For those who believe in life after “Believe,” Cher performed at the Roxy, providing an orgy of star quality that was brief and muddled, but tres gay and super-intense. The diva’s visit to clubdom was no surprise; she’d been everywhere that week, even popping up on Prime Time Live to say, “If I had tits on my back, that would be my business“—though she added that she hasn’t had all the surgery people think. (I guess she’s not Michael Jackson, even if they’re both white women who prefer the company of young boys.) And despite whatever artifice she does employ, Cher’s still the realest thing in showbiz, her “fuck you, this is me” attitude making her the world’s longest-living punk.
The Roxy performance? She went on 45 minutes before the scheduled 2 a.m. gig, while unaware disco bunnies were still lining up outside in the rain. But the sea of gays who did get in screamed and threw their hands in the air so vivaciously you would have thought someone had announced, “Free steroids!” Looking like Snow White’s wacky aunt, Cher made some appreciative comments, but the mike wasn’t working and her sound guy wasn’t even in the booth yet, so you had to read her lips through her darting tongue. And then her latest single—”(This Is a) Song for the Lonely”—suddenly pumped out like a Milli Vanilli tune, her voice ringing loud and clear. (She was lip-synching—or let’s say “singing along”—and so was I.) “I love you guys!” my diva said, evaporating in a cloud of pixie dust, but not until collecting her $20,000 check. Was she good? I don’t know, not having been able to see much. But two seconds later, one queen cornered me and said, “Thank God it was $25 to get in and not $40, or I’d go kill her. But I want a man now. It’s $12.50 for Cher and $12.50 to suck some dick.” Fine and economical words to live by.
And that wasn’t the end of disco divas performing in cocksucking situations! Laura Branigan was the star attraction at the most recent Homocorps, the gay rock night at CBGB, and the invite specified, “This is not a drag queen pretending to be Laura Branigan. This is the real Laura Branigan!” How did they know?
And suddenly it was time to hit some serious theaters, but only the ones with seats that could accommodate the tits on my back. I started with the sung-through relationship musical The Last Five Years, which is very Tick . . . Tick . . . Boom meets I Do! I Do! on the pool set for Aida, if you follow my references. Whatever you think of the show, Norbert Leo Butz and Sherie René Scott are wonderful, Butz bravely venturing into a boat again after the ill-fated Thou Shalt Not!
Another pool, this one with actual water, figures in Mary Zimmerman‘s Ovid update, Metamorphoses, and wisely no critics are seated in the front row or they’d end up moist, chlorinated, and truly out for blood. The alternately wry and moving pageant—spanning drag, incest, and therapy—has been mounted with so much dedication you don’t even miss the Sondheim songs that would easily fit in. Myth Thing Zimmerman’s also done works by or about Da Vinci, Shakespeare, Proust, and Galileo. On opening night, I asked her if she only bothers with the old classics or if she might ever try, say, Neil Simon. “He’s an old classic,” she replied. “I like these old stories. They’re kind of foolproof. They were always oral stories, so they fit in the theater.” As for the pool—which also fits in the theater—Zimmerman said it’s filtered, and though some cast members have gotten sick from it, it’s not because the water’s unsanitary, but because there are lots of chemicals in the mix. Just then, one of the actors walked by, wheezing and choking. Still, it’s worth it to be on Broadway!
Let’s stay there, lose the pool, and talk about One Mo’ Time, the feel-good cakewalking musical set in dry (except for all that bourbon) ’20s New Orleans. It isn’t exactly a model of construction—there’s a song, then a backstage scene, then a song, then a backstage scene—and the UPN-style script is so wispy they throw it out by the end and just sing. But who cares? The quartet of stars is gutsy and compelling, and the net effect put the jelly back in my rolls (of flesh).
We just got one mo’ Crucible revival, which is piercingly loud, probably to drown out not Roseland next door, but Elaine Stritch across the street. As for Edward Albee‘s new bray, I mean play, Das Goat, I’ll tell you next week if it got my goat or if it has a good bleat, but I can reveal now that the title creature’s been cut out and her agent is furious. They should try Oklahoma!
Movies? I walked out of the paper-thin Festival in Cannes even before Faye Dunaway‘s cameo, so you can imagine how painful it was. But though I at first rejected Kissing Jessica Stein as another romantic fantasy about two women who aren’t really lesbians, it ends up addressing that very doubt, providing a built-in defense of the Anne Heche-like it-just-happened-ness of it all. Talk about your foolproof oral stories. And even if it annoys at times, the whole thing is so darned likable that one of the supporting players is getting giddy from the good feelings; she just sent out a mass e-mail listing the 26 theaters Jessica‘s showing at around the country. I’m waiting to get the showtimes.
For Eating Out Jessica Sanchez—I mean Y Tu Mamá También—you should look up your local listings, check it out, and bring your mamá también. The Mexican film—a sort of Summer of 42 Blowjobs—is a coming-of-age road trip that’s remarkably similar, plotwise, to last year’s Nico and Dani. (You know, two teen boys help each other jerk off in between their nonstop poontang search, all while subliminally lusting for each other.) At the film’s bash at the Guggenheim, the two young stars, Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna, charmed me with their youthful insouciance and limpid pools of eyes. “Yes, the characters love each other,” Bernal insisted, “but in a fraternal way, not an intimate way. But who knows? I myself might be gay when I’m 40. Right now, I like girls.” (Note to self: Call the little hombre in 17 years.)
Is Bernal a huge star south of the border? (The flick was bigger than Harry Potter there; the sexual frankness seemed irresistible even—no, especially—to traditionalists.) “Big star like a wrestler?” he said. “No! Big star like a singer or soap opera actor? No! Like a porn star, yes!” (Note to self: Try 17 minutes.)
I didn’t bring up how one of the two guys is perhaps not such a big star. (The director says a prosthetic penis was used in one scene, for whatever reason.) But I did wonder how they approached the muy caliente three-way scene. “We realized we were getting paid,” said Luna, sensibly, “so I had to do it.” Hmm, that porn star thing was starting to make more sense. Luna left me with a fab tip for curing insomnia: “I had a great nap with Ocean’s Eleven. If you have jet lag or you want to sleep, Ocean’s Eleven is great.”
As for September 11—oy, these segues need work—all you post-trauma fans will be glad to know that irony’s back in spades. First, Monica Lewinsky did a 90-minute TV special about how she wants her privacy. And then Gary Condit, who stonewalled the cops and Connie Chung, was suddenly desperate to tell his story for a book, in order to make money for his (ultimately failed) campaign. They’re both going to hell, where they’ll certainly meet under a table. And now I’m off to find a $12.50 blowjob.