We’ve all got to sober up and stop making such a fuss about the damned Academy Awards. This year, my Oscar mania got so sick that when I spotted designer Mark Bouwer from across Sixth Avenue the day before the ceremony, I psychotically chased him into an Old Navy store to ask who he was dressing for the big night. “Paula Abdul and maybe James Coburn‘s wife,” he responded agreeably, as we both felt a little silly.
The awards themselves were a colossal letdown, especially since Saving Private Ryan won so few major honors that I never even got to sit on my hands. Also upsettingly, Sir Ian McKellen failed to become the first gay— sorry, openly gay— actor to nab a trophy, and I hope it wasn’t because he’d had a promo party at a Chelsea cruise bar. But I did love Anne Heche‘s mike not working when she announced the technical awards, the quick cut to Warren and Annette after Whoopi‘s crack about older men and younger women, and the interpretive dance to the score of The Thin Red Line. James Coburn’s wife looked fabulous, but it was Harvey Weinstein who, by the end of the night, radiated so much power that I became desperate to have sex with him!
Everyone looked gorge at this year’s Jackie awards because the evening’s Ascot ball theme manifested itself in Cecil Beatonish hats and fetching scarves planted delicately atop leather dominatrix outfits. The ceremony— honoring performances given at the club Mother— celebrated the altogether kooky Jackie 60 family, who come together weekly to act out their goth, fetish, and Deborah Harry obsessions with the fervor of neglected siblings secretly meeting in the basement to put on a show. This event (along with the club’s darkly subversive A Very Jackie Christmas) is one of the year’s biggies, when all the fashion and performance renegades grab at the spotlight with a scary eagerness to please and be pleased. As usual, the honorees were drag queens, go-go boys, strippers, and women with giant strap-on dildos— and they all wanted to sit on my hands. (Oy, I’m starting to sound like Joan Rivers.)
The night kicked off with the Dueling Bankheads presenting a special honor to two beloved people who’ve transformed nightlife with their endless innovation . . . Screaming Rachael and Michael Alig! (They were kidding— it was for Mother’s own Chi Chi Valenti and Johnny Dynell.) Sadly enough, Valenti then announced that December 28 will not only be the last Jackie of the century, it’ll be the last one ever. They’re abandoning the weekly party, though some of the Jackie classics (like the
Stevie Nicksathon) will be revisited and Mother will go on to mother all the new 21st-century sickos.
The award for wackiest coincidence goes to Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow‘s ex, Ben Affleck. A while ago, Page Six ran a blind item about an actor whose neighbors wished he’d get blinds, since they’d peeked into his boudoir window and caught him basically good will hunting with a guy. Well, recently, the same column did a blinds item that wasn’t a blind item— namely that Patrick Stewart told Gwyneth that Affleck’s loft needs blinds because you can see into his window! Is this coincidental or what? Even more recently, as I reported, a radio jock brashly broadcast a rumor that Affleck’s a friend of Dorothy. Well, I’m still waiting for his publicist to open his blinds and get back to me with a response!
While we’re window-shopping: Two weeks ago, I wrote that the fabulously swishy Tinky Winky is mysteriously not represented in commercials for the interactive Teletubbies dolls. Not to worry; the ‘Tubbies’ marketing people just called to assure me that, though they’re only marketing the female characters right now, the other two ‘Tubbies will definitely have their day in August. So Tinky isn’t a girl?
Girls— with giant strap-ons— are the target audience for the fun Broadway quadrille Closer, which makes The Blue Room look like a kiddie play area. The show’s decked out with all the raunch Giuliani‘s tried to keep out of Times Square, but because it has the stamp of serious theater and it’ll bring in tourist trade, it’s no doubt OK with him. The drama’s big cybersex scene features two guys exchanging e-mail like “Sit on my face, fuckboy” (a long story), but when they’re not hiding behind computers, those blokes are a tad more demure; one of them even hesitates before saying the C-word in front of Natasha Richardson, only to have Natasha gamely exclaim, “I’m a grown-up. Cunt away!” I felt the same way, and was a sucker for all the calculatedly adult talk, like when the stripper shoves her ass in a patron’s face and he perceptively asks, “Are you flirting with me?”
You can flirt till you drop at one of the few real deals left in Times Square. It’s Stella’s— not a $75-a-seat lost work by Tennessee Williams, but a male strip joint whose five-buck admission includes access to a lovely cocktail. The upper level is faux glitzy, with Broadway posters and very old queens mixing with very young queens. And the very same generational salad populates the cozy downstairs area, where the Saturday night go-go show has various studs— all named Carlos— disrobing to the beat, then working the audience with a touching (and feeling) ambition. It’s more like cunt, get away!
A much tamer Times Square routine, Rollin’ on the T.O.B.A. is an affectionate revue with lots of talent, but almost as little dramatic depth as the ill-fated Band in Berlin. The O.B. in T.O.B.A. must stand for Off-Broadway, which is where this well-meaning hors d’oeuvre probably should have stayed.
Finally, let’s go off the beaten path for Robert Altman‘s Cookie’s Fortune, a giddy Southern murder farce that’s like a far-gone Fargo for the jonquil circuit. Picture Charles S. Dutton as a wrongly accused suspect who “won’t drink before Brokaw,” Glenn Close as an amateur director who eats a suicide note, and Liv Tyler as a restless vixen with a genealogical surprise, to name three of the movie’s semiconscious steel magnolias. At a special screening, Altman urged us to “giggle and give in!” and the crowd of crew members and columnists dutifully obeyed. Afterward, I heard Al Franken tell someone, “Once the story kicked in, I didn’t have to pee anymore.” (The urge clearly came back, seeing as he said this at a urinal.)
In stellar Voice style, I trapped Dutton on the way out of the theater and asked if what happens to him in the movie reflects the racial profiling that’s permeating the headlines these days. “If it was another kind of movie,” he said. “But they wouldn’t have left my cell door open if it was the kind of profiling you’re talking about.” I earned extra Voice stripes by asking Altman the same question at the after-party at Elaine’s. Amusingly enough, he gave his usual unquotable quote. “It had nothing specifically to do with this,” he said. “It’s a new South. It’s racism that isn’t there, and yet it certainly is there. That’s not what the film is about. Maybe it is what it’s about. I don’t know what the film’s about!” “It’s about two hours,” I blurted, and he looked like he wanted to punch me senseless.
I tried to sneak out, but was assuaged back in and seated near Patricia Neal, who plays the crumbling Cookie with doughy verve. I never got to ask her about racial profiling, though, because she immediately took a more personal interest in me. “Where did you come from?” Neal wondered, wackily. “Where do you live? What street? I’ll come visit you!” Fine— just bring your Oscar, honey.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 30, 1999