He’s Alda’t! Yes, firefighters are nice when you need to be swiftly plucked from a burning building, but ladies, think about it for a sec-what kind of fellow do you want to steer you through the emotional horror of war-torn New York? The image that immediately enters our mind is lanky-sensitive 1970′s leading man Alan Alda. Tonight, Mr. Alda and equally cozy schoolteacher-turned-memoirist Frank McCourt don turtlenecks for a “parlor discussion” at the Y, where they’ll trade favorite New York stories with playwright Nora Ephron, among others. Your host: Roger Rosenblatt, New York Times Magazine contributing editor -now that’s a sweet gig! What it rather brazenly benefits: the Y. What it will cost ya: $50, but $200 more and you get to hobnob at a special pre-program cocktail reception with Mr. Rosenblatt and a lot of little plastic cups.
[92nd Street and Lexington Avenue, 8 p.m., 415-5500.]
We’ve heard from just about every demographic on how they’re coping in these trying times, but what about drag queens? We found Joey Arias sleepily pouring himself a glass of water in his Spanish Art Deco one-bedroom apartment in the Village. “It’s about being strong. It’s about ‘positive,’” he said. “Your mind and your life and just everything. You get to fall apart, but you have to go on, and it makes you even stronger- like you pull a leaf off a tree and make it grow another one stronger.” Tonight, Mr. Arias styles his hair in a gigantic inflexible pompadour and opens as Joan Crawford in his answer to the Harry Potter franchise, Christmas with the Crawfords. “To me, it’s like the new Christmas Carol for the 21st century, with Joan as the new Scrooge,” he said. “I put my face on slowly and look at myself, because I have to soak Joan into my body, and then I’m ready to go on. That someone over five or six decades would survive that strong, like a young girl at the height of her career pulling it out like Madonna-I think it’s pretty fantastic. Me being a gay man doing drag is not just impersonating women; it’s portraying them in an hommage . It’s not just glitter, big eyes and crazy cooking tips.”
[Chelsea Playhouse, 125 West 22nd Street, 8 p.m., 439-5135.]
Thanksgiving! It’s here-and what a commotion ! Clanking measuring cups, whirring Cuisinart blades, clattering plates and that “kooky” aunt with big jewelry who keeps showing up each year, but no one is exactly sure how-or if-she’s related … Best just to stay out of the way! Maybe fill a thermos with steaming hot cocoa (“with just a kiss of Amaretto”) and trudge to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade . Maybe two kisses of Amaretto, to brace yourself for gigantic marauding balloons, gigantic pasty tourists and rampant commercialism .
[Parade starts at 77th Street and Central Park West, 9 a.m., and ends at Macy's, 34th Street and Sixth Avenue, at noon.]
Everyone knows about Balanchine’s Nutcracker , with 40-foot Christmas tree, dramatic onstage snowstorm and an audience of Upper East Side moppets in velvet headbands wishing they could be Clara, but can Clara do this ? (See startling photo.) Tonight, the frighteningly flexible Jessica Howard -three-time U.S. Champion in rhythmic gymnastics (a sport popular in Bulgaria )-goes head-to-head with The Nutcracker as she appears in Twin Kingdoms , the story of Yana, a young woman kidnapped by a dragon who longs for a new life free of hostility and pretense. (Don’t we all, sister, don’t we all.) We called Ms. Howard in Bulgaria , where she was visiting her coach, but whoever answered there spoke only Bulgarian. That’s life .
[ The Nutcracker , New York State Theater, Lincoln Center Plaza, Broadway at 63rd Street, 8 p.m., 870-5570; Twin Kingdoms , City Center, 155 West 55th Street, 8 p.m., 581-1212.]
Salami salaam: Thinking-woman’s sex object and chef Mario Batali pries himself from his restaurants Babbo, Lupa and Esca and performs a $75 cooking demonstration at Italian Wine Merchants, where a resident sommelier will helpfully suggest wines to go alongside …. A source close to Mr. Batali told us he’d be making goat-cheese tortellini, orecchiette with broccoli rabe and fresh sausage, and also doing a sausage demonstration: “Nothing bad, just lots of fat.” Bring it on, baby ….
