Recent trips have confirmed that the West Village is apparently still there, a bracing antidote to the unmitigated fabulousness of New York at its most sophisticated. That old standby the Monster remains the perfect place to take people you meet on the street when you need a closer inspection. (You can always leave them passed out in the corner by the potted plant. Trust me.) I've become re-hooked on the place's doomsday-bright lighting and the pianist playing "You've Got a Friend" as oddballs gather round to share near-miss high notes over deafeningly clinking cubes. It's like a gay Cheers, with everyone laughing/crying into his gay beer. Downstairs it's darker, except for the tinsel curtains and shiny drag queen JESSE VOLT MC'ing a contest whereby customers are asked to spell designers' names for amazing prizes (and trips to Chicago). Two Wednesdays ago, it was inspiring to see a fresh-faced clubbie correctly spell Ungaro despite Ms. Volt's charmingly Noo Yawk-y pronunciation of it ("Ungerrowah") and gleefully nab a TORI AMOS CD!
Over at Piecesone step closer to the great beyondthe show-tune videos are watched with the hushed reverence one usually accords fisting porn. In between numbers, the sparse crowd was so casually chummy that I thought nothing of giving my number to a hot piece of work I'd been chatting with. But the second I got home, I web-searched the gentleman and learned that he had just gotten out of jail after a 10-year sentence for armed robbery! Now I want him more than ever!
Further toward the pier, at the frisky hangout-of-color Chi-Chiz, I resented the fact that there were already two white folks thereannoyingly playing Yahtzee, no less. Yes, it was the owner and her friend, but it weakened my big entrance line: "Hey, everybody, I'm white! But I'd like some black in me!" That may not have been the proudest society moment of all time, but it did draw lots of attention.
Also on that immortal strip of Christopher Street, the legendary Boots & Saddlewhich leather queens used to fondly call Bras & Girdleis being renamed Climaxx, complete with an extra x for extra drag karaoke and bingo. Don't have enough of that in your life? Now you do.
A SAUSAGE HIRO WITH CHEESE
And that's it for the West Village, which has ripped out a little piece of my soul that'll probably never grow back. Swishing up north a little, one enters the Hiro ballroom's Sunday-night Cuckoo Club, which still has high ceilingsand customersmaking for a reliably trippy experience in head-to-toe Ungaro. Two weeks ago, all eye jobs were fixed on JOSH, a JUSTIN THEROUX look-alike working his go-go box with just the right moderately sleazy attitude. A sunglassed stud with even less self-consciousness than he had clothes on, the guy (normally a DJ-model) dripped raw sexuality like sweat beads, and it didn't matter whether he was the most rhythmic go-go boy in history. His whole package, as it were, added up to sheer, unmitigated hotness, and every person there responded by either gawking, groping, taking photos, or frantically trying to memorize his visage. I haven't seen the entire gay community so unified since the first preview of Grey Gardens.
I brought my own package to the nearby club Comix with one x for Fresh Meat, a show about "the comedy of humiliation," and was thrilled to get a healthy serving of it. (Waiter: "Can you do me a big favor?" Sure, an autograph? "Could you scoot in a bit?") But the CATIE LAZARUShosted revue provided solidly entertaining voyeurism, from ANNABELLE GURWITCH ( Fired!) describing the horror of a Hollywood Squares audition to DAVID RAKOFF, who was canned from the movie of The First Wives Club , remembering when the book's author was in a coma and he asked a friend, "Do you think that'll affect her writing talent?"
THROUGH A LENS DARKLY
In the sharper part of Hollywood, they came up with a fascinatingly gritty bunch of Oscar nomineesa far cry from the old days, when anything bloated or glamorous got the nod. (And which little gossip hag correctly predicted 92 percent of them? You're skimming him!) What a depressing batch of movies, reflecting the impossibly anxious time we live in! In the best- director category alone, you've got a 9-11 movie, Iwo Jima, Lady Di's death, some international terrorism, and JACK NICHOLSON with a black dildo. For best actor, there's a dictator, a homeless man, a drug addict, an old letch, and LEONARDO DICAPRIO with an accent. Alas, the gay crowd has been shuffling around with eyes downcast ever since Dreamgirls and Volver were not deemed heavy or topical enough for the top awards. Expect another massive riot, like after Judy Garland died. Meanwhile, excuse me, but Black Dahlia got a nomination? And it isn't up for a single Razzie? Somebody must have switched the envelopes.
By the way, some lingering thoughts from the Golden Globes: The most bittersweet moment had to be when the Best Supporting Actor was announced as "Jeremy . . ." (Mr. Piven must have been mentally vaulting to the podium at this point) . . . "Irons!"
Another non-winner, BEYONCÉ KNOWLES, is surely convincing herself, "I've got the Soul Train award! That's the important one." Surely it is, dear. And now that JENNIFER HUDSON's solo, "Love You I Do," is nominated for an Oscar along with the Beyoncé showcase "Listen," they can battle it out live on the telecast, maybe in some high-powered diva medley that will also include EDDIE MURPHY. Effie, we all got pain!
In other Murphy news, the comic actor squirms whenever anyone brings up that incident where he was caught so kindly driving a trannie home. So it's rather poetic that everywhere you turn these days there are gigantic Norbit billboards consisting of Eddie looking horrified as he lies under a giant, seductive drag queennamely, Eddie himself in full TRAVOLTA-like garb and makeup. The tagline: "Have you ever made a really big mistake?"
Grey's Anatomy star ISAIAH WASHINGTON certainly made a boo-boo when he screamed gay epithets at his costar T.R. KNIGHT, and that's all anyone could think about when the show rose to FAG, I mean SAG, glory. Washington's been rightly censured 'round the world for having done that, but I'm a little uncomfortable over the way he's been held up, MEL GIBSONstyle, as the receptacle for all our fears and the symbol of every possible hatred in the world. Isaiah simply got caught, so everyone and his mother are going after him with gloves off. But will the same incredibly righteous vigilante gang stay watchful of every single act of homophobia in the biz? Will they openly condemn producers who quietly fire (or never hire) gay actors? Pathetic gay stars who anxiously flaunt beards for the cameras? Gay-pride awards lavishly given to (or presented by) closet cases? No, I didn't think so.
And now, to placate the gays, let's have a little theater break. Translations is a soaring exploration of the power of language served in a lovely production, but how's this for powerful language: The theater was fucking freezing! A Spanish Play has a higher temperature and some stimulating talk, but it's mainly enhanced by the fact that if you sit in C110, your face will loom on the wall during a live video sequence. I'm adding it to my r ésumé as we speak.
If you can rollerskate, you might have two upcoming vehicles to add: The Little Mermaid, where they'll wheel around to look like they're swimming, and Xanadu, based on the roller- boogie flick that makes Grease! look like Greed. But a source swears that Disney doesn't want Xanadu to open first and is in fact frantic about it. (My Mermaid source says he hasn't heard that.) Maybe they can do a skate-off on the next Tonys.
Those who've seen Factory Girl say BOB DYLAN should get off his high rollers and send flowers, seeing as his character (or rather the, ahem, composite) is played by hunky HAYDEN CHRISTENSEN. Besides, Warhol comes off even worse.
But stop everything! There's one more cluband it's not in the Village! The Box is a Lower East Side performance place courtesy of SERGE BECKER, who promises it will do for theater and nightlife what Area (which he was a creator of) did for art and nightlife. Now I need someplace to help with nightlife and nightlife.
But stop again! My book, La Dolce Musto, is still being sold! Buy it and I'll sing "You've Got a Friend" till you climaxxx with three x's.