Tail! Spin! Hilariously Demonstrates How the Latter Follows the Former in Politics

Tail! Spin! is an amusing vaudeville of spliced-together soundbites from a Top 4 of recent political sex scandals, reconstituted in the spirited performances of improv/comedy professionals including former SNL player Rachel Dratch. Enacting transcripts of embarrassing press conferences and TV appearances by ephebophile senator Mark Foley, Idaho’s Larry “Wide Stance” Craig, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford (“hiking the Appalachian Trail”), and New York’s own Anthony Weiner proves once again the old adage about history repeating itself first as tragedy and then as farce.

We’ve already heard or seen these politicians on CNN, MSNBC, Fox, and elsewhere trying to verbally wriggle out of blame. But the distance brought by time and impersonation reinvigorates the cringey thrill of hearing them for the first time, most strikingly in the case of Nate Smith’s uncanny impression of Weiner, who gets to deliver many of the evening’s most memorable one-liners. These mostly consist of extramarital sexts Weiner sent — “I need to highlight my package,” he insists. Dratch tackles the thankless roles of the put-upon wives of these turkeys (Jenny Sanford in particular) with delightfully deadpan aplomb.

While Mario Correa skillfully stitches these verbatim texts into comedy gold like a pop-song version of Arguendo (Elevator Repair Service’s recent SCOTUS-transcript staging), the show leaves a strange aftertaste in the conscience: Some of these slippery rakes still have viable careers. Maybe the joke’s on us.


The Year in Pop Culture Shame!

It was easily the best year in pop-cultural madness since the year before, and to cap off all the ritualized meltdowns and other extremely inadvisable behavior, I’ve whipped up some tawdry and titillating examples of the best of the year’s worst and/or most marvelously mediocre. And so, the winning losers are . . .

Weirdest prenup: NICOLE KIDMAN and KEITH URBAN‘s, which reportedly states that he gets the (faux-cowboy) boot if he goes back on lotsa drugs and booze. That’s so loving, isn’t it? In other words, “I adore you, honey, but if you fall back into your debilitating illness, you’re deader than Bewitched, and you don’t get a country dime!” Or maybe it’s just tough love designed to help the guy avoid stepping back into his addiction. Lord knows
CATHERINE ZETA-JONES‘s supposed provision that she gets a million smackers every time
MICHAEL DOUGLAS cheats has kept him extremely faithful. He’s cheap! (Update: Urban did have a boozy relapse and checked into rehab in October, and reports swore that Nicole was devotedly by his side. God, doesn’t a weird prenup count for anything these days?)

Scariest reality: Between LAURA BUSH‘s old car accident, DICK CHENEY‘s hunting misfire, JOHN WALKER JR.’s mowing down a cop in an SUV, and the DUBYA-sponsored killings in Iraq, this is one helluva lethal extended family. Come on, MARY CHENEY, club a baby seal!

Zaniest mensch: GEORGE CLOONEY donated his Academy Awards gift bag to Katrina victims. Great—let’s hope those devastated hurricane survivors were craving some facial cream, a coupon for Lasik eye surgery, and an aerial tour of Vancouver. (Kidding—I know he donated it to be auctioned off. Hush or you won’t get a gift bag at the end of this column.)

The only interesting moment of the whole Oscars telecast: When the animated-film winners (for the Wallace & Gromit flick) thanked HELENA BONHAM CARTER, who had done one of the voices, the camera panned to Carter beaming in the audience, seated with her man, TIM BURTON, who fumed, looking ready to set fire to the whole arena. See, he had just lost for
Corpse Bride (which also featured Helena Bonham Carter). Genius! Let’s have more of this kind of thing!

My favorite movies of the year: Infamous, Shortbus, Volver, Dreamgirls, Borat, and any other one-word title that proves I’m the gayest creature in Christendom

Speaking of which: I get an inordinate number of e-mails saying stuff like, “I enjoy your column—and by the way, I’m straight!” or “My wife and I like you on TV—and by the way, she’s female and I’m male.” This is sickening! Do you all feel you have to accessorize any praise of me with an assurance that you’re not “that way”? Are you so hormonally insecure that you think appreciating my work is automatically a reflection of your sexual taste and you’d better loudly distance yourself up front because, who knows, I might be keeping a list that I’ll turn in to the government so they can eventually round up the gays? Well, you’re right! If you like me, you must be gay—and I’m surely gonna let the White House know about it. And they’re savage killers, remember?

