The Tribeca Film Festival enveloped my life so completely for two action-packed weeks that when it ended I felt like I’d been dumped by a lover—the kind of stud who sends 20 Evites a day luring you to everything from tranny road movies to Muppet costume romps, all preceded by buffets and followed by Q&As.
The festival—the closest thing I’ve had to a relationship in ages—kept me whole and satisfied, leaving me with a sore ass and a cerebral cortex full of memories. There was JOHN CATANIA and CHARLES IGNACIO‘s documentary The Lady in Question Is Charles Busch (yes, I’m in it)—a loving dissection of Busch’s life as a hardworking drag theater aesthete with a hard-on for Joan Crawford. The film deals with Busch’s open-heart surgery in 2001, but it also shows him shtickily faking a heart attack as he reveals that the casting folks for HBO’s Angels in America asked him to be an extra in the drag queen funeral scene because “We want people from that era.” Smirks Busch, “I said, ‘Excuse me, I star in my own pictures!’ ”
So does indie fave CRAIG CHESTER; he wrote, directed, and acts in Adam and Steve—also at the fest—a wise, hilarious gay-marital romp, which immortalizes the DAZZLE DANCERS, Marie’s Crisis, and incontinent bowels. (Behind-the-scenes tidbit: They used chocolate sauce with peanuts.) The entire cast is perfection, but PARKER POSEY winonas the whole thing as the sassy, formerly obese comic who can’t let go of her fat jokes. (Another tidbit: For the ’80s scene, Parker wore all kinds of prosthetics and says it was hell, but by the end of the day she got so into it she wanted to stay enormous. I know the feeling.)
Svelte good-time gal SALLY KIRKLAND has a part in it too—she’s the free-loving lady who marries Adam and Steve. “I really am ordained,” Kirkland told me at the screening. “I said, ‘I have to be in this movie,’ so they wrote the role of the bipolar, AA-sponsored minister.” Sally’s real life is also refreshingly off the map. When she introduced me to her “girlfriend” and said, “we live together,” I charmingly replied, “Have you gone lesbo?” “No,” she explained. “I live communally. I still like men. But I need women around me so I can deal with the men.” (Been there!)
At the after-party, cable seductress ROBIN BYRD was miffed that Posey’s on-screen man, CHRIS KATTAN—who played a half-clad Byrd-show dancer in an SNL spoof a few years ago—refused to pose with her. God, ever since Corky Romano, he’s been such a snob!
SALLY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF VERSE
My final festival affair was with SALLY POTTER‘s Yes, an international adulterous romance with dialogue exclusively written in iambic pentameter. (I know that sort of thing sounds quite outré/But first they had a really neat buffet.)
At the movie’s bash at Bubby’s, I talked plain English to star JOAN ALLEN, asking if she attains wild sexual abandon in the film. “Sensual,” she corrected. So no penetration? “Sally leaves a lot to the imagination,” she assured. “It’s sexier that way.”
I slunk away and had a penetrating chat with Yes‘s co-producer, ANDREW FIERBERG, about his next movie, Fur, which deals with eccentric photog Diane Arbus. “Diane was a five-four Jew,” he told me, “but this is an imaginary biography and we went for the best actress.” Namely that 5-11 shiksa NICOLE KIDMAN. How imaginary is it? Well, ROBERT DOWNEY JR. plays a furry fantasy character who represents freakdom and takes Arbus out of her ’50s home life and into a new realm of possibility. It sounds like Sylvia meets that Muppet movie.
By the buffet, I ran into Daily News gossip LLOYD GROVE, who recently wrote something rather cutting about ANN COULTER. Aren’t they friends? “Yes. She likes that,” Grove told me. She likes abuse? “She likes being called a human Uzi.” Just don’t elongate her legs in a cover photo.
Then all of a sudden the festival told me we were over. (It wasn’t me, mind you. It’s just that the festival’s not the settling-down type.) So after spewing a torrent of chocolate sauce with peanuts out my butt, I buried my pride and, before the fest even closed, started going elsewhere. I went to Paper‘s party for KELLY OSBOURNE, where Kelly wore a wig (she’d shaved herself bald because . . . well, just because) and a medical corset underneath a shirt that blared, “Look at Me.” I did.
