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Friday, August 28, 2009

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Michael Musto, Fabulous Columnist of "La Dolce Musto" of The Village Voice


Michael Musto writes the long running column “La Dolce Musto” in the Village Voice, spanning nightlife, fashion, and entertainment events, and all other aspects of New York culture. Musto has written the column since 1984, offering opinionated insight while breaking taboos and introducing readers to New York’s most exciting figures, from uptown socialites to downtown performance artists.

In addition, Musto writes “La Daily Musto,” the flashy blog on villagevoice.com, which deals in breaking news and irascible opinions on Manhattan clubs, celebrity antics, and personal plugs and admissions.

A UPI profile of Musto called him “one of the wittiest stylists” in the English language. And he has extended his prose into four books—“Downtown,” a 1986 non fiction look into Manhattan’s cultural underground, published by Vintage; “Manhattan on the Rocks,” a 1989 roman-a-clef about NYC’s various social scenes, published by Henry Holt; “La Dolce Musto: Writings By The World’s Most Outrageous Columnist,” published in 2007 by Avalon; and his upcoming “Fork on the Left, Knife in the Back,” another collection, this time with some original material, coming out on Alyson Books in February 2010.

Through the years, Musto has also written for publications as diverse as Vanity Fair, Styles of the Times, New York magazine, and Ocean Drive. He has breathlessly chronicled New York’s glitterati, and has even veered into chronicling the dark side, being instrumental in the coverage of the slaying of club kid Angel Melendez by promoter Michael Alig and his roommate in the mid 1990s.

Musto has long been a prominent face on television, commenting on a variety of pop culture topics with √©lan. He was a regular on E!’s “The Gossip Show” for six years and after that he cohosted “New York Central,” a Gotham-oriented magazine-format show on the Metro channel. He’s also popped up on VH1, MSNBC (“Countdown With Keith Olbermann”), and PBS (“Theater Talk,” on which he regularly discusses the current Broadway season).

While tirelessly covering bold faced names, Musto has attained a measure of celebrity himself. Most recently, his name came up on “Gossip Girl,” and he was a sit-down guest on “The Late, Late Show With Craig Ferguson.” In the future for Musto? More events, more chronicling, and more fabulousness. We are pleased to present him as our latest Mover and Shaker!

Peachy Deegan interviewed Michael Musto for Whom You Know.

Peachy Deegan: When you were growing up, did you aspire to be a columnist?
Michael Musto: I loved writing reviews of movies on little index cards, which were written only for me, so yes, the thought of being a columnist was tremendously exciting for me. I never thought it could be a reality, though!

What is your definition of fabulous?
Anyone or anything that has the courage of its own convictions. That radiates sexy energy by nature of being honest and daring and creative.

How has your column evolved since 1984?
The tone has pretty much stayed the same--it's personal and snarky, yet basically positive--but it's gotten longer! What was a third of a page is now a full page and a blog. Also, I've gotten greater access to celebrities and events through the years as the column has gained in reknown.

Who were the most interesting people in Manhattan in the 1980's?
The downtown club scene ruled, led by entrepreneurs like Rudolf Pieper, Steve Rubell, and Eric Goode, and club personalities like Dianne Brill and James St. James. Also on the scene, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, and Boy George were rising stars, and Stephen Sprouse and Keith Haring provided the aesthetic value. It was a dazzling time to be in the middle of the nocturnal underworld.

How about the 1990's?
There was still a strong club presence thanks to the Roxy (owned by Gene Dinino) and Jackie 60 (done at Chic Chi Valenti's and Johnny Dynell's club Mother). That was in the Meat Packing District bbefore it became sanitized.

How about this decade?
Paris Hilton, Lydia Hearst, the Misshapes, Murray Hill, Cazwell, Amanda Lepore, and many more.

Do you always want to write this column or do you have other ambitions also
that we don't know about?
I sing on the side and in the '80s I had a Motown cover band called the Must, but writing has always been my main ambition. Truth be told, I can barely carry a tune!

What are your strongest opinions regarding Manhattan and what do they stem
from?
I've always felt that it's the best place to be in the world because we initiate the trends, welcome all cultures, and are always at the core of excitement. Every other place is just a pretender.

Whom You Know just loves Craig Ferguson. What was he like when you met?
He was very welcoming and funny, and we had a nice time verbally sparring. We're so different, though at one point, he was a bouncer on the club scene, so our worlds did intersect.

What television shows have you enjoyed participating in the most and why?
I loved being on "The Gossip Show" because I got to develop my persona on camera and really let have a ball playing to the camera. I also love being on "Countdown" because Olbermann and I have a great rapport, and they really let me push envelopes and let it rip. But I love being in front of ANY camera!

What or who has had the most influence on your pursuit of excellence?
Other New York entertainment writers like Liz Smith, Rex Reed, John Simon, Cindy Adams, and Richard Johnson have inspired me. I always wanted to be like them.

What is your favorite place to be in Manhattan?
At whatever the hot event of the night is, whhether it be a movie premiere, fashion show, or after hours club.

What is your favorite shop in Manhattan?
H&M

What is your favorite drink?
Diet Coke.

What is your favorite restaurant in Manhattan?
The food court in Times Square. And Novita.

What is your favorite Manhattan book?
"Breakfast at Tiffany's"

What has been your best Manhattan athletic experience?
Bike riding everywhere I go. It's given me great thighs.

What is your favorite thing to do in Manhattan that you can do nowhere else?
People watching, especially in the Village at night. There's nothing like it--even on reality shows.

What has been your best Manhattan art or music experience?
Seeing amazing Broadway shows like the recent revivals of "Mary Stuart" and "Joe Turner's Come and Gone." I'm counting theater as "art," which it totally is.

What do you think is most underrated and overrated here?
The "nice" new developments are overrated because I never thought of NYC as a place where you should walk on a highline or look at a lovely fountain. I prefer the grit. Underrated are the divey bars where you can meet seemingly ordinary people who turn out to be quite extraordinary (if a bit drunk).

Other than Movers and Shakers of course, what is your favorite Whom You Know
column and what do you like about it?
Page Six remains the clearing house for all the fun, juicy stories about New York powers that be. It's my bible. But I read everything--in print AND online!

What else should Whom You Know readers know about you?
That, shockingly enough, I'm basically a nice guy from Brooklyn with good values. Really!

How would you like to be contacted by Whom You Know readers?
musto@villagevoice.com

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