Of the new batch of coming-out-is-torture- but-worth-it flicks, Edge of Seventeen is the most detailed and charming, especially the rimming scene, but I wish someone would make a movie in which a young guy simply comes to New York, bursts out of the closet, and has an unmitigated blast—which is pretty much the way it happened for everyone I know. Still, Edge is simply lovable, though the premiere party at Starlight was uncomfortably crowded enough to make me come out—into the street. There I caught the arriving Lea DeLaria, who plays the closet buster’s mentor, and was high off a smash appearance at a benefit a few nights ago. “I fucking brought the house down,” the dynamo boasted, cutely. “Everybody knows it. I was like Elvis!” (I always thought he was a lesbian.)
The triumph clearly helped ease the pain of Lea’s Tony nomination snub for On the Town—though she insists she’s not bitter and still feels incredibly enchanted. Does she think homophobia was involved in the omission? “Yes!” she said. “I don’t like to say it out loud, but I can’t think of any other reason. It’s show business, not show play—it’s a business, and some people in the business think maybe I don’t project the image of a proper diva. But if your worst problem is not getting the Tony nomination you should have gotten, you’re probably living a really charmed life.” And besides, she’ll have another shot when George C. Wolfe brings her acclaimed cabaret show to Broadway next year, as Lea told me he will.
Far from the edge of 17th Street—if we can continue on the town—Maxim’s is bracing for a turnaround, and ya mo be there. I just came out again to visit the once passé uptown bistro and found jaw-droppingly fancy food for your money (or in my case, your comp) and pleasingly baroque decor—and chocolate truffles—for dessert. There’s even a Friday night swingles party upstairs, which is so well lit that, unlike at all those gay pickup places, you can actually see what the fuck you’re getting.
On Sunday, I went to a gay pickup place—Drama at Limelight—for promoter–HX honcho Marc Berkley‘s birthday, and though it was darkish, I managed to plainly see the dozens of Rudy’s police-state signs that blared, “It is against the law to use or distribute illegal drugs…” Gee, that made for a really festive atmosphere. Most clubbies preferred the old signs, which I’m pretty sure said, “Get your red-hot drugs here!”
Stone-cold sober, Willi Ninja, Hector Xtravaganza,and I judged Emanuel Xavier‘s House of Xavier ball at Escuelita, rating contestants by holding up pictures of a bomb (for “they’re the bomb”) or a gas mask (i.e., they stink). The event was unwieldy, unruly, and totally the bomb. Even the fights were kind of fun, like house drag Karen Covergirl getting in a screaming match with a contestant she dissed, and some idiot being escorted out after throwing a judging card at a failed entrant. Bravely enough, the same human target came back to vogue, Xena-like, with a sword—and some of the pre-op trannies were actually happy about that. All night, verbal daggers were thrown by the hilarious MCs, who yelled epithets like, “This category is about your face, not your booty. Now ride your broomstick out of here, baby gorilla.” Best of all was the Dramatic Cunt Performance category, which was won paws-down by a large, surly diva named Kool-Aid, who flogged her rival with her human-hair wig, only to be doused in Evian and get the trophy. Kool-Aid is the scariest, most fabulous creature I’ve seen since Leona Helmsley. Long may she flog.
Whereas that little lady shimmies like a Jell-O mold, the stars at Jackie 60’s Night of a Thousand Stevies—as in Nicks—were more interested in compulsive twirling and spinning like a Rotato (that device that rotates your potato so you can…oh, I don’t know). The bigger-than-ever Nicks athon trotted out its annual procession of preciously witchy white-winged visions—the kind that make you think, in the words of her highness Stevie, “Stand back! Stand back!” There were no less than four sets of performers, making you realize that there are way more closet Stevie Nicks impersonators in this town than Rudy’s police force must know about. Among the divas, Chi Chi Valenti admitted she’s a genetic woman (rare for a Stevie impressionist); the ever-reliable Sharon Peters got the hair and dark-spirited moxie just right; and Nicole Nicks caught belladonna’s manic edge. Best of all was Nickie Six,a drag queen who drives in every year from Des Moines to twirl and spin her tuchis off. She’s the bomb.
I stopped dragging my heart around and spun right over to the Star Wars screening—think Starship Troopers crossed with Antz—which turned into Star Jones wars when I heard The View‘s diva intoning that she couldn’t fully see the screen from the back and informing the publicist, “I told them I wouldn’t come if it wasn’t a reserved seat.” She was moved to a better location. Well, you know, she is a lawyer.
Finally, Broadway star wars made for some free food at the Tony nominees‘ brunch at the Marriott, which prompted my usual unasked-for thoughts on the theater season. If I recall properly, there were three too many revues, 100 too many slide projections, and way more overrated imports than we needed. (As The Weir finally seemed to be ending, my heart sank when the female character turned to the old man and said, “Tell us one more story!”) And there were too many revivals, like Annie Get Your Gun—gas mask—which is performed in such a distanced way, they might as well put it on in the next room. Thank goddess for the boffo Death of a Salesman—yeah, a revival—with Elizabeth Franz giving one of the most moving performances I’ve ever seen as an iron-willed enabler and Brian Dennehy not so shabby either as her salesman guy.
At the brunch, the likably crabby Dennehy told me, “I’d love to go home this goddamned minute.” He kept working the room anyway, as his stage son Kevin Anderson told me, “Pushing Brian around every night is like running into a concrete wall.” (He rightfully considers it an honor.) I pushed through the media circus and ran into You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown‘s sprightly Snoopy, Roger Bart, who looked like he wanted to go home, but proceeded to tell me how he found out about his nomination. “After tossing and turning,” said Bart, “and having bizarre dreams of rejection, I did my morning ablutions, made a rich cup of java, turned on NY1, and watched Swoosie Kurtz‘s mouth to see if she’d form the letter R. She did, and after that, I didn’t hear any of the other nominees.” (Swoosie made an L sound too, but for Lez Brotherston, not Lea DeLaria.)
And suddenly I found myself forming some dumb words to The Civil War‘s nominated composer Frank Wildhorn.I nobly told Wildhorn he devises great hooks and should branch out into the pop charts someday, only to have him inform me that he already wrote the wildly popular “Where Do Broken Hearts Go?” for Whitney Houston. I crawled away in badly informed horror.
While crawling, I nabbed a couple of award-caliber news flashes: JFK Jr. is camera-shy and has no interest in doing that cable TV spinoff of George that’s been hinted at. But that other sociopolitical force, Britney Spears, is all too willingly on the tube with her new “Sometimes” video—and it’s bizarrely billed as “a dickfilm.” I guess those breast implants are working.