Green Day Was Influenced By Ethel Merman!
Jeffrey Fashion Cares, the Jeffrey Kalinsky–hosted benefit for LGBT causes held on the Intrepid last week, packed even more gays onto one boat than an Atlantis cruise to St. Barts. And this wasn't like most military vessels; the gays were allowed to be out of the closet!
Another difference is that the Intrepid doesn't move, but that was also OK since rippled male models paraded down a runway in bathing suits at the height of the evening, and you could size them up without bouncing around that much (though other things were definitely bouncing around).
Before that, during the silent-auction segment of the night, I ran into a not-so-silent straight woman—the newest Real Housewife of NYC, Sonja Morgan, a human spark plug who right off the bat got to work apologizing for her body odor. "I haven't eaten in 10 days," she explained. "I'm detoxing. That's why I smell so bad!" Darling, smelling like a dead cat is totally fine as long as you're expelling toxins and staying thin!
Sonja was ingesting a cocktail—I guess that's allowed—which may explain why she impulsively chatted me up to her gay male entourage and informed me, "They're jealous. They said you have a big penis." Boy, good news travels fast.
Sonja, it turns out, has large cojones of her own. She said she didn't shoot this season's first seven episodes because "They wanted me to sign something saying I pay a million dollars every time I talk about plot lines or myself. I wouldn't sign it. My lawyer said, 'She doesn't need this show to sell a book or get sex!' "
But they finally agreed on a contract, and Sonja shot the show, in which she's presented in stylistic contrast to some of the other wives. "I like wearing hats and being girly-girly," she informed me. "LuAnn, Bethenny, and Kelly are mannish—but beautiful. They don't have sex. They're machines!"
Robotically, I sat down for the fashion show, and in followed Sonja, positioned two seats from Bravo VP Andy Cohen. Does she ritualistically kiss Cohen's power-ass? "No, I don't," she said. "If Andy wants to like me, he'll like me. I want him to like me for the right reasons—that's what I told my husband when I made him sign a pre-nup. But Andy doesn't care about my personality or me at all. He cares about ratings. Ratings rule! Cold, hard facts!"
And that was the end of anything hard, especially when Sonja waved to an older gentleman walking by, then whispered to me, "Small penis—but he owns a private plane."
Very large ones were well-groomed and neatly tucked at the annual Night of 100 Gowns gala for the Imperial Court of New York, the long-running organization that lets queens act like empresses. At the Marriott Marquis event, drag star Coco Peru gave a blistering monologue about how gay marriage is allowed in Spain because there are no Mormons there, adding that the Mormons' idea of the sanctity of marriage consists of a man's "sacred vows to 12 prepubescent girls." Is this just begging for tolerance while taking cheap shots at another minority group? Nah, they started it with their intolerance, so I've decided it's OK to use comic hyperbole to slime them back.
As the show wound down and they wheeled in the cannoli, newly crowned empress Farrah Moans told me her platform isn't shoes—it's to include more youth in the Court. "I'd like an open age requirement," she said, her tiara twinkling. "If they're three or four years old and dress up like a girl, I want a place where they can do that." And when was Farrah's first time? "At six months old," she revealed, "and I have pictures to prove it. And all through high school. I grew up in Oregon. It didn't go over too well."
For adults only, Ben Lerman's hilarious Match Game Live! came to 92YTribeca, where NY1's Pat Kiernan joined a raunchy panel consisting of myself, Frank DeCaro, Judy Gold, and other assorted nuts high on Sharpies and ready to fill in the blanks. As we all went for jokes about rectal thermometers made of swizzle sticks and vaginas that store cole slaw, Kiernan took the high road, until finally breaking down with the last question: "Betty White will make a great host on SNL, but her humor has a tendency to be self-BLANK." In the spell of the moment, Pat gave the same answer I had chosen: "Self-defecating." Love him!
And Now, On a Higher Plane: Some Legit Theater!
From London comes Enron, Lucy Prebble's acclaimed play about the biggest act of corporate fraud to happen since the one before it. But how did a British writer get the hang of a story based on our own tawdry shores? Shouldn't we be, you know, self-deprecating? "It begs the question, 'Isn't it odd that it took so much geography to have a perspective on American finance?' " star Norbert Leo Butz agreed at a meet-and-greet last week.
As Butz explained to me, "Lucy used the book The Smartest Guys in the Room as a template for the script. From there, her imagination took her to strange and disturbing and fascinating places. It's a play about an iconic American company and, in the finance world, people who were larger-than-life rock stars."
Butz himself is a Tony winner who successfully replaced Jeremy Piven in Speed-the-Plow, to name just one strange and fascinating credit. At the event, the New York Post's Barbara Hoffman congratulated Butz on his achievement, and he smilingly replied, "I've gotten too much credit for that. I just needed a fucking job. I was like, 'How much are you paying?' "
The anti–Megan Mullally, he obviously hasn't abandoned that philosophy. As I left, Butz was turning to Prebble and urging her, "Write a musical! I want to tap dance!"
No segue needed for Come Fly Away, Twyla Tharp's swinging homage to Sinatra, which is an elaborate floor show, with lots of dancers flinging each other around a nightclub setting as we hear Frank's glorious vocals from beyond the final curtain. There's plenty of vigorous movement—especially by Karine Plantadit, who veritably flies—set to lovely sounds, but the net effect feels a little pointless even when en pointe, and there's one too many times when a guy lifts a girl and she gleefully spreads her legs as if flashing for the neighborhood. (Still, Frank probably would have loved that—as well as the obligatory gay panic moment.)
I always get nervous when Broadway musicals do "alienated youth," but Green Day's American Idiot has the cred, and at a press event last week, the title song rocked, the cast musically fuming around a giant loft set studded with "idiot boxes" and tuneful angst.
After the performance, the band's Billie Joe Armstrong emerged to explain the show's Dubya-era impetus: "You're being bombarded with information and a lot of it is lies, and you're trying to find your truth to the whole thing, with your individualism not getting lost." It's Enron, but with more music.
Armstrong certainly tried to find the truth behind Broadway-type stylings before attempting this Idiot. He admitted that for research, he listened to West Side Story, "and I even downloaded some things Ethel Merman sang or something." That's perfect! I can just hear the Merm belting, "Don't want to be an American idiot!"
By the way, pardon me if this column smelled. It's detoxing.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.