Jerry Seinfeld, who had a show about nothing, now spends his days watching people wearing nothing. I hear Jerry and the wife’s Hamptons house is situated on the way to the gay beach, so all day long, naked homosexuals traipse by, touching themselves while seductively looking for action. It’s really something.
For nothing, I joined some clothed heteros and saw Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh!, an homage to Allan Sherman, the ’60s sensation who put lyrics about contempo Jewish life to public-domain melodies way before Weird Al Yankovic (or Jerry Seinfeld). The middlebrow revue is no Invention of Love, but it’s way less painful than a bris, and by time you’re made to sing along on “Harvey and Sheila” (to the tune of “Hava Negila”), you’re totally having a (matzo) ball.
Bar mitzvah entertainment with a salsa beat comes in the form of Margarita Pracatan, a Cuban-born public-access star who’s gone from selling men’s underwear at Saks Fifth Avenue to showing off her own amazing outerwear at Fez, where she rips new assholes into your favorite cheese classics with an infectious party spirit that’s kosher in any language. Pracatan—who’s like Charo on GBH—tastefully enters in a blur of sequins and lamé, sprinkling demented yelps of “I love you!” and “Pracatan!” to the canned background music. “You are about to experiment,” she told the half-dressed gay audience, while adding a multicolored boa to her getup and announcing the rules. (“No masturbation . . . just have a good time. And you sing with me because most of the time I forget the words.”) She shimmers behind an electric keyboard where she pushes all sorts of buttons to initiate the disco-flavored tracks of the K-Tel standards she puts her unique spin on. “I Will Survive” becomes “I Will Survi-heeve.” “It’s Raining Men” becomes unrecognizable. “Cabaret” gets a staccato rhythm enhanced with some ’70s dance-club whoops. And “Oops! . . . I Did It Again” is turned into a wacky samba about repeated pregnancies.
The show has no structure; the woman just sings, then talks, then sings, then talks—a lot. At one point, Pracatan sashays to the piano and proves she can belt out seriously triste ballads, but, insanely, the restless audience starts gabbing away, forcing a return to the keyboard and the high camp. Whatever she does, this Margarita is one I can swallow. As she beamingly tells the crowd before dancing off, “Like they say in America, I got some balls.”
And Bebe Buell‘s got some fabulous ovaries, thank you. Having just read Rebel Heart, the rocker-lover’s account of her sexually charged lifetime—she will survi-heeve—I can boil down the gossipy parts for you into three easy-to-consume lists. She rejected Jimi Hendrix and David Johansen. She did it with one of the Cowsills, Mick Jagger (he gave satisfaction), Todd Rundgren, Jimmy Page (he’d spit saliva into her mouth), Steve Tyler, Rod Stewart, Elvis Costello, Jack Nicholson (he shtupped her when she was pregnant), and Stiv Bators. (No masturbation!) And she was rejected by someone named Gary Sunshine. But read the book anyway—it’s about self-realization even more than it is about sex, not that there’s anything wrong with sex.
With The Seagull revival at the Delacorte, the list of names to get aroused by is filled with Oscar-winning stars: Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Christopher Walken, and practically everyone but Gary Sunshine. I saw an early preview and can report that Streep’s Betsey Johnson-style cartwheel is a real doom-and-gloom killer that would have certainly perked up 19th-century Russia. Another eye-opener was the pre-show announcement offering elaborate reasons why we’d get electrocuted if we left our cell phones on. Apparently, car engines weren’t on either; before the show, actress Hazelle Goodman was loudly dangling keys in the aisle and booming to a man in my row, “It doesn’t work! I keep turning it and it doesn’t work!” How Chekhovian, darling.
At the 2001 Summer Benefit reception for this Seagull atop Belvedere Castle, Marcia Gay Harden—another Oscar winner in the show—looked much happier than her character, who schlepps around saying, “I am in mourning for my life.” “My life is very full of goodness right now,” Harden told me, wearing sneakers. “But you have to find the kernel of truth in what the character’s going through and pop it like a piece of popcorn. I found it through floundering. The more I floundered, the sadder I was.” “Well, you really floundered out there, girl,” I told her, adding, “not as Marcia, but as Masha.” In fact, as Marcia, she seems totally out of the dark ages. When I told Harden I’d met her at the premiere of Flubber, she laughed and said, “Oh, yes—my film noir phase!”
My teenybopper phase is still percolating, thanks to an age-inappropriate love of all things ‘N Sync—somehow I feel more hawk than seagull—but while I was an early champion of JC, I’m reneging now that they’ve unofficially promoted him to co-lead singer. Yes, JC’s more comely than ever, but Justin simply has that Diana Ross star quality that should propel him to the center—alone—at all times. But who am I to second-guess anything ‘N Sync does? They’re still kicking serious ass, while the four uninstitutionalized Backstreet Boys seem defeated, Nick distractedly shaking his leg during interviews and the whole gang moping through those “girl, I love you” songs that ‘N Sync abandoned decades ago. I’m in mourning for their strife.
In a more grown-up arena, the Post repeated a dubious report that Brad Pitt told Jennifer Aniston to be less gay in her career choices. But ahem, didn’t he do that W spread in which he looked like a male hustler? Besides, the same tabloid had a swooning piece about John Travolta‘s crushes, from Halle Berry to Olivia Newton-John. Those are my bitches, honey.
Can I now belatedly bitch out the Fox News Channel for its tireless exploitation—I mean coverage—of the Chandra Levy story? It’s certainly provided hours of offbeat amusement that could easily play Sundays at Fez, but it’s often downright absurd, with the same obvious arguments—”Condit should have been more forthcoming”—repeated ad infinitum by a rotating gaggle of speculating “experts.” The nadir was an interview with a shrink, who was asked, “If Chandra had come in for a visit, how would you have analyzed her?” The interviewee floundered around in search of a kernel of truth to pop. Dan Rather, maybe you were right after all.
Analyze this: Kyle Bradford—the porn star Tom Cruise sued for saying they had an affair—has a new Web site, but though there are half-nude photos of Kyle on it, the site emphasizes his legit acting career, listing roles like “Capanchino [sic] vendor” on Days of Our Lives. Even more interestingly, the homepage says, “Hey guys . . . thanks for cruisin’ by my Web site,” with cruisin’ in a special typeface. Oops, he did it again.
And guess what event one of beleaguered Paula Poundstone‘s last pre-rehab performances took place during? A fundraiser called Mother to Daughter, Friend to Friend! Hello Muddah, indeed. Oy.
Recuperating diva Mariah Carey thinks her ex-husband,
music mogul Tommy Mottola, is trying to ruin her career. Is she
crazy or brilliantly on target? Well, when Mariah’s “Loverboy” single
bombed with radio two months ago, her label, Virgin, scheduled a
commercial single version of the song to come out in July at the
outrageously low price of 49 cents. Just then, Sony Music, under
Mottola, came out with Destiny’s Child‘s “Bootylicious” as a
commercial single (its release had been delayed twice) and priced it at
49 cents, Sony’s first such-priced single in two years. Thanks to having
more airplay, “Bootylicious” promptly went to number one on the
Billboard Hot 100 chart and Mariah got stuck in second place. That’s the
exact day she went nuts and was institutionalized. Mottola’s people deny
any malicious intent.
Musto can be heard weekdays at 3 and 7 p.m. on Voice Radio.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 7, 2001