The Times of Vito Russo (a much better title than The Beaches of Vito). Wary of more ratings-driven documentation, club diva Susanne Bartsch has turned down the chance to co-star in the upcoming Real Housewives of New York City (which she endearingly calls Desperate Housewives of New York City). "I want to do something with intelligence and a message," she told me last week. "I don't watch those shows. It's just scandal and sensationalism." Instead, she's working on a TV project that is more culturally elevating, and is also marketing the merch at hubby David Barton's gym. "But it's not really gym stuff," Bartsch said. Then what does she sell, for example? "Kosher soap," she informed me, twinkling. I guess the guys can wash their dill pickles with it.

Another eternally youthful fashion plate, Betsey Johnson, is enjoying having moved to nosebleed territory and tells me, "Uptown is the new downtown. It's weird and fabulous. They love me there!" And not just because she buys things.

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