You got to the “Day to Be Gay in the Catskills” benefit by driving past something ominously called Stonewall Farms and following the signs that simply said “DTBG.” You see, in the “hillbilly Hamptons” you apparently can’t use the G-word in public. I say KMFAC—kiss my fat ass, Catskills. Nah, no sweat. Once there, it was nice to be surrounded by the country queens, who are defiantly steroid-free, have boyfriends they take seriously, and will spend an entire day searching for just the right quince pie. I wouldn’t want to be around them all the time either, but for a weekend, they’re different (that is, until you’re back in the city and you realize they are too). The sweet event was filled with muffins, lesbians selling audio novels, and an onstage parade of dogs turning tricks even their owners can’t do. It was all very hillbilly homo, and I was amazed that the gays have creatively seized on yet another place (like Miami Beach) where old Jews used to go to die.
Back in my living room, the gayest show on TV turned out to be The View, thanks to ROSIE O’DONNELL, who’s a four-cylinder diesel and not turning back at the next truck stop. I had whinily expressed trepidation that Rosie might saunter back into the closet under BABA WAWA‘s watchful gaze, but I’m thrilled to say I was more wrong than DAVID GEST in thinking he might get herpes from LIZA. (You can’t get it from a toilet seat, honey.) On her first episode, Rosie presented herself as a giant, aggressive dyke, talking about KELLI, showing Kelli, kissing Kelli, and even saying she likes BILLIE JEAN KING. While ELLEN DEGENERES retreats to her on-air ambiguity—an act greeted with mystifying silence on behalf of the gay community—Rosie is more lesbo than HILLARY and proud of it. (I only wish she’d stop regretting her “lesbian haircut.” She’s demonizing butch. And I loathe all that my-kids-did-this-and-that kind of blather, but I guess the straights do it too, so it’s perversely required.) The resultant View seemed so much the Rosie show on the first day that JOY BEHAR was practically in the audience and the young one was virtually in the other room. (Now if we can really get her in the other room.) But the rest of the week, Joy caught fire again and the balance was as back as it could be without a STAR JONES facsimile.
The upshot? The world has changed, kids. Back in Ellen’s sitcom days, critics ravaged her for being “preachy” and “unfunny” the second she and her character came out. This time around, scribes didn’t even mention Rosie’s lesbianism when they were listing all their complaints. Yay, gay!
Meanwhile, JOAN RIVERS is doing that gay View-ish pilot for Bravo, and a spy tells me she was heard to exclaim, “We need a black gay on the panel—and they’ve got to act really black!” Before I get all high-horsey and start sermonizing about stereotypes, let me just suggest someone: AL REYNOLDS!
As for Tommy boy—who Rosie’s still weirdly creaming for—his baby SURI looks 40, has a full head of extensions, and appears to be half Asian, but otherwise, everything’s in order, even if Suri spelled backwards is practically “I, ruse.” No, I’m totally kidding. Suri’s so cute she makes SHILOH look like APPLE. But that Vanity Fair blowjob and all the accompanying huckstering, aimed at the cynical media who won’t take this family to heart, may actually be the most cynical, sell-your-soul act of the year. It’s inspired everyone else to become a vigilante reporter, like the reader who called in to swear Suri does indeed seem to have epicanthic folds, the flaps of skin that overlap the inner corners of the eye in many Asians. So does COLIN POWELL, she enthused. Let’s not be Suri-diculous. Discuss.
BANGLES AND BEDPANS
Real Asian divas populate TOMER HEYMANN‘s Paper Dolls, a moving documentary about a group of Filipino trannies who migrated to the Catskills—I mean Israel—where they care for the elderly by day and put on fabulous drag shows by night, as we all should. Once you see the film, you’ll never forget the sight of the terminally ill octogenarian who can’t talk anymore writing notes for his tranny carekeeper, who responds in flamboyantly broken Hebrew. They’re the sweetest odd couple since Baba and Rosie.
