I was terrified that Kurfew— the Saturday night gay teen fest in various parts of the Tunnel— would be overpopulated with chicken hawks, but fortunately, I was the only one. The soiree is sort of a Hetrick Martin Institute prom by way of Dawson’s Creek via XY magazine crossed with a Gourmet Garage poultry sale. The kids are winsomely cute and festively dressed in elephant pants, football Ts, Teletubby backpacks, and Day-glo mouth illuminators. And they don’t overaccessorize with bias, the result being that not only isn’t there one enforced look, but lesbians and even a couple of straights are welcomed into the multigonadal mix.
It’s adorable to see the baby drag queens and mini fags, dykes, and hags taking their first steps out of the closet and into the land of opportunity. Unlike that girl in The Faculty who goes along with the lesbian epithets thrown at her until she’s finally comfortable enough to come out as straight— oh, what a happy ending that was— these kids are not just pretending (though some hets in the main room pretend to be gay in order to beg their way into Kurfew— is this getting too sexually complex?). The mood is bouncy and relatively unfettered by game-playing, and in the fuzzy, lava-lampy Kenny Scharf Room, the neophytes bop, bizarrely enough, to late-’70s and early-’80s disco by Vicki Sue Robinson, ABBA, The Pointer Sisters,and early Madonna. I stood there trying desperately to uncrepe my eyelids and look like I was hearing these songs for the first time!
In between flashdancing, watching the high-energy drag shows by Milan, Holli Gramm, and Peppermint Gummi Bear (strangely conducted in the dark), and frequenting the occasional makeup corner where a girl draws a line on your forehead, the revelers sloppy-kiss as if their only romantic experience was from watching Freddie Prinze Jr. movies. While I popped my eyes back into my head, the event’s promoter, Jeff Brenner, filled me in on Kurfew’s young life. Brenner said that when he was kicked out of his accounting firm moments after he came out, he sashayed toward the more embracing world of party promoting instead. He launched Kurfew at System, but moved it to Tunnel about a year ago, when they made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.
In true late-millennium club-kid style, the event is regulated to the point where Kurfewers can’t drink without the proper ID, and even hooking up is systematized. Attendees have numbers stickered onto their backs as if they were marathon dancers or Bangkok sex workers. This enables me, I mean you, to pick out the studlets you most want to communicate with and scrawl personal notes to them on Post-its planted on a mirror wall up front— which is more sophisticated than just jumping on them, I guess. Alas, after messaging my top 300 favorite people, I got hand cramps.
At the more mature (agewise, anyway) Roxy later the same night, it was back to body fascism and all of its multifarious joys and pitfalls. At one point, a shirtless bartender made a disgusted face as he complained to me that one of the go-go boys there has love handles! Fire him— I mean the bartender!
The same restrictions apply at the West Side Club, which puts Chelsea bar attitudinizing into a steam-heat situation that’s less than hot. For a mere $25, nonmembers can nab a room, a towel, a condom, and a humorless attendant asking you to announce your birthdate (for security reasons) in front of dozens of queens in waiting. You lie, then drape yourself in that terry cloth sari and strike a Hurrell pose on a bed, hoping some Adonis will bolt into the room and force you to use the condom. The problem is, most of the compulsives there seem too uptight or self-satisfied to do much of anything, so everyone either poses or struts around for hours, providing a Dante-ish towel fashion show that’s way more boring than masturbation. They should sticker the word fool on their butts.
If you want to smell the desperation of a real manhunt, go to the Boiler Room or Dick’s Bar at around 3:45 a.m. The crowds at these East Village gay pickup dives become so anxious to find partners by closing time that Godzilla could probably walk in, snap his fingers, and get the pick of the litter. Of course I go home alone, but only because I’m so intimidatingly gorgeous that even the desperate stand back.
I picked up some fabulous chatter at Cindy Adams‘s party for hubby Joey‘s 88th birthday at their Park Avenue penthouse— if we can veer as far away from popper land as is possible for a 10-buck cab ride. The event brought out an interesting mix of comics, Trumps, and dictators, and since none of them had stickers on, you actually got to talk to them. Joan Rivers told me, “I think Melissa‘s totally embarrassed to have me as a mother!” Ivana Trump asked me, “Were you strangled anywhere for the holidays?” (It took me hours to figure out she meant stranded.) Denise Rich gushed over the buffet, “Salami’s my favorite!” Rex Reed said that Jackie Susann wasn’t as tough as Michelle Lee played her in that TV movie. (General Patton wasn’t that tough.) Sue Simmons corrected me on the pronunciation of Dewi Sukarno. (For those who don’t want their heads lopped off, it’s Davey.) And Joey Adams cracked to Arlene Dahl and her date, “I see you shaved, but he didn’t.”
Some nights later, I was strangled, I mean stranded, at Fosse, where hairless legs and armpits writhe before you like folks at the West Side Club would do if they could only drop the attitude and the handcuffs. A lot of the show is just a reprise of another Fosse revue (Dancin’); there’s at least one unspeakably bad number (“Mr. Bojangles”); it’s all rather formless, as opposed to seamless; and at times you empathize with a lyric they use, the one that goes, “We’re waltzing in the wonder of why we’re here.” But stuff all that in your bowler hat. Whether or not Fosse proves its own need to exist, it’s mostly a strutty, shimmery, un-boring lollapalooza of syncopation, with more dirty knees by the end of it than the White House had all last year. The loudest cheers the night I went came from codirector Ann Reinking across the aisle, but most everyone else was engaging in Fosse-style hand-clapping moves too. Ileft all Davey-eyed, especially grateful to have learned that the Backstreet Boys clearly borrowed that chair routine from “Mein Herr”!
In movieland, I’ve learned of another possible setback for the much worked (as opposed to working) Ellen DeGeneres, and it’s nothing to cheer about. Her movie vehicle, Goodbye, Lover, was supposed to come out— as it were— last fall, but then it was bumped into ’99. Well, now Warner Brothers hasn’t given the flick any definite release date yet, which is leading insiders to suspect a straight-to-video dumping (a Warner rep told me that’s not necessarily true). Whatever the case, I hope the easily depressed Ellen doesn’t cry, “Goodbye, career!”
Finally, another sister, David Geffen, has a hot new gig with those American Express posters, on which he’s bizarrely branded with the number 69. I’m writing him a Post-it as we speak.