Madonna’s Secret New Project! Rufus Wainwright’s Weirdest Poppers Date!
By Michael Musto
Epix had a gala screening of Madonna: The MDNA Tour at the Paris Theater, and all sorts of stars and acolytes came out to give me good material, gurl. “What’s your favorite Madonna look?” I asked the pinchable Kelly Osbourne. “I think I’m mimicking it tonight,” she replied. “A striped, black-and-white shirt and black pants.” Ah, the escaped jailbird look—a real switch for a fashion policewoman!
How about Debi Mazar, Madonna’s ex makeup artist turned actress and TV host? “I loved when Madonna was pregnant with Lola at the premiere of Evita,” said Mazar. “She never looked more luscious. And I liked her naked shots in the Herb Ritts faux Technicolor spread for Vanity Fair.” Well, nudity has always been Madonna’s best outfit.
But Mazar also adored Madonna’s look back in the ‘80s, when she was doing the rising star’s face. “She was raw and sexy,” Mazar exclaimed, still awestruck. So was I in my totally chic outfit consisting of asymmetrical rivulets of sweat. (The theater was sweltering-- hopefully not by decree, lol.) Martha Stewart was fleeing—maybe to catch a breeze—but Madonna had arrived, eye-grabbingly dolled up in a Dietrich tux and top hat. The devil is a woman—and you can’t exactly stick a pitchfork in her yet. And no, it doesn’t stand for Maturing Diva Needs Attention.
By the way, after the screening, Madonna revealed that her top-secret next project is a collaboration with noted photographer Steven Klein. Word got out that it involves women’s civil rights struggles, it’s an homage to the old ladies-in-prison flick Caged, and Madonna’s boyfriend Brahim Zaibat will appear in it. My baby’s got a secret? Something’s coming over me.
Here Comes The Wain Again
And now on to a late, lamented folk singer mother with a winning style of her own: Sing Me The Songs That Say I Love You: A Concert For Kate McGarrigle is a new doc featuring Rufus and Martha Wainwright (and guests) saluting their departed mama in sincere song and heartfelt words. This kind of thing is so not me, but I loved it; all that mournful artistry made me sing and dance! The film—which is as far from MDNA theatrics as you can get--is opening June 26 at NYC’s Film Forum to coincide with a BAM concert and a tribute album. And there was no better op for me to get Rufus on the phone and tell him I love him, in hopes of nabbing some good copy.
Rufus delivered, telling me that if they had filmed the London concert they did two months after Kate died, “It would have been like a Cassavetes film. For the second one, at Town Hall, we were still wrecks, but we knew the material better. We were more rehearsed wrecks!
“Everybody knew how close Kate and I were,” he went on about mama (who died of sarcoma in 2010). “I did poppers with her at [the East Village raunch bar] the Cock! She’d never really done them before. I think she was a little scared. Once, I said, ‘Let’s do them again.’ She said, ‘Yeah, I really want to do them again’ and then she grabbed them and threw them out the window.” Yikes. That’s even stricter than Madonna’s “No TV” rule.
A way more serious conflict had come when Rufus burst out of the closet back in 1987 and got some maternal sass for it. “She was awful about it,” the singer-songwriter admitted. “She threatened to kick me out of the house. It was completely horrific. I attribute a lot of that to the era. I was young and AIDS was rampant and really deadly. If you were gay, you were gonna die. She was very scared for me. She did it the Cher way!
“Once things calmed down, she took full advantage of all the perks—she went to Venice with me and Paris Fashion Week, and I think I showed her a good time.” Even if they did way more crepes than poppers.
A new family was cemented last August when Rufus married theater producer Jorn Weisbrodt and now says, “It’s all it’s cracked up to be.”
“Did you meet on Grindr?” I deadpanned.
“No, we met in Berlin, which is kind of like a large Grindr,” he replied, laughing.
Lucky Jorn. Free-spirited Rufus is not one of those dullsville types that clog up the airwaves. “I just want to be interesting to people to listen to,” he told me about his music. “I don’t want to be a bore, I guess. [1970s gay TV reality star] Lance Loud once told me, ‘The greatest sin on earth is being boring.’ That always stuck with me.”
I agree. Boring people should be electrocuted—all at once! Before hanging up to do laundry, I asked Rufus what kinds of gays he dislikes, and his answer surprised me. “I wish we got to work on our fashion,” he asserted. “We’re more concerned with how to fill the shirt than what the shirt looks like. We need a great male stylist. Who would have thought it?”
I know! It turns out the second greatest sin on earth is looking boring.
Justin Vivian Bond’s Love Attack
One of the stylish musical guest stars in the Wainwright film is the wry, yet soulful, Mx Justin Vivian Bond, who’s long been close to Rufus, telling me, “I feel like we both have big, syrupy voices. Our voices are big and thick.” And you know what that means.
Bond is in the midst of a romantic “Summer Camp” show at NYC’s 54 Below (the remaining dates are June 26 and 27) filled with even more “songs that say I love you,” like “The Look of Love”. “Do you do the Dusty Springfield version or the Sergio Mendes version?” I asked in a hot phoner.
Bond: I’m sort of riding both of them. It’s a Springfield/Menendez version. The one where, at the end, I kill my parents. [laughs] I’m obsessed with love lately. I think people think about it more when they’re not in it.
Musto: Don’t you think people usually find love when they’re not looking—sort of like stuff on the bottom of your shoe?
Bond: Yes. It just sneaks up on you and then, when it happens, it’s really unnerving. You can make a four-year detour somewhere and it can be really messy, but I like that. If I lived through the last few, I can live through the next.
Musto: But did they live through it?
Bond: Many of them are somewhat diminished.
Musto: Do you feel like a trans warrior?
Bond: No, I’m too much of a wuss. I’ve got a big mouth, but people don’t know how I feel inside. I’m like one those little trannie chihuahas. I scare everyone off by being so loud and annoying. I should say ‘transgender.’
Musto: Yeah, we don’t want to hear from GLAAD—unless it’s to give us an award.
Bond: Not if I have to pay for my cab to get there! Anyway, I don’t think of it as a war. I think of it as me doing people a favor, helping them know how to act and live more adjusted and fulfilled lives. They need someone to give them tips on how to behave properly since language and culture are changing so quickly!
Musto: Teach, sister! Now let’s all go to Berlin.