The night I saw it, Little Me wasn’t so little; it was longer than Angels in America. As the intermission seemed to be winding down, we were told to take an extra 10 minutes while they worked out some technical problems. I wasn’t surprised, since the stage had inadvertently turned a ghastly (or delightful, depending on your aesthetic sense) shade of urine yellow for a few seconds in Act One. Finally, the second act started, and things weren’t yellow anymore, but they got fairly dark. After a splashy number on a sinking ocean liner, poor Faith Prince was standing there with a life preserver around her neck when someone in the audience screamed, “Stop the show! Is there a doctor in the house?” We hoped it was just Martin Short doing another character— or maybe the lighting director needing a pink gel— but it turned out that a man was having a life-threatening physical attack, and it wasn’t just shtick.
Promptly, the lights went on and a doctor ran up the aisle to help the guy, without even getting a referral from his primary-care physician! Eventually, emergency workers showed up and we all sat in tense silence until, oxygen-masked and feeling better, the little scene-stealer stood up and took an exit bow! It was my most surreal theatrical moment since being fondled by one of those damned cats. We cheered, relieved that the man was still alive— and so was the show, which is about a bunch of guys meeting their untimely ends, by the way.
The professional way the incident was handled was emblematic of the showmanship on hand in the slight but frothy evening that’s like an old Dean Martin variety show crossed with a Judy Holliday musical, via SCTV. The production’s a light, dizzy exercise in chutzpah that makes you want to go on living. Oh, and while we’re at the Roundabout, my sources swear that the real reason the recent New Jersey production of Follies died rather than transfer to Broadway is that Stephen Sondheim promised the Roundabout they’d get their own Follies revival in a couple of years. Hopefully, we’ll all be around then, singing “I’m Still Here”— and not in bright yellow lighting.
There was another technical mishap at the Dancing at Lughnasa premiere, when the opening credits eerily rolled in silence and the Sony Lincoln Square crowd sat there without a life preserver. Two seats away from me, Jill Clayburgh— who loved the movie— actually thought the momentary absence of sound was pretty fascinating. So did I, since the film, while carefully done, comes off both icky and dullish, especially compared to the radiant play it’s based on. Perhaps Meryl Streep should go back to doing diseases instead of accents— the jig’s up.
After that movie, Very Bad Things, The Waterboy, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, Meet Joe Black, and Celebrity, I was ready to abandon cinema altogether and become a puppet-show reviewer. But at least the party for Celebrity at the Racquet & Tennis Club— a benefit for hypertension— was fun, with lots of high-toned people, the type who know merlot has peaked, even as they order it in droves. I sat with the cute supermodel Irina, and happily they didn’t put us in Siberia. Irina told me she spent two weeks shooting a role in Celebrity, and, though she was reduced to a mere background shot, “It was a wonderful experience and a wonderful lesson.” That may not be good copy, but it’s great karma. For a little more juice, I asked Irina about the lesbian encounter she describes in her memoir, Siberian Dream, and the publicist gagged, two other people at the table blanched, and then Irina’s husband came back, so she pretended not to have heard me. I guess that scene is on the cutting-room floor now too.
Mercifully not snipped out of the video for George Michael‘s “Outside”— his disco celebration of raw sex in bathrooms, on roofs, and virtually anywhere not on a bed— are the two very arresting male cops locked in a steamy, passionate kiss. The hot scene brings new meaning to the word entrapment— and MTV has kept it in. And at the Honcho 20th-anniversary party at Beige, celebrating the gay flesh magazine that specializes in pictorials like “Toys in the Dungeon,” the officers were certainly gentlemen. Various Honcho cover guys were dancing nude on boxes, but naturally my patriotic eyes were only drawn to the one wearing an unbuttoned military jacket and not much else, as he provocatively popped open bottles of makeshift Honcho champagne like an NC-17-rated Fourth of July display. (Though, contrary to one vile Honcho editor’s remarks, I didn’t throw myself on the hunk— he toppled off his box and almost killed us both.)
The stud, who only identified himself as Troy,cryptically told me he’d spent six years in the marines, “and it was tough.” (Don’t ask, don’t tell.) Troy’s more festive credits include being a brunet on the cover of Honcho, a blond on the cover of Playguy, and a to-dye-for pubemeister in a film called Seamen. “I only did one solo scene— alone!” he exclaimed (as opposed to all those irksome solo scenes actors have to do with each other). To add to his kooky iconoclasm, Troy was making out with a couple of women throughout the night— this even though Beige is the bastion of horny, Helmut Lang-wearing fashion queens! The world must be ending!
But first— more parties. There was a Champagne Fantasy and Masquerade Ball to launch Visionaire‘s Fantasy issue, and people actually dressed (as opposed to undressed) for the theme, though it turned out that a few folks whose wonderful masks I gushed over weren’t wearing any. Sandra Bernhard was there sporting the mask of a calm, nice lady: her Broadway success seems to have taken the “Damn It” out of her “I’m Still Here.” The location— something called the New York Service Center— had its own little guise revealed when we all remembered that the place used to be Covenant House, where Father Ritter wreaked havoc on all that vulnerable chicken. It should be a KFC by now.
Rather than visit one of those George Michael-type service centers, I left my toys in the dungeon and went for some class, catching This Joint Is Jumpin’ at the Supper Club and not once going to the loo, even to pee. Joint is a lively swing revue with Broadway babies Vivian Reed and Kevin Ramsey singing and dancing their tochises off to big-band tunes. The short, sweet diversion makes your big, juicy steak go down so easily that you don’t even have to fake a heart attack to get some attention.
And the joint was jumpin’ when HBO screened Winchell at the Museum of Television & Radio, the main attacks being on the celebrity culture Walter Winchell is now credited for having begat. In fact, every gossip columnist in the world showed up to bemoan the fact that there are too many gossips in the world! Among the highlights of the panel discussion held after the screening were Liz Smith sighing, “There are no more great stars”; Mike Wallace dissing the Times‘s gossip column, “Public Lives,” as “the dullest” to audience member Abe Rosenthal, who didn’t argue; and Winchell’s ghostwriter improbably saying his boss was convinced that the famed Watergate Deep Throat was J. Edgar Hoover. A drag queen deep throat? I thought they were only on the highway. You know, outside.
Oh, while we’re there, the police and fire vehicles were lined up outside the opening of Regine‘s new club, Rage— gee, thanks, Giuliani— but the frosty look Regine gave me on being introduced to me for the 800th time eliminated any chance of fire.