One of the most sizzling producers I’d never heard of is Rockwilder, whose name seems to be on every other charting record as he achieves his apparent goal of world domination. The guy makes Rodney Jerkins look low-profile. A Queens-born music buff, Rockwilder coproduced (with Missy Elliott) the smash “Lady Marmalade” cover from Moulin Rouge, did seven tracks on Janet Jackson‘s new album, and is also attached to everything from Redman to Destiny’s Child. He’s off the hook, to use the happening lingo of kids today!
The hyper-achiever (whose birth name is Dana Stinson) somehow found time to call me for an interview, brashly beginning by saying he “hated” the original “Lady Marmalade” record by LaBelle. “I heard it so much when I was a kid,” Rockwilder admitted. “It wasn’t till I had to hear the song over that I paid attention to what it was and learned to respect it.” (Naturally, I worshiped it from the start, especially after unraveling its extremely lurid lyrics.)
Interestingly, original LaBelle member Nona Hendryx recently told me that the song’s title hooker can be a man! “I know what she’s talking about,” said Rockwilder when confronted with this creole shocker, “but as a kid, I didn’t know it was about prostitution at all. That would have gone along with the little nasty books I was reading under my brother’s bed.”
It certainly fits into Moulin Rouge, which is the biggest acquired taste since ostrich burgers. “A lot of people that don’t like it don’t like it,” conceded Rockwilder, “but a lot of people that like it love it.” Well, what I love is a fun game of word association, mister, so here goes. Christina Aguilera? “Her voice is so dangerous. She does so much with it.” (Not to mention with her hair.) Janet Jackson? “She’s like a sister to me. She pulled me out of what was going on and put me in a whole different flow and brought my name to a whole different level.” (Me too—and now she won’t even say hello!) Beyoncé Knowles? “She’s working on a solo album,” said Rockwilder, who added that fellow group member Michelle Williams is doing a gospel record. I abruptly hung up, feeling a sad pang of uncertainty about what Child’s destiny will be. (Completely irrelevant sidebar: I just figured out what “Say My Name” was ripped off of—the Glade commercial that goes, “Plug it in, plug it in”! What do I win?)
In an even less related musical matter, DJ-producer Mark Ronson—who’s next doing a Jimmy Fallon record, I swear—told me he’s heard snippets of Michael (Misdemeanor) Jackson‘s upcoming CD, and parts of it sound up-to-the-minute boy bandy, while others include contributions from Jay-Z and the late Notorious B.I.G. Plug it up, plug it up? No, Michael’s like a sister to me!
Both hair and butt plugs seemed welcome at the Satanicide concert at Brownies, an unprepossessing club on Avenue A, where clean-scrubbed locals cheered for the band’s Spinal Tap-like send-up of big-haired, Jersey Shore metal. Satanicide gets it so right—from the studded T-shirts to the flicking tongues, devilish gestures, and recycled chords—that they would have been a hit even without the enjoyably kitschy opening band (Les Sans Culottes) and free barbecue in the back. Lead singer Devlin Mayhem (played by photographer Dale May) wails like Axl Rose on (more) crack, performing so strenuously that he asks for a 10-minute break after the first song. He’s backed by Aleister Cradley (lawyer Phil Costello), a wannabe stud who hides a (homo-) sexual secret, but sings about wanting a “slice” of a girl named Heather; The Baron Klaus Von Goaten (publicist Pemberton Roach), who preens in a silver mask, licks his own hair, and grunts epithets in bad German; and drummer Sloth Vader (professional dog walker Andrew Griffiths), who mainly sticks to the music, which against all odds is rousingly right-on. There are impediments to the band’s success, though. “A reputable record company wanted to sign us for $5000,” announced Mayhem at the apex of the evening. “But we don’t have that kind of money.”
Barbecues come with a disco beat on Fire Island, which is still in a bit of a time warp—the vending machine is the only place left on earth that sells Fresca—but this stubbornness is as compelling as its “Meat Rack” wooded sex area is strangely erection-toppling. Up and down the island’s planks, coke mirrors double as grooming devices and boyfriends travel in pairs, wearing identical shorts and holding bunched-up T-shirts in their right hands as they swivel in topless sync. It’s eerie, I tell you. (The rationale must be “It’s safe sex because I’m basically fucking myself.”) Things get a little more identity-driven on the day of “the invasion,” whereby a gang of tarted-up drag queens from Cherry Grove floats into the Pines on a cruiser, disembarking one by one as the lead diva cracks jokes about their dentures and “muscle pussy.” The tradition supposedly started when the “creative” types forced themselves on the Pines, where the rich, uptight queens didn’t necessarily want them. Now, I suspect, the rich, uptight Pines queens go to the Grove, dress up in drag, and come back to invade themselves. Still, it’s a funsy frolic of fucked-up frocks and tucked-up cocks.
You want some fucked-up flacks? A magazine recently assigned me to interview psychic John Edward, and though I thought I could do a cute job with it, Edward’s publicist quashed the idea because I’d been skeptical about him in the past. Skeptical about a guy who says he talks to the dead? Oh, how crazy and reckless am I—I who’d been unexpectedly brought into the center of one of Edward’s séances four years ago and noticed that practically everything he said about me seemed cutely cuckoo! (He claimed that someone from Montauk who’d died of a blood disease was trying to contact me. Please—no one from Montauk has ever tried to contact me.) My guess is that LaToya Jackson—who’s also like a sister to me, if not to Michael—is the only living diva capable of interviewing this guy.
I communed with the living at Beige, the long-running Tuesday-night bash at B Bar, which is sprawling with more lovably narcissistic queens than ever. In between fuzzy navels, promoter Erich Conrad told me that Joan Collins turned up there not long ago, explaining, “I was going to go to Sardi’s, but fuck Sardi’s!” (I have, dear, I have.) Joan was missing this night, but Conrad was entertainment enough, serving up thoughts like “Why are New Yorkers so depressed? Because the light at the end of the tunnel is New Jersey.” (I don’t condone this point of view, by the way; Jersey should remain in the union for many reasons, bombastic heavy metal just one of them.)
The light at the end of my table was the electric-red-haired costumer Pat Field, who’d just gotten flak for putting her Sex and the City cast in constricting Burberry outfits for an overheated ball scene. “I’m supposed to put them in bathing suits for a Scottish ball?” balked Field. “How was I supposed to know the Armory has no air-conditioning?” Yeah, they really need to plug it in, plug it in.