Courtney Love: "Get Me Out of Movie Prison!"

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown's in town, and she's not one of them.

At a Lavo party for Due Date—about an ultimately likable mess who attaches himself to an uptight urban professional—Courtney Love jumped me and kept me so feverishly entertained I forgot to work the rest of the room.

At the New York Comedy Festival–hosted event, the rocker/personality told me she has a new place to live in New York (though she had to put down a year's rent in advance) and a brand-new Social Security Number, because of "identity problems" that sprung up. "I understand New York now," Love said. "I talk to people and listen more. I've lived in New York for over a year—this time without going to Bellevue!"

And the grunge widow has been getting noticed for it. She said she had a lunch date planned with Page Six's Emily Smith; Radar.com was tracking her for a story about whether she owns the Knickerbocker Hotel (she swore she doesn't); and the Times's Sunday Styles section was about to declare her the new queen of Fashion Week. "Supposedly, they'll say I've replaced Tinsley Mortimer," said Love. "I don't know who that is," she added blithely.

Love: "I've lived in New York for over a year—this time without going to Bellevue!"
Love: "I've lived in New York for over a year—this time without going to Bellevue!"

All of this could conceivably help Courtney get back on the big screen, where I long ago said she belongs. "If Robert Downey Jr. can get out of movie prison," she told me, "maybe I can, too." Could that "due date" be renewed if the press keeps improving? Maybe, maybe not—but at least she doesn't have huge regrets about not getting to play killer lesbian Aileen Wuornos, as she was in talks to do before Charlize Theron did Monster. "I can't be the pretty girl who goes ugly," said Courtney, self-deprecatingly.

Broken Embraces

No connection here, but Broadway's musical version of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown starts with a gigantic gazpacho recipe on a scrim and ends up serving you a big bowl of wacky mess. The set is a glory of constant movement complete with projections, conveyor-belt walkways, hanging ropes, and a bedroom fire, but all the frantic energy can't camouflage the fact that what sparkled and moved onscreen is often leaden here, especially when so many songs stop the proceedings like oversize croutons.

First of all, you should never start a musical with your leading lady passed out on a bed. How can she sing her proverbial "I want" song when she's totally unconscious? Even more weirdly, that's soon followed by a merry cab driver wheeling onstage to sing about how great Madrid is. (Between this and Miss Daisy, it's a big season for simulated cars in overstuffed vehicles.)

Fortunately, Laura Benanti has a fun number as an anxious model in a phone booth ("They misspelled 'vagina' "), and in Act Two, Patti LuPone—who is too sensible to totally click with her loony character in the first half—makes a poignant showstopper out of what's basically a samba version of "Mr. Cellophane." Yes, there are some shiny nuggets in this constantly spinning soup, but, basically, Women on the Verge is what happens when smart, calculating people try to be loopy.

Broadway types performed last week at a Shubert Theatre benefit for Only Make Believe, an organization that provides sick children with the best medicine of all: showtunes! The event was so eclectic it featured moments like host Sir Ian McKellen introducing the plus-size singing group the Glamazons and asking after their performance of "Lady Marmalade": "Which one was Sugar Cones?"

The dry knight also paused to tell us that the state of Georgia wanted to proclaim an Ian McKellen Day, until the governor's aide was reminded that the particular date they'd chosen was already Martin Luther King Day. (I guess parts of the South take that holiday a little less seriously than they should.) Instead, they made the Brit an honorary member of the Georgia army, "which makes me the only legally openly gay member of the American armed forces!"

Things are a little more closety in the Morris Plains, New Jersey, train station—don't ask—where I saw a rather disconcerting poster for Broadway's dead rock star revue Million Dollar Quartet. In big letters, it blares that the show is "the wife-tested, husband-approved Broadway musical." I guess the producers' idea of suburbia is still exclusively man-woman. They should have at least added: "Starring a Tony Award–winning gay!"

All imaginable types show up onstage at the gay lounge Vig27 for Thursday night's Meaner Harder Leather revue, which last week attracted self-deconstructing talents like Misty Meaner, Go-Go Harder, Stormy Leather, and Lacy Knickers. Sexiest of all was a seductress named Main Attraction, who slithered into the crowd and did a headstand that left her pelvic region smack-dab in a male customer's face. He looked gay, but not unhappy.

I knew it would be an interesting night when I saw Misty's Facebook query, "Can someone bring a whip to Meaner Harder Leather tonight?" But what was Jay McInerney doing there? ("Are you coming out?" I cracked to the Bright Lights, Big City author in the main room. "Go ahead, say it," he laughed. "It'll be good for me.")

Cast members from Logo's A-List: New York were probably sorry they came out to be interviewed on Daniel Nardicio's Shit Show at Room Service the next night. I'd heard the guys wanted to go on before me for fear I'd ambush their segment, which is weird since I'm the only gay press person who's written measured things about them. They were ambushed anyway by co-host Bianca Del Rio, who'd had some cocktails and greeted them with, "Let me say this. People hate y'all!"

Another guest, Alan Cumming, got no such confrontation when he said circumcision is genital mutilation and he loves having foreskin. ("I don't need spit or lube to jerk off," explained Cumming. "I have nature's lubricant.") Yeah, but more importantly, what did Cher look like when he worked with her in Burlesque? "I was prepared for scariness," Cumming admitted, "but she actually looked good. Then I saw the trailer, and she looked less good."

The ladies looked spiffy at a Rouge Tomate lunch for Made in Dagenham, about the real-life British femmes who fought Ford Motors for equal pay and won. "They didn't ask for thanks or seek glory," said the film's director. "This is a way for us to celebrate them." Alas, in the midst of the celebration, my chair collapsed, and I found myself on the floor, splattered with the uptown version of nature's lubricant—sparkling water. Had the chair been rigged because I'm a man? Or had I simply eaten too much gazpacho?

Whatever the case, I managed to pull some dignity back together and talk to the film's co-star, Miranda Richardson, getting her riled up about how there should be a law that movie actresses get paid the same as actors. While I had her on my side, I told Richardson that the SNL she once hosted is still in perpetual repeat. "Where are my residuals?" she cracked, laughing.

And, finally, in payment for starring in four movies in 2010, Patricia Clarkson was named "Star of the Year" at a Motion Picture Club luncheon at the Marriott, where she thanked "everyone who keeps a 50-year-old movie actress from extinction. We are on the endangered species list." And 58-year-old Mickey Rourke's name also came up when Scott Franklin won Producer of the Year, presented by his co-producer on The Wrestler, Mark Heyman. Said Heyman, "Nothing brings two people closer together than working with Mickey Rourke. There were plenty of instances where throwing tantrums, cussing, and going ballistic—again, we were with Mickey Rourke—would have been justified, but Scott was always fun and smiling." Maybe he'd like to work with Courtney Love.

musto@villagevoice.com

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