Vincent Gallo, actor, director and conservative, sounded like he’d just won something.
“I want to thank you guys for inviting me here today. It’s a big honor,” he told the crowd of pearl- and pinstripe-wearing Young Republicans who had gathered to hear him speak at their monthly meeting on Jan. 15. With his shaggy hair, blue jeans, military-cut overcoat and stubbled face, Mr. Gallo looked about as natural in the ballroom of the Women’s National Republican Club on West 51st Street as a Beat poet at a 1950’s cocktail party in Cleveland.
And yet he gushed: “In my whole life, no one’s ever invited me or included me in any Republican event. As a matter of fact, I used to go to the Rush Limbaugh show with my best friend Johnny Ramone and a couple of other friends, and Rush never … acknowledged us. So I’m thrilled to be here.”
Mr. Gallo, 41, is a devout if unlikely member of the G.O.P., an outspoken Republican who rivals only punk rocker Mr. Ramone, Motörhead bassist and hair-meister Lemmy Kilmister, and Factory alum Paul Morrissey for the title of Least Likely Celebrity Conservative. He has been a part of the downtown art scene since the late 1970’s-a product of the days of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Studio 54’s Steve Rubell (both friends of Mr. Gallo before they died of a drug overdose and AIDS, respectively)-and his most recent film, The Brown Bunny , turns an extended blowjob into a new form of cinema vérité.
He is hardly the poster child for the Moral Majority.
But Mr. Gallo insisted that he’s the real deal. “There’s a picture of me at 6 years old campaigning for Richard Nixon. I’ve always been the same. Always. I was against hippies,” he told his Young Republican Club hosts. He loves President Bush and loathes “self-serving” lefties, particularly “that commie crawfish, Al Franken,” and that “destructive hog,” Michael Moore. And he thinks politicians spend too much time pandering to special interests like “the gays, the AARP, handicapped groups.” When he gets going on the media’s anti-Republican bias, as he did the other night, Mr. Gallo sounds like a regular Bill O’Reilly.
“I’ve been on 125 magazine covers worldwide during my career-which is a lot for an unknown person who doesn’t have a career-and I’ve written about 200 articles in all kinds of magazines, and I’d like to let you know that there is media bias in an extreme way against the Republican Party,” he said. “I have never been quoted in any article that I’ve been interviewed for saying anything positive in any way about the Republican Party.
“But you know,” he said, “I would like to end my speech today by just saying, in terms of Europe, you know the United States has a great President-a, very, very great President-when the French hate him!”
The Young Republicans went wild, showering Mr. Gallo with applause and sympathy. A cute brunette in a houndstooth dress stood up to say that she felt his pain. When Mr. Gallo left the podium a small group converged on him to hear him expand on the evening’s theme: the media’s liberal bias.
“You want to know how it’s affected my career? Here’s one great story,” he told his new fans. “It was during the impeachment proceedings against Clinton, and I had gone to present Buffalo ’66 at Sundance. I was just rambling on every day, and Paul Schrader [one of the judges] was so offended by my comments at my Q. and A. that he walked into the voting and said, ‘Under no circumstance will Vincent Gallo win any prizes tonight.’
“So there I sat, with clearly the hardest ticket at Sundance, and I was the only person who won nothing,” he said. “The films that won a lot of prizes were Smoke Signals , because it was the first film by a Native American, and High Art , because it was the first independent film dealing with the complexities of a lesbian relationship. You know, if I had made a film with left-wing concepts- Boys Don’t Cry , for example-I may have been nominated for an Oscar that year!”
“I certainly don’t remember it that way,” said Mr. Schrader, responding to Mr. Gallo’s claims of jury bias. “Just because one of five people on a jury doesn’t like your film doesn’t mean that you’re being persecuted for your politics. I didn’t even know he was a Republican.”
After the event, Mr. Gallo was in high spirits. “Wasn’t that a lovely, kind, intelligent group of people?” he said as he swayed under the fluorescent lights of a downtown No. 6 train. “I’ve always liked square people. When I was a kid, it was always the squarest mothers who were nicest to me. I mean, I was this weird kid, but they always took me in.
“Still,” he said with a chuckle, “the Republican Party needs hipsters. If it wants to broaden its base, it needs hipsters.”
Katha Pollitt, S.W.F.
Many a broken-hearted lover has dreamed of having a national, highly acclaimed publication print a clever, personally penned harangue excoriating an ex in faultless prose. Oh, to imagine our onetime paramour opening up his (or her) favorite periodical on a lazy Sunday at the kitchen table, only to find a wry critique of his (or her) sub-par bedroom behavior in a one-way conversation being read simultaneously by so many other intellectuals worldwide. This would be followed by paragraphs questioning years of “loyalty” and well-crafted sentences detailing the panty preferences of the ex’s new lover. Perhaps there’d even be a cute little reference to a certain wooden spoon whose disappearance coincided with a certain someone’s moving out with his (or her!) collection of modern art that we never liked anyway, dammit.
