Muses, 'Marry Me,' and (Bat)Men. You Know? Things Like That!
Julia Fox & Ye split and will NOT be sad, Wendy Williams takes a bow, the strange charm of 'Marry Me,' Channing Tatum's round breasts, Robert Pattinson's dye job, and more rated Top Shelf to Low Brow!
We’ve made it here again! Sorry for no newsletter last week, we’ve been a bit inconsistent at the TSLB offices lately. At this point, it really should just be called “The Weekly Edition” instead of “The Tuesday Letter,” but now that we’re somehow nearing the end of February(!), I think I’m finally starting to get things together post-holiday-and-life-wise. Anyway, I’m really just typing thoughts to the page at this point. Isn’t it fascinating to be inside the mind of the artist? Assuming this is what it was like to see Van Gogh cut his ear off or Glenn Close pretend that her performance in The Wife was Oscar-worthy. Let’s get into it!
Top Shelf, Low Brow: February 9th-February 22nd
What is a muse, anyway?
Well, Julia Fox and Ye have officially called it quits after just squeaking past the one-month mark. And the announcement came on Valentine’s Day, the day for lovers, no less! What a Romeo & Juliet-esque tragedy. Who could’ve seen their PR stunt—sorry, loving relationship full of mutual trust and adoration that was solely for genuine affection for one another and had nothing to do with bolstering their careers or rebounding in the public eye—ending like this? If only we had someone to give us the signs…(five weeks and two weeks ago, respectively)
The couple has been broken up for just over a week, and it already feels like so much has happened. Probably because it has! As a proper sendoff to their time together, which I’m sure will be remembered with the same fondness as pairings like Jennifer Aniston and Brat Pitt or Gena Rowlands and John Cassavetes, let’s take a brief look at all that has transpired since The Day Yulia Died:
Julia Fox is profiled in New York Magazine:
The very day of their breakup announcement, Julia Fox’s profile in New York mag dropped; both the Juergen Teller-helmed photoshoot and the accompanying interview prove that, despite often seeming like she was a little too giddy to suddenly find herself on Ye’s arm, she understood how to play it perfectly:
“When our paparazzi photos were leaked, there was just such an interest,” she says. “I was kind of like, ‘Okay, I’ll tell you.’ I wasn’t being, like, hush-hush, celebrity,” she says. “Celebrities are not that fucking important. You can tell us about your stupid fucking date. We’re in a pandemic. Give people something to talk about. Do your fucking service, do your job.”
Also, sorry, but her Juergen Teller shoot ate. I don’t care, argue with the wall. If you don’t understand what it’s like to walk along the Williamsburg-Greenpoint border in Brooklyn with the nagging urge to lay down in a dirty New York snow pile just for one brief moment of respite, that’s entirely on you for not being able to relate to that level of soul-crushing despair.
If you get it you get it, if you don’t…you don’t!
Gawker called the entire profile and shoot “embarrassing for everyone involved,” which is extremely embarrassing for Gawker.
Hours into February 14, 2022, The Day The Earth Stood Still, Julia posted this quickly-deleted Instagram story.
She also shared this prose to her story that day as well:
Hmm…curious for someone who insisted this was not a PR stunt. But never mind that, let’s rush release this book that will almost certainly never see the light of day. If you’re Julia Fox jumping into the whirlwind that is the tumultuous life of Ye in 2022, one month is more than enough time to get enough stories and content to make this thing the size of Anna Karenina. A tome. And I look forward to reading it if ever she can clear the miles of red tape.
Ye pleads to get back with Kim Kardashian amidst a flurry of embarrassing social media activity.
…absolutely no comment.
Kim Kardashian covers Vogue:
Kind of a scream. “I’ve chosen myself.” Who would’ve thought that the person Blackfishing on the cover of Vogue, of all publications, would’ve been the one to come out on top here? See what can happen when you’re quiet and just enjoying spending time with a hot Long Island boy with no social media and 10 unforgettable inches?
