With gay nightlife in a transitional phase (i.e., it sucks), one grovels around looking for any small pleasures—you know, ennobling things like a lineup of bare asses to gawk at in a desperate dive between midnight and the Celebrity Rehab rerun. You happen to get that very taste of crass at two, count ’em two, weekly events these days: XES’s Ass Circus Thursdays, where a young lady recently snuck in, bared her breasts, and startlingly came in second (the drunken audience probably thought they were butt cheeks), and Ass Wednesdays at Urge, with drag MC Rajene leading the parade of guys dropping trou for cash prizes, with no love jugs for miles. Two weeks ago, a guy there begged me to cheer for his boyfriend’s fleshy goods as the beau bravely took the stage. But his heinie turned out to look like a Yahoo map of Sherwood Forest! “It’s so hairy!” declared my new friend in horror. “Wait, you’ve never seen it before?” I wondered, confused. “Not in the light!” he moaned, looking for a vomit bag.
Once calm—and clean-shaven—one visits Splash’s Disco Tea on Sunday for a refreshingly non–David Barton crowd dancing to ’70s stuff they actually remember from when it came out, with only an occasional hairy navel on display when the lights flash. Downstairs, there’s an even more comforting game of bingo going on, and last week there was the extra attraction of the winner ballsily trying to sell his prize—a $40 bar tab—to various inebriated patrons. I was stunned that (a) he obviously didn’t want to return to Splash to use it himself and (b) he didn’t realize I get comps!
But your biggest Sunday bar tab will be rung up at Hiro Ballroom’s Cuckoo Club, where the gays get their only taste of fish by being packed into the place like sardines. Looking over the sea of males pushing and shoving under a twinkly galaxy of glitter balls and writhing go-go boys’ balls is amazing, but it would be more so if they weren’t all 32-year-olds from the boroughs who work in retail. As midnight brought in Martin Luther King Day, DJ Honey Dijon nimbly mixed in the “I have a dream” speech, and you haven’t seen so many puzzled queens since the Village People went new wave. These guys probably wouldn’t even get “I had a dream” from Gypsy, but I will gladly educate them, one at a time.
The next night, my dream came true at Max Scott‘s Woof! Mondays at View Bar, where there’s $2 pool and free chicken wings, and all for only five bucks’ admission. Seeing as the door sign specifies “three bucks if you’re hairy,” I wouldn’t be surprised to see the butt boy from Urge walking in there pretty soon—backwards and single.
For the Hair crowd, Scott Nevins‘s Musical Mondays back at Splash have a culty mass of Kool-Aid drinkers staring religiously at the large video screens showing classic Broadway production numbers, poignantly gesturing along with muted Fosse hands. At the peak moment, a large, brassy cabaret chanteuse generally barrels out some obscure Sondheim—it ain’t over till she sings—and then everyone couples off to go home and perform duets from Mame. Bingo!
One ends the week—and in fact, your entire life—at the Townhouse, the gentleman’s bar with tasteful couches and lovely floral arrangements, much like your favorite funeral home. This used to be a meeting place for the wrinkle crowd and entrepreneurial young men, but now that those kids have gone online, it seems strictly for the oldies, the kind who take their shoes off and nod off—though one of them was quite alive, screeching at me that the pianist was a sub and had never heard of Eartha Kitt! But presumably, he knows the “I have a dream” speech.
Maybe I should talk about women for a change, just to build a little character. At the UCB Theatre, Jen and Angie was a lesbian crowd-pleaser—a 30-minute extended sketch in which, having crashed on an island, the ravenous Jolie zooms in on the needy Aniston and decides she wants to create Jengelina. Brad was played by a dummy in a blond wig and never spoke because, as a hyper-confident Angelina explained, “He’s under my spell!”
A lesbian figures in the movie Caramel, which is a sort of Lebanese Steel Magnolias—a beauty-salon saga complete with waxing, plucking, and wisdoms like “Life is a melon. You must cut it to see if it’s any good.” (That’s way more eloquent than “Life is cocaine . . . “) Salma Hayek look-alike Nadine Labaki wrote, directed, and stars as a non-virgin marrying a Muslim, telling me at a promo dinner: “It was No. 1 at the box office in Lebanon. It beat Hollywood blockbusters. It beat everything!” “So you’re pretty much the queen of Lebanon?” I wondered while looking for a piece of caramel. “Yes, I’m the queen!” she agreed, laughing. “I’m the diva!”
The movie, queenie added, is an escape from reality, “even though it’s real. I wanted to make a film that shows a different face of Lebanon, with very colorful, warm-hearted people with a strong will to live.” But that lesbian plotline! Did they plotz? “It was very well received,” she swore. “It’s not shocking or provoking. Everything is said in silence, in a soft way.” Hmm, I bet they’d love Jodie Foster in Lebanon. She’d be their new queen! (Maybe they’d even like Ellen DeGeneres and Rosie O’Donnell; to dredge up an old shtick of theirs, they’re Lebanese and lesbian-ese.)
Caramel was submitted for an Oscar nomination but didn’t get it—the bastards—but Michael Moore‘s Sicko nabbed one in the documentary category, and I’d shell over a $15 co-pay to see him win. At a Four Seasons lunch for the honor, I asked Moore how he feels about being nominated against three Iraq films—
basically his spiritual children. “The irony for me,” he said, “is that I was booed off the stage, and now they nominate you for
it!” Yeah, but he was not only nominated for it—he won! “Yeah,” he said, “but as Steve Martin later remarked, Teamsters were loading me into the back of a car!” Now that he’s crawled out, what’s Moore’s take on the Dem candidates? “I am unimpressed by all of them,” Moore told me, blithely. “None of them seems to have the courage to say what needs to be said. Edwards is the closest, certainly on health care and the corporate stuff.” But it doesn’t matter if any of them are any good, he added, because “the American voters are gonna stagger in and vote ‘D’ on the ballot. The only variable is if Bloomberg runs. He’ll be more liberal than any of the three Democrats!”
At this point, writer Erica Jong congratulated Moore, saying she’d watched Sicko on pay-per-view in her hotel room. “How was it?” Moore said, grinning. “Did you keep switching between the movie and porno?” “No, I don’t watch porno!” said Jong. Still, what could be kinkier than watching someone being denied a kidney?
Let me keep the body parts coming by telling you that at The 24-Hour Musicals at Joe’s Pub, a mini-documentary showed the frantic creative process that had resulted in the evening’s entertainment. (“What rhymes with vagina?” a panicky lyricist was seen asking, as the clock ticked. I don’t know—orange?) The idea was to serve four little tuners created and rehearsed in a 24-hour period, all to benefit the Exchange and the Orchard Project. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but unfortunately, Rome isn’t four short musicals! The tossed-together quickies were endearing, bittersweet, erratic, and shockingly good, mostly about the need for partnership in the face of fear and disability. The vagina line never surfaced, but I would have written: “She had a big vagina/But don’t you dare judge Ina/Claire.” (Ina Claire was a 1920s stage diva who may or may not have had a big one; poetic license is called for when one has to create art so quickly. But one thing I do know: She never flashed her butt crack in public.)