The Andy Cohen Diaries: A Deep Look at a Shallow Year (Henry Holt, $26) is the follow up to Cohen's best-selling Most Talkative: Stories from the Front Line of Pop Culture. That book was fun, a mix of media memoir and gay came-of-age story, like what you'd get if David Sedaris gave a shit about upscale ladies who punch.
But I was much more eager to read Andy's latest because I share his obsession with The Andy Warhol Diaries, the 1987 publication of the late pop artist's mundane, gossipy, catty, banal, unintentionally sociologically insightful day-to-day journals. Even without reading a word of Cohen's new work, he already wins for best title of the year. He's also inoculated himself against any bad reviews by embracing an earlier work that he notes was dismissed as “a vapid assortment of name-dropping and celebrity bashing,” which is only true if you're someone who doesn't care that Warhol noted Madonna and Timothy Hutton were hanging out together and accidentally broadcast that fact to the New York Post one day in the '80s.
But this Andy doesn't disappoint, coming across as a Warhol with an agenda, more of a sense of the ridiculous and a libido.
Juicily, Cohen starts the book right when those rumors circulated that he was engaged to straight athlete Sean Avery. Hey, there have been more damaging rumors than to be linked to this. But it's a great way to begin, as it lets you know the author isn't going to hold back. Just a few pages later, he goes after Kevin Spacey—who deserves to be gone after—with this observation:
As of midnight last night, it was exactly six years since my first post. It's been a tough thing to keep up with a dayjob and outside activities, and just when I think I might walk away, a valuable connection or interesting opportunity or a kind word comes my way. Thank you all for reading me.
Had a blast with my buddy Jason last night at the party for Michael Musto's new book Fork on the Left, Knife in the Back (Vantage Point). I guess as I get to know more people and they get to know me, I'm less of a fly on the wall than one of the happy maggots feasting on the fame, quasi-fame and frivolity.
With the man who helped inspire my move to NYC 19 years ago!
A Russian doll, an Italian-American princess and a Countess go into a bar...
Murray Hill at the precipice of Dirty Martini
Michael's a New York institution, like the Empire State Building or that weird smell you keep telling tourists you don't notice. He's also a fabulously funny writer, and his new book has fresh stuff in it, making it a must-buy. (No, really, I must buy it—it wasn't given away for free at his party unlike the Bacardi.)
I'd never been to the Copacabana on W. 47th, but I loved it. It felt like a throwback to the disco era—like 54, or maybe 47—and was oozing with cheesetastic outfits, semi-boldface names and genuine merriment. The love Musto engenders from certain circles is shocking considering his ability to cut a bitch with his words. He's embraced because he's unafraid to cut deserving bitches but is generous to those who haven't earned the scythe yet. He's authentic, and if his book is anywhere near as fun as this party was, you should check it out. (And not ...of the library.)
We arrived and ran into my friend Kenneth, who was waiting for artist and designer Scooter LaForge. They'd both turned on Madonna during (actually, before) HydrangeaGate but I have to stick with my gays even over my diva, so I was looking forward to chatting with them more later on. When I caught up with Scooter, he confessed that Madonna's response to HydrangeaGate had won him back. He met Madonna during the American Life era and said she'd been really nice, which is saying a lot since that was the era of, "I'm hot!"
Inside, the low lighting and kitschy decor helped to distract from the fact that most of us were dreaming we were 40 again, and the alcohol made quite a few of the attendees act like 20-year-olds. Mike Diamond, who doesn't need to have lighting on his side in order to make a splash, was interviewing as well as dancing with the kinda-stars.
The awkward moment when you both shriek, "I love your drag!"
Geri and I meshed well
My first celebrisighting was Geri Reischl, who dubs herself "Fake Jan"—she replaced Eve Plumb when Plumb refused to return for those godawful/gotta-love-'em Brady specials. She was decked out in the fishnets she'd worn at Chiller Theatre, when I first met her, and was traveling with her personal publicist/photographer. Nice chick! She'd apparently originally met Musto bar-hopping one night.
It was also a pleasure seeing Eddie Rabon, one of (one of???) Broadway's finest dancers. (And he dances well, too.) He was there with a friend, enjoying his last month or so as Mr. Gay U.S.A. I then spotted Paul Iacono from (the new) Fame and The Hard Times of R.J. Berger (on which he played a horse-hung nerd), but he was chowing down on the amazing food so I didn't want to give him indigestion by introducing myself over a meat course.
