Just when everyone had forgotten that fleeting rumor about John Kerry having an affair with a young woman named Alex Polier, the lady herself hops onto the cover of New York magazine. And by the way, how many Senators invite a pretty young thang to dinner and ply her with four mojitos -and “platters of skirt steak” ( yee-haw! )-just because he wants to talk policy? But we digress ! June is off to a tangy start: First, if you’re in the market for some upscale bohemian art (really, what is life without a skull cube teapot?) or a downscale bohemian boyfriend, get a jump on things with tonight’s gala preview of the Sculpture Objects and Functional Art show, with the theme “A Taste of New York” -munchies provided by David Burke & Donatella and Cafe Boulud . A few blocks west, the well-seasoned Central Park Conservancy one-ups them with a “Taste of Summer” benefit (chow from Jean George , SushiSamba , others) as jewelry heiress Coralie Charriol , Ottoman empire heir Eric Villency and P.R. princess Vanessa von Bismarck drink bevies and scrawl their sigs for the silent auction. On the block : a walk-on role in the musical Chicago ( stomp, stomp, stomp! ), a private tasting with Jean George ( burp! ), and a chance to bang hammers with Bob Vila on his show …. Guess what? We’re naked right now ! Just trying to get in the mood for The Gay Naked Play . We found one of the directors, Christopher Borg , at his day job (“I’m disguised as a secretary at a law firm!”). “We have that typical Off Broadway bitterness that only crap is being done on Broadway and the exciting stuff is being done here on the street,” he said. “We want to comment on the popularity of shows that capitalize on a thriving gay economy …. What’s been the most difficult issue is: How do you make a serious commentary on producers who use nudity to sell a play when you want to stick a naked guy on a postcard to sell your play?” He and co-director Jason Bowcutt have been best friends since they were 18 and came out of the closet together while starring in a Mormon musical. (They’ve since left the church.) Have they ever been lovers? “There were moments. We tried it once or twice! We would look at each other and think, ‘He’s not so horrible-looking!’ … We were better suited to be brothers, or sisters, rather- we’re gonna be two old ladies sitting on the bus!”
[SOFA, Seventh Regiment Armory, 67th Street and Park Avenue, 5 to 10 p.m.,
212-956-3535, ext. 129; A Taste of Summer, Bethesda Terrace, Heart of Central Park, mid-park at 72nd Street, 7 to 11 p.m., 212-310-6619; The Gay Naked Play , Emerging Artists Theatre, 432 West 42nd Street, fourth floor, 8 p.m., 212-594-1404.]
France, land of the bidet, throws a self-congratulatory juice on its bad self with an Apéritif à la Française (“The French Cocktail Hour”) fête to remind everyone of the cultural influences it has spread throughout the world (food, wine, Napoleon complex … ) at the Bubble Lounge in Tribeca …. Meanwhile, we lost any ability to feel a long time ago (in Steel Magnolias , we were more distraught over JuliaRoberts choppingall herhairoff than SallyField pulling the plug on her), which is why we love Law & Order , with its ominous ka-chung sound and lack of emotional issues . So we were a little skeptical when Barry Levinson called his forthcoming courtroom drama, The Jury , “the opposite of Law & Order ,” emphasizing the human-interest element over the legal issues. Hmmmm . See for yourself at today’s premiere screening at the indefatigable Museum of Television and Radio, where the creators and cast (including impossibly thin yet chipmunk-cheeked model Shalom Harlow , who went the “career” route while her former MTV appendage, Amber Valleta, went the mommy route ) face the tribunal with one of those Q&A’s where an audience member inevitably arrives with some “ideas” for the show and a script.
[Apéritif à la Française launch party, the Bubble Lounge, 228 West Broadway, 6 to 8 p.m., by invitation only; The Jury premiere screening, the Museum of Television and Radio, 25 West 52nd Street, 6 to 7:30 p.m.,
Hunter S. Thompson’s literary cousin, Denis Johnson, takes the stage at Volume (art space!) with artist Sam Messer . We spoke to Mr. Messer about the reclusive author (currently on the move to Northern Idaho, and he told us that the two met in 1981 during a stint at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown (artists’ colony!). “Denis actually made a book for my daughter Josephine, called Denis the Pirate ,” said Mr. Messer, “and that’s where most of this started.” Tonight you’ll find Mr. Messer’s etchings decorating Mr. Johnson’s poems, of which Mr. M. said, “They’re like fragments: He saves them, forgets about them, sticks them in drawers and eventually retrieves them.”
[“A Collaboration (Again),” Volume, 530 West 24th Street, 6 to 8 p.m., 212-989-8700.]
