The Woman in White proves you should never wear that color after Labor Day. The sleekly designed show gains power as it goes along, but it’s still basically a glorified Harlequin musical with too many moon/June lyrics, rape songs, and unwitting melodic homages to stuff from “Can’t Help Falling in Love” to “Macarena.” While awash in the plot’s arsenal of revelations, I shamefully started wondering if one of the characters’ names—Lady Glyde—doesn’t sound like some kind of feminine-hygiene product.
The Great American Trailer Park Musical seems more up my dank alley, so when the producers asked me to judge a promotional trailer-trash contest, I said ho, I mean yes, and became privy to all sorts of faux pregnant ladies belching the alphabet while doing a headstand and eating Spam. As the trash piled up, the event’s host, JERRY SPRINGER—who’s no stranger to raucous mobile-home escapees—surveyed the room and cracked, “This is a new career low.” But I know he couldn’t possibly have meant it, since he said the very same thing when he hosted my birthday party at a drag bar a few years ago!
Trailer trash made good is the subject of Walk the Line, which takes a womanizing singing legend through childhood, marriage, cheating, success, dressing-room destruction, more cheating, a comeback, and redemption. No, wait, that was Ray. Walk the Line—or Joaq the Line, as it were—takes a sighted womanizing singing legend through childhood, marriage, cheating, etc., etc. It’s a more than decent piece of work, though almost every imaginable biopic cliché is in there, and spunky REESE WITHERSPOON brings a little too much Beverly Hills to her hillbilly honey. In the premiere’s audience, Hills dweller JESSICA ALBA was asked by a photographer to pose, and she complied, laughingly saying, “Sure, take a picture of me eating popcorn and gaining five pounds!” (That would probably double her weight. Spam would quadruple it.) At the after-party, more habits were challenged when someone asked Phoenix if they could help him stop smoking through acupuncture. “I don’t want to stop smoking,” he replied, simply—though acupuncture could probably help with that too.
But needles are out and pills are all the way in again, thanks to the fact that—hold on to your Lady Glyde—Valley of the Dolls is finally coming out on DVD in the states next year! The tawdrily glamorous 1967 classic—the kind of gorgeous backstage musical that forces Walk the Line to the back of the line—is being sumptuously repackaged, and there will even be special features, like a documentary I’ve been interviewed for, hallelujah, hoo-ha, praise Jesus. I am plotzing from joy. I’m planting my own tree of pure heaven. I can barely go on.
But I’ll try: Even racier cinema will get the once-over with porn industry chronicler BENJAMIN SCUGLIA‘s book in progress called It Just Happened, a behind-the-scenes tell-all of the gay adult-film jizz biz. “I was going to call it an oral history,” Scuglia tells me, “but people kept giggling. It’s about how the Falcon aesthetic has infiltrated the mainstream via advertising and popular culture. Look at any fashion magazine and you see those naked, hairless, androgynous male models—and where does the aesthetic come from? Falcon movies! If you want to predict the next trend, just look at gay porn.” OK, then I guess the next mainstream trend is going to be light ramming followed by simultaneous felching (and gaining five pounds).
And airbrushing primates. Everyone knows that fans didn’t cotton to King Kong’s snaggletooth in early footage shown (though I felt it gave him a sort of country-singer charm). Well, in the newest promo image I saw, it seems to have been photo-shopped right out of there, his mouth streamlined as if it were that of a supermodel (and it is, it is). His other appendage, I hope, is still hanging.
I’D RATHER HAVE A BOTTLE IN FRONT OF ME . . .
Barbaric Photoshopping of the brain, as it were, is spotlighted in the radio documentary My Lobotomy, whose premiere at Bellevue I gleefully went to, mainly to act all superior to the live guests who’d no doubt be screaming, slobbering, and belching the alphabet. But these survivors—who once had ice picks rammed into their heads for various un-chic reasons—were touching and well-spoken about the ramifications of their horror, though I was most attracted to the lady who said the lobotomy actually helped her resolve her schizophrenia. I hope she got two for the price of one.
