So how’re you doing, Parker Posey, you appealing kook of ages? “I’m a dork,” she cracked to me at B Bar with her usual soignée moxie. A dork icon, I suggested, racing on Diet Coke. “Uh-huh. No more indie queen!” Parker exulted. Wait a minute, baby, did that limiting label hurt you? “Shut up!” she screeched, laughing. “Shuuut uuuup! ‘Did that label hurt you?’ It hurt me in here,” she said, mock-pounding her chest. Poignant pause. “But yeah, I think it did,” she added, seriously.
Still, as a seasoned observer—don’t hurt me—I know that mainstreamy projects sometimes underuse Parker’s gifts, so maybe the indie-queen thing wasn’t a total washout. “I’m just kind of a punk,” she said in response to that. “Indies are a different way of working—they’re much faster. You get to choose what you wear and bring your own psychology to the part. With the bigger movies, you’re wearing designer clothes and you feel more corporate—but I’ve got to do some of that because it pays!” (No need to tell me—I turn tricks between articles.)
Parker said that Hollywood movies usually call on her to play the amusing wacko, “but sometimes they’ll go, ‘There’s a part for you, a lovelorn character,’ and then you hear they changed it to a fat Hawaiian woman! That’s not in my range!” She fell apart giggling, too smart to be that bitter.
Coming up, Parker’s in a small, earnest indie called The Event, about a gay cellist with AIDS who decides to have one last blowout, replete with ultratight guest list. In an atypical role, Parker’s the fat Hawaiian woman, I mean the insensitive D.A. who investigates the guy’s supposed suicide. “She’s mean!” she offered, eyes burrowing. “So misplaced and cloudy. She probably watched a lot of TV when she was little, a lot of Columbo.” Well, who didn’t, but that didn’t make us misplaced and cloudy, right? Still, I did feel a little mean when I reminded Parker of the flip side of indie glory—the really punky pay. Fortunately, she didn’t say, “Shuuut uuuup.” It’s true, she divulged—a lot of times they do some creative accounting and you end up with zilch, “but that’s part of it. Whatever!”
Our glasses were half-full again, so I hatefully noted that theater isn’t always fault-free either. In fact, when Parker co-starred in Elaine May‘s flop comedy Taller Than a Dwarf three years ago, the thankless situation almost sent her spiraling. “I had dreams that I had stigmata,” she admitted to me. “I had bleeding dreams—nightmares!”
The oozing stopped last year, when Parker soared with the Fifth of July revival—her first good theatrical experience since college. And the Mississippi miss is doing quite well nowadays, not only because she’s dating rocker Ryan Adams, but because she moved from Chelsea to the East Village. Parker Posey, I confess, is one of my three favorite stars (along with two of the Dixie Chicks), and she even sparkles when Parker-posing. As the Voice photographer began to aim his lens at her, she mockingly announced, “I don’t do nudity!” A few minutes into the session, she cracked, “Hurry up—you’re taking my soul!” I want some of it too.
In the meantime, I went to the party for skinny Long Island woman and soul survivor Mariah Carey (who’s not to be confused with Mary Carey, the porn star running for California governor) at Canal Room, which looks more upscale than when it was Shine and is way easier to find with “Canal” in the name, even though it’s on West Broadway. Over in the Twenties, Avalon, né Estate, né Limelight mass-mailed free tickets valid for practically any Saturday night there—an overanxious gesture which had my elitist ass running back to Canal Room. I’m such a dork!
Wait, I did love an upcoming movie called Girls Will Be Girls, a camp riot with three drag stars (Evie Harris, Varla Jean Merman, and Coco Peru) playing roommates “in a minefield of love, aging, and ambition.” Interestingly, the “gals” brought their own psychology to the parts, but they couldn’t bring their own parts to the parts. As the press kit notes, “Evie’s vagina was fashioned out of wig scraps found under a dressing table. Five men could not figure out what the vagina should look like.” Can’t help you there.
As for women with actual genitals, it seems like the realer they are, the less chance they have of winning Miss America (where you parade around in a thong and talk about how you want to reform the world of kidney donations). My favorite contestant wasn’t the Hawaiian woman (too skinny), but Miss Wyoming, who wore a suit and a butch hairdo and bellowed, “While earning my degree, I worked at a coal mine driving a forklift.” She didn’t even make the top 15. Instead, the winner was an uncontroversial gal from Orlando who showed off her cute elephant figurines and blatantly plugged Disney World when she won. She can go to hell!
An even tipsier pageant was the one to pick Miss Rheingold finalists at Show, a contest of such gravitas that I helped judge it along with the Crunch Bunny (who had the nerve to give me friggin’ attitude all night). The result was half frat night and half fright night, as 24 big-boobed contestants performed minute-long talents from bottle opening to beer guzzling, though some went for more exalted pursuits like flamenco, poetry, and strip-dancing. They also fielded judges’ questions like “What’s the most unusual place you’ve ever had sex?” (“A bed” would have been the choicest answer; instead we got “the interstate highway” a lot.) To add to the circus, Presidential-aide-turned-Miss Rheingold-consultant Dick Morris told the crowd that the only judge he was scared of was “that Voice reporter.” (He must not have seen the bunny.) But Shequida was fearless; she came out in full getup and belted an aria, then ripped off her wig to audience cheers and high scores. “How much more diverse can you get?” she exclaimed. “A black drag queen opera singer!” With a wig-scrap vagina!
Diversity doesn’t always rule these nights out, though. My source at the Gregory Hines tribute at the Apollo says people were pissed that the all-female orchestra on hand was also all white! But brother Maurice Hines dazzled, and diverse couple Nicole Kidman and Lenny Kravitz attended “and were like an old married couple—seemingly bored with each other.”
One more pissy pageant, the Emmy Awards, was soured by all the Sopranos spouse-dumpers and homewreckers gushing about how much they respect each other, not to mention Bill Cosby acting so dismissive when Wanda Sykes spewed jokes at him in the audience. Yes, Sykes was hideously unfunny—a shrieking stereotype in the body of a generic beauty-makeover victim—but Bill could have dropped the pompous scowl for just a second and made a Jell-O face. He was certainly beaming later on when he was given a humanitarian award, with Oprah enthusing, “Bill has a really big heart!” Yeah, maybe, but he’s taking my soul!
Backstage, E!’s Ted Casablanca asked Cosby what he thinks of gay TV and the star mysteriously warned, “Be careful not to serve them up,” and added that, with all TV, “you shouldn’t play to the lowest common denominator.” Casablanca doesn’t feel Cosby was being homophobic, though, “juststupid-phobic. He hates stupid TV.” (True: Let’s not forget that Cosby—who’s done such a questionable job as Papa Bear that he had to publicly thank his wife for her “unconditional love”—once railed against the Osbournes as “a sad, sad family. They don’t have any family values.”) Meanwhile, rad, rad Walter Cronkite was on the planet phobic. Casablanca asked him the same gay-TV question and he replied, “Did you ask what I think of the Today show? I’m sorry. I’m deaf as a post.” Shuuut uuuuup!