A celebrity roast of yours truly (benefiting the Callen-Lorde clinic) was organized by publicist Daniel DeMello and company last week at Actors Temple, where a host of notables gathered to rip me a new one, as if my existing one weren’t big and floppy enough. It was an extremely charitable night of uncharitableness called “Fork on the Left, Knife in the Back”—it’s the name of one of my books—but “He Had It Coming” might have also worked. Hardly anyone turned down appearing at the SRO event—give the people what they want—but those who did were at least spared my wrath at the end of the night, when I got to spew the fire of vengeance at those who’d roasted me. But let me first tell you what they said about me.
Host Bruce Vilanch cracked that thanks to my old column, the Village Voice had gone from a must-read to something you’d only pull out of a box if your dog had diarrhea after a Peruvian meal. (Bruce got his when doorman/comic Markus Kelle later remarked, “Bruce, the last time you got fucked was by genetics.”) Bruce also lamented the fact that my breaking coverage of the club kid murder ended up with Michael Alig in prison, which meant I couldn’t be Alig’s next victim. And he noted that, while I routinely put down reality shows, I’m actually such a camera hog that Mama June calls me a press whore. Other remarked on my face, which was sort of the original PrEP in the way it kept down disease by allegedly making sex impossible. There were also jokes about my bike (my birth name is Margaret Hamilton), my fashion sense (I never get fucked, except by my stylist), and my age (On video, Alan Cumming said, “Michael Musto is so old, I once told him to act his age, and he died.”)
But the roasters also got off on gleefully skewering each other, thank God. Jinkx Monsoon was the first roaster and was hilarious, but went on for so long that fellow roaster Randy Rainbow wondered if Jinkx thought this was the taping of her Netflix special. “Get off the stage,” yelled comic Judy Gold into the mic, though she—like Vilanch—eventually got some payback. When it was Judy’s turn to start her speech (which involved singing a Jewish incantation, since were in a temple-turned-theater), Jinkx immediately barked, “Wrap it up! Wrap it up!” as the crowd laughed nervously. The next day, someone tweeted that Judy and Jinkx should star in a new version of The Sonny and Cher Hour, but I commented, “It would have to be eight hours.”
The next crisis came when the original Village People cowboy, Randy Jones, sang a satirical version of “YMCA” about me (“Old man, get your knees off the ground…”) He was doing well, but cranky Bianca del Rio grabbed the mic and demanded a vodka from the staff, while also suggesting that Randy, you know, wrap it up, wrap it up! Randy looked irked and sat down, but I encouraged him to complete the song—and I was only joking when I deadpanned, “I should have gotten the Indian.” Vilanch had his own retort, quipping, “Later, Judy Gold will sing ‘Macho Man.’”
One more showdown? Scruff’s Johnny Skandros claimed that LuAnn D’Agostino (Countess LuAnn from Real Housewives of New York) was the worst thing to happen to music since Whitney Houston started taking baths. The reality star—who looked gorgeous—was taken aback, but simply started singing from her best known song. She was tons of fun.
By the way, the evening was kicked off by Rosie O’Donnell, in only her fifth public appearance since Trump won. Rosie gave quite an astounding speech, which spanned many textures, included dark revelations (she admitted how hard it’s been after having a heart attack, finding her 4-year-old is autistic, and also learning that Trump not only became President, but tweets dumb shit about her). She did a funny impression of Trump talking about Israel and Russia. And noting my '90s and early aughts habit of publicly begging her to come out, she said I had been a “pissed off fag” who had a problem with a dykey lesbian not being openly gay, and said that whenever she’d see me around, she’d call me “the outer.” But in some kind of sci-fi twist, she ended by actually thanking me for pulling her into the community. I guess I did her a favor! In the old days, she called me a “gay Nazi” on TV, but nowadays we’re on the same playing field and are pals in openness, having buried the hatchet in Donald Trump. In a thrilling moment, she also said she would match the amount made for Callen-Lorde at the event. Thank you, Rosie. And thanks to everyone else who participated. I wouldn’t change a word of that evening, even the hideous ones aimed at me, since I even wrote some of them!
(Well, in this case, masochism was just the flip side of narcissism. It was a form of attention, however angsty. And many people—like Jerry Springer, John Waters, Frankie Grande and Lisa Lampanelli—generously worked some words of praise into their comments. Perez Hilton even said that without me, there’d be no him, as I grabbed the mic and joked to the audience, “I’m sorry!” It was a roast!)
