"The only thing I can say is that people who don't like me can just not come and hear me. Because I, when I don't like something, I just don't bother about it."
—Maria Callas tells a reporter what she thinks about people who criticize her voice.
Several years back, I was included in a group of notable gays who are considered "icons" (their term, not mine—I'm far too humble to point out my trailblazing ways). At the time, I only saw the bright side. What gay man doesn't want to be venerated by the masses? As I recall, the evening culminated with several nubile young men genuflecting before me—but perhaps that wasn't part of the official program. However, there is a downside. Being an icon is similar to being given an honorary degree or lifetime achievement award...it means you're on your way out. I recently was musing on this subject when something marvelous happened—I got a hate letter! First let me say how much I enjoy getting your praises and plaudits. It's very gratifying to me. But when someone goes out of their way to start a grassroots boycott of your work, it means you're still relevant. I guess I haven't lost my edge. I am troubled that my lone gunman's manifesto included the topics Merv Griffin, Dick Clark, and Depends in short succession. I fear that even if he gets this boycott off the ground, it'll be short-lived.
I'm known for anticipating celebrity deaths. If Olivia de Havilland so much as coughs, I know about it. But I was taken aback by the untimely death of Donna Summer. The Queen of Disco succumbed to lung cancer at the age of 63. During a phone interview, Piers Morgan mentioned to Aretha Franklin that people didn't know that Summer was sick. Aretha, perhaps prophetically said, "Well, some people are private about these things." The family issued a statement saying that Donna was not a smoker and she believed that her cancer was caused by the close proximity of her NYC home to Ground Zero. Summer also was said to have had a premonition about the 9/11 attack and fled to the Hamptons days earlier. Regardless, she was certainly taken too soon.
Elton John remembered Donna Summer as a great talent, a good friend, and a generous supporter of the Elton John AIDS Foundation. He also expressed some anger: "That she has never been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a total disgrace, especially when I see the second-rate talent that has been inducted." At least this outburst was handled somewhat gracefully. Days earlier, Elton expressed some anger publicly—on stage at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. His Million Dollar Piano show started 20 minutes late (which, to be fair, is not that bad), and things went downhill from there. People report that from the moment he walked on stage, he was in a foul mood. Several times during the show, he drank water from a bottle and then would toss the remains to the floor—causing stagehands to hurriedly appear to mop up the mess (you know if he slipped and fell, the place would soon be called Elton's Palace). When he angrily kicked a stool over, he said "Someone in my production team is f*cking fired!" No explanation was made to the public as he abruptly truncated the show and walked off stage. He did reappear moments later to sing an encore—the suddenly ironic Circle Of Life!
And now, I'd like to share an uplifting story. A story of hope. A story of dreams. A story with a happy ending. No, this isn't an update on the story of John Travolta and the masseurs. I'll give him (and you) a break. Instead, I'm going to get personal. As is well documented, Lindsay Wagner holds a special place in my heart. For the better part of two decades, I have rung in the New Year watching her movies with close friends (she's quite prolific—20 years, two movies a year, and we still haven't run out). And yet, I've never met her. I think maybe I was worried it could be a letdown. I put my fears aside when I was invited to attend her induction to the Palm Springs Walk of Fame. To help celebrate, her friend Lynda Carter flew in from Washington DC —yes, The Bionic Woman and Wonder Woman...together! Despite being pulled in a million directions from rabid fans who flew in from around the world, Lindsay exhibited enormous grace and genuine gratitude. As to our meeting, words cannot express how lovely it was. Amidst the chaos, we spent some time together and I must say that she's one of those people who really looks you in the eye while she listens. Of course, she does have that bionic ear.
More photos are being leaked showing the cast of Magic Mike in various forms of undress. But lest you think this flick is solely being targeted to women and gay men, think again. Channing Tatum anticipates a very different audience: "With Joe Manganiello naked in a movie, I think even straight guys are going to be, 'Sh*t, I need to see that. That man is a specimen.” Really? Will straight men really be saying that? If so, then I expect loads of 'em to check out BillyMasters.com. After all, I already have photos and footage of Manganiello as naked as you're gonna get in the film...and, yeah, he is a specimen.
Believe it or not, this leads in perfectly to our "Ask Billy" question. Joshua in Missouri (yes, the heartland): "I was reading 'Vanity Fair' and Kelly Ripa said that her husband had been a stripper. Do you know anything about this? Please say there are some videos—or at least Polaroids!"
Although I've previously reported about Marc Consuelos' stripping days, I've never had the assistance of Ripa's own words. Here's what she said: "A lot of hot guys in Hollywood have done that...There he was, in South Florida, he's gorgeous, looking to break into show business, so he started off as a roadie to a group of these guys, and then they talked him into stripping." See? Why isn't Joey Lawrence comparing himself to Kelly Ripa's husband instead of Oscar winners? Be that as it may, she's not kidding when she says he was gorgeous. And very...uh..."accommodating" to the fans. And, of course we'll run the photographic proof on our website.
To bring everything full circle, remember when I told you about Elton John singing Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend at Sting'sConcert for the Rainforest Fund last month? And I showed you photos of him bumping and grinding with Channing Tatum? Well, one of my sources has finally come through with a video from the event, complete with Chan's sexy stripper moves. A tantalizing and tasty treat for you to enjoy at BillyMasters.com.
When we're promoting the objectification of men, it's time for me to hit the gym and end yet another column. I do have one teensy exclusive announcement to make. One of our dear friends is teaming up with a bon ami for a special show in Provincetown. An Evening with Whoopi Goldberg & Bruce Vilanch will play Town Hall on August 5th. The bosom buddies are planning this event for the gays and you won't want to miss it. I'm sure more details will be posted on www.BillyMasters.com, the site that's always a little bit ahead of the pack. If you have a question that needs some attention, e-mail me at Billy@BillyMasters.com and I promise to get back to you before I join my own boycott! So, until next time, remember, one man's filth is another man's bible.