Blasphe-me-me-me: The church was mad at the Da Vinci Code movie, as if to say, “It’s fiction, and it’s appalling. Stick to our outlandish fiction!”

Similarly: The Vatican was outraged at MADONNA for hanging from a cross in concert. But that’s like if the black community wanted to excommunicate
MICHAEL JACKSON. He’s already left!

But there was one serious breakthrough:
actually grudgingly murmured that condom use is OK for married couples when one of them has HIV! That’s a pretty limited market, but that still shockingly acknowledges that some people might have sex for fun and that it’s maybe sort of allowed. Hooray! He’s caught up with the second century!

The inevitable book by Jim McGreevey’s children: Fags of Our Father

Which of these celebrity-revelation headlines did you believe?
: “I’m gay!” OPRAH WINFREY: “I’m not gay!”

John Ramsey‘s probable responsewhen he heard John Mark Karr didn’t do it after all: “Oh, right. We
did it. Duh.”

Celebs’ big discovery: Africa! It became the new AIDS, environment, and breast cancer combined in a big ball of glam-attracting concern. And with their pith helmets and suites at four-star hotels, stars decided the place was absolutely divoon—the new Hamptons, darling. I give it 18 months—the average lifespan of a trendy restaurant.

My fiercest new drag names: Megan Whoopee, Faith Healer, Miss Diagnosed, Florence Italy, Penny a la Vodka, Della Ware, Teri Yaki, Sue Veneer, Benna Drill, Anya Toes, Anya Marx, Marion Ette, Mabel Syrup, Anna Sthetic, Phyllis Ophical, and for a drag king, Noah Vail, Al O. Pecia, Graham Crackers, Art Basel, Manuel Labor, or Hugh Suck. Or maybe I’ll just stick to Mikey.

We pause now for a brief rant: Much as I adore animated films, the plethora of them that came out this year with inspiring messages about how critters (or vehicles) are good and people are bad made me feel their ka-chinging creators should be forced to live by their own patronizing idealism or die. Cars should have been dumped onto DVD with no hoopla whatsoever (it’s more important to be a good soul than to succeed, remember?); the Ant Bully people should find their houses infested with bugs and then be made to join them to learn the importance of community; and the Barnyard bunch, who preached that responsibility is superior to having a messy good time, should never be allowed to make another movie. Otherwise we’re destroying our children with hypocrisy and lies!

But how dare anyone suggest that: Happy Feet ripped off March of the Penguins: It ripped off Billy Elliot!

The blame game:
“Sugar Tits” GIBSON said alcohol helped bring on his anti-Semitic remarks,
swore he had a liquor problem and was molested as a child,
claimed he had been boozed up and misled during his first TV interview, and the REVEREND TED HAGGARD admitted to “sexual immorality” and promptly began rehab. Yeah, right, uh-huh, but anyway, you’re all sick fucks! Honorable mention: MICHAEL RICHARDS. But at least he was big enough to only blame himself (albeit while robotically repeating, “I’m not a racist!”).

More blame: After Foley said that stuff—you know, that he was drunk and molested by a priest—the priest in question came forward to announce that he’d been having a breakdown back then and was on mind-clouding tranquilizers! Yeah, right, uh-huh, but anyway, you’re etc., etc.

The year-in-drag shoe trends: KEVIN AVIANCE was gay-bashed, but emerged to launch a fabulous line of high heels. Some time later, FLOTILLA DEBARGE got into a bar fight and viciously attacked someone with a high heel. What does this all mean? Damned if I know.

Worst press release of the year: “On October 21, pet stores are hosting events celebrating National Dine With Your Dog Day, highlighted by people and dogs eating dog food together. No, that’s not a misprint. . . . The irresistible story idea for you? DICK VAN PATTEN is so proud of his dog food and of being named spokesperson for Dine With Your Dog Day that he’s been eating it himself! Van Patten, recognizing the fun spirit of the holiday, quipped, ‘I may eat nine bowls of dog food, because eight isn’t enough’.” Funny, I found that
quite resistible.

