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
At Paper magazine's Nightlife Awards gala at Good Units, host Pee-wee Herman set the tone with his incredibly harsh words for Carl Paladino: "I know you are, but what am I?" The room of fashionistas was shocked into such a chill, you could hear their drop earrings stop swinging for a second.
Less contentiously, presenter Countess LuAnn de Lesseps gushed to the crowd, "This is such a chic party. There's vodka on every table!" Backstage, I toasted LuAnn because the producers of Chicago have reached out to her about playing Roxie Hart after The Real Housewives of New York season has wrapped (though she'd still have to audition, of course). LuAnn's thrilled because, as she told me, "the part is a great fit." Huh? A cold-blooded killer? "But she's charming by the end and she's misunderstood, like I am," said LuAnn. "People don't realize I'm down-to-earth." And, more importantly, she's capable of heavy dancing! "This isn't Sarah Palin's daughter on Dancing With the Stars," LuAnn said, laughing.
The singing-dancing reality star also told me she's going to belt a Broadway/cabaret-ish song on Housewives very soon. For that show, maybe something from Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown would make sense.
The gals sang, danced, and shot glitter at the crowd at Cherry Jubilee's Glammy Awards at Splash, a testament to all the sparkly creatures who make it worthwhile to leave the house and get utterly wasted every night. Culturally exciting hosts Bianca Del Rio (a Mexican-American) and Shequida (an African-American) were hilarious, going after each other with verbal hatchets and lacquered nails all night. "She went to Juilliard?" said Bianca about Shequida's résumé. "Juilliard is her cousin that she visited in prison!" "Please!" countered Shequida. "We run this country, and you run for the border!"
Of course they went after other drag queens, too, like when Bianca spit out, "I like Acid Betty and I like Epiphany—separately. I'm glad I'm not their landlord. 'Six coins and a dream.' Shut up, bitches!"
I got into the act with my own onstage announcement of the Best Entertainer nominees, which included loving putdowns like, "Amanda Lepore, a natural beauty; Bianca Del Rio, the scariest thing to crawl from the sludge of Hurricane Katrina; Mimi Imfurst, Cinnabon's No. 1 customer; and Shequida, who so memorably appeared on So You Think You've Got Talent? Well, You Don't!" The winner was Sherry Vine, about whom no one has anything bad to say. (All I could come up with was, "The queen of YouTube, which doesn't pay!")
Meanwhile—let me keep going with this insanity—presenter Hedda Lettuce had long run to the exit by then, holding her green hair down in the wind. You see, Best Dance Artist Logan Hardcore seemed pissed when Hedda announced that Logan looked like Little Orphan Annie in her dance number. "Logan shot me a horrid look," blogged Hedda. "Not the fun kind that drag queens have been doing for centuries, but the kind that ends you up on one of those cop shows, handcuffed over the hood of a car." But Logan had done a number from Annie! I'm so confused, maybe from the glitter shot in my face!
But Logan has given me an update: "I didn't shoot her a look for that. I shot her a look when she said the awards were all fixed and transparent, talking about how I had just performed, then won. But I didn't mean to shoot her that look. It's also the way I draw my eyebrows!"
Moving sideways, I judged So You Think You Can Drag?—well, you can—a high-octane contest at New World Stages, though MC Paige Turner deadpanned that she could have had a real job that night "playing Curious George in a TheatreWorks USA production." As always, I voted for Jillian Snow Harris as Liza Minnelli, mainly because she's the only biological woman who dares to do so. (And she's, you know, terrific.) But Jackie Cox won for synching a Rent song, pulling out the crate-packing from her ass region and throwing it at the audience, and saying that when she meets God, her first words would be, "Hey, girl, hey!"
I saw goddess as a judge at the amazing Miss LEZ Pageant at the Knitting Factory, hosted by Murray Hill, the recent Bored to Death cameo player who puts the "yes" back in "polyester." Last year, my consensual-incest remarks had the crowd undecided between laughing and crying. (It's so easy to upset a room of Williamsburg lesbians.) This time, I made people uncomfortable with a "Fuck, Marry, Kill" game in the Q&A segment, but basically, I sat back as the lesbians took the stage and even outdid drag queens in their pageantry, production numbers, and genital pride.
Their platforms ranged from "Don't go out to eat when you can eat out" to "Don't pack a box. Munch on mine!" Runner-up Miss Hey Queen (Ariel Speedwagon) showed us in her talent display how a unicorn's horn helped her get through her first attempt at lesbian sex. But the winner was Miss Rebel Cupcake (Drae Campbell), who triumphantly breakdanced, held up "Give Puss a Chance" signs, and won a bag full of Babeland sex toys and two drink tickets.
Did all of this wipe away memories of the year when a brazen contestant pulled a feminist tract out of her vagina? Maybe not, but Murray was so sure this year was going to be high-quality that he didn't even wear Spanx—and he was so right.
Riding on the Freeway of Love
Of course it wasn't all gender pioneering and saucy talk this week. There was a high-toned side, as, summoning all the conviction of James Franco drinking his own pee in 127 Hours, I attended some serious, legit theater and even bought the mugs.
Well, not that serious. The big-name revival of Driving Miss Daisy turns out to basically be a comedy, the audience screaming with laughter over the battle of wills between a rich Jewish lady and her black chauffeur. (For some of the more potent emotional moments, maybe check out the movie instead.) James Earl Jones is indelible, and, fortunately, the car isn't done in a glitzy, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang style, the vehicle flying over the audience as ethnic and class issues are worked out. It's basically an open-air bench that moves when it's supposed to, and that's just fine, thank you. It's just bad luck that this play came back at the same time as a way fiercer ode to civil liberties, Angels in America.
A speeding vehicle, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson is a parade of anti-amorality cleverness, on a set that's like a Wild West version of a Williamsburg rock club. Most of it works zingily well, though there are two weak jokes directly alluding to current events. (One is a crack about teabagging and the other references Christine O'Donnell's dabbling in witchcraft). They come off too winky and take you out of the show's surreal smarts, which were already current enough. In any case, the tourists will be dumbfounded by this musical from beginning to end, which is the highest recommendation I can imagine.
I ended the week, of course, at a piano bar, where a biologically male showtune addict went around asking, "Were you at the reading of the musical about Japanese-Americans put in internment camps, starring Lea Salonga and George Takei?" Damn. I was busy at the workshop for the Donna Murphy musical about victims and survivors of the Holocaust! Hey, girl, hey.