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BEST OF NYC®The Naked City

Once upon a time, go-go dancing only involved waxing your abs and shaking them around for tips while unimaginatively bumping to the music.

But thanks to the increasing sophistication of clubgoers—combined with the fact that the long-running burlesque revival isn’t going away due to the need for sexual entertainment in a whitewashed city—a lot of extra pressure has been put on go-go dancers’ pelvises. Suddenly they have to move in more interesting ways, and from a sexual bump-and-grind, it’s basically become performance art and a way higher form of half-naked club entertainment.

At the forefront of this movement is New York’s most bodacious go-go boy, Go-Go Harder, 25, who doesn’t just strip, he plans it, plots it, disrobes it, presents it, and truly works it.

I spoke to the rising club star about the artistic vision behind his mojo.

Hi, Go-Go. First off, where did a disrobing guy like you come from?

North Dakota. A little town called Minot, but sometimes they call it “Min-OH” if they want to sound sophisticated.

And your dream was to come to New York and strip?

No, I moved here to be a very serious actor. I thought I’d be Biff in Death of a Salesman or something, but I fell into nightlife and enjoyed it, so I started taking that to the next level. I lost my job as a waiter, and then a friend of mine got me a job at the Cock.

Did you have to audition?

No. I just showed up. I met [promoter] Daniel Nardicio shortly after that, and he helped launch me. He started employing me on Fire Island, and then I met performers World Famous *BOB* and Dirty Martini, and they set me on the path of burlesque. Daniel decided to have a Boylesque party, and we had to have numbers, which *BOB* and Dirty judged. I still do the same number, “Hot for Teacher,” where I’m a horny schoolboy.

How would you describe your stage presence?

I think I’m an edgier boy next door. I have this apple-pie quality that I think people find charming, and when you couple that with a striptease, it takes on a dirtier edge that titillates a little more. I’m a sluttier Richie Cunningham [from Happy Days].

Do tattoos up your naughty-boy ante?

I only have one right now, but I started working at the Glamour Garage in Brooklyn, and they’re going to hook me up with really cool ones.

What’s the key to neo-burlesque appeal?

There’s a lot more time and effort that goes into burlesque as opposed to straight stripping.
There’s always a gimmick or a scene. They’re three- to five-minute numbers that you create, and they’re usually funny and worked out. In New York, we do crazier comedic pieces that are political, too, though mine aren’t that political. A lot of people think the act of being naked or stripping is a political statement in itself. I just really enjoy it. I’m attracted to pieces that are strong and entertaining. I’m like Cher in Burlesque. I just want to be wild!

Why is the burlesque revival still going so strong?

I can’t really speak for women, but there are a lot of boys getting into it because it’s not just dancing. People have an exhibitionist side that they want to explore.

How long do you prepare a number?

A number is like a monologue. No good actor would walk into an audition without really having researched the piece. The performances I’ve given are the same way. You’re creating this monologue, from the costume to the dance to the actual removal of the costume. It takes at least a solid month. The “Hot for Teacher” one I feel like I’ve finally finished, and I’ve been doing it almost two years.

Where do you do better: straight events or gay ones?

I find that usually I can go over better with straight audiences. Gay men tend to be a little more pessimistic or weird about it because it’s not a drag queen.

Do audiences get sexually turned on by what you do, or is it just entertainment?

My shows are intended more to entertain, but the line between entertaining and sexually turning them on is pretty thin.

Like the G-strings! Does anyone ever cross the line and start grabbing you?

Sometimes when I’m go-go dancing, I have to really smile hard at someone and get their hand off me. But usually onstage, no one can get at you. People are intimidated by that fourth wall.

Do you ever get totally naked?

Of course. There’s a show called Revealed [at Under St. Marks], where that’s the whole gimmick—everyone takes everything off by end of the number. I don’t do that everywhere. I practice selective nudity!

What has been your wildest costume—or lack thereof?

I have this great costume—a big red sparkly gas mask and a giant purple boa with tassels on it. I wore it for the piece where I visually interpreted Allen Ginsberg’s poem “America” at the Low Life 5: Flaming Queens show at the Howl! Festival last June.

People must have howled. When you look in a mirror, do you see someone devastatingly gorgeous?

I wouldn’t say that. But I think after moving to New York, I realized people found me attractive, especially working in nightlife. I guess I’ve always felt lucky because I was the awkward theater guy in college, always off in corner reading Arthur Miller. I didn’t come into my sexual prime until New York.

Would you ever go back to legit acting?

If I found roles that interest me. But what attracts me to burlesque is it’s a way to create, to make a number. I’d miss having that control.

It’s no Arthur Miller play! How do you get your discarded clothes off the stage after the show?

There’s usually a “stage kitten” who runs out and collects the clothing, but at plenty of bar shows, I’m backstage saying, “Oh God, I’ve got to get that stuff.” I try to get a friend or promoter to do it—otherwise people will steal your things. At Bowery Poetry Club, someone stole one of my favorite jockstraps, which I threw into the audience. I didn’t know whether to be flattered or angry.

I’m sure you can get it back on eBay.

I know!

What’s your relationship with Daniel Nardicio?

We’re lovers now. We live together in Brooklyn. I’d say we’re pretty happy. If he tells you something different, shoot me a message on Facebook. [Laughs.] He’s a former actor, too. He has a respect for performers who sometimes get lost in nightlife. When you come from a performing background, you’re a little more sensitive to the performers’ needs.

Can we say your birth name?

Sure. It’s Chris Harder. My last name is actually Harder. [Pause.] Again, it never really made sense until I moved to New York.

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‘Housewives’ Rock The Hamptons! Underwear Boys Take Fire Island!

The same old summer resorts have been beckoning with all new doodads and personalities to lure us back on the beach, with our tongues out.

On Fire Island, Cherry Grove has been trying to bump itself up a notch, leaving baits for younger gays

who can’t afford the adjacent Pines and might want to saunter over to a more affordable neck of the woods, as it were. There, the Belvedere—the sprawling white castle of a homosexual hotel—sent a bunch of us to bask in its renovations and marvel at its exclusive maleness. (They don’t allow women because, as co-owner Craig Eberhardt told me, that’s the way the gay guys want it. Maybe they should just make the doors open to everyone, and chances are no women would set foot in it anyway. Then again, I’m not in marketing.)

Anyway, it’s a gem of a place—bedecked with all manner of plants, statues, foofy lampshades, pastoral motifs, and oozy fountains. It’s like a Fragonard painting as reinvented by Tom of Finland. “Make a lot of lefts,” I was told when searching for my room through all the hallways and courtyards, the concierge slyly adding, “The fun is in getting lost.” But past the communal computer with the Manhunt icon on it, I finally found it—the “Sunset Room,” with all the expected flowery designs, as well as two condoms on a stool by the bed and a trellised window that opens to a lounge deck right on the bay, the water looming at you like a creeping terror out of an Ingmar Bergman movie.

Beyond the precious décor, the mood is totally about sex, of course. In fact, it’s a “clothing optional” hotel, and the only small penis in the building is on the Apollo statue by the pool.

Switching over to fish for a while, I had a fab meal complete with showtunes at Jumping Jack’s Seafood Shack, and then we stopped at promoter Daniel Nardicio‘s merch-laden rental house, where even the pool has a Stoli logo on it. The rest of the time, the mood stayed as hormone-drenched as you’d expect on the isle of nonstop wiener roasting and nipple tweaking. En route to Nardicio’s underwear party at the Ice Palace, I heard a guy on the planks say, “The great thing about the cold wind coming in is it turns a breast into a pec. I look like I just went to the gym!” Alas, it only made mine sag even lower.

