BROADWAY ROASTS – MICHAEL MUSTO – “Fork On The Left, Knife In The Back”


“Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and a stone will come back on him who starts it rolling”: Proverbs 26:27.

Photo by Jason Russo

At last it is going to happen! The most epic, monumental, and earth shattering quintessence of Karma is set to unfold, on May 22nd, at 8:00PM, at The Actor’s Temple, (339 West 47th Street), when a celebrity cast will ensemble for the sole purpose of roasting the well deserved, Michael Musto.

For those who might not be familiar, or not yet frightened of him, he’s been a writer for the Village Voice, for over 30 years, and currently writes for, the New York Times, Paper, and several others. He is also a commentator on the subject of pop culture, on CNN, and is a recurring guest on Logo’s Cocktails and Classics. Besides receiving numerous awards, he was also named in Out 100 of influential LGBT’s. He has also written several books including, “Fork in the Left, Knife in the Back”, the theme of the night.

All proceeds from this “event of the century”, will go to benefit The Callen-Lorde Organization, a clinic where the gay community can go to address their concerns. It provides sensitive and quality health care, community outreach and education, a sexual health clinic, health outreach to teens, transgender health, dental services, and much more at a very low cost, (212-271-7200).

The distinguished cast of roasters will include: Rosie O’Donnell, Bruce Vilanch, Bianca Del Rio, Michael Urie, Orfeh, Michael Riedel, Johnny Skandros, Luann De Lesseps, Jinkx Monsoon, Randy Rainbow, Lucy the Slut, Elizabeth Ann Berg, Crystal Demure, and Mindy Cohn, all masters at sharpening the scandalized knife.

Even a convicted killer on death row deserves to speak their last words before their demise, so I had the honor of talking with the honoree, Michael Musto, before his fate is sealed forever….

Photo by Carlo Gomez

Who’s idea was this to roast you, and do you hate them?
Daniel DeMello had contacted me last year, saying he wanted to throw this roast, and he and his boyfriend Nathaniel Nowak, are organizing this. Daniel is on top of every detail. I was immediately taken by the idea, because first of all, it’s for a benefit for Callen-Lorde clinic, which is so vital.

What is the Callen-Lorde clinic?
It’s a clinic which specializes in LGBT people who come with their concerns. It’s affordable, the service is wonderful, and I heard such amazing things about it. They need all the help they can get. We are making this a true benefit. Expenses are absolutely minimal. I’ve been to enough bogus charity events in my life, and I don’t want my name on some bullshit where you’re just ripping people off. So we’re going to raise some nice money, the talent is working for free, and I like the idea of me reaping what I have sown. They’re calling it, “Fork On The Left, Knife In The Back”, which is the name of one of my books. I suggested, “He had it coming”, because I’ve trashed a lot of people, I’ve stirred up some ill-will in my day, and now is a chance for people to vent back at me….however, in an affectionate way. When I grew up, ribbing each other was a term of endearment. You only put somebody down if you cared about them. Even Bianca Del Rio, who is one of my roasters, doesn’t just read anybody. She has to think you’re worthy.

Photo by Mao Padilha

That’s how I feel. I’ve assembled people that I love, to come and rip me a new one! Somehow that translates into more love. At least that’s what I’m telling myself. I’m thinking of sitting there with ear plugs on. I don’t want my feelings hurt. I’ll just keep saying, “It’s for charity, it’s for charity”.

Whom do you fear the most?
Bianca Del Rio. Come on….I feel like I got a taste of it because I was one of the roasters at Bianca’s roast. Each roaster, roasted the whole panel before they got to Bianca. Then Bianca came out and roasted the whole panel, so I already had a taste of her venom. It was delicious, but scary.

Your celebrity line-up is larger and more impressive than Joan Rivers’ roast.
I wish I had Joan Rivers.

Do you expect them to be brutal?
I asked around and 90% of them said yes.

They probably couldn’t wait to volunteer.
They were lining up, chomping at the bit.

Maybe you should have some audience participation?
It would go on all night. Rosie O’Donnell said she would like to start off the night by talking about the charity, and I thought that was lovely and very positive. Then Bruce Vilanch I asked, “out of the blue, you wouldn’t be in New York to MC this?” Obviously, he would be the ultimate MC for such a thing because he’s the most hilarious joke writer and performer there is. He’s a famous comedy writer who also appeared on Broadway in “Hairspray”.  There is a great documentary about him. He’s a legend in this business. He actually arranged his schedule so he’d be in New York to do this, and that was astounding.

