Fashion Week: Betsey Johnson Sets the House On Fire (Not Literally, But Almost)

Betsey Johnson sealed her Fall/Winter 2014 show last night at Lincoln Center with blown kisses before turning her signature cartwheel and split. As spry as ever, watching the septuagenarian designer dance down the runway with her two granddaughters confirmed the show’s title: Betsey’s Hot.

The collection, with her usual Lisa Frank-neon color palate, was billed as “Rihanna meets American Hustle.” For sub-sect of the population that description appeals to, the sequin-ridden and faux furry collection of jumpsuits, miniskirts, leotards and tights will be sure to please.

Just vaguely ’70s-inspired — if the ’70s took place one thousand years from now and in space — these are clothes fit more for a Spice Girl than a real girl. No matter, we love imagining Johnson as a giant little girl, eating spoonfuls of glitter for breakfast and gleefully dressing her human-sized Bratz dolls.

Johnson and Paris Hilton (on left).
Johnson and Paris Hilton (on left).

Which is not to call this collection, or her work in general, unwearable. Paris Hilton, perched in the front row, looked surprisingly refined sporting a more subdued Betsey Johnson dress. Even Disney Channel darling Zendaya looked all grown-up in one of Johnson’s otherwise wild leopard jumpsuits. Miss J. Alexander was, predictably, nodding in approval.

Isolate any one of these items — a bedazzled pump here, a metallic skirt there, and they become fantastic statement pieces. We desperately covet the jumbo photo-realistic mouse ring all the models were wearing. Thrown all together, it’s as if those teens from the Bling Ring raided Barbie’s dream house. And that, ultimately, is all the more fun.

Three models slipped and nearly took a tumble at the end of the runway — models are tall people in tall shoes, that’s a long way to fall — but played it off warmly, inviting the crowd to laugh it off with them.

At close, two buff, shirtless firemen escorted the designer out of a cloud of smoke before the platoon of girls reemerged in their skivvies, parading around with bunches of heart-shaped mylar balloons.

Again Betsey Johnson made fashion week what it always should be: unpredictable, unpretentious, and whole lot of fun.

See the full Betsey Johnson runway show gallery

Photos continue on the next page. See the full Betsey Johnson runway show gallery[

Photos continue on the next page. See the full Betsey Johnson runway show gallery[

Photos continue on the next page. See the full Betsey Johnson runway show gallery


Fashion Week: Hilton Sisters and Gossip Girls Go Back to School with Alice + Olivia

Yesterday’s Alice + Olivia presentation launched the Spring 2014 line of this native New York label, replete with sophisticated, whimsy-chocked apparel.

Let’s just preface this with: the clothes were magnificent. And that’s less of a complement than something designer Stacey Bendet just seems to understand–magnificence is protocol, decadence is standard operating procedure. It’s definitely the case in this collection that she described as “the crossroads of preppy-meets-pretty.”

The regal party dresses mesmerized, managing to somehow give the impression of being very glittery indeed without the employment of any actual glitter. A creme and muted pastel color palette on delicate beaded cardigans and full, modest skirts conjured an air of the old campus–not the library but the quad. It would be a ready fit for any coed in Whit Stillman’s Damsels in Distress, or even some perversely well-adjusted reincarnation of Sylvia Plath. This is a wardrobe for the classiest of sorority sisters–“refined” and “discerning” were likely tossed about in some brainstorming session or another.

We know that the use of childish-looking models is a creative choice, and a common one at that this Fashion Week, but on several counts we were struck by the alarming suspicion that some of them were actual children. Maybe it was the after-school-snack ready pretzels and orange juice backstage, or their tendencey to communicate with each other exclusively in giggles. There was a general atmosphere of squirminess as hairdressers furiously combed and spray-shellacked tangly ponytails.

