One of the top promoters in New York City, Fire Island and now New Orleans, Daniel Nardicio, just celebrated his birthday at Cherry Grove. Nardicio has featured artists such as Sandra Bernhard, Margaret Cho, Liza Minnelli and Carol Channing at his events, and widely known his underwear parties.
I was able to hold him hostage at his house on the Grove for a very informative and candid conversation amidst the serenity of his surroundings on his front deck, which backed up to the insanity of the Ice Palace, while he sipped his Kombucha tea.
How long have you been a promoter?
Fourteen years. I started as an actor before, and I worked for a short time as an opera singer.
Really? Do people know that about you?
I studied acting in Ohio, where I’m originally from, then I moved to San Francisco where I studied acting, and then I moved to Berlin. I have a sonorous voice, and while I was in Berlin I started getting cast in operas, as an actor. There are a lot of acting roles in operas.
Do you speak German?
Fluently. That’s another thing people don’t know about me. The guys that work for me have no idea, and then will be at an underwear party and the German will be visiting, and I’ll speak German, and then they’ll say, “What the hell is going on?” Americans are shocked when somebody starts speaking a different language. So, I did that for a few years, and then I moved to New York. I didn’t want to be an actor in New York, because it was tough, and I was also getting older. I was 28 at the time, and I said, this is not going to work for me. I started transitioning out of acting and then tried to figure out what I wanted to do. I kept trying to figure out what was it I liked about acting, but in a different career. Then I started doing nightlife, and it led into producing, and that’s what I’ve been doing.
So besides Sandra Bernhard, what do you have coming up?
Rosie O’Donnell is coming on August 22. Rosie has a charity called Rosie’s Theater Kids. So they reached out to me and said, “We want to do an event with you.” They said they wanted to do one in the city and one in Fire Island to help Rosie’s Kids. So I said, “Well, let’s do something at the Ice Palace.” The Ice Palace, as far as I’m concerned, is one of the most untapped venues on the island, meaning it’s big, and there’s a million things you can do. It’s very versatile. There is a lot more that you can do than what they’re doing. You can have concerts and cabaret. Last night we had sold out Margaret Cho. The place was packed. It was so fun. So I said let’s do it, but what’s Rosie going to do? They said she likes fashion, so I said let’s do fashion. So basically we’re putting together a fashion show. We have all these great designers, because the name Rosie opens doors. So we’re going with like an ‘80s theme. They are bringing out the clothes from the Broadway show Taboo out of Rosie’s closet. Then on September 11 at the Pines we’re doing my take on the Chippendale dancers, and it’s called Diamond Studs. It’s like male burlesque performers.
What’s the most fun party you have done?
I used to do a fun party with Sweetie the Drag Queen.
I love Sweetie! Do you have any plans to do anything during the winter?
Alan and I are doing Carnegie Hall. It will be my first time producing a show at Carnegie Hall with Alan Cummings, who you just saw. It’s going to be for Valentine’s Day. And then I opened an office in New Orleans, so I’ll be doing some stuff there. I’ll be working with Chita Rivera and Pam Ann in New Orleans.
Let’s say you are a new addition to a crayon box. What color are you?
I used to feel black. Now I kind of feel like people have accepted me. It was a really rough road. Do you know who’s really opened up to me? The lesbians. I think the problem is that the community is sick of just having raunch and drag. So when I started bringing the shows, people are very thankful. It took years though. People at first didn’t like me, but now people have been so sweet to me. I felt like the black sheep, but in the past few years I feel like people have warmed up to me. One thing I think about Cherry Grove is that there is diversity. Good businesses are owned by gay and straight, lesbians, trannies, everything.