"Come on lady, slow down—you don't need to do that anymore. Don't you wanna have a nice holiday somewhere and like, gain 20 pounds and not fucking care?"—Belinda Carlisle answers a question about what she'd say to Madonna, who was born one day before her. Happy birthday to both gals, who surely celebrated in different ways last week.
Picture it—Italy, last week. A handsome young man of indeterminate age with sun-kissed skin and a shade of hair not found on the color spectrum is rushing to meet friends at a local trattoria. He weaves his way through a busy piazza when suddenly everything screeches to a halt. The silence is deafening. The lad takes advantage of this potentially brief calm to weave his way through the crowd, when he hears a priest chanting in Latin. He turns to flee and nearly topples a venerated object several centuries old. An audible gasp is heard as our hero has apparently stumbled in front of a procession commemorating the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. I was that lad and when a flock of nuns silently passed with scorn in their eyes, I wondered if I am doomed to eternal damnation.
I've previously discussed the assortment of penises that made their way into the Olympics. In addition to those flaunted by the US rowers, there were some notable appearances courtesy of the South African rowers, an Egyptian wrestler, a Portuguese runner, and a Swedish track star. But when it comes to Olympic penises, no one can touch the 2008 Icelandic Men's Olympic Handball Team...or maybe you can. As I'm sure you don't know off the top of your head, they took the silver medal in the Beijing games, making the 15 men national heroes. Upon returning home, they were honored in many places, including the renowned Icelandic Phallological Museum, which I have visited. This museum is, as you would guess, dedicated to penises of various species. An artist (who happens to be the daughter of the museum curator) made a sculpture depicting 15 erect penises in silver—presumably it would have been in gold if they won first place. The team members find this to be a dubious distinction: "We didn't have a session after the games, if that's what you mean. I think it's a little bit weird, to be honest." The artist confirmed this: "I didn't have any models. I just made them from my own experience." Oh, those wacky Icelandeans!
Anderson Cooper has found himself in the midst of a news story that I'm sure he'd term "RidicuList". For the past three years, he's been dating sexy Ben Maisani, the 39-year-old owner of the NYC gay bar Eastern Bloc. The twosome are often seen on the streets of NYC and are rumored to be living together in Andy's converted firehouse. Since Cooper came out, rumors have abounded that the couple would soon wed. That's all questionable now as Maisani was recently snapped by the paparazzi canoodling with someone who most certainly was not the silver fox. Anderson and Ben had just landed in Croatia for a holiday when the photos hit the street (or, more likely, the web). In short order, Maisani returned to the States leaving Anderson overseas with pals Andy Cohen, Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos. Of course, there's lots we don't know. Some alleged insiders are claiming that Andy and Ben are in an open relationship, so it's no big deal. Others say this mystery guy is a third member of their relationship. Still others claim that Coop is more pissed off about the photos being public and speculation that he's being cheated on than by the situation itself. Not surprisingly, Andy has not commented on the story.
While some scandals are caused by a photo, Derek Hough has found himself in the middle of a scandal for the exact opposite reason. According to reports, the Dancing with the Stars stud was in Salt Lake City to see alleged girlfriend Katherine Jenkins in concert with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. And, of course, what do you do after spending an evening with a bunch of Mormons? Go to a gay dance club—as so many straight men do. And Derek was allegedly wearing "skintight, shiny silver pants"—as so many....oh, never mind. A man name Ken Lee told the National Enquirer that he asked Hough if he could take a photo with him. Allegedly, Derek got into a huff (sorry, I couldn't resist) and "got all nervous and fidgety and stammered, 'No, no, no—not here!'" Ken added, "Derek very well may not be gay, but he sure was dressed pretty and threw an impressive hissy fit when I asked for a photo!" Of course, gay rumors are nothing new to Derek. He once said, "I've been called gay forever because I'm a dancer." Um, I don't think that's the reason.
My affection for the fabulous Belinda Carlisle is well documented. And I'm sure you're familiar with her dashing son James Duke Mason, who is openly gay and a strong voice for our community (and also a dear friend). Given that his grandfather was actor James Mason and his dad Morgan produced Sex, Lies & Videotape, it's not surprising that he's been drawn to the film world. He's slated to produce and act in the independent film Disappear Here, which promises to be a tantalizing look at the intersection of the worlds of entertainment and politics with a film noir feel. It's being directed by Matthew Mishory, who you probably know from his award-winning Joshua Tree, 1951 about James Dean. To help fund pre-production, they've started a Kickstarter campaign to raise $25K by August 30th. Certainly a worthwhile project which I'm happy to endorse. I'll post a direct link on BillyMasters.com.
The sudden death of composer Marvin Hamlisch left many in shock. The coroner's report reveals that he died of respiratory arrest caused by a combination of hypertension and something called anoxic brain encephalopathy, which stops oxygen from reaching the brain. Whatever the reason, it's a great loss and mourners came out in droves to pay their respects—Bill Clinton, Mike Nichols, Diane Sawyer, Bernadette Peters, Alan Alda, Leslie Uggams, Ann-Margret, Bette Midler, Susan Lucci, Liza Minnelli, Richard Gere, Tony Danza, and Lucie Arnaz, Jr. One colleague conspicuously absent from that list is Barbra Streisand. And yet, she was kinda there in spirit. Regis Philbin and his wife Joy went to the funeral with Kathie Lee and Frank Gifford. They got there late and as they tried to slip in unnoticed, Kathie Lee got a phone call. And her (very loud) ring tone is Barbra Streisand singing! It might have been a lovely tribute, except Babs was singing Papa, Can You Here Me?, which, alas, was written by Michel LeGrand. So close...
When I'm seriously considering a quick trip to Iceland, it's time for me to end yet another column. Before I close, I must acknowledge the passing of Helen Gurley Brown. I met the "Cosmo" girl when I attended my first Academy Awards. Her husband was being honored so she hurried back from the ladies room, dashing past me in a flurry of feathers which spontaneously prompted me to yell, "Run, Gurley, run!" Oh, we had a good laugh about that....I believe she was molting at the time. Helen was certainly one-of-a-kind and will be missed. What you should never miss is checking out www.BillyMasters.com, where the early bird always catches the worm. For your specific questions, send them to Billy@BillyMasters.com and I promise to get back to you before I yell "Run, Girlie, run" to Derek Hough! So, until next time, remember, one man's filth is another man's bible.