Nevertheless, the barely-collegiate brigade exhibited a stark focus at the presentation, standing rather impressively still in multi-inched heels for more than two hours as hundreds of cameras flashed in their creaseless faces. Every so often, at the beckon of some discreet signal never could figure out, an attendant would run over to a model with a glass and bring the straw to her lips. It was the first time we’ve ever seen anyone take a drink of water without inclining their head even slightly.

They didn’t flinch when the late Gossip Girl‘s Kelly Rutherford let out a crowd-parting scream and ran into the arms of co-alum Taylor Momsen, or when Paris and Nicky Hilton arrived, immediately bee-lined for the photo-op, and showed us how to really strike a pose. Lydia Hearst, resolved to be the less-flashy heiress at the party, was spotted greeting Bendet.

But overall it was the brand that gave the impression of exclusivity. Stand-out pieces included handsomely tailored white blazers paired with a white skirt or shorts, the new mini-sized structured handbag, and a full-length black evening gown with involved ruffles–the very picture of luxury if we had to picture luxury as a dress.

And why not flaunt priveledge? Follow us here. This is what high fashion is all about–ogling the finer things–and Bendet gets it. For all of the rebel-inspired, stylishly-rendered pyramid studs and leather in the New York fashionsphere, we’ve just got to think that a $100+ pre-distressed rock tee isn’t fooling anyone. This collection is up front about excess. In the new Alice + Olivia book, lace is gratuitous, whites are immaculate, clutches are too tiny and pretty to ever serve a practical purpose, and the cocktails all have that single big ice cube you only find in drinks with prices ending in -teen.


The Bling Ring Is Gorgeous, If Sometimes Absent

Delicacy of touch isn’t a particularly valued commodity among American filmmakers. We like pioneer swagger in our directors; particularly in the age of the blockbuster, open-ended questions and eyelash-fringe feelings are suspect. That’s why it’s always been hard to know how to categorize Sofia Coppola, one of our most gifted directors. Her movies—like the somber-funny father-daughter western Somewhere, or Marie Antoinette, that Tiger Beat-pinup portrait of a lonely teenage queen—have been written off by some as soft and wispy, cirrus clouds with not much there there. But Coppola’s movies, so unassumingly tensile and precise, are less about being there than about being here. At her best, she makes movies that live in the present instead of just reflecting it.

And that’s precisely where The Bling Ring fails. Coppola adapted the script from a 2010 Vanity Fair article by Nancy Jo Sales, documenting the crimes of a bunch of fairly well-off kids who couldn’t resist the allure of celebrity stuff: They repeatedly broke into the houses of lip-glosserati like Lindsay Lohan, Rachel Bilson, and Paris Hilton, making off with more than $3 million in cash, watches, clothing, jewelry, and shoes. The picture is a departure for Coppola, a half-appalled, half-amused piece of social reportage—it lacks the illusive pastry layers of mood and tone she’s known for. Perhaps that’s why it’s almost impossible to know what Coppola is trying to say, or how she feels about her characters. It’s as if she found her way to the material and discovered, too late, that it was an empty shell.

Coppola opens her story in the middle, with a vivacious montage of kids plundering an upscale walk-in closet as if it were Ali Baba’s cave, pawing through trays of gaudy jewels and grabbing at squishy, four-figure handbags. Later, we get to know these ambitious little wannabes. Marc (Israel Broussard) has just started at a new school that’s apparently geared to misfits. The kids eye his bland, basic clothes and whisper behind his back. Only Rebecca (Katie Chang), breezy and confident, with the kind of studied, faux-sexy pout seen in 1,001 teenage selfies, bothers to speak to him. He warms to the attention, and Rebecca initiates him into the world of petty thievery.

