They said there was as much chance of it happening as Eminem winning an Oscar, but The New York Times has actually caught up with the art of spicy gossip writing, and some other columnists’ panties are in a twist about it. Just the fact that I’m still using phrases like “panties in a twist” is probably one of the reasons Joyce Wadler has been leaping ahead.
Wadler tosses off the Metro Section’s Boldface Names, a dryly observed diary that infuriates those of us who always counted on being able to say, “At least my column’s better than the Times‘.” Recently, she asked Melanie Griffith how she feels about Antonio Banderas starring in a Broadway show with scads of scintillating women. Wrote Wadler, “Her mood darkens. ‘I don’t know why all you guys are always asking about this!’ ” (“I didn’t realize that she had this issue with jealousy,” Wadler told me last week. “I guess I was the last to know.”) Wadler had gotten into another contretemps by writing that Liz Smith and ex-Texas governor Ann Richards “can neither sing nor dance, but seem to have lately gotten a yen to perform.” Liz tapped over to her computer and huffily responded, “How does Ms. Wadler know we can’t dance? We didn’t even attempt to.” Oy! (Update: Wadler says she recently introduced herself to Smith, who was pleasant, dancing around any hostility.)
“Feathers are being ruffled,” Wadler told me, the original ruffler-wannabe, “but what can you do? We’re trying to do journalism. Sometimes the day after, I’ve had a regret, thinking, ‘I thought I was being affectionate and playful here.’ But people know there’s little to be gained by calling and screaming.” (No, they usually just cut you off the list. Trust me, honey.)
Wadler, who formerly wrote for The Washington Post, admits she never intended to do this column at all—”I don’t even like to say gossip. It sticks in the throat. Ghh . . . ghh . . . ” Still, editors told her she could have fun with it—not to mention an omnipresent legperson, Paula Schwartz—and Wadler, who’d sometimes filled in for the previous columnist, bit the bait and went to the ball.
By the way, you might also know Wadler’s boldface name as the subject of a ’94 TV movie called My Breast, based on her memoir about getting cancer, starring Meredith Baxter. “A short New York Jew and they have Meredith Baxter!” she said, laughing. “But if it hadn’t been for her, the movie wouldn’t have gotten made.” It’s a tidbit right out of Boldface Names.
As a mere alternative-weekly hack, I can’t get Meredith Baxter to play me. In fact, I can’t even get a walk-on in an exploitation dramedy under a fucking supermarket. Let me explain. I recently told you how an Off-Broadway thingy called Sleeping With Straight Men offered me a cameo, then dicked me around and never managed to put me in the show. Well, I’ve just turned religious on hearing about the horrors I was spared—dramatics that far exceeded anything in the play itself. As Sleeping‘s drag co-star, Hedda Lettuce, tells me, one of the actors ended up feuding with the main star and screaming at her, “Now I know what the B in ‘B actress’ stands for—bitter, balding, bipolar, and bad actress!” He was let go. Another night, an actor changed a line in a monologue, sending said star into such a bitter, balding tizzy that she shrieked backstage, “How dare you leave me out there to hang? I feel like I’m wrapped in barbed wire and being dragged down Fifth Avenue.” (That the theater was underneath a Gristede’s was finally a plus, says Hedda, because “the star’s muffled screaming could have just been an angry cashier.”)
The star stormed out of the show, expecting everyone to follow suit. They didn’t. But they got time off anyway because the next performance was canceled, as the disgruntled playwright stood outside, picketing the whole mess! (The star later joined him.) The producer-co-star is now suing them both for breach of contract. And another actor, when warned by the playwright that he had to jump ship or he wouldn’t get into the San Diego production, had an anxiety attack and had to be revived by an emergency worker, who admitted she left acting because it was too stressful! The guy quit the show, which promptly dropped dead, and I am currently on my knees thanking Jesus (you know, my Spanish boyfriend).
And life goes on, sometimes with some lovely, you know, ghh . . . ghh . . . There was a Supper Club dinner for the Melting Pot Theatre Company, which mounts plays in an actual auditorium, not at a deli counter. At the event, spies told me that the delectable Melanie Griffith (yes, her again) had a rough childhood—she was once left in a car—and her own kids don’t have it that easy either; they’ve laughingly (but I’m sure lovingly) derided her singing attempts. Still, the little darling’s working her adenoids off and is planning to dazzle in Chicago (which, by the way, is on West 49th Street between Broadway and Eighth, as is hubby’s show, Nine—one of those wonderful little life coincidences that Joyce Wadler should ask her about).
Over at Gypsy, another cute co-inky-dink had Bernadette Peters calling in sick the same day she’d been snubbed by the Outer Critics Circle, as you’ve heard. But can you blame the eternal moppet? They instead nominated a Nine actress who has just one song, a lady whose show deservedly ran only one week, and someone from Urban Cowboy! This wasn’t just a snub, it was a snub master mix. But Bernadette had genuinely been battling a cold, reportedly hack-coughing onstage days before. Everything’s coming up (neu)roses.
Everything came up tucked hoses at Serena’s Tuesday-night gay bash, 7M, which had a Delilah-hosted “Evening of 101 Drag Queens” benefiting the Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project. There was nearly violence on the premises—the high wigs literally almost brought down the chandelier—but the show had zing, with Edie wildly going to “Route 66,” Hedda becoming Shakira, and June Bug doing a naughty, bawdy “All That Jizz.”
Madonna gossip break: Last week at Tower, scores of people who’d waited with the required wristbands got to see the diva’s mini-concert, but were denied the promised autographs when Madonna split mid-signing. Real spiritual, huh? On a lighter note, I hear that when little Lourdes goes to stay with daddy Carlos Leon, she absolutely loves it because he actually has a TV! (And he doesn’t lock her in the car.)
But let’s change the channel and go back a few weeks to sometime Madonna pal Rosie O’Donnell‘s speech at the GLAAD Awards. Rosie told the crowd that whenever anyone urged her to come out for her own good, she’d think, “I don’t need your . . . Nazi bullshit. Shut the fuck up!” Bizarrely, that quote became widely reported, held up as an example of how closet cases should be left to their own devices. But hardly anyone repeated what Rosie also said—that those people were right and she should have come out long ago! As one of the folks Rosie once labeled “gay Nazis,” I find this clarification rather fucking important (though I mainly wanted her to come out to stop my own irritation).
For the gay paparazzi, I hosted a bookstore event for Jeffrey Epstein and Eddie Shapiro‘s Queens in the Kingdom, a queer guide to the Disney theme parks, which puts the wrist back in Aristocats, the poke in Pocahontas, and the ‘mo in Quasimodo. And now, I’m off to put the bi back in bipolar.
SPECIAL TO THE WEB: As you know, American Media titan David Pecker has moved the Star, the weekly tabloid, to New York to compete with People and Us Weekly. Well, the new buzz is that Pecker, who almost backed the new Radar magazine, would love Radar‘s editor, Maer Roshan, to take over the editorship at the Star. Are you following me?
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 29, 2003