The Hamptons are the “adult swim” of the city -you know, when the lifeguard blows the whistle and all the annoying people clear out , leaving the rest of us to enjoy our calm pool of tranquillity. Today, that rollicking crowd includes erstwhile Canadian father figure Peter Jennings and Congressman Timothy Bishop , who are sloshing over to a Garden Gala being held at Jerry Della Femina and Judy Licht’s quaint oceanfront home-so you can raise money for AIDS services while watching Mr. Jennings do some disco steps in his flip-flops …. Out in White Plains (the thinking person’s Hamptons), you can meet naughty book writer Judy Blume …. If you’re here in ole ‘hattan, budding Buddhists bloom at the “Change Your Mind Day” basheroo in Central Park; you can toss a Frisbee as long as you remember it doesn’t exist …. It’s a free afternoon of meditation instruction, yoga poses and Laurie Anderson . Meanwhile: clip-clop, clip-clop-yes, it’s the 136th running of the Belmont Stakes, where we would’ve won a honeypot last year if it weren’t for that nag …. We asked Observer equinophile Jerome Keel about this year’s favorite, Smarty Jones: “The horse is a freak! They brought him to the track one day for training, and when they put him in the gate, he reared up and fractured his skull! He had blood coming out of his ears; he almost lost an eye! They took him to a clinic, nursed him back to health for six months, and it’s a miracle he’s even alive, let alone racing. He’s amazing. The only way he’s going to lose is if he beats himself!”
[Belmont Stakes, Belmont Park, noon,
718-641-4700, www.nyra.com; Garden Gala, the home of Jerry Della Femina and Judy Licht, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., 212-566-7333, www.bodypos.org; Meet Judy Blume, Barnes & Noble, 230 Main Street, White Plains, noon, 914-397-0428; Change Your Mind Day, Central Park, enter at 106th Street and Central Park West, 12:30 to 5:30 p.m., 800-950-7008.]
Is Broadway back? Considering they have to bring a rapper on board (P. Diddy) and poach from the silver screen (Hugh Jackman, Ashley Judd , Richard Dreyfuss) or canceled sitcoms (John Stamos , Elizabeth Berkley) just to put asses in the seats, that would be a ‘No!’ Nonetheless, Aussie jackeroo Hugh Jackman musters all he can to host the beleaguered Tony Awards, where Nicole Kidman , Scarlett Johansson – sooo destined for Broadway when her “It” Girl status burns off- L.L. Cool J and Jimmy Fallon will pop out of the jackeroo’s pouch to act as presenters. Meanwhile, the American Museum of the Moving Image continues its Cary Grant retrospective, as the original George Clooney gets his crops dusted by Hitchcock blonde Eva Marie Saint in North by Northwest . The press release helpfully points out that the film “climaxes on the head of Mount Rushmore.” Hee hee. Speaking of which, last week it was reported that Bill Clinton is looking for a f*ck pad on the Upper West Side . Though even that didn’t beat the new revelation that one night in 1973, Richard Nixon was too loaded to talk to the British prime minister about the Arab-Israeli war ….
[Tony Awards, Radio City Music Hall, 51st Street and Sixth Avenue, 8 to 11 p.m., by invitation or nomination only; North by Northwest , the American Museum of the Moving Image, 35th Avenue at 36th Street, Astoria, Queens, 4 p.m., 718-784-4520.]
Yo MoMA so shabby, she picked up and moved to Queens! But fear not-she’ll be restored and back in Manhattan in November. Tonight, the museum throws its celebrated Party in a Garden -and it’s neither in Queens nor at MoMA nor in a garden. Wacky! This year’s celebrant is actor, author, art collector and silver fox Steve Martin (he decorates his pad with Roy Lichtenstein, Francis Bacon, Pablo Picasso, Edward Hopper and David Hockney ). The twinkly shindig calls for festive dress (shredded, asymmetrical hemline, ruffles) and benefits the restoration of the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden , so it’s more of a party for a garden …. Further downtown, but not far enough to scare anyone, are the CFDA Awards (the Oscars of the fashion world). Threadmasters Narciso Rodriguez (always reliable), Donna Karan (touch-and-go) and Marc Jacobs (been coasting lately) split the hosting duties. Zac Posen , Vogue favorite Derek Lam and someone named Patrick Robinson throw elbows for the honor of “Best Emerging Talent.” They pass a special Fashion Icon Award on to Sarah Jessica Parker , who will hopefully take the hint and go into seclusion the way all good icons do …. Meanwhile, Citigroup holds our friends hostage with BlackBerries and the promise of $20,000 bonuses , but it turns out they also have a swell auditorium! Tonight, testosterone and estrogen collide when the song-and-dance set invades, led by music man Jerry Herman and scrumptious scribbler Liz Smith, as Carol Channing picks up the Oscar Hammerstein Award for Lifetime Achievement in Musical Theater. We were in Virginia Beach consuming bad food, good booze and salty men when Madame Channing called from Modesto, Calif., where she was consumed by marital bliss (she married husband/manager Harry Kullijian a year ago-take that, Nick and Jessica!). “I’ve known Harry since we were 12 or 13-back then, we were going steady,” she said. “Those were the happiest days of my life, and they’re back again and as strong as ever! Oh, we don’t care whether the world passes us by!” She was still giddy from receiving her honorary doctorate from California State University at Stanislaus. “I just finished doing it last night, so I’m still full of it!” she said. “We’re going to have a great United States of America if these students are running it. They shook hands with the president of the university, and then they’d turn and give me a kiss! They gave me a standing ovation-I was the only one they stood up for! Once you’re over 80, you’re in the bracket of dogs and babies: Everyone loves you because you’re not in competition with anyone.” What did she say to the grads? “In 1937, I was one year from graduating high school when my father -he was a newspaper man, you know- gave a keynote address, so I just tried to recount everything he had said. He told the students that the way to succeed is to make whoever is above you in your business look good. If you’re the city editor, put the managing editor before yourself. If you’re the managing editor, put the editor in chief in front of you. If you make them look good, you’ll come out smelling like a rose. They laughed when I said that last part. I don’t know why- I didn’t mean it to be funny.”