But everything tightens at the long running store Rainbow Dreams, where they sell novelty items from miniature ruby slippers to stretchy sexual aids. The owner told me, “Any minute now, they’ll all come in to buy their cock rings. The second they see someone with a bigger bulge, they’ve got to have one.” I promptly bought one to put on the Apollo statue.

A Countess and Some Queens

And on to the more tasteful Suffolk County gays, who occasionally like to mix with the other team, everyone’s salmon-colored jackets throwing you off as to who does what to whom at night.

Let’s start at the North Shore, which has emerged as the anti-Hamptons: quaint and pretty, with nice seafood restaurants and excellent thrift shops in lieu of pretensions. But the bigger towns there—like Greenport—have been growing so much in popularity, they’re going to need an anti-trend to combat the anti-trend. Maybe a West Shore?

I recently joined the hubbub at Greenport, and then we took two ferries to get to the Hamptons anyway, because if you didn’t, you might be missing something. At the Bridgehampton Tennis & Surf Club, there was a benefit for Miracle House, an organization that takes care of patients and caregivers and miraculously got people to pay for a night out.

“This isn’t the real me,” I said to host Lance Bass, spinning around in my lightly striped Brooks Brothers jacket. “But you look good,” he cooed—which was certainly a better response than another guest’s: “Your bag has stains. They’ll take it away from you and burn it!” (Fortunately, they didn’t want to touch it to even do that much.)

At the event, Lance and Real Housewives of New York City‘s slinky Countess LuAnn de Lesseps auctioned off various jet-setty items, Deborah Cox performed in tip-top voice as the queens relived their forties, and surgeon to the stars Dr. Mark Warfel told me that Amanda Lepore regularly puts his skin cream all over her body. (And she looks not a day over 29!)

Another Housewife, Jill Zarin, convinced me that she’s not into the statusy aspect of Hamptons existence at all. “I’m always in my house with my family,” Zarin said. “There are 22 people sleeping there. I take care of three meals a day, 22 people. I felt very guilty even coming out for this, but it’s such a good cause.

“I step in and out of the Hamptons scene,” she continued. “I don’t want to do makeup and get dressed. I want to stay in my pajamas. If you saw what I was wearing today—embarrassing. I’m still wearing scrunchies from 1985!” It was heartening to hear that the Housewives are an anti-trend onto themselves.

“I live in K-Mart, TJ Maxx, and Costco,” concluded Jill, beaming. “It’s a sensory overload!”

PS: In a bigger shock, she’s really friends with LuAnn. It’s not just for TV!

Anyway, goodbye, summer resorts. I’m back in Murray Hill festooned with scrunchies and my dirty bag, and I’m staying there for a long, long time.

musto@villagevoice.com

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In Praise of Promiscuity

Event planner Michael Scarna, 31, was walking down the street one day when he realized he wanted to be in a relationship. Soon thereafter, he met Michael Lamasa, now 26. The two Michaels met on MySpace a little over four years ago and are busy planning a 2012 wedding. They plan on raising a family in a few years. Lamasa was keeping his eyes open for the right guy since his early 20s. “I’ve always seen myself as a serial monogamist,” the working actor says. “I came out when I was 16. By the time I went to college, I was moving toward a more relaxed, settled-down lifestyle. Family was always important to me. My fun when I grew up wasn’t from experimenting sexually.”

Contrast that experience with the burst of random gay sex during the post-Stonewall years. Sex was anywhere, anytime, with anyone. Those days now exist only in novels like Andrew Holleran’s Dancer From the Dance, memoirs like Edmund White’s, documentaries like Gay Sex in the 70s, and the fading memories of a generation decimated by the AIDS epidemic, which brought the dream of sexual liberation to a screeching halt.

Ongoing discussions with men of various ages, numerous blogs and articles, and firsthand experience all point to a generational shift in the way gay men perceive their sex lives and relationships. With marriage and children taking the place of rampant sex, oldsters are asking themselves, how did gay life morph from a porn film into a Jane Austen novel?

Or did promiscuity just go deeper underground? James, 30, produces New York Jock Party, the city’s most exclusive “underwear party.” Nearly all of his patrons, in their 20s, “are more clean-cut, and if they’re promiscuous, they try not to show it,” he observes. “We’re supposed to set a good example. If we’re promiscuous, that’s not what straight people do. They see sex clubs as equaling STDs and drugs. ‘Sex party’ has bad connotations. If they want to be dirty and promiscuous, they really don’t want people to know about it.”

The city’s best-known promoter of raunchy parties, Daniel Nardicio, is witnessing “a lot of judgment. Guys tell me proudly they’ve never been to one of my events,” he says. “They’ve got to brag because they’re ‘better’ than being sexual.”

Kane Race, a professor at the University of Sydney, in Australia, believes that technology—websites like the ubiquitous ManHunt.com and mobile apps like Grindr—has taken the place of public spaces or even semi-private ones like the baths. Cruising “has moved online, which is a major shift from the bar, club, venue, and street-based sexual cultures of the 20th century,” he says. “It represents an increasingly privatized sexual culture.”

Or, as another professional observer, New York University professor Philip Brian Harper, puts it: “When there was no ManHunt, the manhunt had to take place in public contexts rather than in private spaces in front of a computer screen.” Hook-up sites and Grindr have made sexual contact easier, “but the serendipity of gay male sexual encounters has been diminished.”

In his landmark 2002 book The Soul Beneath the Skin, David Nimmons analyzed gay relationships on all levels and found that they often arise from casual sex. But then, in 2004, Massachusetts became to first state to legalize gay marriage. For Michael Warner—now at Yale, the best-known exponent of radical gay sexual liberation, and a founder of Sex Panic!, a short-lived group dedicated to fighting buttoned-down sexual conformity and Rudy Giuliani’s war on quasi-public sex—the goal of marriage is the result of collusion among gay-rights groups, the media, and conservative gay pundits like Andrew Sullivan. “All people in their 20s are seeing is this rhetoric,” he complains. “National organizations exclusively tie gay identity to marriage. These young people have no historical memory of earlier struggles, no direct experience of the pre-online world. What we wanted all along was to change straight society. Instead, we fixated on these little tokens and lost the vision of transforming the way people live.”

Today’s activists take to the streets not to protest sex venues closing but to demand marriage. Jake Goodman, 32, is involved with Queer Rising, a grassroots organization that has staged protests against the New York legislature. Although Goodman emphasizes that the group has other issues, and many active members have a problem with the “patriarchy and gender roles” associated with marriage, “it’s a question of rights and protections, and immigration issues. The fact that we’re fighting doesn’t mean we necessarily want to get married.”

Even so, the highly visible (and, Warner complains, stolidly middle-class) marriage movement has steered young guys away from the many and varied ways gay men have traditionally formed relationships. A widely reported study earlier this year showed that at least half of partnered gay men in San Francisco had developed some form of an open relationship. “What’s the reality and what’s the story?” Warner asks. “The story is all gay men want marriage. Guys in their teens and early 20s believe that because that’s all they see. But the reality is that people continue to be creative in their actual lives. We’ve got a real disconnect between the way people live and the way they’re ‘supposed’ to live.”

