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27th May 2001
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The Goss

  • Cinema against AIDS 
  • X-Files returns, Duchovny doesn't
  • Brooke Shield ties knot again
  • Evil Ricky Martin look-alike charged with attacking blonde teenagers  
  • Cinema against AIDS 

    Jerry Hall, draped in a Vivienne Westwood gown and Chopard diamonds, held up Mick Jagger's fire-engine-red Fender guitar. The opening bid at the 10th annual Cinema Against AIDS benefit black-tie dinner and auction for the American Foundation for AIDS Research recently was $35,000. "It could be more," Hall said of the bid for the guitar that had sat in her living room and had also been played by Pete Townshend, among others. By the close of bidding, it was: The piece of rock and roll memorabilia went for $52,000. 

    Obviously, those present took Elizabeth Taylor's exhortation to heart when she said, "We need you. And your cash. It's just money and if not to make the world a little better, then what is it for?" 

    Miramax chief Harvey Weinstein, the driving force behind the benefit, raised $2 million for the night, a sum that included his own $100,000 donation and another $162,000 garnered from the 500 tickets he made available to Mel Brooks' Broadway hit The Producers. Taylor herself donated a ball gown that sold for $10,000 and offered $100,000 for Shirley Bassey to belt out "Goldfinger." 

    The event, always held during the Cannes Film Festival, returned to the famous Moulin des Mougins restaurant after coupling last year with the Victoria's Secret fashion show. Celebrity auctioneers included Tim Robbins, Rosanna Arquette, Linda Evans, and Sela Ward, while Naomi Campbell, Patricia Arquette, ER's Goran Visnjic, Stephen Baldwin, and David Lynch were among the moneyed crowd. 

    The night's most notable transactions were the $40,000 paid for a three-karat yellow diamond; lunch with Mikhail Gorbachev, which took a capitalistic $28,000; and a $12,000 breakfast with Elizabeth Hurley. "She's very single and very lonely and she insisted I be her chaperone," said high bidder Weinstein. The $10,000 paid out for one of Julia Roberts' Erin Brockovich outfits seemed like a steal, considering it came with a date to accompany Roberts to the premiere of America's Sweethearts. 

    Still, not every offer got a winning bid. Naomi Campbell's willingness to do the Brazilian samba for $1 million found no takers. Nor did the chance to see the rotund Weinstein dance in nothing but a thong for $2 million. 

    Taylor, who brought hairdresser Jose Eber to France with her, looked like a queen and was much more focused than she was at the Golden Globes. "It is sad and sobering," she said, "for this year marks the anniversary of the discovery of the AIDS virus, 20 years ago. I worry for the children." 

    X-Files returns, Duchovny doesn't

    Fox has some good news and some bad news for fans of its long-running sci-fi drama The X-Files. The show, now wrapping its eighth season, will be back for one more year just don't expect Agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) to be tracking down season nine's aliens, freaks, and Area 51 refugees. 

    Heated negotiations with X-Files mastermind Chris Carter resulted in a sealed deal, a spokesman confirmed. "The X-Files will be on the schedule that we're announcing at the network's presentation to advertisers in New York, the spokesman told Reuters. 

    But Duchovny, whose Mulder character barely made an appearance this season, won't be back except for the possibility of a cameo appearance here and there. Another exit: the spinoff show about three of the X-Files' technically proficient dudes, The Lone Gunmen will not be renewed, according to the Fox rep. 

    In other fall TV news, UPN has given the WB's abandoned Roswell series a new home, according to The Hollywood Reporter. UPN, which earlier picked up Buffy the Vampire Slayer from the teen-centric WB, will add the sci-fi soaper to its lineup. 

    Roswell was dropped by the WB earlier this week after two seasons. 

    Brooke Shield ties knot again

    Brooke Shields has put the heartache of her failed first marriage behind her and walked down the aisle with hubby No. 2. 

    The 35-year-old Suddenly Susan star had been anxious to wed longtime love, comedy writer Chris Henchy 37, ever since their engagement last July. She and Henchy kept their early-April wedding at a beautiful California setting a top secret until they returned from a brief honeymoon. 

    Brooke was married to tennis star Andre Agassi for two years but she had that marriage annulled so she would be able to wed Henchy. After retuning to her Los Angeles home as the new Mrs. Henchy, Brooke told pals: "I'm walking on air. I am just so happy. Everything went perfectly." 

    Evil Ricky Martin look-alike charged with attacking blonde teenagers 

    A lawyer, who looked the spitting image of Latin heart-throb singer Ricky Martin, fooled teenaged girls into thinking he was the real thing. Then he drugged, brutally beat and raped them, say police. 

    Mexican Juan Gamero, who won a Ricky Martin look -alike contest in Las Vegas, always picked on thin, blonde young girls as his prey, says Detective Alejandro Lopez, who shadowed 28-year-old Gamero until a warrant was issued for his arrest. Yet Gamero denies the charges a gainst him. 

    Gamero, who even had car vanity plates with the name "Ricky Martin" on them, is believed to have attacked many other starstruck girls. He is even suspected of molesting two 12-year-olds. 

    A friend of Ricky Martin says the real Puerto Rican singing sensation is disgusted with the alleged crimes of his imposter. The pal added: "His heart goes out to these poor women." 

