Atlantic City is in terrific shape, even if the animatronic mule at Bally’s hasn’t moved or talked since MADONNA came around. The tourism bureau sent us down to revel in that other accomplished Jewess, BARBRA STREISAND, who not only moved, she worked her butt off in a gorgeous concert highlighted by her creamy voice and a cleavage-revealing dress that made her look completely like udder, I mean butter. Barbra sang everything from Funny Girl to more Funny Girl, and she even personalized her patter by chirping about having visited the local 99-cent store where she ogled “flags on Band-Aids and toys for my dog.” (Presumably, she exchanges pricier trinkets with JAMES BROLIN.)
Alas, while I absolutely adored la diva, I could have done without IL DIVO, the oily opera quartet that came out whenever Babs needed a beauty rest. (They loudly crooned “My Way” in Spanish, just like the penguin in Happy Feet, but seriously.) And the funny-starting BUSH impersonator skit became labored, though it’s been so trimmed (and JoisEy is so liberal) that there were no hecklers whatsoever this time! I have to admit I was sort of praying Babs would have to repeat her “Shut the fuck up” remark or at least play the “Shut the fuck up” remix that’s been making the rounds online. Instead, all was calm, especially since Babs served a verbal wet blanket by cooing that Dubya in fact has a very good sense of humor about himself and what’s more, we’re not from red or blue states, “we’re all from the United States.” Shut the fuck up!
After lots more glorious singing, the newly serene Streisand encored with a love song to her dead dog, who “is on another plane now.” First-class, I hope.
SUSANNE TAKES YOU DOWN TO HER PLACE NEAR THE RIVER
Back in New York, all animatronics have stopped and things are like shutter. We’ve had a real disco bloodbath lately, with Happy Valley, the Roxy, and Avalon having gone through different degrees of shutdown—that last club on the night of SUSANNE BARTSCH‘s Halloween bash, just as I was arriving in clowny splendor (though I did feel a thrilling sense of power telling the pleading Oscar-winning composer for Brokeback Mountain that I couldn’t possibly help him get in.) Fortunately, Bartsch and Kenny Kenny—who brought edgy magic to Happy Valley for a year—are returning with Tuesday parties at the strip club Room Service starting on the 28th. And I still won’t help any Oscar winners through the door without a grab at their golden boy.
Lips—YVON LAMÉ‘s award-caliber drag joint—is not only still there, it’s expanding to the inevitable Fort Lauderdale. And it has a new calendar featuring its lovely tuckers du maison, which was celebrated at the boîte’s 10th-anniversary bash last week with lots of drink downing and lip reading. But the real show was backstage, where I saw signs urging the staff to make sure to push the calendar and promote the penis cakes onstage, and on weekends, “Dress to impress, not to frighten. There needs to be more glamour and less tranny!” That should be forever embroidered on my waxed pubic hair.
On Thursday, Pop Rocks was a madcap stew of inebriated young zanies carrying on and acting like penis cakes on the roof. (Outdoor partying in November? This global warming thing is turning out to be a godsend! What the fuck’s the problem?)
And the mood was warmly welcoming at the Capitale party for the Out 100, where MC JUSTIN BOND set the tone by giddily exclaiming, “Let’s hear it for the 101st— NANCY PELOSI!” The annual gala—thrown by Out magazine (which I write for)—celebrated celebs from Prada-wearing gay icon Anne Hathaway (who gushed, “I can’t believe I’m the ingenue of the year. I would have thought it would be LANCE BASS“) to gay playwright TERRENCE MCNALLY (who sardonically said he hopes KARL ROVE gets outed and added, “For the next election, we get rid of the main asshole.”). Best of all, the video montage before the awards ceremony started with KATIE HOLMES moaning, “Gay men are so hot. It’s tragic.” Relax, it’s from a movie.
The title creature in How the Grinch Stole Christmas—played by the fabulous Patrick Page—seems more than a tad gay, but offstage, of course, Page is married to PAIGE DAVIS, a/k/a Paige Page (which sounds like two-thirds of a three-way with MARK FOLEY). Anyway, the show may not “stink, stank, stunk,” but it’s a fairly uninspired mounting of the Dr. Seuss story about how it’s love, not presents, that makes the Christmas spirit—a moral you get to ingest after passing by the souvenir stand and having people run through the aisles hawking merch in your face!
Mary Poppins serves a similarly insincere theme—”There are more important things than making money”—while offering loopy lavishness for your supercalifragi-etc. dollar. The show’s magic is sometimes so mechanical they should retitle it The Umbrellas of Cyborg, and the new songs, like Grinch‘s, are mostly blah (and Act Two has nine friggin’ reprises). But shoot me, I enjoyed every minute! I especially loved Poppins serving the kids some mystery liquid that makes them do their chores (no doubt the same stuff the kids were doing over at Pop Rocks). And it’s very sweet of the lady to fly over the cheap seats at the end.
Meanwhile, The Little Dog Laughed and so did I, most notably whenever JULIE WHITE was working her own magic. White plays a lesbian agent who maneuvers two sets of gay characters back into the closet, though after two hours of her fabulous eyeball rolling and pop culture quoting, you sense that she’s the one who’s most closeted about being a gay man. In fact, she’s clearly no lesbian at all—she’s a total drag queen from Lips!
While that play brings gay Hollywood to Broadway, gay Broadway goes back to the movies with The History Boys, and “they didn’t ruin it!” as I gleefully screeched to star RICHARD GRIFFITHS at a special screening last week. Director NICHOLAS HYTNER confessed that he didn’t wring every possible laugh out of the material because they didn’t realize how to play certain bits until they got to New York (after the movie was completed), but hey, they can always film it again. As I heard the regal FRANCES DE LA TOUR intone to a friend, “I was in the play and now the movie. I don’t think it’s ever going to end!” Pause. “And why should it? It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.” Good addendum.
FOR RICHER OR PURIM
On another plane, CATHERINE O’HARA‘s place in CHRISTOPHER GUEST‘s demented ensemble will hopefully never end. She’s a regular riot in For Your Consideration, his new spoof of awards mania and his first dip into a narrative experience. And what a narrative. O’Hara plays Marilyn Hack, the star of Home for Purim—an overheated potboiler about a Yiddish-speaking family in the deep South—who hears Oscar buzz about herself and becomes so transformed she practically thinks she can get into Avalon.
“Have you ever witnessed that kind of sickness in the biz?” I asked the SCTV vet over fruit salad at the Waldorf Towers last week. “I’ve seen people lose and be very upset,” O’Hara admitted. “Shellshocked, like they’ve gotten horrible news about their family.” But her husband, production designer BO WELCH, has a much healthier attitude, of course. “He’s been nominated four times,” related O’Hara, “and he says, ‘I’m not gonna win. I know how it works’—even though he deserves to. But by time you get there, all your friends are saying, ‘Of course you’re gonna win!’ Somehow they feel they have to encourage you and you get sucked in.”
Consideration should be nominated just for the fact that the cast members were given elaborate résumés and backstories for their characters. It turns out Hack was a big hit playing a blind prostitute, went on to appear in a prime-time hospital drama, and currently voices two Japanese characters on an animated kiddie show. “She’s a workhorse actress,” said O’Hara, “who doesn’t question the script or the authority of the director, even if it’s Jay [the meshuggeneh one for Home for Purim, played by Guest himself].”
But come on, woman, could a movie like Purim actually get made, let alone nominated? “Anything can get made,” O’Hara replied, drolly. “Look around!” I glanced out the window and saw a big sign for The Santa Clause 3. Point taken. Now on to getting rid of the main asshole.