By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Here's how to throw an event in 2011: First of all, invite me! Secondly, hire a door person who can figure out how to find my name on the freakin' guest list.
Inside, try for a mixed crowd—come on, try—and give them some entertainment they can't find online, plus a modicum of food, booze, and gift-bag items to make them not unhappy they left the house. (Just don't pressure me to write up the sponsors because I don't give a shit who paid for my Diet Coke and skin cream!) And make it all friendly but a little dangerous, with the sense of a real event, not just a glorified photo op.
This week was better than usual, eventwise. We were reminded that semi-nudity is another good idea when the relaunch of Lee Chappell and Shequida's Drip party at the Grace Hotel proved moistly delightful. At last Tuesday's bash (now monthly), it was a Beach Blanket movie meets Fellini's Satyricon, all the silly queens swimming to the shallow end while more pensive types splashed to the deep end, some of them going off the deep end. And then you could just drown yourself at the bar!
At the new dance club District 36, the two-hour open beer bar last Friday night was a plus, especially since you didn't have to swim to it. The club mixes an old-school feel with new technology, the wall murals of old clubbies (like guess who?) nicely coexisting with a clean, industrial design including an open DJ booth that's like the Starship Enterprise but more diversely populated.
Music man Larry Tee actually got me to guest go-go boy on a platform, which I agreed to do as long as I kept my clothes on. (Ignore my previous rule about semi-nakedness. I totally take it back.) I had to pop extra seizure pills and have them stop the strobe lights, but once I got used to the weirdness, I loved it, especially when clubbies who couldn't believe their eyes took pictures and shoved dollar bills inside my mod pajama suit. Here's the sad thing about go-go dancing, though: After the initial burst of excitement, you're just background noise!
Scribes came out of the shadows at the Writers Guild Awards, MC'd by the hilarious Kristen Schaal, who does segments about women's issues for The Daily Show. Well, here's a women's issue: Last year's MC, Susie Essman, dubbed the fascinatingly shaped WGA trophies "Flying Vajayjays," whereas Schaal feels they're more like Whales' Tails. But she was willing to discuss female privates with me anyway. "As Sarah Silverman says, no one should be douching," Schaal informed me before, when prompted. But why not, actually? "Women have the natural ability to clean out the vagina," she explained. "All that advertising is a scare tactic: 'You're not fresh!' " Aha! As I wrapped up the interview and took my seat, I realized why I was probably not one of the nominees.
At least HBO knows that when you throw a special screening, you serve food both before and after. It cleans out your whatever! The documentary they showed between courses last week was When Strangers Click: Five Stories From the Internet, which was enjoyable, except that four of the couples profiled are straights who've found the loves of their lives, while the gay segment is a big, old Debbie Downer. It involves a young guy whose date turned out to be the publicly homophobic mayor of Spokane, a loathsome closet case. When the mayor tried to seduce the guy by offering to put him on the payroll, the guy went public and brought him down! That kind of comeuppance is my kind of feelgood anecdote, but it seems a little out of place in a Valentine's Day flick about finding your love match. And when the young guy ends up alone with his balloon puppets, you wonder if this segment actually belongs in a horror anthology (though at least the Internet helped him out of his initial sexual isolation).
A showbiz survivor and a walking billboard for bone structure, Brooke Shields is charming in her In My Life act at Feinsteins at the Regency (another good invite). Between song stylings, Brooke laughingly remembers being the Ivory Snow baby ("That was the last time I didn't need a body double"), going to Studio 54 as a kid ("but I left at 10, before the drugs were passed around"), and learning from ma how to shoot pool behind her back.
Alas, her adolescence was a bit more trying, seeing as she was determined to stay a virgin till marriage. But in the '80s, Brooke met a hot guy she was willing to rewrite her rules for— George Michael! "I didn't know!" admits Brooke, laughing. After the show, I told her it was perfect that she sang "Maybe This Time" in her act because Liza didn't know, either!
And speaking of gay culture, Tennessee Williams's The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore is best known to me via the movie version, Boom!, in which Liz Taylor is shrill and boring but has a really terrific headdress. Onstage, Olympia Dukakis plays it more Borscht Belt than grande dame, at the same time managing to find the poetry and humor in the work. She's wonderful, but in Act Two, the Angel of Death comes to get her, and the guy playing the part obviously wants to do the same, seeing as he gives her very little to play against. Still, it was a pretty good event—he's naked!