By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Tall, dry Jane Lynch rose to notoriety by quietly stealing a variety of Christopher Guest films while wittily pickpocketing some other people's projects on the side. As a result, Lynch is everywhere lately: She's Sue, the cutthroat cheerleading coach on Glee, and she's part of the rotating array of actors in Nora and Delia Ephron's Love, Loss, and What I Wore, the Off-Broadway series of monologues about what women wear that redefines "ensemble cast."
Our recent phone exchange went like so:
Me: Hi, Jane. Who are you replacing in Love, Loss?
Jane: I honestly don't know! I don't tax myself. I'm a busy woman. [Laughs.]
Jane: I know they're gonna give me the butch lesbian to play!
Me: That would be perfect. Since I know you have read the script: Do you feel fashion has an actual meaning other than just something to wear?
Jane: I'm really into fashion. I love to see transitions. One of my favorite lines in the show is, "When you start wearing Eileen Fisher, you might as well say, 'I give up,' " She makes overpriced gunnysacks. I have a couple of her pieces, and they're very nice. They're great if you don't want to show your figure much.
Jane: She was shaking in her boots. I did my best just to act like a normal person. At the end of the day, I'm a regular actor like her! [Laughs.]
Me: What other dramatic parts have you gotten?
Jane: On Criminal Minds, I did an institutionalized mother. It was nice to slow my rhythm and be medicated.
Me: You or the character?
Jane: The character. I'm always medicated!
Me: My drug of choice is Christopher Guest. Your fave role with him?
Jane: Laurie Bohner in A Mighty Wind. She's sexually confident and oblivious to what others might think of her. She has no shame and really loves her feminine, sexy body. I found it in me. I had to dig something up. But I couldn't wait to wash my hair out and take off the curls and tight pants and push-up bra at the end of the day.
Me: So you're not soft and feminine by nature?
Jane: I identified as a boy most of my life. I felt like a boy.
Me: I didn't.
Jane: That's why I felt like we'd get along! [Laughs.] But that movie helped me along. I'm showing "cleave" all the time now.
Me: Ever strap them down?
Jane: Never. I wore bras that smash 'em. You're not fooling anybody, though. They kind of go flat. It looks like you have a cutting board on your chest.
Me: As a kid, were you into boy things, like baseball?
Jane: I played baseball 24/7. There was a baseball field across the street. Some days, I'd get teased, and other days, embraced.
Me: So these days, are you the butch one in a relationship? Do you look for lipstick girlfriends?
Jane: I am very attracted to feminine women.
Me: I'm not. Is Sue on Glee a lesbian?
Jane: No, she's not. Though she'd do anything to win. If she had to, she'd sleep with a woman. She falls in love with someone in an upcoming episode. It doesn't go so well—but it does lead to a terrific musical number where I do the Lindy Hop!
Me: That's all that matters! Were you always out?
Jane: From 20 on, I was an active lesbian, but I didn't tell my family till I was 31. We'd still rather not talk about it. I'm glad it's off the table. I don't bring it up very much. Just the bare necessities: "I'm coming in on this flight, and we'll go to the mall."
Me: To buy some more Eileen Fisher!
[Update: I caught Jane in the show, and she didn't play a butch lesbian, but she was utterly charming nonetheless.]
Other wry blondes filled Funkshion Fashion Week in South Beach, where the bodies are so wildly displayable that Eileen Fisher is barely needed. At the Setai Hotel, Richie Rich's A*MUSE show trotted out bathing-suited models wrapped in yellow police tape—a fashion statement, a color code, and a warning all at once. At the end of the show, guest star Pamela Anderson surreally emerged on the runway in her dried-off Baywatch ensemble, followed by Richie giddily taking applause on roller skates. It was very Russ Meyer–meets-Xanadu.
In the crowd—where notables included drag star Elaine Lancaster and Brooke Hogan's gay best friend—I heard an update on the dish about Pamela's contractors' claim that she can't afford to pay them in full. Pam's stance is that the workers fell behind schedule and messed up some things, so she's holding back the moolah for now. And not to worry. Said my source: "Pamela is living in a fabulous trailer in Malibu Trailer Park. Believe me, it's amazing!" Much nicer than the one she grew up in, ba dum pum.
By the way, the best food in SoBe was at the waistline-expanding Meat Market; the newest boho hangout was the Williamsburg-y Bardot (which was like being transported to a very special episode of Friends); and the gays still grope the go-go boys at Twist, then head to Fort Lauderdale for some real action.
Back in New York, I donned three gunnysacks and went to Purgatorio, the Halloweeny space in Times Square produced by the Box's Simon Hammerstein and Randy Weiner. In a matter of minutes, I was fondled by a little person in a mask, served faux–menstrual blood to wash down a suppository, and entertained by a singer who told the crowd, "You know you're in hell. Michael Musto's here."
And on Broadway, blondes kept coming, like Sienna Miller, who starts the weird exercise called After Miss Julie a little too one-note imperious, but way improves as things get more twisted, especially when they involve ritual happenings with dead-bird blood. At one point, the man behind me muttered, "Wake me when something happens," but it does—and since the play involves the perils of sleeping with the help, it's as fresh as the tabloids Miller is all too familiar with.
A lively, well-performed retro romp, Memphis gets worse as it goes along, alas. Act One is slick and entertaining, but the second half becomes so synthetic you just know the mute will vocalize and the bigot will start preaching desegregation. Still, the phrase "Hockadoo—is that dirty?" may long resonate.
Hopes are high for David Mamet's Race, though at a meet-and-greet with the cast last week, metaphorical police tape was put around the divulging of too many details. David Alan Grier said he loves the play, as opposed to other work he's done where he's had to inform them, "Black people don't talk like this." Does he always have the nerve to speak up? "It depends on how desperate I am for a paycheck," he replied. And how desperate is he now? "I wouldn't be here," he said. "I'd be performing in saloons, telling dick jokes!"
Co-star Richard Thomas is also under the play's trance, so much so that he went into Mametspeak when he laughingly told me he did it because, "The next time someone says, 'Richard Thomas is not a Mamet actor,' I can tell them to go fuck themselves!" I'm guessing he hasn't been slowing his rhythm.