I’ve been telling you for three months about Tuesday nights at Happy Valley, the medium-sized dance club located, conveniently enough, just a kidney stone’s throw away from my house. Well, now that mainstream-media outlets have caught wise to the thing, let me refresh your palate with an inside view of what it is and why it makes me whole again. The event is sexy, demented, and diverse, a magical bit of nouveau old-style nightlife as handed over by a capricious God, who’s decided to stop punishing us bar whores for a spell to make up for the no-smoking rule (which everyone ignores anyway, cough, cough, vomit). It’s a multisexual Brigadoon—a reawakened bit of lunacy as hosted by the ultimate female drag queen, SUSANNE BARTSCH
, and sci-fi gender explosion KENNY KENNY for their friends, fans, and most cherished freakazoids.
Their foofy following consists half of weirdies and half of hotties, a mix that works much better than it should, mainly because they’re all weirdies under the skin. The drag queens are more outlandish than ever—they’re eight feet tall, six feet wide, bald, bearded, and bespectacled—and they coexist with the unspeakably cute (and twisted) guys with an ease that more niche-specific clubs would be terrified of.
The anti–AMY SACCO, La Bartsch—who with her pint-size muscleman hubby DAVID BARTON plays Barnum to their son, BAILEY—has come back, like a revivified sea monkey, to her classic getups, sparkle, and endearing neurosis. (Every week, she’s convinced the place will be empty. Every week it’s fuller than AMANDA LEPORE‘s bra would be if she were wearing one.) Kenny, meanwhile, is the amused urchin perennially uplifted by his spiritual retreats to India, while fur-bearing co-owner FABRIZIO BRIENZA sails through the place with his sexy Italian eyelids at half-mast, tacitly reminding you that this is all straight out of Fellini by way of the Olive Garden commercials.
That trio of nuts is matched by the place’s three madcap levels: the downstairs, where the hardcore freaks unravel to DJ RYAN MCKNIGHT‘s bouncy retro kitsch; the main floor, which is for sloppy-dancing to more au courant tones; and the balcony, which has alkies posing, sprawling, and ogling whoever’s in the go-go booth, where all imaginable genders have shimmied and shined.
The kids have sucked up this bash because they’re tired of hearing about all the pre-GIULIANI mayhem and want to finally grab something similar (but ultra current) for themselves, while the oldies have found it their miraculous chance to take off the Norma Desmond turbans and seize back their own piece of the night. In the process, there have been some dark moments—like when I reminded a bartender that my group’s drinks had been authorized as comp and he furiously lifted them up and slammed them into the garbage pail. (It was all worked out later.) But without a touch of crass, I wouldn’t trust that this place was more than just a taunting mirage. Long may it carpet my Valley.
ABEL AND WILLING
Raise some fizzy water to Motherfucker, the roving rock-freak bash that now has the extra attraction of a giant camera attached, and no it’s not a colonoscope. The event has become the mascara-laden subject of a documentary in progress, and unlike the three other club docs I’ve been interviewed for, it looks like this one might actually come out.
The nose-candied line dance that was Studio 54 is going big-screen again thanks to manic director ABEL FERRARA, who tells me he’s doing a gangster movie partly set at the legendary ’70s club. Ferrara is searching for actors who look like co-owner Steve Rubell and company to match actual disco-era footage, which is good news for me—I’m a dead ringer for both BIANCA JAGGER and the horse she rode in on.
Gay college student Saturdays at Heaven are so hormonally zingy they should call the place Studio 18-to-20. Skinny guys alternate between messily making out with anyone else with frosted hair and flailing arms and getting into some Discovery Channel–worthy fag-fag-fag-hag combos on the dancefloor. “How does this place manage to keep away all the old, lecherous trolls?” I earnestly asked a door worker. “I don’t know,” he said as I fell through a hidden trapdoor.
I’m plummeting even farther now that my job at the gay premium channel Q TV is faygeleh history. The troubled enterprise just canned virtually all its programming, and I’m now loving Logo more than ever.
