Red Carpet’s Real Queens Steal Crown From Latifah

As usual, the movie actors of Hollywood got it all wrong.

Just at the very moment when our boys in the Middle East-many of whom got to watch the Oscars on Sunday night-were most in need of curvaceous broads in tarty frocks to buoy their morale, the attendees of the 75th Academy Awards ceremony went all dour and Lutheran on our asses. Where were leggy Liz and pumped-up Pam? Where were the vavooming and vamping and bawdy humor? And where were J. Lo’s nipples when our soldiers needed them most? Did Catherine Zeta-Jones steal Renée’s boobs as well as her Oscar?

When I caught wind of the misguided intention to tone down and Talibanize the Oscars, I initiated a pre-emptive strike. I did what any right-thinkin’, G.I. Joe–lovin’, red-carpet-jeerin’ cynic would do: On the night before the Oscars, I rushed to the Marriott Marquis in Times Square to watch the drag queens arriving at the 17th annual Night of a Thousand Gowns. “Is that tired old event still going?” said a cynical friend of this highly commendable AIDS fund-raiser when I announced my intention to attend. “The same could be said of the Oscars,” I replied, boarding the uptown N train, “and I bet you those trannies, unlike the Hollywood actors, will understand the importance of pouting and sizzling during times of global mayhem.”

I was right. A glamorous, busty patriotism raged throughout the sixth-floor ballroom at the Marriott Marquis, making the Kodak Theatre on the following night look like the Mormon Tabernacle. Among the 900 Latifah-sized attendees (the majority of whom have wicked names like Robin Kradles, Ann Chovey and Dinah Cancer), there was more cleavage-front and back-than at the last five Academy Awards combined. Though these “girls” clearly did not subject themselves to the same rigorous pre-show diet, enema and exercise regimes as their Hollywood idols, they were nonetheless infinitely more foxy, hilarious and voluptuously American.

Fashion per se, it must be admitted, was not a priority: Most of the size 14-plus glamazons opted for tawdry, revealing Dynasty glitz instead. But at least these girls paid for their frocks, unlike their overcompensated, tightwad, black-clad, humor-impaired West Coast sisters.

Re jewels: While the movie stars respectfully eschewed the gigantic rocks of yore in favor of the oversized, dangly ethnic earring (a trend kick-started by Nicole’s lobes at the Golden Globes), the chicks with dicks went straight to hell in a Swarovski-encrusted handbasket-i.e., bucket-sized tiaras, dowager chokers and shoulder-sweeping earrings-and that was just the men. “We’re big boys, so we need big jewels,” explained a gigantic, besequined brunette with tunnel curls who goes by the name Empress Anne Tique.

In sharp contrast to the Oscars, anti-war sentiment was thin on the ground in the hideous but well-vacuumed Marriott lobby. “We’re behind you all the way ,” blurted a Susan Hayward look-alike called Lotta Trouble when I asked her if she had a message for the coalition forces. “Come find me when the war’s over,” interjected a stately blonde called Wilma von Shwink, adding Mae West–ishly: “I’m listed.”

Though not as au fait with the intricacies of geopolitics as people like Susan Sarandon and that caliente little Mexican bloke from Y Tu Mamá También , all of the cross-dressers to whom I spoke had strong opinions about the intrinsic power of glamour: “If these aren’t torpedoes, what is?” shrieked the cunningly monikered Demi Tasse. “Glamour is a weapon,” said Ms. von Shwink. “Blind ‘em with sparkles and they will never shoot straight!”

Did anyone boycott Parisian designers? “Oh, honey. I’ll wear anything that fits,” said Ann Tique, hoisting a champagne flute and stroking her sturdy, corseted rib cage. Only one interviewee, an ethereal computer technician named Carol attired in a red chiffon, strappy 1950’s number, was prepared to take an anti-French position. “I will not wear French fashions, because I have never felt that the French were behind us,” she said earnestly and without any intentional double entendre. “Their recent attitude is the last straw.” Carol was in a celebratory mood due to some recent good news. “I just found out that I am now surgery-eligible,” she glowed, surveying the room with a benign but regal sweep. “By June 2004, I will be a fully fledged woman.” Carol’s tension-inducing delay-paralleling the delay prior to the Iraqi invasion-was apparently caused by a recent surge in requests for gender-reassignment surgery. Expect a column on this topic.

Talking of surgery-eligible: Joan Rivers, the anti–Michael Moore, was the one celeb to hit exactly the right tone on Oscar night. Squeezed into a gold, bejeweled, cleavage-enhancing number designed by Arnold Scaasi, Joan exhorted our boys to capture Saddam Hussein and send him to work for Diana Ross. His sons, she cackled, should be sentenced to a sleepover with Michael Jackson.

Peace out!