A giddy genderpalooza called Qwe’re Musicfest was all set to launch last week at Tompkins Square Park, where the now defunct drag circus Wigstock first spread its foofy wings. But when hoped-for funds didn’t come through, the event was downscaled at the last minute to Fez, which was fine, not only because it rhymes with lez, but because it gave the fest a more up-close-and-personal feeling—plus you could buy drinks!
Along the way, there were other life-hands-you-a-lemon type impediments to progress. Organizer Mr. Joe-who’s a real vision in a minidress and combat boots-told me that the state’s Division of Corporations refused to give the event a corporate seal because they felt any hint of the word queer is offensive to the, um, queer community. That’s kind of cute, but Mr. Joe assured them that queer has become pretty much embraced and reports, “I even went on to point out the huge success of Queer as Folk. They said they hadn’t heard of it!” I guess our state officials are just too busy moving society forward with their fascinating ideological breakthroughs to read or watch TV, right?
With or without the seal, the event was a hit, brimming with multigender euphoria and the welcome raggedy edge that comes with newness. (Wigstock had become like a giant TV variety show, albeit a fabulous one.) Downstairs, the entertainment veered from transsexual rocker Chloe singing about how she was rebuffed when offering daffodils to strangers to Jonny McGovern, who did a wonderfully sleazy dance number about lechery at soccer practice. As the emcee of this section, I had to keep promising a “special surprise guest,” but alas, Nina Hagen, who was “en route” the whole day, never made it. (Before you wonder what else she was “en,” let me assure you Hagen was simply detained because of technical problems related to her bigger gig that night. She’s still got my seal.)
Upstairs, the guy singing “Come to the cabaret” made things a little too Jerry Lewis telethon-y for comfort. But the edge came back via wild-eyed drag king Ethan Carter (formerly Lizzerace), who I’m extremely hot for, meaning I must be straight, right? And let’s not forget Yolanda, who sang original tunes in a tiger-print nun’s outfit replete with foam-rubber breasts, or Homothug, a scary guy who rapped, “I was sucking dick when your asshole was in Pampers.” A cross-dresser’s serious speech about the need for “gender reparations” had one twitterhead in the crowd murmuring, “When did drag queens become so serious?” But things got mirthful again when a performer kept self-adoringly reminding us that he was in the middle of a 40-city tour and was sorry his face had annoyed everyone on the cover of so many magazines. “That’s OK,” muttered one unbelievable bitch. “I only read the back of Homo Xtra.”
As long as we’re skimming the bar rags: I hear that Judy Garland’s last husband, Mickey Deans, is alive and well and can usually be found in the Pines. Too bad Liza‘s already married!
Speaking of which, indie actor Craig Chester feels that with Liza and David Gest getting a baby so easily, “It proves gays can adopt!” For a whole other qwe’re-male bonding experience, Chester recently went to Canada to be with his platonic soulmate, Parker Posey, who was filming the Shirley MacLaine TV movie about Mary Kay of cosmetics fame. They promptly put Chester in the movie as Posey’s hairdresser! He adored MacLaine, and when he told her he once had “long face syndrome”—a deformity that was corrected with a year’s worth of operations—she colorfully responded, “Did all that surgery affect your cocksucking?” Chester’s intriguing reply: “I suck cock like a vegetarian.”
In other orifice-filling news, Chester’s upcoming memoir, Why the Long Face?, describes how his grandma worked at a hospital where The Brady Bunch‘s Robert Reed once came in with a Coca-Cola can stuck up his ass. That must have been how Vanilla Coke was born.
Someone should bottle all the inspiration-under-pressure that made up The 24 Hour Plays—how’s that for a segue, kids?—six shorties that were written and rehearsed starting at 10 p.m. on a Sunday, then thrown onstage the very next night like glittering Minute Rice (all to benefit Working Playground). There usually aren’t enough original Broadway plays to give award nominations to, but here were six exceptional new ones whipped up and spewed out in a fucking day—and during an orange alert yet! The highlights of the playlets—which mostly dealt with people resolving their feelings about dead or unseen characters—ranged from Brooke Shields furiously pulling falsies out of her blouse to Rosie Perez chirping, “I was looking myself up on Google.” And a fab seventh drama erupted when an irate audience member (actually Perez herself) yelled at the crowd, “Turn off the fucking cell phones!” Those who refused probably ended up at St. Vincent’s with Nokias up their butts.
Wedding bells have chimed again for legendary groupie-singer Bebe Buell, who has sex like a carnivore; she’s quietly married musician Jim Wallerstein. That should take the sting out of the fact that Bebe’s last husband, rocker Coyote Shivers, is suing over his representation in her ’01 memoir. He’s been so aggressive about it, I hear, that Bebe’s changed all her numbers and has even turned off her fucking cell phone!
Anna Nicole Smith‘s still reachable, though. In fact, the ditsy one’s upcoming Showtime documentary, Dark Roots, will make her more accessible than ever. On it, an ex-partner of Anna’s reveals talents even the E! folks haven’t caught. “I saw her suck the bile out of [her late husband’s] mouth three or four times,” the guy says. “I saw Howard upchucking and Anna was taking it.” The woman just can’t stop eating!
In lighter news: Kristin Chenoweth, Marc Kudisch, and Julie Brown (of Strip Mall fame) will do a September 30 Village Theater presentation of a stage musical version of Earth Girls Are Easy, the ’89 comedy flick Brown co-wrote and co-starred in. This prompted me to call Brown on my cell phone—in between looking myself up on Google—and force her to reminisce about the making of the goofball movie. “I was supposed to play the lead, Valerie,” the comic-actress divulged. “Finally, the studio said, ‘Now that there’s a bigger budget, at this level you can’t star in it!’ ” She was filled with rage at the new Valerie, Geena Davis, but got over it once she started loving her own part (and Davis too). New problems cropped up, though, with Jim Carrey, who naturally was playing an alien who lands in the San Fernando Valley. “He had this technique where he’d sing really loud and be outrageous to rev up before each take,” remembered Brown, “which I found unbelievably annoying because I was trying to concentrate. But he was so sweet!”
I alerted Brown to a whole new landmine by telling her that her current co-stars, Chenoweth and Kudisch, are ex-lovers. “I hope they get along, since they agreed to do it!” she responded, nervously. Please, they’re utter professionals—and so is Brown, who at last has a healthy sense of distance from her original Earth Girls experience. “When it started,” she says, “I was like those kids on American Idol. I was like Kelly—and now I’m like Harvey Fierstein!”
Let’s end there—you can’t get much qwe’rer than that. No, wait, I can top that. Queens piled into View Bar last week to scream with laughter over Shirley Q. Liquor, a pudgy white guy from New Orleans who dons blackface and a caftan and tells baked-bean jokes. Feets don’t fail me now, I thought, as I ran for my sanity. When did drag queens become so serious . . . ly deranged?
EXTRA ITEM: At Cowgirl Hall of Fame on Patsy Cline’s 70th birthday, Ellis Nassour feted Honky Tonk Angel, the upcoming musical based on his intimate bio of the late country diva. Shockingly enough, a biological woman provided the entertainment, and she didn’t look 70 at all. She was Honky Tonk’s star,Renée Lawless-Orsini, who—in between belting out tunes like “Crazy” and “Walking After Midnight”—brought Patsy up-to-date by telling me, “She wouldn’t have gone for Shania, but she would have loved Reba and maybe even Wynonna!” And most likely Renée.