OUT IN NEW YORK
By Vincent Tozzi
Summer's warm breezes give way to the crisp cool air of fall in this greatest of metropolises. Now is the time to start planning for your fall trip back to the Big Apple, 'cause if you don't, you'll be goin "Helter Skelter" trying to get tickets, researching what to see at the last minute, and (although there is a lot to be said about spontaneity), it's nice to have settled that one or two off-or-on Broadway hits you don't want to miss, that special art exhibit that will be in town for only a short time, and one restaurant you know you'll need reservations a month ahead to get into.
New York City itself is a museum of architecture. Just walking the streets, look up at those magnificent monuments to man's imagination and ingenuity.
This season in New York promises to be no less fulfilling than any of the previous ones. The big buzz being touted as this year's "Producers'" phenomenal success is John Water's "Hairspray." (Didn't it use to work the other way? From Broadway to the big screen? Hmmm!)
John Waters, creator of unusual films, and Harvey Fierstein, three-time Tony winner, are the new gay icon dynamic duo working together on the smash hit play "Hairspray."
Marc Shaiman says, "We wrote the song, 'I Know Where I've Been,' in Laguna while drinking martinis."
"New York Magazine" says, "This whimsical, candy-colored, sixties-tinged musical - based on a film by John Waters and starring Harvey Fierstein in drag - won over the critics and the crowds in Seattle. Now it's set to open on Broadway.
"Could this be the new Producers?"
The answer is yes and maybe better, - if only because it's lighter and more cheerful with an uplifting message.
Shaiman, the genius, longtime arranger for Bette Midler, and his long time partner/lover of 23 years, Scott Whitman, who directed Patti LuPone in a one-woman show, have finally joined together and created a queer and unique score.
Shaiman and Wittman met in a West Village bar and, according to Wittman, "We dropped acid and wrote a musical called "Livin' Dolls."
"Hairspray" is a story about a fat girl, Tracy Turnblad, who wins a spot on a TV dance show and goes on to win our hearts.
Fierstein plays Tracy's mother, Edna Turnblad, who was portrayed in the movie by drag legend Divine. The daughter, Tracy, played in the movie by Ricki Lake, is played in the show by Marissa Jaret Winokur. "New Yorker" says Winokur, "is a cross between Rosie O'Donnell and Betty Boop."
I heard a screenwriter, who had just won an award for his screenplay, say that he gave his work to the directors and actors and hoped that they made his work better. From all signs, this is what happened with "Hairspray," which is so gay it includes a man playing a woman, interracial sex, and a fat girl who comes out on top. "Next" magazine calls it, "A show that all families can like - the Bradys and the Mansons." Wittman says, "The show speaks to gays, blacks, straight people, drag queens. We [Shaiman] and I write for all genders. All six of them."
Waters says, "Now kids can do this show in high school. And whoever is the school's drag queen gets a part and doesn't get beat up anymore."
To those who call his work camp, Waters says, "Camp is something that is so bad it's good. But I think "Hairspray's" so good it's great."
If you are interested in Broadway Theatre, check out: www.hairsprayonbroadway.com or Talkinbroadway.com on the Web.
It is so rewarding when a classic is revived with the class and vitality of its original. Now in its second season, this Tony-winning production of "Oklahoma" is one you will not want to miss.
In 1943, World War II was in full force; America needed a reality check. We were confused, angry, bitter, and our hearts were worn on our sleeves. The men were gone and the women and children were fending for themselves and trying to help the cause of freedom. America desperately needed to show the world what fundamental American values were all about. Sound familiar? Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II gave America what we needed. They gave us "Oklahoma." They wrote a classic score that would span 59 years of American Theater. Then they went one better, they called on the great Agnes de Mille to choreograph the show. de Mille was the first concert dance choreographer to do a Broadway show. What foresight! What brilliance! Ms. de Mille changed the way Broadway choreography was perceived, forever.
Now, 59 years later, Trevor Nunn, the head of the Royal National Theatre in London, who helmed Broadway's two longest running shows ("Cats" and "Les Miz"), felt that same need. Nunn called on today's genius choreographer, multi-award winning, Susan Strohman, to do the same thing: summon up those fundamental American values. I dare to say these values include gay values.
