“Sex is good! Sex is really, really, really good!” the actor William H. Macy said. “Sex? Love! It’s fine! I have two little girls, and I don’t care if they see sex. It’s not going to hurt them. Violence, however, will.”
Then his voice rose an octave. “Even bad sex is O.K.!” he said.
Even Mr. Macy describes himself as a Howdy Doody look-alike, so hearing the David Mamet disciple wax earnestly and enthusiastically about sex as he nursed his second or third Scotch at the bar of the Regency Hotel on Nov. 18 was kind of like watching Ned Flanders do a pole dance in a G-string: odd and yet strangely pleasurable.
Sex is the 53-year-old Mr. Macy’s new schtick, and for what it’s worth, he does it well. In The Cooler, his new film, which opens on Nov. 26, he gets naked and-if you somehow missed all the cunning linguists who have written about it-goes down on Maria Bello, giving her what he called “a Fourth of July orgasm.”
“They’re rootin’-tootin’ scenes,” said Mr. Macy, who, along with Ms. Bello, used scene-study techniques to map out the bedroom encounters. “There was, each time, something to be won or lost. It’s not just two actors pretending to be hot and hump,” he said, a glimmer in his sky-blue eyes. “We rehearsed a lot.”
A man walking by the hotel on the Park Avenue sidewalk spotted the actor and waved. Mr. Macy smiled affably and waved back. He took another sip of scotch.
“And it wasn’t erotic, but it was sexy,” he continued. “And it wasn’t romantic, but it was sweet. I mean, I got to roll around with Maria Bello, who’s really, really stupidly good-looking! And I got to play-act and, in a weird way, it was almost better than sex. It was like cyber sex, because it was all in my head-and that can be really exciting, you know?”
The result is a redemptive love story about two losers trying to escape the hard, violent world of Las Vegas. And Mr. Macy, who’s married to the classically trained actor Felicity Huffman, said he hopes it’s the beginning of a trend of more libidinous films for older folk.
“Thebaby-boomers-weoutnumber you,” he said. “And I think there’s a market out there for people my age falling in love and doing it the way we do it-not the way youngsters do it. So many of the stories now are so young and naïve,” he said. “But there are so many [people my age] who are on their second families or their kids are grown, but they’re still built like brick shithouses and they’re really sexy and their libidos are still big as houses. And I think that story has a market.”
The Motion Picture Association of America is not as enthusiastic. “We got an NC-17 because of Maria’s pubic hair [which is visible in the scene]. A second and a half of pubic hair!” Mr. Macy said incredulously. “So we trimmed the pubic hair, so to speak, in order to get an R rating. It’s ridiculous-this country is sexually about 13 years old. And yet we’re crazy about violence? It’s an American problem.”
Good thing the MPAA rating wasn’t assigned during the shooting. “We were buck-naked for three days or so in front of the crew,” Mr. Macy said. “We were discreet as we could be, but no matter what, there were a lot of Teamsters who were going to see young Will and the twins.”
And at the wrap party at the end of the shoot, Mr. Macy and Ms. Bello set up a booth where Polaroids were snapped of the cast and crew members’ derrières. “A lot of people got really into it and decorated their butts with feathers and flowers and everything. It was hysterical,” Mr. Macy said. “And then we put them up and you had to match the face to the butt, which was horrifyingly easy to do.” Mr. Macy’s bottom was not to be found on a wall, however. “For my butt,” he said, smiling wide, “you’ve got to buy a ticket.”
-Anna Jane Grossman
Like some kind of binary star system, the polar opposites of 90’s power flared at the Four Seasons restaurant on the evening of Monday, Nov. 24. In the restaurant’s frothy Pool Room, a group that included liberal author Al Franken and former Mayor David Dinkins celebrated the publication of former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin’s book, In An Uncertain World: Tough Choices from Wall Street to Washington, while in the august Grill Room a more anemic crowd-including Ronald Perelman, Taki Theodoracopoulos and former Sotheby’s head Alfred Taubman-fêted the publication of embattled media mogul Lord Conrad Black’s biography, Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom. While the crowd in the Pool Room leaned left and the Grill Room pulled right, there were some practitioners of nonpartisan schmoozing. Former Mayor Ed Koch moved between both groups, as did 20/20 anchor Barbara Walters and Clinton operative turned Lazard Frères banker Vernon Jordan, who, according to one person in attendance, spent a good 30 minutes in Lord Black’s party.
Not Very Vogue
On Tuesday, Nov. 18, designer Diane von Furstenberg strutted into Dia: Chelsea’s front hall like she was walking down a runway. Clad in flowing white pants and a striking black-and-white-striped jacket, Ms. von Furstenberg cocked her head, fanned out her arms and swayed her hips just so, then formed her lips into a determinedly sultry Mona Lisa smile for the photographers who would surely be documenting the moment. But as a lone camera clicked away, Ms. von Furstenberg seemed to realize that something was amiss. There were no armies of photographers bathing her in brilliant white flash fire, just a guy with a Canon Elph shpritzing her with pale light. And neither Patrick McMullen nor David Patrick Columbia were anywhere in sight.