Rebecca, like the Andrea True Connection, just wants more, more, more. So she and Marc up the ante with the help of a few pals—including Emma Watson’s Nicki and Taissa Farmiga’s Sam, both of whom live with a wackadoodle blonde mother figure mischievously played by Leslie Mann. Soon they’re Googling celebs to find out who’s out of town and then breaking and entering into one fancy manse after another. Hilton’s lair is the ne plus ultra—the celebutante actually allowed Coppola to film there—boasting a separate room lined floor-to-ceiling with those blobby-looking spike-heeled Christian Louboutin platforms so beloved by women with crap taste and pots of money. The girls aren’t the only ones who prance and preen in these My Little Pony hooves; Marc finds a pair of hot-pink patent leather numbers that fit him, and he flaunts them proudly for his female coterie, in the process betraying a touch of almost poignant gender confusion.

Marc, in fact, is the character Coppola clearly sympathizes with. The vapid, acquisitive, self-absorbed twiglets around him hold less interest for her, and for us. (At one point, he offers these very silly girls sage wardrobe advice: It’s a no-no to mix leopard and zebra.) Coppola takes great pains to stress Marc’s yearning to belong—he steals because he’s hurting—and Broussard is sensitive enough as an actor to send out the appropriate lonely-boy vibes.

But even though Coppola is one of our most compassionate storytellers, she can’t bring herself to like these kids much. She’s not cynical enough to turn this story into satire. (A younger, less arch Alexander Payne might have had a field day with it.) And for a filmmaker who loves beauty and beautiful things much as she does, this story offers zero riches; the trappings these kids covet are mostly hideous markers of status and nothing more. The picture comes off as an anti-stuff screed, but a false, shallow one. It’s easy for us to walk away feeling self-congratulatory about our anti-consumerist virtue when most of us wouldn’t want this junk anyway.

The Bling Ring would be more effective if it instilled some desire in us, some way for us to connect with the hankering that drives these kids. At the very least—if you can block out those Louboutin eyesores—it is, like all of Coppola’s films, beautiful to look at. (The cinematographers are Christopher Blauvelt and the late, great Harris Savides.) The Bling Ring‘s gorgeous visual centerpiece is subtle and wonderful in the Sofia Coppola tradition. We watch, in wide shot, as our greedy thieves make their way through a thoroughly mod house in the hills—they steal from room to room, silent, romantic figures in the bluish dusk. For these few, captivating minutes, they’re strangers in the night. But by morning, they’re once again people we don’t want to know.



From October 2008 to August 2009, seven fame-obsessed teenagers burglarized the homes of celebrities including Orlando Bloom, Lindsay Lohan, and Paris Hilton, who apparently has so much stuff that they robbed her five times before she noticed anything was amiss. By the time they were finally caught, they’d stolen an estimated $3 million in valuables and cash. Vanity Fair contributing editor Nancy Jo Sales wrote the article “The Suspects Wore Louboutins” that inspired Sofia Coppola’s new movie about the thieves, The Bling Ring. Tonight, the director gives a talk on the making of the movie and what she finds disturbing about today’s youth culture. Free tickets will be available first-come, first-serve at 6:30.

Mon., June 10, 6:30 p.m., 2013


Film Summer Guide: Club-going Teens Turn Celebrity Burglars in Coppola’s The Bling Ring

Maybe it was the toxic convergence of celebrity worship, hyper-materialism, shitty parenting, and Adderall: Starting in late 2008, a gang of spoiled Valley kids walked into the unlocked homes of Paris Hilton, Rachel Bilson, Audrina Patridge, and others, pilfering over $3 million in designer clothing, jewelry, artwork, and Brian Austin Green’s handgun. Inspired by Nancy Jo Sales’s March 2010 Vanity Fair article on the real-life criminals, Lost in Translation auteur Sofia Coppola’s artful, thrilling The Bling Ring taps into the arrogance and ennui of this teen mob. It’s not so much this season’s hedonistic answer to Spring Breakers as it is a post-Internet-generational The King of Comedy, with all that film’s sadness, insolence, and absurdity.

“It just felt like a movie, so foreign and crazy and of our time,” Coppola says of the true-life tale, phoning up earlier this month before the film’s Cannes premiere. “I liked that tradition of teen movies where they get in trouble, but this one seemed unique to our culture today. It couldn’t have happened in another era. The more I met the journalist and read all the transcripts from the real kids, it just intrigued me to know more about what they were thinking.”

