Village Voice November 12, 1996

Toni Braxton's backstage behavior at various awards shows has been positively bizarre lately. The fabulous singer, who's denied lesbian rumors for years, always seems to meet the press with an artillery of comments about how vari¬ous males are hot and-key word¬- sexy. No matter what you ask Toni:"Is the sky blue?"-she'll say something like; "Yeah, but Tyson Beckford sure is sexy" Is Paris the capital of France, Toni? "Uh-huh, and R. Kelly is très pleasing to the eye" And what's in your future, Toni! "Lusting for more hot, shakable males!" Chill, girl. Be yourself. Be human.

I have no such complaints about the increasingly guileless Ellen DeGeneres. Not only is Ellen supposedly playing a lesbian in the movie Goodbye Lover, but her new comedy record, Taste This, is being officially tasted at lesbian bars across the country in Advocate-sponsored listening parties. I guess they've finally figured out the target audience for this stuff.

Meanwhile, what's with Luther Vandross calling his record "Your Secret Love"? Shouldn't it be "My Secret Love"? Oh, and while we're putting in our two cents, my advice to the HBO crew running around town filming a Drag America special. Stop! It's peaked! Don't go there! And by the way Tyson is really sexy. But don't make me stop going to the rest of last week's item about the hair colorist who commented to Madonna about how dark bay Lourdes is (well, he's a colorist). Strewn all over Madonna's place were pictures of the maternal girl and the baby, which the hair dude couldn't seem to take his eyes off of. "What are you looking at?" said Madonna, "Money!" he exclaimed.

And now, baby, let's milk the eternal cash cow by worshiping the false idols of Fashion Week. Hey, it's a living. The Versace evening-a fashion show followed by mental regrouping followed by a boutique opening -was gala, celeb studded, and as eyeball grabbing as a geometric blouse by you know who. The show had so many stars in the front row, from Ice-T to Soon-Y, that I only looked at the runway once, and noticed that the models' hair looked ironed. I can't even do my shirts. The store consists of floor after floor of… well, floors, and though the designer only said five words to me there, he's OK 'in my book as those words happened to be,"I love your coat! Smashing!" Smashing pumpkins at Palladium later on, I tracked down Dolce of Dolce & Gabbana fame and asked if he was nervous about their big show the next night. "Eh" is all the guy said in response. Not a word about my coat-or about inviting me.

By the way, anyone carrying the Yohji bag that was given out last season-as fabulous as it is- is instantly branded a major loser who deserves to be green slimed and pushed into a pothole. It just reeks of fashion-victim freebie gift bag, nor to mention six months ago. Eh.

And here's a word to all the freaks who spend their days moaning about how they only got standing room or only got third row or only got the cocktail hour, but not the dinner. There are people starving in Bosnia who would absolutely love to have standing room or third row or a cocktail hour. But fuck 'em; I'm not settling for that.

Carrying on, the Liz Claiborne event had Eartha Kitt singing "My Heart Belongs to Daddy," as one wondered just how old this daddy is. Suddenly feeling daisy-fresh, I skipped over to the Diesel party at Spy, ingeniously wearing the shower cap invite in the rain (which was especially helpful if your hair happened to be ironed). But the evening turned out to be sheer torture, with a belligerent security thug outside screaming, "One shower cap per person!" as if this were the height of nocturnal wit (and it is). Leaving after five minutes, I craftily tried to sneak my one shower cap to a journalist friend waiting behind the ropes, thinking this would be everyone's benefit. Wrong. Mr. Thug grabbed the cap out of my hands as if plucking out a nail file at a POW camp. "No passing of caps!" he screamed, as my fingers smarted from his triumphant terrorism. OK then, no more entering of Spy.

With wet hair, I jumped on the Halloween juggernaut of low-hanging costume balls that provided a fittingly scary end to the week's fashion mania. Two days before the horror holy day, David LaChapelle had a costume gala celebrating his LaChapelle Land book at the Waldorf Astoria's Starlite Roof, and it was to die for. LaChapelle's come into his own as a purveyor of wondrous celebrity imagery – he's Pierre, Gilles, and Liebovitz combined, and, in contrast to Meisel's studied casualness, deals in a zingy kind of studied studiedness. Rather than try to capture the celeb in all off moment, La poses them in elaborate setups with computerized enhancements, and in their dreamy put-ons, they become their inner essences. It's' not always an easy feat; as LaChapelle explained at a recent awards show (yes, Toni Braxton was there), "A lot of times it's a war between me and the publicist. Like, 'How am I gonna get Tom Arnold into the chicken suit?'" But lie wheedles and cajoles and they eventually zip up and say cheese.

Getting people to dress for his costume ball required no such coercion. I saw three sharks alone, though only one actually had a costume on. In the glitzily decorated room -festooned with streamers, balloons, wedding cakes, and ice sculptures- the beautiful people ran rampant in masks and mascaras LaChapelle, done up like a space-age Donny Osmond, radiated the sweet smell of success. The music was 70s, the entertainment -breakdancing! - was '80s, but the mood was up-to-the-minute'90s, and you must believe me on that.

On the actual night of Halloween, the dress-up crowd kept striving for that extra bit of sparkle and miraculously succeeded. They converged on the Ibis Cabaret for Patricia Field's Vegas-via-Mars "Burlesque '97" show, designed by the fabulous David Dalrymple, and, as sure as Tyson has a hot Halloweenie, it was a see-through affair highlighted by Candis Cayne's new nose and Moncia's entire being. The only down side was tile vicious catfights I had with someone there about whether beige is the same as off-white (it's not, I tell you).

But stop the party for a sec, if you please. Zesty, tireless downtown performer Wendy Wild died recently after a long struggle with breast cancer. A cohort of the late lounge-singer parodist John Sex- they both started out at the carly-'80s East Village hangout Club S7 - Wendy seemed to be involved in every fun hullabaloo happening east of Second Avenue in the last 15 years. She was a key member of the all-girl group Pulsallama and the punk polka band Das Furlines, and as a hard-rollicking, tripped-out sex bunny named Joey Heatherock, she entertained the troops everywhere from Pyramid to Wigstock. Wendy never complained about her health problems, according to friends, she just kept on rockin' and fightin' (and lovin' those sexy males). The girl was more driven than Miss Daisy and we miss her.

Text by Michael Musto

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