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Certainly, plenty of young guys still act on their manly urges. “E.” lived in London and various cities in the United States before settling in New York. (He asked that his name not be used because his father is prominent in his native Turkey.) Now 32, he went through a wild phase of sex and drugs that came crashing down when he discovered he had contracted HIV. In a committed relationship for six years, he sees himself as an anomaly. “I was damaged psychologically,” he says. “The generation coming up now doesn’t have that problem. Some gay kid in Lebanon can get on Towleroad,” a popular gay blog.

“When we were their age, it was all about not getting beaten up or fired from our jobs,” notes Kevin Beauchamp, 48, another Queer Rising activist. “They’ve grown up in an atmosphere a lot less repressive. They come out in high school. When they see their straight friends getting married and realize they can’t, it’s like being hit by a two-by-four. They started off at the point we were trying to attain. The next step is marriage equality.”

But older men like Nardicio see them as being “more interested in following the rules than being themselves.” Aging sexual provocateur Lou Maletta (he pioneered gay porn on public TV and hosted men’s private parties for years) readily agrees.

“Gay people are trying to mimic what straight people do,” he says. “How many straight people get divorced? ‘I love you’ is fine, except that, when you’re coming home with cum all over you, you can’t say you stepped out for a pastrami sandwich. Truth should be the marriage vow: Be truthful together.” Instead of putting himself into a cookie-cutter, straight-defined marriage, Maletta, who has been partnered to the same man since 1974 and catting around for just as long, believes the real test of a relationship comes when one person can say to the other, “ ‘I’m horny. You’re not horny. I’m going out. I’ll be back in the morning.’ People look at promiscuity as jealousy,” he says. “But the best way to hold onto a person is with open arms. If you’re truthful to one another, why let sex get in the way?”

Furthermore, we may be hard-wired to be “unfaithful,” if that means non-monogamous. Rob Weiss is an L.A. sex therapist and recovering sex addict who specializes in gay clients. “Men are more able to have sexual experiences without guilt,” he says. “So men seeking sex with men have no demand for a relational element. For most gay men, recreational sex is not problematic. If, however, someone becomes preoccupied with it, only then is it a ‘problem.’ ”

Harper believes that marriage is putting a square peg (gay men’s sexuality) into a round hole (monogamous marriage); that is, “changing ideas about intimacy within the gay community, at the expense of a fluid understanding of intimacy that you didn’t get anywhere else.” Not defining—or legalizing—a relationship left room for all kinds of contexts, from sexual intimacy to Platonic ardor. According to Harper, “Marriage is going hand in hand with a commitment to monogamy.”

Just shy of 30, Chris Ryan made a name for himself promoting party nights in bars for guys barely old enough to get in the door. He believes that the sea change might be generational—but in reverse. Instead of being promiscuous early in life, his peers are going to find themselves re-learning what their forefathers practiced at their age. “Older guys are more promiscuous,” he notes. “As you get older, you become more comfortable with your sexuality. When younger, you want a relationship. When I was younger, I was not as sexually active.” He admits this is the opposite of accepted wisdom, but “when older, guys in relationships have agreements, three-ways, or ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ relationships. I don’t know any younger ones who do that.”

Meanwhile, men like Harper and Race bemoan the lack of sexual adventurousness among twentysomethings. “If by ‘promiscuous,’ we mean a way of living one’s sexuality that allowed for it to be relatively uncontained, then there was a publicness of gay male sexual culture missing now,” Harper sighs. “There was the promiscuousness of finding yourself in the middle of a cruising situation even if you weren’t going anywhere. It’s a lot like browsing in a bookstore. Speaking as a gay man, that’s something I miss. A lot.”

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Gay Celebs Descend on Atlantic City!

Despite the seeming contradiction of the term “casino culture,” Atlantic City has long overflowed with everything I’ve ever needed, from inexpensive buffets to elaborate diva concerts, from 99-cent stores hawking breast mugs to a boutique pier dotted with high-end merch to drape on your spa-waxed body. For extra pleasure, I relish the chance to watch people in iron lungs routinely throw their life’s fortunes away at the crap tables as I glide by, feeling oh-so-wealthy and superior.

But the one thing the place has never had was anything overtly gay (aside from an occasional Carol Channing show). Much as I enjoy visiting the West Side Club­—the David Lynchian hangout in the shadowy part of town, where the bar nuts are not on the bar—I’ve always been astounded that the casinos never catered to the lavender dollar, obviously cowing in terror of the family-values folks who thump Bibles in between playing card games and hiring hookers.

Well, all of that changed last week—for a few days, anyway—when Harrah’s Entertainment sent us for a “Weekend OUT” hosted by rapper Cazwell, inflatable toy Amanda Lepore, and various stars from canceled TV shows and boy bands. The group they sent down include a blogger who billed himself as “a positive Perez” (though he was understandably thrilled when Mischa Barton‘s show got canceled) and promoter Daniel Nardicio, fresh from Fire Island, where the Grove Hotel burst into flames, someone claimed to have been raped, and a plane crash-landed on the beach. (“I put that on Facebook before I called 911, shamefully enough,” admitted Nardicio, cutely).

No such disasters took place in Atlantic City, thankfully enough. First came an LGBT bash at Showboat’s Club Worship, MC’d by one of the town’s four drag queens, who blared, “We spend money, too—am I right?” (And not just on blush—we also buy shadow.) Just then, the expensively cosmeticized Lepore took the stage, slyly working some of her songs together (“I know what boys like . . . My pussy, my pussy . . .”), and though some of the crowd looked a little dazed, that shows they were paying attention.

The next night, the gals really came out for the The L Word reunion at House of Blues’ Foundation Room, which drew hard-core fans of the show from lipstick to pantsuit to prison matron. I cared only about Pam Grier, the ’70s blaxploitation goddess who brightened the show as the bi-curious Kit Porter. Pam told me she just finished her memoirs, “and I’m still in therapy from that. Several cases of wine later . . .” An example of some insight from the book? “When I was dating Richard Pryor,” she remembered, “his horse was attacked by the dog. I put the horse in the car, and we took him to get help. I thought we’d be arrested: ‘There are two black people in a Jaguar with a horse in the back seat!’ “

So Pam Grier is actually a gentle, loving soul, not the kickass character she rose to fame as? “I’m kickass right now,” she replied, mercilessly tickling my tummy. “I had a military upbringing and was taught martial arts. And I have a rural background.” Pam’s so comfy with the great outdoors, in fact, that she often sleeps on her back on her Colorado grounds, with nothing but a thong and a down comforter. To summon one of her old movie taglines, “Coffy, she’ll cream you!”

Several cases of wine later, the weekend brought a Lance Bass party and a Jai Rodriguez–hosted bingo game, but by then, I had cashed in my potato chips and gone back to my natural habitat of Times Square. There, the gays were lining up to drool over Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig in A Steady Rain, even though a poster on a Broadway chat board called it “nothing more than a long synopsis for a movie on Spike TV.” I tend to agree—I never cared for the “And then I said” genre of confessional drama, even with twists—but it’s definitely the event piece of the season (meaning, people break their necks running to the stage door the second the show’s over) and Jackman is particularly fine. (I mean his acting. Hush.)

Cute—and super-talented—Cheyenne Jackson was very present for last week’s meet-and-greet promoting the revival of Finian’s Rainbow, just another musical about sharecroppers, a leprechaun, and a dancing mute named Susan the Silent. (“When you see her leaping around like a crazy person,” the choreographer told us, “she’s speaking!”) It’s all very relevant, we were reminded, because Obama is president and because the show is a parody of the excesses of capitalism and the absurdity of over-borrowing. And one thing this production won’t borrow from previous ones: blackface! When the bigoted character changes colors, it paves the way for a whole new actor to gain employment.