Julia Fox says “Uncut Gems” exactly as she should say “Uncut Gems”:
Before the video, I have to make one call: absolutely kibosh on anyone on the internet doing a front-facing video impression of how Julia says “Uncut Gems.” There was not one single funny iteration other than Julia herself saying Uncuh Ghaaams. Explain to me how a gay man turning his camera around and doing an impression of someone else saying two words is going to be a laugh riot, so fucking hilarious that other people must simply be forced to see it? Quickly.
A lot of focus here on the Uncut Gems pronunciation and not enough on “youknowwhatimeanlikethingslikethat.” I, for one, love Julia’s loose definition of a “muse” as essentially someone who is being styled by someone else in any given moment. I was my mom’s muse at Old Navy from the ages of 10-13.
And so ends the saga of Yulia. Ultimately, I thank Julia Fox for giving us something to bring us through the darkness of January as we all try to move forward and manifest good things for ourselves. Let her courage be a lesson to all of us! I watched her Instagram following tick up from 200,000-some to well past one million in the span of one month. This girlboss lives to slay another day! And I look forward to the day we meet again to discuss her on this platform without having to dance around the sticky situation of a very grown-up man childishly begging for his wife to return to him. RIP Yulia.
(Rating: Ultimately, at the end of the day? I think this whole thing shook out to be Top Shelf. It did what it had to do, gave me content! And for that, I’ll always be thankful.)
Channing Tatum is on a foot tour and the next stop is my house
When composing this newsletter every week, I first defer to the list in my Notes app where I write down topics to cover as they happen during the week. There are either so many topics that some end up being meaningless buzzwords that never make it into an edition or there’s is just simply one lone bullet point because I forgot to write things down in advance. This last week, it was the latter. The only thing written in my note was “Channing Tatum is on a foot tour and the next stop is my house.” I have no memory of writing this, but I imagine it must’ve occurred in some fit of fatigue or horny haze—or, more likely, a mixture of both.
After gracing the cover of Variety toes-out, Channing Tatum has finally given us what we’ve been asking for all along: the rest of him. In the new issue of VMan, Channing is generous enough to give us two sets of plump lumps, both up top and down below. As a tiddy connoisseur, I can certainly appreciate how his gorgeous bald head is beautifully symmetrical with his protruding pectacles. How nice to fold your arms and look like you were sculpted by the hand of a gay(er) Michaelangelo.
Channing is promoting his latest film and directorial debut, Dog—which, you guessed it, is about a dog. My peripheral knowledge of the film based on finally hitting a thirst follow of his Instagram is that it’s also partially war propaganda, but I can’t say entirely for sure. All that I and general audiences know is this: there is a dog. In America, that’s enough to get people to the cineplex! Throw a dash of “based on a true story about an Army vet” in there? Forget it. Number one movie in the country for four weeks running.
And do I love that? No, of course not. But Channing Tatum walked onto this set sans underwear, bulge-first to try to get people to watch his little movie. He said, “I will have two delicious bald heads in these photos, and one we’re gonna throw some boxers over.” That I can certainly respect.
(Rating: Top Shelf)
Marry Me singlehandedly revives the film, music, and advertising industries, one fisheye lens at a time
If you have not yet indulged in the cinematic event of 2022, I simply just don’t know what you’re waiting for. Marry Me is a triumph. We should all fall on our knees and thank some sort of god that this film was largely done before the pandemic. You can’t make movies like this anymore!!!!! There were no restrictions here, no idea turned away. Marry Me is delicious gluttony, more is more is more and it’s still never enough. This is a film that gives until the closing credits finally fade to black, leaving you staring at your mangled reflection in your television, laptop, or iPad, tears staining your face, wondering how you were so lucky as to get to experience a film like this when you thought you never would again.