At the premiere party at the Maritime, the comely Heymann was hugging and kissing another gentleman—earlier, he’d done this same shtick with someone else—but I broke them up and asked Heymann if this was the result of the Paper Dolls’ on-screen suggestion that he get a boyfriend. “No,” he said. “I was involved with . . . no, not tonight. E-mail me tomorrow and I’ll give you details.” He handed me his card, which interestingly has a picture of five young boys in tight shorts, holding onto one another’s waists. “These are the men I’ve bonded with,” he said. “It’s me and my brothers as kids.” I was more intrigued than ever, so I raced home to send him that busybody e-mail. He responded that two of the guys I’d met that night were his exes. “Call me,” he added. “It will be great to talk to you about love, sex, and my mother.” Or better yet, he can dress in drag and I’ll write a note in Hebrew.
I wrote a fan note to Broadway eternal DONNA MCKECHNIE when I was practically in diapers—the original ones, not Depends—as McKechnie astoundingly reminded me at the party for her riveting memoir Time Steps. The note still holds. At the event, McKechnie read triumphant snatches from the book and illustrated her points with other Broadway eternals singing the appropriate show tunes. When Donna’s original A Chorus Line castmate PRISCILLA LOPEZ belted “What I Did For Love,” everyone fell apart, even—no, especially—on “Look, my eyes are dry.”
Later on, ex-View-er MEREDITH VIEIRA heard me gushing to another guest about something and she assumed it was about the McKechnie performance. “Wasn’t it great?” she exclaimed. “Yes,” I replied, “but we were talking about Weber’s discount store.” She handled it well.
And suddenly it was Fashion Week, where my discount apparel was greeted with fishy stares, even from attitudey homeless people. But fun freaks and icons gathered at the Mao Mag party, where I chatted up NATALIE REID, “the fake PARIS HILTON,” who’s almost as delightfully ditzy as the real one. “Sorry about your record not selling enough,” I said, feigning concern. She looked dazed and responded, “I like your jacket.” Hot! At a party for The Daily at the new club Tenjune, Elvis’s granddaughter, RILEY KEOUGH, seemed equally light-headed while spilling beer on RYAN CABRERA, “but she’s nice,” I was assured. I’d probably like her anyway.
But stop everything. The unthinkable has happened and BEN AFFLECK (the best thing in the fairly leaden Hollywoodland) and SHARON STONE (who closed her legs for the RFK assassination piece Bobby) are being talked about for Oscar consideration. What a world, what a world. Check the Weather Channel to see if hell’s frozen over.
Alas, not coming back is voguing giant Willi Ninja, who never stopped twirling, whirring, and giving the new kids props and inspiration. After Willi’s recent death from AIDS, poet EMANUEL XAVIER sent out the requisite info, with the proviso, “This is a funeral service, not a ball event. Any unnecessary drama will not be welcome.” Afterwards, a relieved Xavier informed me that only necessary drama took place. “Thank God none of the ball queens tried to run off with Willi’s pumps or trophies,” he related. “He went out like a downtown Celia Cruz, the way he would have wanted to. He looked fabulous, and considering the amount of people, they kept the procession cute, with house music playing in the background. I almost expected Willi to pop up from his coffin, snap his fingers, and yell ‘Work!’ ” Xavier certainly worked it. “I was cruising this really hot guy,” he told me, “as Willi would’ve expected me to, and it turned out to be PHARRELL WILLIAMS!” Hmm, frontin’ into him would surely allay some of my grief.
There’s only one mildly sour note. Another attendee swears Willi would be rolling in his grave that MADONNA was quoted in his press obituaries, seeing as “he spent his entire career reminding people that voguing was introduced by the likes of MALCOLM MCLAREN and QUEEN LATIFAH.” Willi would have, you know, died. Still, Madonna was being sincere, and even us city queens should probably encourage that sort of thing.
WEB EXTRA: Let’s make way for some new beginnings. I hear Amy Lumet (director Sidney‘s glam daughter) has just gotten engaged to Tony Peck (Gregory‘s charmer son). And Minnie Mortimer (the cute sister-in-law of Tinsley) has been hand holding with Syriana writer/director Stephen Gaghan. Hey, one more of these and we’ve got a trend.