(Speaking of job ops, I hear Cheyenne tried out for Carl Magnus in A Little Night Music, but was told they didn’t want to go the conventionally-good-looking route. Don’t tell that to the guy who got it.)

Good-looking in boots or otherwise, ’60s icon Nancy Sinatra invited me to a Cipriani fundraiser for the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, which turned out to be a real education. MC Nathan Lane was a scream, cracking about Ernie Anastos‘s recent on-air gaffe: “Even Kanye West thought it was in poor taste.” Lane also got in quips about the Sinatra school, saying, “It’s across the street from the Billie Holiday Medical Center.” Best of all, The Addams Family star introduced a speech by Bill Clinton, but the ex-prez didn’t materialize right away. “He is coming,” assured Lane. “It’s not the first time you’ve heard that—but he is coming.”

The Coen BrothersA Serious Man came and proved to be a darkly funny peek at gefilte-fish-out-of-water Jews in the Midwest, where they seem as out of place as gays at Trump’s Taj Mahal. The film premiered at the Friars Club Comedy Film Festival at the Ziegfeld, where cineastes mixed with borscht belt comics over popcorn and wisecracks. Before the movie, the Friars’ Freddie Roman introduced the Coens as “two Jewish boys who grew up in a hotbed of Judaism—St. Louis Park, Minnesota. In their synagogue, the cantor was Norwegian!” After the screening, that non-Scandinavian actor Fyvush Finkel cornered me to say, “I told the Coens: ‘I’ll be so good I’ll put the “h” back in your names.’ “

Italian-American kvetcher extraordinaire Joy Behar just put the HLN back on her résumé. She feted her new talk show on the channel with a TV-icon-filled Oak Room party, where she sat at a back table, when her feet started hurting. But Joy perked up when a waiter brought over some buffalo-chicken dumplings. “Ooh, baby!” gurgled the TV star. Not have much sex lately? “Good point,” she replied, laughing. “After 27 years, the dumplings start to look good.” So why her own show? Not get to talk enough on The View? “I’m going to have to interrupt myself,” Joy said, grinning. Will she wear suspenders? “No,” she answered, plainly.

More important, her thoughts on Mackenzie Phillips‘s consensual incest revelations? “It’s so fucking awful,” she said. “You spend your life avoiding your father.” Still, she obviously didn’t avoid him that much. But why wait for a book deal to spill this? “Maybe she needs the money,” offered Joy. “If not, it could be payback, like Christina Crawford.” “That one I believed,” I muttered. “I believe them all!” said Joy, seductively eyeing another dumpling.

One last tidbit: I hear AOL might roll the dice and appeal to the lavender market by launching a big, gay website. They should call it “Gay-O-L.” Ooh, baby.

musto@villagevoice.com

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The End of Public Sex

On the night before Memorial Day last month, several hundred men were packed into the top floor of a building in the meatpacking district. A DJ spun in a corner while bartenders frantically poured vodka into paper cups. A few of the men—most of them older—had checked their clothes, but the younger ones were keeping theirs on. In a few darkened corners, there were a few guys giving blowjobs and some ass play; overall, however, the scene could have passed for a typical holiday weekend at any East Village gay bar.

What was most notable about this party wasn’t that a few people were—somewhat desultorily—playing around. Rather, it’s how many didn’t seem to evince the slightest interest in a hookup of any kind. Despite the heat (no fans, let alone air conditioning), the naked go-go boys and the alcohol people seemed content to make chitchat. And whatever little sex was going on, most seemed oblivious to it.

In 2002, I wrote the Voice‘s cover story for the Pride issue on “The Return of Public Sex.” I chronicled the explosion in sex venues, from clubs to private parties to backroom bars: “After years of AIDS anxiety and government repression, gay public sex is bigger and better than ever,” I wrote.

What a difference six years make.

The city has shut down all but two bathhouses and every known sex club in Manhattan, as well as citing bars, clubs, and private parties where inspectors find any men-on-men action. The few entrepreneurs still out there complain about apathy and different priorities among younger gay men.

Daniel Nardicio, the promoter who put on the Memorial Day–eve event, sees himself as a veteran of the battle to bring sleaze to the masses. He’s perhaps best known for TigerBeat—underwear parties held at the Slide on the Bowery, where everyone had to check his (or, occasionally, her) clothes. The city shut down TigerBeat in 2004 by orders from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, citing complaints about sexual activity.

Since then, Nardicio has been a nomad, exploring various venues. He’s had bathing-suit parties at a Turkish sauna on Wall Street; organized a road trip to Atlantic City; and tried out a Chinatown photo studio, other Lower East Side bars, and, most recently, the meatpacking-district loft space. His themes always brush the far end of good taste: For Memorial Day, he gave out Fleet Enemas. So he doesn’t blame the authorities for the lack of sexual license as much as a fundamental change in the attitudes of gay men themselves.

“These things are ending because people don’t want them anymore,” he says. “People are spoiled, petulant, uninteresting. I’ve been throwing outrageous parties again and again for years, but the only time I was busted was at the Slide.”

Like everyone else these days, Nardicio blames the Internet for the lack of public engagement. Even so, he adds: “If people wanted dirty, raunchy parties in New York, it would happen. But people don’t want it.”

If there’s a generational shift between post-Stonewall gay men and their younger counterparts, it’s that the latter are more interested in fashionista kiss-kiss cocktail soirees like Hiro at the Maritime Hotel and Beige at B Bar: “People are so obsessed about how they look,” Nardicio complains. “Everyone wants to pretend they’re an A&F model.”

For some, this new attitude may mark a healthy and normal progression—from the generation that had to fight for its right to party to a new breed fighting for the right to marry and serve openly in the military. Today, it’s easier than ever to come out, and people are doing it in high school or even before. Coming out so early in life, they don’t feel as alienated from straight women—or, increasingly, men. Rather than facing discrimination and alienation, they can look forward to marriage and children: “They’re not feeling as marginalized,” Nardicio says. “Young guys are not as interested in a gay-only scene.”

Even on the Internet, young guys are at least as interested in social- networking sites like MySpace as hooking up on Manhunt. “The 21-year-olds are interested in dating,” Nardicio notes. “There’s a lot less self-hatred.”


Still, there’s no question that Mayor Bloomberg’s administration hasn’t exactly been sex-positive. Rumblings about the city’s policy came to a boil in January, when a reporter at the local newspaper Gay City News obtained a copy of an internal memo recommending that the city’s health commissioner move aggressively to monitor sex clubs more closely or shut them down altogether.

Since the memo was leaked, city officials have been talking out of both sides of their mouths. On the one hand, public faces for the administration like Dr. Monica Sweeney—a top official working on AIDS prevention and services—have been attending public forums where, in Sweeney’s case, she patiently explains over and over that there is no organized pogrom against public sex: “There have been no plans at all in the Department of Health to close commercial sex venues,” she stated at a heated meeting at the LGBT Center in February.

The city’s actions, however, tell a very different story. Manhattan’s three best-known sex clubs—El Mirage, the Studio, and the Comfort Zone—have all been shuttered: El Mirage two years ago, the other two much more recently. The Wall Street Sauna was closed in 2004, leaving the city with two bathhouses, the East Side Club and the West Side Club. Bars like the Cock, the Eagle, the Slide, and Boysroom have been cited for various violations. Mr. Black, perhaps the most popular hangout for the city’s younger gay set, was shut down last year for alleged drug dealing on the premises.

