I Swing ‘n’ Sway With Tammy Faye

Tammy Faye Messner is madly au courant .

The belashed Bible-thumper was in town from Charlotte, N.C., last week to promote her upcoming book I Will Survive … You, Too! (J.P. Tarcher, September, a mere $13.97 from Amazon.com). Tammy’s titillating tome is bursting with homespun philosophy and extraordinarily useful tips, e.g., “Fun With Nail Polish”: “Paint your tired eyeglass frames or paint the heels of your shoes.”

But as we cuddled up together in Lady Mendl’s bijou Irving Place tearoom during the publicity teaser, I realized that what I really wanted from Ms. Messner was not her crafty tips, nor her homespun musings: I wanted her views on the sizzling contemporary topics du jour . And I got them!

Scott Peterson: guilty or innocent? “Oh Lord! Don’t ask me. Pur-leeze ! Don’t ask me!” moaned the ageless Ms. Messner good-naturedly, throwing back her head and closing her legendary mascara-caked lashes. “I’ve cried many tears over that case, and I’ve prayed for the families. But I’m trying not to judge. Jim and I were judged so unfairly. Our lives became a court room!”

Saddam Hussein? “Lord. I simply do not know where he is! But don’t worry, God’ll get ‘im,” Ms. Messner chuckled with gleeful gusto, adjusting the clavicle-revealing neckline of her lacey boat-neck top.

George Bush? “Aaah! I would give anything in the world to meet that man,” sighed Tammy, going rapidly from coquettish to kittenish. “I just want to give him the biggest hug and say, ‘ Thank you. Thank you for protecting us.’ I guess I like him ’cause he’s so normal-just like us! And because he’s soooo cute. I am a Republican all my life!”

Martha Stewart? “I love her. She’s done so much to make America a better place. They are trying to make an example out of her, and it’s wrong to do that to someone who people love so much,” said Tammy, wagging a fuchsia lacquered fingernail. “Believe me, I know what that’s like. Martha! If you wake up in the night and you need someone to talk to, you just pick up the phone and call Tammy.”

Butt-crack jeans? “I once wrote a song that goes ‘Jesus takes a frown and turns it upside down,’ and I always think of that when I see women showing their booty-crack,” replied Tammy enigmatically, glancing askew in the general direction of her own appropriately concealed in a long, gypsy-style handkerchief skirt with a cinch belt.

Hillary Clinton? “I don’t think she’s very honest. Even if it hurts, it’s good to be honest,” Tammy said, furrowing her brow in a manner that uncannily recalled Amy Sedaris on the late, lamented Strangers with Candy . “Why, for heaven’s sakes, don’t they live together?” she wondered of the Clintons.

Before vacating the interview seat to make room for the next hack, I took the opportunity to compliment Ms. Messner on her svelte figure. “Slim-Fast,” Tammy gasped with pride. “I lost 18 pounds in three weeks. I lurrve the milk-chocolate shakes. They contain all the vitamins and minerals that I need. And the candy bars. Oooh ! Lord, they are sooo good!” Hear that, raw-food enthusiasts? (A six-pack of Ms. Messner’s favorite Slim-Fast milk-chocolate shakes can currently be purchased on drugstore.com for $6.99.)

Re mascara: Coincidentally, during Tammy Week in Manhattan, the cosmetics industry was all abuzz with the news that New Age evangelists Tony and Tina-the woo-woo Jim and Tammy of the beauty biz-have won the 2003 Healthy Beauty Award for the healthiest mascara. Their Herbal Eye Mascara ($18 at Sephora) was picked by a panel of independent dermatologists, beating out product from the Estée Lauder–Clinique juggernaut. What’s so healthy about it? Well, it’s just really centering and vegan and toxin-releasing and chakra-opening. So there!

Naturally, Ms. Messner’s book contains a chapter called “Tammy’s Makeup Tips,” which includes the startling admission that her eyeliner, lipliner and eyebrows have been permanently tattooed onto her face. (“Talk about pain. But my Aunt Gin says it takes pains to be beautiful.”) I always thought this was an evil rumor spread by rival televangelista and fellow mascara devotee Jan Crouch.

Praise the Lord! I Swing ‘n’ Sway With Tammy Faye