Ahead of Michael Musto's sold-out disco concert at 54 Below this Sunday, drag chanteuse Lady Bunny chats with the golden-throated gossip queen about performing with Madonna back in the day, partying at Studio 54 and what to expect when he takes the stage this weekend.
I remember you singing in the '80s and you have a good voice. What's inspired your return to singing after a lengthy hiatus?
Last year, Tish & Snooky asked me to sing a Christmas song for a benefit at the Cutting Room. I didn't want to do anything too solemn, so I said, "How about if l do a rock version of 'Oh Come All Ye Faithful', with a tap dancing break in the middle?" They said fine, so I did it, with Tish & Snooky as my backups, and the band happened to consist of members of Blue Oyster Cult and Alice Cooper's band, so it truly rocked. I got hooked all over again and when 54 Below asked me to sing a few songs, I couldn't get to that microphone fast enough.
Your group Michael Musto and The Musts shared equal billing with a budding Madonna -- GIVE US THE DIRT!
Even pre-Madonna, she was a primadonna! She sound-checked the mic from every angle for so long that my band never got to check. The club had opened its doors and she was still checking! Then after our performance (we went on first), her manager Camille told me we couldn't greet our friends in the shared dressing room because Madonna was getting dressed. I said, "Sorry. It's a shared room" and kept the friends pouring in. It was ironic that the woman who made the world her gynecologist didn't want to be seen changing in front of strangers. But hey, I love the gal!
Diana Ross is one of your icons and mine too -- can we look forward to any disco era Ross like "Love Hangover" or "The Boss?"
I worship Diana because she is pure show biz. Instead of blood, she has sequins. She's radiant and real and a little plastic (in a good way) all at once. But though I was thinking of doing "I'm Coming Out," I thought people would throw things and find it absurd. "You ARE out. Go back in!" So I'll probably just reference Miss Ross by pushing one of the backups out of the mic.
You have some exciting guest stars and a live band. Tell us who'll be joining you onstage.
Orfeh is a Tony nominee from Legally Blonde and many other shows. She's a powerhouse, a force of nature, with amazing vocal skills. She'll grace us with some hot-buttered soul. And Randy Jones, the original cowboy from the Village People, is going to add some macho realness and classic disco spunk. The band we're singing with is Elektrik Company and they rock, with a horn section and all kinds of stuff. It's major shit.
How many parts music to how many parts comedy will this evening consist of?
In my case, even the music might come off as comedy, but I like to mix the earnest and the satirical in equal parts. For example, I'm doing a special version of "I Will Survive" with new lyrics about eating pizza. ("At first I was thin, I was extremely thin/Until the delivery boy with the anchovy pizza walked in...") I will perform it as disco diva Gloria Gainmore. On the floor laughing already? I knew it!
Did you frequent Studio 54 in it's heyday? Any noteworthy memories?
I was fresh out of college when I went and loved every head-spinning second. One of the best nights was a New Year's Eve celebration with a performance by Grace Jones and a "free breakfast served at 2 a.m." That meant they wheeled out one cart to make crepes for 2000 starving people, resulting in a French Revolution-like scene of desperation. But that was part of the insanity of 54, where Michael Jackson actually went out in public, people openly did coke and gave blow jobs, and I'd find myself dancing alongside celebs like Margaux Hemingway and Liza Minnelli.
Disco is party music -- will the audience be seated or encouraged to get up and boogie along? I know there's one ticket price for the dance floor only and one for banquettes.
They are clearing away the tables for people to dance their asses off. This is a dance party where you can boogie down to the DJ or stand there grinning over the live performances while shimmying in place. If you need to park your keister, you can spring for a banquette, butter me up to get a seat at one, or just hang in the toilet. That's where all the celebs will be anyway!
And is the audience encouraged to get dolled up?
Polyester is known to cause brain damage, but I still urge people to take a chance and get out their old leisure suits -- and more important to let out their old leisure suits. Big hair and lots of chains and crazy patterns are also encouraged. We will all look fabulous as we do bumps -- I mean THE bump, which is a line dance, of course. Everyone at the new 54 is only on prescription drugs.
Michael Musto On His Disco Concert: "It's Major Sh*t."