One of the last remaining owners of a Manhattan sex club tried to play ball with the city: He contracted with Positive Health Project, a local AIDS-information service known for its outreach, to give safe-sex demonstrations, lectures, and offer HIV testing. Condoms in bowls were everywhere, as were safer-sex messages. None of that satisfied city inspectors, who then raided the club for alleged building-code violations.

All of this leaves a few vocal gay men outraged—most of them older. Eric Rofes, the California academic who wrote extensively on the positive aspects of gay sex before his death in 2006, spoke passionately at the LGBT Center two years ago about the need for random interactions and meeting places in the age of the Internet. He decried the “disappearance or diminution of sex-site premises,” such as gay bookstores (where men can have sex in semi-private stalls), and the “privatization of sexual cultures,” such as the leather and S&M scenes—all dismissed as tired or played out by the next generation of gay men.

The site of Nardicio’s party was emblematic of the fundamental changes that have taken place in the city: Much of Cruising, the infamous Hollywood version of rampant gay sex in the ’70s, was filmed there. Portraying a man dying of AIDS in The Hours, actor Ed Harris threw himself out of one of its windows. This is where the Hellfire Club once hosted S&M parties for straights, gays, and everything in between; now, moneyed Europeans and Wall Street traders dine on raw meat of a very different kind.


To be sure, people are still having sex. But compared to the bad old days of 2002, it’s a movable feast and ever more underground. A recent issue of HX, a local gay-party weekly, listed 24 private clubs, from the New York Bondage Club to Foot Friends (foot fetishists), Golden Showers of America (water sports—i.e., piss), Bear Hunt NYC (fans of the heavy-set and hirsute), and Thugs4Thugs (exclusively blacks and Latinos). And those are only the ones listed; other clubs, such as New York by Night, which meets monthly in a Hell’s Kitchen apartment, and NYC Jock Party, in Brooklyn, limit themselves to e-mail lists and references.

Those who defend such parties point to isolation and fear as the prime causes of HIV infection. Shutting down places where people can have sex, they argue, is like shutting down bars because people get drunk. Prohibition proved that didn’t work, and neither will pretending that all gay men will go to California to get hitched if they’re denied group sex. Perry Halkitis, a professor of psychology at NYU, compares such attempts to the arcade game Whack-a-Mole: “You hit the mole, others pop up,” he said at a public forum earlier this year.

Others, however, just stay down. On a nondescript side street in southern Hell’s Kitchen a few weeks ago, a former sex club held an unusual “yard sale.” Items like an industrial-strength sling, leather outfits, and sex toys were being sold by the owner (who asked that his name not be used). He says that he provided condoms and lube for his patrons but couldn’t—and wouldn’t—turn his staff into sex police. “If you go to a club and there are condoms supplied for free, isn’t that better than going to someone’s home where there are no condoms available?” he asks. “People take a handful when they leave. When we close down, these people will still be having sex with each other. They’ll just have to look harder.”

Among the scavengers at the yard sale was Daniel Nardicio, buying some theatrical lighting for possible upcoming parties. He’s moving on, however: He’s got an Internet radio show, a fast-growing East Village–oriented website (DList.com), and even plans for an apparel line—underwear imprinted with the wearer’s phone number.

New York, he sighs, has fallen behind other world cities: “Everywhere is more sexually happening,” he complains. “I love New York—I can’t live anywhere else. The problem is, it’s so unmotivated, so uptight right now.”

Mike Peyton, a promoter active in the fetish scene, believes that there’s still a desire for hot sex, whether in public, in private, or online. “We pioneered it; we rivaled everybody,” he says. “It’s not just sex—it’s erotic expression. When the meatpacking district was in full swing, there were tranny hookers, clubs like the Mine Shaft, the trucks. It’s sad to see that go. New York was once the bastion of freewheeling sex. Now it’s lost.”

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Siegfried, Roy, and Glory Holes!

Make way for my very own hot list, which is guaranteed to make EW‘s Hot List as the hottest list that is neither hot nor a list.

First of all, the wackiest Internet show for days is East Village Radio’s DList Radio, hosted by Daniel Nardicio, the go-go-boy-crazed party promoter who was going to throw events for Hillary Clinton‘s campaign until they realized he’s done sex parties. (I guess if they wanted someone who’s thrown sex parties, they could just get Bill.) The joy of the show is that it sounds like a bunch of downtown nuts and celebrity drop-ins flapping their gums without even realizing anyone’s listening (and for all I know, no one is). Recently, I guest-starred along with fierce romantic-advice-giver Robbyne Kaamil, who’s ready for prime time with her pricelessly phrased wisdoms about love and shit; retired showgirl Carlotta Wellington, who’s seen, screwed, and drunk it all; and tight-trousered Jonah Falcon, who paraded around his 20-foot dick as if the radio listeners could see it—and they probably could. (By the way, Falcon told me he’s “orally versatile” because he inventively grew up sucking his own wee-wee. Honey, I can’t even suck my own nipples.)

In between interviewing guests and spinning esoteric music and Madonna, Nardicio offered drag-queen gossip like how “I love Bianca del Rio, but she’s so evil that someone warned me: ‘You have to stop supporting Bianca. Everyone hates her.’ ” Now I love her even more! Then in came otherwordly singer Angel Eyedealism, who announced that her new name is Angel Eyecon—got that?—and comic Shawn Hollenbach, who said that when a doctor told him a digital prostate check would be the worst part of an exam, he vigorously disagreed (though he still wouldn’t bottom for a couple he recently three-wayed with, and as a result, he didn’t get a second date. Got that?).

By the way, after Bianca del Rio was let go from Vlada Lounge, they hired an even zanier queen named Logan, but on examination, they turned her mic off after just one song. And the ranks of bitter drag queens keep growing and growing.

The hottest reason in ages to leave the house on a Saturday is Misstress Formika‘s combustive get-together called Family (at 40 Avenue C), though last week Formika told me that opening night was even better. “A guy peed into a cup and drank it,” he said, misting over. “It was so old-school!” I love how we’re now waxing nostalgic about the good old days when clubbies used to drink pee, eat shit, and suck their own wee-wees.

Let’s raise some champagne to the hottest autobiographical musical performance: Sherie Rene Scott‘s You May Now Worship Me, a “one-Mennonite show” done to benefit Phyllis Newman‘s Women’s Health Initiative. Scott—who’s currently flapping around as Ursula in The Little Mermaid—was hilariously droll and vocally creamy, taking us from her upbringing in Topeka (“which is the Kickapoo word for ‘fabulous place to dig for potatoes’ “) to her adult life as a wealthy lady with a country house (“I’ve worked very hard for every penny of my husband’s family’s money.”) The high point was a brilliant sketch about a guy who worshipfully aped Scott on YouTube (played by Mermaid‘s Tyler Maynard) and how he came to turn rotten on her, as fans so often do. But not me. I sat with Sherie’s rich relations and, after much sucking up, I am now pretty much part of the family.

The week’s hot revival is South Pacific, in which the girl who got kicked in the head by a horse and fell for an Italian guy in Light in the Piazza is now romancing a Frenchman with mixed-race children, as the Italian guy from Piazza lusts for a Tonkinese chick being pimped out by her bad-ass mother, and the Latin lover from The Drowsy Chaperone watches on in drag. Got that? The perfectly lovely production goes for naturalistic interactions that don’t exactly electrify, coming way more alive when it dares to go larger (like with Kelli O’Hara‘s glorious “I’m in love, I’m in love . . .”). I know we’re supposed to orgasm over anything with restrained, scaled-down performances, but the eagerness with which critics now try to discredit the galvanizing star charisma of past productions is absurd. (They also worship any show with just two violins and a triangle because it’s “revisionist.”) Anyway, with Act II, the regret, romance, and heroism blend into a much more enchanted evening, with Paulo Szot‘s wrenching “This Nearly Was Mine” making me totally envy his self-pity.

