Deposed talk show queen Wendy Williams is reportedly looking to sell a bunch of her personal belongings—including her iconic purple chair—and she’s looking for just the right gay to help her do it.
She contacted well-known NYC producer/entrepreneur/promoter Daniel Nardicio, and he plans to help her set up connections. In the meantime, Nardicio is also talking to Wendy about the possibility of her doing a regular podcast at his Red Eye club.
(She’s been planning her Wendy Experience podcast for some time; this could be the perfect venue). There’s also the chance she can make a Fire Island appearance. After all, Nardicio, who does notorious underwear parties and celebrity events there, has now taken charge of and renovated the Ice Palace in Cherry Grove.
In the meantime, the lineup for his “Icons” series at the Ice Palace this summer is pretty savvy. Broadway legend Chita Rivera will perform, celebrating her 90th birthday. Paula Poundstone will trot out her observational humor.
And Patti LuPone — who’s announced that she won’t do Broadway anymore — is performing a show called Songs From a Hat, where the audience reaches in and picks what songs she’ll do. “Does anyone still wear a hat?” asked Patti in her Tony-winning role of Joanne in Company last year.
No, they don’t, but they certainly have no problem reaching into one. I guess all sorts of bossy bottoms will get off on the idea of telling Patti LuPone what to do. Nardicio is also producing the Miss Fire Island contest with hosts Bianca Del Rio and Ariel Sinclair and performer Ada Vox—it’ll be September 2 at the Ice Palace — and I’m told that the judges like myself (and possibly Ricki Lake) will each have a mic to screech into throughout the competition.
I’m hoarse just thinking about it. Plus, he’s putting together the Transgender Film Festival (September 14-16), which will include appearances by trans gogo dancers, Peppermint, and Lana Wachowski, who will show Bound (the Wachowskis’ 1996 lesbian thriller) and do a Q&A about trans roles in films. For that weekend, the Belvedere Hotel, which bills itself as men only (though apparently, they meant cis men), will allow trans men to stay there. Gee, mighty big of them!
Back in the big city, Frankie Sharp — the producer/promoter who sued the Q club after he was ousted (the troubled hangout shuttered in March) — is turning Thirst NYC into Frankie’s Pub. Thirst NYC was a Hell’s Kitchen bar that was aiming for a diverse crowd, but unfortunately, it didn’t succeed.
Chita Rivera and all that jazz
The aforementioned Chita Rivera (the original Anita in West Side Story, for any straights out there) just released Chita, A Memoir, and it’s as readable as you’d expect. Among the revelations in the book (written with Patrick Pacheco): Chita says that she turned down the screen test for the Oscar-winning 1961 film adaptation of West Side Story. I asked her publicist for more detail, and the reply was, “Chita recalls that when the call came through her agent, she had scheduling conflicts that prevented her from flying to California for it.” One wonders if Chita would have gotten her kicks on the big screen if not for that twist of fate.
Another interesting section has to do with Chicago, the now legendary show she co-starred in with Gwen Verdon in 1975. I was there at one of the performances where Liza Minnelli, at the peak of her powers, subbed for Verdon. It was astonishing, but Chita has it right when she writes, “Even though Liza was rapturously received, I never thought she outshone me during her short run. She had her strengths. I had mine. She sang more. I danced more.” They were fab together — though imho, their reteaming for 1984’s The Rink gave Chita a Tony-winning star turn and Liza a meh daughter role.
Meanwhile, the still-running revival of Chicago—the second longest-running production in Broadway history (Phantom of the Opera was #1)—has never been Chita’s favorite. “I just didn’t think it came anywhere close to the radiance of the original version,” she confesses in the book. (Having seen both, I have to agree. The revival is scaled down and made sense to the public after the O.J. trial underlined what “celebrity justice” really means, but the original — whether with Rivera/Verdon or Rivera/Minnelli — was absolutely transcendent in its brilliantly bawdy satire.) Anyway, in 1999, Chita got to play Roxie in London and explains, “Playing Roxie again, in Vegas, I got to respect the adaptation. What had been sacrificed to keep costs down has been compensated with longer runs, giving more people the chance to see Chicago.”
Felipe Rose is the original Native American from the disco group the Village People (“YMCA,” “Macho Man”). He was discovered in the 1970s dancing on the bar at the gay sex club, the Anvil, in the West Village. Felipe recently posted a Facebook screed about having been accused of sexual harassment — wrongly, he said — by a straight guy he was working with. Felipe sardonically said he’ll never hug anyone again, and he’ll never again tell someone he’s handsome and make him feel good because the guy’s wife obviously doesn’t do the trick. He then deleted the posting. Just passing it along.