Musto vs. Musto

Our gossip maven talks to himself about starfucking, outing, and his new book

Michael Musto—our tirelessly night-crawling La Dolce Musto columnist—has collated a bunch of his fiercest columns into a book, published this month with the shockingly revisionist title La Dolce Musto (Carroll & Graf, $15.95). To mark this prestigious occasion, we asked Musto —he of the open bars and open fly—to interview himself. He not only agreed to do so, he wrote this introduction.

Michael Musto: Why a book, dear? Shouldn't you read one before writing one?
Michael Musto: For your information, bitch, I happen to have read a lot of them— back at Columbia. And the time seemed right for this project, since (a) it's way easier to do a collection than actually write something new, (b) how much longer can I live?, and (c) the gossip landscape has changed so much in my [ mumbles] years here that now's as good an opportunity as any to look back and reflect before soldiering on to the next red-carpet dreck-athon.

You started here in '84, to be precise. I believe Warren G. Harding was president at the time.
My first column was actually in hieroglyphics, ba-dum-pum. (I'll be here through Thursday night. Check out the ribs platter.) It was considered a guilty pleasure—minus the pleasure—and it was distinctly non-Voicey, since this was way before pop culture became so pervasive that even my aunt the nun started saying stuff like "What's with Ashlee Simpson's new nose?" But I kept guzzling and spewing, determined to change the face of gossip by snarking it up and bringing 'em down. In fact, I adopted such an aggressively nasty tone that publicists wouldn't cooperate with me and stars would run whenever I entered a room. I quickly learned to temper that tone so only half of them ran. And I'm glad it's the A-listers who do so; the B, C, and D stars are much better copy.

The two faces of Musto
photo: Josh Gosfield
The two faces of Musto

You certainly spin it all into magic. [ Rolls eyes.] The Voice has always given you complete freedom to write what you please, yes?
Yes! My editors have never said, "You can't trash that futon store or transsexual escort. They advertise!" They're even letting me interview myself, for God's sake. The get-away-with-murder aspect of it all has been wildly cathartic for me, seeing as I'm paid to engorge myself with sumptuous buffets, dance around the pleasure dome, and then scrawl whatever breathless ravings I want about it all every week en route to cashing my check. Before I got the column, I used to pay the rent with kill fees.

Shocking! Do you regret anything you've written?
Yes. I wrote something nice once.

I remember that. I think you praised the Broadway musical version of Carrie. Speaking of which, why did you decide to be gay?
It's not a choice, moron. But I did decide to be openly gay, if that's what you mean. I can't exactly pass for straight—and besides, I wanted to be honest about everything so I'd be free to dissect celebrities' personal lives without hypocrisy. I've even written columns about my seizure disorder and my slut phase (which I'm starting to think were interrelated).

Your constant public gyrations would certainly seem to suggest so. Why aren't celebrities themselves more willing to flounce out of closets?
They're squeamish and career-driven and usually are surrounded by people —often gay themselves— who feel coming out isn't an option because it might diminish their 10 percent of the pie. But I always felt if these stars stopped acting like being gay is such an unspeakable horror, their fans would follow suit. For years I screeched in print at Rosie O'Donnell for being so publicly ambigu ous—but then she finally came out with an explosion of potpourri and flannel, called me a gay Nazi, and became the biggest in-your-face dyke since Eleanor Roosevelt. And this little Nazi faygeleh is thrilled. Like I said, the landscape's changing.

But how thrilled are you about all the gossip bloggers moving in on your turf and co-opting our brain cells? Don't you want to reach for the trigger, hon?
Au contraire. They add energy and immediacy to reporting and have forced the print media to be way less antsy about sexuality issues. When the daily columnists scream, "But they're inaccurate a lot," you want to yell, "Hello, pot!"

Whoa, nelly! All right, I can tell you want to go back to talking about yourself. What reactions have you gotten from your subjects (aside from running when you enter a room)?
Well, Gwyneth Paltrow said she admired my rage; Vincent Gallo screamed into my machine that I'd misquoted him (yeah, he'd actually said Anjelica Huston was a big C-word); Fiona Apple was mad at something she thought I wrote (though I'd actually written something else horrible about her); Whoopi Goldberg sent a telegram instructing me to get a sense of humor; and oh, did I mention that gay-Nazi thing?

You're a little too proud of that, aren't you? [Uncomfortable pause.] Who are the most constant presences in the book, aside from your ego and your id?
Madonna and Sandra Bernhard. When they were gal-palling around the media, they provided the high-water mark of gay speculation, back when it was still cutting-edge and a little bit dirty to be "that way." I feel Madge helped the gays more than any politician just by always nodding to us and granting us the deference we craved (though some voguers are still flailing around screaming, "She stole our act!").

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