An even darker retread, Macbeth is being presented as the lost Saw prequel as done by the Bard via David Cronenberg. The slasher-film effects are bracingly effective, the nutty touches work (“Double double, toil and trouble” is done as a rap song by three nurses), and it’s all ultra-theatrical, which is good because after all, it’s a theater piece. Amazingly, the show is twice as long as usual, but it somehow moves twice as quickly. I only felt that the Idina Menzel look-alike cast as Lady Macbeth played it too much like Lady Macbeth, if you know what I mean.

The hottest buffet was served at a dinner for The Visitor, a well-meaning misfire that aims to show us that immigrants are A-OK! In fact, they probably served us the buffet. Alas, the film only proves that they’re banality-spouting stick figures who primarily exist to shake up an equally blah white man’s life and get him to let loose on some djembe drums (if not a triangle). Let’s keep them out!

The totally hawt book I’m beating the drum for is The Secret Life of Siegfried and Roy, a dirtfest about the frozen-faced twosome whose biggest trick of all was keeping their homosexuality hidden from Middle America as if hiding a gerbil in a hat. Among the book’s revelations, Siegfried once “swooned over a handsome and very young magician named Darren Romeo.” Then again, he swooned over a lot of people. The authors contend: “Of the two, Siegfried had the bigger reputation for promiscuity. The staff joke was that he’d screw a doorknob if he thought it might respond.” Siegfried even shockingly admitted he’s slept with women, “which makes the ‘baby Siegfried’ (or ‘Siegfrieda’) rumor possible.” If there is a child, I bet it looks almost as young as Siggy.

But wait, here’s the best passage: “[Co-author] Jimmy Lavery discovered what a glory hole was when Roy Horn approached him one day and handed him a brass token . . . Roy told Jimmy he’d found the token in his car and figured Siegfried had dropped it there.” It turned out to be a token that fit perfectly into a coin-operated glory hole! And I’m shocked—that Siegfried hadn’t used it!

The most magical reality show is still National Geographic Channel’s Dog Whisperer, but for me, the problem is that there just aren’t that many different problems dogs can have. How many times can you sit through “The dog’s rambunctious energy is proving to be a threat to the neighbors”? And while I’m hopelessly addicted to truTV’s Forensic Files, all that painstaking evidence-gathering usually leads to the same unshocking conclusion: The husband who was cheating on the wife and just took out an insurance policy on her turns out to be the one who killed her!

The killer dessert place is still supposed to be Pinkberry, which I find sleekly nightclub-loungey, with ditsy but agreeable help. But while the green-tea and coffee-flavored “yogurt-styled” stuff they serve is self-evident, what, pray tell, is in the “original” flavored one? The shit is white, so that’s no help whatsoever. It tastes vaguely lemony, but it’s also mildly sour, like crème that’s been left on the table a little too long, with a teensy hint of metal sprinkled in. Call me crazy, but I need a little more detailed description than “original” to know exactly what faux-flavor I’m pretending to enjoy. Until that happens, Pinkberry will sit in limbo on my “What?” list.

musto@villagevoice.com

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White Briefs and Jello Shots

If Halloween is Gay Christmas, then I guess Pride is, like, Gay Mardi Gras, right? The parade, the tourists, the hot drunk boys spilling onto the streets and out of their adorably ironic underoos—it all makes sense now! But this party’s so gras it needs more than just mardi. There are enough festivities to keep a homo happy jeudi through dimanche.

Kick things off Thursday night like the natives do, with one of NYC’s hottest weekly queer parties. James Coppola and his Unitard cohorts are gonna get you soaking wet as Unisex Salon [The Delancey, 168 Delancey Street, 212-254-9920, 10 p.m., $10] celebrates “The Pride Aquatic.” The Corrosive Mother, Acid Betty, emcees the 1 a.m. show starring naughty mermaids and mermen, before turning it over to legendary DJ Johnny Dynell. And if that’s not enough, the all-night open vodka bar will definitely have you shaking your tail flipper.

For something decidedly dirtier, try Daniel Nardicio’s Evening Service at the Cock [29 Second Avenue, 212-777-6254, 10 p.m., $20]. New York’s king of queer sleaze brings you a tribute to every faggot’s worst foe: the religious zealot. Father McTigger serves some burlesque blasphemy, while go-go altar boys shake it to the spiritual sounds of DJs Scott Ewalt and Aaron Elvis. Expect more temptation than even Ted Haggard could handle.

Friday night, the fellas will be in full force for Men Are From Mars’ Showcase: Pride @ Webster Hall [125 East 11th Street, 212-714-4519, 11 p.m., $20 ? ?–$25], a night of booty bumping for gay men of color and their admirers. Get your groove on across three distinct dance floors, with DJ Unknown spinning hip-hop, r&b, and reggae, Fred Pierce and DJ Sedrick pumping out house and classics, and Vijuan Allure delivering beats in the Runway Room.

If Saturday finds you a little worse for wear, never fear, a battalion of caped crusaders is just the thing to save your nightlife. Superheroes takes over Offer Nissim and Peter Rauhofer’s Work party at Stereo [555 West 33rd Street, 212-947-0400, 10 p.m., $30–$80] for a night of masked mayhem, heroic homos, and so much spandex-clad muscle you’ll think you’re at the local comic shop. Meanwhile, a few blocks south, one of the city’s most influential gay DJs is gonna be tearing it up at one of the city’s most influential gay clubs before the city tears it down next month. Junior Vasquez and Co. take you back a decade to celebrate 10 Years of Arena [515 West 18th Street, 212-645-5156,11 p.m., $55–$65]. Get one last look at this infamous space—whatever you do, don’t call it the Roxy!—as you relive Junior’s days at Palladium with special guests South Beach queens Power Infinity and Kitty Meow in a tribute to Kevin Aviance. Rumor has it a certain big-boobied blonde is slated to make an appearance (hint: It ain’t Amanda Lepore, but they could be islands in the same stream).

Sunday is all about the parade, but with no Pride Fest street fair to follow it up this year, what’s a party boy to do with his day? DJ Adam, Steve Sidewalk, and their crew have got you covered. Spend the day at a super-extended Pride edition of their weekly Hot Mess [Porky’s, 55 West 21st Street, 212-675-8007, 5 p.m., $5]. Your first drink is on the house, along with a free buffet ’til 7 p.m. So kick back, enjoy the beer bongs, beer pong, and scandalous go-go boys while Rainblo and Ladyfag entertain. Later on, Betty, Epiphany, Logan, and the rest of the House of Acid take over for a night of pop, rock, electro, and, of course, Jello and Super Soaker shots to get you hot and messy.

Of course, the purists wouldn’t be caught dead anywhere Sunday night without first making an appearance at the one and only Dance 21: The Dance on the Pier [Pier 54 in Hudson River Park, 13th Street and Hudson River, 4 p.m., $45–$150]. Breathe in the salty Hudson air, cast a condescending glance to Jersey, and bask in the glare of the secret celebrity guest performers. Ain’t that what Pride’s all about?

