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January 8, 2001

Ricky Martin, Gwyneth Paltrow, Madonna, Randolph Duke, and more . . .

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Ricky Martin to VH1: Get Off My Ass!
Believe it or not, Ricky Martin is sick of his own rear end. The audience at the My VH1 Awards howled when a man in costume as "Ricky Martin's ass" appeared onstage to accept the star's "Booty Shake" prize. Martin, however, was not amused. According to the man who portrayed Martin's famous posterior, Jeff Norman, a rep for Martin called VH1 saying the star was "furious" and ordered that the offensive segment be cut from subsequent broadcasts. Norman, a correspondent for Z.com, claims he heard it from Martin's publicist herself, Kim Jakwerth, when he approached her about meeting up with Martin at an L.A. concert to get more grist for his column. "She ripped into me like I had just killed a member of her family," says Norman. "She told me they'd gotten the segment cut." While Jakwerth did not respond to a call and a fax, a spokeswoman for VH1 says the bit was cut because of time constraints. When asked why the piece is not featured on the "Winner's Circle" page at the My VH1 Awards Website -- where time is not a concern -- the network offered this baffling response: "They probably didn't choose it." Says Norman: "VH1 tries to be irreverent, but when someone doesn't like a harmless little skit, they bow down." Apparently, even to Ricky Martin's buttocks.

Another Art-World Sensation
The bitterly fought, nearly decadelong court battle between art magazine Coagula and the former director of Tim Nye's Thread Waxing Space is finally drawing to a close. Lawyers for both sides gave closing arguments recently in the libel suit filed against Coagula by Banefsheh Zand in 1992, which accused the snarky, insidery mag of falsely reporting that she charged more than $8,000 in improper expenses to Nye's credit card. The last volley in the protracted legal showdown came in early December, when Coagula produced Tim Nye himself (who famously exhibited a plaster cast of Jimi Hendrix's penis in his gallery) as its star witness. According to the magazine's attorney, Adam Silverstein, Nye testified that Zand's $8,000 in expenses were indeed unauthorized and inappropriate. Although a State Supreme Court judge won't rule on the case until next week at the earliest, Coagula publisher Mat Gleason radiates confidence: "I learned a lot in the eight years since this case was hatched, and the next fucker who sues me or my magazine is going to eat all of the shit I wish I could be feeding this plaintiff and her attorney." Zand's attorney did not return calls for comment.

Gwynnie and Ben Feel the Crunch
Gwyneth Paltrow and Ben Affleck continue to keep us guessing about their enigmatic relationship. The pair recently made appearances together at Elaine's and the Hudson Hotel, and it looks as if they may be making workout dates as well. In what appears to be a gesture of mutual support, the Bounce stars both joined the hipster gym Crunch in the same week at different branches. Meanwhile, after Equinox's recent purchase by the owners of Elizabeth Arden spas, Crunch has upped the ante in the fitness wars by inking a deal with the company that licenses Prada, Fendi, and Louis Vuitton. Its mission? To launch a line of Crunch activewear and accessories.

Always Madonna's Bridesmaid . . .
Some Madonna watchers are wondering why pal-of-the-moment Stella McCartney was picked over longtime best buddy Ingrid Casares (pictured) to be the diva's maid of honor. A source close to the singer offers one possible explanation: that McCartney is an old friend of the groom's, Guy Ritchie. Casares, who was typically unruffled by the choice, served as a bridesmaid with another English-accented American, Gwyneth Paltrow. Says Casares, "Do I care if I was a bridesmaid or maid of honor? That's so high-school."

Randolph Duke: Singled Out
Randolph Duke is not available -- if you don't believe it, just ask his boyfriend. After Manhattan File listed the stubble-faced designer as one of the city's top 100 bachelors, publisher and editor-in-chief Cristina Greeven received an irate phone call from a man named James insisting that Duke be removed from the list. "He said, 'I've been with Randolph for seven years, and he is not available!' " Greeven relates. The editrix says she explained to James that Duke could not be taken out, since the story had already been published, and that her staff's research did not reveal that the fashionista was spoken for. James then told Greeven, "We have a low-profile relationship," to which she replied, "Maybe you should take that up with Randolph." Then Duke -- who didn't return our call -- phoned Greeven himself. "He was sort of apologetic but told me not to worry about it," she says. "He just wanted to know how the list worked." Greeven doesn't see what got Duke's S.O. into such a tizzy: "Look, I put my boyfriend Chris Cuomo on the list. It means you're dating a hot commodity." So now we know how to get on next year's list.

Additional reporting by Paige Herman.

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