To be perfectly clear: Marry Me is terrible. There’s very little to buoy its plot into something on par with your all-time great romcoms, and I personally wasn’t entirely convinced of the chemistry between Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson. But that certainly doesn’t mean that this film is in any way bad. Oh, quite the opposite. This is what all the greatest directors wished they could’ve made. Orson Welles is doing triple axels in his grave, furious that Citizen Kane could not even begin to touch Jennifer Lopez as Kat Valdez, the beleaguered, hustling singer who has turned her impending marriage into a promotional stunt, in-line with the same kind of cross-platform promo strategy she’s being forced to do with Vitamix throughout the film.
I could talk about this film for days, so I have to try to condense this section somehow. Here are some of the most important highlights (no spoilers, as you know there are just so many unseen twists and turns).
A good 4/5 of Marry Me is inexplicably filmed with a fisheye lens, a baffling technical decision that actually lends to its completely surreal nature. It feels as though none of this is reality, and we’re all trapped inside the life of a vivid nightmare Owen Wilson’s character is having.
The “Church” number performed by one Miz Kat Valdez is certainly quite something. And I don’t mean that in a good way…at all. If anything, it’s a testament to J.Lo’s ability, both as an actress and a performer, because she is selling the absolute shit out of this scene. Hitting her beats, lip-syncing like the old pro she is, buried deep in three layers of irony. But the song itself is beyond abysmal, and yet we’re supposed to believe the whole crowd is going wild for this gospel-tinged drum thumper, which sounds like something that the 2010s doo-wop band Karmin would’ve put out on a bad day.
The costuming also makes zero sense with the narrative of this “song,” if one could call it that. J.Lo is clad in an embellished cross with the Father and Son across her tits while the Holy Spirit cascades down and around her genitals. The dancers are wearing latex nun habits. Even Gaga didn’t go for that when she was performing “Bloody Mary” or “Judas”—two songs that would actually call for this kind of breezy religious sacrilege—at the Born This Way Ball.
The entire film is one big #Ad. And though the script tries to play us like it’s in on the joke some of the time, the amount of product placement is truly music video-level. It’s almost shocking. S’well bottles, multiple scenes with Vitamixes, and so many more. Not to mention that the entire film is essentially in partnership with NBC (hence why it was released in tandem on Peacock and in theaters). The film literally opens with a cameo from Hoda Kotb, the motherfucking international sensation, and NBC subsidiary networks like E! are prominently featured as well.
Watching Marry Me proved what I speculated from the very beginning, which is that “Marry Me” and “On My Way” are certified hits. I appreciate that Jennifer Lopez never felt the need to evolve beyond the 2011-era radio sound on “Marry Me,” and I swear to god that the opening piano chords in “On My Way,” which play throughout the film in several welcome reprises, were making me tear up by the second or third time I heard them. If the world were still a place where any good things happened and not a hub for endless human suffering and despair, Jennifer Lopez would have a #1 and #2 single right this second. She can get us back on track.
Speaking of tearing up, my boyfriend can attest that I simply went from giggling and enjoying myself to quite literally bursting into tears at this 3-second shot of two boys at a fall formal dance taking a photo together. How easily I’m pandered to by blink-and-you’ll-miss-it glimpses of happy queer kids, even if they’re fictional!
At one point, Kat removes one single strand of hair extensions from her bob, as if taking her shoes off at the end of a long day. Her hair looks completely unchanged.
A couple of extra things to note:
Sarah Silverman, retire.
Kat Valdez is apparently the most famous woman in the world and at one point near the end of the film, in sheer desperation, does not think to get a private plane to go somewhere. Doesn’t even cross her mind.
I teared up three to five times, to varying degrees
(Rating: Top fucking Shelf)
Bring me your best grass.
(Rating: I look like this too)
The (Final?) Wendy Beat
It has been a long time since the newsletter last covered The Wendy Beat. The last time our intrepid reporting dispatched on this matter was October 19th, 2021, just after it was announced that after multiple delays, Wendy Williams would be taking a leave of absence from the show that bears her name in order to focus on her health. Several guest hosts were slotted into place in the following months, with Wendy herself retreating to Florida to be with her family. As time passed, rumors swirled of Wendy’s health remaining too inconsistent for her return to be confirmed, and that her show’s production company, Debmar-Mercury, was looking to fill her purple chair permanently.