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NY Mirror

I lined up to see USHER in Chicago, and I have to say she was absolutely great. She looked at my ticket stub, briskly showed me to my seat, and handed me a Playbill while mustering a warm half-smile. The star of the show was OK too—you know, Usher, who plays sleazy lawyer Billy Flynn with a mild hint of Johnnie Cochran. Can he act? Not really. Does it matter? Probably not, since he has the smooth showmanship of a variety show guest and a healthy taste for being onstage. It seemed like the guy was dying to break into a higher key and let loose, but he stayed professional—damn—and you also had to admire him for making his first fully clothed public appearance on record and not seeming that embarrassed about it. He makes me wanna!

Two nights later at “It Takes a Nation,” a Crobar fundraiser for post-Katrina rebuilding, co-host ROSIE PEREZ told me she’d seen Usher in the show and “I was pleasantly surprised. The acting? Eh! But he had a lot of charisma and sang well. My friend said, ‘I thought he was gonna look a little gay on the Fosse steps.’ I was like, ‘You’re stupid.’ ” Yeah—you don’t need Fosse steps to look gay. Look at me.

Anyway, the Public just had a reading of a screenplay Rosie wrote about two underprivileged New York kids, and they’ll pair her with a playwright (maybe STEPHEN ADLY GUIRGIS) to make it stage ready. She also just shot a movie, The Take, with BOBBY CANNAVALE and JOHN LEGUIZAMO—I didn’t know those were two different people—and said the latter spitfire kept telling her their scenes should be done naked. “I said, ‘John, Do the Right Thing was a long time ago!’ ” Rosie told me, laughing.

But let’s go back to Usher, whom you’ll remember also kept his clothes on. PENÉLOPE CRUZ showed up to see him with her sex-on-a-stick rocker brother, Eduardo, and not only was she clothed, she was resplendent in a Chanel dress she had just borrowed from her Paper cover shoot. I hear PEDRO ALMODÓVAR told the same mag that for his film Volver, Penélope’s portrayal of a busty woman in flux was influenced by SOPHIA LOREN in Two Women and (completely unrelated) they padded her butt for the performance. By the way, I’ve seen Volver and all is forgiven, Penélope. You can really act. You’re even better than as Tom’s girlfriend. No, seriously. Brava!


CONFESSIONS OF A DRAMA QUEEN

That other female-dominated family epic, Grey Gardens, is going through some changes of life in its move to Broadway. A know-it-all on All That Chat says three new songs are being written, plus the family drama will be beefed up, especially the part shedding light on Little Edie’s personal damage. They’ll probably get a new usher too.

Shockingly intact is the revival of The Fantasticks, that charming, fey little thing that’s like a Precious Moments musical with a hint of that Twilight Zone episode about a group of toys trying to climb out of a donation box. The problem is, every time they sang the big song, I was dying to scream over them, “Try to remember the size of his member and swallow.” But I stayed put and smiled beatifically.

Members were carefully tucked for drag waitressing legend ROSE ROYALLE‘s birthday gala at Vlada, hosted by SWEETIE and DANIEL NARDICIO. The invite intriguingly promised, “You’ll be shitting glitter for a week,” but it’s been eight days now and I’m starting to worry. Among the highlights, JULIE ATLAS MUZ—not a drag queen, I don’t think—was dressed as JonBenet and doing cartwheels as she adorably lipsynched “I Will Always Love You,” and PRINCESS DIANDRA— a drag queen, I’m pretty sure—gave a touching tribute, remembering, “When security came to throw me out of Jackie 60, Rose said, ‘That bitch deserves it.’ But fuck me! Fuck you! I love Rose Royalle.”

Extra security was needed Tuesday at Happy Valley, when half the crowd ran to the stage after it was announced, “And now for the world’s most famous transsexual!” But they meant AMANDA LEPORE, who sang “I Know What Boys Like” with way more exposed flesh than Usher in Chicago. Backstage, I asked Amanda about her other immortal song, “My Pussy.” How does it go, pray tell? “Pussy, my pussy, my pussy, my pussy,” she recited, dutifully. “Pussy, my pussy, my pussy, my pussy. Times 15.” Yikes, that’s 120 gaping vaginas—more than the entire cast of The View!

“It’s hotter than PARIS HILTON‘s music,” Amanda decided, citing a socialite with a dog and a pussy. Ooh, tranny enmity, ma chére ? “We had a food fight once,” she admitted. “But I like how she matches all her accessories. And she’s smart. She’s the world’s highest paid club kid.” Except for my pussy, my pussy, my pussy . . .


HAIL THE CONQUERING HIRO

Over at the fruitily festive Sunday gay night at Hiro Ballroom, the highly paid club kids have moved downstairs, where host ERICH CONRAD has interestingly decreed that all the promoters now sit grandly on the stage. That makes the party like a giant Buñuel movie, and as they’re all joined by their friends and hangers-on, it also becomes the most concentrated area of caked eyeliner in the world, not to mention the shakiest platform since the Republicans’.

But can I climb with my pussy onto my high horse and pause for a rant, please? Too many clubbies are shameless name-droppers who are desperate to grasp at status by claiming they’ve brushed against celebs and therefore they actually exist. Alas, rather than impress me into some kind of genital salute, this practice tends to make the person seem way more pathetic as I gag, running to the nearest monastery. Besides, it’s so easy to top them. At one club, a guy recently ran up to me shrieking, “I’ve been doing COURTNEY LOVE‘s hair!” Oh, yeah, well she used to stalk me back when she didn’t even have hair. “I was once a personal trainer for JON CRYER,” another freak whinnied, handing over his card. Well, it didn’t work. And one more woebegone wannabe just screeched to me, “There were cameras in my house when I was seven because my father knew KATO KAELIN!” Well, MICHAEL ALIG once tried to suck my dick. Why don’t you do the same? At least it’ll hush you up for an hour and a half.

Hey, this should plug you club freaks up for a while: Murmurs say that any month now, the legendary Roxy will be razed and turned into condos. But majordomo Gene DiNino says that’s pure horse hooey. Yay! You don’t know how much that place means to me! My picture was on the drink tickets! Fuck me! Fuck you!

On an even happier note, I caught an advance screening of Infamous—the other Capote movie—and not only did it turn out to be fabulous, but it has way gayer elements than the last Capote movie. That will leave some people breathless with excitement while rival film companies inevitably squeal, “This is an outrage! That never happened!”

Wait, I’ll tell you what did happen. On eastvillageradio.com, host Daniel Nardicio asked MICHAEL LUCAS (“the ZSA ZSA GABOR of gay porn”) which Queer Eye guys he’s done it with. “I don’t know,” Lucas replied. “I don’t watch TV.” They cut to a song, during which Lucas whispered to me, “Two of them. I made out with JAI and did it with KYAN, who likes it rough with a little slapping around.” But don’t tell anyone.

And keep it mum that I enjoyed the Emmys, which reached a gay peak with the South Park bit, the LESLIE JORDAN speech, and the early clips of Aaron Spelling as an actor! The Spelling tribute started shakily with HEATHER LOCKLEAR gushing as JOAN COLLINS flinched and STOCKARD CHANNING looked sick from the audience. But then Charlie’s original angels reunited and “reclaimed the brand,” coming off amazingly sweet and restoring my faith in guilty pleasures. On a higher plane, HELEN MIRREN won for Elizabeth I and now she’s an Oscar front-runner for playing Elizabeth II in The Queen. There’s no stopping the bitch. Now where’s that usher? I’ll go out the way I came in.


