I enjoyed the slight, breezy Penelope Cruz vehicle Woman on Top, but found it odd that we’re supposed to be horrified when the drag queen character is shunted aside by TV marketing people. The drag queen’s not in the commercial for the movie!
Speaking of Richard Simmons, my friends at Barneys tell me that he swept in recently and bought hundreds of dollars’ worth of perfume for customers he’d never met, simply because they were standing there wanting it. I’ve been standing there wanting it ever since! Meanwhile, Catherine Deneuve—who already has perfume, thank you—sashayed up to the same counter and revealed that the day before that big crash, she was on the very same Concorde flight from Paris to New York. I have no dumb joke to fill in here, just a poignant fist-under-chin look and a big French “Hmmm.”
In other near-miss news, I was desperately hoping to get my hot hands on Helen Hunt after she broke up with Hank Azaria, but now I’m reading in the columns that she’s having a “torrid affair” with Kevin Spacey. Damn—but wait a minute, does that mean Diane is now available? Woo-ha!
My plan is to date her, then come out, à la Liz Smith, in my seventies, revealing that I had a gay affair in 1946. That’ll sell books! As for all the lesbian couples coming apart lately—Anne and Ellen, Melissa and Julie—this might be interpreted as a sign that certain women can’t “turn” lesbian by sheer will. But I choose to more simply make it mean that same-sex couples can eventually come apart just like straight ones.
We turned to multigender kink at Click + Drag—the defunct Mother’s weekly cyberfetish event, which is now a monthly at Fun, where the Manhattan Bridge looms outside as if matted in by a deranged art director. The club is ultra sleek, with banquettes and rows of video monitors that the Click + Drag people use to carpet the place with trippy images. As old Bowie music—which is still futuristic—plays in new forms, androgynous go-go dancers aim ray guns at each other, patrons compare vinyl bodysuits, and a leather queen gets flogged while handcuffed to the house contraption. It’s all very Star Wars meets Fahrenheit 451 via Leona Helmsley.
I unharnessed myself for a very civilized lunch at Café Luxembourg for Survivor‘s executive producer, Mark Burnett, who’s been hawking his book about the show—the ultimate s/m party—to the press tribe. Burnett told me he wrote the thing diary-style, which is why the opening sentence is so woefully misguided: “Richard Hatch was destined to be the first castaway voted off.” But there’s nothing else shocking in it—no gender surprises or floggings for a mass audience. Burnett said he did jot down some jaw-dropping revelations, but he promptly took them out because “I made a commitment not to be like Jerry Springer.” Among the cut shockeroos was a detailing of who else on the island was gay (besides Hatch), but when I pressed Burnett to name names, he said, “That would be a shitty thing to do.” Oh, but making them eat rats is OK?
Burnett’s become a name himself, but he’s still anonymous enough that the woman next to him at the Emmys innocently murmured, “Don’t you just hate this fucking reality stuff?” Nah, most people love it—it’s a game show and a reality show—so now he’s preparing an even more ambitious program called Destination MIR, which will send someone to outer space (hopefully Richard Hatch). I generously told Burnett that the astronaut’s old drink, Tang, is way harder to gulp down than any rodent, though I once learned on Oprah that it doubles as a toilet cleanser. By the way—hold on to your Tang—do you want to know what island scares Burnett the most? “New York’s too tough for me,” he admitted. “People are very harsh.” Especially when they handcuff you to the house contraption.
I came down on a spaceship singing “Memory” at the Cats auction—an unburdening of the closed show’s shedding costumes to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS—in hopes of at least nabbing one of Betty Buckley‘s old furballs in lieu of getting to paw at Helen Hunt. It was such a deeply sentimental event that I agreed with the young woman who told her friend, “I can’t believe you’re not more excited by this.” My favorite moment came at the peak of the furry frenzy when an announcer said, “If you want to buy a Cats wig, ‘now and forever’ is coming really quickly because there are only five left!”
The next thing I saw was Jocelyne Wildenstein at the fabulous Africa Designs fashion show at Bryant Park, and clearly she had scooped up every Cats costume, prop, makeup, accessory, and facial feature imaginable. Hadn’t she? Hadn’t she?
You’re encouraged to get catty for Bitchy Bingo at Lips, the brightly chandeliered West Village drag palace where sorority girls and straight guys in birthday tiaras gather on Wednesdays to play the only game scarier than Survivor. It’s not the bingo itself that’s so terrifying, it’s the claws-out approach, not to mention the prizes (tickets to The Donkey Show!), but it’s well worth a trip out of the litter box. Last week, after a bevy of wild drag performances by the talented waitresses and shimmying Egyptian dervish Sultana, our MCs Yvon Lamé and Sharon Needles took the mikes to escort us through this raunchily contempo version of our parents’ favorite pastime. Between announcing the letters, the two hosts stopped to spread much vivacious venom, with targets ranging from the audience (“You sorority sluts must have something to bitch about—syphilis, anything?”) to celebrities (“Dr. Laura sucks—she’s in the bathroom sucking right now”). But the gals kid themselves more than anyone, with Needles admitting she once did a split and her own father’s class ring popped out. Bingo!
“May the best man win” is the recurring theme of Gore Vidal’s The Best Man—if we can take our tiaras off and head to more legit stages—which is set in a sweeter time when you had to usher girls into the White House rather than use the available staff. There are no drag queens in the show, but thank God for Elizabeth Ashley, who knows how to work both a stage and an opening night party (“I kiss your ring on TV! I worship you!” she gushed to someone I didn’t even recognize at Tavern on the Green). This is in sharp contrast to a mujer named Cicely Tyson, who threw me withering looks at the 4 Guys Named José . . . party—but to her credit, they were fierce withering looks.
Oh, by the way, I’ve been watching Oprah again, in between rinsing out my toilet with Tang, and I loved seeing George W. Bush tout his wife’s literacy cause. He certainly should—remember that subliminable fiasco?
Finally, one woman’s sublimely on top—Madonna—but I’m sorry to report that her plus-size drag impersonator, Queerdonna (Greg Tanian), recently died after complications from a gastric bypass. The lots-of-material girl was such a campy and unique diva that it’ll be hard for us to summon the power of goodbye.