Of course, for most of us, the dream ends there. But for Nation columnist Katha Pollitt, it seems that this is where her revenge against her beau of seven years begins. For in her essay “Webstalker” in the Jan. 19 issue of The New Yorker , Ms. Pollitt rails against her ex in this very manner. The five-page essay details how Ms. Pollitt has devoted what seems to be the better part of this millennium “Webstalking” her ex-or, more accurately, plugging his name (and various misspellings of it) into myriad search engines. At the end of the saga, she finds her pot of gold: a photo of her ex-boyfriend’s current girlfriend’s living room-complete with the ex’s ugly paintings-on the Web site of a real-estate company.
This piece is actually something of a sequel: Ms. Pollitt’s first tirade against the unnamed ex appeared in July 2002, in a 4,000-plus-word essay called “Learning to Drive,” which might have been titled “Learning to Drive at the Age of 52 in Order to Prove to My Asshole Ex That I’m Not a Loser.” In that piece, she lamented about his infidelities, talked about his difficult Marxist mother in Vermont and described an argument in which he scolded her for not leafing through The Joy of Sex with more fervor.
In part deux , Ms. Pollitt reveals many more juicy tidbits, including her password (“secret”), her ex’s password (“marxist”) and the fact that she doesn’t know how to download a PDF. But using what Web-searching skills she does have, Ms. Pollitt manages to reveal many uninteresting things about her onetime honey, including the places he’s lecturing and the Web sites on which he’s posted announcements and musings.
So, while Ms. Pollitt never actually gives the guy’s name, plug in a few details and it’s not hard to figure out. And really, if you’re going to devote so much space to a man, doesn’t he at least deserve to have a name?
He is Paul Mattick, born in 1944, a professor of philosophy at Adelphi University and the son of a Pomeranian-born Marxist writer of the same name. What else did we learn that wasn’t already printed in The New Yorker ? Not much-Ms. Pollitt covers almost everything Web-able. We found that his name appeared on lots of sites that flaunt the word “dialectic.” What else? Mr. Mattick took Ms. Pollitt’s author photo on the Random House Web site, is an occasional book reviewer for The Time s and, according to that publication, “was once the lunch chef at the Signet Society in Cambridge, Mass.”
Googlism.com, a site that will scan the Internet for phrases that link a name with the word “is,” told us that “Paul Mattick is a Marxist” and “is the author of [the book] Social Knowledge and editor of the International Journal of Political Economy .”
The woman for whom Mr. Mattick left Ms. Pollitt is described in “Webstalker” as a professor who is “producing” a book with Mr. Mattick. In “Learning to Drive,” Ms. Pollitt describes her as “the young art critic he mocked as silly and second-rate [but] was being groomed as my replacement.” Ms. Pollitt also wonders in print if the young critic is more willing than she was to perform impromptu oral sex.
The lucky lady-according to some more of our intrepid Googling-seems to be Katy Siegel, an assistant professor of art history at Hunter College and a contributing editor of Artforum . The book she and Mr. Mattick are “producing” is being published by Thames and Hudson and will be called Art and Money . According to a posting by Mr. Mattick on a site devoted to Karl Marx, the book will deal “with the relations between art and money and the similarities and differences between art and money as cultural phenomena, as exemplified and represented in art works.” Mr. Mattick and Ms. Siegel didn’t return calls from The Transom, and Ms. Pollitt said she had nothing to add to what she’s already written in The New Yorker .
While Ms. Siegel’s name doesn’t register on Googlism.com, Ms. Pollit’s does. According to the site, Ms. Pollitt “is wonderful,” Ms. Pollitt “is not voting for Bill Clinton in 1996,” and Ms. Pollitt “is large.” The words “Katha Pollitt is having a hard time letting go” don’t appear, but now that the online version of this paragraph is going down in the Internet’s annals, we are filled with hope.
-Anna Jane Grossman
The armies of the night that Amy Sacco has coddled at her nightclubs Lot 61 and Bungalow 8 will soon be fretting about hearing loss, sleep deprivation and liver damage, but it looks like the nightlife diva will be ready to offer her regulars an alternative. The Transom has learned that the flaxen-haired Ms. Sacco is planning to open a 3,500-square-foot restaurant at 461 West 23rd Street, between Ninth and Tenth avenues in Chelsea. City records show that Ms. Sacco purchased a commercial condo at the London Terrace Towers for $1.7 million in November. A copy of the property’s deed on file with the City Register states that “the condominium premises are to be used as a restaurant.”
Ms. Sacco, 25, declined to comment on the specific plans for the restaurant, but sources close to the deal say that after Ms. Sacco completes renovations to the space-which once was an Italian restaurant called La Traviata-she will open the spot sometime later this year. According to sources familiar with the situation, the restaurant will be Ms. Sacco’s first true dining establishment (both Bungalow 8 and Lot 61 have limited menus) and the first property that she owns; Ms. Sacco and her investors currently have commercial leases for Lot 61 and Bungalow 8. Sources say that Ms. Sacco, 35, has yet to select a chef or a designer for the space, but she is close to completing the final details of the business.
