NY Mirror – 6/2/98


Movie actress Illeana Douglas’s wedding to producer Jonathan Axelrod was that rare sincere mix of actors, agents, and publicists, the guest running through the church on a cell phone notwithstanding (I’m sure it was a spiritual call). Even the priest had an extra-sweet edge, despite his being a savvy showbiz type with patter like “Marriages can be like sitcoms, game shows, talk shows, and newscasts— but mostly they’re like love stories.” That’s good news for Illeana, who was in Cape Fear. The bride and groom’s smooching scene got a big round of applause, and then we celebrated at Barbetta, where the wedding party served up the most eclectic revue to hit the circuit in years. (I never thought I’d see Jackie Beat on the same bill with Comden and Green.) After a group rendition of “The Look of Love,” Jennifer Tilly caught the bouquet, covering any possible anxiousness by saying, “I didn’t push anybody, did I?” Oh, no–owww! Tilly, it turns out, is already betrothed to that cute little foulmouthed Chuckie doll. She’s shot the title role in The Bride of Chuckie and told me, “I play a white-trash girl who turns homicidal–the best gig I ever had. A couple of weeks, then voiceovers. My declining years will be all voiceovers!” In the meantime, she didn’t decline to add that “Alexis Arquette is great in the movie, especially when he humps the doll without realizing it’s going to come alive.” Honey, I’ve been there.

As a swollen Paulina Porizkova looked ready to pop another Ocasek into the world, Tilly and I continued our fertile marriage of minds. Chuckie‘s her first horror flick, she said, but her recent TV foray, Bella Mafia (costarring Illeana and Vanessa Redgrave), unintentionally came close. “It was the most horrific filming experience you ever imagined,” Tilly told me. “There were a lot of actresses not used to doing TV, where the pace is much faster–but Illeana made it bearable. Anything she says could be put on a T-shirt. When people asked, ‘How’s the director?’ Illeana would say, ‘Oh, Vanessa? She’s great!’ ” Hey, order me a dozen of those.

All scratched up from that bouquet toss, I divorced Downtown and heeded the persistent call of the Upper West Side like a mariner sailing toward a sadistic sea nymph. First, I was drawn to a cute, multisexual coffee bar/pickup place called Drip, where I only picked up a Caffe French Vanilla and a Rice Krispies treat. Later, with some drips, I sat through Power Plays at the Promenade, and couldn’t help thinking that, much as I enjoy the drollery of Elaine May and Alan Arkin,the show belongs in a Boca Raton dinner theater. And finally I lost a power play while judging Stand-Up NY’s contest for the funniest gay in New York. Greg Walloch, a hilariously self-mocking queer on crutches–you gotta have two gimmicks–got my vote when he told the crowd, “I want to be the world’s most beloved disabled entertainer. I want to kick Christopher Reeve‘s ass!” And my support was cemented when the comic said his other goal as a disabled person is to open a restaurant called Pour Your Own Fucking Coffee. Alas, Walloch came in second, the other judge perhaps feeling comfortable only with limps in wrists. Pick your own fucking winner.

Funny gay drag diva Kevin Aviance is sashaying to movieland in high heels, following in the footsteps of Girlina, who’s in Ru, I mean Woo. Aviance will play a sassy nightclub entrepreneur named Miss Smokie in Punks, an indie by writer-director Patrik-Ian Polk, one of those ambitious film-school grads who’ll probably end up on a cell phone in a church. While Aviance’s people over eagerly billed the project to me as a “Sean ‘Puffy’ Combs/Babyface film,” it turns out Combs has nothing to do with it and Babyface–whose company Polk works for–is only doing the theme song and getting first dibs at possible distribution. But it sounds hot and crusty anyway. It’s “a gay Waiting To Exhale” abouta photographer who becomes fixated on the mysterious stud next door, pursuing his lust against the better judgment of friends–all to the tune of Sister Sledge songs, performed in drag at Miss Smokie’s!

Polk says his own best friend Wilson Cruz was originally slated to play one of the leads, “but he sold me up the river to do the $60 million movie Supernova with Angela Bassett.” He’s joking–Polk isn’t mad. That much. Besides, this leaves more room for Aviance to sparkle. Says the otherworldly drag star, “I don’t know if they want Kevin Aviance the actor or Kevin Aviance the queen or Kevin Aviance the go-go dancer,” but all three of him will soon find out. Before that, Kevin Aviance the singer will release a single called “Dance for Love,” which he says “is real heavy anthemy. On ‘Cunty’ I spoke and on ‘Din Da Da’ I scatted, but on this, I sing.” And not just voiceovers.

Sadly silenced by her own hand, rock diva Wendy O. Williams sang, spoke, scatted, stripped, smashed guitars, and rolled around in peanut butter, all despite her being quite shy. Talk about your Punks. At CBGB’s tribute to Wendy last week, her longtime Svengali and partner Rod Swenson filled the crowd in on her unabashed life and premature end. Privately, Swenson told me that, after two failed attempts, Wendy was determined to commit suicide. “I tried every way to stop it,” he said, “but she didn’t want to be here.” Wendy’s main misery was that their band, the Plasmatics–a raucous assemblage of lovable misfits and Chuckie dolls–had run its course, fringed into nonexistence partly by her refusal to try the commercial route. “Wendy didn’t want to go through the hoops ordinary people do,” explained Swenson. “She was a true nonconformist.”

She even checked out in her own adorable way. The day Wendy died, Swenson said, she bought him flowers, baked a pie, “and went out with as much love as she could. We said goodbye with tears streaming down her face. She knew she’d been a player in terms of tweaking the status quo and getting paid for it. But she’d done her thing.” Bye, Wendy! I miss your sunny, snarling, peanut butter?encrusted face!

Refusing not to try the commercial route–if I can get trivial again–Godzilla turns out to be a cynical pile of crap, its only scare being the junior high school level of the script and acting. I’m not sure who I hated more–the faux Ally McBeal ditz, the pseudo Fran Drescher broad, the gay guy from Melrose Place, or the scaly creature himself (no, not Matthew Broderick). I do know that the film is at its most ridiculous when all of New York is being ransacked by monsters, but the Blockbuster sign on the wall of Madison Square Garden stays perfectly intact. How reassuring that, even when the world is coming to an end, we can still rent lousy videos! Like Godzilla!

And while that beast destroys New York, Johnny Depp is razing my other favorite town in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, a magnificent folly which will no doubt turn up at Blockbuster in about two weeks. At the premiere, people kept streaming out in the middle, but I waited until the end of this amazing, boring, brilliant, awful film before fleeing for the after-party buffet. I didn’t push anybody, did I? Oh, and by the way, I didn’t kill anybody to win the newyork.sidewalk poll for best gossip columnist, a triumph I’m only relating because the losing columnists–one of whom solicited votes in print–somehow forgot (as of press time) to report who won. I’m the king of the world! Of sleaze!