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
Kim Kardashian is hotter than shiitake logs these days, so I joined the crowd at Soho's Bebe store to pounce on the reality-star-turned-sex-appeal-mogul as she hawked her new jewelry line with an aplomb rivaled only by her ex-BFF, Paris Hilton.
Everyone wanted a piece of Kim, reporters straining to come up with provocative questions about earrings as a line formed outside consisting of Kardashian fans who'd been Tweeted into submission with their beads on and their tongues out.
A cable crew was asking her, "As a style icon, why do you think Nicole Kidman and Cate Blanchett turn heads on the red carpet?" That was strangely specific, but then I realized they were probably going to funnel Kim's soundbite into some kind of special on Australian movie stars—and she hardly minded, by now accustomed to the demands of being famous for the sake of being fabulous. Slicker than God, Kim talked about how "both have an angelic, soft look to them" and they exude beauty and composure.
And then it was my turn. "Two questions only," I'd been told, which ruled out a lengthy discussion about NATO's plan to exit Afghanistan. Instead I went for, "Is it true that People bumped Sarah Palin to put you on the cover, as Page Six reported?" "I don't know about that," Kim said, "but, yes, I'm on the cover and it turned out so well. I hosted their 25 Years of Sexy special for ABC, and a couple of days before that, they surprised me with the cover." Happens to me all the time.
To be gentlemanly, I asked about the jewelry line, which Kim said is "flirty and sexy" and can be worn chunky-style for daytime or with a slinky outfit at night. But it turns out the woman is ancient! "At first I was a little bit nervous about turning 30," Kim admitted to me as I inwardly wept, "but once the day passed, I realized it's not any different than 29. I'm really looking forward to my 30s. Being single and 30 in New York is empowering." Honey, being single and 70 in New York is empowering! And thanks for allowing three questions.
The original Kim Kardashian, 77-year-old Joan Collins, is performing at Feinsteins at Loews Regency, where you learn that the former Dynasty star isn't single at all—she's happily married to her fifth and current husband. Her "One Night With Joan" show lacks penetrating self-examination and could certainly be more sharply written to match her indomitable bone structure. But Collins is gamely fun as she remembers co-stars like Bette Davis ("utterly terrifying"), Bing Crosby ("It was like kissing an ashtray"), and Linda Evans ("She had a strong right hook. I woke up in the emergency ward"). For the record, the movie-star-turned-personality wears two outfits, sings no songs, shows hundreds of slides—and did I mention the five husbands?
My husbear Martin Scorsese has made a brave leap by going from gangsters to someone who fearlessly shoots off one-liners without ducking for cover. Public Speaking is his enjoyable HBO documentary about Fran Lebowitz, the unflagging wit who's described as being almost always right, but never fair (which, she explains, is why she's almost always right). Thankfully, the film shows Fran blabbing without annoying cuts to talking heads saying stuff like, "She's so important" or "She's a great friend, too." Hardly anyone else is needed—and while talking, Fran even manages to controversially say that the people who initially died of AIDS were those who got laid a lot, leaving swarms of losers to survive and get career opportunities they didn't deserve. That sounds unfair but right.
A trilogy of alternating females pop up in the multiple personality disorder saga Frankie & Alice (a/k/a Sybil meets Precious), and as the director told the crowd at the premiere, "You get three Halle Berrys for the price of one!" Again, hardly anyone else is needed.
And on came multiple groups of queers at the Out 100 party, a gay feeding frenzy at the IAC Building—yes, Barry Diller's headquarters, because irony has made a big, gay comeback this year. Open honorees like myself accosted each other to promote our vehicles ("I broke the George Rekkers story . . . I publish a transman magazine . . .") in between posing against a scrim with the sponsors' names ("Bang!" is the only one I seem to remember). We were Out magazine's 100 "who inspired, shaped, and changed our world in 2010," and damn if we weren't going to work the freakin' party for it.
In between photo ops, I met Lieutenant Dan Choi, the activist who went to jail after chaining himself to the White House gates in protest of DADT. I told him I loved his outfit, all bedecked with fancy medals, and he explained, "It's military drag." And as the shiniest one in the room, Choi was truly enjoying the party. "This is funner than jail," he gushed, lighting up. Will he write a book about his experiences? "Write a book?" Choi cracked. "I don't know how to read. I was in the Army!"
Also dolled up was Laverne Cox from VH1's Transform Me, who brought up the controversy over the word "tranny." "There are words I won't use if they offend people," Laverne told me. "At the same time, as a creative person, it's whatever!"
And speaking of terminology, does ex–JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater—honored in the mag as a "working-class hero"—feel he's heroic? "No," Slater told me. "Sully Sullenberger is a hero. But if I got a laugh out of people, I'm happy. I gave people a moment of laughter." And in exchange, he got those two beers he grabbed on the way out of the flight. "Actually, I took the whole liquor kit," Slater joked. "I had 77 miniatures. No, seriously, I'm happy, I'm healthy, and I'm in a much better place now."
As I pulled the escape latch to find my own place, I ran into Choi again, chatting up a handsome brunette and telling me, "This guy went to a bathhouse and didn't invite me!" Another nasty practitioner of DADT.
The gays kept coming the next day when I got a sneak peak at Bob Pontarelli and Stephen Heighton's Industry Bar, which is inviting people to inspire, shape, and change Hell's Kitchen starting December 2. The duo are following their Chelsea successes Barracuda and Elmo restaurant with this sleekly all-purpose West 52nd Street boîte, which has a stage, a lounge, a pool table area, and an overflow room, all designed using "architectural reclamation" (i.e., really good old shit).
"It's a series of different environments," said Pontarelli, "each with an entrance and exit. You're always drawn to a different spot by a boy or something that catches your eye." But no Barracuda performers or staffers will be there to distract your line of vision; Industry Bar will have its own cast of characters, so as not to confuse the gays.
On Broadway, a cast of five wackos populates Elling, a sort of Norwegian Waiting for Godot by way of a Judd Apatow film, which, like everything else this season, is completely love/hate. An even loopier absurdist comedy had a publicist enthusiastically pitching Brendan Fraser to me for an interview, then dropping it and ceasing communication. These flacks have their heads so far up their asses they can't even see the light of the Great White Way. But at least I can tell them what jewelry to wear up there.