Let me take you chronologically through my week so I can eschew boring segues and simply relate things in the order they happened—exactly as I experienced them!
On Monday, I saw [title of show], that Rice Krispie treat of a musical about two guys writing a musical about two guys writing a musical.
The Russian-doll-like result is achingly clever and actually quite beautiful, and though it now runs eight times longer than before because suddenly there are crowds of people screaming with laughter over each line to show you they got it, that’s OK because you find yourself joining them. (Cute sidebar: The show’s Jeff Bowen and director/choreographer Michael Berresse are in a relationship, which must make it even more fun to work on something whose name I won’t say again because I hate doing brackets inside parens.)
Later that night, I caught The Doorman, the satirical film about the making of a documentary about a doorman—eek, that’s almost a segue—and though they got the hair and the loony attitudes right, the film is all over the clipboard and ends up spending way more time than you’d ever want to spend with anyone who used to work at Crobar.
The next morning, I was on the list for Backwoods Barbie Dolly Parton‘s promo event for the upcoming Broadway version of 9 to 5, so I poured myself a cup of ambition and got my heinie in place. Writer Patricia Resnick was there, saying the film’s feminist themes are still potent because “the press thought it was OK to talk about Hillary‘s cleavage and never mentioned McCain‘s package once.” (“I’m grateful for that,” murmured someone on the creative team.) Of course, with Dolly involved, they’re practically begging for people to talk about a woman’s cleavage—but I noticed a couple of chorus boys whose packages are pretty noteworthy as well, ahem.
“I feel like Minnie Pearl!” 1,000-watt Dolly crowed to the assembled media, looking like a Precious Moments sexpot. “I’m just so glad to be here!” The top-heavy country legend chirped that, when asked to write the score, she went home and “prayed about it” and acted out all the parts until she came up with 20 new songs. Her devoutness eventually landed her in Jimmy Nederlander Sr.’s office, where she told him, “I don’t really know what I’m doing, but I set out to kiss ass, so bend over!” And suddenly one of Broadway’s esteemed personages became a power top.
Before rimming us goodbye, Dolly revealed that in the movie’s title song, that rhythmic sound you hear is her “strumming my falsies”—i.e., her fake nails. Gosh, I’d always assumed those big swollen things were real!
They strummed actual instruments that night at the Paper magazine/Converse bash at Santos’ Partyhouse, with N.E.R.D rousing the crowd as lead singer Pharrell Williams urged, “Get offa that Times Square–L.A. bullshit, put your fucking cameras up, and try to have a good motherfucking time!” I did as ordered—you don’t argue with language like that—but I was interrupted by a guy cornering me to natter on about how I’m a “monster” and a “beast.” I was all set to wring the freak’s neck with his dreads, but it turned out I’m just not down with the homey’s lingo; he was actually kissing my ass, Dolly style! Fine—lay it on me, kids! I’m Heath Ledger’s Joker! Madonna! Christie Brinkley‘s ex-husband! Anthrax! I’m Applebee’s!
Another day, another press presentation, this time for A Sale of Two Titties—no, wait, that was the Dolly Parton show; I mean A Tale of Two Cities, the musical version of the Dickens novel starring the Beauty and the Beast guy who was charged with sexual assault on a 15-year-old. (That was shocking: a Broadway musical actor going after a girl!) At the event, the director—maybe for equal time—pointed out a “beautiful little boy” in the cast, to whom various males then sang the plaintive ballad “Little One.”
But anyway, isn’t a big, dramatic, historical musical (complete with a belting Madame Defarge) a little out of fashion these days? “I hope it’s not,” writer Jill Santoriello told me after the presentation. “I think a good story is always in fashion.” But shouldn’t they maybe throw in some, say, Nirvana or Dusty Springfield songs to keep things nostalgically au courant? “I didn’t know from jukebox shows when I wrote the show,” admitted Santoriello. “I wrote it back during Ronald Reagan’s first term. It took so long to get produced because, as a suburban New Jersey girl, I had no idea how to get a musical out of my living room.” Honey, I have no idea how to get one out of my bathroom! But the Jersey girl did it, and without kissing any Nederlander butt.
Still, come on—another French Revolution musical? “This is the second,” she informed me, “after The Scarlet Pimpernel. Les Miz is not about the French Revolution; it’s about a student uprising 50 years after. But we will have angry French people in our show,” she promised. “You can’t go wrong with angry French people!” C’est vrai. I still love ’em for being against that other war.
I waged a battle royale with my gender and came out male anyway, feeling a tad underdressed at the opening of the Fresh Fruit Festival’s Strike a Pose show of drag art at Leslie/Lohman gallery. A sporty crowd had come to see the sumptuous array of drag portraits, some of them using visual tricks to cover all the gender bases. (There’s a photo of Epiphany in drag birthing herself as a male baby and one of curator Lady Clover Honey being fed a muffin by herself as a guy. I finally know what these two queens look like without falsies!) “You should be butch or femme,” Clover told me, wearing a pink pop-bead necklace and deafeningly loud print dress. “I don’t like being androgynous—it’s one or the other.” “And right now you’re butch?” I quipped brilliantly. “I like to party as a female gender better,” Clover went on, unfazed. “It feels weird to party with my balls hanging down.” I know! I’m gonna have to tape mine to my ankles!
Ankles—hold on, this is definitely a segue—are getting follow-spot treatment with Cold as Ice, a touring musical starring Oksana Baiul that’s hoping for blades of glory on Broadway. At the [title of show] party on Thursday—it all comes together—a publicist for the frosty tuner told me: “Oksana is a pistol! She gets offers to skate in Japan for $50,000 and says no, but she’ll always work on the show.” And if it gets old as ice, she can always tap her way into the French Revolution or just rollerblade into Xanadu.
Just then, ambulatory legend Betty Buckley—who’s by far the best thing in The Happening—showed a good sense of humor about being called “a hot box of crazy” in [show], though she wasn’t totally sure what that meant. “I guess crazy from head to toe,” I awkwardly tried to explain. “Is that good?” she wondered. “Yeah!” I assured her. And it is! But who am I to talk? I’m ready to do this all over again next week. I’m a beast.