PS: When certain speakers used comments I’d written about myself, they acknowledged the source—and got big laughs with them. (And they also also scored with their own material, of course.) So I was surprised when one Broadway roaster didn’t use any of the jokes I’d offered her. Here’s a sampling: "
"Michael Musto is so superficial, he goes to celebrity funerals hoping for a gift bag. When he goes to D-list parties, everyone wants him to go away, for fear he’ll bring down their social status. Michael’s the king of outing, but he’s always wrong. He said Richard Simmons is gay, but everyone knows he’s a straight woman named Fiona. If Michael got paid for all those talking head appearances on TV, he’d be the richest man alive, but no one pays for crap. Though Donald did once pay Michael to pee on the rug, before he met Melania."
But who cares? I got to use all my own material with my final sendoff. Here’s the incendiary speech I ended the smash evening with:
"They say you always hurt the one you love. Well, I feel very loved right now. Anyway: Rosie O’Donnell, you’re the only person alive who could make Barbara Walters cry. You terrify me. Bruce Vilanch, if you were any more scary, offensive or Jewish, you’d be Ivanka Trump. Judy Gold, I saw you talking to Bruce Vilanch backstage, and it reminded me of one of my favorite movies—The Squid and The Whale. Randy Rainbow, you’re a viral sensation. Meaning you have full-blown AIDS. Michael Riedel, you’re so powerful. I mean, your campaign to bring down Hamilton? Congratulations.
Orfeh, I only invited you so you’d bring your famous husband, Andy Karl. Fuck you. Get a last name. Countess LuAnn, you’re so superficial, you make me look like Nelson Mandela. Go help the homeless. Jinkx Monsoon, you do a great Edie Beale impression, except that she wasn’t just mentally ill, she also happened to be talented. Bianca Del Rio, thanks to you, Hurricane Katrina is only the second worst thing to ever happen to New Orleans. Markus Kelle, why don’t you take after Helen Kelle and shut the fuck up? Lucy the Slut, you take all the fun out of slut shaming.
Crystal Demure, you’re the ninth replacement for Billy Porter, who was the 80th choice for the part after Nipsey Russell turned it down. You’re so special. Randy Jones, you’re a man of many hats. Well, one hat. Get it cleaned."
And we had some people on video—we had Perez Hilton: "Queen, let me lay it out for you. I’m Citizen Kane, you’re Basic Instinct 2. Doug Wright, we already can’t understand a fucking word Patti LuPone says. Gee, thanks for writing a show where she has a thick Polish accent. Jerry Springer, you went from a sleazy politician to a sleazy TV host—sort of the reverse trajectory of Donald Trump. Michael Urie, you just did a pilot. Congratulations. I hope your boyfriend doesn’t find out.
As for our beneficiaries, Callen-Lorde, you’d be nothing without STDs. You should get on your knees and thank God for AIDS, meningitis, gonorrhea and anal warts. And Johnny Skandros!
But seriously, thanks to Daniel DeMello, Nathaniel Nowack, Rachel Klein, Johnny Skandros... and for tearing me a new asshole, which I’m going to fill with black dicks the second I go home."
SHIRTS TO THE WIND
Rather than get roasted, why not get toasted at a variety of fun-inducing NYC bars and clubs? I recently went to the still-popular HK hangout Industry Bar, where a drag queen was yelping on the mic at a patron, “Stop swinging the light. It’s not a piñata!” Party! Moving on to Flaming Saddles, the country-themed gay boite nearby, I was happy to walk in just as two bartenders were doing a lively two-step atop the bar—always the highlight of the night (though a few customers always look severely anxious that they might not be able to buy a drink for three minutes). In Chelsea, Battle Hymn is Ladyfag’s Friday night wow of a dance party, where the shirts come off around 1 AM and god knows what happens at three. And in the Village, Marie’s Crisis piano bar always guarantees a fully clothed good time, especially when I got to sing along with the giddy crowd to diva show tunes from Funny Girl, Hello, Dolly!, and Pippin. Let’s keep loudly singing them in unison to drown out the inevitable live televised versions of all of the above, plus every other show ever written. And now, in just a minute, Jinkx Monsoon is about to start her second set…