The inevitable next step after all the celebrity-based reality tv shows on which fading stars unveil dysfunctions for ratings, Psychotherapy LIVE! has everyday exhibitionists jumping onstage to spill their guts to an Ersatz analyst as the crowd cheers every neurosis. Just like the celebs, these people want some witnesses to their turmoil, and they get it, along with an equally consoling 15 (or actually 13) minutes of localized fame and a lovely parting gift.
The floating live show (which has played Here and Fez) stars Lisa Levy, a performance artist-turned-“therapist” who most famously created hamster bowling for Letterman’s Stupid Pet Tricks. But she clearly has an easier time getting audience members to uncork their dark thoughts than getting a hamster down a bowling lane; attention-starved people perform much better under pressure than rodents. At Here last week, Levy—a Bebe Neuwirth type with Ashleigh Banfield glasses—combined common sense, dry humor, and a winning feeling that anyone can be an analyst if they want to, as long as they never actually studied being one. She started by explaining the booby prizes—including a boomerang that says, “I’d like to get rid of my insecurities”—plus her table full of fake credentials, like the bachelor’s degree that she Photoshopped to read “Master of Clinical Psychology.” Between the two sets of props was the proverbial couch, a Naugahyde lounger on which volunteers unspooled their “issues”—though a couple of phonies instantly threatened to soil the proceedings. The first patient (who wanted to strip, but was stopped) claimed she was hot for her cat and added, “When I was very young, I liked to masturbate with my stuffed animals.” The woman eventually convinced Levy she was telling the truth, but then she called over to her panicky girlfriend in the audience, “Just kidding!” (Alas, no trap door opened up and dropped her to oblivion.) There was also a supposed postal worker who was furious his daughter wouldn’t do drugs, a situation that had Levy advising, “I think you need to see a professional”—yeah, an acting coach.
But finally the smartasses shut the fuck up and we got some real troubleshooters—like a woman who said her dad and uncle had both passed on, her cat had fallen to its death, her boyfriend had moved to L.A. with another woman, and, worst of all, she has to wear braces! (She’s still way more carefree than I am.) Levy tried to imbue the lady with some hope, and the smirky cat lover in the audience even offered to lend out her sexy pet. Instead, the shattered gal walked off with a prize lollipop, fully aware that she couldn’t eat it because of the fucking braces! Oh well, at least Psychotherapy LIVE! cheered me up.
Yet more topical uplift came via the Slipper Room’s Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves revue, celebrating—no, not Stevie Nicks, Pamela Lee, and Winona Ryder—but Gypsy Rose Lee, Cher, and more Cher. At the event, the mother of us all, Flawless Sabrina, chose to uncork some issues of her own by compellingly telling the crowd what it was like pre-Stonewall, when being a drag queen was the most dangerous, subversive thing you could imagine. And please don’t tell me that had nothing to do with either Cher or Gypsy Rose Lee.
Apparently, things haven’t changed much since the bad, old days: trannie extraordinaire Amanda Lepore was all set to dance around to her new song onstage at Sound Factory, as asked to by DJ/producer Jonathan Peters, but she says they wouldn’t let her in at the door! The same club is being sued by two transsexuals who couldn’t get in and who feel the place has ridiculously executed some kind of trannie ban. (The owner denies it.) Last year, you’ll remember, Amanda and a pal sued the now defunct Twilo for firing her in favor of “real” women. (That club offered denials, too.) It’s all too complicated, no? Not really. Just let the girls the fuck in!
But back to, like, my trivial lifestyle: Moby‘s Lower East Side vegan restaurant Teany is teeny and cute and filled at all times with at least six people who look like Kelly Osbourne. But the menu choices can lead you into semantic trouble of the type that might require live psychotherapy. A friend and I were both going to order “non-turkey,” but anxiously realized that would be a double negative. Ain’t no way!
Not a turkey at all, Elle—the Genet satire, not the fashion magazine—has Alan Cumming showing up in a butt-baring Vivienne Westwood gown and roller skates for a photo shoot he wants done while taking a giant crap. He plays the pope, but I still bet he wouldn’t get into Sound Factory! More traditional stabs at nonconformity are celebrated in I’m Not Rappaport, in which Judd Hirsch and Ben Vereen are so good as verbally sparring old codgers that at the end you hear a loud clanging of walkers as the audience tries to stand up and cheer.
But all rise now for Asia Argento, the young daughter of cult filmmaker Dario Argento. She’s written, directed, and starred in a semiautobiographical movie called Scarlet Diva, which chronicles her own exposure to “degradation, compromise, and sordid sexual encounters,” proving that she and I are basically living the same lives. On the bright side, Asia had a party for the flick at the Cock and told me, “It was my idea. It’s my favorite club!” Even the backroom? “I’ve done that,” the saucy siren responded. “That’s the best part. I wish it was open tonight.” Me too—for some sordid sexual encounters! The actress—who also pops up in XXX—submitted to some live therapy by telling me she’s happy at last, though “loneliness is in my genes.” There was no Naugahyde couch around, but I still demanded to know what her all-time low point was. “Going to Japan to spend the night with a guy,” she said. “We had sex, but I didn’t take any pleasure in it. You know how lonely sex gets when you’re all alone making sex. It’s the loneliest that sex can get.” Oy, tell me about it, sister!
As for that other act of public therapy, one of the people mowed down by Lizzie Grubman was not impressed by Lizzie’s recent sobbing jag. “Why didn’t she apologize to me?” she wondered to a friend of mine. But let moi apologize for nearly ruining a cinema secret right now. See, we’re not supposed to reveal who does celebrity cameos in the new Austin Powers flick, but I just have to blab that one of them is a superstar who insists he’s not gay, but obviously has a sense of humor; in the movie, he kisses a character named Dixie Normous and makes sure to glance down at her crotch first! Erect after last week’s special screening, I asked the adorable Seth Green if he has a scatological wit, like marvy Mike Myers (who’s becoming the straight Alan Cumming). Seth asked me how I define scatological, so I delightedly found myself saying, “You know, cockie-doodie jokes.” He declined to answer, so I’ll take that as a maybe, fart-fart. Gee, I don’t need help, do I?
Sad ending: After a drug mishap sent her into a coma, angular transsexual Page Reynolds passed away last Saturday. I may not miss her 5 a.m. phone calls, but I’ll always miss Page—a true scarlet diva and a real woman.