Causing much uplift, I Googled JOHN PAULUS and came up with scads of entries on the late Pope John Paul II. (Someone had better alert the Vatican.) But Paulus, of course, is the guy who says he had an Internet-orchestrated hookup with CLAY AIKEN and apparently kept the cum rag as proof. (He’s MONICA LEWINSKY and LINDA TRIPP combined. Sex scandals happen much more efficiently nowadays.) On the phone last week, the ex–Green Beret reminded me that he felt used by the “Jekyll and Hyde” Aiken (whose RCA flack had no comment on Paulus’s claims). “He led me to think he was looking for a friendship,” he said, “and we’d build upon that. But all he wanted was sex right away.” In case you haven’t heard the details, Paulus swears this involved Aiken pushing Paulus’s head toward his dick; shoving said member in Paulus’s ass (“I jumped off it and said ‘Clay!’ ” Paulus told me, but he must have jumped back—”I bottomed out for like an hour” he added); and Aiken unsuccessfully trying to fist him too. (Well, the singer himself had already gotten so many thumbs-up from Simon.)
But how upset can someone be if he let Clay-for-play plow him without a condom for, like, an hour? “I take responsibility,” admitted Paulus (who six years ago slept with another superstar, but won’t name him—he was nice). “But sometimes you get caught up with the celebrity thing and you don’t think properly.” Now he’s less starstruck, especially since he says Clay’s post-orgasm behavior involved barking “Go grab me a fucking cloth to wash this off”and splitting, sans niceties. “I felt like some cheap whore,” said Paulus. “It would have been worse if he had left $100 on the nightstand. And there he was two hours later online meeting people!” (Paulus must have been back on there looking for another friendship.)
The weird upshot of all this is that Clay’s fans are way angrier at Paulus for spilling the jizz than they are at their idol for being endlessly evasive (though Page Six reported that a few do want to sue the singer). “When someone destroys their fantasy,” Paulus told me, “they lash out at that person, not the one they adore. His Christian fans tell me this is nothing but an organized gay tactic to undermine a Christian guy. But I’m Christian. You can’t be gay and Christian now?” Sure you can—remember that Google search?—and you can be a porn star too; Paulus is now working for gay-adult-film titan MICHAEL LUCAS, who’ll leave money on his nightstand. He’s also on the club rounds; I saw him at, yep, Happy Valley, where he was deep in talk with CARSON KRESSLEY. (“Nothing dirty,” Carson assured me afterward, “but when I took down his number, I accidentally erased BETTY BUCKLEY‘s!”)
Boldface lips touch in PATRICK MCMULLAN‘s Kiss Kiss photo book, but at his party at Pre/Post, I came closer to more intimate parts. Smack in the middle of the buffet table were two barely clad gals and a guy, a hired tableau that prompted McMullan associate SAM BOLTON to note, “The pussy is freshly shaved, and so is the parmesan!” In another corner, ROCCO DISPIRITO‘s ex-drag friend VICTORIA HILTON started a mini fire with an errant napkin (talk about flaming queen) and John Paulus turned up, presumably to scope out the cheese assortment and wash it down.
In more legit romantic- comedy news, the Broadway revival of NEIL SIMON‘s Barefoot in the Park reminded me that this is pretty much the same play as Simon’s The Odd Couple: Two opposites move in and have a house party with a couple of other kooks, after which they bitterly fight and try to make up. It’s also a little like Rabbit Hole in that the nutty but wise mom—JILL CLAYBURGH here, TYNE DALY in Hole—walks off with the show, shoes or not. The rest of the production can’t camouflage the play’s dated qualities, but it doesn’t deserve the angry All That Chat post “SCOTT ELLIOTT Murders Neil Simon!”
But back to American idylls: Remember the Grammys, when KELLY CLARKSON thanked her date, saying she was “my first producer in my closet back home when I was a kid?” Well, JACKIE CLARKE of Free FM’s Jake and Jackie Show says, “Kelly, if you’re gonna mention date, don’t mention closet in the same breath.” You too, Clay Aiken.
I recently quoted drag diva LADY BUNNY‘s immortal joke: “How does CLAY AIKEN remove a condom? He farts!” Well, now it’s become apparent that Bunny’s going to have to rewrite it—a lot—because according to JOHN PAULUS, Clay’s a top and besides, he doesn’t USE condoms! (Don’t you hate when messy behavior interferes with classic humor?) Please send your suggestions for a more realistic replacement joke.
Stop everything. Sadly enough, I just heard that Hairspray‘s Tony winning score collaborators and longtime boyfriends MARC SHAIMAN and SCOTT WITTMAN are splitsville as a couple. But they’re still working together on the musical of Catch Me if You Can. You can’t stop the beat!