And anyway, I can’t top that shit, so I’m outta here. And while I’d love to give you that gift bag I promised, you’d only have to pay taxes on it, so let me not encumber you with all that. Besides, I’m off on my own African adventure. Yes, I’m jetting off to Zimbabwe to finalize some kind of lucrative transaction or other—that’s right, I just got a very special e-mail asking me to help them out, I swear—and then, after I pick out a cute trendy baby or two, I’m dashing off to Amsterdam to scarf up the $28 million I’ve apparently won in some kind of crazy lottery! And that’s not the end of it! When I get back, I’m all set to have a long, intimate phone conversation with “Rachel from Cardholder Services.” Jealous, bitches?


NY Mirror

It’s too soon to serve up any critical analysis of the hurtling-our-way epic Babel, but I can say that it’s definitely an “aha!” movie. You know, “Aha! So that was her family! So that was his object,” and so on, until even the deaf Japanese girl probably makes sense. Much of the interrelationship info is withheld until well into the two-plus hour depresso-pic, so that you can eventually connect the strands, link the heartbreaks, and become very proud of yourself. Best of all, you can promptly call all your friends and become the ultimate spoiler queen.

In Shortbus, it’s not hard to figure out that the gay ex-mayor character—who feels a tiny bit bad for having done nothing about the AIDS crisis—is based on, everybody now, ED KOCH. But director JOHN CAMERON MITCHELL tells me, “We don’t say who it’s based on. We actually thought, ‘What if there was a mayor who caused a lot of pain because of his being in the closet?’ and went from there. The scene with him is my favorite one in the movie.” Koch would probably like it too; he’s actually treated sympathetically—and he gets to kiss a hot young guy.

A more overtly political film, Catch a Fire is an apartheid movie by PHILLIP NOYCE, who sardonically oppressed me at a Sarabeth’s Kitchen meet-and-greet last week. Why did he cast TIM ROBBINS as the bad-guy cop, I wanted to know. “He’s tall and white,” Noyce responded, dryly. “So am I!” I screeched. “You’re not tall enough,” he said, laughing, as I stood on tippy toes. “Tim wanted to play a character whose actions seemed inexplicable,” Noyce went on. “At this point, Tim is choosing the parts he really wants to play. He doesn’t make decisions based on his position in the box office hierarchy.” Or even just based on his tallness.

The film’s real-life hero, PATRICK CHAMUSSO, is short (unlike DEREK LUKE, who plays him), but Noyce said he’s turned into some kind of big messiah figure. “People respond to him so passionately because it’s all so homespun,” he said. “All of us regularly face an amount of artifice. We even find ourselves bullshitting at times. But he doesn’t know how.” I’ll have to teach the guy. I’ve always wanted to be a mentor!


PEDRO ALMODÓVAR wasn’t BS’ing at his KIM HASTREITER and DAVID HERSHKOVITS–hosted Paper magazine dinner at Indochine when he said the place was so knee-deep in fabulosos that his one-hour trip from the entrance to his table was a total joyride. After my two-minute trip (I pushed), I got to PENÉLOPE CRUZ, the amazing star of Pedro’s Volver, and asked her if the movie—about some heavy-duty chick bonding—is at all man-hating. “No,” she said. “This is a movie mainly for women, but there are good characters that are men.” Yeah, and they kill them! (Kidding. Or maybe not. I’m not gonna give away an “aha!” moment so easily.)

At another table, JUSTIN THEROUX told me that Inland Empire, the DAVID LYNCH film he’s in—which has lots of women and men—”is long. Take some weed first. But it’s fantastic. Deeply spiritual, I would say.” Sounds like heavier drugs might be in order.

Recouping from KIKI & HERB‘s fab uptown stint without pharmaceuticals, that one-person man-woman JUSTIN BOND told me he now has a wellspring of appreciation for Broadway performers. How did he get through all that energy-giving? “I was told I needed a vocal rest,” he said, “so I couldn’t talk between performances. But if I can’t talk, how am I supposed to know what I’m thinking? I was depressed all through the run because of that. If we hadn’t gotten good reviews, I would have killed myself!”

