For all my eternal moaning about the hoity-toity Hamptons, an invite to something called the Bow Wow Luau at Chuck Scarborough‘s house in Southampton proved irresistible enough to have me dancing a doggie hula right over there. I don’t look a gift bag in the mouth, and besides, I loved the idea of trying to differentiate the dogs from the people with too much surgery, all while sucking in exotic things covered in pineapple chunks. The Hawaiian-style gala—replete with tipsy socialites making lei jokes—was a benefit for ARF, which rescues abandoned animals and sets them up with people like Billy Joel , who likes them just the way they are. For hours, the upper-crusties and their pets shoveled in the mahimahi and applauded the imported flamethrowers, but once David Hasselhoff walked in, I dumped them all, racing to his leg and panting like a bitch in heat. He’s my man—the king of syndication, the lord of the thong-dance, and someone who even cares about land mammals!
“I’m a big deal?” the Baywatch majordomo was saying to someone, incredulously. “No, I’m just David.” See, that’s why I love the guy—and that’s coming from just plain Sir Michael Musto. Inspired by his supreme self-deprecation, I asked just-David about his upcoming gig in Broadway’s Jekyll & Hyde—where humbled TV and rock stars go to reconnect with their craft—and he said, “The same week I was offered the show, I was also offered Annie Get Your Gun.” Well, even Hasselhoff can’t do everything, and he’s not really the Bernadette Peters type anyway. As for previous stars of the schizo tuner, he said, “I think Jack Wagner was the better Jekyll than Sebastian Bach , but both did very well. Come see the show and tell me who you think is a better Jekyll.” At this point I was sniffing butts and looking for a fire hydrant.
“It’s been a dream of mine to be on Broadway since I was seven,” Hasselhoff continued, as a crowd of oglers in tropical shirts gathered, licking things off skewers. “I was coming to New York to go to Juilliard, but I took a wrong turn and ended up in California. I left The Young and the Restless and came back to New York and ended up in Germany. I left Knight Rider to go to New York, then I got Baywatch.” I was getting secondhand jet lag just listening to this saga—arf!—so I switched subjects to just-David’s love of domestic animals. He said he and his wife had eight dogs, “but then a lot of them passed away the same year and now we’re down to three.” I offered myself as a fourth and am still waiting for an answer.
Even in the dog days of summer, the Lower Manhattan crowd really knows how to throw a charity event its own way, without Hawaiian specialty dishes or tap-dancing lifeguards, but with generous helpings of good old homemade spunk. At Don Hill’s, the New York chapter of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty presented Not in My Name, a revue featuring various Downtown performers that should by no means be executed. The crowd was small but fervent and the club was covered with posters calling Texas titan George W. Bush an insensitive oaf “for 137 executions and counting,” not to mention really bad hair. Onstage, the Lady Bunny clearly thought it was Kate Bush we were there to attack, because she stormed her way through “Wuthering Heights,” but quite cutely. A former death-row inmate spoke eloquently (they let him go on a long time), Antony delivered one of his haunting songs, and then Justin Bond suggested that the death penalty be upheld, as long as we all get to vote on which politicians to snuff out.
When a folksinger took the stage for a punishingly long set, I seized the opportunity to drag one of the speakers, actor Brendan Sexton III, downstairs for a light grilling. The amiable Sexton turns out to be as different from his big bully characters (in Boys Don’t Cry and Welcome to the Dollhouse) as Sharon Stone is from her outrageous, needy ones. (All right, bad example.) “I got involved in this issue,” he told me, “when I walked by NYU one day and saw people with signs. The death penalty is one of the most racist institutions we have. I’ve always been against injustice!”
Speaking of which, Brendan told me he has no movies whatsoever lined up and that Boys Don’t Cry “brought some interest, but no jobs, no paychecks!” (I didn’t tell him we both recently hit career bottom by doing voice-overs in the same online cartoon about a smart-alecky rabbit. Sir Michael, indeed!) He worshiped director Kimberly Peirce, though, and said, “She was tough on Hilary Swank, but with me it was tough love.” Upstairs, the folksinger was getting some tough luck, so Justin Bond came back to warble a few bars of “The Ballad of Sacco and Vanzetti.” At this delicate point, Bunny—ever respectful of other performers—made a big scene by squealing loudly and running out the exit like a demon. I’m sure she was chasing after George W. Bush.
No bush jokes here, but my most goody-goody thoughts go out to Ellen DeGeneres and Anne Heche, who I think may find their way back together someday, if the sadly devastated Anne ever lands her spaceship. (I guess she already has, seeing as she’s gone right back to work.) It must have been a huge challenge to keep up the giddy high of their initial love burst, a situation surrounded by so much excitement and drama they were clearly bonded in the glamour of the moment. Unfortunately, the bad buzz emanating from people who were threatened by their happiness must have chipped away at their union (though naturally they’re ultimately responsible for their own actions and ingestions). Thanks to the scaredy-cats running the business, they had some interest, but no paychecks, not even rabbit cartoons—but still kept rising above the biases with class and chutzpah.
All through the relationship, the media was quick to report damaging gossip—like how Anne was supposedly “turning straight” again and cheating on Ellen (in the past week alone, I’ve already read about three different men Anne’s supposedly doing it with); how Anne was using Ellen (How can you be both using someone for publicity and have the publicity ruin your career? The naysayers tried to argue both scenarios); and how no one bought Anne as Harrison Ford‘s love interest in Six Days, Seven Nights (it was actually far less of a bomb than that Ford romancer with hetero Kristin Scott Thomas). The duo even got flack for being demonstrative in front of Bill Clinton, even though Bubba was positively jonesing over it! History will be kind; these two have proudly paved the way for other famous lovers who’ll dare to speak its name. They’re just Anne and Ellen? No, they’re a big deal!
Finally, in other unsettling queer news, the gay guy won on Survivor—yay!—but he happens to be the most hated man in America. Help!
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 29, 2000