Take My Hot Dog with a Dollop of Musto!
For twenty-five years Michael
Musto has been telling the story of downtown New
York in his Village
Voice column, La
Daily Musto. It is a story filtered through
the cheesecloth of Musto's wry wit and fab gayness.
Musto is a man who goes out every night, returning
home an hour or so before the nine-to-fivers alarm
clock band. So if it happens in New York, Musto
Musto has been chronicling the city since the
seventies when he attended Columbia University
by day and Studio 54 by night. As Studio 54 exploded
in a cloud of coke, Musto floated with the scene
as it moved downtown to Soho art galleries and
downtown night spots like Tribeca's Mudd Club.
From then it was on to the wretched excesses of
the moneyed nineties and oughties - the Tunnel,
CBGB's, the Meat Packing District super clubs-
to today's financial implosion and the question
of what's next.
As the decades marched by, so did Musto: chronicling
the lives of the fabulous; feuding with Rosie
O'Donnell; hanging with Sandra Bernhard; watching
Madonna; and wondering just what was Sarah Silverman
doing with her right hand.
Musto's tales are funny, but
humor is not their only value. Downtown New York
has always been a cauldron of creativity, the
genesis of trends in art, clothing, language and
music. It happens first in New York, and then
it is seen on the streets of Omaha, heard in the
slang of Dallas, viewed as pop art in Phoenix
art galleries, played on Top 40 radio stations,
and seen/heard by the world in film and theater.
I met up with Musto at 71 Irving
Place Coffee & Tea at 71 Irving Place between
18th Street and 19th Street in New York City.
It was a cold January day and Musto stopped by
on his way to "New York Times Talks."
He arrived by bicycle. Yes bicycle. Musto looked
around the room and stated that he never drank
coffee in a place quite that upscale. He actually
looked slightly uncomfortable surrounded by the
crowd of young, good-looking (for lack of a better
word) Yuppies. No one had a visible tat and all
the hair color jobs were in natural hues.
We chatted briefly about the anniversary of his
column and his new book that will be published
this spring (2010), Fork
on the Left, Knife in the Back. Musto
told me about his schedule for the next few days
(the staying out until 4AM in the morning every
night) and I instantly became tired and needed
another cup of coffee (the coffee at 71 Irving
Place is superb). I asked him where he thought
the club and art scene would recreate during this
time of recession and he told me that where ever
the scene went, he would be there as long as it
wasn't in Brooklyn.
I then asked him if I could send him some questions
to be answered by email. He said yes and here
1. If you were given a reality
show where you took ordinary shlubs and
attempted to turn them into celebrities, how would
you do it?
I'd put them through a head-to-toe makeover--no
more polyester blends--and teach them how to show
up at a nightclub at a peak moment, dance on a
table, and get photographed and looked at. Meanwhile,
I'd locate some talent of theirs--whether it be
singing, acting, or even magic tricks--and make
them work on it until they're good enough to reveal
it in public at a make-or-break mass-media event
that I plan for them. The press will be impressed
that a party star can actually do something and
they'll make them incredibly famous! And then
the star will drop me!
2. You have seen a lot of celebrity wannabees
in your travels, which one do
you consider to be the most talented? Which one
the biggest fool?
Lady Gaga impresses me because she's a self-made
performer who's put the show back in show business,
but she can also just sit at a piano and sing
her heart out, with real warmth and artistry.
She's Laura Nyro meets Elton John.
I'm less impressed by strivers and posers like
Kimora Lee, Samantha Cole, and Mark Kostabi.
3. Looks or wit? Which
one should be top? Which one on bottom?
Wit is always on top! If
someone is witty, they are automatically gorgeous,
no matter what they look like. They are fun to
be around and that makes them incredibly sexy.
Believe me, wit is the best! That fact has saved
me a lot of surgery.
For more Musto, log onto his
Psst! In celebration of
Musto's twenty-five year Village Voice anniversary,
Musto's new book, Fork on the Left, Knife
in the Back, will be released this spring.
The book is a compilation from Musto's Village
Voice column, with chapters headings like "Celeb
in Need of Crisis Counseling" and "Weirdos
Are My Heroes."
So buy this book; the man is hysterically funny.
So buy it for the laughs, or buy it to find out
just what the f**k Musto said about YOU.
Fork on the Left, Knife in the Back is
available for pre-order on Amazon.com.
Musto's previous compilation, La Dolce Musto,
is presently available at Barnes