"Facts of Life" Sweetie Costars with Gay Porn Studs

Meeting Mindy Cohn in Fort Greene. Side trip to Nashville.

In a Fort Greene apartment awash in naked genitals and Boy Butter the other day, I could have sworn I saw Mindy Cohn, the twinkly, mildly neurotic Natalie from the girl-on-girl '80s sitcom The Facts of Life. Had I sat on my figurative remote and landed on some channel not normally in the cable box? Had we entered a very special episode of The Fags of Life?

No, it was the set of Bye Bye, Fruit Fly, a Casper Andreas–directed movie about the title character's quest to find a straight man, and Mindy was playing the part, barely wincing as a porn star sauntered by with a shiny hard-on.

As my spinning head slowed down into its normal rotation, I chatted with the unlikely star and felt like I'd entered a TV Land holiday special as produced by Michael Lucas. In a perfectly sensible tone, Cohn told me her character realizes she needs a "fag stag"—i.e., a straight man who is OK with her gay friends—and she ends up nabbing one in a hetero gogo boy with HIV. Is the role a stretch for her? "In Fire Island, I was getting drinks for Calvin Klein's butt-boy," she told me, with an "Oh, please" grin. "It's my life!"

The Cohn Brothers
J. Cherrae Photography
The Cohn Brothers

Cohn is so yay-gay that, in any new town, she immediately gravitates to the LGBT street so she can find her bearings. ("I don't even need to see a rainbow flag," she boasted—not to mention a Spartacus International guidebook.) She even found her way to the gays working on The Facts of Life, though she wouldn't tell me who they were. (Tootie? Miss Mahoney? George Clooney?) Not surprisingly, Cohn's real-life best friend is a gay man named Glenn with whom she shares a house in Laguna Beach. "Some of my boyfriends have had issues with that," she admitted, so some of them ended up looking for the exit, though she usually showed them the gay door first.

Career-wise, Cohn has made some similarly decisive choices. She's been doing voiceovers and smallish films like this, "so the perception is I'm not working." But she's actually building a career and realizes, "I have to age!" (When is the last time you heard an actress utter those words? Especially in a room full of Boy Butter?)

In the meantime, the 43-year-old has been turning down reality shows faster than Mrs. Garrett swatted away the girls' pleas to stay up late. She said nyuh-uh to The Surreal Life, Celebrity Fit Club, and But I'm a Celebrity, knowing such ventures build bank accounts more than credibility. "There was talk of a Celebrity Amazing Race," Cohn told me, "and that's the only one I wanted to do. Duty-free shopping around the world!"

Meanwhile, the surreal life of a fruit fly seemed to be suiting her apple cheeks just fine. As screenwriter/co-star Jesse Archer told me, "Mindy's a brave girl. We put her through hell. Her character talks about her fat upper-pussy area and her anal health. Everybody ditches her." Not me—I'm her new gay best friend and ready to move right in with lots of luggage. But Glenn's gotta go!

It Don't Worry Me

Let's keep Daryl Glenn, though. The Kentucky-born performer and singer/pianist Jo Lynn Burks did their sincere musical tribute to Robert Altman's Nashville at the Metropolitan Room, and it was quite enjoyable, especially when Glenn turned "Tapedeck in His Tractor" into a multi-sexual duet Mindy Cohn would surely cotton to. Next up, Glenn wants to do a tribute to Lost Horizon, a musical so endearingly inept that you cheered the plane crash. This is going to be interesting.

The Nashville event had audience members winning GooGoo Clusters if they answered trivia questions correctly, but over at Here Arts Center, The EelWax Jesus Show cast handed out moon pies and even raffled off a toaster, the kind of game-show-like inducements that are now required of any successful recession-era entertainment. In keeping with the nostalgia theme of this column, the multimedia rock show is described as "part Blue Man Group, part They Might Be Giants," but I'd also throw in William Burroughs, Sesame Street, and a very funny Bavarian weatherman.

Nostalgic for roaches? There was a giant one on the wall at the Pink Teacup the other day, and it was competing for our cafeteria-level eats, but I'm still fond of this soul-food joint, especially when they remember to bring the salad.

I hear that at the F Word, the mostly gay bash at Santos' Party House, a drag queen was handed a cup by an audience member, so she impulsively peed into it, then gamely drank its contents on command! Pardon us survivors of Michael Alig's club-kid era if we pause here to well up and say, "Ah, just like the good old days!"

By the way, Steve Lewis, the longtime club entrepreneur who does the Good Night Mr. Lewis nightlife blog, says Alig's manslaughter sentence has been extended because he tested positive for Percocet (if not for pee). "I think it means he will be there for, like, four or five years," says Lewis, who stopped communicating with Alig after the incident. As the blogger puts it, "This silly infraction and the series of lies around it meant that he wasn't learning any lessons and would return to society as the nightmare who left us. I'll visit him in a year or so." Hopefully by then, Alig won't have liver damage from all that Percocet!

Another transforming old-timer, Sharon Stone, popped up in a public-service announcement I saw before The Hurt Locker—and girlfriend looks about 17. I don't know what she's had done, but Sharon hasn't looked this young and radiant since she had that aneurysm.

Senior citizens now have their own Off-Broadway revue called Don't Leave It All to Your Children!, the kind of geriatric-aimed outing that gets a sitting ovation. (The funny pre-show announcement asks the audience to unplug their pacemakers, oxygen tents, and glucose monitors.) But one of the stars—longtime theater fave Marcia Rodd—is a totally live wire and graciously sat with me after the Saturday matinee to remember her Broadway highs and lows. There was the bomb musical Chu Chem—a/k/a The King and Oy—which closed out of town in '66. ("We didn't even have a run-through!" exclaimed Rodd). She scored in Neil Simon's The Last of the Red Hot Lovers, but was horrified when the movie version went with a whole other cast. ("Jimmy Coco called me and said, 'I just came from the movie. It was awful!' ") And though hot Rodd was set to star in the '74 cult gem Mack & Mabel, Gower Champion fired her in favor of Kelly Garrett, then axed Garrett for Bernadette Peters. ("I changed my life to do that show," Rodd told me. "I'd been through five rounds of rehearsals. I joked to Gower, 'You gonna fire me?' and he replied, 'As a matter of fact . . .' ") But why hold a grudge? Rodd saw the '05 John Doyle production and thought it was superb!

And finally, I have something actually newish to share. The very best place to sit and ogle cute young guys is the lobby of the Pod Hotel on East 51st Street, a place where "stylish and spendthrifty travelers"—you know, foreign-student types—like to crash-land in between responsibilities. Apparently they don't go by the same homing instinct as Mindy Cohn—most of them seem straight—but they're worth eyeballing nonetheless. So grab some waffles at the Pod Café through the lobby, then come back to a couch and feel a tingle in your upper-pussy area. It's duty-free shopping from all around the world!

musto@villagevoice.com

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