From Left: Andy Cohen, Anderson Cooper, Kathy Griffin, and Gloria Steinem at Kathy Griffin's Carnegie Hall Performance official after party (hosted by Cooper) at Trattoria Dell Arte Restaurant on November 8, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)
“Look around,” said Kathy Griffin, surveying the formidable Carnegie Hall stage as she started her New York Comedy Festival performance there on Friday night. “You just know lesbians built this shit. It’s like Suze Orman came in with a fucking work belt and got it done—or Mrs. de Blasio!”
Right off, we knew we were off to a wicked good time, with so much same-sex content, I was convinced I was watching a gay man in a sequined dress. And then Kathy said it: “I am a gay man.” Everything made perfect sense from that point on (except for our star’s choice of wearing comfortable flats along with her sequins, of course. Appalling, lol!)
At least without severe foot pain, Kathy was able to effortlessly riff on some mock-worthy topics ripe for the souring. Among her captivatingly jaundiced observations (told to a crowd that included Andy Cohen, Anderson Cooper, and Gloria Steinem):
*“Ryan Seacrest was allegedly having vaginal sex with Julianne Hough.” (Eyeroll.) “All right, I’ll play.”
*“Being a gay man, I love Rihanna. But she doesn’t get that we don’t want her back with Chris Brown because we want her to live!” Kathy remembered when her idol, Joan Rivers, responded to Rihanna’s admission that she still loved Chris by tweeting, “Now it’s my turn to slap her.” Rivers was met with an avalanche of angry responses, including some from the singer herself, but she wasn’t ruffled. When Kathy dined with Rivers, she asked the venerable comic how she felt about the uproar. Related Kathy: “She kept cutting her steak without missing a beat and said, ‘Isn’t it fabulous?’ “
And here’s more gospel according to chatty Kathy: Justin Bieber is “douchey,” Taylor Swift and Gwyneth Paltrow are “whiny” for always bitching about their perfect lives, and the two-year-old on Keeping Up With The Kardashians is “an asshole.” Also, when Amanda Bynes finally takes the earrings out of her cheeks and blows a guy, “There must be geysers of jizz shooting out of her face!”
More tastefully, Kathy kept riffing on her favorite TV show, which naturally is Downton Abbey. I’m kidding—it’s TLC’s luridly unwatchable yet somehow unmissable documentary The Man With The 132 Pound Scrotum, which I’ve seen 15 times. (I’m the man with the two-ounce brain.) Kathy said she’s handled a lot of scrotums in her time, but the biggest one anyone ever sees is generally only about two pounds, so this show was extra fascinating. Like she said, she’s a gay man!
A biological gay man in a dress, actor/playwright Charles Busch has been performing an act called Ridin’ High at 54 Below, sprinkling some wry career anecdotes of his own into his lineup of chantoozy stylings. He’s sort of Kathy Griffin by way of Dorothy Kilgallen and Ida Lupino, and he wears a show biz yarn as stylishly as his belted scarlet gown.
Busch related how he and actress Michele Lee went to see The Nance earlier this year and were announced to go backstage after the show to visit star Nathan Lane. But they hit a snag when the personal assistant came out to admit, “Nathan and I are very confused. The house manager said, ‘Suzanne Pleshette is here to see Nathan.’ ” That would be extra interesting since Pleshette died five years earlier.
Busch went on to read hilariously off-base excerpts from a book about femininity that living, breathing movie star Arlene Dahl wrote in the 1960s. They included Dahl’s tips for what to look for in a woman, as told to her by Anthony Perkins, Rock Hudson, and Noel Coward! This was the ultimate case of, “Those who can’t, teach.” Adding to the fun, Dahl happened to be in Busch’s audience and laughed along with the whole bit—like a good woman should.
Photo of "English Gent" Hamish McCann by Max Gordon
SHAKES THE CLOWN
And that’s not the end of the drag stylings, dahlings. Two all-male, Elizabethan-style productions of Shakespeare are playing in rep on Broadway, courtesy of Shakespeare’s Globe, pumping the bard’s work with immediacy, subversion, and style. Twelfth Night is done to a T, the play’s gender games revved up a notch so the mistaken identity comedy takes on even naughtier textures. In one of the central plotlines, the brilliant Mark Rylance plays a grieving woman who falls for a woman who’s pretending to be a man (played by a man, Samuel Barnett). It’s Victor/Victoria in reverse, but with an added drag queen! And things get even more complicated when the latter character’s twin brother—a man—shows up and gets hearts racing all over again. Whatever gender you are—and even if you’re wearing flats—you’ll find the production enchanting, thanks to an air of conviction served by a great cast. (Stephen Fry and Paul Chahidi are particularly good.)
Rylance gets a meatier part in Richard III and dives on it, slyly emphasizing the way the character’s neurotic sense of humor coincides with his cunning, murderous side. As in Twelfth Night, there’s an ambient pre-show, as well as audience members seated onstage, to make for an atmospheric experience that fuses the old and the new in ways that spell a capital-E Event.
It’s not exactly Shakespeare, but Off-Broadway’s La Soiree is a saucy, entertaining circus/cabaret full of uniquely talented burlesque oddballs who spin hoops, swallow scissors, bring up audience members to read dialogue off their body parts, and do incredible aerial stunts half naked. There’s everything but the man with the 132-pound scrotum. You’ll see a bare “coño desesperado,” but no peen, and yet the evening is gay enough, largely thanks to Mario, The Queen Of The Circus, the show’s MC, who dresses like Freddie Mercury and loves the smell of cocaine. He seems like the kind of guy who might very well have geysers of…well, never mind.
Lady Gaga performs at artRave in Brooklyn (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Benjamin Rollins Caldwell)
But wait! The ultimate burlesque circus was the ARTPOP rave that Lady Gaga threw with Jeff Koons at the Brooklyn Navy Yard last night, filled with geysers of open bar.
I was one of the lucky ones to get an invite summoning me to a Manhattan pier where a large boat took a heaping of fabbies to some unannounced place in Brooklyn. It was like the ultimate Rosie cruise, as if organized by Agatha Christie. Once there, we were ushered into a spacious, eye-popping warehouse that had been converted into an art gallery/dance club, studded with Gaga’s fascinating visage, most notably a gigantic Koons statue of the star naked and squeezing her breasts, with a big blue Christmas ball between her legs. (It was the new album’s cover come to life! The lady’s really got ball!) To the back and outside, there were food trucks serving grilled cheeses, hot dogs, and chocolate cookies for the throngs, and people were actually making specialized orders (“Two chihuaha dogs with no bacon”) and the servers were actually complying! It was madness of the most 2013 kind.
Back inside, there was an upstairs VIP room with more drag queens and Monsters, more images of Lady Gaga (looking like Anna Magnani after having rolled around in some cleansing mud), and tons of passalong items like caviar push pops. The money spent on this was like the old days, before all the mud melted and the push pops got stuck. It was all very deftly pulled off, and to add to the high-reaching exorbitance of it all, Gaga arrived in Volantis, which is a flying dress that acts as a fiberoptic body piece. You just know lesbians built that shit.