[Party in the Garden, Roseland Ballroom, 239 West 52nd Street, 7 p.m., 212-708-9680; CDFA Awards, New York Public Library, Fifth Avenue and 41st Street, 6:30 p.m., by invitation only; Carol Channing receives Oscar Hammerstein Award, Citigroup
Executive Auditorium, 399 Park Avenue,
6 p.m., 212-935-5824, ext. 25.]
Our green, spacey sister, Venus, will pass in front of the sun for the first time in 122 years tonight , so strap on some binoculars or go to this incomprehensible Web site- www.vt-2004.org -to see what the fuss is about. Before you check in with the solar system, journalist Ben Yagoda (writes treatises on The New Yorker ) instructs on developing a distinct personal style. From his offices at the University of Delaware (he’s director of the undergraduate journalism program), he sayeth: “The 20th century-with its mass media and journalism as the model of efficiency-decreed a sort of salesman approach to literature: It has to be transparent and practical, and in no sense betray the author’s identity.” Unless the author happens to be one of the thousands of horrid bloggers who have decided they can inflict their rancid pensées on the rest of us ad nauseam …. Others lumber uptown to catch the 26th Annual Museum Mile Festival -you take your pick of the nine museums nestled between the Met on the southern end and El Museo del Barrio on the northern. Hey -in the mood for another ethnically themed Central Park celebutante benefit? The Volunteers of America’s “Samba et Soleil” has moved to the Boathouse from Andre Balazs’ Sunset Beach, so you don’t even need to leave the city or buy a boat for a chance to show off your latest Herrera . Expect the usual double-barreled suspects en masse, some feather-clad entertainment and a bar than runs out of vodka at 11:10 p.m.
[Sound on the Page, Barnes & Noble, Union Square, 33 East 17th Street, 212-253-0810; 26th Annual Museum Mile Festival, the Jewish Museum, Fifth Avenue at 92nd Street, 5:45 p.m., 212-606-2296; Samba et Soleil, the Boathouse in Central Park, 7 p.m., 212-496-4311.]
Fifi fo fum! The acronymed events just keep on coming (see: SOFA, MoMA, CFDA above) with tonight’s vaporous FiFi Awards (the Oscars of the olfactory industry). The suddenly and suspiciously ubiquitous Sigourney Weaver hosts as “Mr. Anti-Big” Tom Florio , wedding-gown gal Vera Wang and Oscar DE LA Renta waft in …. Yikes, what’s this? Celine Dion is up for the Popular Appeal Award? Next ! The Kitchen hosts conceptual landscape artistes Christo and ladyfriend Jeanne-Claude , who will be setting up 7,500 orange fabric gates in Central Park for 16 days in February. We made the mistake of pronouncing the lady’s name Jean- Claude when on the phone with the publicist, who replied, ” Christo has not been living with a man for ze past fortee-seven years, mon Dieu !” Speaking of Bonnie Fuller , she’s just like the rest of us! Or not. First, she turned Us Weekly into an A.D.D.-inspiring cocktail of photos and charticles , making it a must-read for every 25-year-old with no hobbies and an eating disorder. Then she did the wash, rinse and repeat routine with Star magazine, so that now every supermarket tabloid has gone posh and scrunchie-sporting soccer moms in Cincinnati know who Anna Wintour is and we simply don’t know whom to trust anymore …. Tonight, the Madison Square Boys and Girls Club honors Ms. Fuller . Mon Dieu!
[FiFi Awards, Hammerstein Ballroom, 311 West 34th Street, 5:30 p.m., 212-647-1828; the Kitchen, 512 West 19th Street, 7 p.m., 212-255-5793; Madison Square Boys and Girls Club Benefit, Mandarin Oriental, Time Warner Center, Columbus Circle, 6 p.m., 212-760-0073.]