The only touch of Doris Duke left in that late rich lady’s apartment is a big old crack in the marble floor–and her fans will be thrilled to learn that the new owner, Cindy Adams,has kept it there as a metamorphic homage to Doris’s spunk. I’m thrilled that the gossip diva’s redone everything else in the place in an eye-popping style that’s less Duke than empress. The sprawling habitat–which is very Citizen Kane meets Chinese modern via early reign of terra cotta–is now resplendent with Asian sculptures, brocaded chairs, Picassos, New York Post covers, and about 300 bathrooms, which are so ornate you’re too busy taking them in to even relieve yourself.
It cost Cindy and hubby Joey Adams unspeakable amounts to buy and revamp the joint–the window walls alone were more expensive than my education–but with a spot on Good Morning America and an upcoming gig hawking costume jewelry on the Home Shopping Network, “Mother” is even more secure than I am. On my drop-in, I luxuriated in a Caligula-esque tiled tub (without water), only jumping out when Cindy happened to produce a 10-course dinner in yet another room. During the meal, the ears of every celebrity in the world–plus Linda Tripp–must have been on fire, though all that bouncy banter posed no threat whatsoever to the shoving down of food. I left ready to explode, but still too dazzled by the wall patterns to tinkle. Only on Park Avenue, kids!
In less glamorous gossip-world happenings (only on Avenue of the Americas, kids), the Fox News Channel is a nonstop jerk-off session about the presidential sex scandals that doesn’t serve you dinner, and in fact sometimes doesn’t serve you at all. Producers there booked me on the first episode of Beyond the News,on which a motley panel blows hot air about current-events topics, usually involving intransigent interns. They were thrilled I could accommodate them, but when I couldn’t also tape a pilot for the show, they suddenly unbooked me, saying the topic they’d planned might change–it didn’t; yep, the presidential sex scandals–but they’d surely call again (they never did). Beyond this, folks.
Then the same network’s Matt Drudge Report asked me to be part of an unpaid “dress rehearsal” of regulars for that exercise in non-vestal verbiage. That sounded pretty definite, but it proved to be just another way to shove a cigar up my ass. In fact, the only regular thing about being a regular on Drudge is that you apparently never get booked! Once, they called in a panic when they thought Lucianne Goldberg might not be a strong enough solo guest–imagine–so they pumped me for potential dish and asked if I’d seen the X-Files movie before deciding that Goldberg could blow off enough steam by herself and Drudge certainly didn’t need me to discuss the movie. (“But make sure to watch the show, OK?” the producer urged.) Weeks later, they rang again to fish for some more gossip, then called back to say, Sorry, the next episode would be all about–everybody now–the presidential sex scandals, and I guess this time that precluded my appearance. I’ve defended Drudge, but now I think he’s the dregs and Roger Ailes should blow Monica Lewinsky out his butt. How’s that for potential dish? (By the way, here’s Monica on that alleged cigar: “I didn’t inhale!”)
But fuck Fox News–let’s swing on down to Foxy, which comments on sex, and sometimes even presidential sex, in ways that never get canceled. The club event, Saturday nights at the Frolic Room on 12th Street and Avenue A, is a raunchy throwback to those old Disco 2000 sexcapades, but–for better or worse–it often stays within the limits of decency. The DJ plays new wave hits as ambiguous looking Mod Squad?type trios swarm the hot, smoky dive and grab at the 50 Foxy dollars that come with admission. Their assigned task is to hand out the bucks to those who perform the most outrageous stunts onstage, and I hear people are usually doing remarkable things with ping-pong balls and privates to win the top prize ($100 in real money). Well, the night I went, the gods of sleaze were obviously on vacation in the Hamptons and had taken all the erotic accoutrements with them. The only competitors I saw were a guy in BVDs who showed us his heinie and someone else who belly-danced with a Monica Lewinsky mask on. (“Monica sucks!” said that night’s MC, Mistress Formika.) The room had all the electrical charge of a night in Doris Duke’s bathtub.
Still, the evening was not mirthless, even if the most shocking part of it was to learn that Alphabetland has become almost as trendily MTV-ready and internationally swingin’ as Ocean Drive. Despite the occasional street vigil for a murdered gang member, you’re mostly bombarded by Central Casting bohemian types en route to a sip-and-twirl at a bevy of fashionably divey boîtes. Even dinner has become studiously chic and multicultural, like at Mesopotamia, a fine Belgian bistro on Avenue B that looks like a casbah, is bedecked with Japanese posters, and serves Chilean wines and sometimes even Thai dishes. “Belgian Thai,” clarified the waitress. Ahh!
In other restaurant developments, I’m still waiting for the food I ordered six weeks ago at Cafeteria. But here’s the good news: the sprawling, kitschy barbecue palace called Empire Korea, which–as I’d lamented–had mysteriously changed over to Empire China a few months ago, is Empire Korea again! No, I don’t understand, I just gorge.
And I also suck down fascinating info, like how Hero is a new gay magazine about couples (Hot Monogamy is one of their more popular columns), which has prompted the joke that they’re offering three-month subscriptions. And how a source claims that one coupling in Irina Pantaeva‘s memoir Siberian Dream–a lesbian encounter between the model and an older woman in Paris–was totally made up. (An Avon Books publicist insists the tome is not a dream at all.) And how in another new memoir–the one by The View‘s Star Jones–Star argues articulately against racial slurs and generalizations, then says, “The top designers don’t even bother with the likes of me, so why should I care what a bunch of predominantly gay white men think about the way I look?”
But as for predominantly black straight people, how stunned was I when the soundtrack for Why Do Fools Fall in Love turned out to have not one note via the movie’s subject, Frankie Lymon, on it? Even the title song is retooled by Gina Thompson into a cut that’s hip-hop, not doo-wop. Well, relax–Elektra reps assure me this record was designed to feature youth-oriented music “inspired by” the movie, while Rhino’s coming out with another soundtrack featuring the Frankie stuff from the movie (in which, by the way, the lead guy isn’t at all freaky enough, though Vivica A. Fox and predominantly gay black man Little Richard truly romp over any nearby banalities).
But wait, hold it, grab on to the crack in the marble floor and stop everything! The Fox News Network just booked me on The CrierReport and actually didn’t cancel! Quick–someone flip over to the Weather Channel and see if hell just froze over. Then flip back and watch me!
Michael Musto can be e-mailed at email@example.com.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 8, 1998