Though she’s no stranger to reimagining other people’s work (The Virgin Suicides) or stylizing true events (Marie Antoinette), Coppola admits she definitely steered toward verisimilitude: “I changed the names and wanted it to be fiction so I could take liberties, but so many absurd little details were based on real things just because they were interesting.”

Having previously scored unprecedented access to filming locations like Versailles and Chateau Marmont, Coppola plucked yet another trophy venue of authenticity: Paris Hilton’s inner sanctum. Invited over to Hilton’s house for a party—she thinks it was by Somewhere star Stephen Dorff, who knew the heiress and about Coppola’s project—the filmmaker spotted the pillows emblazoned with Hilton’s face that appear onscreen. “She let us film in her house, which was incredible, and she agreed to come do a cameo,” Coppola remembers, tickled by Hilton’s curiosity that a movie was being made depicting events that actually happened to her. “It’s funny because she was asking me questions about it, and then showed me the security footage of the kids in her house.”

Coppola’s research also led her to one of the young burglars, who disclosed that his cohort wanted to steal Hilton’s dog on the way out—a bit that also steals a big laugh in the film, too ridiculous to have been invented. Coppola puts actual quotes from the police report in her actors’ mouths, like when the Rebecca character (a riff on ringleader Rachel Lee, played here by newcomer Katie Chang) asks the arresting officers about one of her victims, “What did Lindsay say?” That would be Ms. Lohan, who shared a jail-cell wall with Alexis Neiers, the former E! reality star and most outspoken of the Bling Ring accomplices.

Since the film’s trailer began circulating, Neiers—whose onscreen analogue is Nicki (Emma Watson)—has publicly expressed outrage that the film would be “trashy and inaccurate” and “just another party movie based on teens robbing celebrity homes.” When informed of Neiers’s reaction, Coppola laughs: “Did she really say that? She is a fountain of incredible quotes, so I think they’re pretty sincere. That’s my impression.”

Why any of the gang would be upset about their Hollywood moment is perplexing, as Coppola films the act of stealing so alluringly that it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of being bad. “I wanted it to at least start off in a seductive, fun way so you could understand why they kept doing it,” the director explains. “I was trying to get into their point of view. When they talk about it, it was definitely a thrill.” By the time the judge’s gavel drops, Coppola allows audiences to form their own ideas about these delinquents. She says she didn’t want to glamorize it too much, even while letting us have our kicks: “I was trying to balance the two without being preachy, but I definitely have my opinion about them.”

Asked about the most trouble she’s ever been in for stealing, Coppola claims she hasn’t been in any. Come on, though, not even in childhood? Unlike the Bling Ring, she’s in control of her own story: “OK, I can think of one thing,” she says, with a tiny laugh. “But I don’t want to tell you.”

‘The Bling Ring ‘(A24) opens June 21

The Jackie Chan Experience

June 10–27

Way before Chan was fighting crime with his Rush Hour partner Chris Tucker, Hong Kong’s biggest action star and stuntman was already developing a multi-hyphenate career (writer! director! theme-song vocalist!). Set to be the largest retrospective of Chan’s films ever held in North America—all uncut, in their original language, on 35mm—this alt-blockbuster series revisits his 1980 directorial debut, The Young Master, 1994’s martial-arts landmark Drunken Master II (still on Time‘s 100 greatest films list), and on up through his latest and 101st feature, Chinese Zodiac. On June 10 and 11, Chan will participate in an onstage discussion, public signing, and Lifetime Achievement Award ceremony for his riotous cinematic innovations in death-defying physical comedy and choreography. The entire event is co-presented by the New York Asian Film Festival, which follows on the Chan series’ heels June 27 to July 14 with its own annual curation of fantastic Eastern freakiness, spotlighting social-realist Taiwanese exploitation flicks from the ’80s, new Filipino cinema, and a 40th anniversary screening of the Bruce Lee classic Enter the Dragon. The Film Society of Lincoln Center, West 65th and Broadway,,