I also went to the MAC Awards (for cabaret) at Symphony Space and felt like I had been beamed into a completely alien community —a world of people who cry easily, whose lips are chapped from licking so many flyer-filled envelopes, who never got the memo that Judy Garland died, and who are completely adorable. The four-hour-plus ceremony gave them all much craved pats on the back, and gradually I started actually recognizing some of the talent—like belters LINA KOUTRAKOS and BABY JANE DEXTER, humorist SIDNEY MYER (who sang a funny ode to pheromones), and chanteuse ANN HAMPTON CALLAWAY, who won two awards and exulted, “I’m 5-10 and worth the climb.” Guest performer SARA RAMIREZ from Spamalot fit right in by doing a dramatic version of “The Man That Got Away,” the song immortalized by—everybody now—Judy Garland. And lifetime achievement award winner KEELY SMITH sang up a storm, jazzing around the stage as if she were 23, not freakin’ 73! The woman received no fewer than four standing ovations and fell apart sobbing each time, admitting, “I cry over the six o’clock news!”
Meanwhile, some Broadway observers are sobbing over spilt motor oil. But is Chitty Chitty Bang Bang really the shitty shitty gang bang more than one critic said it is? Well, I think the target audience—three-year-olds with $101.25—will adore it. But to grown-ups of any sophistication, it’s dispiriting, dull, and directed with a sledgehammer. The sub-Mary Poppins score is chim-chim-cher-rudimentary, a Brazilian samba number is thrown in just to make way for a dance break, and the people planted in the audience to loudly explain the whole show to their kids are an extra-annoying touch. (Oh, wait, that was the audience? Never mind.)
Charles Busch probably could have had a lot more fun with the material, especially since there’s a wacky, teddy-bear-clutching baron character who kisses men on the mouth. (By the way, JAN MAXWELL as the baroness rises way above her surroundings with droll MAYA RUDOLPH-as-DONATELLA-type inflections.) The car, though, can’t be improved upon. At the matinee last week, it got entrance applause, while all the Tony Award types went unnoticed by the blabby crowd. (No, shockingly enough, you didn’t hear murmurs of “Gosh, he was good in Copenhagen. And remember that fella in The Normal Heart?”) At least the car finally flies at the end of Act I, and I must say it’s the most fantabulistic thing my chu-chi face has ever seen. Otherwise, this Chitty needs a lube job. It’s an auto-da-feh.
GYPSIES, TRAMPS, AND SKEEVES
Twenty years ago, right-wingers screamed that gays were bad people and PWAs should be tracked or tattooed, and when the supposed new super-bug erupted this year, I pointed out that gay leaders were jumping on the finger-pointing bandwagon and blaring the very same things! Now that the new strain has turned out to be hype—as New York magazine reported—I’m hoping those leaders will be vigilant in a less lacerating, sensationalistic, and oppressive way. Or maybe just shut up.
Meanwhile, who’s leading the lesbians? Some very shady people, probably. A woman just e-mailed me claiming to be a fan of The L Word and urging me to write about it. “We have golden showers, s/m, dildos, and all kinds of fun things,” she enthused. “In fact, the Observer had a small article about the golden-shower incident. We dykes love the show. The women are hot.” When I e-mailed the gushy fan back to ask if her use of “we have . . . ” was a slip and in fact she works for The L Word, she never responded. Hmm. Put my finger on that dyke.
Now back to my new girlfriend— KATIE HOLMES!
Speaking of Ms. better Holmes and her new beau, why is everyone being so relentlessly cynical about their very special love? Is it just because she’s a self-professed virgin? And there were rumors about her ex? And publicists usually deny a real celebrity romance and in this case they were frothing to confirm it? And the two of them won’t stop posing for photos together? And they seem a little age- and height- discordant? And they both have imminent projects to promote? And because at Penelope Cruz’s last premiere, I spotted her and the just-broken-up Katie in a huddle, no doubt planning the girl’s future? Please! You people have no faith whatsoever. You probably don’t even believe that Brad And Angelina just happened to be in Kenya at the same time!
This is a shameless plug for the Voice‘s 50th annual Obie awards for off- and off-off-Broadway excellence. Jimmy Smits and Stockard Channing are set to cohost the event—May 16 at Webster Hall—and the eclectic batch of presenters includes Karen Finley, Holly Hunter, Sarah Jones, Craig Lucas, Rue McClanahan, John C. Reilly, Elaine Stritch, and James Urbaniak. To add even more star oomph, Daphne Rubin-Vega and the cast of Kyle Jarrow‘s Gorilla Man will perform. It’s a private affair—I’m not even sure if I’m invited (and someone even played me off-Broadway this year, in Newsical)—but the whole thing can be heard on WBAI (99.5 FM)at 8 p.m. Now where’s my award for best shameless plugger at an alternative weekly?