“Acting’s not chic anymore,” RUPERT EVERETT deadpanned to me at Da Silvano, insisting he feels no burning need to rev his movie career up a notch. Besides, he’s got a witty memoir out (Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins), he’s part of the Shrek franchise and the upcoming DENIRO flick Stardust, and he’s busy with a whole other challenging pursuit. “I try to get laid,” he told me, grinning—and sometimes he has to travel to faraway places like Germany, France, and India in order to do so.
“We’re so image-bound in America and England,” Everett explained, “and the gay scene is so middle-class and upwardly mobile. Unless you’re prepared to flash everything you’ve got—your credit card, your body, your haircut—you’re not gonna get laid.” “But you’re Rupert Everett!” I shrieked, nonplussed. “You’re only something on the gay scene if you had a number one hit last week,” he replied, knowingly. God, the gays are so cold.
Well, the book deserves to be number one with a gay bullet. Everett’s scribblings are a marvel of wordplay and observation, especially about the inner workings of sick, gorgeous Hollywood (complete with a description of his being dropped from the lead in About a Boy because he’s you-know-what). “On a set, everyone’s a country and you make your alliances,” he related, fixing me with his piercing eyes. “It helps you understand why the world’s at war. The smear campaigns you wage against that hopeless assistant director!”
Yet he’s come away with appreciative (if unblinking) appraisals of his co-stars—particularly self-possessed enigmas like MADONNA, SHARON STONE, and FAYE DUNAWAY. Everett assured me that in 50 years, people researching those stars “are not going to find anything. There’s no character in any of these people. Obviously they have characters—amazing characters. They’re the most extraordinary beings of all. They’ve conquered a man’s world and have become men in women’s clothing.” “And we’ve done the opposite,” I cracked. Yes, he agreed, “we’ve become total fags—and that includes the straights. Imagine years ago a male star talking seriously about what he was wearing. ‘This is by my friend, JEAN-PAUL GAULTIER.’ It’s so faggy it’s unbelievable!”
Weighted pause. A casual sip of wine, then Everett assured me he doesn’t like guys with “cherry-flavored pompadours and cinnamon lips. I like to smell sweat.” Perhaps he should have been a lesbian. Which brought us back to the universal quest for getting laid and how to whore that talent out. “Nowadays,” he concluded, “to take your career seriously, you try and use anything you’ve got and sell it. You’re losing your hair? Make it a reality show. If you’re a sex addict, sell it!” If you’re both, you’re
Doing it with a Condon
My second gay legend of the week, BILL CONDON, directed the year’s gayest, blackest, everythingest movie, Dreamgirls
—that rapturous Motown melodrama based on the ’81 stage hit—and in between fending off cherry-flavored bouquets for it, he managed to field some questions from a die-hard show queen named me. Our exchange went like so:
Q: The movie is so fun, Bill, that it’s getting repeat customers. I mean, no one goes to see Babel four times. A: I can’t wait to do the sing-along. I remember when we were shooting the song “It’s All Over,” [lighting guy] JULES FISHER turned to me and said, “Every weekend in Fire Island next summer, this scene will be duplicated.” Q: They’re already doing it in Hell’s Kitchen. Is it true that you didn’t think BEYONCÉ could do Deena? A: I was invited to a tech rehearsal for the Destiny’s Child farewell tour, which turned out to be the most elaborate audition I’ve ever seen. Seeing her up close, she’s so powerful, especially sexually, and that’s so not Deena. Deena’s sexy, but it’s got to be withheld—mysterious and kittenish. Q: But Ms. Knowles ultimately delivered, right? A: Yes!
Q: Is it true that the talented Broadway star CAPATHIA JENKINS was the runner-up for Effie, as she’s been telling people? A: She was a runner-up. Q: OK, got it. But why isn’t the gal who got the part, JENNIFER HUDSON, allowed to sing “And I Am Telling You” in public yet? A: We feel it’s something you should experience in the movie. We’re trying to go back to a certain kind of retro showmanship, which we did with souvenir programs and reserved seats. We wanted to hold back on something. But in February we’ll be shooting a video for the song. Q: Will she be Effie or Jennifer in the video? A: Jennifer. A diva is born. Q: Will Jennifer be pressured to lose weight in a horrid echo of her character’s plight? A: I don’t think so. I hope she gets that the whole point of this is, she is a star and people will start to shape things around her the way they have when other people came along who didn’t become size two.
Q: I was reassured when I saw her on The View celebrating being “thick.” But what’s the skinny on Effie’s ultra-cute brother, C.C.? Is he gay? A: I know! [Pause.] But didn’t you see those nice looks he shares with Michelle [Effie’s replacement]? He’s a sensitive artist. Q: Actually, he shares looks with Effie, which are even weirder. Moving on, did Deena write her vituperative studio song, “Listen”? Why would Curtis [JAMIE FOXX] have let her? A: I feel that Curtis ironically had it written for her, not realizing. In the original first draft, that was gonna be her big number from an r&b version of Cleopatra.
Q: Called Cle-ho-patra? Speaking of which: Why are there no sex scenes except for Jimmy and Lorell’s? A: I did have a bedroom scene with Curtis and Effie in the middle of “Love You, I Do.” I took it out because it made him such a shit so early and made Effie seem a little out of it. It felt too cold to cut immediately to him staring at Deena. Q: You really thought this stuff through, didn’t you? But while you cast Broadway’s LORETTA DEVINE as a singer mourning Jimmy’s death, the original Effie—the always hurt Jennifer Holliday—feels she deserved a part too. Justified? A: You want to be as respectful as possible because Jennifer’s so amazing, but Loretta is someone you’d cast in that part anyway, and it had special resonance because she’d been in love with Jimmy all those years in the original production. [Composer] HENRY KRIEGER said she was the heart of the production. The idea that everyone in it should have a part, I don’t understand. Q: This is off-topic, but isn’t SCORSESE having a triumphant year? A: Yes, he’s the great living American director. Q: You’re humble too! That does it. I’m off to see Dreamgirls for a fifth time.
Old Busch, new bush
And the gays kept coming, with cinnamon lips and projects in manicured hand. At the Oscar Wilde Bookshop, the divine CHARLES BUSCH told me his latest movie, A Very Serious Person, will air on Showtime; his new play, Our Leading Lady, has the ever hunky MAXWELL CAULFIELD uncharacteristically keeping his clothes on (“He’s amenable, but dignity always comes first with me!” cracked Busch); and what’s more, Busch is working with JOAN RIVERS on “a one-woman show with other people in it.” And suddenly acting will be chic again.
Over at Chelsea’s cupcake capital, Billy’s Bakery, Billy is doing a whole other one-woman show. I hear he’s flawlessly transitioned and is now Lauren, though the place’s name—and recipes—are completely intact. Brava!
Coffee and cuties both go down easy over at JOE BIRDSONG and HATTIE HATHAWAY‘s Rapture Café & Books, the East Village hangout where you can find esoteric titles, high literature (Latin Inches), computers, and occasional drop-in performers like WHORE’S MASCARA, the disco duo who entertainingly spoof the popular quest for vapid pretty boys.
A screamgirl with a mascara wand, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, approached Sirius host MICHELANGELO SIGNORILE in BILL O’REILLY‘s greenroom after the latter appeared in a segment about gay marriage. “Good job,” said Laura, extending her talons. But Signorile is not only pro–gay marriage—obviously—he’s one of the main people who successfully campaigned to get the bitch thrown off the air! Is she softening—or just as daft as ever?
And now I’m off to Germany, France, and India. For the culture.