To keep him going even longer, I asked Bond if Kiki & Herb will be up for the Special Event Tony against MARTIN SHORT and the guy with the puppets. “I don’t know about the Tony,” he said, sardonically. “I’m more concerned with the Oscar. That’s definitely my ticket. I’m the JUDI DENCH of Shortbus!” Even more so than the Ed Koch guy.

The winner of three Tonys, an Oscar, and a reprieve from DAVID GEST, LIZA MINNELLI hosted the Starz Home Entertainment screening of Me, Eloise, a cute animated film based on the lovable moppet bitch created by Liza’s godmother, Kay Thompson. Before the movie started, a publicist cornered me with some hot dish: Liza had come 40 minutes early! And she was cute as hell, saying that whenever she and Thompson were whooshing through Beverly Hills and the wind hit, Thompson would say, “Look, Liza, the trees are having their hair done.”

Clubbies have been getting out their crimping shears because the Avalon people swear their club (recently shuttered for tax evasion) is springing back to life any minute now, and I hear there’ll be a SUSANNE BARTSCH Halloween party to help rechristen it. This place has reopened more than SHARON STONE’s legs.

Meanwhile, every Thursday at Duvet is Halloween, but last week some crazed harridan pulled KENNY KENNY‘s wig off onstage, and though Kenny reacted calmly, not wanting to have a FLOTILLA moment, the girl did the same thing again off stage. Why did they let the unruly creature in? “They didn’t want to,” murmured an insider, “but she’s friends with the owner.”

I’m friends with Bebe Buell (mom of LIV TYLER) and for years have heard her say that her ex-husband, wannabe rocker “COYOTE” SHIVERS, has been obsessively harassing her, both personally and by misusing the court system. Now, Shivers’s latest ex-wife, PAULEY PERRETTE—from the TV series NCIS—is claiming the same kind of unruly behavior, citing vandalism, threats, and all kinds of other horrifying damage. (Shivers denies all.) Shivers me timbers.

In other creepy harassment news, some conservatives have tried to equate gay with pedophile in the wake of MARK FOLEY‘s mess—shades of the church— but they must have forgotten JOHN MARK KARR, not to mention the straight guy with lube and guns who went cuckoo in Amishland. Aha! By the way, the best Foley joke going around: “He lost his bookmark. That’s why he has to bend the pages over.”


I was bent over—with laughter—at the first International Escort Awards at the Roxy, presented by HX and (Motto: “Money can’t buy you love, but the rest is negotiable.”) Panting with excitement over who’d win the esteemed honors for fucking and sucking by the hour, I was shocked not only that Martin Short and the guy with the puppets weren’t nominated, but also that some of these ‘hos are prissier than debutantes. A nominee for Biggest Dick told me he’s strictly a top, explaining, “I’ve had my ass licked, but I’ve never had anything in there.” Even a credit card machine. Similarly, one of the candidates for Most Versatile Escort tried to convince me he’s pliable, but he gagged when I asked about felching, moaning, “No way. I consider that gross.” So do I! I must be versatile!

Come showtime, emcee SHEQUIDA announced the winners and did all the other talking too, telling the crowd, “There aren’t going to be any speeches. What are they gonna talk about, politics?” But after the show, the Best Escort winner, TALVIN DEMACHIO, did talk to me at length about why he’s worth $320 an hour, whether in or out (or in and out). “I treat people with respect,” he said. “And I take all credit cards, through PayPal.” Finally—a hustler who’s open for business. But wait! Not totally! “I don’t bottom,” he insisted, earnestly. Mama say what? That’s right, folks—the best escort in town says, “You can’t fuck me!” The shocks keep coming.

He even startlingly revealed, “I’ve never even had crabs!” In fact, cleaning up is about as dirty as DeMachio gets. (A client once wanted him to feather-dust his house in the raw. He must have just seen Naked Guys Singing.) After much prodding, DeMachio did tell me about a john who turned out to be a little person. (Like me, he wasn’t tall enough.) “I couldn’t find him,” he related, as my blood warmed. “He said, ‘I’m down here!’ But he had a dick up to his neck. I bounced him on my lap like a baby.” Shades of John Mark Karr and Mark Foley.

Actually, I’d gladly put the entire dwarf in my mouth, but if I can’t talk, how am I supposed to know what I’m thinking?