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"I want to become a monk or something": Rufus Wainwright is giving the world time.
photo: Ken Schles/Dreamworks Records

Those cynics who are saying the Hamptons are on the wane are as wrong as red wine is with fish. I just took the schlepp out there and found that the place is more crammed with lockjawed rich people than ever; in fact, all along the potpourri-scented streets there are signs saying "Lost Puppy. $1000 reward." God—imagine if they lost an earring.

I stayed at a Sag Harbor bed-and-breakfast called the Halfmoon Hideaway, where even the kids playing pool in the rec room seemed clean-scrubbed (and extremely rich). The big weekend bash was the one for Jodi Della Femina's Celebrity Dish cookbook at the East Hampton house of her famously wealthy dad and stepmom, Jerry Della Femina and Judy Licht. As the upper crusties conspiratorially exchanged pasta recipes, Licht reminded me, "Way before Candace Bushnell, I wrote a column in the Soho Weekly News called 'Short Dispatches and Quivering Thighs.' " Licht's other stepdaughter looked horrified, so Mama explained, "It was about relationships!" (It's true—that's what we called quivering thighs back then.)

It came time for a serious presentation, so we grabbed armloads of hors d'oeuvres and quivered around the podium by the pool. A young beneficiary of the Make-A-Wish Foundation gave a brave speech, saying, "When I was seven, I was diagnosed with bone cancer, had surgery, and lost all my hair." Yikes—but if you think that was horrible, wait till you hear what her wish was: to meet the cast of Full House!

That night, my wish was somehow to go to Jet East, a high-energy dance barn in Southampton that's packed with well-heeled singles with no rhythm whatsoever. The tables are reserved for those willing to pay for bottle service, the result being that $2000 tabs are as common as open-toed shoes. That's two puppies!

The recession hasn't yet hit back in New York, either. The bottle crowd has even descended on the formerly dorky East Twenties in search of relationships with pricey food in chichi surroundings. A relatively new attraction is Spread, a Miami-esque eatery adjacent to the Marcel Hotel, which is more Marcel hair wave than Marcel Proust. Over world music, you sit on furry cubes and indulge in high-end "teases" and "spreads," all helped down with Voss water, which our runway-ready waiter recommended as "the purest in the world." It's all very aesthetic and striving, and if you order four things, you leave with a bigger spread.

I gave myself a Roofie by going to the party for that frisky, deeply talented Rufus Wainwright at Spa, where I spread and promptly waited for some teases. Rufus has been getting a lot of big-time attention, but he told me, "I still consider myself very alternative. I'm giving the world time." While he's waiting, he's on the bill of that upcoming all-gay Wotapalava tour, which is a sort of Tra-La-Lollapalooza for the queer-as-folk-music generation. Rufus has always been one of them there gays, and even though he freely admits to bouts of slutty dispatches and quivering thighs (selfish digression: You first read about that Andrew Sullivan sex scandal here three weeks ago, thank you!), any semblance of a love match eludes him at the moment. "I want to become a monk or something," Rufus told me, only half-joking. "Everybody starts to look the same after a while." Just then, a woman from the Pink Pussycat—who didn't look like anyone else—offered to provide him with complimentary sex toys, and Rufus laughed and shrieked, "I want them now!" They'll serve him well in the monastery, along with some Voss water.

Sex props weren't necessary at Paper magazine's party at Rialto, where The Sopranos' Drea de Matteo said Abel Ferrara wanted her to play a character who gets fucked up the ass while sucking dick, but that project hadn't managed to get off the ground. It sounds better for Merchant-Ivory anyway. The same mag, scandalously enough, features the edgy portrait paintings of club kid-turned-killer Michael Alig. The verdict? He's better than Gacy, but not nearly as good as Elke Sommer!

He'll probably end up at Feinstein's, which brings back so many stars of yesteryear that I've already booked my Britney Spears tickets for 2041. The cabaret's current attraction is the Smothers Brothers, who've kept up their Burns-and-Allen-like act with a frightening imperturbability. As always, the one brother babbles moronically, the other drolly dishes him, they sing a lilting duet, the dumb one fucks up the ending, and then the babbling starts up again. But even if the whole scene is extremely time-warpy (they do "The Impossible Dream"!), it's fun—and so was meeting legendary singer Keely Smith in a celebrity corner of the audience. I told Keely that I'd heard she was great at, yep, Feinstein's, and she threw me a mildly steely look and said, "Why didn't you come see it?" I don't know—I still consider myself very alternative?

Moving up to date, designer Richie Rich tells me he got an advance earful of a Kid Rock song that trashes Tommy Lee for hitting Pamela Anderson (Rock's new girlfriend). Gee, if Pammy ever wants to find Tommy again, she should put up signs that say "Sick Puppy. $1000 Reward."

At the movies lately, you want to slap the projectionist. Shrek is inventively executed and has some great set pieces that keep it from being Dreck, but there's a hint of lameness to the script, and Eddie Murphy is relied on a little too much to save the day. Moulin Rouge starts impressively, but quickly becomes tiresome in its attempt to stun and dazzle with every fucking frame. The relentless clutter and gimmickry render the movie about as authentic and sexy as a karaoke night in a French theme restaurant. And Pearl Harbor (which I saw two-thirds of) has spectacular war scenes, but they're just accessories to a three-way love plot so inane it was even better served in Move Over, Darling with Doris Day! The script is so unambitiously written that the characters always say exactly what they mean ("I'm back!"), and the net result feels as if they tried to write in the '40s rather than about the '40s. The worst line? In the middle of the bombs-away scene, an American soldier exclaims, "I didn't even know the Japanese were sore at us!" Oy!

In other lousy news for film buffs, Rockets Redglare, the downtown fixture who turned up in flicks like Big and Basquiat, died last week as a result of various ailments. Rockets had a fascinatingly dark life, which spanned being born to a junkie mom, witnessing his mobster uncle pull off a hit, and begging cash out of his famous friends. His triumph was becoming a quirky star in his own right—one I'll sorely miss, and not just because he never hit me up for money.

Finally, if you haven't sold your Hamptons estate yet to pay for scalpers' tickets to The Producers, you might want to wait. I hear that Roger Bart—who hilariously plays the flaming Carmen Gia—is first in line to replace Matthew Broderick as Bloom. Of course, by the time I get to see the show again, the leads will probably be Cathy Rigby and Aaron Carter—or the cast of Full House!


musto@villagevoice.com.


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