WEB EXTRA

On the Emmys, HELEN MIRREN may have been terrified to fall “ass over tit,” but The Office‘s MINDY KALING was not the least bit reluctant to go “tit over the entire TV-viewing world.” Few noticed, but when the cast and crew of that show went onstage to collect the Best Comedy Series award, Kaling hugged a cohort, then pulled away, only to have the right part of her dress fall and go boom just like FARRAH used to. The result would not exactly beat JANET JACKSON for Best Wardrobe Malfunction of all Time, but it was still quite tit-illating.

musto@villagevoice.com

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NY Mirror

At the party for Paper magazine’s “Beautiful People” issue at Temple, I was finally surrounded by some hot flesh commensurate with my own ultra-steamy appeal. There were aggressively pretty fashion plates, models, and vaudeville performers and even ex-American Idol star MARIO VASQUEZ, who walked in looking h-o-t and tightly clinging to a person with a vagina! Mario gave me a big, hearty hello—I’m press—and when he also offered a lumberjack handshake, I cracked, “So you are a man,” and to his credit, he laughed uproariously.

Every inch a Scissor Sister, JAKE SHEARS was working the DJ booth and telling me his sex life has dramatically improved since he got famous. “I have a boyfriend now,” Jake gushed. “I can count on sex now! He’s a student at Yale. We have a mutual friend who’s a very sexy porn kind of guy, who told him to bring me a box of lemon meringue cookies to our show in D.C. It was very strange and original. I’m madly in love.” For me, just a hint of Cheez Whiz seals the deal.


PHONE RINGS, DOOR CHIMES, IN COMES TRIBUTE

The aural equivalent of beluga on a plate of diamonds has long flowed out of the noggin of STEPHEN SONDHEIM—you know, the guy whose songs they name episodes of Desperate Housewives after. Old Steve had a 75th birthday tribute at the New Amsterdam Theater, and for two and a half intermissionless hours we were awash in his priceless music and head-spinning lyrics like “The hands on the clock turn/But don’t sing a nocturne just yet.” There were so many highlights (including the fact that no one sang “Send in the Clowns”), but the absolute peak was HARVEY FIERSTEIN belting out a condensed “Rose’s Turn” in full Fiddler on the Roof drag, as Tevye the dairy farmer! It was crazy and powerful and completely right, and if they don’t star the man in a production of Gypsy in the Shtetl immediately, I’m returning my gay card! (To fill his Fiddler slot, why not make it Midler on the Roof?)

After tons more singing, co-host BARBRA STREISAND appeared—on film—to say, “Stephen, I’ll never forget the time I kept you prisoner in my Malibu house so you could write eight new rhymes for ‘Putting It Together.’ ” I’m glad she let him out so he could make his own tribute! WHOOPI GOLDBERG was equally touching, looking out at the crowd and thanking Sondheim, “wherever you are in the great, vast blackness. [pause] I’ve heard that before.” The man is God—and don’t sing a nocturne just yet.


PLEUROSIS FOR A BLUE LADY

Meanwhile, send in the ’80s starlets, who’ve come crawling back to Broadway with showboaty roles in theater-queen classics as I pick up the flower petals and shattered figurines. There’s The Glass Menagerie with JESSICA LANGE, who’s clearly trying not to repeat her comatose Blanche DuBois, though now she’s gone in the opposite direction, making Amanda too effusive, actressy, and in someone’s face with every single line. What’s more, the fey son is played as a tough-talking hetero and the fragile daughter looks like she could slay a real unicorn—and they’re all bizarrely flanked by a dime-store shower curtain! Of course this is all known as reinvention, but I prefer plain old invention—though Act II does pay more attention to the play’s poetry and Lange focuses with a wonderful jonquil speech that finally upstages the curtain.

Snapdragons are flung about in that twisted quartet Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (a/k/a Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice Crimmins)—a charged night of pervy parlor games for literate sadists. KATHLEEN TURNER has the right whiskey voice and earth mother realness for the mesmerizing Martha, and spindly BILL IRWIN exudes the dead eyes and quirky edge (if not necessarily the vocal authority) to make a fascinating sparring partner. They sometimes seem to be rushing so the stagehands won’t get paid overtime, but a couple of juiceless confrontations are compensated for by the overall humanizing effect and withering wit. I should know; I recently interviewed Turner, who was fabulous, but mid-interview asked me, “What was your name again?” It’s Mud!

But speaking of not being able to quite get the name, here comes the part you paid admission for (or, rather, got on the guest list plus entourage for)—some tawdry, tainted blind items to uplift the rest of your day. Yes, here comes the mother lode of deception, deception, deception, so strap on your vomit bags and start guessing, folks.

Which swiveling pop star has been known to pick up guys in the steam room at a Miami hotel gym—a lot? What handsome ex-series star (a Golden Globe winner) once flirted with a guy across the aisle on a plane and even tried to follow him into the bathroom, to the consternation of the actor’s young male “assistant”? What sports magazine cover model had to be reprimanded by her co-op neighbors for continually letting her dog out on the roof to defecate on the recreation mats? What drag queen was spotted in a Parisian gay bathhouse wearing what looked like dishwashing gloves? (She was obviously preparing to either perform hand jobs, finger someone, or cleanse a pile of crockery.) What marriage between a gay and a gal was partly done for the gay to get press and the gal to get a green card?

What dead porn star did some little-known bestiality flicks late in her career? What zhlubby character actor actually thinks he’s a walking love god whom all the ladies are panting for? Could he be right? What TV persona was touching himself at Equinox and generously let another guy do a sound check on his microphone, as it were? (By the way, it was reportedly “gorgeous of girth.”) What famous wife, who has a career of her own, is still the kind of street demon who’ll sprinkle remarks like “I’ll cut her!” into casual conversation? What rail-thin British model was told by that fashion mag editrix, “You have to lose weight before you do this shoot!”?

What two young hunks (one a faded star of an Oscar-winning flick and the other a broken-up boyfriend) may well have commingled several years ago when they were both more famous? What lothario who did it with his darker co-star is supposedly doing it with her again? What departed talk show host confides to friends that, when that TV Land type was on her show, she could see a big coke booger lodged in the former starlet’s nostril and was desperate to flick it off during the entire interview, but nicely resisted? Who’s afraid of NAOMI WOLF? I am, George, I am.


LITTER BOX

Guadala-horror

The sight of the week was the exiting Little Women crowd of suburban ladies running into the circuit queens arriving for the Black Party next door at Roseland. I haven’t seen so many butts tighten since broomstick night at the Anvil. Even less thrilled with the event (which was titled “Lucha Lubre: Rites XXVI”), community activist ANDRES DUQUE recently sent out a mass e-mail complaining that it cast around for fake-Mexican-accented performers to carry on in “an interactive prison drama at the Mexican Penile Colony.” Duque also took offense at promoter DANIEL NARDICIO‘s Cockfight parties at Sixes and Eights, writing, “Promoted as an invitation to travel ‘south of the border’ to watch naked Mexican wrestlers in a celebration of ‘lawlessness’ . . . and offering ‘fresh Tijuana ass’ . . . the promotion just needs a couple of Speedy Gonzales’s Andale, Andale!s to complete the unabashed promotion of racism.”

Nardicio tells me he’s since dropped the wrestling angle because the Saint was doing it too, so now Cockfight is less intrinsically Mexican. Besides, he adds, “Everyone gets skewered in my world.” In fact, he’s parodied little people, Germans, and cowboys, and even promoted blackface comic SHIRLEY Q. LIQUOR. Nardicio apologized to Duque, but added, “Mexican wrestling is pretty campy, so why not parody it?” Point taken? If so, let’s all make up over some German midget tossing.



musto@villagevoice.com