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Michael Musto's
Twenty Five Year Anniversary
Village Voice's
La Daily Musto

Written by Wendy R. Williams

Opposite Photo: Michael Musto
Photo Credit Ivylise Simones

I'll 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 sees it.

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 they are:

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 blog:

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 Musto's previous compilation, La Dolce Musto, is presently available at Barnes and Noble.






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