I wouldn’t believe it until it was confirmed, as one hopes that an earth-shattering scenario like that could never come to fruition. But yesterday, frequent Wendy guest host Sherri Shepherd announced—on Wendy’s show—that she was receiving her own talk show from the team at Debmar-Mercury.
Of course, this is a business decision first. Wendy has been a marketable money-maker for a long time, and if she was in a position where she could successfully return, it’s doubtful that Debmar-Mercury would spend the amount of money and time they’re investing into making the transition over to Sherri Shepherd. In a statement to People yesterday, a rep for Wendy said as much…before Wendy posted a story on her new, verified personal Instagram that she had not authorized her rep to make such a statement.
Who knows what’s true and what’s going on behind the big, W-emblazoned hydraulic doors in that Chelsea studio, but one thing is for sure: the idea of never being able to see Wendy breast boobily over to her purple chair wearing a pair of sneakers and a maxi dress ever again feels…deeply wrong. On every possible front. Thank god for the internet archivists who have put up literal days of the best Wendy material online to live forever.
(Rating: Low Brow, but congrats to Sherri “is the earth flat?” Shepherd)
Maude Apatow, you will always be famous
Sunday’s penultimate episode of Euphoria’s second season was a wild and glorious thrill ride; an exercise in style and storytelling so deeply up its own ass, but that didn’t even matter when so much of it was focused on fan service and punchlines. This show is at its very best when it remembers that it can be as much about bitchy high school teenagers doing bitchy high school things as it can be about those people railing drugs and traumatizing each other irreparably.
Any episode of television that can skillfully play with nonlinear storytelling while also getting all of its main characters in one room—always a thrilling concept in dramatic television, yet done way too sparingly—is worth some high praise from me. Making Lexi’s high school play that loves and lampoons all of her friends and their life experiences the central conceit of a critical episode doesn’t feel at all risky, but certainly was executed perfectly, right down to the highly homoerotic “Holding Out for a Hero” dance number to send up the repressed, evil football star and his gay ass gym buddies.
The entire sequence (and Lexi’s whole play) were technical marvels, welcome reminders that dramas can actually be a lot of fun and don’t have to be all doom and damnation and guns to heads and coke to the dome all the fucking time.
But the night’s MVP title belongs to Alanna Ubach’s Suze, cheering on from the audience in multiple scene-stealing cutaways throughout the hour. Ubach finally getting a chance to showcase her well-known comedic chops this season by screaming in delight, watching her daughter’s stage portrayal of her wino mother? Sam Levinson, maybe I underestimated how much I appreciate you!
(Rating: Top Shelf)
The Music Section
Florence Welch has returned to us from the shadows of a vast hilltop somewhere in a distant land with a new Florence + The Machine single, “King.” She’s being weird and witchy again…things might finally be looking up!
Elsewhere, Regina Spektor announced a new album coming in June titled Home, before and after. Florence and Regina releasing in tandem is reason enough to give those of us who were hard-wired into Tumblr in 2011 the belief that our faith is not yet so damaged as to give it up forever!
Tinashe is back with the first single from her upcoming deluxe version of last September’s fantastic 333. “Naturally,” a vibey, R&B-infused thumper, continues a long string of excellent singles and is accompanied by a bloody, Texas Chainsaw Massacre-referencing, yeehaw-tinged video complete with blood-stained couture and choreography. What else would you expect from Tinashe? It really does come naturally.
Caroline Polachek has finally released her latest single, “Billions,” her first since last July’s “Bunny is a Rider.” While “Billions” is somewhat less accessible sonically, it’s signature Polachek, her voice dripping like honey over every pitch-perfect syllable. Its visual is, typically, highly conceptual and executed with astonishing precision.
I very much enjoyed this piece from Dazed, detailing its conception with all of Polachek’s collaborators. It’s inspiring and fascinating, a great reminder that there are so many ways to make affecting art that draws from clear vision.
