Which actress in an upcoming movie loathed working with the film’s director and is seething to friends, “Ugh. I hate that she’s going to get awards”? Will she, really? Which legend tells intimates that her frequent co-star is not the hetero you’ve always thought he is? Which old-school drag star is raging that an old drag boyfriend of his was allegedly a psycho who wreaked havoc on his life to the point where the old-school star hired a detective, a situation that now worsens because the boyfriend has sort of made it? Which quirky film star has been offered the lead role in the aiming-for-Broadway musical based on old Petula Clark songs?
Why did the Riviera Café & Sports Bar — the friendly, long-running Village hangout, with optimal outdoor seating — just close? (Free answer: As the proprietor, Steve Sertell, told me, “In my opinion, it is no longer the ‘city that doesn’t sleep,’ but rather the ‘city that fell asleep.’ We are closing because we can’t compete anymore. There really isn’t more to the story. I remember dancing at the Gold Bug and going to just about every bar, whether regular, after-hours, or sex den. They were the best days of my life. So, while we are closing for economic reasons, the underlying cause is the Village we know and loved died quite a while ago, replaced with some kind of faux yuppie crowd who think LGBT is some kind of sandwich.” It’s truly distasteful, though I still manage Village trips for Pieces, Boots & Saddle, Hangar Bar, RockBar, Marie’s Crisis, and gay ice cream — but Riviera’s unassuming charm and cheap salmon burritos will be missed.)
Back to people getting upset over movies winning awards: Some of the savviest predictors are suggesting Dunkirk (or The Post) will grab the Oscar for Best Picture, with Saoirse Ronan for Lady Bird and Gary Oldman for Darkest Hour (about Winston Churchill) scooping up the top acting honors. Then again, a lot of us professional guessers are wrong the day of the event, let alone over five months in advance.
As for my own personal biopic in the making, I’ll be moderating the post-screening panel when Susanne Bartsch: On Top, the Anthony and Alex–directed documentary about the eternally young nightlife diva, opens NewFest on October 19. I’m in the movie, having long observed Bartsch’s ability to dance carefree on a bar while hiding her turning wheels. Gossiped-about feuds with promoters Kenny Kenny and Ladyfag aren’t addressed in the flick, but it would take a J.J. Abrams miniseries. Bartsch would also like people to know that, while the doc has her moaning about singlehood, boyfriends came swarming the second it wrapped.
Club kid leader turned killer Michael Alig still tries to shock me when he sees me (or maybe he’s not even trying). One time he happened to be holding a stack of DVDs of violent movies (like The Toolbox Murders); another time, he pulled out his phone to show me portraits he’d done of various nocturnal notables in the form of viruses and other diseases in their microscopic form. There was Amanda Lepore as HIV, James St. James as gonorrhea, and me as herpes. (I was hoping more for polio.) Alig also promised accompanying T-shirts and tote bags, but I doubt that many orders came in, lol.
DELICIOUS, DELOVELY, DELARGE
A sort of British Michael Alig, Alex DeLarge fumes at the center of A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess’s 1962 satire about a barbaric British gang member who’s brainwashed in prison, then thrown back into a world of more violence. The 1971 Stanley Kubrick movie version starring Malcolm McDowell as the darling droog is a cinematic landmark — torture porn at its most surreal and pointed. And now, A Clockwork Orange is a play. Coming to us from London, the Alexandra Spencer-Jones–directed stage version stars Brit actor Jonno Davies as the malevolent malcontent. The bare-bones production — which is in previews at New World Stages — features a table and four chairs, plus eight actors playing forty-two roles. And also Davies, a colorful bloke whom I tracked down last week to ask, in my best concerned paternal fashion, if he fears getting typecast. “As a sociopath?” he replied. “I hope not. But what I love about playing Alex is the fact that there’s a balance between an ugliness in him and the pure drive he has for trying to achieve what he believes in. I don’t play the villain, I play the hero.”
And in this version, there’s actually a glimmer of light left for Alex because it’s based on the book, not the movie. “Our ending is a surprise to quite a few Kubrick fans,” Davies explained. “Our version, I think, provides a sense of hope for Alex. He achieves that through self-reflection, what his interpretation of love is, his realizing the power of choice, and growing up. We forget, because of what he does, that he’s a boy. He’s fifteen. He matures like the rest of us. He sees the need for change for himself.”
At his worst, would Alex be the type who’d proudly march at a white supremacy rally? “No, not at all,” insisted Davies. “He is about cleansing, but not racial cleansing. It’s getting rid of weakness, getting rid of the ugly, but he’d much rather educate than exterminate. That can come from violence, tormenting, or through aggression, as well as a facility for language that he has. There are a lot of similarities between him and some global leaders we have at the moment, but he’s just missing the suit and tie.” I had no idea who he was talking about!
Alas, all the political implications might be lost on the legion of message-board chatterers obsessed with how deliciously homoerotic this all-male production happens to be. “You can’t do Clockwork Orange without exploring the sexuality of adolescence,” conceded Davies. “That’s a massive part of growing up. Some people might come to see the show for that reason, but I’d like to think they leave with an academic approach that questions morality.” As they return to even scarier orange things.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 25, 2017
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