I was so terribly amused by the sight of Cher on various talk shows bizarrely trying to lip-synch the electronic flourishes added to the vocals on her new song "Believe." Good try, diva. But I'm not quite so thrilled that another dated but infectious disco song, George Michael's "Outside," has been bombing bigger than Andrew Ridgeley's solo career. The record, you'll remember, constitutes Michael's refusal to grovel for acceptance after his X-rated loo incident, and the video followed suit, with lots of unapologetic sex in dank, forbidden places. Well, the song's been greeted with even less airplay than Michael got sexplay that fateful afternoon. I'm tempted to blame our puritanical values for this flesh failure, but insiders tell me that radio programmers just don't consider Michael a hot artist anymore, and the song thrilled them so little musically that they'd rather keep it "Outside" their playlists. I hope Michael's career doesn't go back into the toilet.
Meanwhile, I was moderately heartened to learn firsthand that the career of MTV VJ Jesse Camp is still a semiviable entity. In the midst of MTV's "Where's Jesse?" search, I spotted the guy wearing headphones and a plastic bag on his head as he scurried out of Tower Video and into the rain. He had probably rented a Pauly Shore movie.
And I'm thrilled that Mona Foot's gone Hollywood and will soon be rentable herself. Though one of her rival drag queens is two of my least favorite people, Mona's an imposing figure with a marvelously wicked mouth and an effortlessly snapping finger. She's landed a role in Joel Schumacher's Flawless currently filming around town which sounds intriguingly like a high concept put together by people who were high. The flick has Robert DeNiro as a security guard who, after a stroke, is assigned a rehabilitation process that somehow includes singing lessons with the drag queen next door (Philip Seymour Hoffman). You certainly can't say "It's been done" but if it clicks, I bet there'll be a sequel called Bang the Drag Slowly.
Mona whose real name is Nashom Benjamin plays one of Hoffman's best friends, a drag queen named Amazing Grace who has a marvelously wicked mouth, etc. Though onstage at Barracuda she usually tosses off blistering bon mots, Mona's so thrilled with the filmmaking experience, she told me, "I can't think of one bitchy, cunty, or unsavory thing to say!" Wow let's hope I never become a movie star!
In other flawless movie news, Gus Van Sant tells me his ex-boyfriend is doing a documentary about the making of Psycho. I guess you could call it Norman Unzipped. Also, Liz Smith uncorked on Roseanne's chat show about how, now that she's older, she's more able to openly flirt with men. And Poz is flirting with controversy. The invaluable mag is doing a piece examining the subculture that's evolved around barebacking, and they might include a commotion-causing sidebar on "harm reduction" i.e., tips on how to have safer unsafe sex (though editor Walter Armstrong told me he's considering nixing that idea just like Glue, by the way, has now become unglued from their previous decision to use Michael Alig as a writer). Oh, and that right-winger with the loquacious ex-wife is coming out soon, though I don't think he'll do a disco song about it. As for Jane Horrocks who performs uncanny Judy Garland and Shirley Bassey impressions in Little Voice when I asked her if she's a gay man trapped in a woman's body, she said, "No! If so, I haven't discovered it!"
At last week's AmFAR benefit at the World Financial Center, people were coming out who weren't even gay! Honoree Tom Hanks sobbed and told the crowd, "I love men! I love gay men!" but I'm sure he restrains himself in public bathrooms. Another award recipient, Barbara Walters, talked about "that divine tush" of Nicole Kidman in The Blue Room and said to the evening's MC, Sharon Stone, "With due respect to Ellen DeGeneres and Anne Heche, you look really fabulous tonight!" And the third winner, Clive Davis, came out as a poet, reciting the lyrics to "Bridge Over Troubled Water" ("Sail on, silver girl . . . "), a moment that will forever rival William Shatner's version of "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" in my mind.
At the climax of the evening, various stars and Barry Manilow literally sang their praises to Davis, and Sean "Puffy" Combs rocked the house so effectively that most of the crowd forgot they'd been turned away from his birthday party a couple of weeks ago. For the finale, Whitney Houston stopped her band midsong and announced, "They're a little wrong," then went on to dazzle, dragging Wyclef Jean up to add some real poetry to the proceedings. Sail on, diva girl. Johnathon Schaech
Johnathon Schaechis poetically beautiful and a fine actor critics who say otherwise are a little wrong and as proof, TNT's Houdini movie provided a magical mystery tour of both Houdini's psyche and Johnathon's allure. And like Tom Hanks, he loves gay men! At the Houdini party at Metronome, publicists allowed me to speak to Johnathon on the condition that I only ask about the movie. I agreed, then promptly shattered the rules with Johnathon's permission wondering how he feels knowing that the fondest wish of every whoop-whoop-starved queer in New York is that Johnathon were gay. "I'm flattered," he said, charmingly. "I really appreciate the support. I've grown up with the gay community. The biggest influences in my life have been gay men." Piqued to the point of near-orgasm, I asked the divoon poster boy who's very Peter Gallagher by way of Robby Benson to kindly elaborate, and he said, "I've been taught a lot by my uncle, who's here tonight. He's a hairdresser and a great man." Which are not always mutually exclusive things.
Oh, as for the movie, Johnathon told me he had to work out a lot because "it's pretty scary to get inside a milk can and not be flexible." Since he was booked to do Regis and Kathie Lee the next day, I begged him to submerge Kathie Lee in a milk can for a really popular stunt.
In another feat of magic, the W New York Hotel premiered the same night, and though I was nervous about the place's advertised emphasis on "whole foods" and mildly New Agey slogans, like "Come to a place where sleep itself is inspired," the bash was worth staying awake for, thanks to the sleek mix of cubist shapes and wall tapestries, not to mention the sumptuous eats whole or otherwise which brought out the pig in me.
There's no place like Ohm, which like the W has its own evocative slogans. One says that the Flatiron restaurant-club's name "suggests the currents of electricity as well as a soothing mantra." Their salsa night last Wednesday underscored that dichotomy the thuggish door staff sharply contrasted with the obsequious waiters but this might still turn out to be a fun place for mixed salads and metaphors.
And, though people were leaving the 800th grand reopening of the Limelight mouthing "horrible," I thought the club looked fine especially the large, George Michaelready bathroom stalls and the H.R. Giger room, a VIP area filled with scary, winged creatures and Donald Trump. Each room had its own soundtrack, and on the main stage where club kids once cavorted like heathens a topless dance troupe (with pasties) turned the old raunch into new pretentious choreography. But they had divine tushes.
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.