    Det. Lopez said: "If you put pictures of the two men together, it would be hard to say who was the real Ricky Martin. His similarity to the singer was his way of getting women. Gamero did everything he could to look like Ricky. 

    "He did his hair like Ricky's. If there was a sweater that Ricky was wearing, Gamero would go and buy it. He would let girls know he was Ricky Martin. They were impressed, but only discovered his identity when it was too late." 

    Police say the sinister impostor began his reign of terror two years ago, after he had won the Las Vegas look-alike contest. He charmed the girls into his squalid home, and then struck. 

    Police were tipped off to the "Ricky Martin rapist" when a tearful San Diego girl walked into the detective's office claiming she had been attacked by a man who "looked exactly" like the Puerto Rican superstar. 

    Rock revolution

    "We relate best to rock. Why? Because it's powerful, because it's emphatic"
    By Delon Weerasinghe
    Rock music has always been the sound of rebellion. Its potent mix of adrenaline and politics has often dragged it into the turf of controversy. And it's loud - that always makes a few more enemies. But recently rock has been making waves in Colombo. And I'm not talking about badly recycled pop-rock but honest to goodness electricity and noise hard rock. Young local bands playing original rock music are even making it to the request charts on local radio stations. So what is fuelling this rock revolution? And is everybody happy about it? 

    Stigmata are one of the young bands that have broken to the surface of the local music scene recently. The band's lead singer Suresh de Silva explains why he thinks rock has become so popular, "If you compare today with even a few years ago, rock circles in Sri Lanka have grown. I think it reflects the disillusion in our society. The lack of hope that young people feel. I think that's why rock music is speaking so clearly to them. It's telling them that things aren't fine and dandy. And right now it's the only music that's doing that." 

    Strong words from a band of school boys. Some would say that you give school boys three electric guitars and a drum and there you have a recipe for a lot of noise. The band's bassist Shehan Grey agrees to an extent, "Yes, I mean we do make noise - that's the way the music is. But our songs also say something - it has a meaning." 

    And they're not kidding. Their new single "Voices" released last week and already getting a lot of airplay is about child abuse. "It's something that happens a lot in our country but we rarely hear it talked about. And it's not a problem only in the villages, with uneducated people. It happens in Colombo. And it happens to kids who go to the best schools." But why do they want to talk about these controversial issues? Surely, there must be happier subjects to talk about - love for instance. "There are plenty of other bands doing love songs. It's something that we're not interested in making music about. There are other important issues in life - war, child abuse, apathy. These are all things that need to be talked about. Everything in life isn't all sweet and lovey-dovey." 

    But it can't be easy getting what they want to say across through hard rock, a genre of music that has generated some controversy of its own. Was this a wise choice? "The fact is that we live this music. This music is a part of our lives. We have listened to other types of music. From rap to jazz to blues but the simple fact is that we relate best to rock. Why? Because it's powerful, because it's emphatic and that's something we find lacking in other types of music." 

    The band's lead guitarist Andrew Obeyesekara is philosophical about the critics, "Well, if people don't like our music then there is very little we can do about it." But although they say that, they know that social attitudes towards hard rock make it difficult for them to get gigs and even wider radio airplay. "I guess it's human nature. We fear what we don't understand. And what we fear we see as bad. What I'm saying is this might be a type of music that you may not understand and possibly not even like - but that doesn't mean that it's bad or that it's wrong. Who knows, give it a chance and you might even like it." 

    Stigmata have had to deal with more than their fair share of detractors because of misconceptions about the kind of music that they play. And not only from strangers. Some band members have found it difficult even to convince their parents about the legitimacy of their music. These social attitudes are what make it very difficult for them to do what they do. What bothers them most is that some of their most outspoken critics have never even heard their music. 

    "To those people I would say that you haven't been able to listen and decide for yourself. You believe because you've been tricked and because you've been told to believe so. But if you actually listen to the music, if you read the lyrics I think you might be surprised," says Suresh. 

    Tennyson Napoleon, Stigmata's rhythm guitarist credits Metallica, Iron Maiden, Creed, Godsmack, Korn and Led Zeppellin as some of their influences. But these are not their only influences. They are also trying to use unique Sri Lankan rhythms in their music. Their fusion of rock and baila dubbed "Metal baila" received an enthusiastic response when they performed it recently at the Rock café. They were rather surprised by the response as it wasn't something they had done very seriously. "Well, we were jamming and it just came out. We like to do something different with our music when we write our songs we try to steer away from the usual verse/bridge/chorus, verse/bridge/chorus thing. But the response to this has been quite unexpected." 

    As for their plans for the future, the next big event will be the release of their debut album later this year. "We've been working on the album a long time. We've so far recorded six songs, and we have about five to go. We want to do more with our music. You know, try new instruments and new things. Like with the baila thing. But right now the biggest problem is money. We've pretty much run out of piggy banks to raid. But some people who liked our music have come forward to help us in the past and we're grateful to them." 

    In addition to the four members interviewed for this article, Stigmata also includes Anik Jayasekera on drums and Shamir Hussain on guitar. I have a feeling that we are going to hear a lot more from this band in the future. As for dealing with the critics, I think they can take courage from a little story. In 1956, another musician found himself defending his controversial brand of rock music that was deemed wild and obscene. He said, "When I sing (my music), my eyes won't stay open and my legs won't stand still. I don't care what they say, it ain't nasty." That was Elvis Presley. 


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