I Almost Duetted With Patti Labelle

In this week's column, I dish on my various recent casino escapades, clamoring through the new MGM Grand in Connecticut and the jazzy Showboat in Atlantic City like a eunuch at an orgy. (I don't gamble. Then again, I go to bars every night and I don't drink. Hey, all my fun seems to be in watching other people destroy themselves!) But I do get off on the joints' cultural happenings, like the surprise Patti Labelle birthday party at Atlantic City's House of Blues, which turned out to be an enchanted night of diva-dom as good as anything on BET. At first, the other press people and I were told we could only be escorted through the party and out to some back bar, where we'd have to stay put--but honey, no one puts baby in a corner! Besides, Patti and I are old BFFs and she shrieked so loudly on seeing me, the escort quickly dropped his idea of dragging us out as Patti and I giddily danced and posed for cameras. (Yes, the point of this whole story is how I'm ultra fabulash and regularly hang with da legends. Duh.)

She happens to be one of the most volcanically talented—and loved—people in the biz, so naturally other stars had put on their bugle beads and come out to pay due tribute, like Natalie Cole and Stephanie Mills who sang adoring birthday numbers as the crowd cheered. After those two—and original Labelle member Sarah Dash—wailed away, I felt like I'd entered a very special episode of Showtime at the Apollo and I stood there, beaming like a lunatic, never wanting to move my happy face. Just then, my friend Mickey Boardman from Paper magazine vigorously pointed to me and started gesticulating to Patti that I can sing too! OMG! It was a lovely gesture, but I prayed Ms. Labelle wouldn't take him up on it—I mean, I sound OK in the shower on the occasions that I take one, but my voice is best suited to private karaoke sessions (or Motown cover bands playing dark alleys), not all-star impromptu concerts like this. I don't think Natalie Cole was exactly put on this earth to be an opening act for little old Diana-wannabe me! Thank God Patti didn't bite the bait; she simply announced me to the crowd as someone who's all over TV and who "If you look at him a little funny, he'll trash you, so I make sure that never happens!" By doing so, the diva made extra sure once again.

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