On the book jacket of Randy Rainbow’s just-published memoir Playing with Myself, there are rapturous quotes about the viral video sensation and social media star from an assortment of the boldest of bold names, everyone from Patti LuPone to Carol Burnett.
“Brilliant…. As good as anyone writing lyrics today,” reads one attributed to Stephen Sondheim.
“He was often far too generous with his praise,” Rainbow shares with Metro Weekly about the late, great Broadway legend, who Rainbow became obsessed with as a budding gay kid growing up in South Florida with big, Broadway-sized dreams.
Rainbow got to know Sondheim a dozen or so years ago, before Rainbow’s career as an entertainer, best known for his work in creating musical parodies, took off.
“He would say things to me like, ‘Randy, your lyrics are just right on the money every single time. How do you do it?’ And he was sincere about that. He was really complimentary about my lyric-writing. And as usual, I didn’t know what to do, because it made me uncomfortable. So I deflected with comedy every time. And I would always answer, ‘Steve, you wouldn’t understand.'”
As the anecdote makes plain, Randy Rainbow is leading a fascinating and good-humored creative life in the spotlight these days. But as he reveals in his illuminating, engaging, and well-crafted new memoir, his life has been pretty darn fascinating all along. His mother helped inspire his passion for Broadway, in part hoping that he might realize a dream as an entertainer she once had yet never pursued.
“Before I was born, in her younger days, she would pray every night to the Lord above that she would wake up as Bernadette Peters,” Rainbow says. “My mother never did turn into Bernadette Peters or even really pursue a career in musical theater. But she did give birth to me, which I guess says something about the power of prayer.”
In recent years, Rainbow has gotten the chance to work with Peters, recording at her home studio a duet that appears on his 2019 full-length studio album, A Little Brains, A Little Talent. He’s gotten to know her well enough to even call Peters a friend. His mother (and No. 1 fan), on the other hand, well, she’s still waiting to so much as meet Peters.
“She hasn’t met Bernadette Peters yet but she certainly will,” Rainbow says. “I’ve also become friendly with the great Carol Burnett, and Carol has been gracious enough to invite me and my mother to attend when she receives the Stephen Sondheim Award next month.” That award, presented by Virginia’s Signature Theatre, will be bestowed to Burnett on Monday, May 16, at a Black Tie Gala at the Italian Embassy. Rainbow is currently in discussions with organizers at Signature about what role he might play and whether or not he’ll perform.
“We’re working out what I’m going to do,” he says. “We might show a video. I might say a few words, I’m not sure. It’s in the middle of this crazy tour. So I’m not sure how much I’ll have time to prepare. But whatever they want me to do, I mean, I’ll do anything for Carol.”
It was 2016 when many people, especially the politically engaged, first started to clue into Randy Rainbow, the persona. His breakthrough was parodying the first Presidential Debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, in which he seized on Trump’s use of the word “braggadocious,” turning it into a clever parody of “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” from Mary Poppins. Four years and millions upon millions of views and followers later, he upped the ante with the politically-themed video, “If Donald Got Fired,” featuring none other than Patti LuPone — or as he puts it in one chapter of his book, “Patti ‘Fucking’ LuPone.”
“That needed to be a special video,” he says. “I felt I needed to bring in the big guns and really make a splash. And it just so happened around that time, Patti LuPone reached out to me and said she wanted to collaborate on something. I said, ‘I’ll get going on a script.'”
The script had LuPone popping in during footage from the debate, with Rainbow pretending to be the debate moderator, to rally support for Joe Biden. “Whenever gay men are in crisis, I just materialize,” Rainbow scripted her to say in the video. He also had her use a certain curse word. “It’s not that hard to get Patti LuPone to say ‘fuck,’ I’m pleased to report,” he laughs.
Over the next couple of weeks, Rainbow is travelling around the country to both promote his new book and perform his live stage show. He says the video parody he posted earlier this month will likely be the last one until he returns home to New York. And what a politically themed little gay gem the video simply titled “Gay!” is.
“I wanted to just gay it up,” he says. “There’s a lot of discussion about that ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill. I just took the opportunity to be as gay as I possibly could.” Among the many hilarious similes he concocts to describe just how gay he is, arguably the standout is “as gay as a drag queen’s brassiere.”
