Fez, the kooky cabaret under Time Café, has been packing in so much frenzied fun before it closes that I’ve been waking up with confetti and couscous in my hair. First the joint held MURRAY HILL‘s final Miss L.E.S. Pageant (as in both Lower East Side and les-bian), a piquant parade of sapphic sardonicism, makeshift swimsuits, and chichi cries for help. As one of the esteemed judges, I was asked to rate the contestants from 1 to 10, “1 meaning as bad as ANTONIO BANDERAS on the Oscars.” But they all did better than that—more in the CATE BLANCHETT range—including the winner, Miss Orchard, who wore a slip, furry pumps, and a Band-Aid as she acted out an interior debate about how she sucks, and Miss Chrystie, who sang about lesbianism, “I guess it’s better than fucking a man/Because I’ll never have to have an abortion again.”
While Fez prepared to abort, it also played host to the memoir-reading event Cause Celeb, which had a down-with-pedophilia-themed night subtitled “Three Tykes You’re Out!” (As opposed to the Miss L.E.S. Pageant’s climactic exclamation, “Hey, three dykes, you’re out!”) As the crowd cringed, I smirkily read from FATHER RITTER‘s Sometimes God Has a Kid’s Face (and, apparently, ass). And Sideways‘s MARYLOUISE BURKE recited from KATHERINE JACKSON‘s book that intriguingly said son Jacko doesn’t always mind being punished. According to the book, Jacko once ended up in the Van Nuys clink over an outstanding driving ticket and rather loved it. ” ‘I got to see how it felt to be in jail!’ he exclaimed,” wrote Mama. Well, unlike love, I don’t think jail time is lovelier the second time around.
In search of new hangouts, I passed by Silver Swan, the East Side bar-restaurant where hardcore cross-dressers go on Saturdays to strut their stubble. A cute outside placard said, “Rumors of underage potential supermodels cavorting inside are categorically denied.” No kidding; some of the incoming customers looked like off-duty ice cream truck drivers who slipped the wife a roofie before sneaking out in all three of her favorite outfits. But there were some beauties on parade as well, especially after a dozen cocktails.
Lice lice baby
Allowing herself to look like AMY SEDARIS in Strangers With Candy, PENÉLOPE CRUZ de-glammed for the Italian film Don’t Move, a non-musical little Debbie Downer of a film in which Cruz is raped by a married man and suffers nobly, especially when she starts to find him appealing. (Typical exchange: “Why did you cut your hair?” “I got lice.”) Even the premiere audience was terribly brave, like MATT DAMON, who told Cruz, “Sorry, I’m sweating like crazy. I was in the gym and I ran right over.” Mmm. Sometimes God has a sweaty face.
I ran from the gym—well, the cream puff store—to the New York International Children’s Film Festival, where the kiddie crowd was being treated to candy and a DANNY BOYLE movie, and thankfully it wasn’t his drooling junkie flick (Trainspotting) or his oozing zombie one (28 Days Later). It was his new opus, Millions, a nicey-nice parable about two British boys who stumble into tons of dough and learn that can be a bad thing. (But please spend every recreational penny you have to see the movie, OK?) In a Q&A after the screening, kids with all kinds of speech defects stepped up to the aisle mic to ask questions, and they were so darned cute about it, I started feeling we should all stop fucking men, to minimize abortions. One of them lispily asked Boyle if they really burned money in one memorable scene. “It’s a criminal offense to burn money,” he answered, grinning, “and it’s a criminal offense to copy money. So our legal advice is not to answer that.” But the film’s two young stars were willing to answer anything, even each other’s charming queries. (“You’re not much of a reader, are you Alex?” “Shut up!”)
Big readers (of the columns, that is), the stars of MTV’s LIZZIE GRUBMAN-centered PoweR Girls won’t need to be xeroxing money anytime soon. They’re such a PR (if not ratings) hit that though paparazzi generally want to shoot publicists with a rifle, they were lovingly shooting them with cameras at the Hotel Gansevoort bash for the show, in a feeding frenzy of true bizarreness. First, Grubman’s four subordinates arrived en masse and the paparazzi acted as if Mt. Rushmore had come alive and turned into young babes. “This is surreal,” someone with a good sense of humor smirked as the cameras went wild. “Do they realize they’re publicists?” He was a publicist for MTV! Another flack from the network was trying to tell the four gals apart, instructing an underling, “Get me their names, with the correct spelling verified. I can’t keep going ‘the cute one.’ ” Especially when they all look so similar that DAMON DASH had just walked in and leeringly told them, “You’re all the same size. Is that on purpose?”
Finally, queen bee Lizzie herself buzzed onto the scene and, when the flashes slowed, I finally got my chance to interview a publicist. Does she like watching herself on the show? “It’s weird. It’s scary. I’m the biggest critic of myself,” Lizzie admitted. Could she kick VICTORIA GOTTI‘s ass? “No way. I love Victoria!” Is her client JA RULE mad she said his album bombed? “You didn’t hear it correctly. I said it didn’t do as well as it should have.” (She helped make sure the next one did.) Does she wish she hadn’t openly dissed LINDSAY LOHAN‘s red-carpet avoidance? “I think that’s been misconstrued and taken out of context. I think Lindsay’s an amazing person!” OK! And why no mention of a certain car accident on the show? “I use personal experience to teach my staff members how to work in the business. But I don’t think it’s appropriate to talk about the accident on the show.” What accident?
Publicists then escorted these publicists to the main party area, where they hung out with other publicists, and the result, no doubt, was 50 hangovers and a press release.
In other bottle-blonde reality programming, TV Land’s imminent Chasing Farrah keeps trying to convince you that FARRAH FAWCETT still creates absolute pandemonium everywhere she goes. I guess they didn’t get the memo that the ’70s are almost over, but Farrah’s so delightful the show works anyway, and RYAN O’NEAL joins in to hog the spotlight and carry on as if he were a big queen. (“You bitch!”) No wonder this lesbo thing is catching on.
Phyllis at the gates
Never a hack, MARISA TOMEI dropped out of NEIL LABUTE‘s This Is How It Goes because her grandma was dying, and sincere regards go out to her over that loss. But insiders say she didn’t like being hit by the two guys either. (It’s part of the play.) The Public Theater didn’t reply to a request for comment . . . As for why RUPAUL is no longer on WNEW-FM, Ru blogs, “Imagine being one of the passengers in a raggedy, old, beat up car that is being driven aimlessly, more or less, by nearsighted simpletons with no map. . . . Please let me out at the far corner.”