Photo by Susan Haskins

Oh, he probably couldn’t wait!
A lot of people are very excited to attack me. Jinkx Monsoon is on board. We have a history, I was in her video. I’ve always loved her vaudeville shows. Orfeh is a friend of mine, so she really knows me. She’s not going to be pretending. Michael Urie really knows me. He knows how needy, twisted and boring I am. He asked, “How far can we go”? I said, “Well, I don’t want real hurt feelings”, but I don’t want to censor people. I actually wrote a couple of jokes for people. I’m writing how old, hideous, and such a has-been I am. I’m handing it to them on a plate.

What do you think is your best flaw…or your worst?
Wow…where do we start? I’m deeply neurotic, I keep repeating things in my mind, sometimes self punishing, where I blame myself for things I allegedly did wrong, even though I’m basically successful and made incredible decisions and did the right thing. I will never give myself credit for that. I’ll always kick myself for the one time I feel that I miss-stepped.

I want to write your biography.
I do want to write another book of little snapshots in words, of different icons over the years and finally tell the truth, and go off and die. I mean it has to be told.

Is this scripted or totally impromptu?
There will be some jokes written for certain people who want that, and everyone will come with their own speeches, which they have prepared. There is also going to be tremendous ad-libbing. Bruce Vilanch is one of the best ad-libbers in the business and Rosie’s a genius too. I want them all to be President. Let’s take this whole roster and put them in the White House and get rid of that orange blob. They are very funny but they are all also sensitive people. We also have videos from amazing people coming in like Alan Cumming, Jackie Hoffman, Doug Wright, Frankie Grande, Cheyenne Jackson, Daphne Rubin-Vega, and John Waters. It’s astounding, everyone said that they’d love to.

Out of all these people who are coming to honor you, who did you insult the most?
Well…let’s see…I think Rosie and I went through a rocky period in the 90’s, when I was saying, “come out, come out, wherever you are”. But she came out with a vengeance, and I’m so proud of her, and everything she’s accomplished. For her to go against Trump–and in my opinion she triumphed, she definitely hit him with every word–is something to applaud. So it’s great to become friends, and now we are all celebrating each other.

I think they’ll be celebrating you–at least I hope it’s a celebration.
Rosie, like I said will be introducing the evening and talking about the charity, and that’s really lovely. Randy Rainbow is hilarious. He’s going to get up and do God knows what… He decimated Kellyanne Conway, so I guess I’m the new Kellyanne Conway. He’s going to make fun of my alternative facts. We have Crystal Demure from Kinky Boots. She’s currently starring as Lola in Kinky Boots. She’s glamorous, and exciting, and very funny.

I heard that Trump wants to be on the panel.
He actually does. First of all I’m gay, second of all I’m a woman, and thirdly I’m an immigrant. We also have Michael Riedel, who I’m terrified of. He’s a gossip writer for the New York Post. He’s the co-host of Theater Talk, which I’m on regularly and we always banter back and forth. I’m quaking because his evil knows no bounds, in a sort of cute way. That’s kind of something to look forward to, I guess, for the audience.

I hope you don’t walk out of there in tears.
I’m thinking by the end of it, I’ll be a basket case. But I will get the last word, because I’m writing a speech for myself, and then I’m going to rip them all a new one. So they better watch what they say. I’m ending it with that, just like Bianca did with hers. Basically Playbill is providing a program for the evening, and we’re selling ads to benefit the charity. Daniel has been just on top of everything. He’s astounded that I’ve been immersed in every little detail as well, because I wanted to be hands-on with this. I want it to be good. I didn’t want to put my name on some half assed thing. I’ve been helping gathering up the talent, and coming up with the material and the promotion as well. A lot of people have been waiting for this for many, many years.

For sure! Unfortunately I’ll be in London, and there is only one man I’d miss this for.
Oh dam, I knew it. I’m always playing second fiddle to Adam Ant.

It’s really cool that you volunteered for this.
Well I was inspired by the idea. I have a good sense of humor. I dish it out and I can take it. It’s for a good cause. It’s a great lineup. I have a feeling it’s going to sell out very quickly. And that’s another dis someone can say about me: “Musto, you’re a sellout!”

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Eileen Shapiro
Best selling author of "The Star Trek Medical Reference Manual", and feature celebrity correspondent for Get Out Magazine, Louder Than War, and Huffington Post contributor, I've interviewed artists from Adam Ant, Cyndi Lauper, and Annie Lennox to Jennifer Hudson, Rick Springfield, LeAnn Rimes, and thousands in between. My interviews challenge the threat of imagination....