“I’m very proud of that one,” he says. “First of all, I love the word ‘brassiere.’ Who says brassiere anymore? It’s like it’s 1952. Comedically, it’s a perfect word. And it sounds really gay. I love it.”
METRO WEEKLY: I like how at the very start of your new memoir, you get right to it, addressing the fact that, yes, this is your real name. You’ve had to deal with that question your whole life, and especially with your career.
RANDY RAINBOW: Yeah. I do start the book by dispelling the rumors and speculation about my name, because of course, people think it’s like the corniest stage name ever, but I would not have done that to myself. There’s even a picture of my birth certificate for all the birthers out there demanding receipts.
MW: Is there a significance to your first name, or do you know why your parents named you that?
RAINBOW: I don’t think so. Honestly I think maybe they were going for the alliteration. I know my middle name Stewart, was my father’s father, and they wanted to give me the option because they knew, obviously, that it was a cruel trick that they were playing on me from the beginning to name me Randy Rainbow. I think they said, “Well, we’ll give him Stewart as a middle name.” I don’t know, I guess Stewart Rainbow would have been taken more seriously as an accountant or a lawyer or something. But I do know that Randi, with an I, would have been the name if I were born a girl. I was destined to be Randy.
MW: And destined to be Rainbow — and thus gay too, I suppose.
RAINBOW: Exactly right. Good thing. What the hell would I do otherwise?
MW: When was it that you landed on the idea to do the video montages? Were you a big YouTube user to begin with?
RAINBOW: I moved to New York at the age of 22, and I was really the youngest 22-year-old on the planet — I was really younger than my age. I had a lot of growing up to do. I was scared of my own shadow. I had no self-confidence, or I was just growing into my self-confidence, so I didn’t really have a direction. I knew that I was a performer, I had done it my whole life. I have been on the stage since I was six, but just wasn’t ready to start pounding the pavement when I moved to New York. I just had to grow up a little bit, so I worked odd jobs.
Long story short, the ham in me realized that I did still want to perform, and thanks to this new invention of YouTube and social media, which I was figuring out a decade or more ago, I realized that I could create a vehicle for myself. It was really more or less an audition tape that I was creating. My goal — or my evil plan — was to put myself on camera and show people that I could perform and that I was funny, and I had a nice voice, and I was castable.
I thought I would be plucked and just placed in existing projects, that casting directors would see it and say, “He’s got some skill. Let’s audition him for things. Let’s put him in shows.” Then it turned out that what I was doing worked, and I had to keep producing content for myself, which is terrific. But I originally assumed that I would hopefully wind up in existing shows, and it’s certainly something I would still love to do. I mean, King George in Hamilton? Let’s go, what are we waiting for?
MW: I guess your timing was pretty fortuitous, in terms of the rise of YouTube and the whole phenomenon of social media.
RAINBOW: I’m the oldest millennial by definition. I just make the cut off as a millennial, so that’s fortunate. I had one foot in the social media age. I was still young enough to be experimenting and playing around with formats and things like that. So I was able to use social media to my advantage. I’m very grateful for that.
MW: You talk in the book about having a videocassette recorder as a kid and knowing what a VHS is.
RAINBOW: I know, I really date myself in this book.
MW: You couldn’t do what you do now, or not as easily anyway, using that old technology.
RAINBOW: No, I mean, I tried to do it. As a kid locking myself in my room and making these, essentially, TikTok videos on my handheld camcorder that I had gotten for a birthday present. I would hold the Canon camcorder selfie-style, and just record music videos that I would copy from MTV — back when MTV played music videos — and just do shot-by-shot production, which is what TikTok is now. I was very ahead of my time, is the point.
MW: Growing up, were you encouraged in your creative pursuits and Hollywood and Broadway dreams?
RAINBOW: I come from a showbiz-positive family. Everyone was really into the performing arts. My father was a musician and a singer, and my mother’s father and brothers were also musicians. She had a love of musical theater. I joke that she was trying to raise the gayest kid on Long Island by putting me to sleep with the cast albums of Broadway musicals. Although it’s not really a joke. I mean, look what happened. She succeeded. So yeah, I was never discouraged.
