By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
By Roy Edroso
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
By Zachary D. Roberts
I'm a Chelsea queen! What I mean is I enjoy Chelsea Handler, the chatty host of E!'s Chelsea Lately who is advertised on every remaining phone booth in town as "the sharpest tongue in late night." Leno with bigger boobs, she happens to pooh-pooh a lot of the things I hate, too, and she expresses her distaste far more articulately, such as tidily dubbing Heidi and Spencer "Herpes Simplex I and II" and asking Jesse Metcalfe what it was like to go "cameltoe hunting."
So I called Chelsea's handlers and set up a phoner, anxious for the piercing tongue.
Me: Hi, Chelsea. Are you a gay man in a woman's body or just a gay man?
Chelsea: Sometimes I feel like I'm a gay man, sometimes I'm a gay man in a woman's body, and sometimes I'm a gay woman. It depends on the time of day.
Chelsea: Yeah! White-on-black crime!
Me: But I'd imagine a take-charge gal like Wanda has a girlfriend.
Chelsea: She's getting a late-night talk show, so she's got to have somebody living with her. I can't get rid of my boyfriend! He's good right now. We'll see how he behaves himself this week.
Me: Seeing as he happens to be Ted Harbert—the CEO of the company that oversees E!—if you dumped him, couldn't he nullify your TV contract?
Chelsea: I don't think that's legal at this juncture. But if anybody gets thrown to the curb, it'd be me. I'm a nightmare. I'm annoyed in general, especially with him, and when you remodel your condo, everything's annoying. That's why I'm at work at six in the morning right now, trying to do interviews!
Me: Well, since you do still have the show, let's talk about it. Has there been any guest that just didn't get you?
Chelsea: They don't say to my face, "I don't get you." But I definitely don't get some of them. I had Tila Tequila on because everyone made such a big deal about this girl from MTV who's bi-curious. [Laughs.] I almost fell asleep during the interview. So boring! The girls from The Hills are cute, but I like people who have energy and have something fun to say. But luckily, the interviews are so quick, and it's on to the next.
Me: Wait, don't hang up! Are you still all panty-twisted over the Herpes Simplexes?
Chelsea: I don't want to discuss them because they don't deserve to be talked about.
Me: No problem—I don't even know who they are. What about Tori Spelling, whom you've generously ragged on?
Chelsea: I like Tori. I actually think she's done very well considering what she's been through. And she looks better.
Me: They made her eyes closer together.
Chelsea: Well, I think she had her boobies and eyes done on the same day. Two for one!
Me: Hello. Why are there so many tart-tongued female comics today, like you, Kathy Griffin, and Sarah Silverman? (Not that I'm complaining, mind you.) Is being catty and cutting the only way the girls are let into the boys' comedy club?
Chelsea: I've always been this way. You don't want to get into a tussle with me! But I'm probably a lot less edgy than when I started out. I was very angry, probably because I spent so much time waiting tables that I was spent emotionally. And you don't know if you're ever going to get a break—it's really hard. I was a lot crasser and more violent-minded than I am now. This is the softer side of me. It's less angry and more jocular. That's what I love about doing the show—you get to make fun of everything E! represents and the attention we all pay to celebrities.
Me: So, in mocking the E! ethic, you've become their biggest star. [Significant pause.] You have Jennifer Aniston scheduled as a guest. I hope she doesn't play the victim.
Chelsea: She's not playing the victim! The press plays the victim for her. All the stories about her—"She's so lonely." Please! She's having the time of her life! She goes to Mexico every other weekend with her girlfriends, while Angelina and Brad shuffle their kids across country. Would you rather wake up with a margarita or eight children?
Me: Eight margaritas, actually.
Chelsea: And you can make them all different colors!
The next day, I woke up with eight invitations, so I set to work engulfing various creative artists with my own less angry, more jocular side. At an Oak Room lunch for Jane Campion's sensual Bright Star, I asked Campion if John Keats's remark that he was uncomfortable with women meant the poet was as bi-curious as Tila Tequila. Au contraire, she said: "It means they meant so much to him. In the company of men, he feels at ease, but with women present, he's tongue-tied and can't be natural." So the effusive Romantic poet was straight? That's really putting the per back in verse.