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The night of the Tony Awards, I was sobbing from sheer joy, but the night after that, at the FiFi Awards for fragrance, my eyes were running from all the damned perfume. This year, of course, scents made way less dollars, but that was all the more reason for the industry to gather at Avery Fisher Hall and dole out FiFis to spritz some confidence back. The event was a fascinating tug between fragranciers earnestly saying stuff like, “Eternity was Calvin’s vision. Thank you, Calvin, for giving us Eternity,” and emcee Harvey Fierstein (fresh off nabbing his Tony) being slyly witty and helping Eternity go by much faster. For every winner gushing about the bottled-up emotions of the olfactory world (“Scents give us hope, they are the inspiration for remorse . . . “), Harvey would say something like, “The smell of dog shit always means spring to me.” (If he keeps playing Divine roles, he’ll no doubt be eating it—to music.)
By the time they got to the “Bath & Body Star of the Year” category, the evening had turned into a real-life AbFab episode, but even that was surpassed by the heartfelt tribute to a sales specialist from a Nordstrom in Paramus. (The guy welled up, and so did I—the woman in front of me reeked.) At the dinner afterward, cute presenter Mario Lopez from The Other Half told me, “I’m a big cologne whore. I like a clean smell, a masculine smell.” (I couldn’t tell if speaking to Mario Lopez about scents was my all-time apex or absolute nadir—that’s how delirious perfumy air makes me.)
Another not stinky presenter, American Idol‘s Frenchie Davis, told me, “I like to smell sexy and feminine.” Me too! But Simon doesn’t smell, she insisted, “he’s nice.” So it’s all a big, nasty act? “I don’t think it’s an act,” said Frenchie, “but he’s harder on the people who think they’re fierce but aren’t. I’ve never had a problem with him.” Because she’s, you know, fierce. So much so that I sent her in search of fellow attendee Henry Krieger, who wrote the music for Dreamgirls. Frenchie, who’s currently in Rent, by all rights should play Effie—and by the way, she told me she’d love to be Tracy in Hairspray too. (Well, it is a show about integration.)
Which brings us back to the Tony Awards and some more of my scented thoughts about that low-rated night of fat gay triumph. And so: The pre-taped segment about the making of Amour was longer than the musical’s entire run. . . . For a dancer, Twyla Tharp barreled down the aisle like Vin Diesel. . . . Vanessa Redgrave‘s acceptance speech mentioned America more times than Bush has said “weapons of mass destruction.” She loves our glorious country, got that? . . . The woman in the opening montage who said she wanted The Play What I Wrote to win happened to be its publicist, Jackie Green. (Jackie was outside doing the Lion King bit for the opening when they asked her to be one of the talking heads. “I said, ‘That doesn’t seem right,’ ” she told me. “Then I thought, ‘Well, everyone voted already and it would make my mother happy and I’d do anything for those boys.’ ” Alas, they lost, the show’s kaput, and Jackie’s wacky with heartbreak.) . . . Hairspray‘s Dick Latessa cracked that he was the only straight to win, “and I brought my wife and kids to prove it!” . . . And the other straight, edible host Hugh Jackman, is a friendly hetero who’s playing Peter Allen and who told the Tony crowd that his mom always urged him to “sing out, Louise!” Let’s go out, Hugh!
Speaking of Gypsy, some say the Post’s barber of Broadway, Michael Riedel, is the man who single-handedly swayed the tide against that rocky revival. How does he feel about practically plucking Bernadette Peters‘s trophy out of her phlegmy hand? “As much as I would like to take credit for a good clean kill,” Riedel told me last week, “the credit must go to the Tony voters, who saw the show and made their own decisions. But I wiIl be replacing Bernadette. My voice is in a little better shape than hers and I have that kind of drive.” And no, hehasn’t been approached to star in Wicked.
Meanwhile, it’s “curtain up, light the lights” on the new season and the “MASTER HAROLD” . . . and the Boys revival, which drew some strange reactions the night I went. When Danny Glover revealed his bare, ebony butt in a dramatic act of defiance, some weirdos in the audience guffawed their heinies off. By the end, though, they got it and stood and cheered in white-liberal self-congratulation.
There was yet more cheering and award giving at the Songwriters Hall of Fame dinner at the Marriott Marquis, but since composers Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman were there, all roads led back to—sorry—Hairspray and their on-camera Tony smooch. Any death threats? “No,” said Wittman, “but CBS got a lot of angry calls.” And yet, other folks found it such a tasty delight they want a replay. “We feel like circus clowns now,” said Wittman. “On The View, they said, ‘Do the kiss, do the kiss!’ I said, ‘No, but I’ll gladly go farther than that.’ ”
Speaking of circus clowns being sexual—let’s pause for a second and ponder the brilliance of that segue—downtown legend Joey Arias told me at Plaid that he’s off to Las Vegas to star in the Thierry Mugler-costumed Cirque du Soleil show Zumanity, which he described as “Barbarella meets Caligula. I’m the mistress of seduction and the guide for stress release.” With that, he made an adorable blowjob gesture that was very Joey, extremely “zuman,” and très Cirque du So-gay.
As for the circusing of the entertainment media—some segues are better than others—let’s hear it for the renewed popularity of tabloid journalism, which at least is a welcome backlash against the publicist-driven puffery most magazines pass off as reporting. Us Weekly—the frisky “fabloid,” as Tina Brown calls it—is a big hit because it’s like the old Us crossed with the tabloids. (Interestingly, the tabs are now trying to go more “legit” and be like Us Weekly.) The new magazine Radar (which, admittedly, I work for) aims to push flacks away so they can tweak the rich and famous in the groin. And on television, E!, which used to avoid dissing its beloved celebrities, now has shows portraying them viciously tangling with paparazzi and each other. I say yay—but if I were Whitney Houston, I’d be working up a sweat.
Here are some tacky tabloid items of my own: First of all, I hear that, in her quest for a new publicist, J.Lo was turned down by Ken Sunshine. (Ain’t no Sunshine when she’s a diva.) Secondly, did I not tell you all the way back in September that Sam Waksal would try to argue in court that he performed stupid money tricks partly because he’s the devoted son of Holocaust victims? Did I not tell you how appalling that was? Are you not telling me now to shut up?
But I won’t, seeing as there’s one more crass observation to unspool: Ellen DeGeneres‘s recent revelation, “I really don’t want to eat fish anymore,” had a lot of silly queens wrongly pegging the comic as an ex-gay like Anne Heche. Then last week’s Liz Smith column title, “Ellen’s Fish Story,” added to the wacky speculation. In any case, say the dummies, scents give us hope.
SPECIAL TO THE WEB: Now that Jennifer Lopez has dumped manager Benny Medina, who do industry insiders say she’ll replace him with? It’s the man who, as then Sony Music head, helped break her career—Tommy Mottola. The old team again!