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Michael Musto

Frankie Grande: 'I Don't Know How to Date Someone Who Knows Everything About Me'

Matt Sayles

Also: AbFab Movie’s Best LGBT Moments. and Gay Icons Take Down Trump

The endearingly un-shy Frankie Grande has sparkled--literally--through his various endeavors, from TV's Big Brother to Broadway's Rock of Ages to his current gig as one of the hosts of Amazon's 30-minute fashion and shopping show Style Code Live, which is interactive and streams live. Ariana's older bro has made waves of his own, and was sparklingly available to talk to me about them.

Hi, Frankie. It was great to run into you on Fire Island the other day.

I had a blast. I love it out there. It's a world unto itself.

Tell me about your Amazon show.

The three of us work in conjunction to bring celebrity trends and fashion into your daily life for an affordable price, using Amazon as the vehicle to sell these items. We'll talk about, say, the metallic trends and then bring a famous makeup artist to show you how to use these products to get the same look as Gigi Hadid at the Met gala at a fraction of the cost. We're making fashion accessible to the world in a new and innovative way.

Does it call upon your acting skills sometimes, when you have to riff about a product?

I actually went to style school, so I'm a fully trained person. I meet with the heads of each department, so I know everything about the items. If they say, "You have four minutes with this dress," I say, "OK, I'll just say more things." In general, I turn on when I'm on TV, so there's always some kind of acting involved. I've become so good on prompter. We don't get that on Broadway!

Except for Al Pacino, lol.

Because of my experience on Broadway, I get ready for the show much quicker. I can get into that mindset much quicker. I could improv the whole show if I had to.

I bet! What's your personal style?

I'm very bold. I love to take risks when it comes to fashion. I love the makeup trends that are coming up for women. I'll jump on board for that. I've done glitter lids, glitter shirts. I love that glitter is becoming a trend. I was on board with that six months ago. Gigi Hadid is doing it. I think, "Hey, I did it first!" I like colored hair. I'll take risks when it comes to makeup and hair. I like things bold but very fitted. I like to look very polished.

Do you ever get bullied for wearing glitter makeup?

Sure. Instagram is a horrible place where hate festers and horrible people say terrible things. I get cyber-bullied all the time. You have to learn to ignore all those people. I get called the f word all the time. It's something I get all the time for my image--for being myself, for being so me. But I'm not one to back down. I say, "You're offended by the glitter lid? Wait till you see my lip next week." [At this point, Frankie started opening a package that just arrived, consisting of items he ordered from his show, and he veritably exploded with excitement over it.]

It's like Christmas!

Yes! I love shopping on my own show.

I hope you got a discount.

Not much.

You did a fragrance called Frankie by Ariana Grande.

Yes, we collaborated on a gender-neutral fragrance, which is very exciting for me. We were ahead of the curve when it comes to celebrity fragrances being gender-neutral. We're moving towards a gender obsolescent society, and it should be reflected in makeup. We're starting to see entire collections where men and women can wear all the pieces.

Well, I personally hope these unisex collections have large sizes.

Yes, they have large sizes!

And since I'm a size queen, let me ask how your love life is doing these days.

Completely non-existent. I have a love life with work and my career. I made a huge adjustment. I bought a car and got an apartment in L.A. [for himself and his mother]. Then I got the show the next day and had to move back to New York City! As soon as I thought I was setting up permanent residence in L.A., I got a job in New York, so everything's in flux. But I'm still struggling with the notoriety thing. I don't know how to date someone who knows everything about me. I don't get it.

Surely, they don't know everything.

They kind of do. Between Big Brother and my social media, I don't hide anything.

Well, that's a good thing, no?

I think so, but they know more than I do. They know everything going into it. Eventually, I will find my balance and I can date someone. But so far, no good.

Speaking of hookups: Ariana is playing Penny Pingleton in NBC's Hairspray Live!