"This old thing???"
What were they thinking in this moment?
Then things got nuts when hostesses Countess LuAnn de Lesseps and Lisa Lampanelli arrived. The clusterfuck around these women and guest Jerry Springer was a nightmare! I mean, Downtown groupies with cameras were unselfconsciously elbowing me to get their shots. But it was unnecessary as all of the stars were beyond accessible and gracious, posing for like an hour, even when they got frighteningly cornered on the second floor.
I just returned, with my at-gunpoint cameraman José, from the 25th annual Night of a Thousand Gowns, a benefit thrown by the Imperial Court of New York to honor LGBT activist David Mixner and Princess Boy author Cheryl Kilodavis that raises cash for the Trevor Project and the Ali Forney Center.
As you know, I have done drag—I made a right camp Sam Fox. However, the Imperial Court is not bullshitting around when it comes to drag. They're a serious (and seriously regimented) org; camp was in short supply even if half the sequins on the East Coast were in the Marriott with me.
We arrived to find a larger-than-expected area for the press line. However, as guests began arriving—I'm not sure why some queens did the photo call and others didn't—it was apparent that NO print press showed up and very few online outlets, leaving me as the first person on the line. It was awkward, so we just began grabbing interviews where we could, either as attendees arrived or after they'd posed for the photographers. I was especially interested in (my new pal) Ally Sheedy, Honeymooners legend Joyce Randolph (who later received an award for which she was asked to kneel—not cool to ask of someone cruising toward 90, girls) and Carson Kressley...so of course not one of them did the carpet. Still, the people who did were quite diverse and easy to grab and I was able to chat with Joe of Joe.My.God. and more formally meet Mr. Broadway, Michael Cusumano.
Bill Cunningham (and Matthew Rettenmund) New York
I was most excited to meet and chat briefly with Bill Cunningham, the legendary octogenarian fashion shooter for The New York Times. A new documentary on him (Bill Cunningham New York) is getting lots of good press, something he seemed a bit shy about when I mentioned it. "I haven't seen it," he told me, "but I understand the filmmakers deserve a lot of praise." He remembered my name when thanking me. It was fascinating to watch him work the line; so many of the queens had no idea who he was and seemed bemused when he would hand them a pad to write down their names. (This old-school method is fail-safe, though, if you want to avoid being Miss Identified.)
Mike Ruiz of The A-List: New York and his partner Martin Berusch are supernice and supersexy each time I meet them. Ruiz noted that two more A-Listers are on the way for season two—and that the show was seeking supervillains. Super!
Don't ask—we won't tell
I grabbed Dan Choi—with a new friend, as in, a drag queen he met at the elevator, on his arm—and asked him a bit about marriage equality. He's a nice guy to talk to always. I feel like he has his regular personality—a little shy, nervously joking around—and then when he speaks about serious subjects he kicks into his activist persona. It's nice that he has a sense of humor; he needs one considering the schism in the community over whether he is our new Harvey Milk or is just milking every opportunity for attention. I don't think he's a messiah (and I don't think he thinks he is, either), and I occasionally disagree with him, but I like him and there's no denying he's had a major, grassroots impact on DADT and other gay issues. And he's hot in a suit.
As a bonus, I finally got to meet LGBT activist David Mixner, a gracious dude with a righteous sense of conviction about getting 'er done, rights-wise.
Amanda LePore walked right past me as I asked to take her picture. It felt like there was no way she didn't hear me, but she was as methodical as a glacier if a bit faster about it. It was...odd.
Ari Gold knows how to make an entrance...
...but his slaveboys know a thing or two about making an exit!
Ari Gold—who released his new single as "Sir Ari Gold" thanks to being knighted by this group last year—made an entrance that would have had Lady Gaga gagging with jealousy: He waltzed in clad in a gold Arabian number with two boyslaves on leashes. I hope he curbed them. I wish I'd seen the reaction of the gorgeous hospice dog that was in the house! (Dude brought his parents. He's one of the lucky ones who could do such a thing.)
He looked sexy in his version of drag, but it was soon back to the more traditional, can-I-pass-as-a-flamboyant-chick style of drag.
This year was really fun, with one major exception—I was red-carpet robbed by this jerk who was with Ricky Martin. More on that later.
