I’ve had bar snacks with Marv Albert‘s daughter and almost been knocked over by Jennifer Lopez’s sister, but I can finally top that, people. I work with an Oscar winner’s mom! Yes, The Pianist star Adrien Brody happens to be the spawn of the Voice‘s own noted photographer and my best friend Sylvia Plachy, who was almost as visible on the recent Academy Awards as Renee Zellweger‘s steely determination and Barbra Streisand‘s neck. When Adrien won Best Actor, close-ups of Sylvia kvelling helped make it the night’s feelgood moment (though it was almost drowned out by my screeches of “I know her!” from the other coast).
“It was a surprise, of course,” mama Sylvia, back to earth, told me last week. “I thought Adrien should win, but I thought it would be Daniel Day-Lewis. He was great, too, and when they announced his name, he got the largest applause.” But Adrien was named the big cheese—”a shock”—and accepted with an eloquent mix of gratitude and wartime commentary, not to mention that loopy lip lock with Halle Berry (who after last year’s Oscars couldn’t exactly be mad at anyone else for being too effusive). “That was wonderful,” said Sylvia. “It was a cinematic kiss. It was Hollywood!”
The whole night for her—and hubby, teacher Elliot Brody, seated in another row—was a giant, glammy smooch. “I met everybody who is everybody,” Sylvia said, sounding a little like me. “Michael Caine told me he usually doesn’t like young actors, but Adrien blew him away.” Jack Nicholson had even asked people to vote for Adrien, according to one report, “but I didn’t quite believe that,” said Sylvia. “Who would go that far?” Maybe Bono; backstage afterward, mama heard the rocker telling her son, “I knew you were a good actor, but I didn’t know you were a singer.” Adrien looked confused, so Bono explained, “You made that speech into a song!”
My eternal soulmate Sylvia herself is hitting high notes these days. “Hungarians are happy,” she exulted. “People in Queens are happy. Everybody knows I’m one of them. I got an ovation at the pool at a Y in Brooklyn this morning. I had to bow at the edge of the pool!” Before she falls in, some insight into her progeny, please? “At age 10,” she related, “he called himself the Amazing Adrien and performed at birthday parties.” Was he ever a food-throwing, mealymouthed bad boy? No, swears mama—and even if he screwed up an occasional magic trick, “everybody loved him because he performed so well.”
But there has been one tragic drawback to all the hoopla. “I wasn’t allowed to bring my camera to the Oscars!” moaned Sylvia. Please—that’s as sadistic as inviting a eunuch to an orgy.
Without a camera or an Oscar—just a clipboard and a dream—I’ve been traipsing around town in search of my next big celebrity connection, only to step right into Crap. Relax, it’s the name of the new two-floor Wednesday-night event at Guernica, where you can mockingly hum along with the world’s most riveting lousy music (“Voices Carry,” anyone?), your drag host Trai La Trash doing her cocky duty to help you enjoy all the shitty ditties. It’s near Turd, I mean Third, Street.
That’s not the only upstairs/downstairs party going on, as my hideously swollen feet will tell you. On Saturdays, Sweetie and Daniel Nardicio‘s High-Life/Low-Life gives you crap mixed with a little finger snap. They offer low-level entertainment at the Slide (a pseudo-vulgar basement drinkhole with go-go boys) and some candy-colored fun upstairs at the adjacent Marquee (a faux vaudeville house replete with drag performers and a tinsel curtain). There hasn’t been such delightful mass schizophrenia since the Iraqis were thrilled to be liberated, but acted outraged.
Everything was on the same floor at the Night of a Thousand Gowns, the Imperial Court of New York’s drag coronation ball, which teemed with rhinestoned Ritas who’d plucked, tucked, and tiara-ed for the saucy spectacle of queens pretending to be queens. Interestingly, Isabella Rossellini was in the onstage coronation procession, but she isn’t a man; she was invited by the new drag empress, Demi-Tasse, who’s first cousins with Isabella’s ex, Martin Scorsese. The gangs of New York are getting more diverse by the minute. (Note to self: I met Martin Scorsese’s cousin!)
The men are men and the women are too in Urban Cowboy, during which I kept picturing myself the mechanical bull beneath Matt Cavenaugh‘s inseam. But the show around the cutie is so, well, mechanically bull it seems better suited to the Burt Reynolds Dinner Theater crowd. The boy-meets-bull plot is thin, the songs are mostly shitty ditties, and some of the cast look like the closest they’ve been to Texas is watching Dallas reruns. Al Gore was at the opening, no doubt musing on the utter vapidity of Texan culture. As one character warns, “Put your right nut in your left hand and kiss the other one goodbye.”
Speaking of Texas two-stepping, the Dixie Chicks have been crucified by country radio for singer Natalie Maines‘s anti-Bush remarks. Well, Maines has apparently been marvelously mouthing off everywhere. In Ocean Drive, she’s quoted as saying, “I don’t want to go to war. I’m pretty much a hardcore Democrat and always said I would stay a Democrat. Rich people always turn into Republicans. I can’t look at my tax returns, or else I’ll contemplate it.” Honey, you’d better look at them because you’re gonna get audited.
Taxingly enough, Tavern on the Green recently tried to “Americanize” its menu to distance itself from French weasels, as Page Six reported. This colossal act of spite prompted angry responses, ex-patron Richard Ember writing them, “Are you really so spineless that you are afraid to honor French cuisine because our government has chosen to vilify the French for daring to oppose its plans to start a war?” The restaurant’s managing director answered that they still have French terms on their menu, and “the statement made was our way of poking fun at the menu changes going on. We realize . . . the current . . . divisiveness between us and France and the overreaction on the part of some Americans is unseemly. We are not, in fact, boycotting French products.” No, just renaming them! (Since then, the joint dropped the “joke” and has gone back to shocking and awing with shock and au jus.)
Yasmina Reza‘s French, but don’t boycott, or even girlcott, her Albee-wannabe play Life (x) 3—it stars Helen Hunt, an Oscar winner I’d like to get to know (or at least her mother). Is there life after Oscar? Yes, in fact, as her co-star voraciously chews the scenery, Helen grounds it all with class and dignity. Hungarians and people in Queens are happy.
Fellow downtown DJs are thrilled now that Penelope Tuesdae has shot a Playboy spread and reports, “I was styled with lots of bling bling.” But the real star of the week was Altagracia Guzman, so adorable (and clothed) as the meddlesome granny in Raising Victor Vargas. After the film’s premiere last week, the little vixen bowed on a balcony for hours, then distanced herself from her character by yelling to the crowd, “I have a good heart! I don’t treat my baby like that!” I love you, Altagracia. If your baby ever gets an Oscar, let’s stay close.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 1, 2003