There’s finally a god in Martha Stewart-land. On the jitney to the Hamptons—the civilized way to get there, once you kick and shove your way in—they’ve instituted even more specific rules limiting cell phone usage. The idea is to force some boundaries on those blabby types who feel compelled to call a friend every time they spot a diseased squirrel out the window or find that a speed bump has wreaked havoc with their hemorrhoids. Now, not only are abusers given a three-minute maximum, but they’re told that their yakking is to be restricted to emergencies and they must keep their voices down and their ringers off. Well, honey, there must have been a lot of emergencies going on last week—misplaced canapés, soggy geraniums—because a whole bevy of garrulous twits was screaming up a storm on their ringing cell phones the whole goddamned trip!
Once there, your ears are ringing, but the only real emergency is the urgent need to decide whether to attend the polo match or the Polo shop. Either way, the sight of white people wearing white and eating white low-fat yogurt—interrupted only by the greenish projectile vomiting of their bratty kids—becomes a bit numbing, though we finally got a splashy taste of yellow at the Sunflower Festival (and not in the Port-O-San). It was a lavish benefit for the SoHo Partnership and other charities at rich person Henry Buhl’s estate, where the sunflower motif was elaborately carried out in the garden, the gift bag, and even in my shoes when I got home. But faces turned bluish as a cater-waiter spewed forth her showbiz résumé while, in another corner, people with 47-room mansions commingled over lobster tails to help the homeless—all culture-clashing with a deadpan sureness right out of Tom Wolfe. There were limits to the charity, of course. Before they auctioned off “dates” with notables like Marisa Berenson, the model-turned-actress blushingly assured me it wasn’t a real date at all. Look, people, if you want to make the world a better place, you’re going to have to start putting out!
Back in New York—where a kiss is still a fuck—the mass media has just caught up with Ecstasy, but in the heartland of gay clubdom, it’s crystal meth that’s rising up the chart, the term “chem-friendly” becoming as common a self-description as “buff and really masculine, girlfriend.” As a source tells me—via cell phone—”Crystal meth speeds you up. It’s pure, cheap speed and it makes you race. Some people get constant hard-ons from it and can fuck their brains out. In fact, porn stars used to use it for that.” Don’t look at me—I’m afraid to drink three Diet Cokes.
To sober me up even further, legendary playwright Arthur Laurents called from the Hamptons—not the jitney—to say he was “horrified” to read that I felt he looked at me like he was smelling caca when I met him at his book party recently. “It’s a look that’s not in my repertoire,” he said, bewildered, “and certainly wouldn’t apply to you.” Not to boast, but everyone else can turn down their ringers and buzz off—the guy who wrote Gypsy likes me! Now I’ve got a constant hard-on!
Another silver fox who doesn’t hate me, Leonard Stern, may have given up the Voice (insane) and Hartz Mountain (well . . . ), but he’s got a new hotel—the Tribeca Grand—which is worth the hours it takes to find even if you’re not on crystal meth. (The sanest way is to remember that it’s right across from the Baby Doll Lounge.) The place’s in-house restaurant, the Church Lounge, is slickly appointed, and as a local weatherman told me recently, “It’s fun to watch the heterosexuals hanging out there.” The hotel also has a plush screening room—Grand Screen—which was christened with an advance showing of Nurse Betty, a slow-starting life-crashes-into-TV satire that I ultimately liked better than Pleasantville and which finally frees Renée Zellweger of the Jerry Maguire curse. (It seemed as if she, Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Jonathan Lipnicki would never be anywhere near as cute again.) Maybe Renée can now devote herself to lifting the curse off anyone who saw Me, Myself & Irene and is still bored and traumatized.
The premiere curse was lifted at the Coyote Ugly party at Roseland, a rare well-thought-out studio bash that was trashily fun and completely true to the spirit of the movie. (Or at least I assume it was—please don’t make me go see it.) The mood was sublimely raunchy—lobster wasn’t the only thing with a tail showing—and one got the feeling that if any dates had been auctioned off, they’d be real dates. The cavernous space was lined with tray upon tray of deadly, deep-fried snacks—there was even a greasy breakfast nook—and the main stage was set up like a bar, on which the scantily clad Ugly girls danced to Guns N’ Roses while vehemently pouring shots down patrons’ mouths. They didn’t have Diet Cokes, so I settled for a wild blast of Crystal Geyser Alpine springwater—boy, did I get wasted—while another party wench was doused, Flashdance-style, with truckloads of Jack Daniel’s that accidentally splashed into her eyes. People are still lining up to lick out her corneas.
My liquidy orbs next feasted on the ebullient revival of Godspell, which is a truly bizarre mix of kitschy slapstick and pious hippie anthems—picture a rush of pure speed followed by a chaser of Alpine springwater. The schizo concoction is altogether too much, but it totally manages to work in its ownzany, Monty-Python-does-the-New-Testament way. They’ve updated the show—to ’96, I’d say—with line dances, rap, and references to pashmina, and they’ve given it all a Rent-ish veneer, replete with an Adam Pascal type as Jesus. The people behind me were appalled by all the cheery irreverence, but the cast is filled with future stars and the audience gets to dance onstage before the crucifixion!
Finally, I wanted to crucify the handlers who said that the Dan Finnerty and the Dan Band show at Fez would start at nine. Try 11—and try waiting on line for days, only to have the list-holder ultimately screech, “I need to know who these people are!” The Dan Band? Oh, it’s a combo fronted by Finnerty—the proudly shlubby husband of TV star Kathy Najimy —who barrels through women’s songs from “I’ve Never Been to Me” to the Alice theme—with a sped-up, angry edge and musicality that strive to transcend the smirky, one-joke nature of it all.
It’s straight camp right out of the frat house and the inevitable next step after the predominance of drag queens; this is really a guy singing “Lady Marmalade,” and other ordinary Joes seem to relish the idea of seizing this genre back from the gays. The celeb-studded crowd went wild for it, but I only softened when some inspired bits of staging and harmony cropped up involving the two backup nerds. (The Wilson Phillips song was a keeper.) Mostly, I felt like I was trapped in a karaoke bar within Coyote Ugly, watching someone live his—not my—fantasy. Nothing to cell-call home about? Well, only if it’s an emergency.