GLAAD was happy with my past coverage, so they granted me an extra body on the carpet—my partner José attended as my cameraman. We were placed just after a large column and between an adorable guy working for AfterElton (Tim O'Leary) with his pretty friend and someone's tripod. I liked our positioning in that we were at the very front of the online media and the column meant no pushing.
But the first star we encountered had been before we even got to our spots—we'd run into Joe Jervis of Joe.My.God. checking in. Joe was a nominee for his blog (the first time GLAAD has nominated blogs...about time!) and was convinced Pam of Pam's House Blend would win. "I'd bet the Powerball on it," he'd confided. (Later, he totally won, as I expected, but he had no idea until some attendees informed him since the category wasn't deemed worthy of inclusion in the actual program.)
Joe rocks (every time someone said "rock" or "Rokk," Rokk Vodka donated $100 to GLAAD)
Considering some of the stars scheduled, I wasn't altogether thrilled with the carpet—Tina Fey was a nominee but didn't walk (come the fuck on, Tina), Patrick Wilson was a presenter but also was a no-show (perhaps wisely fearing being devoured and eaten a la Sebastien Venable) and the Rev. Al Sharpton was on hand to give an award to Russell Simmons but did not do press. Vinny Guadagnino from Jersey Shore? Fuhgeddaboudit.
We made the evening our belated anniversary celebration
But on the other hand, the stars who actually did the carpet were nice and fun, and even Ricky Martin himself did lots and lots of press. Just not me. We're getting to it.
My first carpet catch was 17-year-old Bianca "Nikki" Peet, a dynamic girl who was initially denied the opportunity to form a gay-straight alliance at her Corpus Christi high school but whose perseverance against Principal James Crenshaw paid off—she now has her GSA club! She was the picture of intestinal fortitude in her wheelchair, her eyeshadow as sparkling as her personality.
Next up was Jarrett Barrios, who explained to me how GLAAD decides what's offensive and what isn't; a hard task, I can agree, considering the varied opinions my own occasionally outraged posts sometimes elicit. You think something is duh-obviously offensive—like that Vanity Fair piece casually calling the Glee boys "fags," GLAAD (among many others) points it out, then you read AfterElton sniping that it was no big deal. (In context, the writer was gay and felt it was an ironic or "cheeky" usage...which to me was not as readily apparent as, say, during a viewing Wet Hot American Summer.) I asked him about this more in reference to Ron Howard's "so gay" joke, which I think is a lot more in those troubled waters of nuance where a large part—if not the majority—of the public would not go along with calling it offensive.
Dapper Mike Ruiz, from The Gray List
Mike Ruiz was warm and quite dashing up close—no poodle hair! He was happy to talk about why The A-List: New York seems to have at least as many haters as lovers and to introduce his boyf to anyone who asked.
I'm not a regular The Fabulous Beekman Boys watcher, but José is, and he warned me not to ask about "the pig." I knew it referred to them killing a pig they'd raised, but I imagine, "Don't ask them about the pig!" could be good advice before interviewing just about any reality TV stars.
Boys of the red carpet Zac Young (Top Chef: Just Desserts) & Wilson Cruz
Of course I dirty-love and clean-admire Wilson Cruz—who doesn't, and why don't they? I asked him about the Glee kiss, his recent excursion into shirtlessness in bars and his pet cause (and it's much deeper than that phrase), LGBT teen homelessness.
Gail Simmons of Top Chef: Just Desserts—I don't think it was a boob query
Jane Velez-Mitchell—with her bombshell girlfriend, who she meet at last year's GLAAD Media Awards—was the picture of poise and confidence, picking the Westboro clan as the gay story of the year when I asked her to choose something. The carpet had gotten a bit clogged up, so I almost missed her while jockeying to get some time with the event's host, Andy Cohen.
I'd never met Andy, so wasn't sure what to expect. I think I thought he'd be bubblier or more flirtatious but he definitely wasn't a stick in the mud. I stumped him with a question, but he recovered and was game to talk Housewives a bit. As he departed, he muttered, "My breath is atrocious!" and got some kind of oral relief from his PR walker, but it really wasn't...maybe it was mine!
Laverne Cox of TRANSform Me is as stunning as you'd expect, about eight feel tall and not shy with her "girls" or her opinions—her desire to transform Charlie Sheen was genuine and fierce.