My favorite new game is flipping open the catalog for NewFest, the LGBT film festival, and picking a plotline at random. Here’s one: “The relationship is tested when Gen befriends an intersexed vagabond.” Hello, I’m there!
But after a few pages, the gender and sexuality intricacies competing against each other for your attention can make you a little bit jaded. In fact, at the opening-night party, when a filmmaker urged me to see his movie about a female-to-male transsexual, I wanted to snarl, “Please! Why would I see that when I can catch the one about the couple trying to ‘form a single pandrogynous being’? Try harder next time.” But I wisely just smiled and said, “Sure.”
As of press time, all I got to see was the relatively straightforward Howl, with gorgeous James Franco as Allen Ginsberg, the gay beat poet who daringly put “fucked in the ass” and “screamed with joy” in the same sentence. This isn’t a traditional biopic, mind you. Howl itself is the star as the film veers between Ginsberg reading the epic poem (over animation) and the obscenity trial that ended up deeming it fit for consumption, interspersed with tons of Q&A scenes, as opposed to T&A scenes. “Once they put the glasses on Franco and made the ears stick out, he was there,” said a Ginsberg estate rep after the screening. “Even before that,” chimed in Ginsberg’s secretary, twinkling.
Another provocateur with large ovaries, papa paparazzo Ron Galella is the original one-man TMZ and, depending on your point of view, either a putz and a bottom feeder or a First Amendment groundbreaker and a brash visionary. A legendary celeb chaser, Galella feels his subjects should scream with joy. As with Ginsberg, a sensational trial against him was the best thing for him. After the MOMA screening of the HBO documentary Smash His Camera last week, Galella thanked Jackie Kennedy for having countersued him in 1972. “Without her taking me to court, I wouldn’t be famous . . . I mean infamous,” he said, still thrilled.
His take on the doc? “Tom Hoving was harsh on me.” “He’s dead!” interjected onstage interviewer Liz Smith. “He intimated that no one will care in 50 years about your pictures,” she added. “I wonder how many people will remember that Mr. Hoving was the director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.” Mr. Who?
“He used to pose for me,” said Galella. “He loved it.” The boundary-free lensman even swore that Jackie herself enjoyed his gaze, saying, “She’s a great actress. She lied left and right in court.” It was time for a second opinion, so a voice in the crowd screamed out, “Roger Ebert says Ron’s a national treasure!” It was Galella’s wife, Betty. That’s it! I’m getting a restraining order against the whole family! (Kidding. I happen to like the Pupkins—I mean the Galellas. Ron’s shots of celebs caught off-guard always made them look sexily real and glamorously human, if a tiny bit terrified.)
A paparazzi subject was toasted, if not burned, when Michael Douglas was given the Chaplin Award by the Film Society of Lincoln Center two weeks ago, the man of the hour bravely admitting that he acts with his hair. But he does it really well, having built up a brash filmography probing the dark side of the American dream and the American coiff machine. Douglas was unflappable as directors, newsmen, and family members praised his working process and, more importantly, called him handsome. His hair didn’t even move as his pint-size ex-roommate, Danny DeVito, bounced out to say he’s so devoted to Douglas that he once valiantly sucked snake poison out of the Oscar winner’s arm. (“If the snake had bitten your balls,” DeVito cracked, “you’d be dead today.” I disagree—I bet the snake would be dead today.)
Poignantly, they showed a scene from Traffic in which Douglas is furious to find his child doing drugs. (“What a sad clip,” remarked Erika Christensen, who played the daughter.) But when wife Catherine Zeta-Jones spoke, she pointedly cried as she drove home her insistence that Michael’s an amazing dad, even to Cameron. More whimsically, she leaned over to hubby during a montage of film clips from decades past and cutely remarked, “God, you’re so old.”
Let’s toast another not-young Oscar winner, Jodie Foster, for being a little more comfortable with her own love life these days. A friend of mine spotted the director of the upcoming The Beaver with her arm around a woman, patiently waiting for a table at Little Owl restaurant. This is great news not only because Jodie is obviously being more physically expressive in public, but also because she obviously has to wait to sit down and eat just like my shmucky friends and I do!
Moving on to really out gays, a nelly birdie tells me that the stars of Logo’s upcoming reality show The A-List: New York are getting a mere $1,250 for the whole season! (Though, admittedly, the whole season is only eight episodes.) Please! I get that just to wake up! (Actually, I just shot background for the show for nothing, but let’s keep that among us.)
Drag queens and intersexed vagabonds got nice tips at the gala opening of the new East 56th Street location of Yvonne Lamé‘s Lips club, which joins the San Diego and Fort Lauderdale Lips to make this the biggest drag franchise since the Legally Blonde tour. It’s larger than the old Bank Street space, with higher ceilings for all that hair, and swankier environs (like chandeliers, statues, and an actual stage). “I’m so impressed,” said Ginger Snap, one of the longtime house performers, surveying the room. “The old place was the Fort Greene projects. This is the Emerald City!” And all those bachelorettes will just have to travel a little farther north to get their “Jesse Volt–fried calamari” and Cher impersonations.
The only down note at the opening was the messy drag guest who sat at my table, grabbed for my Caesar salad, and knocked my virgin fruit drink all over my uptown outfit. I immediately put a call in to her parole officer.
Well-behaved fabsters (a far more sensible word than hipsters) filled the Salon at the Tribeca Grand for a peppy new Friday bash thrown by Paper‘s Mr. Mickey and Drew Elliott. And the Paper crowd quickly regrouped for the Indochine dinner two nights later, celebrating boss lady Kim Hastreiter‘s Eugenia Sheppard Award given by the CFDA. In the crowd, Matthew Modine (who was super in The Miracle Worker) told me he might come back to Broadway in the Hartford Stage production of To Kill a Mockingbird, if author Harper Lee approves the move. “She’s still in love with Gregory Peck,” he said, smiling. “Why wouldn’t she be?”
From snakes, beavers, calamari, and mockingbirds, let’s move on to Broadway visionary Tommy Tune‘s “Longnecks” exhibit of giraffe portraits at the Peter Glebo Gallery, which you should strain your neck to see. “Giraffes are so sweet,” cooed six-and-a-half-foot Tommy at the opening. “I’ve spent time feeding them. They love apples!” But the kinship apparently wasn’t always at eye level. As a kid, the dancer/director was actually short and used to play on stilts, “not knowing I was gonna grow a pair of my own.” Once he shot up like a Scores pole, he sometimes felt like a giraffe in a crowd of regular people, but he said there have been advantages to being the tallest one onstage because “People look at you more!”
Take note, pandrogynous couple.