Rooftop Films

Through August 17

New York’s premier outdoor showcase of new indies remains ambitious in its 17th summer season, from offbeat venues (the outlaw-lovers western Ain’t Them Bodies Saints is set to screen on a farm, the three-mast schooner doc The Expedition to the End of the World on a boat in Red Hook) to live performances and experimentation. Don’t miss the local premieres of The Dirties, 12 O’Clock Boys, and Tiger Tail in Blue. Various locations,

Before Midnight

May 24

Following their one-night Viennese encounter in 1995 in Before Sunrise and a Parisian afternoon together in 2004’s Before Sunset, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke still share a beautiful, improbable spark in the most rewarding walk-and-talk of Richard Linklater’s funny, sincere trilogy. Unmarried with kids, the now-grown-up leads discuss sex, regret, secrecy, and other couples’ issues in the south of Greece. Sony Pictures Classics, in limited release,


June 19–30

Couldn’t make it to Sundance, SXSW, or other hip out-of-town fests? BAM’s fifth annual platform for emerging American talent brings the best of the circuit to Fort Greene, with NYC premieres of hot docs (After Tiller, Continental, Remote Area Medical), heartfelt, naturalistic dramas (The Cold Lands, It Felt Like Love, This is Martin Bonner), and comedies with an edge (Hellaware, Newlyweeds, White Reindeer). Brooklyn Academy of Music, 30 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn,

A Hijacking

June 21

Danish filmmaker Tobias Lindholm’s powerful, slow-burning psychological thriller makes the threat of Somali pirate attacks seem palpably relevant. Framed as an icy procedural, this white-knuckle nightmare crosscuts between the unfortunate crew of a seized cargo ship and the Copenhagen CEO negotiating comfortably but feebly on the other end of a phone. Film Forum, 209 West Houston Street,

Crystal Fairy

July 12

Chile’s Sebastián Silva (The Maid) nabbed a directing award at Sundance for this dark, shaggy, arty stoner comedy, one of two feature-length collaborations with Michael Cera. In another of his second-career subversions of his awkward dork persona, Cera miraculously mines sympathy from his anti-heroic ugly American, who nastily judges the title’s tagalong hippie (Gaby Hoffmann) as he road-trips with pals in search of a psychotropic cactus. IFC Center, 323 Sixth Avenue,

Computer Chess

July 17–30

Shot in low-grade, antiquated PortaPak monochrome, the fourth feature from Funny Ha Ha‘s Andrew Bujalski is nonetheless a brilliantly clever upgrade for the microbudget auteur. Set at a weekend chess tournament between engineer and machine at a gauche early ’80s hotel conference, this sly avant-garde comedy uses cryptic gags and analog allusions (a room full of cats = the Internet) to address mankind’s increasingly odd and graceless kinship with tech advances. Film Forum, 209 West Houston Street,

The Act of Killing

July 19

Cinema doesn’t get much more radical than Joshua Oppenheimer’s stone-cold chilling docu-pageant, in which aging Indonesian death-squad leaders and gangsters—who helped in the slaughter of 1 million “communists” during the mid-’60s coup—recreate their atrocities in the name of journalism and film art. General Idi Amin Dada looks like a lark compared to this surreal gut-punch, a powerful, direct look into the faces of evil. Drafthouse Films, in limited release,

Short Term 12

August 23

Handily winning top honors from both the SXSW jury and audience, Destin Daniel Cretton’s tough-minded drama about the day-to-day dealings between troubled foster-care youth and their twentysomething caretakers is so patiently, sensitively crafted that it elicits tears without once dipping into sentimentality. Facility supervisor Brie Larson and The Newsroom‘s John Gallagher Jr. as her boyfriend, co-worker, and levity-bringer are inevitable breakouts, but there are no duds in the entire ensemble. Cinedigm, in limited release,


Cannes: Not Even the Gifted Emma Watson Can Raise The Bling Ring

The biggest puzzlement of these early days of the festival comes from Sofia Coppola, one of my favorite working directors. Until now, I have loved every one of Coppola’s movies: I love her sure and delicate touch, and she’s better than any other contemporary filmmaker at capturing the greatness of small moments. The Bling Ring is the first of her pictures that I actively dislike—I sense no mystery, no depth there.

