This column may not be suitable for anyone with certain types of heart disease,
bladder problems, or uncontrolled blood pressure, or someone who’s swelling, nursing, or taking medications. Read on only after consulting your doctor. But
anyway: At the New York Film Critics Awards, I got all of the above conditions when I happened to sit next to the very woman who’d denied me an interview with Catherine Keener. I cunt—I mean can’t—tell you how charmed I was. Rather than vent—or try to talk to Keener—we focused on the evening’s expectedly quirky highlights, from Alexander Payne revealing that Pauline Kael told him, “The last half hour of Election gets a bit wobbly, doesn’t it?” to John Waters saying that Pedro Almodóvar‘s characters—like “grateful rape victims” and a wheelchair-bound guy who likes cunnilingus—are the type he’d like to have over for dinner. Waters must have done the guest list for this event, where Richard Belzer admitted he was on the toilet when he got the call to present an award to the South Park movie. Mr. Hankey would have been so proud!
At the gigunda Harper’s Bazaar bash at the Robert Miller Gallery, there were no grateful rape victims—only gleeful fashionistas lining up to vehemently air kiss the mag’s new editor, Kate Betts. They were all wearing black and playing that party game—you know, you snub everyone until they say hello first, and then you gush over them as if no one else ever mattered. I took a number, then asked Betts if she agrees with what Gwyneth Paltrow says in the mag—that fashion’s the only way women can express themselves on a daily basis. “No, not the only way,” she said. “Let me list the ways!” Well, one way would be to tell me whether she saw the Page Six item anticipating a possible catfight at the party between Betts and her ex-boss, Anna Wintour. “Oh, yeah,” Betts said, mildly amused. “I mean, please!” I took that to mean there would indeed be a vicious brawl involving lots of flying Prada, so I fled in a panic.
Even quicker than they scan Monica Lewinsky‘s new body on those Jenny Craig commercials, I went uptown for the Downtown party for Paper, which at least was sit-down. Model Karen Elson is semiexposed and seemingly elongated on the mag’s cover, but at this Brasserie event, she told me it’s all her. “Fuck yeah, it’s my body!” she declared. “And I’m not ashamed of it. I might as well show it while I’m young!” It’s the only way women can express themselves on a daily basis.
Everyone was covered up again at the Holy Smoke party at Nicole’s, that department-store boîte where, having nabbed a pricey ensemble, you can promptly flaunt it over veal sausages. Famed (for other places) restaurateur Drew Nieporent told me that Nicole’s got two stars in the Times, but then, “their new food critic can’t count past two.” Nieporent gave this bash higher marks, especially when Kate Winslet entered and he blurted, “They said she was too heavy for the Titanic, but if you ask me, she’s got it in all the right places tonight!” And she’s not ashamed of it!
That was clearly the best recent night out for heteros and food—and tramping around town in a tutu has helped me uncover some other high points of modern life. Ready? The best cruise spot is the main listening wall at the downtown Virgin Megastore. Simply strap on your headphones, shake your bon-bon to Macy Gray, and throw a wanton smile at the person next to you (unless they’re listening to Jewel). Before you know it, you’ll be making beautiful music together—or at least you’ve gotten to tighten your culo and hear a few free tracks.
The most bizarre new cooking/chat show is the one hosted by Ainsley Harriott, that British creature who, after telling us how his wife and kids are his whole world, minces around the kitchen in a flamboyantly wrist-flapping way that makes RuPaul look like Ving Rhames. Harriott—who was discovered by Merv Griffin—shoots his show, appropriately enough, at the Chelsea Piers (and actually, it’s an occasionally funsy romp).
From the kitschy kitchen to the awful office, the wackiest newish excursion in theater is Becky Mode‘s Fully Committed, with the amazing Mark Setlock as a restaurant reservations clerk and all his tormentors. When I called for comps, I was aptly told that the play was fully committed that week. It was worth waiting for, deliciously littered as it is with references to “global fusion cuisine” and “Mr. Zagat‘s headcheese,” not to mention relentless digs at Naomi Campbell. It’s a fabulously droll commentary on the hollow absurdity of my—I mean that—crowd, but though I give it way more than two stars, next time I want an even better seat, with more flattering lighting!
The most popular new East Village restaurant—and it’s not the one Fully Committed‘s based on—is Leshko’s, the former beloved Polish dive, which is now a sleek and lively trendoid spot courtesy of the Barracuda guys. The global fusion food is tangy and there’s still an occasional pierogi to remind you of the days before gentrification.
The cutest moment in that perennial pierogi Eartha Kitt‘s act at Café Carlyle comes when she tells the audience, “I’ve found my birth certificate and I’m proud to reveal that on January 17th . . . I want presents!” But if you want presence, the equally long-running Jackie Mason is still the best solo kvetcher since before Mark Setlock was born. Alas, in his Broadway show, Mason continues to dabble in ancient ethnic stereotypes, not seeming to realize that people have become more similar than different. Mason clings to the idea that Puerto Ricans are violent and Jews always go to doctors, and even as mockable clichés, these are as moldy as escargot jokes (which he also does). Still, the devilishly deadpan comic’s riotous about what I assumed had been a spent subject, as it were—Clinton‘s sexuality. Long may he run!
Speaking of Clinton’s sexuality—long may he run at the mouth—I recently happened to appear on a talk show with Paula Jones, the subject, naturally, being celebrity plastic surgery. Someone in the audience asked Jones, “Do you pick your nose?” and she seemed mildly outraged, saying, “No, I don’t do that. I’m a lady!” When they came back from the commercial, it was explained that the guy actually meant, “Do you choose your nose?” “No, I left it up to my doctor,” responded Jones, more calmly.
By the way, now that two-faced Linda Tripp got a facelift, what about her other one, ba-dum-pum? And while we’re talking shiny purple faces, the most entendre-laden merch—yes, we’re still doing bests—remains the endearingly innuendo-filled Teletubby stuff. I was recently gifted with a Tinky Winky scrubbing device, which consists of the Tinkster wearing what looks like a flowing purple gown (actually the scrub part). The name of this fey trinket? “Bath and shower pouf.” You heard me—pouf!
But back to Clinton’s sexuality—poof!—how dare Hillary defend marriage as an institution so sacred it shouldn’t be extended to gays? Her idea of marriage has her only speaking to the hubby when it comes time to swallow his endless stream of public apologies for whatever trick the dry cleaner just uncovered. And now, are you all a little nauseous? I admit the last half hour was a little wobbly.