First, the disclaimers: I’m well aware that I’m the biggest nightmare of all— a tired, insecure, energy-sucking monster who terrorizes New York after dark (though deep down, I think I’m kind of fabulous). I also realize that the competitive stress built into the social scene can create nightmares, encouraging perfectly nice people to tirelessly self-promote in ways that make them utterly repellent.
And now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let me proudly name— ear-splitting drumroll, please— the biggest nightmares in New York! As a renowned nightmare seismologist, I’ve drawn up the list with great care and dedication, though admittedly some of the most prominent ‘mares of all didn’t make the cut because they happen to be very close friends of mine. Also absent are the pre-Giuliani-era sociopaths— the guy with the half grapefruit on his head, the fellow with the inordinately shiny face, etc.— because the limelight, and the Limelight, doesn’t foster such colorful aberrations anymore. Those were the good old horrid days. But don’t worry, these new creatures— who have more media than ever to work and a millennial deadline by which to become famous— are diabolically assertive enough to wake Bob Dole’s privates.
I’ll start with the runners-up, separated into demonic little categories— sort of like the Oscars, but not quite that scary. First come the poignant nightmares, many of whom are struggling Downtown celebutantes with a moderately endearing quality to their aggression. They are: Page (needy trannie), Ivy (needier trannie), Samantha Cole (pleasant, but who is she anyway?), David Blaine (not to mention anyone who’s proud to be part of Leo’s posse), Jocelyne Wildenstein‘s new boyfriend (the real freak), and anybody with enough free time to endlessly e-mail all those jokes, rants, and opinions that clog up the machines of perfectly innocent individuals. (By the way, I’ve omitted Sandra Bernhard’s decorator, who insists he only works at ABC Carpet & Home in order to stay in touch with the people— some of those very people claim he’s fine.)
Next come the establishment nightmares, who are especially reprehensible because they’ve got power and still won’t leave you alone. These Roland Emmerichworthy creatures are: Rudy Giuliani (loathsome), Roger Ailes (weaselly), Matt Drudge (hypocritical), Donald Trump (oily), Peter Gatien (shifty), the maître d’ at Sal Anthony (patronizing), and the owner of La Veranda (a/k/a La Bullshit).
Keep the applause coming for the showbiz nightmares, who at least bring some flash to their horror, but really need to stay home for a night or 12. I’m speaking of Alan Cumming (and cumming and cumming— talk about omnipresent), Phillip Bloch (fashion stylist who seriously drops the name Sandy— you know, Sandra Bullock), Sean “Puffy” Combs (just because), and the dumb-dumbs who’ve been walking out of Christopher Durang’s new play (Durang himself is a bit of a nightmare for mocking all the trashy obsessions that make my life meaningful, but at least he does so with lots of riotous, if slightly dated, zing).
The out-of-town nightmares— who can only disturb us long-distance— are Linda Tripp (a walking ad for Caller ID) and the Versace family, for acting as if reports that Gianni was HIV-positive are blemishing his reputation. And Nightmare Emeritus goes to Sante Kimes, who— according to a book coming out next week— starved, abused, and apparently sewed up the vagina of a relative who wouldn’t back her in a fake insurance claim! Eeeew!
But forget all these relatively harmless wannabes of manipulation and mayhem— they’re mere pretenders to the drone throne. Triple-locked in the safety of my home, I’m now ready to announce the 10 biggest scene-stealers of all— the crème de la scream, the bitterati, the royal (pain in the ass) family, the ZZZ list. These divas are the most compelling bunch of professional self-lovers since the cast of Three’s Company. They’re relentlessly in your face, and if you suddenly turned schizo (by osmosis, perhaps), they’d be in your faces. To their credit, they’re original, inexhaustible, and impossible to forget. They are, in descending order:
1. Jonah Falcon: Self-described actor-screenwriter who parades around in seemingly painted-on spandex shorts which highlight his gargantuan shlong, thereby giving one the willy (“It’s 13-and-a-half erect, nine-and-a-half soft,” he informs). Leaves me messages like “I want to tell you about how I showed my penis to Leonardo and his friends” and “I’m the guy with the large penis. I’m sure you noticed me dancing in the audience at the Donna Summer concert last night. I made quite a scene.” Showed up 90 minutes early for our photo shoot and got into a verbal tussle with Voice doormen over whether he could eat in the lobby. Lately, he’s been faxing and enthusing about his appearance on HBO, in which he talks about his burgeoning drama career. Kidding— he talks about his penis.
2. Mo B. Dick: A talented drag king whose greetings usually consist of an oral résumé, some flattery, and then an enforced photo op. Writes “Yummy” on her butt and then flashes it in your face for a close-up. Costarred in Pecker!
3. Miss Understood: Zesty drag queen whose behavior in a photo stampede would have made a great Sam Peckinpah movie. She’s a shy, retiring wallflower with two feet of Day-Glo pink hair and a voice that would stop a truck.
4. Ivy Supersonic: Hat designer who leaves Tolstoy-length messages promoting her chapeau fashion shows. Has her models wear decals and tattoos saying “Ivy Supersonic Is God.” Crashed a junket to Iceland!
5. Norah Lawlor: Publicist who, as a fellow Bahamas junketeer, urged me to nab the unlimited free meal available for press at one of the hotel restaurants. I went, I stuffed, and I got stuck with a whopping bill that still has me waking up screaming.
6. Dave Hall: Indefatigable gay singer whose people call to let you know they’re gonna send a fax about their release about their press conference about their e-mail. I don’t know what I’m up to as much as I’m clued into this guy’s doings.
7. BETTY: Broads Eager To Torture You?
8. Victoria Leacock: Compiler of a charity book of celebrities’ flower drawings. Everyone she befriends seems to drop dead— and then she’s endlessly quoted in interviews about how she misses them. Stay away!
9. Penelope Tuesdae: A ubiquitous self-promoting performerparty-thrower whom I vigorously avoided until realizing she’s nabbed the Spice Girls’ producer and might make it big.
10. Ann Northrop: Gay Cable lesbian who probably yells at her morning coffee for not doing enough for homeless PWAs and screams at her toast for having too much fun on Gay Pride Day. This is the kind of nightmare we need— maybe.
Let’s throw a glass— I mean raise a glass— to all of these self-invented creatures of iron will and brash bravado. Thanks to them, New York at night
(-mare) is many things, but it’s never boring. Now pardon me— I’m off to call my friend Sandy.
You can e-mail Michael Musto at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 23, 1999