Corcoran Ain’t No Corker

“Oh my God, this is so much worse than I pictured!” said real-estate guru Barbara Corcoran, speaking from the stage of Caroline’s comedy club on Feb. 3.

Well, she got that much right.

Looking pert in an orange turtleneck and suede pants, Ms. Corcoran was supposed to be headlining an evening of business-themed comedy to benefit N.Y.C. YMCA children’s programs. But somewhere along the line, she decided to ignore the topic and focus on an uncomfortably personal subject: the shortcomings of her past and current husbands.

The evening began giddily enough, with an army of brokers-mostly women in pearls and pinstripes from the Corcoran Group, the real-estate firm she founded but sold in 2001 to NRT-in the audience, whooping with anticipation.

But then Ms. Corcoran began her act. “I told [my first husband Dale] one night in bed-when you’re not supposed to attack a man’s confidence-that ‘Dale, the reason I’m not getting pregnant is that your damn sperm is too slow!'” she said early on.

“I left him immediately,” Ms. Corcoran continued. “Three years later, Dale had three kids, and I was on my hands and knees at Mount Sinai’s in-vitro clinic, begging my baby sister for her eggs!” The audience murmured uncertainly.

Ms. Corcoran regrouped, moving on to the subject of her current husband, Bill Higgins, a former Navy captain who was sitting near the front.

“I proposed to Bill. He said yes, and then-I should have seen this as a bad sign-he wouldn’t sleep with me for seven months. He said I wasn’t ready. I was so ready, I wanted to attack the dog!” Ms. Corcoran said. “But I shaved my legs for seven months, every morning, because I didn’t know when the big night was going to be. He was a perfect gentleman, but I waited. Then I married Bill, and Bill immediately slept with me!”

Ms. Corcoran went on to describe Mr. Higgins quitting his day job, purchasing 13 digital cameras and putting on 50 pounds, which was achieved “peanut by peanut” with M&M’s.

“Bill chronically complains about not getting enough sex,” she said at one point. “Anybody have that problem?”

The square-jawed Mr. Higgins, looking husky in a navy blue jacket with gold buttons, called out from the audience: “Not anymore, hon!”

“Last week I went to bed, and picture this: Bill’s lying in bed, electronically wired,” Ms. Corcoran continued. “He’s got wraparound black goggles over his head, he’s got a camouflage helmet on his head, and he’s got these suction cups with wires. And he’s wired into this black electronic box, and it’s beeping and blinking-beep, beep!” She never explained the purpose of her husband’s getup, but raced for the punch line. “And what does he say? The same thing every guy says: ‘Ya wanna have sex?’ And I said, ‘No, thank you!'”

Ms. Corcoran paused during the uncomfortable silence that followed, then said: “Oh, shit, man-I’m getting off this stage!”

But she didn’t.

Instead, she described her habit of smacking Mr. Higgins around and inspiring him to invest in hockey padding. Around that time, Ms. Corcoran pointed at a silver-haired gentleman in the audience. “Hey, you, would you want to be married to me?” she asked. The man stared at her, wide-eyed. “Noooo!” Ms. Corcoran said. “Neither did Dale. Neither does Bill!”

Once the squirm-inducing performance came to an end, the M.C., David Moore, returned to the stage and said: “How many people think that Bill’s going to get laid tonight?” That got a laugh.

-Sheelah Kolhatkar

Melanie’s Yarn

“It’s the Chita-fer!” said the hulking song-and-dance-man-cum-TV-actor Jerry Orbach, swooping in to embrace Broadway veteran Chita (Anita before Rita) Rivera in the press room at the Drama League’s annual “Musical Celebration of Broadway” on Feb. 9. The black-tie gala was held at the Pierre hotel in honor of Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith. Both had stints on Broadway last year-him in Nine, her in Chicago-but entered the room like the movie stars they are. Anna in the Tropics spark plug Daphne Rubin-Vega preceded them, telling the shutterbugs that her sleeveless black dress was from a thrift store. Then Ms. Griffith-whose arms were covered in gold glitter-struck a pose. And where had she gotten her black sleeveless? “Versace,” she said.

However, Ms. Griffith added that she is capable of enjoying more simple sartorial pleasures as well: She likes to wear sweaters knit by Mr. Banderas, who explained to a cluster of reporters that he learned to purl when he broke his “esternon” (sternum) on a film set in Spain in the early 80’s. “Were you born then?” he asked The Transom. Alas, the ladies from Hoy then pulled the duo away for more intense questioning, but Ms. Griffith didn’t let her honey talk to the fawning journalistas for long. Her flack, a fleck of glitter on her nose, was giving the “wrap it up” signal with her finger. “You have to be done now,” Ms. Griffith told them, dragging Mr. Banderas over to talk to the English-speaking television reporters.

Ms. Rivera-who’s currently working with Terrence McNally on a musical about her life-then bounced on by to rave about Mr. Banderas. She played opposite him in Nine. “Antonio’s a nice, nice, nice guy, on top of being a sexy, sexy, sexy guy! And he’s so professional! And charitable! And giving! Everybody falls in love with him, not just because he’s … what he is,” she said. But did she know that Mr. Banderas really knew his way around a yarn store? “Who told you that lie?” she said.

