There were so many beauty editors on the Las Vegas junket to the Celine Dion perfume launch that if the plane crashed, trolls might have finally gotten some press. Yes, Celine of the loud voice is doing a fragrance (along with an album and three-year Vegas stint), so Coty brought us in to have her lavishly compete with the town’s dancing waters, erupting volcano, and fake gondola rides for “Is the flash working?”-style attention.
Does the scent smell like icebergs, older men, or Chrysler commercials? No, try water lilies and a pinch of sandalwood. They previewed it at the Coliseum—the humble little kazillion-dollar forum Caesars Palace built for the singer—where the Coty head emerged onstage to tell us, “Forget Rome. This is the real Coliseum!” as buffed hands applauded. They screened a promo (“Her music has crossed oceans, touched hearts, empowered lives”), then out came the Canuck herself, who’s hard to revile, especially if you caught her touchingly trying to wrap her lungs around heavy metal on that VH1 Divas show. (Of course, by this point we’d gotten white-chocolate mini Coliseums in our rooms.)
“We all have a unique smell,” the newer, slicker (if still determinedly upbeat) Celine said, adding that with her fragrance, she can “touch people’s souls. People don’t touch anymore. They’re on the phone, the fax. They don’t touch themselves.” And I’m not even gonna touch that one.
“I never thought I’d use this nose for anything but breathing and singing for you,” Celine declared, pointing to her super-successful schnozz. “But I used it to develop the smell of love, life, and passion. And I wanted it to be yellow—the color of sunshine!” She lip-synched a few songs from her upcoming show, and I swear she didn’t thump her chest once. I’m telling you—for all her grandiosity of spirit, the woman is not the devil!
And though we were now sure we knew everything imaginable about Celine Dion Parfums (the bottle has five facets—her lucky number), the next day we cut short our blinding tour of the Liberace Museum to attend one more promo session. “I feel like I’m in the middle of the highway of my life,” Celine informed us in a new outfit. “Now’s the time to do a perfume, not when I’m old and ugly and bored. What kind of perfume is that gonna be?” I don’t know, Eau de Ugly Bored Old Hag sounds good to me.
In New York, I used my schnozz to continue on the highway of life in search of offbeat celebs at upbeat parties. At actor Craig Chester‘s book bash at the Flamingo Room, Ben Curtis—you know, the Dell dude—told me in all earnestness that he’s going to the Edinburgh Theater Festival to do an old Israel Horovitz play about a hate crime. I fully understood his passion, but wanted to yell, “Just hush up and tell me I’m gettin’ a Dell!”
Over at Beige, Amanda Lepore was moaning that her trial against Twilo is lasting forever, “and I just want it to end already!” Conversely, über-dandy Patrick McDonald was at another table, moaning that the fashionista marriage of his good pal Lauren Ezersky is kaput after less than two months. It’s no consolation that that’s a lifetime by Lisa Marie Presley standards.
By the way, now that the unmarriageable Leona Helmsley was nailed for homophobia, I hope the victor, Charles Bell, spends his $11 million on some sumptuous new gowns, all cut “on the bias,” womp-womp-womp.
Moving on, the bigoted gadfly named Taki seems to be suffering from his own gay panic attacks. Two years ago, the Post quoted him walking into a boîte and paranoically quipping, “I’m the only one here who isn’t a fag.” Well, the lady clearly doth mutter this nonstop because just last week the Post quoted the guy entering the same hole with “Darling, here I am, the only heterosexual in this joint.” Darling, if I were Ms. Helmsley, here’s where I’d bellow, “Shut up and relax, you dumb fruitcake!”
In a nicer part of the barnyard, Dame Edna Everage—Barry Humphries‘s drag character—is supposed to be a pretentious cow, but sort of an endearing one. Well, as you may have heard, Edna caused a ruckus by satirically responding to an advice letter in Vanity Fair with “Who speaks [Spanish] that you are really desperate to talk to? The help? Your leaf blower? Study French or German, where there are at least a few books worth reading.” The result? A petition grande from Hispanic Americans asking for a formal apology from Vanity Fair!
Señor Moby, whom we normally love, has bewildered people with his own comments. You’ll remember that when someone called the recording artist’s attack by alleged Eminem fans a “gay bashing,” Moby clarified, “I take a certain strange, perverse pride in being one of the few heterosexual people in the world who’ve been gay-bashed.” So he’s heterosexual now? But as recently as ’99, Moby had told the press he’s neither straight nor gay: “I’m pretty much bisexual.” Eminem, who didn’t even realize Elton John was gay, must be getting really confused.
A bash of her own, Roseanne was a pisser—the color of sunshine—as the host of the Lane Bryant plus-sized fashion show, reminding us that she’s the empress of bonbons and bon mots. (Her opening crack—”Are there any gays here?”—was done in the spirit of celebration, not panic.) Cracklin’ Roseanne claimed that she once wanted to be a model, “but I was allergic to cigarettes and laxatives and the heroin made me splotchy and even lazier somehow.” Fully recovered, she added that she was thrilled with the evening’s Cabaret theme because “I’m such a fan of the Nazi era, and it’s back in style with the whole Bush thing!”
After the show, I told Roseanne that Dubya‘s cousin Billy Bush had been in the front row, but she didn’t seem to mind since she had no idea who he is. But the evening’s star dancer, Ami Goodheart, knew who Tommy Tune is. When a handler told her, “Tommy wants to see you, but he won’t come backstage—you have to come out,” she did so and learned that Tune adored her Josephine Baker-like moves. Lordy, I wish I could similarly praise Kelly Osbourne‘s post-runway-show performance of “Papa Don’t Preach,” but her screeching was so awful it was clearly England’s revenge on Madonna.
Whoopi Goldberg‘s version of the title song boosts the Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom revival, whose problems have become so publicized that when Charles S. Dutton‘s character screams at his bandmates, “We’re doin’ my version,” you wonder if he’s really talking to the director. Alas, unlike in Noises Off—the play about backstage antics, enlivened one night by Patti LuPone yelling and throwing things—life doesn’t imitate whatever.
Speaking of revivals, let us now praise Film Forum, which resuscitates the most watchable classics in pristine prints (though their popcorn is too expensive). They recently dredged up Rosemary’s Baby, Roman Polanski‘s perfectly made picture about a guy who sells his soul—and his wife’s body—to Celine, I mean Satan, in exchange for a part in some creepy play. As the ultimate West Side horror story, it touched my soul, and Mia Farrow cements it more than ever, whether she’s being chicly cute (“Tannis, anyone?) or fashionably outraged (“What have you done to its eyes?”).
And now it’s back to the dancing waters and fake gondola rides. As the esteemed Michael Jackson (what have you done to its nose?) said about Vegas on TV last week, “Tacky? Are you silly?”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 11, 2003