Perhaps this just isn’t the right material for Coppola. Based on real events, The Bling Ring follows a bunch of acquisitive, precocious kids who learn they can break into celebrities’ houses, steal their stuff, and get away with it. In the movie, as in real life, these scofflaws broke into Paris Hilton’s home some half a dozen times. (Hilton has a cameo in the picture, and parts of it were filmed in her actual closet, a tacky Ali Baba’s cave of glittery platforms, chunky jewels both real and faux, and more Chanel and Hermès bags than you can shake a baguette at.)

But Coppola doesn’t seem to have much affection for her characters. She musters a bit for the sole male in the group, the socially awkward Mark (Israel Broussard), and we do, too. But it’s not enough. At first it’s fun to follow these giggly celebrity wanna-bes as they wallow in the fantasy of, like, literally owning Paris Hilton’s (or Rachel Bilson’s, or Audrina Patridge’s) swag. And at times, Coppola seems to be trying to get at the reasons these kids are so desperate to wrap themselves in all these glittery trappings. But their shallowness becomes a one-note gag, and not even the gifted Emma Watson, who plays one of the wiliest Bling Ringers, can rise above it.

It’s bad enough that the characters are so annoying; even worse, the stuff they covet is butt-ugly. We’re not talking about Marie Antoinette’s birthday-cake gowns, her candy-box jewels, or even her pink Converse sneakers, the objects of desire Coppola fetishized in an earlier reverie. We’re talking zebra-print dresses, neon patent-leather stilettos, and costly bags laden with too many chains. These are luxury items as eyesores, things that cost a lot because of the labels attached to them, not because there’s any inherent beauty in their design or craftsmanship.

I haven’t given up on Coppola—The Bling Ring must be a temporary stumble. But I get more youthful feeling, more casual pathos, off the overdressed, overly made-up young girls who show up so hopefully on the Croisette at red-carpet time. Their too-high shoes may be hard to walk in, but their dreams are easy to read.



Every generation gets the iconic party girl it deserves, and Kesha Sebert beats Paris Hilton any day of the week. Tik Tok deserved every drop of its record-breaking ubiquity last year; now, instead of just brushing her teeth with Jack, she’s also using Benjamins as toilet paper thanks to the follow-up EP Cannibal. Don’t ever bet against Dr. Luke.

Fri., Aug. 19, 7:30 p.m., 2011



In the case of Vincent Gallo, the indie filmmaker who seems to flaunt sexist and racist comments and, uh, “shares” himself with the likes of Chloë Sevigny onscreen, it’s hard to look past the hoopla and care about his music. Fact is, his 2001 disc When was actually a pretty sentimental lo-fi excursion (despite a song dedicated to Paris Hilton), and his dreamy soundtracks have never distracted anyone from a blowjob scene onscreen. With Rriiccee, he’s in instrumental rock mode–his collaborators this time being Woody Jackson and Nico Turner–which, if you tune out the rest of him, might sound pretty good.

Tue., Nov. 9, 10 p.m., 2010


Paris Hilton, Cocaine, Vagina, “Pro”: Take A Guess.

And now, for your shameless SEO bait-post of the day, this, via Ian Undercover: “That’s why the first thing she asked the cops in Vegas was to use the bathroom,” the source named “Caroline” told IUC. Haven’t figured it out yet?

