Throw one hand up in the air and toss a plate at the floor with the other one, and you’ll be ready for this, my annual diva update. And so: Though aging songstresses are wildly mistreated by the business—there’s always a new trollop rising up, with legs spread—the ladies don’t help themselves with the nutty things they say and do. Angel-voiced Mariah Carey recently changed her mind and swore she didn’t have a breakdown after all, she was just really tired—a revision I saw coming a diva mile away. Even wackier, she seemed embarrassed that her mom had called 911, as if that wasn’t the only human reaction to her daughter’s public meltdown. And all this while the perpetual butterfly was hitting the media with a denim jacket and a soapy song about making it through the rain, suggesting that she hasn’t quite advanced enough for a full-scale comeback. But I’m still allowing my girl the chance to recaptivate me with those fluttery hands and dog notes, as long as the boobs stay semi-covered. (And now that Tommy Mottola‘s, um, quit Sony, I bet she really feels like singing.)
Meanwhile, Whitney Houston dissed crack as a poor people’s drug, and all the lefty liberals (and crack users) were up in arms! What’s worse, her album took so long to finish, it was preceded by a mini trail of bomb singles—Bobby must have been sweating—though perverse fascination gave the album Whitney’s best sales debut ever. (Whether its outstretched arms have legs remains to be seen. Probably not—like Mariah’s CD, it only had one week in the Top 10 before dropping like underwear.) Dampening her own chances, Whitney’s dabbled in too many defensive, leave-me-alone lyrics of the type that helped diminish Jacko‘s career. Honey, you don’t make yourself into a sideshow attraction, then scream, “Don’t look at me!” (Inner Greek chorus: But you’re so damned talented, Whitney—do whatever the hell you want, as long as little Bobbi Kristina is kept away from the marijuana!)
And then the ’90s model, Christina Aguilera, seemed high on her own crack, bombing out with all that overstated “dirrty” stuff—Grammy nomination notwithstanding—but at least she quickly bounced back with “Beautiful,” a wonderfully sung statement of outcast pride replete with a video filled with gay guys kissing and a drag queen dressing—perfect images for the young woman who’s hung out at Beige. As long as Christina stops imitating Mariah and Mariah ceases wanting to be Celine Dion, I can probably tolerate these broads. Just please don’t ever use the words “punk” and Avril Lavigne in the same sentence, OK? And that’s coming from Mikey from the block—Sutton Place.
And now, if we can move away from the world where you’re supposed to know the difference between Michelle Branch and Vanessa Carlton, let’s have a fascinating style diva update, shall we? Are you having a fashion/health emergency? Then I’ll have Joan Rivers throw a magic marker at your eye for a quick touch-up and you’ll make it through the rain, baby. Better yet, I’ll get you some tips from Susan “Stop the Insanity!” Powter, the infomercial legend who taught women smart, butch, close-cropped ways to stay in shape. Powter—who went bankrupt and says she had to buy her name back—has a new book out about weight loss called The Politics of Stupid, so she was promptly on the butch, close-cropped horn to promote it like a Mack truck in a thong.
“These days, I’m taking it out there rather than depending on the corporate boys to get it,” Powter told me from an island off Seattle, where she lives with her three sons, the only men she can stand. “The Stop the Insanity! infomercial and books were the last authentic things I was allowed to do. The minute it started to make bundles o’ cash, there were so many jobs, agents, and lawyers surrounding it, I walked away. Also, I was told by my agent, ‘You can’t have another baby.’ Since when do lawyers and agents own my uterus? I told them all to fuck off, moved to the Pacific Northwest, and adopted my baby! Eew, Los Angeles, you know what I’m saying?” (Yes—valet parking outside Burger Kings? Eew.)
Once solo, Powter put out Stupid (available on susanpowteronline.com), with herself practically naked on the cover (“It’s so ’80s gypsy”) in a saucy statement of self-empowerment. “I had to get away from the foolocracy of Simon & Schuster,” she said, not shyly. “The people that say, ‘Your voice would best be represented in a spa book.’ You would think three New York Times bestsellers would get me some forward movement. I’m telling all of corporate America to go to hell. I’m telling women to resurrect from the living dead. I’m going across America in a van like in Priscilla and I’m taking a group called the Traveling Menses-trals. I’m gonna start a revolution, brother. Silk robes flailing behind me while opera music is playing!”
But one thing Powter won’t do, thank you, is marry again. “Why bother?” she balked. “There are men like you, but the majority of your species can’t finish a sentence, Michael.” And even if they could get a word in, it probably wouldn’t be any good. “I’m a menopausal woman,” Powter concluded. “Don’t even think of suggesting synthetic estrogen to me! We’re moving and changing and we’re fabulous. That’s what wellness is.” All right, babe, I’ll drop the synthetic estrogen idea—for now.
But I won’t drop my diabolical plan to serve up these unbearably fabulous career tidbits (though you still can’t own my uterus): Greg Walloch, the hilarious gay on crutches who starred in Fuck the Disabled, is set to co-star with Marianne Sägebrecht in Percy Adlon‘s Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? . . . Quick, turn on the Weather Channel. Hell must have frozen over: Justin Timberlake‘s on the cover of Vibe! . . . David Cross had interesting things to say on VH1 about Justin’s breakup with Britney Spears. Quoth the comic, “Britney’s probably going, ‘Look, I’ve gotta get as much cock as I can now when I’m young’ and Justin’s probably thinking the same exact thing, if you know what I mean.” (Cross was bleeped on “cock,” but I read his loose lips.)
Even more romantically hopeless, Joe Millionaire has a guy claiming to be wealthy, picking a wife, then telling her he’s actually dirt-poor. But isn’t that what already happened with Rick Rockwell?. . . For the artistically rich, Chi Chi Valenti and Johnny Dynell are throwing Wednesday cabaret nights downstairs at Chez Es Saada. Last week, Valenti read fin de siècle poetry, and the Pontani Sisters tapped up a tornado, while the club presence known as Messy Yoko Ono sat under a table.
A few blocks away, Steve Guttenberg screened his P.S. Your Cat Is Dead, a gay-intruder comedy in which E! mook A.J. Benza fingers a guy’s butt, sniffs it, and says, “I never forget a pretty face and a nice, tight ass!” “As artists,” Guttenberg later grandiosely told the crowd, “it’s our obligation to stretch ourselves.” This from the star of Police Academy? “I’ve done some really good work and I’ve done some crap,” he conceded. “I’ve got to challenge myself because that’s my duty to you. I’m in the service business.” He seemed so sweetly sincere, I resisted the urge to yell, “Service this!”
Finally, we bring you a terribly au courant pharmaceutical diva update: Woozy insiders tell me that the current reigning trilogy of club drugs consists of “tina, eena, and gina”—i.e., crystal meth, Ecstasy, and GBH. They’re all bad for your weena.