Bruce Willis was singing the blues last week, and not because his ex is screwing Ashton Kutcher—he just likes to sing the blues. Brucie performed at the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City, or so I hear; I was so blinded by the oncoming sushi and the parade of bizarre celebrity attendees—Carrot Top, a male Gucci model, and the fetish-flick woman from Joe Millionaire—that I seriously forgot to peer over the balcony and look down at the show, except once on the way to the bathroom. (But he looked and sounded quite good, and not just for a movie star!)
The Borgata—which sent us—is a state-of-the-art glitz palace that’s helping to make Atlantic City hop again, the recession typically bringing out hordes of wishniks who’ll gladly cough up their last buck for the chance of a lifesaving bonanza. Thanks to this desperate economic situation, the town’s been revived, its mix of casinos, hookers, and churches providing a bracing brew of simultaneous sinning and purification. On the main strip, the Trump Taj Mahal is the most elaborately sick structure for miles—you could swear you were in India, or at least Las Vegas—and I also loved the Bally’s with the Wild Wild West theme replete with an animatronic donkey giving you the eye. Best of all was the Steel Pier amusement park, where I won a Mr. Potato Head by shooting water into a hole. (Normally, that sort of thing wins you nothin’ but grief.) I promptly brought the Potato thingie back to Bally’s to make the donkey jealous, and honey, it worked! That ass is putty in my hands now.
There’s some goofball activity coming to our own economically precarious town, and with humans yet. After being delayed longer than Susan Lucci‘s Emmy, the dance club Crobar is finally supposed to open in October on the site of a manufacturing facility where they once made Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade floats (Mr. Potato Head sadly not among them). Co-owner Cal Fortis—who, with Ken Smith, also has Crobars in Chicago and Miami—wants Gotham’s version to practically be a parade in itself. “I think New York is ready for a big party,” he told me. “We’re trying to pull the club scene all into one spot and desegregate all those markets.” They’re actually trying to pull it all into three spots; Crobar will have a trio of distinct, linked venues under one roof, all with different music and ambience (and all with electricity). But forget any fourth venue; Fortis says they rejected the offer to do a reality TV show about the club’s opening, afraid to give up creative control. I wish someone had filmed them turning down the network, for a series called But I Want Creative Control, Get Me Outta Here!
In the land of existing clubs-as-parades, the cutest youngish-gayish crowd in town can still be found at Area 10009, Friday nights at Opaline, where the entertainment is suitably attractive yet twisted-ish. The other week there, I co-judged a “dumpster couture” voguing contest, giving the grand prize to the House of Ninja’s refuse-laden production number, though runner-up Jackie did well in high-fashion garbage bags. They all looked like complete trash, and I say that with the highest esteem!
“Everybody’s a freak!”—that segue could work with any graph in this column—is what Harvey Pekar admiringly told me at the bash for American Splendor, the lovable movie about comic-book author Pekar’s nutsy-turvy world. Having met the guy, I can plainly say that whatever aggressively unironic, wacky thing Pekar seems to be, he’s not faking it. “Do I have permission to talk to the Voice?” he wondered, when the publicist introduced us. “Now you do,” she said. (Don’t ask. I don’t even want to know.) Before he could open his gab gates, Sylvia Miles came over, so I told Pekar, “She has two Academy Award nominations.” “Academy Awards don’t mean shit,” he said, “but she’s good.” All righty then, does he like American Splendor? “Yeah,” Pekar replied, burrowing into me with his baleful eyes. “I never told them what to do, which they appreciated. I used to go down to the truck and eat every day. The day the cast left was a very sad day.”
Even sadder is that Pekar won’t be promoting the movie on Letterman. (His last appearance had him cussing out the host as a capitalist pig.) “I’d do it, but he won’t ask me,” he said. “I was on Charlie Rose. That was OK.” At this point, Rosie Perez barreled in and exulted, “I loved the movie! It makes you feel like you’re normal!” Paul Giamatti, who perfectly plays Pekar, later agreed, and told me the only abnormal thing that night was the sumptuous array of onion rings and other comfort food. “I don’t find it that comforting,” he moaned. (Maybe he should go down to the truck.)
But hold the chicken fingers and shoot water into my hole! I hear Ben Affleck‘s lawyers are still torturing Gossiplist.com, the celeb dish and rumor website that ran a shot of Ben masturbating that the lawyers said was fake. (If it was one of him carrying on with strippers in Vancouver, however, that would be real. By the way, more people allegedly watched that scene on the monitor than saw Gigli.) Anyway, the webmaster tells me they threatened her for big bucks, so she complied with their wishes, “but they won’t unfreeze my account until I take the info I have on their other clients off the site.” I can understand their concern, but maybe these people should also spend some time trying to find better scripts for Ben.
You want a good script? Well, there are plenty of them at the Fringe Festival, and it’s a hoot to see unamplified actors scream them out over air conditioning as they chase after the “follow spots.” Tech problems or not, all the Fringe entries are trying to be the new Urinetown, but only For the Love of Tiffany has the old Urinetown‘s prized Nancy Opel. And the show is a fun, loopy sendup of Lifetime TV movies, the kind where your husband’s a fake cripple who’s trying to kill you—again.
Don’t kill me again if I tell you that soul diva Roberta Flack was recently overheard at a gym, bemoaning the fact that Justin Timberlake got such a big push to solo stardom and a Boyz II Men member who she feels is immensely talented didn’t. “That’s how they treat us,” griped Roberta.
But don’t tell me about bad treatment, people. The TV-land ascendance of gays as the new Latinos has me yelling “hooray” very wanly. Having appeared on networks that hired consultants to make sure I didn’t do any more gay items, and other ones where they begged me to “tone it down,” it’s a wild situation, especially since they’re all on the bandwagon now too, as my career accessorizes itself with trash bags. What’s more, a company that years ago rejected me from their ad campaign for being too gay is now the main sponsor for Queer Eye! (Though I’m probably still not the right kind of gay for them.) As the Jon Secada of the queer movement, my response to all this progress is a combination of joy, bitterness, and relief that I might finally get thrown a few crumbs. If so, I hope they won’t clash with my sundried tomato aioli.