“She knew it would be her only chance to hide the cocaine and avoid arrest. Paris is not as dumb as she seems. She’s one of the most clever and manipulative people one can ever meet. And she thinks quick, just like she did in Vegas. She has cat like reflexes.” The friend claims that Hilton has eluded airport security in the past by stashing the drugs in a lubricated condom before placing it in her vagina. “That’s what I’ve heard from a very good source, she’s a pro at it,” “Caroline” told IUC.

Just so we’re clear:

Paris Hilton is:

  • Not as dumb as she seems.
  • Clever.
  • Manipulative.
  • Thinks quick.
  • Has “cat-like reflexes.”
  • Is a “pro” at stashing cocaine in her vagina.

Somehow, I find myself questioning the veracity of this report simply based on the contradictory fact that she was just arrested for cocaine possession. One of her excuses was that she thought it was gum; another is that she was holding onto it for a friend.


  1. Is there one cop in America who believes that Paris Hilton doesn’t know what cocaine looks like?
  2. Is there one cop in America who believes that Paris Hilton doesn’t hold cocaine for friends, but has friends who hold cocaine for her?
  3. Also: Paris Hilton? Did we just step into the Wayback Machine? This is not impressive to the public, Paris Hilton. The public is no longer impressed until Snookie gets caught inside a Slurpee machine with a stolen Kate Spade bag on a head full of acid, screaming about how she’s trying to “smoosh” the universe.

What’s Up With Jeremy Renner’s Sexuality?

There was much happy hoopla recently about Ben Whishaw (the British actor from Bright Star and the play The Pride) being coy about his private life and even going along with one magazine’s contention that he’s straight. But a theater source in the U.K. tells me, “Whishaw never tried to hide his sexuality here. He’s been with his partner since RADA and it’s not an issue at all. But sadly, perhaps that’s all about to change.” Not if I can help it, honey!

Completely unaltered, a fun CSI actor turned up at my recent anniversary bash and was overheard blithely asking a twink to go home with him. When the staunch twinkette replied, “No,” the aggressor amped things up with “But I’m on TV!” I’ve tried that. Doesn’t work.

Jeremy Renner is in the movies—and he’s single—but what does that say about his sexuality? I don’t know, but when the Hurt Locker actor brought his mother to the Oscars, that raised my waxed eyebrows even higher than when Ellen Page came with her lesbian publicist. I promptly did some research and found out that Renner used to work in theater, he was a makeup artist, he claims he’s too busy for a relationship, and he had a male “co-investor” on a house that just sold. Alarms were ringing louder than they do in dance songs at the Black Party. But before I get chided like Meredith Viera did for wondering if she should “worry” because Renner and Anthony Mackie were hugging really emphatically on the Today show, let me just say that Renner still doesn’t ping that hard for me. It’s possible he’s actually straight, in which case he just detonated about five stereotypes. But wait, The Enquirer just came up with an outing quote from someone in his past—and they were right about John Edwards‘s love child! Alas, the tab’s conclusion is as weak as mine: “Renner sends mixed messages.” No Pulitzer there.

Clichés are also kicked in the scrotum in Geoffrey Nauffts‘s Next Fall, which is a wonderful biscuit sandwich of a play—brittle and flippant in the first half, meditative and moving in the second—as it probes a spiritually discordant relationship between a guy who feels praying after sex will save his soul, and his atheistic partner, who would rather just have more sex. The lead characters are named Luke and Adam, but everything else about this work is so subtly ingratiating that any serious theatergoer who misses it will surely burn in hell.

Or maybe they’ll just find themselves at A Behanding in Spokane—a loopy but labored comedy about people doing extreme, barbaric things as the audience roars with laughter. The play is supposedly written by Martin McDonagh, but it’s more like Mamet meets Ionesco, with racist and homophobic language tossed around to score a rise out of the customers, all in the extended-comedy-sketch vein of God of Carnage via SNL. But at a certain point, things got so comically absurd that I started laughing along, especially since Christopher Walken has just the right deadpan weirdness and drolly emphasizes all the wrong syl-LA-bles. He always has!