And finally, three more things I’ve been enjoying lately:
Doss’ latest track, “Jumpin’” is a propulsive, heavy electrohouse turn from one of my very favorite DJs.
I’ve been loving Los Bitchos’ debut album, Let The Festivities Begin. Their instrumental cumbia music is vivacious and adventurous, at once feeling like the perfect California road trip soundtrack and the score to a night out that ends in both debauchery and mystery. Check out “The Link is About To Die” and “Change of Heart” for some sonic primers.
I finally got around to listening to J-Pop legend Hikaru Utada’s 12-minute electropop opus “Somewhere Near Marseilles” off their most recent album, BAD MODE, and oh my god. It checks every box. Warbling 90s electronic synths that fold onto themselves and make the whole song’s landscape feel distinctly dreamlike and heavenly. Feels like watching the sky cloud over on a springtime Friday afternoon.
The Horny Section
Robert Pattinson on the cover of GQ…truly no man has ever looked hotter. I would suck the life out of both of these iterations of him, but I’m gonna really go full Dyson on blondie here.
Something about a pretty boy fake-bleaching his hair for a high concept magazine shoot to transform into a tatted up, slightly vampiric London bad boy can be so personal.
Charlie Puth, a sick and twisted individual, posted and quickly deleted these photos on Instagram. And I took the gay bait hook, line, and sinker babaaaay!
Elsewhere, an actual gay person that I haven’t thought about since 2012 has suddenly and unexpectedly come back into my life…I am unfortunately talking about Tom Daley, Olympic medalist (maybe? couldn’t tell you for sure and don’t really care!) and conventionally hot British person.
Thank you. I’m going to go genuflect now.
My absolute new favorite Twitter account is @onthenextoprah, which shockingly still only has 41 followers at the time of publication. Each day, the legend behind this account tweets multiple videos of what was airing on The Oprah Winfrey Show on this day in history, as told through the episode’s promo reel that would run the day before. It’s completely genius, and it’s truly reminding me how absolutely fucking psychotic this show was.
I feel like, at least for a lot of my generation, there’s some idea that The Oprah Winfrey Show was in a higher echelon of daytime programming, not stooping to the lows of Maury or Jerry Springer. There was an element of class here. Not so! Check out this promo for an episode aired on February 22nd, 2011, where Oprah forces a girl whose mother used to lock her in a dog cage to go back into the home where she was traumatized. Shameless insanity!
I could spend hours scrolling this feed, laughing and gasping in equal measure at the amount of schlock Oprah put us through. The sheer amount of pro-diet and weight loss content there is would be astonishing if I didn’t vividly remember what that culture was like in the late 2000s and still suffer from its last remaining grips! It’s amazing what would air from one day to the next. On a Tuesday, Oprah’s sitting down to grill a panel of confessed abusers and on Wednesday she’s popping champagne with Hugh Jackman as she asks him if he’s nervous to host the 2009 Oscars. Nate Berkus is furnishing a small space one day and the next, Oprah wants to know: when you were kidnapped as a child, why didn’t you try to run?
Blisteringly crazy shit. There really are no morals in daytime. But I suppose that’s just the name of the game.
(Rating: Low Brow for Oprah, Top Shelf for @onthenextoprah)
That’s it for this week! No more two weeks breaks for a while, I promise. One last thing I’d like to ask of you this week is to check out this incredible, emotional, funny, and endlessly fascinating piece on Tony Bennett’s later-career MTV revival, written by my friend and fellow enormous talent Sydney Urbanek. I was incredibly honored to be interviewed for the parts of the essay that regard Tony’s work with Lady Gaga.
Sydney has crafted a truly astounding, loving look at the underseen stages of a legend’s career. This is such a fabulous tribute, you simply must read it. I was so awestruck by the amount of true affection that Sydney put into this piece. When we first spoke about it back in August, I could tell how important it was to her. As someone who also really loves and reveres Tony, she could not have done this aspect of his career better justice. Make some tea, grab a scone, and sink into this lovely history.
I’ll see you again soon! 💖