Fame Is Such a Drug. . . I Mean, Drag

And trying to be famous? Let me tell you about it.

"Gay guys are like women," a producer explained to me in a preliminary meeting. "They listen to your problems, and they're very sensitive." I made a very sensitive retching face. Clearly, these people hadn't realized it's lesbians who are like women.

"Look, the show won't be all mammograms and mascara," chimed in a production assistant. Too bad—I'd love a show about mammograms and mascara. But before I could react, the same guy turned to the head producer and excitedly wondered, "Hey, would it be good if we got a black host?" "Yes!" crowed the boss, as if he'd just freed the slaves. Great, maybe the host can even dance!

For the panel, they ended up assembling me, FRANK DECARO, SIMON DOONAN, a hottie, and a black person. There was no host. We shot the pilot in front of an audience that looked like Death Row inmates on their day off, but at least they didn't throw things. We dutifully covered women's diets, recipes, and children's car safety, but the producer lady was getting nervous about our performances. Sidling up to us, she murmured, "Guys, I need you to be more . . . more . . ." "Say it," urged Doonan, as if watching The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Tense pause. "Be more faggy!" she blurted, her face turning a fabulous shade of fuchsia. Shock waves went through the studio. So this was a total minstrel show, and I was being counted on to be a big-fag Stepin Fetchit? After years of being told to tone it down, it was sort of refreshing to finally have someone say, "Be gayer, queen!" But a stereotype is still a stereotype, and I was actually relieved when the pilot wasn't picked up, no one buying the idea that gay men are really like women. That freed me to work on my new pitch: Jew Talk.

Choreographer Jerry Mitchell: Dance, Musto! Dance!
photo: Alana Cundy
Choreographer Jerry Mitchell: Dance, Musto! Dance!

Details

How Gay TV Ruined My Life

But just then the phone miraculously sounded again (via Verizon) and I was asked to audition for a game show with an all-gay cast. "But we're not going to say you're gay," I was told, strangely, by the producer. Ugh, that was so gross! So unbelievably hideous! "Fine, I'll do it," I chirped. They assembled a panel of me, Frank DeCaro, a hottie, a black guy, and a lesbian. I got the job, but I didn't want to go back to L.A. and do it when instead I could be this sad little semi-failure who kvetches for a living.

Have I ever told you about the time I was made up with pustules for Dawn of the Dead, only to be personally cut by GEORGE ROMERO because I threw my arms in the air like DIANA ROSS? Fabulous!

musto@villagevoice.com

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