[108 East 16th Street, 1 p.m., 473-2323.]
Santa Claus, gay? Jeffrey Solomon’s one-man show, Santa Claus Is Coming Out , previews tonight and opens tomorrow. “It’s a mockumentary about the secret life of Santa Claus, told in the form of a theatrical documentary, like Anna Deavere Smith,” said Mr. Solomon. He plays a boy named Gary who requests a doll from Santa, who has homophobic elves, a Jewish agent and a “beard” (Mrs. Claus). Why out Santa? “A lot of reasons,” said the playwright. “I guess he’s so wholesome, he’s the most beloved children’s character, and what if he were gay-would you let your children sit on his lap? It kind of goes to the root of what we consider acceptable or not acceptable for our children. It is not a children’s play, I guess. If you look at South Park , you can see my play.” If the apocalypse comes, one-man shows and cockroaches will be the only two things to survive ….
[24 Bond Street, 8 p.m., 206-1515.]
What is it with the mockumentaries? Get out your wry black-rimmed glasses for the premiere of The Independent , a “look back” at the “career” of a prolific independent filmmaker played by Jerry Stiller -cameo by his increasingly annoying son Ben almost inevitable ….
[Screening, CC Village East Cinema, 189 Second Avenue, 7:30 p.m., party to follow, Tan Da, 331 Park Avenue South, by invitation only, 646-792-2306]
I see England, I see Kim France …. The city springs back to life ( boing )! Sort of. Since the economy has gone to seed, Lucky editor Kim France’s exhortations to shop -which used to make one feel a certain queasiness and self-loathing-have now made her a regular Uncle Sam …. Tonight, Ms. France (who’s become quite the gal-about-town since Glamour ‘s Bonnie Fuller was-there’snosugarcoatingit- askedto leave ) co-hosts a party with New Age designer Donna Karan to “kick off” the “Miracle on Madison Avenue” charity shopping event, which is coming on Dec. 2. What it benefits: the Children’s Aid Society. “It’s going to be socialites and celebrities!” promised a publicist, in what was apparently intended as a plug. “Muffie Potter Aston, Courtney Arnot, Helen Schifter, Olivia Chantecaille … we’re approaching Kyra Sedgwick, Liev Schreiber. Just real New York type of people.” Later, another Condé Nast publication, Bon Appétit -the poor relative of Gourmet since the latter was gussied up by bohemian-glam dirty-book writer Ruth Reichl -hosts a “Wine and Spirits” event, with tastings from the menus of Marcus Samuelsson (Aquavit), Charlie Palmer (Aureole) and Daniel Boulud (Daniel). Their publicist told us that they’re auctioning off plates designed by gamy-sexy actor Michael Douglas, outgoing Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (where does he find the time?) and wedding-dress designer Vera Wang. What it benefits: the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
[ Lucky party, 655 Madison Avenue, 6 p.m., by invitation only, 286-7397; Bon Appétit benefit, New York Marriott Marquis, 1535 Broadway, 7 p.m., 888-34-FOCUS.]
More proof that “cocooning” is way out of control: Designer and “antiquaire” (whatever that is) Rose Tarlow celebrates her new photo book, The Private House , which appears to be about toilets, with Michael and Jane Eisner, David Geffen, Terry Semel, Bill Blass and others who have private houses way bigger than yours. But just think of the heating bills!
[Four Seasons Grill Room, 99 East 52nd Street, 6 p.m., by invitation only, 822-8170.]
More athletic ladies! You can have your Nutcracker , but to really get into the spirit, you have to see tonight’s opening gala performance of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, with your honey-voiced host, James Earl Jones . So get out those sparkly chiffon numbers and let it fly ….
[City Center, 131 West 55th Street, 7 p.m., dinner and dancing to follow, Imperial Ballroom of the Sheraton New York, 811 Seventh Avenue, 767-0590.]