By now you’ve heard that Sir Ian McKellen and Monica Lewinsky were dates at the London premiere of Gods and Monsters. Pick your own joke: “They both like semen!” or “Finally, a guy who doesn’t want to stick it in her mouth!” . . . The object of the masturbatory fantasies of everyone from me to Madonna, steamy Steam star Alessandro Gassman just stuck some hot gossip in my ear. He said that he, his dad, Vittorio Gassman, and Vittorio’s ex-wife Shelley Winters all recently shot a movie together called La Bomba. According to Alessandro, Vittorio and Shelley got along surprisingly well— “It’s a much less violent relationship than before!” . . . Don’t hit me, but I think the prince in that awful la bomba The King and I is rather studly. (Oh no, get out the straitjacket— I’m getting hot for cartoon characters.)
Back to hunky humans who don’t want me, Stephen Baldwin turned out to be a real Baldwin at an art party held at his and brother Billy’s inviting new restaurant, Alaia. The ultrasmooth actor-entrepreneur didn’t even flinch when a fumbly waiter dropped a tray full of glassware, and only finally became distracted when he told me, “I have to go outside and pay my friend’s cab fare!” Rather than investigate and perhaps have to chip in, I chatted up party guest Debbie Matenopoulos, whose mantra was, “How sick is it that I’m up for an Emmy?” (along with the rest of the cast of The View— the show that unceremoniously dumped her). The tension-sensitive Debbie said she isn’t sure where she’ll sit at the awards ceremony— hopefully not in a cage— and lamented, “I’m like the redheaded stepchild!” (But she’s blond; the plot thickens.) Debbie’s been joking that her new job is head dancer at a hooch club, and I guess there we can see if she’s a blond or a redhead.
I felt like the dead-headed stepchild at the same event, as millions lined up to complain that I didn’t put pushy photographer Rose Hartman on my recent list of the top 10 nocturnal nightmares. “But she’s nowhere near as visible as before,” I exclaimed. Just then, I turned around and there was Rose Hartman being pushy! I love my life!
In less sociopathological news, Ennio— the one-man show starring comic genius Ennio Marchetto— has been extended, and you’re a nightmare if you don’t drop your tray of glassware and run to see it, even though it’s on the Upper West Side (upstairs from the Promenade). The rubber-faced Italian is a combination mimic, lip-syncher, and quick-change artist who creates seamless hilarity out of constantly evolving paper outfits and props. Shticking nonstop, he does a devastating send-up of Whitney Houston‘s relentless musical climaxes, a timeless Cher who unwraps herself from a mummy’s bandages, and a bombastic Celine Dion who becomes the Titanic and seems thrilled when the movie’s stars drown. Throw a match from the audience and Ennio’s whole show’s a goner— but even a nightmare wouldn’t do that, and besides, Ennio ends by showing that he can work magic with just a shred of crepe paper and some Liza gestures.
In a quickie interview, Ennio— who stops short of doing Monica Lewinsky and Ian McKellen— told me that his act originated when he had a daydream about Marilyn Monroe dressed in paper. “I woke up and cut her body out of pink paper and the wig in yellow,” he said, fully aware that the skirt was made for lifting. Five years later, the former costume designer for the Venice Carnivale devised a whole show of such flammable creations. “I’m a living cartoon, not an impersonator,” he told me. (Oy, I’m in love with another cartoon.) “I want to be more surrealistic than similar.”
But the guy’s not that thrilled to be Celine Dion in any form, and admits, “I don’t really like Celine as a character. Like Whitney, she thinks she’s the best in the world.” As for Titanic, “It was OK, but it’s too long, too romantic, and I don’t really like the song.” Still, his art will go on.
One of the few stars Ennio doesn’t do is Rock Hudson, but I’ve been doing the guy enough on my own lately. Thanks to a sad, empty life filled with ongoing video research, I’ve managed to dig up gay truckloads of Rock subtext that even Rock Hudson’s Home Movies didn’t cover. In the 1966 comedy thriller Blindfold, for example, a boy lends Rock a horse and warns, “Just don’t ever touch his tail. He’s sensitive back there.” “Oh, I won’t! Henry’s tail shall be inviolate,” assures Rock. Of course he touches it anyway and the horse sends him flying, prompting Claudia Cardinale to screech, “You touched Henry’s tail!”
Gayer still is the previous year’s romantic farce Strange Bedfellows, in which corporate guy Rock is urged to get back with his estranged wife because it’ll help his image! This little charade is orchestrated by fey publicist Gig Young, who tells Rock, “No more gay married bachelor!” (He should talk; in the flick, Gig continually gushes over Rock’s “pretty” looks, smell, and especially legs.) Meanwhile, Rock’s character sends out such mixed messages that folks mistakenly think he wants to have a baby with another man! Miss Thing even finds himself comically in bed with Gina Lollobrigida‘s fiancé— strange bedfellows indeed— and though he doesn’t touch his tail, the half-asleep macho star does fondle the fiancé’s face while moaning “Oh, baby!” The outraged gent’s response? “She assured me you’d welcome me with open arms. I didn’t realize she meant it literally!”
From the subtext to the sublime, they practically welcomed me with open legs at a really lively press dinner for Quincy Jones at Elaine’s. (My second time there in a week. Somebody slap me— no, not you, Elaine.) I sat with five perky blonds— not redheads— including an actress who’d just shot a three-day rape scene with Jerry O’Connell and said it wasn’t that bad. In another corner, I told Q— you know, Quincy— that “One Hundred Ways,” a romantic song on his new compilation CD, really touches my tail. He was delighted, but said, “The even better lesson is ‘How Do You Keep the Music Playing?’ ” He proceeded to recite the song’s rueful lyrics, as the room fell rapt with appreciation except for the waiters busily laying out the dessert table. I wished Peggy Lipton could have heard it.
“It’s all different flowers,” Q told me— not about the dessert table, but about the various superstars he’s worked with. “I met Michael Jackson when he was 12, Tevin Campbell when he was 12, Aretha when she was 12. Either they have it or they don’t.” What— acne? Back at my table, I learned that Vincent Gallo has actually found himself a bride. So someone else likes cartoon characters!
At the cineplex, the more-cartoony-than- it-needs-to-be remake of The Out-of-Towners presents a New York whose scariest attractions include a dominatrix, a sexaholics anonymous group, a wacky drag queen, and a chatty elevator rider who provokes a gay panic attack from Steve Martin. Fuck you, Hollywood— those sound like all of our best aspects to me.
Finally, The Weir has been welcomed as a stellar new Gotham attraction, but, between snoozes, I found it an uneasy mix of The Iceman Cometh and Tales From the Crypt. Oh, well, it’s all different flowers. And at least at the opening-night party, I got to hear those immortal words: “Richard Chamberlain, meet Lou Rawls!”