Perhaps the most individual of all the Arquettes—show biz’s reigning dynasty of inspired creative types—Alexis Arquette became noticed for parts in films like Bride of Chucky and The Wedding Singer, later making waves with the 2007 documentary Alexis Arquette: She’s My Brother, which chronicled her much buzzed about transitioning. More recently, Alexis raised eyebrows by telling interviewer Jackie Beat that she’d slept with Jared Leto—back when both of them were biological males, lol. I asked Alexis to open up some more about all these topics, and then some.
Musto: Hi, Alexis. You’ve been rocking out a lot lately. Do you like music more than acting?
Alexis Arquette: I don’t mind doing film and television, but people have to come to me. I haven’t been represented with an agent for 12 years, which is by choice. I got tired of being lied to and hearing about offers six months after they were given to me. They were only interested in studio things, where they could get a bigger percentage. They were acting more like managers than agents, so I was happy to be free of them.
Can you get parts without an agent?
I get phone calls. I think I developed enough of a career on my own to be like, “You know my work. If you’re interested in me, make that offer, and I’ll be there that day.” It’s not an attitude that I have, but I feel like I’ve been here since I was 15. Thirty years later, I’m ready to get a little respect in this town and others.
Were Chucky andThe Wedding Singer helpful, careerwise?
Not really. It doesn’t matter how big a film is. Their attention span is that of a housefly. You’re only as good as the last time somebody defamed you. I had to step away from everything. I had that terrible conundrum I got involved in with Channel 4 in England. I got involved in doing this documentary [which aired here on the Biography channel] and was trying to be the producer, but you can’t be the subject of your own documentary, so I let them have all the control, and that was a bad idea and it ended on a sour note. I also had a relationship with Oprah, and that didn’t end well. She was going to do a show with me and my family. She arranged for my family members to come on and show clips from the documentary, which we were filming as this was proceeding. There were lots of meetings over a two-year period. Eventually, she wanted cameras to go into the surgeries and see things happen—she wanted a before and after—and that was too close to “side show freaks of the carnival” for me.
If people want to know about that surgery, there’s plenty of things on YouTube they can look up. This is not about my clinical side. It’s about myself, my career, my personal side. I didn’t want it to go that far, into an operating observational thing. Oprah ended up doing the Arquette show with my entire family and covering me by just having clips of me. My family went on thinking I was still going to be involved in it!
Wow. Just, wow.
Also, Sharon Osbourne tried to make me her gossip columnist for her gossip segment on her old talk show. She squeezed out some information from me about [David Arquette’s then-wife] Courtney Cox being pregnant. During the commercial, I said, “Go and call them to confirm.” She didn’t, but her press agent went and sold the story to three different tabloids. She used my footage of me saying Courtney was pregnant to get Courtney on her failing show. She said to Courtney, “I won’t use that footage of Alexis if you come on.” I’ve never trusted Sharon Osbourne. When she used to be a huge fat, fat, fat, greedy, huge, fat person, we were on the same flight from London. We were both in first class. I went up to say, “Hi,” to Ozzy, who was shaking from his palsy. I didn’t even want an autograph. But she brushed me off, saying, “No, we don’t want to talk to anyone right now. It’s been a long flight.” I know, I was sitting two rows behind them! She’s always been a twat to me. I don’t want to talk to her until she gets her American accent back. It’s worse than Madonna.
Don’t hold back, Alexis. Anyone else do you wrong?
I tried to register on Twitter. Guess who’d already registered my name? Perez Hilton!
So the documentary didn’t end up being gratifying to you at all?
I saw another documentary called Unhung Heroes about this guy who was worried about the size of his penis and has an enlargement done. At one point, he wants to end his documentary. I felt total affinity to the guy. I had the same feeling. I felt so egotistical. I’m trying to help the world with this subject and I’m wanting to have full control over an aspect of how I’m seen. You can’t do that if you want someone to document you. But Marc Jacobs came to my screening, and that’s all that matters. [laughs] The documentary was kind of a hodgepodge. It had this forced melancholy to it, and I’m certainly not that type of person. It played on Hollywood types, from Psycho to the clown aspect, and I didn’t want to highlight those things anymore, though there’s certainly a lot of camp about me.
How do you feel trans people are represented in the media?
I’m tired of the representation of trans people. It’s not black and white. There are so many gradations. I’m annoyed with people affiliating gender with sexuality exclusively. People want answers. “Oh, I was gay since birth.” I don’t have the answers. There are women who say, “I would not be gay if I wasn’t raped by my uncle.” I don’t know that that’s not true. Who am I to say? I don’t know if I was born this way or if my being transsexual has anything to do with my desires. I’m a hypsersexual person.