-Anna Jane Grossman

Simmons Says

What better place for a hip-hop impresario to explain his political intentions than a fashion show? And that’s just what Russell Simmons did at Marc Jacobs’ fall show at the Lexington Avenue Armory on Feb. 9. On Feb. 4, the hip-hop baron crashed a summit hosted by the New York Society for Ethical Culture, which had been organized to brainstorm ways to oust President Bush in the next election. “The shit y’all doing is corny!” the hip-hop impresario had told the crowd, which included financier George Soros, Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter, Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner, Miramax co-chairman Harvey Weinstein, actors Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins, socialite Anne Cox Chambers and fashion heir Alex von Furstenberg. “You have to at least include people. We are not included!”

“I was just trying to get the inner circle to know me,” Mr. Simmons told The Transom, his omnipresent baseball cap cocked to the side. “This is one little group, and they’re great and they’re smart and they have good ideas. I’m a fan of what they are doing, but I just want to be a part of it. We’ve had a lot of great discussions since then, and I think it’s going to be fantastic.” In the meantime, Mr. Simmons said he was narrowing down his presidential choices. “Obviously, I’m not a big fan of Dennis Kosevic”-we think he meant Kucinich-“and Sharpton. Oh, and I was with [Bill] O’Reilly last Friday night, and he told me I should vote for the Tin Man and Toto!” Mr. Simmons laughed. “Tin Man and Toto! That was a very good line for him.”

Mr. Simmons wasn’t the only one in a jaunty mood. Later, as Karolina Kurkova and Giselle Bundchen frisked down the catwalk, the Strokes’ Albert Hammond Jr. and Nick Valensi swigged from bottles in brown sacks they’d smuggled into the show, while giggling models wriggled in their laps.

-Noelle Hancock

Just Like J. Lo

If you found yourself walking out of the local cineplex screening of Gigli while trying to whisper breathily about your “pussy” just like Jennifer Lopez did, then have we got the art exhibit for you! On Feb. 14, 32-year-old video artist Candice Breitz will unveil Becoming at the Sonnabend gallery at 536 West 22nd Street. The show will be composed of seven split-screen TV monitors. The front of the screens will feature seven female Hollywood actors-including Ms. Lopez, Julia Roberts and Meg Ryan-emoting for minute-long loops. Playing behind those loops will be black-and-white loops of Ms. Breitz lip-synching and otherwise imitating their words, expressions, gestures and Hollywood tears.

“It’s a minute of Cameron Diaz talking nonstop about how to trap a man, or Julia Roberts talking about how to lose a man,” said Ms. Breitz excitedly about her first major show in New York. “In those romantic comedies, it’s all about getting the man, thinking about the man, marrying the man, breaking up with the man.”

Ms. Breitz’s show will be all about becoming the celebrity. “Our expressions are taught to us from Hollywood-people watch how she looks when flirting, breaking up, manipulating a man. It’s a series of conventions that’s manipulating our culture,” she said. By juxtaposing footage of herself against the polished celebrities on the other side of the screen, Ms. Breitz explained, she’ll be saying that “I’m not as beautiful as they are; it’s awkward for me to act like they do. We’re never going to be like them.”

The artist said she actually came up with the idea from the MTV show Becoming, in which a suburban teen is treated to her idol’s stylists, makeup artists and coaches. “They’ll take a kid to Britney’s hairdresser, and the sad thing about it is, she is allowed to become Britney in every way-clothes, looks, everything-but never can have her own voice. At the end, they pipe in Britney’s voice when she starts to perform,” said Ms. Breitz. “It’s all about the idea of never quite being able to become the star.”

-Alexandra Wolfe

Liberace Lives!

Johnny Depp, Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman may get another shot at playing the flamboyantly dressed Vegas mainstay, Liberace. The British team of director Don Boyd (My Kingdom) and television writer and novelist Reg Gadney have co-authored a screenplay based on the flamboyant pianist’s turbulent trip to Britain in 1956, and producer Barry Krost said that he has two major studios interested.

“I’m waiting to hear,” said Mr. Krost, who produced the 1993 Tina Turner biopic, What’s Love Got to Do With It? Entitled I’ll Be Seeing You after one of Liberace’s signature songs, the film is built around two stories. The first deals with the pianist’s 1956 trip across the pond, when, at the height of his popularity, the Daily Mirror outed him as gay; Liberace eventually sued the paper for libel and won. The second is a coming-of-age story about a talented adolescent boy who plays the piano and worships … Liberace! The two eventually meet, demonstrating what Mr. Boyd referred to as “a powerful appreciation of what love and friendship can mean in the context of hero worship.”

Both Mr. Krost and Mr. Boyd, who is attached to direct the script, say that it’s far different from the Liberace film that reportedly was to be directed by Philip (Quills) Kaufman and had everyone from Mr. Depp to Mr. Williams to Mr. Hoffman allegedly interested in the role. (That project has since languished in pre-production at New Line Cinema.)

“It was a very different project from ours,” said Mr. Boyd, who last worked with Mr. Gadney in 1989 on Goldeneye: The Secret Life of Ian Fleming, a made-for-TV movie about the creator of James Bond. “I think it was much more biographical, and they cover a much larger period of time.”

Mr. Boyd said they’re considering eight to nine “A-list” actors to fill the rhinestoned shoes of Liberace, but Mr. Boyd did say that Mr. Depp “would make a brilliant Liberace-truly brilliant.

“I really think we will attract that kind of star,” Mr. Boyd continued, admitting that Mr. Depp is probably rather busy these days. “[The role] challenges the [actor’s] range. It deals with [Liberace’s] private life; it deals with his public life. They have to play piano, they have to sing, they have to have that charisma-and all of those things are combined in this extremely human story.”

-Jake Brooks