“Who sits down at the table but Glenn [Close] right next to me. Oh, fuck....Then all of a sudden she hugs me. She says, ‘You know what this is for.’ I say, ‘I do.’ She says, ‘I had nothing to do with it.’ And, poof, it’s gone. Get rid of that crap. It’s over.”
—Patti LuPone tells author Eddie Shapiro about her encounter with Glenn Close after the 2011 “Kennedy Center Honors”. Close was letting LuPone know that she didn’t personally have anything to do with replacing her in “Sunset Blvd” on Broadway. She may not have called, but Glenn went one better —she reached out and touched...in person.
One of the advantages of convalescing in Boston is the close proximity to New York. So last week I spent a whirlwind 48 hours in the Big Apple with my bon ami, attorney to the stars Mark Sendroff. Our first stop was “The Tribute Artist”, the new play by Charles Busch at Primary Stages. Normally one wouldn’t review a show still in previews, but I’ve never been one to stand on ceremony. Any time one gets the chance to see the Divine Busch working alongside his muse Julie Halston is a reason to celebrate. This new play is about a female impersonator (aka a “tribute artist”) who takes on the persona of a recently departed wealthy woman in order to remain in her sumptuous brownstone. It’s chock full of laughs, zany situations, and touching twists (including a transgender teen, played to perfection by Keira Keeley). While the entire cast could not be bettered, I must give special kudos to the incandescent Cynthia Harris—known throughout my childhood as “Mrs. B” from Bradlees Department Store, and more recently as Paul Reiser’s mother on “Mad About You”. Harris not only gets to spar with Halston but also virtually mirrors Busch’s mannerisms and voice. What’s not to love? Throw in one of the most gorgeous sets to ever grace an off-Broadway show, and you have a hit. Catch it if you’re in New York—it closes onMarch 16th.
By the way, after the show we were joined by Tony Sheldon (who was so heartbreakingly touching in “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”) and the ageless Sondra Lee (you know, she really has slept with everybody). Photos of our visit can be found on BillyMasters.com.
Meanwhile downtown at the Barrow Street Theatre, the endlessly extended off-Broadway show “Buyer and Cellar” had its share of stars in the audience. Taking in Michael Urie’s solo shtick were Joy Behar, Candice Bergen, Meg Ryan, and Stephen Sondheim—thus dispelling the myth that Meg Ryan and Sondheim are the same person.
Later that night, it was off to Broadway Bares’ “Winter Burlesque” at XL Nightclub. For the past 24 years, Broadway Bares has raised money for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. This event kicked off their fundraising season and they launched it with aplomb. Led by the multitalented Christopher Sieber (dancing and singing despite a nasty cold), the evening raised over $30,000. I am guessing that at least $5K was found in the various crevices of the lovely Patrick Boyd, who proves that real beauty is ageless.
The main purpose of my jaunt was to celebrate the release of a new book on Broadway. “Nothing Like a Dame: Conversations with the Great Women of Musical Theatre” has been a labor of love for author and pal Eddie Shapiro (he also runs GayDaysAnaheim.com). Of course, the fact that he got to spend years chatting with these 20 legendary leading ladies was no hardship. His passion for Broadway is readily apparent in this deliciously detailed, dishy, diva-licious discourse. The soirée also served as a fundraiser for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, and was attended by several of the stars. Laura Benanti, Judy Kaye, Karen Ziemba, Debra Monk, and Lillias White were on hand to celebrate, autograph, and chat with the revelers. I had invited a handful of special friends to the fête. It was great to spend time with Hunter Ryan Herdlicka (from “A Little Night Music”). And when I saw the first line of a text message a half hour into the party from John Wesley Shipp (“Safe Sex”, “Dancing at Lughnasa”), I was sure he was canceling...again. So imagine my shock when I heard him call my name from across the room five minutes later! I wasn’t the only one glad to see “The Flash”—Norm Lewis welcomed JWS back to NYC and urged him to return to Broadway tout suite! From your lips....
Someone I hadn’t met before was the lovely Ben Baur. Although I complimented him on having great hair as I was leaving, I didn’t connect him with the web series “Hunting Season”. Perhaps I didn’t recognize him because he was wearing clothes! Nonetheless, I made up for it after the fact, saying that seeing him play a gay gossip columnist having lots of indiscriminant sex while looking for love was like looking in a mirror. I’m sure that cautionary tale gives him an uncomfortable little glimpse into the future. Look for season two later this year.
Meanwhile on the Left Coast, Gloria Gaynor caused quite a kafuffle at the très gay nightclub, The Abbey. Apparently, the singer was booked to perform at the venue last Thursday, and made an odd request. She asked that there be no shirtless men in her immediate vicinity. In fact, if she saw so much as a fleeting nipple, she was out the door. For a club known for their gorgeous go-go boys, this could prove to be problematic. When asked if this was homophobia rearing its ugly head, her management reiterated the no-nudity clause. Apparently, the singer (who hasn’t had a hit this century) is allegedly “protecting her image”. In fact, her management claims that shirtless men and provocatively dressed women are denied photo-ops with Gaynor. I mean, come on. Her name says it all.
I’m as pro-marriage equality as the next single gay man who’s trying not to appear bitter, but I rolled my eyes at the blatant politicizing of gay marriage that took place at the Grammys. Obviously there were straight people there too, but am I the only one who bristled at the irony of Queen Latifah officiating over a mass wedding which included gay couples? Really? A woman who pointedly dodges any question of her sexuality is celebrating gay unions? That’s like Paula Deen appearing in a production of “A Raisin in the Sun”!
This week’s “Ask Billy” question comes from Gary in Vancouver: “Have you watched ‘Baby Daddy’? The two brothers are mega hot. The lead guy was just naked. And last week, Matt Dallas was on...shirtless!”
The ABC Family show “Baby Daddy” has landed in this column before when we ran some sexy stills of the aforementioned baby daddy, Jean Luc Bilodeau and his onscreen brother, Derek Theler (who is almost ridiculously hot). Throw in the occasional guest star Matt Dallas and you have a hot boy-a-palooza! Of course, even without them, the show is worth watching for the outrageous Melissa Peterman, who should team up with Jennifer Coolidge and Jenifer Lewis to teach a class on how to steal a scene without saying a word. In the third season premiere, Jean Luc was indeed naked. And he made sure he looked good by going on a strict diet and amping up his workouts for three weeks. “I binged on everything at craft service as soon as I was finished shooting, so I probably gained all the weight I lost right back.” Of course, he was even more naked in “Piranha 3DD”—where a piranha attached itself to his penis. How on Earth did we miss that? All those pics and clips will turn up on BillyMasters.com—uncut!
When we’re turning to ABC Family for hot men, it’s time to end yet another column. We ran a bit long, so let me just remind you to check out www.BillyMasters.com —the site that never worries about size. And have I mentioned that someone’s birthday is coming up in a matter of days? Shop early, shop often, or simply drop a note to Billy@BillyMasters.com and I promise to get back to you before Gloria Gaynor sings “I Will Survive” at Broadway Bares! Until next time, remember, one man’s filth is another man’s bible.
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