While Ms. Sacco has made a name for herself with splashy New York clubs, her decision to open a restaurant is a return to her roots, of sorts. Before becoming the 6-foot-1 matron of New York nightlife, the Chatham, N.J., native got her start in New York restaurants. In 1990, she graduated from the Johnson and Wales restaurant school in Providence, R.I., and her first job in New York was checking coats and hosting at Bouley. She eventually moved on to manage the Lipstick Café and Vong, both co-owned by Jean-Georges Vongerichten. And in 1994 she was engaged to Gilbert Le Coze, then the head chef of Le Bernardin, shortly before he died of a heart attack.
Sin by de Sign
If you thought the golden age of zodiac dating died with Harvey Wallbangers and the “dry look,” gird yourself for February. That’s when astrological authors Starsky and Cox predict that the publication of their book, Sextrology: An Astrology of Sex and the Sexes , will inspire a whole new generation of bar-hoppers in need of annoying pickup lines.
“It’s our contention that every sign is compatible with another sign,” the statuesque Stella Starsky (Capricorn) told The Transom on a recent evening accompanied by her fellow sextrologist and celestial soulmate, Quinn Cox (Libra). They were nestled in the dining room of their local downtown brasserie Pastis, passionately discussing the merits of planetary matchmaking. “We share the cardinal quality,” said Mr. Cox. “It makes us both very ambitious, very forward-moving.”
The couple have been doing private readings for friends-many of whom work in the fashion business-for years, but they began moving forward at a faster clip in 1998 when they met Christina Ferreri, then the editor of YM magazine.
“Stella immediately said to her: ‘You’re a Sagittarius.’ It really flipped her out.” Et voila ! When Ms. Ferreri moved to helm Teen People , she offered Ms. Starsky and Mr. Cox a column in the magazine that ran for five years and, according to the duo, was “revolutionary” because it separated the horoscopes for men and women-24 mini-predictions instead of the standard 12. (In Sextrology , they go one step further, giving gay men and women their own astrological categories.)
“We’re not your granola-encrusted, New Age–y, patchouli-wearing astrologers,” Mr. Cox told The Transom in between sips of red wine. “We really treat this as an intellectual pursuit.” Judging by the six-figure advance they received from HarperCollins, their publisher must see it as a potentially popular one-after all, it is about sex. According to the 500-plus-page book, Leo men, for instance, have a penchant for “cheerleaders,” “lite b&d” and “begging.” Taurus women, on the other hand, prefer “smooth torsos” and “role-play.”
In the name of research-the intellectual kind, of course-The Transom asked the authors for some astrological insight into some of the city’s more famous relationships. First up: Sarah Jessica Parker and Mathew Broderick. A quick flick through the book’s comprehensive celebrity lists revealed that Ms. Parker is an Aries, as is her beau. “She wears the pants,” opined Mr. Cox, adding flatly, “They’re friends who fuck.”
Next: Drew Barrymore (Pisces) and Fabrizio Moretti (Gemini). According to Sextrology , Aries women are turned on by alcohol and narcotics, while Gemini guys get frisky for the old hour-glass figure ( Hellooo, Ms. Barrymore! ) and white panties.
And our last lucky couple: Uma Thurman (Taurus) and her post-Ethan squeeze, hotelier André Balazs (Aquarius). “In this relationship, Uma gets to be the girl for a change,” Ms. Cox opined. As for Mr. Balazs, “Aquarians like to add a little corruption into the mix,” offered Mr. Quinn. “Let’s just say I imagine he’s going to take her places she’s never been before.”
To the Moon, Sheffer!
The American Comic Vision Festival at Symphony Space was kicked off on Jan. 13, at the Leonard Nimoy Thalia theater on Broadway and 95th Street, by a panel of “comic visionaries” hosted by National Public Radio personality Isaiah Sheffer. On the panel were television writer Stephen Colbert, screenwriter Nora Ephron and humorist Roy Blount Jr. Mr. Sheffer was extremely interested in defining the “American Comic Vision.” The panelists groaned. So he reconfigured the question: “Well, what’s the future of America’s ‘Comic Vision’?”
“Uh, it’s future is in space,” said Mr. Colbert.
The conversation meandered from there-there was a brief chat about self-deprecating “Jewish” humor and a screening of a Mel Brooks short film-until the heart of America’s Comic Vision was found: American politics. When Mr. Sheffer mentioned a comment that Ms. Ephron had made backstage before the panel-about the dowdy and not-very-First-Lady-like shoes worn by Judith Steinberg Dean in the unflattering front-page New York Times portrait of her that day-Ms. Ephron seemed rankled. “I didn’t want that said publicly,” she said. “I feel bad … I’m a Dean person.”
Mr. Sheffer shrugged it off. “Don’t worry,” he told her. “We’re an elite group of Upper West Siders. Most of the world doesn’t care what we do or say.”