Ms. von Furstenberg looked at the walls around her and at the backs of the tangle-haired artistes who were listening to a speaker in the back of the room, and then it dawned on her: wrong entrance! Ms. von Furstenberg had inadvertently walked into Dia’s book store-where art historian and curator Hans Ulrich Obrist was putting on a puppet and ventriloquism demonstration-rather than the entrance one building down at the Chelsea Art Museum, where Vogue magazine was sponsoring a benefit for God’s Love We Deliver.
Being a trendsetter, Ms. von Furstenberg had naturally drawn at least one follower, socialite Helen Lee Schifter, who traipsed through the gift-shop door in Ms. von Furstenberg’s wake. But just a few moments later, the designer and wife of media mogul Barry Diller pivoted on her Manolos and exited with almost as much flair as she had entered, exclaiming to one of her companions, “Looks like we went to the wrong party!” Ms. Shifter scurried along after her.
They weren’t the only fashionistas who had mistaken the Pitti Immagine–sponsored launch party for Mr. Olbrist’s new book, Interviews, for the Vogue event. Just minutes before, designers Calvin Klein and Michael Kors had walked into the gift shop and actually listened to Vaseline expert Matthew Barney and other Obrist-introducers for a solid 20 minutes. Eventually, a reveler at the Vogue soirée somehow saw Mr. Klein and Mr. Kors in purgatory and pulled the two men to safety.
After his speech, the lanky Mr. Barney stood near the gift-shop entrance and periodically rolled his eyes as more and more glossy socialites and flashy designers walked into Dia, registered that the fabulosity quotient was too low for a Vogue party and walked out. As one misguided partygoer said upon entering: “This does not look very Vogue.”
Walken the Doll
First there was Christopher Walken, the spooky movie actor–cum–mucho talented dancer; then there was Citizen Walken, the Off Broadway play about the star; and now there’s Christopher Walken the 12-inch action figure. The pompadoured piece of rubber wears a black suit over his six-pack abs and muscular legs and also packs heat. Mr. Walken’s doll is meant to be dressed as Frank White, the character he played in the 1990 film King of New York. In fact, the packaging calls the figure a “King of N.Y.C. doll,” and Mr. Walken’s name is nowhere to be found on the box.
Up until last week, the mini-Walken (also known as the doll that just happens to look just like Christopher Walken although his name isn’t on the box) was available at a half-dozen stores around Manhattan for $79.95. One of the stores, the gift shop at the American Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, described it in its promotional materials as an “action figure [that] can accommodate the full range of the actor’s dynamic physicality: From a suave jazz dance pose, to a menacing gangster stance. You can perfect your Walken impersonation with this humorous, beautifully made toy-for-grown-ups. Toy handgun included.”
But what wasn’t included was Mr. Walken’s permission. Contacted early last week, representatives of Mr. Walken’s talent agency, I.C.M., said that neither they nor Mr. Walken were aware of the doll. By week’s end, Mr. Walken’s financial manager, Constantine Baris, had called the American Museum of the Moving Image and asked them to stop selling the doll until its origins were sorted out.
“It’s the stealing of his likeness. It looks just like him,” Mr. Baris told The Transom. “[Mr. Walken] just wants to get the facts straight and make sure there isn’t any, shall we say, unauthorized use of his image? It’s one thing if it’s for art purposes; it’s another if it’s commercial.”
The doll first came into being this summer and, indeed, was initially an objet d’art. It was created by SwishNYC, a company that primarily sells hip-hop-style clothing from its Web site, SwishNYC.com.
“It was our first toy. It was an art project at first; we just decided to make a mold one day,” said Tony, 35, the owner of SwishNYC, who asked-for obvious reasons-that The Transom not use his last name. He said both 40-year-old mothers and 20-year-old computer geeks have bought the tchotchke. “It was inspired by the movie King of New York,” he continued, “because that movie had a lot of meaning for people who are into gangster- and hip-hop-type movies. Like if you were into hip-hop in the early 90’s, it’d be a movie you’d gravitate to. It’s quoted a lot in rap music. But, you know, it’s not a Christopher Walken doll per se.”
Per se or not, the AMMI’s Museum Store won’t be refilling its order despite the demand: SwishNYC has agreed to stop manufacturing the toys.
“We just don’t want to have any problems,” Tony said.
Which means that those who were lucky enough to get the doll can probably now make a killing on eBay-which also currently is offering several bronzed life masks of the movie star.