By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Homeless people, empty storefronts, and angsty locals with mismatching shoes are back, but so are outlaw parties! Those wickedly irreverent bashes held at unsuspecting places—always a positive reaction to a down economy—have been resurrected by Cazwell, the sexy Polish-American musical artist/DJ, whose upcoming Watch My Mouth CD is described by his handlers as "a ridiculously fun mix of electrified dance music and old-school hip-hop."
That could pretty much sum up the sensibility behind Cazwell's kinda "now" but knowing party-promoting, too. A few months ago, he and trannie goddess Amanda Lepore did a successful outlaw party at a Burger King, where everyone got French fried. More recently, he, transsexual promoter Allanah Starr, and downtown diva Paisley Dalton threw one at the East Houston Street Dunkin' Donuts, where they filled in the holes. The hosts invited people to meet on a downtown corner, then sent them and a boom box to the world of brightly lit spiced apple and toasted coconut temptations for some concentrated good times.
Exhausted from watching the party on YouTube, I gave Cazwell a call.
Me: How did you get involved in this racket, oh ridiculously fun one?
Cazwell: The first time around, Amanda said, "Let's do an outlaw party." I thought, "I can do a cross-promotion with my song, 'I Seen Beyoncé at the Burger King.' " Michael Alig [the imprisoned club kid] definitely inspired it. But the parties of his that I saw on YouTube were calm, with everyone sitting around. These kids want to go crazy and dance and be hyper.
Me: Just FYI, the idea you hijacked from Alig was stolen by him from a promoter named Vito Bruno. But anyway, are these bodacious bashes against the law?
Cazwell: We're not doing anything illegal. I don't think I am—I hope not! It's just nice to see people outside of clubs. It's empowering because we're showing who we are.
Me: But what about the other customers? Should they say, "Thanks," or throw a Coolatta at you?
Cazwell: I try not to pay attention. I try to be accommodating to my guests. I get there early and make sure everyone has a doughnut.
Me: And the freaks all turn out to be punctual!
Cazwell: The challenge of getting somewhere on time makes it even more exciting. We always say, "Look, this party is only 20 minutes long, so if you're late, you miss it." I love it when you go to a party, hit the best part, and leave. With outlaw parties, it's all peak time.
Me: But why just 20 minutes? (I could understand maybe 15.)
Cazwell: The cops could come. Someone could complain. And I like those quick highs. Then we're off to the next party—the one I do with Allanah at Element. One thing that's saving nightlife right now is the trannies. It's not just a bunch of gay guys observing each other. You can't be uptight when these trannies are around.
Me: You can't even get a word in. Aside from outlaw provocateur, how would you describe yourself?
Cazwell: A musical and visual artist. I want to make a video of every song I drop. I don't consider myself a rapper or hip-hop artist. One of the rules of hip-hop is that you can't be a fag. I met [DJ/producer] Larry Tee and he said, "Create your own scene, and don't even think about that." I just want to party. [Dance music mogul] Mel Cheren said, "If we can dance together, we can live together."
Me: So true. Let's do a Texas Two-Step at Roy Rogers next month.
Bright Lights, Big Tittie
Here's even more proof that trannies have been spicing up the nightlife with outlaw behavior: Outside Citrine recently, I saw an arriving transsexual screaming, "He won't let me in! He won't let me in!" before the doorman had even rejected her. And he wasn't even going to! But the creature had obviously prepared her big dramatic scene for days, and she wasn't going to let something as simple as acceptance get in the way of performing it. Judges?
If you want even hotter chops, seek out the pros. My sources say that at the press junket for Julie & Julia, Amy Adams acted all earnest and schoolteachery, delivering what seemed like her idea of 1950s Photoplay interviews. But Meryl Streep was astounding, coming off spontaneous, personable, and very intimate, like she was doing it all just for you. Clearly, the woman approaches PR as another acting exercise, one in which she has to deliver a grand performance in the role of Meryl Streep. If only there were Oscars for press junkets, she'd finally beat the record.
But enough about her. I won an award last week! It was an honorary Golden Lemon—I mean, Golden Pineapple—given by NY Artists Unlimited's Cringefest for my support of the farts—I mean, the arts. And I was in pretty good company. Mink Stole was there—pineapple in hand—telling me she'd gone to see Brüno at a Baltimore mall, where the cashier warned, "The film is a little vulgar." That's hilarious, considering that Mink is the John Waters star who, in Pink Flamingos, picked up hitchhikers, held them hostage, got them knocked up, and sold the babies.
Her escort, Paper's Dennis Dermody, had his own wacky tale of recent, indecent filmgoing. "I went with Willem Dafoe's son, Jack, to see Lars von Trier's Antichrist, in which there's genital torture and Willem gets his crotch smashed by a cinder block," enthused the critic. "It was fun!" Well, apparently there's a lot there to smash.
Walnuts were smashed and served with all kinds of fancy fish and meats at the James Beard Foundation's Chefs & Champagne event at the Wolffer estate in Sagaponack. The spread was sumptuous—there was everything but doughnuts—and it was an extra treat to run into director Joel Schumacher, who has made many a fun popcorn flick. I asked him about Sparkle, the 1976 girl-group musical he wrote, which I always felt was the original Dreamgirls. "I'm loath to say that," Schumacher told me, "because Michael Bennett was a great friend of mine. And everyone could say I got the idea from the Supremes or Martha and the Vandellas." But the movie, he added, "came when there were so many black exploitation films. It speaks to a human side, not just pimps and hos."
All the more reason it would make a great Broadway musical, right? "Russell Simmons wants to do one," Schumacher revealed. "I just met with him about it!" Fantastic! I bet Beyoncé would come out of the Burger King for that one.
For dessert, Broadway's new ballroom dancing show, Burn the Floor, had an open rehearsal for the press, where we met co-producer Carrie Ann Inaba, "the feisty but fair judge on Dancing With the Stars." Inaba gushed that the show is "super-hot, super-sexy, entertaining, and family-friendly." Sure enough, they presented some excerpts, which had scantily clad people spinning each other around spread-eagle, while vigorously flicking their hair as if in a Lars von Trier film. I guess you can bring the whole super-hot, super-sexy family.
Obama family friend Isabel Toledo told me that she doesn't tweet, she isn't on Facebook, and she doesn't have a cell phone. "If you can't reach us," the designer told me about herself and her hubby, "there's a reason" (i.e., they're busy somewhere!).
But some fashion folks are expanding their communications arenas. In the fall, the Sundance Channel is starting a lavish site called fullfrontalfashion.com. I incontrovertibly know this because they e-mailed me, desperate to hire . . . someone else. They won't let me in! They won't let me in!