Race—the David Mamet drama about how everything on the sociopolitical landscape isn’t just black and white—didn’t get any Tony Awards, but it is getting some new cast members, including the wildly cerebral comic/actor Eddie Izzard.
At a meet-and-greet the other day, Izzard told me he already feels a special kinship with his character (the not-nice lawyer originated by James Spader). “There’s a part of me that could have been this guy,” he admitted. “My brother is a lawyer, and I could have been one, too. I’m going into politics in 10 years. I have a heart, but a part of me can understand removing the heart and saying, ‘Fuck it.’ “
Wait, back up a heartfelt minute. Going into politics? “Yes,” Izzard said, looking intense. “I want to run for either Parliament or the mayor of London. It may be eight years, it may be 12 years, but I think 10 years. I’m military in my thinking. I’m quite good with logic, even if my humor is bonkers.”
I guess Europe is way different from America; there, it’s the good actors that go into politics. But that continent could use Izzard (and his heart) right away, I said. “We got through World War II,” he replied, calmly. “We can get through a credit crisis.”
Despite all the politics, the Tony gang put on a pretty good show Sunday night, especially since Green Day didn’t get headbanged. But let’s start with the bad stuff: The opening medley of jukebox songs only served to underscore the desperate dearth of original music on Broadway, a theme that unwittingly popped up all night. And there were those awful segments in which actors recited the plots of their nominated dramas in high school report style. Also, the anything-for-ratings approach brought out a few odd birds, including an athlete whose big connection to the proceedings was apparently that he saw The Lion King.
Furthermore, the effusive praise of Mark Rothko’s genius kept leaving out that he was a misanthropic psychopath who killed himself, and all the God talk from the Fences cast made me want to join him.
But otherwise, the telecast moved, host Sean Hayes was delicious, and some of the musicals looked better than they really are. And things couldn’t have gotten more enjoyably gay, considering you had Sean, Ricky Martin, Levi Kreiss, David Hyde Pierce, and the Cagelles all in close proximity. When Bill T. Jones announced, “The queens are fantastic!,” I had no question who he was talking about.
At the after-party, I got to congratulate Red author John Logan‘s boyfriend for being the AA sponsor of a friend of mine. Now that was fine theater.
A few nights before that, the folks who do the Tonys—the American Theatre Wing—had a Frank Loesser–themed gala at Cipriani, where Harry Connick Jr., Kelli O’Hara, and Megan Mullally sang Guys and Dolls songs so powerfully it almost made you forget the horror of the last Broadway revival. The banter was cute, too, like Connick saying, “I’m basically white trash from New Orleans,” and O’Hara chiming in, “By way of New Canaan, Connecticut.” But it was none too adorable when a Wing member whispered to me, “They dropped you writers as Tony voters for the exact opposite reason than they said.” And the real reason was? “That you’re objective!”
(Well, whatever the reason, their ploy worked: Huge, glittery movie stars beat theater luminaries in three categories.)
There was no trash whatsoever at the Eventi opening—and I’m being objective—but the boutique hotel’s festivities did feature a Richard Simmons impersonator in the athletic area, bouncing around and shrieking, “Come play with my balls!”
Out gays with big ones filled NewFest, the LGBT film festival, where the week’s gala screenings brought us Facts of Life‘s Mindy Cohn sandwiched between Joan Rivers and some bears.
Cohn stars in Violet Tendencies, which is a sweet and likable romp, but let me tell you the raunchy parts: Mindy plays a lifelong fruit fly who finally decides, “I deserve to have someone to love me and my pussy.” And that’s not the end of the privates talk. Cohn’s Violet is honest about her “fupa”—i.e., fat upper pussy area—and she’s prone to telling her gay pals, “Stop calling my pussy a gash wound!” There are also scenes of her finding “biss” (butt piss) on the sheets and later working the door of a sex party and checking guys’ penises to make sure they’re not tops—I mean, cops.
Cohn is nothing if not game—though she’s probably lucky that writer/co-star Jesse Archer cut the scene where the dog licks her gash wound. And by the way, Mindy herself likes to be called a fag hag, not a fruit fly. As she told Archer, “I was Calvin Klein‘s butt boy’s best friend in the ’80s!”
BearCity turned out to be a barrel of fun, even if my cameo ended up smaller than a twink’s waistline. The ursine romantic comedy brings you paunch, hair, self-acceptance, and wisdoms like, “Bears can be just as gossipy and superficial as circuit queens” and “Muscle bears are the gay Third Reich.” After the screening, co-writer Lawrence Ferber announced to his mother in the crowd: “I apologize for not letting you know about the ass-eating. When you’re hungry, you’re hungry.” I’m glad she didn’t respond, “Biss off!“
And finally, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work is that riveting view of the veteran comic that shows her unbelievable stamina and drive to remain the funniest human alive. After the NewFest screening, I moderated an onstage interview, where Joan said she’d spent her birthday doing The View “and at the surgeon, getting my 77th face.”
I put a lot of Q into the rest of the Q&A, pumping Joan for same-sex dish and getting it when she told me she once dated a guy who turned out to be gay, which was bittersweet, especially when he later said Melissa should have been his daughter. (Joan probably wishes she was—she’s still mad at Edgar.) And when I asked Rivers if she’d ever had a lesbian experience, she remembered that years ago, when she was about to perform at the Duplex, a woman got in her face and started kissing her. Joan kissed back, then, like a pro, went onstage.
Other exchanges gleaned from our recent encounters:
Me: You didn’t mind that the documentary was warts and all?
Joan: I didn’t want it to be one of those Biography specials. Even Rex Harrison, who was the meanest white man ever—his Biography was nice!
Me: Hitler’s was mixed. But you actually are a nice person—though, thankfully, you can dish it out between friends. I love your takes on celebrity surgery.
Joan: Everyone was shocked about Heidi Montag’s surgery. Me, too—that she waited so long!
Me: Then these people have babies and think the surgery will show up on the kids.
Joan: Celebrities, if you’re good-looking, you’ve got to fuck a good-looking person or you’re going to have ugly children!
Me: How do you keep getting surgery in a credit crisis like this?
Joan: I’m looking for a doctor that’ll give me a two-fer. I’d love to get it at a 99 cent store. Like an all-you-can-eat buffet. All you can take! And I’m thinking of becoming Muslim. ‘There’s a real beauty under this burkha.’
Me: You love your work, don’t you?
Joan: I adore it. In the midst of all my complaining, I’m also tap dancing. How lucky am I!
Me, too. I’m not removing anything.