By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
By Albert Samaha
By Anna Merlan
By Anna Merlan
By Julie Seabaugh
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
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.
Same place, same digging for subtext when I learned what was bubbling under the surface of the Ricky Gervais comedy The Invention of Lying, mainly because it was sliced right out. "There was a caveman scene," co-writer/co-director Matthew Robinson volunteered. "It was a parable for the entire film, with Patrick Stewart narrating. But we couldn't get it into fighting shape in seven minutes. It cost three and a half million dollars, so it's the most expensive DVD extra in history!" The CG wild boar alone cost more than an entire season of The Hills.
The subtext of The Damned United—the new bio-drama about a charmingly loony British football coach—was laid out for us by its bright star Michael Sheen at a whole other event. The high-minded Sheen said that in pretty much every Peter Morgan–written film, "one character is Theseus going through the labyrinth and the other is the Minotaur, waiting for him in the center of it." Are you with me, Heidi and Spencer?
I spent the rest of the week caught in the labyrinth while running from Lindsay Lohan at about a dozen parties and waiting for Lady Gaga at 15 or 20 other ones. (By the way, Gaga might drop her poker face when she finds out that a children's book accompanied by a CD that she recorded a song for, pre-fame, will actually be coming out soon. They might even use her real name!)
The Warholesque creature would have been spewing blood with delight at an event last Friday—an Andy-related art show in a storefront at the Chelsea Hotel, with a big "Prime Real Estate Available" sign posted outside. Inside, the place was coated with tin foil, so I felt like a giant turkey, especially as people came at me wielding 30-year-old press clippings about their most recent achievements. Onstage entertainment was provided by the dashing duo Whore's Mascara, who've added a female singer and two dancers they picked up on the subway, all cavorting to lyrics like, "There's a dance party up my butt tonight." And there's even room for a VIP area.
But the gay nightlife event of the year was the grand opening of Club 57, the new Saturday-night thingie at Providence via the Rockit/Key Klub team, Tony Fornabaio and Brandon Voss. The three-floor club—which is very Gothic-church-meets-upstate-pancake-house—was filled with swarms of well-groomed men prancing, dancing, and downing eight margaritas. And suddenly, I'm an HK queen!