Yes, I'm dying. It's the best thing ever. A great cast. Ariana, Kristin Chenoweth, Harvey Fierstein. We're Broadway people. This is our roots, our family. I'm gonna freak out. I'll probably be sitting in the live audience. I want to go!

Take a sick day. Whatever it takes.

I have to get time off now. Please, please, please. [laughs]

Calm down and let me ask you a way more serious question, OK? In the wake of Orlando and other horrid violence and oppression, what is the message our community needs to hear?

We need to stick together and value human life more. There have been so many people using violence as a means to solve issues that can be solved with words. We need to figure out how to get back into a mindset as humanity, where we solve problems with words. Guns don't solve problems, they just create more problems, as we see.


Photos by Tim Walker

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie involves violence only in a comical way, as Edina (creator Jennifer Saunders) and Patsy (Ivana lookalike Joanna Lumley) race around, trying to escape the fact that Edina is suspected of murdering Kate Moss. At a special screening last week, Saunders told the crowd, "I know how much fun people have dressing up like Edina and Patsy, but it's even more fun for us." Lumley chimed in that "the two characters are just under the skin for us--like corpses." She explained that no matter how much time elapses between their doing these roles, they merely have to lift a cigarette and a cocktail glass and whoosh, it's there. "We're just happy to be alive," remarked Saunders. "Obviously, it's the end of my career," she joked, "but it's been fun." At that point, she looked out into the sea of gays and gushed, "We made this film for you, let's face it. We love New York, and it's basically the LGBT community in New York that broke AbFab for us, so we owe you. We love you very much." Said Lumley, "I think we love you very much more than very much!"

The movie turned out to be a breezy romp, with the modern day Lucy and Ethel acting all messy in their fashion-victimy machinations, bonding in the common belief that the party should never end, even if you're old, fat, and neglecting your more serious duties. The comedy loses steam once they get to Cannes--it gets downright dull for a spell--but it recovers in time for a Some Like it Hot-style ending. Along the way, one character is trans, another cross dresses, Chris Colfer is a slippery hairdresser, and transphobic Barry Humphries makes an appearance in two genders. Meanwhile, Jon Hamm is repulsed by the memory of Patsy deflowering him; 1960s pop icon Lulu doesn't get to sing, but a Shirley Bassey impersonator does; and Saffy (Julia Sawalha) captivates a crowd of drag queens with her karaoke rendition of Janis Ian's "At Seventeen." Yes, it's a mixed bag of swag as it tickles and taunts you, then wafts away. Just say "Thursday". (That's what Patsy says instead of "cheese" whenever a camera is aimed at her. It makes you pout ever so delightfully, darlings.)


Photo by Gage Skidmore/Wikipedia

The word "Thursday" was way less appealing last week when that was the day for Donald Trump to make his long, doom-laden capoff speech at the Republican National Convention. But at least the reaction to Trump's bleak views--and to the whole damned four-day shebang--sizzled on social networks, where the rage was seething even more than Patsy Stone when the coke runs out. Here are some highlights:

"DONALD TRUMP IS VERY VERY SCARY"--Larry Kramer on Facebook

"His speech was riveting in its coded and direct hate for all we stand for."--Tom Viola, executive director of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, on Facebook

"My stomach turns at Trump defending the LGBTQ community. So entirely scripted. The Trump I know would never have said that in a million years."--Tony Schwartz, who ghost-wrote The Art of the Deal, on Twitter

"Peter Thiel is the new Roy Cohn"--activist Urvashi Vaid

What a sad and frightening night. I never thought our country would sink this low--close to fascism."--activist Peter Staley, on Facebook

"That wasn't a convention. That was something closer to a lynch mob."--Stephen King, on Twitter

"In Cleveland, 2,500 delegates. Only 18 black. We are not going back to that great America again."--Rev Jesse Jackson Sr. on Twitter

"Trump: 'I alone can fix this.' Maybe he doesn't understand that a President has to work with Congress."--Bernie Sanders on Twitter

"Laura Ingraham just got tickets for Heil, Dolly!"--me, on Twitter

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Michael Musto