By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Last week, I took a break from reading the endless press releases I get from celebrities about their good works for Haiti and went out to see celebrities actually doing good works for Haiti.
A bunch of them were hosting a badly punctuated "Hope Help & Relief Haiti" event at the Urban Zen Center, where Wyclef Jean spoke about picking dead bodies off the ground of the ravaged island nation and bringing them to the morgue, which sadly had no more room for them. That was an impossible act to follow, but Whoopi Goldberg managed to be both amusing and purposeful as she auctioned off items to raise more clams for the charity. "Come on, white people, speak to me!" she urged, rousing the dazed crowd to attention. From there, she auctioned off a Parisian trip ("We don't know which hotel yet. We want to find the best one for your ass"), a monkey pendant made by a noted "jeweler to the stars" ("though the bitch never made anything for me!"), and a package deal where "you have lunch with Robert Kennedy Jr. in his house and play with his birds." Even I almost held my hand up for that one.
Instead, I played with cocks, beavers, and other assorted wildlife when the Museum of Sex opened its "Rubbers" show, which deals with life-threatening issues that face the whole planet, even Hell's Kitchen. Sans shame, I carried on with the exposed representations of genitals, but the show has gravitas, too, spanning not just interactive doodads and whimsical kitsch, but serious historical pieces related to sex education and activism. Yes, condoms can get angry, as I was reminded by the Act Up poster titled, "Know Your Scumbags," which shows John Cardinal O'Connor and an actual rubber, the latter next to the phrase, "This one prevents AIDS."
My only gripe is that at the opening of the exhibit, they gave out "Her Pleasure" Trojans, as if the only people who might get fucked—and like it—are women!
I took it off like a man for Andres Serrano when the controversial photographer asked me to pose semi-nude for a book of clothesless characters that he's doing for Rizzoli. As he shot 10 rolls of my rolls, Serrano (best known for Piss Christ and his "Shit" show) told me the publisher feels his work is Caravaggio-esque—i.e., it's deeply intimate, with lighting that, Serrano says, "is like you're in prison, with light streaming in from a lamp or through a window." But amazingly, I felt free as I struck all those hot poses in my semi-birthday suit. It was the opposite of incarceration! And he didn't even throw turds at me! By the way, the guy is looking for even older and fatter people to shoot, so take off your monkey pendants, pick up a RingDing, and give him a ring.
Uncharacteristically wearing a jacket, I entered the Princess Ball at Cipriani—hosted by the crown royalty of Serbia—just as the Brazilian dance troupe arrived, so I ended up at the back of a winding samba line through the masked socialites and mammoth ice sculptures, all while helping provide incubators for neonatal care units around Serbia. (You'll get a press release.) "This is so uptown for me," I chirped to a society type done up in several pounds of wigs and feathers. "It's downtown for me," she deadpanned.
Even farther up in nosebleed territory, some rich people hosted a lunch for Inglourious Basterds, serving Austrian delicacies as Christoph Waltz—the biggest Oscar lock since Mo'Nique—was feted, coddled, and mildly harassed. One man asked Waltz how he could get him his screenplay about Alfred Nobel ("ICM," replied the actor), while another tossed questions at him in various languages to test his linguistic skills. (Waltz was letter-perfect in each of them.) His expectations for the Oscar? "Zero," said Waltz. "No, 20 percent. That's your chance, mathematically. Everything else beyond that is expectation, and one is advised not to have expectations." Yeah, but let's add 80 more percent just for reality's sake.
James Toback can't expect anything, since his engrossing Tyson documentary failed to get nominated. "There's no rhyme or reason to the movies chosen," Toback told me at the lunch, "except just about everything had a political bent." "But there were a few show-bizzy things on the short list," I reminded him. "The short list means nothing," he said. "You get weeded out." "But you should have been on it," I declared. "I should have won!" he replied, with a grin.
I'm not sure if Cher's movie Burlesque will be up for anything next year, but I do know that the director, Steve Antin, is the brother of a Pussycat Doll and is described on IMDB.com as the ex-boyfriend of gay mogul David Geffen. And, as my fertile mind remembers, Cher dated a romantically experimenting Geffen even before that, in 1973. They should have a lot to talk about (all while co-star Christina Aguilera wonders, "Who's David Geffen?")!
Even more unlikely hookups happen in Valentine's Day, but at least a gay one's included in the film's all-encompassing mix, which is straight out of Love Actually via The Love Boat. That's a relief, even though—spoiler alert—the two gays don't kiss, unlike every other couple you see onscreen. (Maybe "Her Pleasure" Trojans were a sponsor.) Furthermore, while their open gayness is praised by TV reporter Jamie Foxx, he ends with an awkward comment about being behind them, but not that way, nyuck-nyuck. Still, he's gently rebuked by his boss—and anyway, Foxx has just sung "I Will Survive" in a girly falsetto! Whatever. The gay stuff in V.D. is generally OK. It's just that the movie pretty much stinks!
And now, kindly get behind me—yes, that way—and let's play a sexy game of blind man's bluff. Or blind items about men in the bluff—I mean, the buff. And I'm not just bluffing (or leaving out women, either).
Which married Oscar winner gets regularly serviced by a female dominatrix in a West Village bordello? Which fiftysomething singer supposedly threw a fit over a technical problem on a morning show and, as a result, other such programs are terrified to book her? Which downtown gym is so vigilant about sex that they have a fully clothed Mexican man burst into the steam room every three minutes or so to make sure there's no whoopee going on in the mist? Who got hush money for having been abused by that superstar and went on to become a reality-show personality who was credited with breaking up a major relationship (though I never believed much in the relationship anyway)?
Which r&b singer who everyone thinks is a lesbian is a lesbian? Which hip-hop lady came on to a married mother of three, ripping open her jacket and trying to dive on her face with tongue out? (The woman was mildly appalled.) Which big new star is obsessed with a guy described as "a dirty bartender" and a lot of her songs are aimed directly at him, though he still won't give her a proverbial free cocktail? Who just told me she's on a low-glycemic index and wakes up craving apple juice? (Free answer: Kelly Osbourne.) And can I please tell you about the belongings I generously gave to be auctioned off for Haiti? Hello? Hello?