The Lure may well be the only West Village leather bar with a publicist, which might help explain its captivating contradictions. When I visited the place last year, it reeked of poppers and wicked desire, and though there was a fashion show going on onstage, the crowd seemed anxious for it to end so they could return to the hardcore mating rituals. Well, this time, I sashayed into the joint’s much heralded Wednesday night party Pork, and found a Planet Hollywood version of the same that was pretty much a fashion show from top to bottom. Bouncy-looking guys in T-shirts mixed with the machos and poseurs, all facing a cornucopia of interactive options befitting a leather theme park.
An ATM greets you on the way in, and a guy offers to do your tarot cards. (“You will be double-fisted by a dashing stranger at midnight”?) To your right, there’s a boutique hawking masks, dildos, body bags, and Billy dolls. And further in awaits a faux slave who’ll shine your shoes, not to mention a guy who’ll shave your head, for that top-to-bottom do-me credibility. It’s all so much fun, you should bring the entire fetish family! There was even a performance courtesy of the Metro Gay Wrestling Alliance, whom the fascinated crowd watched get vigorously pinned and grappled. How Lure-ing. Alas, I had to leave before playing Pin the Tail on the Masochist.
I didn’t get porked, but I did get a really warm welcome from a trannie doorperson on entering the Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center’s annual Garden Party. “You’re from The Village Voice?” she snarled. “I’ll have to shoot you!” Instead, other folks simply let me in. A somewhat kinder greeting awaited me at the Gay Pride Parade, but let’s emphasize the somewhat. People on a float were festively flinging necklaces into the crowd as if they were grenades, and one of these accessories came flying so hard in my direction that it almost gave me a concussion. The float was for the Anti-Violence Project!
After ducking an inordinate number of “bi-curious” people— you know, guys who are curious about how many dicks they can shove up their ass— I went to the movies and found out that they’re queerer than ever, what with the gay couple in Big Daddy, Satan getting buggered by Saddam Hussein in the South Park flick, and Will Smith feeling up Kevin Kline‘s drag breasts in Wild Wild West. And Summer of Sam has that Bob the Fairy character, whose dishy mouth plays right into the hands of the homophobes— which I certainly hope is a comment on self-loathing rather than an expression of it. In any case, I lived in Bensonhurst at the height of that period, and not everyone was an archetypal Guido, nor were there that many people yelling “faggot.” (I always expected to come across them more than I actually did.) Still, despite that pessimistic bent, the talking dog, the cuddly chubette who plays the killer, the Jimmy Breslin segments, and the fact that Studio 54 never had an orderly line outside it, I went for the movie big-time. It’s kinetic and twisted and explosive and arguably uses the gay-baiting to make a point about the scapegoating of oddballs (the main one of which, alas, is apparently a closet case).
Meanwhile, I can’t believe Stanley Kubrick’s family is trying to defend the director’s removal of Jewish names from Eyes Wide Shut as a sensible professional decision. Oy! But back to closets wide shut: The Globe just ran an interesting list of facts about Ricky Martin, including the revelation that he didn’t kiss a girl until he was 13; he’s a softy who cries a lot; he was on Broadway in Les Miz; he doesn’t want a girlfriend these days because “I’m having fun now the way I am”; and he hates seafood!
By the way, if you like crabs and find yourself home around 2 a.m. instead of living la vida loca, please turn on Match Game— Anita Sarko tipped me off to this one— and catch a glimpse of the bizarre public deconstruction of panelist Nell Carter. The endearing Nell seems to experience extreme mood swings, making this otherwise demoralizing exercise in innuendo as strangely watchable as the head-shaving at the Lure. When Nell gets answers wrong— which is often— she looks devastated and hugs the contestants she’s screwed over as if she has completely shattered their lives. (And she should be sorry, considering she’ll say stuff like “pooping” when the correct choice is obviously “fart.”) She’ll also blurt out personal revelations (about medication, for example) and once admitted during the commercial break— as the host later revealed— that no one liked her as a child, prompting George Hamilton to give her a big, suntanned hug! When the finale comes and the panelists informally prance around, Nell’s been known to do a hoggish bump and grind center stage, once even running into the audience to perform an elaborate dance up the aisle with a fat man. You gotta love this woman, but one senses that something bad might happen— and damned if I’m gonna miss it.
Nell was apparently the only larger woman not walking the runway at Lane Bryant’s Venezia Jeans show at Manhattan Center, a gorgeous celebration of thunder thighs that was the rare fashion event where they served food! Camryn Manheim, the anti-Calista, was the phat star, but I was equally entranced by a skinny audience member who identified himself as the lead of Deep Blue, the Israeli answer to Baywatch. This idol in the making told me he’s the Pamela Anderson Lee of the show, “but instead of silicone breasts, I have silicone balls.” Three of them.
I ran abreast of Manheim again the next night in Central Park, then saw the first half of the Taming of the Shrew production, which is oddball, but I won’t scapegoat it except to say that the author— Shemp Howard, I think— must be very proud. Moving from
Padua to Tuscany— via Midtown— I graced Torre di Pisa, a West 44th Street eatery where kitsch heaven mixes with such sumptuous cuisine that you leave wearing Venezia jeans. There are photos and tiny representations of the Tower of Pisa everywhere, and the kitchen is encased in a replica of the landmark structure’s upper region, geniusly replete with stuffed birds on the landing. All that’s missing is a shoeshine boy. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m leaning toward giving the place an absolute rave. Get it? Leaning.
I’m also leaning toward appearing on next year’s MTV Movie Awards, now that my spies have told me all the fancy loot this year’s on-air personnel received from the network as inducements. Host Lisa Kudrow supposedly got jewelry worth $5000; Jim Carrey was sent to the ceremony on a chartered plane trip that cost $91,000 and he also bagged a $19,000 Harley motorcycle to ride home on; Adam Sandler was gifted with a $15,000 flat-screen TV; and Will Smith nabbed a saddle worth $10,000 (for a horse, not Jada). I’m sure what he really wanted was Kevin Kline’s breasts.
Finally, this is no gift at all, but I’ve amassed some more facts about the sad murder of fashionista John Badum by the Moroccan piece of trade he considered his boyfriend. The trade— who had done lots of steroids— was a country boy with strict patriarchal ideas, though insiders say he’d gotten involved with a farmer’s boyfriend who was also the farmer’s first cousin! Also, Badum had been institutionalized for his hopeless addiction to romantic obsession. I guess he just loved the lure.