Meanwhile, people are asking about Jared Leto’s penis size. Is that what it’s come to? I wasn’t trying to get people to believe anything. I mentioned it in passing at the end of the interview. I was dressed as a man when it went down. I was trying to give some hope for the gay men out there! But the idea that the dude could be bisexual—whoa, that’s just too much for people to handle. I did find out after our tete-a-tete that he did end up with a trannie I know, and she was on top. [laughs] But here’s the real shocker: Jackie Beat is an anal virgin.
Do people sometimes cross the line in dealing with you?
When people ask me about my privates, I say: “Unless you want to have sex with me, there’s no point asking me. Unless you want to discriminate against me, I don’t know why it would be an issue.” Why would you treat someone differently? You’re gonna hold the door for me just because I have a vagina? It’s nice to hold the door for everyone.
What’s up with Bruce Jenner?
I don’t know. He reminds me of [female impersonator] Jim Bailey. He had his nails done and he had a blowout. Who can tell? For some people, it really is just transvestism and it’s not anything they want to go into on a permanent level. A relaxation technique—I think that’s what it was for Ed Wood. That’s very different from transsexualism. It’s a very heterosexual thing. There’s a sort of affinity between first-time-in-drag bad drag queens and heterosexual cross-dressing men. They both have lightly applied makeup and genteel personalities. That you don’t find in show biz personalities, who are more brash.
Speaking of show biz, your sister Patricia is doing great with Boyhood, right?
Yes. Her movie got nominated [for a Golden Globe and Oscar], but I don’t think she did. It’s a fucking great movie.
Oh, she has indeed gotten nominated for everything.
Oh, good. I like when people go out on a limb. We’ve got to stretch our wings a little bit. I wish Wes Anderson would get his shit together.
He’s gotten nominated, too! What’s new with your friend Janice Dickinson?
She should have kept her mouth shut [about Bill Cosby]. Now nobody believes the other ones.
Do you believe her?
I believe she’s nuts, but I do believe her. I ran into her when she’d broken up with Liam Neeson. I said, “Who cares? You’ll find someone else.” She said, “But it’s like an Evian bottle!’
>>>BEARDED JAKE G AND TONY DANZA ON BROADWAY
JAKE GYLLENHAAL FINDS LOVE IN THE MULTIVERSE
On Broadway, Hugh Jackman is gutting a fish, Bradley Cooper is contorting himself into the Elephant Man, and another screen hero, Jake Gyllenhaal, is indulging in a glorified acting exercise. He’s costarring with Ruth Wilson in Nick Payne’s British hit Constellations, which spins a single relationship into seemingly infinite possibilities. After all, in the multiverse, there are endless versions of each being, all interacting in innumerable ways.
So, as if it were If/Then on speed crossed with a David Ives playlet on crack, Payne’s play explores the evolution of beekeeper Roland (Gyllenhaal) and physicist Marianne (Wilson) as a couple through 70 minutes of blackouts that take them through various possible resolutions involving flirting, proposing, messups, and doctor’s pronouncements. “At any given moment,” explains Marianne, “several outcomes can coexist simultaneously.” And they’re all performed on a single set involving suspended white balloons which variously light up like bulbs after each blackout, signaling a switch in universe.
Olivier award-winning Wilson (The Affair, Luther) is a real pro at this, and so is Jake, in his beard, comfy clothes, and British accent. I can’t imagine this piece acted any better than by these two, and though it may not be as profoundly original as it thinks it is, the play winds up being a heady and tantalizing experiment that’s worthy of repeat (if not infinite) visits.
A whole other male/female combo frantically tries to change their destiny in Honeymoon in Vegas, the biggest Broadway musical about commitment phobia since Company. As with the 1992 film comedy it’s based on, the plot has adementedly possessive mother (the hilarious Nancy Oppel) threatening her nebbishy son Jack (Chaplin Tony nominee Rob McClure) on her deathbed, demanding he never get married for fear of her retribution from the multiverse. But fiancee Betsy (Brynn O‘Malley) wants to tie the knot already, so she and Jack run off to Vegas, where he’s lured into a losing card game with melancholy gangster Tommy (Tony Danza, in eternally boyish voice and with a swell tap break). Well, Danza happens to find Betsy the spitting image of his wife who died of skin cancer—are you listening?—so, to pay back his debt, Jack has to accept Tommy’s indecent proposal that he spend a weekend with Betsy in Hawaii, leading to romantic entanglements, lies, revelations, and flying Elvises.
