Harvey Fierstein opened a new show. Harvey Fierstein constantly opens a new show. Perennially, since Shakespeare’s time, Harvey Fierstein opens a new show. “Bella Bella” is his solo, no intermission, 90-minute hamathon on NYC’s late, loud, tough, ultrafeminist congresswoman Bella Abzug. She said things like, “Who the f–k is Jane Fonda?” Labelled someone “an unqualified a–hole.” Talked of “conservative Republican liberal Jews” with, “You can’t make this s–t up.”
Tuesday’s opening brought the Clintons, who arrived via a back door, not through New York City Center’s front entrance. He took the aisle. She, one seat in. The entire audience respectfully rose to applaud them. Viewing the audience with me, Bill Clinton said: “Looks like they were around in Bella’s time.” Then he told others my smartmouth line: “Some look like they’re deceased.” He looks great. How come? His answer: “Eat less; move more.” He also said: “I didn’t know Bella Abzug. She was before my time. But I’d heard lots about her, and I knew who she was, and I really wanted to meet her. I remember running to see and listen to her speak when I was nobody and young and starting out in politics.”
Tony winner Annaleigh Ashford, thinking it’s January, wore a great full-length fur coat. Judy Collins, thinking about hair, featured giant blond curls. Rick Miramontez, thinking of his last City Center gig, recalled falling asleep watching Lynn Redgrave. Unfortunately, sitting nearby — Vanessa Redgrave.
Me, I knew Bella well. Her mouth was wider than Grand Canyon. The show, timely for today, depicts her fight for equality, women’s rights, liberals, Nixon’s impeachment, being the first woman senator, breaking the glass ceiling. Harvey, embodying Bella, relates certain things from our history to President Trump: “Truman demanded loyalty oaths.” And “FDR focused on the economy, not on helping Jews.” Hugging Harvey in the dressing room afterward, Hillary said: “You did politics proud.”
Bella opposed the Vietnam War. Bella was the first female to use the men-only swimming pool. Bella, in the onstage persona of Harvey Fierstein, speaks of supporting gay rights, civil rights, women’s rights.
Although she left us in 1998, Bella Abzug is still talking.
Please try to pay attention
Ther Frick is now showing a collection of three paintings by the father of Impressionism, Paris’ Édouard Manet (1832 to 1883) … Be it known Lincoln Center will hold a gala evening the night of New Year’s Eve … Rupaul’s doing well. Just bought a house in Beverly Hills for a farthing this side of 14 million … Ellen DeGeneres on whom she might vote for: “Probably the gay one.”
Any bodies in the basement?
An oddity about our town. I have longtime friends, good friends, close friends — who come to my home often. We travel together, go out for dinners together, meet downstairs — but not once, never, ever, in all these years, have they opened their homes. I’ve never visited them, never been invited in — and it’s more than one of them — not once in 25 years have these certain longtime New York apartment dwellers ever — at any time ever — opened the places where they live. Why? What is that?
At the Met. Guy says: “I heard Beethoven once asked his friend, ‘Since I’m totally deaf, tell me why’s the orchestra staring at me?’ and his friend said, ‘They want to know do they play in B-flat or F?’ and Beethoven replied, ‘Makes no freakin’ difference to me.’ ”
Only in New York, kids, only in New York.
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