Aunt Eller Murphy, played brilliantly by comedienne, Andrea Martin, says it for all of us when she says, "I'd like to teach you all a little sayin' - And learn these words by heart the way you should: I don't say I'm better than anybody else. But I'll be damned if I ain't jist as good."
"Oklahoma" is perfection personified. The first song is, "Oh What a Beautiful Morning." Please allow me to play on words, be tacky, and say, "Oh What a Beautiful Show."
THE MUSEUM OF SEX
Picking and choosing from the overwhelming exhibits at the many world-class museums can be a daunting task. However, there is one new museum opening this fall that is certain perk our interest.
"The Museum of Sex is dedicated to preserving and presenting the history and cultural significance of human sexuality."
At the time of this writing, the Museum of Sex has not yet opened, but you can believe that I already put in dibs for the grand opening. I have no idea what to expect, so please allow me to throw out some words from the press release and you can decide for yourself if you want to go. "Every conceivable vice; haven for sexual diversity; the city's first media sex scandal; prostitution, white slavery; birth control; fetish; sexual freedom; obscenity laws; AIDS crises; transformation of Times Square; emergence of a new underground."
One would think that this museum would be in an off-beat part of the city. No, no kiddies. It at 233 Fifth Avenue at 27th Street with all the other fine museums.
Here are a few names involved: The Kinsey Institute, Robert Mapplethorpe, Annie Sprinkle, Joan Nestle, and Pulitzer Prize Winning author Dr. Mike Wallace. There is no shortage of brilliant people involved in this project. A portion of ticket proceeds will benefit The AIDS Community Research Initiative of America, the Kinsey Institute and The Lesbian Herstory Archives. The Museum of Sex will open on September 23 with its inaugural exhibition "NYC Sex: How New York City Transformed Sex in America." Oh my. I'm there. Check out their Web site: www.museumofsex.com.
DIVERSIFIED MOVIE HOUSES
Whether up town, down town, on the east or west side, there is a movie house you'll be able to find playing those films that don't often make it past the borders of this multi-cultural and diversified capital of commercialism.
In the past month, I have been to four totally different movies in four totally different areas of NYC. Just to show the diversity of NY, I saw the very mainstream "Road to Perdition," the Irish gangster flick, in Lincoln Plaza, near lovely Lincoln Center. "Tadpole," the new Bebe Neuwirth and Signourney Weaver movie (which is about a 40 year old woman who goes to bed with her best friend's fifteen year old step-son) was playing at a theater was on the lower East Side where they have the best knishes money can buy. Next, I saw "Y Tu Mama Tambien," a sexually charged movie from Mexico about two seventeen year old boys who go on a road trip with an older woman at a theater was in midtown on 42nd Street. Finally, a movie from China which is being touted as one of the greatest love stories ever told, called "Lan Yu" - and it just happens to be about a college boy and an older businessman. I saw "Lan Yu" at the Quad Theater, which is located near New York University on East 13th Street. When in NYC, if you want to see a movie, call (212) 777-FILM or go to Moviefone.com.
WE'VE COME A LONGER WAY BABY
Want to catch up on Gay life in NYC? On the corner of many main intersections in NYC, standing proudly, are these bright yellow metal boxes that say Gay City News on them. I counted three on 23rd Street in Chelsea. There is a matching bright yellow box on the corner of my street in Jackson Heights, Queens. They are everywhere. We are everywhere. Every time I see one of these boxes I smile. You will too.
NEW YORK CITY GAY HOCKEY ASSOCIATION
Calling all hockey players and fans. Talk about diversity: there are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, and heterosexual people, all in it for the love of the game. The NYCGHA was begun three years ago by two gay men, Jeff Kagan and Jeff Minck. Their passion for hockey is overwhelming; it is contagious. For a world of information regarding these special people, go to their Web site: www.nycgayhockey.com. There is information about the five teams in the league and profiles of individual players, with lots of pictures. They have started a fan club so you can e-mail the players and ask them how to join the league, how and why they joined the league, and when the next games are scheduled. The NYCGHA practices, and plays some games, at Sky Rink Chelsea Piers located adjacent to the Hudson River on West 22nd Street. Besides being very entertaining, it is cool there. Real cool.