Fueled by the frenzy of awards campaigning and receiving, the normally private Benicio Del Toro is suddenly everywhere, so it was inevitable that I’d run into him somewhere. Sure enough it happened when Black Book hosted a Traffic event at the Tribeca Film Center, my award being a chance to meet the guy while grabbing for a couple of pass-along hors d’oeuvres. The swarthy Del Toro seemed serious and enigmatic, but willing enough to be pummeled by idiotic questions. I told him that Chloë Sevigny was a little embarrassed by the H&M ad campaign she and he did last year. How does he feel about hawking a low-priced clothing store catering to fashion-crazed youth? “Wait, Chloë’s your wife?” he said. (My diction must be even worse than his was in The Usual Suspects.) I clarified things, stunned that Del Toro would think anyone is my wife. “I never saw the campaign,” he sheepishly admitted. “I don’t live in New York.”
Rather than push this into a heated debate about the dangers of the fashion trade, I appeased Del Toro by asking about his craft — that always works — albeit in a mildly insouciant way. Does he really think Traffic is all that powerful? “Fuck, yeah!” he said. “Don’t you? What movies do you find powerful — The African Queen?” Uh-huh, I said, “anything with the word queen — plus Nashville and Mary Poppins.” “And Batman,” he chirped, finally coming down to my level. We could have gone on all night, but I had to get home to the wife or there’d be serious hell to pay.
That wasn’t the end of the awards mania. Wifey and I crawled to the Manhattan Center for the annual Golden Trailer Awards celebrating those short, flashy commercials that usually tower over the movies themselves. (As proof, Bedazzled, Hollow Man, and Gone in 60 Seconds all won Golden Trailers!) The evening came with dinner, and mercifully only the Krispy Kreme dessert was a play on the trailery theme; the main course was salmon, not Cheez Whiz. Also helping us eschew cheesiness were celebrity drop-ins (“I’ve never heard of me either,” said TV’s Jim Gaffigan) and even celebrity relation drop-ins (the statuettes were codesigned by Matt Damon‘s brother Kyle, whose work is “uniquely interactive”).
That cute Tod Newton from E! hosted the ceremony with saucy remarks and groaners that the crowd of editors and film cutters approached with their shears out. “Without trailers,” he said, “most of us would never see the work of Kevin Costner.” He also made some crack about Faye Dunaway‘s face having won Best Horror/Thriller last year. My personal highlight was finding that an indie movie I’d cameoed in was up for a trophy — though it turned out to be for the best trailer representing the worst movie! And it didn’t even win!
The urge to writhe into a corner and watch Nashville or Mary Poppins through eternity was superseded by the chance to see Resident Alien, the one-man show in which a guy named Bette Bourne plays the purple-haired, uniquely interactive late legend Quentin Crisp. I felt a little guilty, mainly because when Crisp did pretty much the same show, I never bothered to go. But there’s something perversely appealing about seeing the Grand Canal in Vegas instead of the one in Venice, and Alien does provide a fascinating replica not only of Quentin’s filthy apartment, but of his woolly wit and singular views. Bette was bourne to play Quentin, who I’m now convinced didn’t die at all, he just changed his name and moved to a larger theater.
Lippy sophisticate Sally Kellerman‘s still around, so she’s playing herself over at Feinstein’s at the Regency in an act designed as a celebration of femininity, “using me as a perfect example of women.” Reed-thin in a clingy black pants suit, Kellerman’s like a cat who slinks, smiles, and preens for your approval, which you can’t help but give up in spades. There are some very weird moments, like an insane, breathless medley of songs written by women, from “Music of the Heart” to “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” (I much preferred the sampler of Kellerman’s commercial voice-overs, from FDS to Hidden Valley ranch dressing.) There’s also too much scripted biographical patter and corny rah-rah stuff about womanhood (though I did like learning that she rebuffed a pass by Marlon Brando when she was 17 and has deeply regretted it ever since). And she doesn’t even mention her role in the 1973 musical tragedy Lost Horizon! But Kellerman’s charm comes through, and the spontaneous moments really sparkle. (“Being here at the… where are we?… is so great!”) Quirks and all, “Hot Lips” can still envelop a room.
While we’re addressing public acts of confusion, let me make a correction, forsooth. I recently attacked the Ethan Hawke Hamlet for including the line “What a piece of work is a man” instead of “What a piece of work is man,” which is the way it appears in Dorset Press’s William Shakespeare — The Complete Works, not to mention the musical Hair. I thought the aggressively revisionist flick had insanely added an a. Well, now I learn it’s Dorset that seems to have fucked up by leaving out the a. I’m throwing the book out before checking to see if they changed “To be or not to be” to “Scooby Dooby Do, where are you?”
Meanwhile, I was stunned to read in The Complete Works of the Enquirer that Michael Douglas will pay Catherine Zeta-Jones 5 million dollars when — I mean if — he’s unfaithful. Whatever happened to being loyal just because you want to be? And what’s to stop Zeta-Jones from throwing potential sex partners Douglas’s way in hopes of nabbing some extra pocket change? And here’s the real killer: This supremely cynical arrangement is apparently starting a trend, because now I hear O.J.‘s signed a deal whereby he has to pay the girlfriend a million bucks every time he tries to cut her head off!
Meanwhile, can you believe Britney Spears reportedly said, “Cut!” to one of her video directors when she found out he once shot porno flicks? I’m so sick of softcore looking down at hardcore!
And speaking of sexually charged icons, did you catch pelvic-bumping Latin sister act Ricky Martin performing so enthusiastically at Bush‘s preinaugural ceremonies (the closest he’s gotten to Bush in a while)? Here’s what Robi Draco Rosa, the ex-Menudo member who cowrote “Livin’ La Vida Loca,” had to say about that: “It’s like playing the fiddle while Rome burns. This is a President who would have people in his cabinet who would obstruct the exercise of civil rights…. This is a betrayal of everything that every Puerto Rican should stand for.” And every sister act.
I hear that my favorite sister, RuPaul, is getting her own UPN sitcom, courtesy of one of Golden Girls‘ head honchos, Mort Nathan. Thank you for being a friend, Mort! And Internet pals assure me that Amanda DeCadenet has her own rapidly gestating project — she’s supposedly five months preggers with her and Keanu Reeves‘s baby boy. Give them a Golden Trailer. Wait for me, Chloë! I’m coming home!
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 23, 2001