How Did NY Nightlife Get So Oppressive? Search Me.


I caused a major scene at the door of Avalon the other Saturday night, having forgotten that in BLOOMBERG‘s New York, it’s harder to get into a club while bearing pharmaceuticals than it is to board El Al with a tube of Aquafresh and some yogurt. After a way-too-intimate patdown and a severe rummaging through all the pockets of my expensive designer bag, Avalon’s human guard dog found a prescription bottle with my seizure medicine and a baggie with Tylenol and allergy pills. Bingo! This turned into a monumental drama out of a SODERBERGH movie when the mutt passed it on to his inspection crew, intent to find out if I was actually smuggling in illegal drugs. It was quite a comedown after having been given a VIP-door welcome complete with high kicks and lots of mwah-ing.

You can’t even be mad at the club for this kind of thing—they’re merely reflecting the oppressive state of nightlife, which turns every tiny offense into a gigantic punitive nightmare. But did things have to go so far in the other direction from the days when the same space was the biggest drug den since it was a rehab center? Couldn’t there be some kind of happy medium that at least allows a headache tablet in without an international crisis? Anyway, after a promoter assured the security guy I wasn’t a Rikers escapee after all, I got in—and sold my crack on the stairway all night! (Relax, I mean my butt crack.)

A sobering experience happened at Kino 41, Thursday night’s gay-drag-everything bash at Arena, where full-throttle in-house “starlets” like MIRANDA MOONDUST and ANDRE J add to the artsy-circusy environs. Last week, the mood was festive and unrepentant as usual. But former meth mouth RUFUS WAINWRIGHT was there to alter things with his new single, “Going to a Town.” “I’m gonna sing a really depressing song about the United States,” Rufus warned the crowd, just as their cocktails kicked in. “All I can say is, don’t shoot the messenger. You can stab him, but just don’t shoot him.” He then eased into the song, poignantly wailing, “I’m going to a town that has already been burned down. I’m going to a place that has already been disgraced . . . I’m so tired of America.” The crowd looked so stunned they almost dropped their drinks onto their other drinks. They’d been given a Ruf-ie. They didn’t try to stab him, but they did look extremely uncomfortable. Which is a good thing. And then the dance music came back and we partied till it was time for a nearby Filet-O-Fish.

Fortunately, Rufus isn’t totally cause-alicious. Before the show, I told him I recently went to some weird, green environmental party that he played at in a home-furnishings store. “It was horrible,” he said, squirming. “Made me want to drive an SUV.” I adore this guy.

In other clubbings and goings, I drove my environmentally correct bike to Monday’s Hard, the gay night at the Plumm, which has so many hosts that even if only they show up, you’ll probably find someone to sleep with. I also rode off to see the two—count ’em, two—hosts of a Mo Pitkin’s revue called Obsessed—comics JACKIE CLARKE and JULIE KLAUSNER—telling the crowd that their YouTube video “Mommy Time” (a satirical sketch about motherhood) wasn’t getting nearly as many hits as it did once they arbitrarily changed the name of it to “Imus.”

A real mommy, YASMIN AGA KHAN, must be plotzing now that the Daily News‘s BEN WIDDICOMBE broke the story that ANDREW EMBIRICOS—grandson of screen legend Rita Hayworth and son of Yasmin and shipping heir BASIL EMBIRICOS—has been posting raunchy barebacking videos of himself under a pseudonym on XTube. (The titles include nuggets like Chelsea Bareback Whores and the future Oscar winner Uncut Cock Pissing.) I’ve been aware of this situation for a while, seeing as I know people in delightfully low places. In fact, I know Andrew from the clubs and have long found him to be utterly personable and dignified on the one hand (or shall we say, fist) and a teensy bit reckless on the other, knowing fewer sexual boundaries than Anna Nicole and enjoying that lifestyle so aggressively it’s almost like he was dying to get caught. I hope he ends up realizing his own worth—not just monetarily—while managing to have fun of a more controlled variety.

When asked for a response, Andrew told me, “Been trying to keep a low profile. Ironic, don’t you think? All I can say is I really regret that my actions have been associated with others, others who have had no control over them. I just hope people will make that distinction from this point forward.” I guess he means his parents have nothing to do with gay water sports? In any case, several days after the scandal broke, his skin-ema vérité films were still up on XTube, and Chelsea Bareback Whores had gotten an astounding 53,000-plus hits. No need to rename it
Imus. Update: As of Sunday, they were still there, but you had to have a private PIN code, personally given by Andrew, to see them. Maybe try 666. Another update: They’re now totally gone. That’s a good compromise.

In the world of even-lower-brow entertainment, theater has suffered two blows recently. The first was The Pirate Queen. The second was the revelation that the Virginia-rampage gunman was a budding playwright. And now comes the chattering on the Broadway boards—don’t stab the messenger—about TERRENCE MCNALLY‘s tennis play, Deuce, starring those great presences, ANGELA LANSBURY and MARIAN SELDES. The natterers say that in early previews, the ladies had been going up on lines, which required the use of an offstage person occasionally prompting them. Maybe they should have given both broads an earpiece, like Mary Martin had in the doomed comedy Legends—though supposedly Martin accidentally got wired into a traffic report at one performance and was fed lines like, “There’s a pileup on LaBrea!” It couldn’t have been worse than anything in Legends.

A male sparring match in which showbiz trumps politics, Frost/Nixon pits TV interviewer DAVID FROST against Richard Nixon (though a New Yorker listing wrongly said the play was about Robert Frost. At least it didn’t claim the poet interviewed CYNTHIA NIXON). The result is an absorbing and ultimately touching battle of wills, despite extraneous stuff and a little Nixon-style fudging of its own. I pray it doesn’t pave the way for such dramatic works as Chung/Condit, Letterman/Madonna, and Danza/Carrot Top.

The FANTASIA BARRINO/JENNIFER HUDSON battle royale is finally allowing for a more even sharing of the spoils. To recap: First, Barrino beat Hudson on American Idol; then Hudson edged out Barrino for Dreamgirls; and now Barrino conquers Broadway in The Color Purple, the gorgeously uplifting adaptation I’m not ashamed to say I voted for as Best Musical last year. Putting one more mass-appeal TV star on Broadway could have easily amounted to just another cheesy bit of stunt casting, but in this case it’s a piece of sheer genius that totally REBA MCENTIREs up the show. Less passively shellshocked than her predecessor, Fantasia fully inhabits the role, serving up pathos, defiance, humor, and sass as the woman who feels God abandoned her but who learns to fully love herself. (Well, OPRAH produced it.) She’s triumphant! The only booby prize goes to the dad in the audience who grabbed his kids and ran after the loving lesbian kiss; I guess the rape, incest, and physical abuse were fine, though.

The color pink dominated Lions at the Armory, a kickoff for the Antiquarian Book Fair, where caffeiney Pink vodka cocktails and sticky pink popcorn treats matched everyone’s clutch bags and seizure pills. I was tickled pink to see DAVID BLAINE make $1,200 disappear on a very special antique copy of The Little Prince. “It’s better than spending it on a suit,” he told me, beaming. True—though at least a suit can’t be turned into a bad movie.