From loopy we go to Looped, the female drag show in which Valerie Harper gives a committed performance as Tallulah Bankhead, though, oddly, someone’s written a play around her in which the soothsaying mess of a diva taunts a self-loathing, emotionally sterile sound editor. (Yes, he’s the season’s 100th or so anguished gay. We’ve come a long way, baby.) It’s all an excuse for Tallu to guzzle, snort, emit her one-liners, act out a scene from A Streetcar Named Desire, and guzzle some more.

The lines were fresher at the ECNY Awards for comics at Comix, which host Jon Friedman described as “the show that keeps recognizing the same 40 people.” To add to the incestuousness, Friedman also happens to be a producer of the event—and he turned out to be one of the winners, too, wouldn’t you know. But there was no real favoritism going on, I assure you. In fact, when Friedman’s speech went over the 30-second limit, they drowned him out with “Me So Horny” just like they did with everyone else.

PS: Here’s a sample joke from the host/producer/trophy holder: “I find the line ‘I can’t wait to see the red carpet’ works better on Oscar night than on a first date.”

I traversed a spotless carpet to enter the Tastemakers event at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, where I sampled bits of prosciutto and slices of exotic tangerines, only to hear an announcement blaring, “There will be a butchery demonstration on a whole pig in five minutes!” Finally, something at my level!

Oinky behavior recently happened on the roof deck of the Boom Boom Room when an unanguished gay proceeded to brazenly fellate another such person. I know this because—and I’m hardly ashamed, mind you—one of them happens to be a close personal friend.

Total gay raunch is promised for the Saint-at-Large’s aforementioned Black Party this Saturday at Roseland, where faux-vomit spewing Rose Wood will charm the tastemakers and trannie dominatrix Danni Daniels (whom I knew as Ludwig) will fuck a bunch of pretend soldiers and cum on their faces in her own butchery demonstration. Don’t ask, don’t smell.

This should top Danni’s performance last year, when she shot rubber eggs out of her butt as the crowd got the yolk. On the phone last week, Danni told me that while she may not have her own eggs, she did recently have breast augmentation, while decidedly keeping her penis. “I live as a transsexual,” Danni said. “I like to say ‘transsexual’ more than ‘woman.’ I’m very comfortable being in the middle.”

With schlong in tow, Danni stars as an s/m top in various trannie porn films, a way bigger niche market than my vanilla mind ever imagined. “This year,” Danni informed me, “transsexual porn has outsold lesbian porn three to one. Ninety percent of it is dominant transsexuals that fuck a big straight guy. The audience is straight married men and women as well.”

But wait—how straight are these people? As Danni wryly replied, “When they’re getting a close-to-nine-inch cock up their ass, you have to wonder. But I’m the very last person to be labeling people, let alone gender and sexual orientation!”

Meanwhile, I’ve been popping extra bon mots out of my butt at anyone who’ll read them on Twitter, which is supposed to be about both sending messages to your followers and receiving them from folks that you follow. But I’ve noticed that some celebs are way more interested in getting out their ideas than fielding others’. For example, while Paris Hilton has 1,609,837 followers (and tweets to them all day about adopting animals and loving Zoolander), she’s only following 262! That ratio ain’t right!

Even more distinctively, Rufus Wainwright is followed by 19,334 people and he’s following zero! Zilch! Not even Paris Hilton! I’ve always loved his individualistic resolve.

By the way, if you want to be my Facebook friend, you have to either comment “I love your work” or look incredibly cute and/or creative. Otherwise, I can’t be bothered.

A new friend—in real life—is Cuban singer Margarita Pracatan, who served me paella and personality in her Upper West Side apartment last week. Margarita’s malapropisms are delightful (She says “Juilliard” when she means Club Juliet, and “Larry Delafonte” for the singer of “Day-O”) and so are her personal pronouncements. “I haven’t had anyone downtown in 25 years,” Margarita exclaimed, referring to her private area. “I had a boyfriend, but he died, thank God.”

Jeremy Renner, what’s your excuse?