Tompkins Square Riots:
Column Inches #2 in the Garden
by Tony Phillips
Oh, you came back! We’re so glad you did. And welcome again to Column Inches, your weekly fix of what’s doing around town. Call us optimistic, but our Palm Pilot was definitely half-full last week, so let’s get to it. We’ve been spending so much time at the Museum of Television & Radio binging on video rarities collected for Stephen Sondheim’s birthday tribute Celebrating Sondheim at 75 that we’ve come to think of our first item as Tuesday in the Park with Varla.
We arrived at the East Village studio Michael Wakefield shares with rap sensation and bartender Cazwell. Godzilla, their adorable slut of a Chihuahua, donned a very Fonzie motorcycle jacket for the occasion, but wasn’t wearing any pants. Neither was Jeffery Roberson. Standing in front of a mirror in a full face of flawless makeup and shaved head with just a pair of nude hose and Nike trainers, the gender illusionist better known as Varla Jean Merman evoked the sexually mutated child mannequins that put Turner Prize short-listed Brits The Chapman Brothers on the map.
“Where’s my butt?” Varla called out to her crack team. “Has anyone seen my butt?” So we joined manager Mark Cortale, costume designer Philip Heckman and wig specialist Gerard Kelly ransacking the studio for her prosthetic ass. After clipping Gerard’s Rapunzel red wig with a pair of wire cutters and hoisting her prostie breasts, Varla wrapped the whole thing up in a flowing African robe last seen on Mona Foot in Michael’s nose fucking opus Head Case and we beat it over to Tompkins Square Park.
We located the lovely horticultural lesbian who unlocked her secret garden on the corner of Avenue A and 9th Street while Varla dropped her wrap and pulled out a prop apple as Philip wound a rubber snake into a tree. A collective gasp went up from the former needle park as the biblical Eve in her Garden of Eden emerged. Not wanting to smudge her lipstick, Varla enlisted the adorable Philip to take a bite of her apple with less trouble than the notorious Eve ever had with her man and the shutter clicking commenced.
We’d love to tell you everyone was as enchanted by a 6’2” drag queen with a wig gaffer-taped to her rubber boobs, but there were some detractors. Cries of “is that a guy?” rang out from skaters on the basketball court next door and an obviously aroused Avenue A passerby complained more vocally about having “to see this shit” while a Mr. Green Jeans type with a wheelbarrow full of Terra-sorb bitched us out for trampling his new plantings. We told him to consider himself lucky Varla wasn’t in heels before an adorable scamp in a hoodie rollerbladed up to the garden gates, watched for a while, then invoked Batman’s Uma Thurman, gushing, “She looks like Poison Ivy!” God bless the child that’s okay with drag.
Back at the studio, pouring over digital shots on daddy’s computer, Varla did some gushing of her own. “I look just like Nicole Kidman,” she said of a shot promoting her latest, I’m Not Paying For This! Her new show details the seven deadly sins and she’s trying on out of town at Commercial Street’s Post Office Cabaret in Provincetown before taking New York by storm this fall. “This one is almost too Nicole Kidman!” Varla nearly wept, imparting the moral question of the day: can one ever look too much like Nicole Kidman?
Looking like Nicole Kidman had she been cast in Rob Marshall’s upcoming Christmas feast Memoirs of a Geisha, a blond, marcel-waved Casey Spooner took the stage wearing a smart red suit wrapped up in a stunning black kimono as Fischerspooner ripped into their month-long Thursday night residency at the Canal Room. Working the room jerking a tall mike stand ala Berlin smack-era David Bowie, handsome Casey provided a rare opportunity to cop a feel as he crowd surfed, sprayed a mouthful of Heineken on the audience and eventually shut the whole thing down with the Siouxsie Sioux salute “I’m not feeling this” walking off in the middle of his encore.
Not content to let Village Voice troll Tricia Romano have all the fun, we’d like to do some flirting of our own with Casey in print. Our only complaint is the venue sightline didn’t allow views of the floor work Casey choreographed into his production so we’d like to invite him over for a demo at the Column Inches studio. We’ve got sprung, hardwood floors and will even lay down some marley, but let’s get to it before he jets out of town for sunblock drenched June outdoor gigs at Los Angeles’ Griffith and London’s Hyde parks followed by summer on Ibiza spinning at the island’s legendary club Privilege.
We’d love to tell you about the privilege of bumping into Sandra Bernhard and her adorable seven-year-old daughter Cicely at the Asia Society’s party for Dana Tai Soon Burgess’ hypnotic dance performance Tracings, inhaling deeply of the Patchouli oil wafting through Supper Club for girl group Antigone Rising’s killer set, playwright and actor David Harrison’s red-hot bar mitzvah, David Gurland’s riveting, all-Madonna evening Neurotica at Encore, Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Cunningham calling our find of his latest hard to get tome Specimen Days at the scene of a possible abduction “auspicious” at Crobar’s Trevor Project benefit and our second date with Marga Gomez for her pal David Schweizer’s spotless direction of Songs from an Unmade Bed at the New York Theater Workshop, but it’s time for…
The Angry Inch: Lypsinka.
Which “Official Celebrity of the New Millennium” asked our pal Tret to design promotional materials for alter-ego John Epperson’s original run of Show Trash, promising a lifetime of comps in lieu of payment? Which Joan Crawford aficionado then yanked our pal’s design credit from its recent revival? Which silent Southern belle then ignored several emails requesting tixs for The Passion of the Crawford from said designer even as she was busy papering the house and then tersely replied “no comps” weeks after the original request? If you guessed Lypsinka for any of the above, you guessed this week’s Angry Inch.