Billy Masters 03.21.24

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Photo courtesy of ABC.
Photo courtesy of ABC.

"I didn't marry, Robin. And I didn't give birth to children. I married Nature. Nature's my husband!"

—Jenifer Lewis tells ABC's Robin Roberts about her near-death experience in Africa.

Many people think that since I write this type of column, I can't keep a secret. Of course, being able to keep a secret is precisely why I'm still doing this after almost three decades. A perfect example was when Jenifer Lewis went public last week regarding her near-death experience deep in the heart of the Serengeti. For those who missed it, the "Black-ish" star took a harrowing 10-foot tumble off the balcony of her hotel in Tanzania and was almost mounted by a herd of cape buffalos—admittedly, something a few of my readers might enjoy. That she was able to keep details secret—complete with being carted away by Maasai warriors, airlifted out of the country by Doctors Without Borders, enduring a nine-hour surgery in Nairobi, three blood transfusions, and six days in ICU—is not the most remarkable part of the story. That I have kept my mouth shut for over two years—well, that's something! I wouldn't do that for just anyone. My brave, strong, talented friend Jenny might have fallen. But she got up!

It's an old showbiz joke. Jenifer Lewis occasionally uses it in her shows. She'll get a standing ovation, and then point to an imaginary person in the back row. "Why aren't you getting up? I don't care if you're in a wheelchair—GET UP!" Well, that always gets a laugh. But it was no laughing matter when Madonna—not a laugh riot under the best of circumstances—chastised someone in the front row of her Vancouver concert last month. "What are you doing sitting down over there?" Madonna had a spotlight put on Vanessa Gorman, who happened to be in a bright pink wheelchair. "Oh, okay. Politically incorrect. Sorry about that. I'm glad you're here," backtracked the Material Girl. Vanessa happens to be a paraplegic. She recently responded to all of the criticism Madonna got over the issues. "Some people are in wheelchairs and can stand. She had no idea I was paralyzed."

You've all heard about Rose Hanbury, right? The woman Prince William allegedly had an affair with? As if the Royal Family doesn't have enough problems. Meanwhile, Kate Middleton is in an undisclosed location (probably with Shelly Miscavige), recovering from God-only-knows what. How many of you believe that on her way to the throne, Princess Kate took an online Photoshopping course. Hands? I didn't think so. But I'm supposed to believe that in the middle of a medical crisis, the future Queen of England decided to do some digital manipulation on a photo of her and her kids—a photo where she's not sporting a ring. And she's able to edit photos, why can't she release a video statement? Something is rotten in the state of Denmark, Macduff! "But who is Rose Hanbury?" I can hear you wistfully crying. She is the Marchioness of Cholmondeley—an explanation that sheds virtually no light on the situation. She's a former model, married to David Rocksavage, and has three kids... presumably with her husband. Her grandmother was one of Queen Elizabeth's bridesmaids. A while back, some of the more scurrilous British rags broke the affair rumors, pointing out that there is a long tradition of British monarchs having mistresses. True or not, the rumors resurfacing at this time coincide with Kate's mysterious absence.

Watch this seamless transition. Believe it or not, the Oscars were only a week ago. I remember, because we waited to publish this column in case something gossip-worthy happened. Turns out, the gossip happened days earlier. Members of Prince Harry's court got in touch with Elton John asking for an invite to the singer's iconic Oscars-viewing party. The answer received was a terse, "No". Turns out, Elton harbors some anger ever since Harry questioned some comments in John's autobiography—all of which turns out to be hilarious in light of Harry's casual relationship with facts in his own memoir. The two had been lumped in with other notable persons in a suit against the publisher of the "Daily Mail". Harry dropped his portion of the suit after allegedly being paid a substantial sum of money. Integrity, you see, cannot be bought. But it can be rented...for the right price.

