The third most bizarre event of the week was “(Animal) Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing,” a Central Park Wildlife Center lecture about homosexuality in the animal kingdom, conducted by a Ph.D. in “sex change in terrestrial slugs.” The evening redefined fruit flies. We learned about monogamous lesbian gulls, gay greylag geese, and bedbugs who apparently love Judy Garland. Alas, most of the reasons given for animal queerdom were on the order of mistaken identity and a shortage of opposite-sex partners. It wasn’t until well into the rationales that we found out that “release of tension” might be a factor. You know, pure fun!
The second most bizarre event of the week was Designing Miss Chiquita,a CFDA benefit in which designers paraded potassium icons around the Bryant Park Pavilion, providing a distinctly phallic display that gay monkeys would have gone ape for. The outfits weren’t nearly as Busby Berkeley spectacular as I’d hoped, and some weren’t bananalike at all, but the best ones— like Lavinia Co-op‘s stilts-and-balloons extravaganza— punctured the pretensions of Fashion Week, while making one temporarily forget Chiquita’s very shady history in Central America. Not that the fashion crowd knew about that anyway.
Afterward, the entire Chiquita cast mingled with two teen drummers, an elderly spoon player, and a guy waltzing with a puppet at Susanne Bartsch‘s opening of the Key Club (formerly System). It was the most bizarre event of the week.
Runners-up? There was a jaunt to the club Krash in Queens (don’t ask), after which I stumbled onto Magic Touch, a fabulously squalid little bar done in an aquarium theme— though it’s actually meat, not fish, that’s on display there. Hispanic go-go boys sidle up to older men looking for, um, a release of tension, and that night, a female customer was also in the house, grabbing for pinga. Somehow it added to the delightful sickness— though I quickly returned to Manhattan, avoiding insiders’ claims that “at 2:30, it gets really fun downstairs.”
Paper‘s Barocco bash— in Manhattan— was certainly kooky, especially when Willem Dafoe (who supposedly has a big Chiquita) remarked to me about the Golden Globes, “They should put the people who vote for those onstage. They’re like the folks outside Grauman’s!”
But all this merry mayhem must now screech to a halt as I go bananas reporting that recent drama duds have come upon us like wet Playbills. The Eros Trilogy is a batch of monologues in search of a play, erring in search of Eros. And though This Is Our Youth has patches of snappy dialogue, I agreed with the guy behind me who muttered, “Another show about stupid people!” This junior league Hurlyburly doesn’t really coalesce, leaving one annoyed at the desperate-to-be-with-it critics who said it did. Kids with accents make like greylag geese in Beautiful Thing— I saw half— which was way more beautiful as a movie. And a movie star brings luster to the CSC update of The Misanthrope, an attack on superficial fashion victims that’s performed for an audience going, “Ooh! Uma Thurman looks fabulous!” Still, I did find a lot of cleverness in the presentation, the couplet-emitting posers, and Roger Rees.
But forget all that. As you’ve no doubt heard, the riveting Death of a Salesman revival more than makes up for the stinky Dustin Hoffman version that bored everyone to tears in the ’80s. Brian Dennehy and especially Elizabeth Franz are heartbreaking, and the fineness of the entire production proves that you don’t have to reinvent an old show if you just do it extremely well. This version isn’t set at Studio 54 or on a Carnival cruise; it’s straightforward and truthful— and I can cry, Willy.
From the sublime to the subeverything, Jawbreaker is a movie ballbuster, but it’s nice to see Rose McGowan turn in another uninhibited performance as an emotional dominatrix. In an interview at the Four Seasons, McGowan— an even less apologetic Christina Ricci— smirked to me, “It’s my job to spread deviance to the American youth.” It helps that she just got engaged to Marilyn Manson, though when I asked if she’ll change her name to Rose Manson, she said, “I won’t even dignify that with a response.” I can see why Marilyn likes her.
Whatever you call her, Rose is all angles and bedroom eyes— a ’50s movie bad girl, but one who should never be reformed. When I came in, she was on the phone— I think with Marilyn— cooing, “Hi, sugar. I feel like death right now.” She told me she was exhausted, and added, “Last night, I put Meet Joe Black on, thinking that would put me to sleep. But no!” Sultrily posing for pictures, Rose claimed she felt “crusty and old,” but looked as alive as a Botticelli version of Archie’s Veronica.
Fortunately, she summoned enough spirit to dole out some delightfully rancid remarks. I felt like we had the very best table in the high school cafeteria as we touched on Linda Tripp (“One thing that gives me pleasure is how ugly she is. That’s a karmic point. She deserves to be ugly.”); Third Eye Blind (“bottom-of-the-barrel shit”); Rosie O’Donnell (“Why does she promote that horrible Savage Garden?”); and teen idol combos (“There’s always a monkeyish one in the group. If they audition these people, why don’t they look for some attractive ones?”). Oh, and she likes Richard Branson, but says, “What’s with rich guys and ballooning? Who gives a shit?”
If you want to really take the bloom off this Rose, though, tell her she looks like Sarah McLachlan. Someone dared to do that, and her response is, “Yeah, except I shave my armpits and I wouldn’t be caught dead at Lilith Fair. Can you imagine the communal smell? It’s just awful. Having hairy legs doesn’t make you more free, only more ugly!”
As I pulled up my socks, a delivery came, and I cracked that it was probably drugs. “I wish!” she exclaimed. “I could use drugs more than anything right now! Not that I do drugs.” She’s hooked on Marilyn anyway. The girl with the unconventional background— “I was very much a Montessori child”— defends the rocker’s alleged hotel-room trashing (mere hair dye on the wall, she says) and editor bashing (“That guy’s a liar. No one touched him.”). But the biggest misconceptions of all about this new Manson family are that they’re really boring— “or that I’m his assistant in his satanic rituals. I’m no man’s assistant!” She won’t use the word fiancée either, but when I suggested “fuck buddy,” she atypically said, “That’s dirty!” I started sensing that, deep down, Rose McGowan is way more nun than floozy.
Before I left, the ice-cool vamp revealed that Marilyn— who’s not bi, she insisted— proposed to her by running a bath surrounded by candles. “Some people are asking if this will be an end to our wild ways,” she mused, “but now that it’s the two of us against the world, it’s a more united front and we can be more devilish.” Uh-oh, lock up your bananas!
Finally, going back to— or maybe staying within— sexuality in the animal kingdom, I can quickly obliterate all those supposedly liberal commentators who say it’s not that Tinky Winky’s gay that they object to, it’s the imposition of any sexuality on a kiddie character. Well, then, how come none of these jerk-offs blew a fit when Mickey Mouse released tension with Minnie?
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 23, 1999