By Ray Stern
By New Times
By Amy Silverman
By Stephen Lemons
By Stephen Lemons
By Monica Alonzo
By Chris Parker
By New Times
In a city where gossip columns are as scintillating as Christmas newsletters, one column is a breath of pure nitrous oxide. It's dishy. It's swishy. And, to borrow one turn of phrase that recently brightened its pages, "it couldn't be more fun than if it rained martoonies!"
It's also disturbing, appalling and oh-so politically incorrect.
What is this bitchy bulletin that has the town atwitter? It's The U Report, darlinks.
If anyone doubts the power of the press, he need look no further than The U Report, a local four-page tabloid that's one step removed from being a vanity production. Yet despite its tiny circulation, this biweekly bouillabaisse of gossip, breezy banter, fashion tips and potential libel suits has transformed its publisher (not to mention its editor, star reporter, photographer, distribution manager and ad salesman--all of whom happen to be the same person) into quite a Guy About Town.
And as this club-scene Citizen Kane will be the first to tell you and his faithful readers, it couldn't happen to a more fabulous guy.
Didn't David Van Virden look fetching in his vintage pink polyester double-knit wife-of-a-politician ensemble?
--The U Report
Since last summer, David Van Virden's The U Report has been required reading in gay bars, dance clubs, coffee houses, hair salons and Valley record stores where the 5,000 papers are distributed free every other Thursday. Says one worshipful scenester, "Within the gay community, David is one of the very top 'A' list people."
He's also turning up on more than a few "S" lists. Pointing to Van Virden's fondness for publicly identifying homosexuals in The U Report, as well as the gleeful tone with which he frequently reports on sexual misconduct, some critics claim that the columnist is an embarrassment to the gay community, as well as a dangerous role model for younger readers.
"There are some people in the gay community who absolutely cannot stand David and The U Report," admits Doug Wilkey, a friend who's known the columnist since his surname was simply "Virden." "That's because David thinks nothing of printing something like 'We were at a birthday party and the male stripper went into the bedroom with a couple guys and they had a three-way.'
"Well, I'm real sorry if a couple members of the gay community happen to think that item makes gays look promiscuous," says Wilkey. "I've got news for you, honey: Some of them are! And this is what's happening! True, there are probably straight people who are doing the same sort of thing. We just didn't happen to be at that party, that's all."
Although The U Report used to boast that it was filled with "Art Poop, Nightlife Naughtiness, Gay-Goings-on and Gossip Galore," the openly gay Van Virden recently deleted the homosexual reference from the masthead in an attempt to lure more advertisers into the fold.
"The U Report is not a matter of gay or straight," explains the 30-year-old Van Virden, a freelance graphics artist whose countenance suggests a cross between Mephistopheles and the Ed Sullivan-era George Carlin. "It's a matter of who's having the most fun. And, frankly, gay people are having far more fun these days. Oh, my God, yes!"
The out-'til-dawn party people who populate The U Report don't just have fun. They have kee-razee fun!--an all-purpose phrase which Van Virden and his followers are fond of screeching at the top of their lungs during conversational lulls.
And they have fun in the kee-razeeiest places! Places like an all-male underwear party, a BYOBVD affair which U recently attended. Or the underground "rave" where the "in" crowd danced the night away beneath a big-screen TV featuring videos of vasectomy surgery. Or at Encanto Park lagoon, where a cadre of Halloween revelers (several in full drag) stopped after a night of partying "to take pictures with the ducks and the homeless people, who never dreamed such glamour existed!"
Truth be told, much of this glamour wouldn't exist were it not for Van Virden's verbal knack for making magic of the mundane. Just ask the legion of "edibilicious" hunks and "faboo" debs who can't wait to star in the hyperbolic high jinks that fill The U Report.
Beginning at happy hour one Friday night last month, Van Virden and his "partners-in-grime" (as members of his twentysomething all-male entourage call themselves) embarked on a typical U Report "fact-finding" mission that would eventually encompass seven different social stops. (Actually, eight stops if you count Dan Majerle's saloon. But after realizing the nature of the establishment, a horrified Van Virden beat a hasty retreat, curtly telling the troops, "Under no circumstances does The U Report ever set foot in sports grills!)
Following cocktails at Chez Nous (a fave Van Virden watering hole), the group visited two gay bars, attended an art opening at the downtown Radix Gallery, chatted with a couple of female impersonators in an alley behind the 307 Lounge, ducked into a birthday party at the Red Devil pizza parlor and dropped by another party in the clubhouse of an apartment complex in Chandler. Around midnight, the group finally adjourned to a techno-pop concert at The Works, a Scottsdale dance club where Van Virden donned a long skirt and pearls.