I really don't know what to say about Al Pacino. This is one of those "he says/nobody says" controversies that could only be solved by Robert Stack. In case you missed it, Pacino was the last presenter at the Academy Awards and ambled onstage with all the panache of an unmade bed. After some forgettable comments, he simply announced that the winner of Best Picture was "Oppenheimer". No list of nominees or producers. No formalities. Just, "Oppenheimer", and see ya. True, he didn't proclaim "La La Land", but still... Most people chalked it up to Al being somewhat bewildered. However, Pacino explains that he did not botch the assignment—he simply was following orders. "There seems to be some controversy about my not mentioning every film by name last night before announcing the Best Picture award. I just want to be clear it was not my intention to omit them, rather a choice by the producers not to have them said again since they were highlighted individually throughout the ceremony. I was honored to be a part of the evening and chose to follow the way they wished for this award to be presented." His explanation seems to hinge on the presumption that the awards show was running long. Problem is that host Jimmy Kimmel had just said that they were ahead of schedule. Producers have remained mum on the subject—and I would expect them to either continue that tacit solution or to back up what the legendary star said. Personally, I suspect we have an Elizabeth Taylor "Gladiator" situation on our hands.

Have you heard about Allstora? RuPaul's new online bookstore? In a video from March 4th, Ru said "Allstora is supporting authors, it is supporting you—all voices, everywhere. This is a platform that I am in love with because the conversation needs to move forward, it really does, through books, through conversations, through community." A week later, it was discovered that Allstora was carrying several books by anti-LGBTQ authors. Works by people like Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Kirk Cameron, and other "luminaries" that I have somehow never heard of. Well, except for Adolf Hitler, whose "Mein Kampf" was available for purchase in both English and German...for those of you who enjoy a foreign tongue. CEO Eric Cervini took the blame. "While a library should fulfill its civic duty of making all perspectives, however abhorrent, available to all, the environment I envisioned for Allstora was one that made its guests feel safe. In building that space, I failed...While other online bookstores will continue selling hate-filled books, Allstora will not."

Which leads us to a story about someone taking lemons and attempting to make lemonade...literally. When Don Lemon announced his new show would be on Twitter/X, everyone thought he was crazy. Then he booked the craziest person he could find as his first guest. And when Elon Musk bristled under the scrutiny of Lemon, they parted ways. How anyone thought this venture would end differently is a matter for the theologians. I saw this coming a mile away (so did Kara Swisher, as it turns out). Lemon now reveals that his show was never under Musk's purview—he made that revelation on "The View". It was a partnership. Lemon claims to own the footage, which will still pop up everywhere—including on X—on March 18th. Something tells me there is more to this story, even if it ends with Don Lemon being sued or collecting unemployment!

Our "Ask Billy" question looks back to those long-ago Oscars. Randy in Chicago says, "I loved the John Cena streaker bit at the Oscars. Is there any behind-the-scenes footage? Was he actually nude? I figure you'd know."

I do know. Of course, even without knowing, I would have known. I suspect most people who would be invited to appear on the Academy Awards wouldn't be the type of people who would want to be nude on the Academy Awards. Even John Cena—longing as he may be to have his name linked in any way with the Oscars—is not that person. He is also not so acclaimed as an actor to not go for a laugh, particularly a laugh in which he gets to flaunt his almost-flawless physique alongside his somewhat less-developed comedic chops. Cena was wearing what is known in the biz as a "modesty garment" (and not the type those nice Mormon boys wear). This flesh-colored panel adheres directly to one's skin to provide the illusion of nudity—to say nothing of the genitalia of Ken (of "Barbie" fame). Although we've previously seen his ass in all its glory, we are happy to share some behind-the-scenes stills of Cena's modesty on

When the only one with something to hide is John Cena, we've definitely come to the end of yet another column. Happily, there's enough dish to go around on, the site that has nothing to hide. I'll be in Fort Lauderdale this week, but I'm always here to answer your questions. Write to [email protected] and I promise to get back to you before any garment I don protects my modesty! So, until next time, remember, one man's filth is another man's bible.