One of the nuttier nights out, in a slightly desperate way, is The Vaudeville Show, a sparsely attended but oomphy parade of misfits that John Waters could easily swoop in on and cast his next three movies from. The Friday-night revue at Supper Club is a bit like a very trying bar mitzvah in Branson, but I suddenly can’t knock it out of my overpopulated head. Your host is Viviana, an Edith Massey type in skintight red velvet who ditsily bumps, gabs, and brings on the acts—and oy, what acts! There’s a whirling dervish, a contortionist (“Elasto Girl”), a guy doing the merengue with an attached doll, “a flame juggler,” and other stars worthy of a long run in the subway—like Martha, the rapping, stripping granny, who’s actually pretty damned genius. (“When the clock stops tickin’, I’m finger lickin’ . . . “) At the climax of the show I caught, the by then Mars-ready Viviana gurgled, “You’re all still here because you love us,” then looked around and said, “Where’d everybody go?”
Slicker but by no means sicker is the Chippendales revue, which has been shaved, pumped up, fluffed, and brought back for gaggles of screaming ladies at Exit. The time seems right for the gals to seize back their right to go-go boys and for me to lurk in a corner with binoculars. The show’s producer is Louis J. Pearlman, which also makes sense since he’s the guy who started such buckets of original-recipe chicken as the Backstreet Boys, ‘N Sync, and O-Town. Before showtime, I asked this skin-cream Svengali why he seems to specialize in hot hunks of male flesh. “But we also had Innosense,” he said, “our girl group, whose youngest member, Britney Spears, went solo. Can’t forget her.”
Yeah, yeah, yeah, but back to the male flesh: Does Pearlman feel bitter about being dumped by Backstreet and ‘N Sync in that ugly management dispute? “No,” he said, “that was several years ago, we’re still friends, and I’m still earning money from them.” Hmm—how finger lickin’! Big-pockets Pearlman did concede that these bands have a relatively short shelf life, but said, “They could become older teenyboppers and be like the Rolling Stones or whatever they like.” Fine—as long as they don’t go bye-bye-bye!
As a lady was dragged up from the crowd for a “Chip-wich”—you know, where you’re delightfully made the crux of a stud sandwich—Pearlman told me that if any Chippendales guys get caught doing steroids, “They’re out! They look the way they do because of heavy dieting, protein, and working out.” Not me—it’s steroids.
Two certifiably natural muffins, Abercrombie & Fitch twins Kyle and Lane Carlson, were toasted with melon-lime rickeys at Global 33 in celebration of their Out magazine cover, as I vied for an Abercrombie-&-Chip-wich. The brothers seem to love the idea of being gay icons; Lane told me, “I don’t think the Out spread is gonna hurt us in any way. If people say, ‘They’re gay,’ that’s fine. People are gonna talk regardless. We know who we are.” So do I—know who they are.
Lane also didn’t mind being feted by a kooky menagerie of older gentlemen, all staring with our—I mean their—tongues out. “It comes with the territory,” he said, calmly. Well, has any such creepazoid ever offered money for sex? “No, nothing like that—no bribes,” he insisted. I promptly reached into my pocket, and to Lane’s credit, he laughed—with me, not at me.
By the way, I have to boast that in the new issue of Out, I asked ‘N Sync’s Chris Kirkpatrick how many members of that bubblicious boy band are gay-gay-gay. Rather than scream, “Absolutely none! How the fuck dare you!” Chris said, “Honestly, I couldn’t even answer that. I don’t think any of them, but it’s not something we talk about.” Gee, maybe later, when they become older teenyboppers.
Moving away from the party set, which thinks the most historically significant diary ever is Bridget Jones’s, let’s chat up Brenda Blethyn, who’s surfaced as Mrs. Van Pels in that Anne Frank TV movie. (Yes, that’s a candidate for worst segue of the century, but I swear there was no delicate way to do it.) On the phone from her sister’s house in Florida, Blethyn told me about the grim filming of certain scenes, which had the cast traipsing around the frozen mud of wintry Prague. “When it warmed up to zero and the mud thawed,” she said, “we’d start sinking!”
Blethyn herself is so warm—if we can hop back to a lighter note—that I felt comfy asking if she has a boyfriend now. “Now?” she said, screaming with laughter. “I’ve had him for 27 years!” I was so thrilled for the Bleth that I dropped my plan to force her to say that immortal line from Secrets & Lies: “What baby ?”
I hear that my girlfriend for 28 years, Sandra Bernhard—the one with that baby—will be hosting an A&E talk show, and I’m not surprised; she certainly gives good lip. The Metro Channel’s Robert Verdi is designing the show’s set, and, in unrelated news, he’s learning sign language. (Why? Because he’s tutoring a deaf boy, says Verdi, “but also because giving people in fashion the finger isn’t really enough.”)
Everyone was amusingly, effusively verbal at the Drama League Awards, where more than 60 gushy theater stars didn’t seem to realize they could have saved a lot of time by all saying in unison: “I’m so honored!” Even the world’s biggest Chippendales bachelorette party couldn’t possibly approximate this much gratitude. Among the highlights were Alan Cumming (“I’m very honored to be honored”), Conleth Hill (“I’m the fat one from Stones in His Pockets“), and Polly Bergen (“I haven’t sung in 35 years and a lot of people will tell you I never really acted at all”). I’m so honored!
The cast-album party for The Rocky Horror Show at the Time Hotel should probably get some kind of booby prize. When I got there, an unknown blues record was blaring through the sound system, and worse, some cast members were complaining that they’d had to pay for cocktails. “When I have my record party,” said costar Lea DeLaria, “we’re going to play my record and we’re not going to charge people for drinks. I guess Warner Bros. has more money than RCA!”
DreamWorks will no doubt make a bodacious bundle from Shrek, though one editor at the special screening aptly summed up its bizarre message by saying, “It’s OK to be ugly, as long as you’re with someone else who’s ugly.” That’s good news for . . . no, let’s be dignified.
MTV has not exactly beautified New York with those ads using catchphrases normally associated with illnesses like AIDS. (“Can I Get MTV From Kissing?”) Well, now a group called Product Shop NYC has started distributing stickers that zing the network right back. “HIV Is Not a Joke,” the counterattack blares over a doofy shot of Carson Daly. Put that in your heavy rotation. In other MTV news, Norman “Norma Rae” Korpi—who’s always been pissed at the onetime fee he got as a Real World cast member—held up the taping of the Real World reunion show for hours until the network agreed to give everyone more than the flat $1000 fee. Fabulous! Now, where did everybody go?
Ignored amidst the hoopla surrounding the Daytime Emmy awards was the fact that Rosie O’Donnell practically came out during the televised ceremony. Accepting a trophy, Rosie remembered her recent hospitalization for an injury and gushed, “I want to thank Kelli for sleeping on the floor in OCU…I love you!” Kelli is Kelli Carpenter, Rosie’s partner, the relationship having been documented in a recent tabloid story. A baby step? Maybe, but Rosie’s definitely heading in the right direction. Everything’s coming out Rosie!