Tony and Tina's Wedding:
Column Inches #4 with Antionette and IML

by Tony Phillips

Pardon us while we gloat over last week’s Tony predictions: both Cherry Jones and Jerry Mitchell smooched significant others on national television and took home spinning awards to boot. Way to go, Cher & Jer! After taking nine-time winner Tommy Tune’s ballsy advice, our Tony jinx finally lifted.

But as theater folk are just slightly less superstitious than Stevie Wonder, we wondered what else was bad business on-stage. The show ponies galloping Radio City’s red carpet Sunday night weighed in with customary “Good luck” and Macbeth bans. “I could have the biggest rabbit foot in the world and I still wouldn’t win,” Mario Cantone kvetched, “I’m just grateful to be up there and I’m not a grateful person.”

Sally Field misunderstood the question and replied “Armani” while winners like Chita Rivera offered, “Life is too scary to begin with, I don’t need to make it worse.” Just when our investigation looked like a bust, Harvey Fierstein rolled up with a laundry list including, “Billions: never put your shoes higher than your knees, no live flowers on-stage and don’t wear green!”

Later, atop the Rainbow Room, Billy Crystal joked he was “just an Oscar and a Grammy away from being Rita Moreno” while Jerry warned against “peacock feathers, but anything with cock in it on-stage could be dangerous.” We’ll see how he navigates that old wives’ tale next week at Roseland’s medically-themed Broadway Bares RXXX.

Meanwhile, Cherry called the whole evening a “horse race” and then updated her acceptance speech thanking Laura Wingfield by fine-tuning “the girl playing the character” as she grabbed her Tony and partner Sarah Paulson and strode off into the night. Paging Dr. Love.

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In search of black tie, we descended on Chicago last Memorial Day weekend for a horse race of a different color: the 27th Annual International Mr. Leather contest or IML. We stumbled upon a good omen in our Boystown digs almost immediately, bumping into porn directrix Chi Chi LaRue and her gaggle of porn stars while wandering the halls looking for the ice machine. Really.

“Nice shoes,” Chi Chi said, insuring we’d look down and notice the hot pink sneaks matching her cocked fedora. “Nice hat,” we replied, accepting her gracious invitation to watch her host The Grabbys, Chicago’s erotic gay video awards at the domed Park West nightclub on Saturday night.

So we split a taxi with porn Wall-of-Famer Chris Green and local drag royalty Demanda Bump parked us at a star-studded table that included the night’s big winner, Brad Benton, who said he should be home studying for his upcoming bar exams.

“I’m like Elizabeth Taylor,” the adorable, straw-hatted, Erin Cockovich joked, picking up the first of his three awards. “Fuck hard, keep watching” soon joined his growing list of acceptance speeches one won’t hear at the Tonys.

The following day at IML, a finalist quoting Steel Magnolias was as close as S/M’s Miss America Pageant came to Broadway as 52 men from six countries squared off in physique and speech categories on Illinois top tourist attraction, The Navy Pier, a new locale co-founder Chuck Renslow called “Chicago’s front door.”

Perhaps the highly visible venue prompted Renslow’s hard line on Crystal Meth in his “leather state of the union address,” but nary a word was mentioned about harm reduction for any tweakers in the sold-out house and more than one contestant compared the drug to HIV/AIDS.

Chicago leather veteran Judy Tenuta — who recalled playing the local bathhouse in 1986 — took the stage and things lightened up. Our “petite flower” ragged on new “Nazi Pope Eggs Benedict” and his “Heil Mary” prayer, joked Barbara Bush resembles “The Quaker Oats man in a muumuu,” read Martha Stewart as “Mr. Rogers except not as feminine” and begged Michael Jackson to “take off the lipstick and put on some pants.”

After Fort Lauderdale’s Michael Egdes, San Fran’s Dodger Allen and daddy of two Dr. Allen Bowers from New Orleans took first, second and third, respectively — with New York’s Robert Valin placing a respectable ninth — more than one spectator was heard humming Tenuta’s rendition of “You Better Be Good to Me” on the way out, proving that though meth’s not welcome, there’ll always be a place for Tina at IML.

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The Angry Inch: We’re in Chicago. We ain’t mad at nobody. And we’re definitely not coming for Oprah. So let’s shave things down and award summer’s best head. This weekend, a buzzcut Brad Pitt hopes for a hit opening Mr. and Mrs. Smith against shorn Cecile De France who sports a sexy devil’s haircut in the French slasher High Tension. Nobody will like this film’s politics — or its bad French Canadian dub — but gamine De France is undeniably summer’s hottest quarter inch.