There’s been some lingering ickiness hovering over the culture, and I—slow on the uptake—have just caught ill wind of it. For one thing, veteran crooner ROBERT GOULET turned up on The Tony Danza Show—you heard me; now pop some Geritol and hush—to moan about how terribly uncomfortable it was to have to kiss a man onstage in the La Cage aux Folles revival. (Maybe he prefers it offstage. Nah, kidding.) There are several ironies here. One is that La Cage brought Goulet in to replace someone with a supposed attitude problem—though even that guy puckered with gusto. (And yes, I know, he was gay.) Another twist is that the show was designed to sell the normalcy of queer love to the masses, but behind the scenes Goulet was apparently pulling his same-sex-squeamish routine. And in a whole other contortion of fate, the producers were hoping the ballsy baritone would reverse the show’s box office downturn, but alas, it died faster than Goulet’s tan when the tube runs out. Kiss my abs, Bob.
Meanwhile, I just belatedly caught up with Wedding Crashers and found it a somewhat overrated romp suffused with an obligatory dose of gay panic. The comedy has a gross, psychotic (if at least artistic) queer character who blindly dives on VINCE VAUGHN as Vaughn curls his little nose in revulsion. (It’s true, JANE SEYMOUR‘s character does pretty much the same thing to OWEN WILSON, but he ends up sort of cottoning to the idea.) What’s more, the film panders to its audience by working horrid remarks into the script and then discounting them—a clever way to have your bitter cake and eat it too. “Homo!” shrieks the demented granny character about the aforementioned psychofag, and the audience howls with glee. “That’s no way to talk,” instructs a younger character, making it all OK.
FOOLED AROUND AND FELCHED IN LOVE
I like my lingering ickiness—or fingering ickiness—seasoned with some borscht belt humor, a combination that makes The Aristocrats so skeevily palatable. The low-budget documentary by director PAUL PROVENZA and executive producer PENN JILLETTE figuratively rolls around in all manner of bodily waste while
hilariously exploring the famous joke about a family that does a myriad of unspeakable sex acts onstage but calls itself the Hiltons, I mean “the Aristocrats.”
At the premiere party at Caroline’s Comedy Club, I descended to a third-grade level—or at least a Robert Goulet level—by asking the various notables which ritual is more aesthetically unappealing, felching (sucking your own cum out of your partner’s orifice) or fisting (ramming your hand up them in randy defiance). Mind you, I think both acts are absolutely delightful and in fact quite ecologically sound, but I needed to hear second opinions, especially now that the movie threatens to make these kinky pastimes, you know, speakable.
“The thing about fisting is it seems like it really hurts!” observed comic JUDY GOLD, squirming. But felching has its detractors too, like club owner CAROLINE HIRSCH, who told me, “Just the act of sucking up shit is pretty disgusting.” (Point taken.) “Felching is more fun,” insisted Penn Jillette. So wait, he’s actually done it? “Of course. I’m an aristocrat!” Jillette sparkled. And fisting hurts, right? “Not me!” he boomed. Because you’re all lubed up? “Not me!” he repeated, strangely.
Anyway, Provenza said it all depends on who you’re fisting or felching with. All righty, how about with MADONNA? “Then I think they’d both be perfectly wonderful,” he chirped. Has he ever fisted? “Catch me at the right time,” he replied. “I’ll fist with anybody that asks me. I’m an aristocrat!” Join the club, baby. At that moment, PATRICK MCMULLAN urged me to mock-fist Provenza for a photo, and rather than scream, “Not me!” I proceeded to faux-insert my clenched hand up his butt, as Paul graciously bent over and puckered. Ah, la publicité!
Finally, I spoke to BOB SAGET, who’s corrosively funny in the film, a far shriek from the Saran-wrapped Ken doll he’s played on TV. “People won’t want to see me pick up the kids on Full House reruns anymore, will they?” he smirked. After some banter about how Saget supposedly shits every 15 minutes and how Warhol would have loved him, we got down to business: Fisting versus felching, please? “If you’re able to do both,” he obliged, “if you can reach into a man’s ass and take out the felch material, then you’re like a monkey in a zoo that throws things at people. It’s all wrong!” Yeah, but has he ever felched the OLSEN TWINS? He looked stricken. “I will not use curse words in the same paragraph with their names,” Saget said, respectfully. Depressed, I went home and fucked my goldfish.
MY DAD THE VAGINA
The mood went from debauched to de-raunched at a screening of the bland Must Love Dogs—I don’t—at least until I heard an attendee gleefully tell his date, “My father is the world’s most effeminate gynecologist! He wears pink from head to toe!” Hey, maybe someone should shove a speculum inside him—or at least reach into his ass and take out the felch material.
Just as offbeat in its paternity issues, JIM JARMUSCH‘s Broken Flowers turned out to be a well-observed road movie in which BILL MURRAY deals with the possibility of having fathered a son years ago. I thought those kind of plotlines died with old Bette Davis potboilers, but they’re still hot; in fact, Murray did one just last year in The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. This time, he lowers his familiar deadpan to such a slow burn that he’s almost a hologram. The movie around him has wonderful turns by SHARON STONE and JESSICA LANGE, but at the premiere, at least one notable was begging me not to draw public attention to his yawning spells.
The next thing I knew, I was playing daddy at Runt, the Wednesday-night gay party at Nowhere Bar to celebrate short people and their long-armed admirers. STEPHIN MERRITT (who co-promotes with DAVID YARRITU) told me he designed the event as an antidote to Bear, the hirsute happening on Tuesdays at the same bar. “I want to fetishize short people,” he crowed. “Not particularly fat or hairy ones—not bears. And this is a particularly good place for it because the ceilings are so low.” Actually, glancing around, it just looked like a regular old cruise bar for men of unchallenged height. Where the fuck were the short stuffs? “That goes with the territory,” Merritt insisted. “If there are tall people, you can’t see the short ones.” (True—at that point I looked down and noticed six dwarves hanging onto my shoelaces).
Merritt’s runt icons? “Napoleon,” he boomed. Uh-huh, absolutely. “Capote,” he went on. Oh yeah, faboo, doll. “And ROBERT BLAKE,” he concluded. Yikes! I was gonna run and call the cops until he added, “And as for the women, LINDA HUNT is a goddess.” Indeed. Give the little lady a clenched hand.
Who’s the most adorable, delectable publicist on the scene—the woman who, without notice, stops sending you her quality invites but generously keeps you on the Grade-Z crap list; the needy gal whose favorite thing to promote is herself, while alerting you to every bit of low-level, extorted press she gets; the restrictions queen who piles on so many advance rules you’re afraid to even ask her mid-level client, “So how are you?” (after you sell your soul, the interview is postponed anyway); the lady who allows you to phone-interview her star right away, graciously saying, “We just want to get this over with” (she later wackily begs you to hold the article for a few weeks!); the dame who has a breakdown when you accidentally step on her red carpet, even though the photogs there are so desperate they actually start shooting you en masse; or the hanger-on who begs you to come to an event, then weirdly turns his back when you show up? It’s a seven-way tie with the drag queen who, despite 10 years of glorious mentions, doesn’t say hello because you didn’t mention her that week! All together, they compose the guest list of hell—and if I’m at the door, honey, I assure you they’ll be ushered right in. And fisted.
The kids over at talkinbroadway.com (who are right sometimes) swear that in August, ROSIE O’DONNELL is definitely maybe gonna replace ANDREA MARTIN in the Golde role (opposite HARVEY FIERSTEIN) in Broadway’s Fiddler on the Roof. If that’s true, it’s a much better choice than ROBERT GOULET.