LOS ANGELES -- It was quiet -- too quiet -- in the pre-Oscar scene outside the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
We were all waiting for Jaye Davidson to show. Who else? Whatever he/she wore, it had to be a surprise, right?
(No warning this time. If you haven't seen the movie by now, there's only one thing to say: You need to get out more. Besides, as secrets go, this ain't exactly D-Day.)
Meanwhile, there wasn't much to see. Oh, there was Jack, shades on, climbing out of a limo, flipping his cigarette into the street. That might get the environmental kids going.
Actually, they were already in action, but in a quiet way -- a very minor protest about Hollywood destroying the rain forest. The cultural elite destroying the rain forest? What would Dan Quayle say?
The only other protest, not involving Tim Robbins, included a group seeking justice for janitors. They were noisy -- drums and whistles -- but, you know, who cared, right?
"Those guys show up for everything," one cop said.
I should set the scene for you. You've probably seen parts of it on TV.
There are bleachers filled with people who have spent the night in the street waiting for a ticket. That's not to be confused with those who spent the night in the street waiting for someplace to stay. They, the homeless, were all moved out by Oscar time by the early Clint Eastwood Dirty Harry types patrolling the streets.
While the bleacherites and another throng across the street wait for the celebrities, the usual suspects show up to amuse them.
There's a guy known locally as Bible Bob, who had his megaphone taken away but got to keep his sign: "Sleazy Movies: God's Judgment Coming."
Somebody was selling balloons. Somebody else was giving away disposable cameras.
And of course, there's always a product to sell. This year, it's a new kind of Dorito tortilla chip.
According to the handout, it's a "lighter" chip for the "frontline baby boomers," whatever that means.
Little packs of these tortillas were being tossed into the crowd. One was captured by the daughter of this couple from Hanover, Germany. The man, holding up the bag, said (and I swear this is true), "America is a great country." Well, it is.
In the bleachers were a few Americans dressed in full Malcolm X regalia, upset about Spike, and who isn't?
A woman from Amarillo, Texas, came dressed as Charlie Chaplin.
"It's a very conservative town," she said of Amarillo. "That was the only movie besides 'Aladdin' that stayed for more than a week."
Unfortunately, the crowd was conservative, too. I was a little disappointed. This is L.A., after all. If you can't get weirdness here, what's the point? Otherwise, it's just so much weather. I guess Jaye Davidson intimidated them.
Ah, Jaye Davidson.
We waited. The crowd, which had been there all day, was waiting for anyone. The limos drop off the celebs, who cross the red carpet and the crowd cheers.
Of course, for the first hour or so, the "celebrity" is usually Jim Johnson from accounting.
Eventually, it's Jack and Cher and Liz and Tim Robbins with Susan Sarandon making an appearance. Please don't ask to me describe what anyone wore. Most of the men had on tuxes, I
noticed. Even the reporters had to wear tuxes.
The women: OK, Sharon Stone -- I want to be precise here -- was fully clothed. And she didn't need her hands to cover anything.
The stars get introduced. They get cheered. They get interviewed. It's pretty exciting. One minute, it's Clint. The next, it's Fellini. Where else you going to see that?
Where else you gonna see Jaye?
Finally, he/she made it. Davidson came semi-formal, meaning Jaye wore a tux with no shirt.
Sexy? Jaye's outfit -- did you see that New Yorker cartoon about Jaye Edgar Hoover? -- was supposed to suggest a jockey of indeterminate sex.
The hair, not long, was parted down the middle. The smile was radiant.
It sure beat Jack Palance pulling Billy Crystal onto the set on a giant Oscar.
There were giant Oscars wherever you looked.
But not for Jaye, who lost the Best Supporting Actor award to Gene Hackman. I told you, no secrets. No surprise.