The show—which originated at New Jersey’s Paper Mill Playhouse last year—is smoothly put together, with a kicky score by Jason Robert Brown (Parade,The Bridges of Madison County) and slick sets and staging. Cutely reveling in the enjoyable vulgarity of touristy destinations (a smarmy Vegas singer backed by two showgirls is a recurring figure), it’s all very old school, coming off like it could have been written in the 1960s era of medium hits like Subways Are For Sleeping and How Now Dow Jones. There are some pacing problems, and the rhyme-reliant lyrics occasionally get awkward (though I liked Danza’s “Could I feel rottener?/ I wish I’d gotten her/ Out of the sun”). But the show increasingly exudes charm and becomes pretty irresistible with the wacky shenanigans in Kauai, from the disappointed mothers to the descending impersonators. By time a nutty character is urging Jack to do the “friki-friki,” it’s hard to be unaroused.
AL PACINO BEDS A LESBIAN: HOO-HA!
Want some truly eyebrow raising friki-friki? Well,The Humbling is a new movie based on the Philip Roth novel about a troubled actor named Simon (Al Pacino) who has a surprising affair with his friend’s much younger daughter, Pegeen (Greta Gerwig). She’s a lesbian who hasn’t slept with a man in 16 years, whereas Simon says he’s never slept with a lesbian in his entire 67 years. (“As far as you know,” replies Pegeen, sagely.) After Pegeen throws herself on Simon, whom she’s had a crush on since she was a kid, things get rather messy, Philip Roth-style. Pegeen’s ex, Louise (Kyra Sedgwick) screams at Simon that Pegeen is a soul-sucking force, whereas Pegeen’s mother (Dianne Wiest) shrieks that the affair is as terrible an idea as when Simon was screwing her. And in comes another of Pegeen’s ex-girlfriends (Kinky Boots’ Billy Porter), who has had surgery and is a man, to Pegeen’s utter dismay. She acts dismissively to him, as well as to everyone else, and it’s starting to seem as if Louise was totally right about this manipulative brat. Alas, it’s not the negative lesbian character that proves offensive, it’s that the movie seems out of touch and at times charmless. Pacino’s good, but for a wicked look at theatrical narcissism, stick with Birdman.
HE JUST WANTS TO BE YOUR TEDDY BEAR
Refreshing humility comes with Cheyenne Jackson’s act, Eyes Wide Open, at the Cafe Carlyle. The creamy voiced performer (whom I interviewed here last week) works vocal miracles with material like “The Edge of Glory,” “Falling Slowly,” “Your Song,” and an Elvis medley that could easily be inserted into Honeymoon in Vegas. (Cheyenne’s first Broadway show was the Presley jukebox musical All Shook Up). And he digs into his soul for his banter, remembering his dark years of alcoholism by admitting, “I didn’t love myself. I was full of shame and self loathing.” But the Broadway/TV/movie actor sobered up, got a new husband, and is now capable of lighter moments too. At one point, Cheyenne jokes that he wanted to call the show Love, Loss, and What I Wasn’t Wearing. Speaking of not wearing anything, he said he was told a few years ago that you hadn’t made it on Broadway until you saw saucy legend Elaine Stritch with her pants down. Well, one time she dropped her pants and gave herself an insulin shot right in front of Cheyenne, “and I knew I’d made it!”
Yes, he has—and while he’s deeply influenced by jazz and pop, I also hear Stevie Wonder–ish tones in some of his stylings and think he should explore R&B. Then again, I’m the one who feels Madonna should do a Peggy Lee tribute album.
Photo credit: Davide Laffe
I’D LIKE TO THANK ALL THE LITTLE PEOPLE
As for whatI should do, careerwise, it’s host awards shows!So, last week, Drag Race winner Bianca Del Rio and I co-hosted Cherry Jubilee’s 16th annual Glam Awards for New York’s LGBT nightlife. “Welcome to the Night of 1,000 Clowns,” I announced to the teeming crowd, who thrilled to two and half hours of drag performances, icon tributes, and gogo boy acceptance speeches.
Bianca had a Ving Rhames moment when she won for Best Comedy Performer and graciously insisted on giving it to the wacky Bob The Drag Queen. But when I won Best Writer/Blogger, I made a point of keeping it all to myself. (I don’t only blog, I hog.) And fortunately, Bianca also won Entertainer of the Year, so she got to bag that trophy, while saying: “I won this golden ticket called RuPaul’s Drag Race. TV’s a powerful motherfuckin’ thang.” I know—just ask Oprah and Sharon Osbourne.
Congrats to Sweetie, Cazwell, Scotty Roxx, Pusse Couture,Frankie Sharp, Justin Luke, Jeff Eason,Brenda Dhaling, and all the other people who make New York even better than a Taylor Swift song.