As the war rages on with shock and awe, showbiz folk with shuck and jive need to submit to my own mandatory weapons inspection. Like country star Darryl Worley, whose “Have You Forgotten?” is a certified chart-buster, millions of flag-wavers having responded to lyrics like “Some say this country’s just out looking for a fight/After 9-11, man, I have to say that’s right.” But has Darryl forgotten that, though he’s not exactly the tooth fairy, Saddam wasn’t proven to have any link to 9-11? Take it away, Dixie Chicks: “We’re so ashamed. . . . ”
Meanwhile, the attacks on the French “weasels” reached an absurdist pitch last week with a Post article urging consumers to say non to Louis Vuitton products and oui-oui to “New York native Marc Jacobs.” In their bizarre quest for revenge, have these guys forgotten that Jacobs designs for Louis Vuitton and that his company is primarily owned by LVMH? (Besides, I’ve eaten too many “freedom fries” to wear any designer duds. I’m switching to less fattening “foe gras.” Get it? Foe gras.)
But let’s surrender to a more buoyant tale of Euro-American relations, one that might even take us away from war worries for a gay gossip second. I hear frisky Rupert Everett has found a boyfriend—Curt Johnson, who co-produced last year’s Oscar-winning documentary short, Thoth, and who’s a good friend of Carlos Leon (the ex of Rupert’s pal Madonna. You know, the singer—have you forgotten?). If there’s any decency left on earth, Rupie will live up to the title of his greatest triumph, An Ideal Husband.
I remembered to attend Lips owner Yvon Lamé‘s birthday bash at Red—that hard-to-find midtown walk-up hustler bar, which usually doesn’t have any hustlers—for a night high atop the cunty charts. International horror was someone else’s problem as Rajene (who, along with Ginger, is my favorite Lips “lady”) did some raunchy rap; Sultana unveiled her Big Mama Morton; and there was a grinding dance number, replete with go-go boy, courtesy of Crystal Comedowns, who afterward kept saying, “Did you get the name? Crystal Comedowns.” At the peak, Lamé dryly announced, “Later on, Cherry Jubilee will perform oral sex on a hermaphrodite.” How jaded am I? I left anyway.
Trying to restore a certain sense of wonder, I participated in a reading of Mae West’s The Pleasure Man (benefiting the Hourglass Group), and didn’t even flinch when I learned I’d only gotten the part—a flaming party-thrower—because Isaac Mizrahi had dropped out. But when audience member Elaine Stritch loudly rummaged through her purse during Act I, that was humbling. (In fact, it was a real crystal comedown.)
At the gay-bash Beige, there was yet more ego-shattering when Cuba Gooding Jr. turned up—shades of Boat Trip, in which he gets stuck on a gay cruise and ends up lip-synching “I’m Coming Out” in drag. After gushing about how Cuba was so “accepting” to have dropped by, a publicist begged me to let him bring the actor over for a schmooze. I relented, but—perhaps afraid to discuss Trip‘s weird mix of tolerance-preaching and stereotype-enforcing—Cuba never surfaced. Show me the moneymaker! At least co-promoter Erich Conrad was available to tell me his thoughts on the war: “I want to get bombed!” he exulted, lifting his cocktail glass.
I went wild on catfish and Tylenols at Cowgirl Hall of Fame’s legendary Patsy Cline lookalike contest, where you heard so many renditions of “Crazy,” you could go absolutely sane again. “My beard’s growing in very quickly,” bellowed this year’s winner, Patsy Clone.
But it was the real Carol Channing—baritone and all—who played the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut, drowning out the war with winningly random anecdotes out of her memoir, Just Lucky I Guess. (“The most disorganized book ever published,” she insisted. “Don’t buy it.”) Kooky Carol recalled her Love Boat episode as “the worst show ever put on television,” though she had fun on the set with battle-ax co-stars Ethel Merman and Ann Miller. According to Carol, Merman broke the ice by saying, “I had such an interesting plane ride coming here. A passenger was bleeding from the rectum.” (“Gee, how did you know?” Carol desperately wanted to respond.) Similarly, Miller confessed to Carol that she profusely sweats in the crotch—a good try, but honey, it can’t top bleeding from the rectum!
Spewing from every orifice, I landed at a snooty Soho restaurant for the premiere of Robert Duvall‘s Assassination Tango, where I told the Apocalypse Now star I wished the war hadn’t started the same friggin’ week as the Oscars. “I know,” said Duvall, with his own concerns. “So many people in one room!” It turns out he needn’t have worried—everyone survived, even the two people who, like hookers in straitjackets, dressed for a sedate wartime Oscars. In fact, the need for glitz and glory eclipsed most reservations about taste, thank God, and the show amounted to the usual riveting, whoring spectacle, with outbursts of awareness and anger making the whole thing schizily memorable.
Here’s a timeline of my involuntary reactions to the conflicted proceedings: 8:47 p.m.: Jennifer Connelly is still doing the glamorous zombie act from last year. “A troubled horticulturalist, a poetic AIDS victim,” she drones, listing nominees’ roles. Honey, there’s a war on! 8:57: Winner Chris Cooper goes with the pretty safe “I wish us all peace,” but at least he’s acknowledging the situation. No one else seems to have gotten the memo.
9:02 Poor John Travolta‘s being made to introduce a song from Chicago, the blockbuster he turned down. The number starts with risers lifting plus-sized Queen Latifah and preggers Catherine Zeta-Jones. Amazingly, the gals make it up and are super—two tons of fun. 9:12: A news break-in about Baghdad. We’re losing, but hey, Chicago‘s winning. 9:20: The costume design winner is badly dressed. 10:05: The Best Sound Editing winner stutters. 10:07: “If Frida was alive, she’d be on our side against the war.” Yeah, but she’d probably be against that movie, too.
10:15: “We are against the war, Mr. Bush!” screeches Michael Moore, bringing the night’s subtext to a boil. It’s electrifying. Scorsese looks appalled, Chad Lowe stunned, Nicole Kidman unwilling to show any emotion. Moore will surely be audited. 10:50: Adrien Brody wins for depicting the horrors of wartime. He deserves another award for telling the band to shut up. His speech is as controlled as Moore’s was shrill, and just as impactful. I should have been friendlier to his Voice photographer mother all these years. I love you, Sylvia Plachy!
11:00: “Oscar winner Eminem” has an insane ring to it. “He has a good heart,” insists his collaborator. The world is truly ending—but at least U2 didn’t get it. In fact, Gangs got completely banged. (It’s the most disorganized movie ever made. Don’t buy it.) 11:15: Nicole wins, even though she touched Jude Law. She’s not even the best actress in that one movie, but she survived Tom and the schnoz. Imagine what she could do with Frida’s unibrow. 11:48: Polanski nabs director. The Holocaust trumped statutory rape.
11:56: By now, Gere, Sarandon, and Streisand are the only ones not verbally condemning the war. But predictability returns when Chicago gets Best Picture, the ad campaign invoking Watergate having convinced people the movie was historically significant. But now every two-bit musical will be greenlighted, and the result will almost sink Hollywood, just like in the ’60s. Have you forgotten?