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In what can only be described as life imitating porn imitating theater, two Equity-waiver world premieres will attempt to capture the underbelly of L.A.’s gay-porn industry by portraying legendary porn director Gino Colbert. Cast as Colbert in Ronnie Larsen’s Shooting Porn is who else but Colbert himself.

"If John Malkovich can play himself," Colbert muses, "then why shouldn’t I?"

In the play, based on a film in which he also played himself, Colbert says he’s "having a ball" (his choice of words) even though it’s "not an acting challenge. The director [playwright Larsen] asks me how I would say stuff instead of telling me how to say it." Porn is currently running at the Zephyr Theater.

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Actor David Ciminelli is one person who’ll be in Colbert’s audience. On December 3, he’s opening in Michael Patrick Spillers’ Divine Thing (subtitled The Joey Stefano Story, sub-subtitled The Rise and Fall of a Gay Porn Legend), portraying — you guessed it — Colbert. "I want to see him up close again," he says. Again? "A couple of years ago, he asked me if I wanted to do porn."

"I hear he’s quite handsome," Colbert says of his impersonator. After studying Colbert’s cinematic turn in Shooting Porn, Ciminelli says, "He’s cocky and arrogant — one of those guys who’s real macho but a teddy bear when you sit down to talk to him."

Although Colbert was interviewed by writer Spillers for Divine Thing, he’ll be unable to catch Ciminelli’s performance at St. Genesius Theater, since he’ll be too busy — well — being himself.

"It’s surreal, to say the least," Colbert acknowledges. "After this, I’m gonna leave town."

—Michael Kearns


OTIS RULES

 

Spotted in an L.A. Times newsroom cubicle: a picture of Otis Chandler, captioned "Otis is back from the beach and he’s pissed." The posting is one of a number of testimonials by staffers pleased with Chandler’s intervention in the Staples Center debacle. The scion of the Times founding family blasted management for sharing revenue from the Staples arena magazine edition with Staples. Chandler had disappointed employees with his hands-off stance during the buyouts and cutbacks that hurt the paper’s reputation in the early ’90s. "Otis is out surfing and he’s not coming back," then-editor Noel Greenwood remarked at the time. (Chandler, who surfs, had moved to Malibu.) Now, staffers are grateful. "Thank you, Otis," newsroom signs read.


PARTY CRASHER

 

You’ve seen the car cruising somewhere on L.A.’s streets, the clunker that that actor has decked out as an advertisement for himself. Or maybe you’ve seen The Donald on Larry King. Even in an egocentric age, the truly oblivious monsters of self-involvement still can induce a certain stunned fascination.

And so it was last Friday night, at the book party that Arianna Huffington hosted at her Brentwood palazzissimo for The Nation’s Washington editor, David Corn. From across the political spectrum, tout literary-political L.A. turned out to celebrate the publication of Corn’s new thriller, Deep Background, a terrific whodunit set in a White House with a suspicious resemblance to Bill Clinton’s. While Corn held his infant daughter in one hand and signed books with the other, Matt Drudge chattered in the kitchen with talk radio’s Michael Jackson, sundry Pacifica partisans gobbled down the canapés, L.A. Times scribes wandered from room to room, betraying all the signs of clinical depression — and, as we walked in the door, right-wing (and former left-wing) polemicist David Horowitz was holding forth . . .

Actually, he was holding more than forth. He was holding five copies of his own new book, Hating Whitey: And Other Progressive Causes, a collection of Horowitz’s latest musings, which he distributed to the somewhat surprised guests. Now, we don’t wish to judge hastily. It is possible that Horowitz misunderstood the term "book party" to mean "bring your own book." It is possible that Horowitz saw the name "David" printed on the author’s line on the invitation and assumed it meant "Horowitz." It is possible that Horowitz has been unable to escape one of the lessons of his Bolshevik upbringing: that all events should be leafleted with the latest diktats of the central committee, even, or especially, if that committee has been winnowed down to Horowitz himself. The Donald — meet The David.

—Harold Meyerson


SCHOOL GARDENER GOES POSTAL

 

Yet another L.A. Unified School District project is sinking in a morass of bureaucratic bungling, critics say. Members of the Pest Management Team — parents, teachers and environmentalists appointed to oversee the program — contend that the district is stonewalling a multimillion dollar plan to limit pesticide use on school campuses.

"It boggles the mind that it is not going more smoothly or fast," said team member Sandra Schubert. "I don’t know why people are committed to go slowly."

One of the toughest pesticide phase-outs in the nation was ordered after parents protested the inadvertent spraying of Sherman Oaks kids by a district gardener one and a half years ago. A subsequent investigation revealed that 60 separate pesticides were used around district children. The plan called for improved sanitation, alternative pest-management training for employees and a three-year pesticide phase-out starting in September.

"The district has historically acted with a chemical fix and now must use the chemicals only as a last resort," said Schubert.

But now it’s November, and hazardous pesticides remain in full force at some schools, while on other campuses maintenance has been abandoned, critics charge. School yards are choked with weeds and classrooms are overrun with fleas and cockroaches, team members say. Scuffles have broken out. Last month, a gardener choked a teacher who had told him to stop using pesticides, said team member Robina Suwol, who heard the story from L.A. Unified deputy branch director Doug Dunivan. Dunivan passed OffBeat’s inquiries on to deputy general manager for facilities Julie Crum, who would only say, "From my understanding, it was an individual mental-health issue and it had nothing to do with the pest policy." Rick Henry, former district coordinator for the Pest Management Team, declined to discuss the altercation, saying it was a confidential personnel matter.

In another incident, a school plant manager told a teacher complaining about conditions at Dorsey High to buy her own pesticides and fix up the yard after school, said Steve Klein, a representative for the teachers union. Klein declined to identify the teacher.

Crum said the district wants to move ahead, but is having difficulty attracting the work force. A high-school-diploma requirement is being waived to speed up recruitment, she added. "In a big district like this, it takes time to put things in place and the [in]ability to hire people has slowed us down," Crum said.

"Our intent is for [the district] to do what they say they are going to do," said Suwol. "It has been a disheartening process."

—Christine Pelisek

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