Kathy Griffin — the diva of the D-list, a stand-up comedian- turned-Celebrity Mole, whose live act revolves around dishing out her spin on Hollywood’s darlings; yes, that Kathy Griffin — is on the phone.
And she wants to know one thing right off the bat about her show at Scottsdale Center for the Arts this Saturday evening, a benefit for the Body Positive HIV and AIDS research and resource center:
“Will there be gays?”
Ahem. We squirm. Mumble a probably so.
“Will they be sitting in seats or at tables?”
Seats, we tell her.
“Oh, good,” she replies. “It’s my dream come true: Gay people in seats. Sometimes you do these things, and they’re banquets, and you’re talking over people eating food, clinking glasses ...”
Like dinner theater?
“Which I’m one more bad TV pilot season from doing,” she laughs.
And then the word “dinner” reminds her of an experience she had at some restaurant here after performing a while back at the Tempe Improv. What was the name of that place? She turns to her house’s intercom and asks hubby Matt Moline with the same voice she’s been using on us — raspy, husky, flibbertigibbety, as much a trademark as her red hair. “Los Dos!”
Los Dos Molinos.
“I like good Mexican,” she says, turning back to the telephone. For the full effect, read quickly: “Everyone said you have to go to Los Dos Molinos, so I had them take me. We went at 4 o’clock on a Saturday and had to wait an hour. What’s that about? Anyway, one of my favorite things to do is overhear people’s conversations in public. And there was this middle-age couple behind me, and the guy said, ‘I want the spiciest thing you have. Let’s see what all the fuss is about.’ What I ordered was pretty mild, but I look over and I thought this guy was going to have a cardiac event at the restaurant.”
“Are the gays into the Mexican, or is it too many carbs? I remember the ’80s, when you could lose weight by eating angel hair pasta. That was the diet for me. Angel hair pasta.”
Back then — we offer — they also had higher-waisted jeans.
“I cannot wait until they come back,” she says. “If I see Beyonce’s (expletive) crack one more time, I’m going to tip her like a cow.”
Which brings us to the good stuff. What we really want to talk about. The celebrity gossip.
Griffin’s stand-up act used to be the typical stuff: Dysfunctional life, dysfunctional relationships, that kind of thing. And then she started getting TV gigs: Small parts on “Seinfeld” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” in 1990, a few appearances on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” then “The X-Files.”
Suddenly, she’s the wacky extra in a few Quentin Tarantino flicks, then the wacky sidekick to Brooke Shields on the TV show “Suddenly Susan.”
Meanwhile, her act — which was always more off-the-cuff than a series of planned bits — morphed into juicy riffs about celebrities she’s met at one time or another up and down the ladder of fame. How snobby Christina Aguilera acted, forced to ride a shuttle bus with Griffin instead of in her own limo. That time Whitney Houston looked strung out. Why Clay Aiken is so in the closet.
“I love Clay Aiken, he’s a really sweet guy, but it makes me laugh every time he says he hasn’t found the right girl yet.”
We suggest playing a game. We’ll give the name of a celebrity to Griffin, 42, and she’ll give us a two-word appraisal of said celeb. She agrees:
Carson Daly: “Nice. Player.”
Christina Aguilera: “Cranky. Why?”
Animal from “The Muppets” (She had a scene with him in 1999’s “Muppets from Space”): “Good kisser.”
Clint Howard, brother of Ron: “Fragile. Freaky.”
Alyssa Milano: “Justin. Sex.”
Jerry Seinfeld: “Supportive icon.”
Jim Carrey: “Too serious.”
That's the end of our list, but Griffin follows it up with a line on Madonna: “Here’s what I don’t understand. How can you be Madonna’s friend and not say, at lunch, ‘C’mon, what’s with the English accent?’ ”
And, for obscurity’s sake, Kathie Lee Gifford’s son, Cody: “Cody’s going to be on the Pride float so fast. How can he not be gay?”
And his mother: “She can’t stop being crazy for one minute.”
Griffin says the celebrity stuff plays even better outside of Hollywood, deep in the red states, because we live in such a culture of celebrity fascination.
And, she adds, everything she says on stage is true. Who better to be Hollywood’s snarky Matt Drudge than a not-quite-household-name actress with little more to lose from a few burned bridges than maybe a voice-over gig on a sequel to “Dinotopia?”
“I feel like the whole D-list thing is a unique and great position,” says Griffin, 42. “I’m invited to all the parties, but I’m not in the VIP room, but I’m knocking on the glass. I’m a fan. I really do love Celine Dion. I’ve really seen her live three times, and yet I can’t stop making fun of her.”
We ask about Griffin’s husband, who works in computers, not Hollywood. She says she’s got him hooked on reality TV. She talks about how they frequent Las Vegas, and while there, he’d like to spend time gambling at the sports book, but she ends up dragging him to Cher and Bette Midler concerts, or drag queen shows.
“He should walk around,” she says, “with a thought bubble all the time that says, ‘I didn’t sign up for this.’ I’m not stopping until he’s gay.”
Because it all comes back to the gays.
The plug box
Don’t have the charitable cash to see Kathy Griffin live in Scottsdale this weekend? Don’t worry. The D-list diva is everywhere of late. Here are some of the projects she’s plugging:
A live stand-up DVD, “Allegedly,” which will come out Nov. 30
“The D-List,” a stand-up TV special on cable channel Bravo, which gets repeated often
Also on Bravo, an Oct. 30 appearance on “Celebrity Poker Showdown” (above)
Three movies due out in 2005: “Lovewrecked,” produced by Lance Bass of ’N Sync fame and starring Amanda Bynes; “Her Minor Thing,” starring Estella Warren; and an untitled Jenny McCarthy movie