At the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, comics were strapping on extra brain cells to do an elaborate deconstruction of R. KELLY‘s Trapped in the Closet, the insane r&b opera in which Kelly monotonously sings every character’s dialogue, leading up to the closet-busting revelation, “The man is a midget!” (When the midget literally shits himself, you want to put him back in the closet.) In between showings of Kelly’s mind-boggling video, a panel of fake experts fielded audience questions like “Is the policeman holding the chicken a metaphor for himself?” The reply was that this work might not hold up under quite that much scrutiny.
Trapped in Canada, nightclub kingpin PETER GATIEN—who was convicted of tax evasion—might try to get back into the States via some kooky loophole, with the help of his daughter Jennifer. I hear he’s supposedly part Native American, which they’re hoping will mean he can’t be thrown out of the U.S.A., the land he helped create (or destroy, depending on your point of view).
BRIDGET OVER TROUBLED WATER
MADONNA may want to stay in the U.K. when she hears MURRAY HILL‘s been telling the crowd at Mo Pitkin’s, “She’s 85! I don’t want to see her cameltoe anymore!” (Nah, bring it on; Madonna’s still got it big-time, even with King Kong–like airbrushing.) But we do want to see every inch of Murray’s guest star that night, BRIDGET EVERETT, who mesmerizingly flailed into the audience while wailing songs about her wide vagina and stalkery behavior. The big girl is a large talent—picture WYNONNA JUDD meets MELISSA ETHERIDGE via the local bar floozy, on a rocket ship out of Twin Peaks.
In other outsize news, now that the fabulous JENNIFER HUDSON of American Idol fame has nabbed the role of Effie in the Dreamgirls film, I vaguely remember that a year ago she already had designs on the part, telling me she was desperate to star in a stage production. “But you’re too skinny for Effie. You’ve got to play Deena,” I assured her, flattering her only a little. (She’s not Jessica Alba, but she’s not Godzilla either.) “No other role but Effie!” insisted Hudson, who ended up getting all she wanted and then some. Either she’ll be the least voluminous Effie in history or she’s sucking in the fudge as we speak.
Finally, White Trash Debutantes dream girl GINGER COYOTE came to town to promote Tweek City, which she told me is “wholesome fare for the entire family.” What film about the downward spiral of a small-time speed dealer isn’t? And it became peek city when she got to see the star’s exposed penis—a lot—seeing as he freely flaunted it on-screen and off. Apparently it’s so huge it could play Effie.
Huffman, all woman
KATHIE LEE GIFFORD‘s face looks amazing these days. Did Santa come early this year? . . . Moving on to real women, Henrietta Hudson is still the best hot-looking- bagel-bumper hangout at which to cruise and peruse. Just don’t lean against the scoring blackboard near the pool table; I wiped out all the names, and the dykes are still after me . . . Completing the female spectrum, Desperate Housewives‘ FELICITY HUFFMAN plays a transsexual in the upcoming mixed-bag film Transamerica, and at first I thought she was way too tasteful and subdued to register as anywhere approaching convincing. The trannies I know are generally good-time gals who run around screaming “Ay, papi! My pussy’s on fire!” while shaking tambourines and singing Madonna songs. But then I remembered having met some transsexuals of the type that want to pass for women (which they are) and do so with subtle body language and light makeup. Felicity nailed it . . . Another woman has been bending, namely FERGIE, whose look and demeanor in the “My Humps” video remind one reader of CANDIS CAYNE circa ’96 . . . In yet one more switcheroo, I hear that in the currently filming The Good Shepherd, MATT DAMON does a scene where he plays the buxom boat lady Buttercup in a Whiffenpoofs production of H.M.S. Pinafore. How perfect—Gilbert and Sullivan were the original Matt and Ben.
The other Madonna gets her due in the Radio City Christmas show, which—until the famous climactic procession of wildlife and solemnity—is as eye-poppingly slap happy as ever. I’ve seen this gorgeous spectacle for so many years that I now bend along with the wooden soldiers, chew my cud along with the camel, and wait for the musicians strike to settle to even sit down. Having done so, I’m now starting to catch new nuances, like when the man in the moon looks down at the high-kicking Rockettes and makes leering, appreciative faces. That’s now vaulted past the Raggedy Ann fantasia, Santa jazz number, and the mini Nutcracker thingie to become my second favorite moment in the show. (Sorry, humanfolk, but the camel’s still tops.)
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 15, 2005