I paid half price for a ticket to Rose, and sure enough got half a show, bolting gloriously to freedom at intermission. The nonhappening—which stars Olympia Dukakis as “a feisty Jewish woman” with a lot of time on her hands—hammers the last nail in the coffin of those contrived, antitheatrical one-person vehicles in which a one-foot-in-the-graver recalls her entire fucking life while traipsing about waiting for some crucial phone call. But this time there’s no phone call and not even any traipsing—Dukakis just sits there and gabs away with equal parts strained humor and pretend pathos. The laziness of the whole conceit proves so infuriating you’d rather call grandma and hear her reminisce about the time when plays had two people.
There are three people in that nuclear-physics romp Copenhagen, and their acting is so impassioned that you don’t start wondering if the 32 audience members seated onstage might get Tony-nominated. But I can’t believe nobody went to see Hayley Mills (and three other people) in Noël Coward’s Suite in Two Keys. Hayley’s aged as beautifully as that other former child star named Haley, the one who sees dead people!
There are live people in The Wild Party—which is so similar to the last Wild Party that you start to question your sanity—and though they include a predatory lesbian, a pedophiliac bi, and two minstrely queens, you have to remember it’s a period piece. The show also features “two sets of tits,” as choreographer Joey McKneely reminded me at the opening-night party—plus eight sets of balls, all Mandy Patinkin‘s. I showed my own by asking Vanessa Williams why she dropped out of the Queenie role (played by Toni Collette). She pointed to her swollen tummy, so I said, “Gained weight?” She meant that she’s pregnant. I knew that.
At a life-giving wild party at Escuelita, there were hundreds of sets of tits, all sporting price tags. Come showtime, MC Angel Sheridan brought out her African American love interest and explained, “You shouldn’t have a white boyfriend before Labor Day.” On came the multicolored drag tribute to Tina Turner, which kicked culo, especially since I’d just come from a low-energy (if endearing) Twelfth Avenue dump called the Olympic. There, the awning says it’s a restaurant and an “international communication service,” which means that on Saturday nights, older men sit at the circular bar and paw at scantily clad Hispanic male dancers. It’s very Cats meets Hombre via Stella’s, and for an extra touch of crass, a guy walks around trying to raffle off a toy orangutan. That’s not quite what the crowd was after.
The monkey—or maybe that Heathrow Airport security guard—must have been the stage manager at the endless (love) taping of VH1 Divas 2000: A Tribute to Diana Ross, which I think just wrapped up five minutes ago. Terrifyingly enough, Miss Ross’s mike was feeding back and her prepared thank yous were not on the prompter when she wanted them (“Can I have the words I wrote? They’re not there!”). They rectified that and also gave her a new mike, but Diana moaned, “I don’t hear the sound well enough. This doesn’t please me!” She got another mike, but when the director boomed out instructions, she bristled, “Hey Steve, your voice is really loud.” OK, witch, hear this: The original mike was the one you had insisted on bringing! (Well, it is called a diva show.) But, in spite of all this, lady didn’t sing the blues. Diana was glorious, her star power ringing out with an amazing clarity even when her sound system didn’t.
Also fabulash were Donna Summer and Destiny’s Child, but the Supremes who weren’t Supremes weren’t all that supreme, and Mariah Carey seized the opportunity to get into the diva act too. When the director (loudly) asked her to repeat a speech she’d messed up, Miss Carey amusingly begged to just pick it up from the middle. She won.
Men Strike Back—the male diva show two nights later—ran much more smoothly, and I loved the Backstreet Boy who wore the dress, plus Christina Aguilera (who, according to Z100’s Elvis Duran, was supposed to be on the female diva show until Mariah threw a fit; Aguilera denies this).
But the women of Mary Harron‘s American Psycho—all victimized by Christian Bale to bad ’80s music—aren’t striking back at all; they like the film, which is a valiant commentary on consumerism and anti-diva misogyny. What they don’t care for is the way it was cut to ensure an R rating. (This doesn’t please them!) In a rendezvous at the Essex House, two of the slaughtered lambs told me that, in the ménage scene, the word asshole was absurdly amended to just ass. “Having written that line myself,” said the charismatic Guinevere Turner (the film’s co-screenwriter, who plays a Sarah Lawrence party girl), “hole really does make the difference.” “You wanted to hear hole, didn’t you?” the usually very proper Samantha Mathis—a drugged-up status seeker in the film—asked me, laughing. Actually, I did hear it because I saw the movie before it was cut—and I would have heard it anyway!
Even with the edits, Psycho has a certain dark appeal, though Turner—who’s slated to play porn legend Betty Page in Harron’s next feature—said, “I saw it in Berlin and I was the only one laughing.” We agreed that people here might be more open to the humor. But at this point, the third victim, the divine Chloë Sevigny, walked in and wasn’t that open to questions about her omnipresent H&M store ad campaign. “I really don’t want to talk about it,” said Chloë, horrified. “I’m trying to pretend it’s not out there. We all need a payday every once in a while. I’d rather do that than a bad movie that’s going to be around forever.” And she’s turning down bad movies left and right, which is why, she said, she has not one thing on her plate after Psycho.
Moving on to bad TV, how about them there Oscars? “I was really disappointed,” said Chloë, who was a Boys Don’t Cry nominee and a second-row attendee, but still found herself watching everything on the nearby TV screen. “It was more comfortable and familiar,” she said. “Like, to see Jack Nicholson onstage, I’d rather just watch it on TV!” She wished the whole thing “had been more of a tearjerker. I wish something more interesting would have happened.” Like winning? “No, I knew I wasn’t going to win. It was just a given that they were going to keep it in the family and give it to Jolie—they like the showy parts. She was good—I mean I’m not downplaying her performance at all.” But how sick is it that she’s doing the brother? “Oh yeah—it’s the last taboo,” concurred Chloë, and we all had a good psycho laugh over that wild party.
In other Boys Don’t Cry news, hotshot director Kimberly Peirce has been hanging out very conspicuously with Courtney Love. She wanted to hear Hole, didn’t she? Meanwhile, boys don’t lie, and as sure as I’m a feisty Jewish woman, they’ve been telling me that Fashion Wire Daily’s Joe Dolce might land a power job at PlanetOut, which owns the two biggest gay magazines, The Advocate and Out. Maybe he can get me the money I’m still owed by Out. Then I could afford full-priced tickets to really bad plays.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 18, 2000