MW: I assume she’s proud of you, her only child.
RAINBOW: Extremely, yes. She’s very proud. She’s my number one fan. Absolutely.
MW: What inspired you to write the new memoir?
RAINBOW: I’ve been approached to write books for years, and they were usually novelty books, comedy books. They wanted me to write joke books about Donald Trump, or politicians that would be the subjects of my satire. And I guess I hung around long enough that a publisher finally approached me wanting to know more about my personal story and how I came to do what I do and be who I am. I saw it as a great opportunity to really introduce myself to those fans.
So many people have been so generous with their gratitude to me through the years. They come to my shows, and they write to me online and say, “Thank you. Thank you for getting me through the Trump years. Thank you for getting me through the pandemic with laughter and music,” and through their own personal struggles. And they’re so generous in sharing their own personal stories, I realized they don’t really know me. They really know this two-dimensional persona, which again, is part of me, but not the whole thing. So, I saw this as an opportunity to really finally introduce myself to those people.
And same goes for the people who hate me. When I get trolled on the internet, when I get trolled on social media, the first thing that pops in my head is, “They’re talking essentially about a scripted cartoon caricature of me. They don’t even know me.” So read the book, get to know who you’re talking about, and then you can really hate me.
MW: How does it feel not only to be meeting the various celebrities that you’ve idolized and admired since you were a kid, but in many cases being able to call them friends?
RAINBOW: It’s amazing. For me, the most thrilling part of this whole ride that I’ve been on is meeting my idols. And I talk about them a lot in my book. There’s no shortage of celebrity name dropping, and it’s not gratuitous. I’m just trying to illustrate that these crazy, insane dreams, these childhood dreams that I never even dared to dream, are now coming true.
Patti LuPone is coming over to collaborate on videos with me. I got to befriend Stephen Sondheim and get to know him for 16 years. Rosie O’Donnell and I shared a marquee. And Kathy Griffin will be moderating my book tour stop in L.A. This stuff is crazy. I can’t believe it’s happening.
MW: Tell me more about how you linked up with Sondheim, how that came about.
RAINBOW: It was really serendipitous, I guess you’d call it, because I met him before any of this career stuff started taking off for me. As fate would have it, I was working at a Broadway production office as a receptionist, in 2004 to 2006, around that time, and one of the friends that I made there, who was an assistant to a big producer, happened to be Stephen’s then-partner and later husband. So he introduced me, first at a Tony Awards after-party. I got to dogsit for him and have cocktail hours at his townhouse here in Manhattan, and it was incredible.
And then, as I came into myself and career things started happening, he became one of my biggest supporters. He was in the front row when I played The Beacon here in New York for the first time, sitting next to my mother. And my mother said he didn’t stop laughing and was clapping the loudest. So it’s crazy. For someone who had such an impact on me creatively, growing up, to be able to say that he was a friend and to have gotten the opportunity to tell him how much he meant to me, that’s the greatest thing you could wish for.
MW: A lot of people turn to comedy, and to this line of work in general, as an escape, or as a coping mechanism. To some extent, that seems true for you, but it also seems to run deeper than that.
RAINBOW: It was always a part of my life. I come from a funny family. I mean, not to be stereotypical, not to use tropes or anything, but a New York Jewish family was very funny — I don’t know if that’s breaking news, but my mother and my grandmother, Irene, who is a recurring character throughout this book — she’s no longer with us, but is a voice in my head — she really imparted her comedy philosophy to me, which was to laugh at everything.
She was extremely negative. She was a pessimist by nature, but she had this magical way of immediately turning all of her negative energy into humor, and her rants and her diatribes about things that she was quite angry about were hilarious, which I know was therapeutic for her, and also provided entertainment for the listener. And I caught on from a young age and it eventually turned into what I am able to do professionally now.
MW: Did she live long enough to see you in this light?
RAINBOW: When I was first starting out, I got a writing gig for HX, a gay rag in Manhattan, and I got to interview Liza. My grandmother was around for that stage of my career. And at that time, it was exciting that I would have cover stories with Liza Minnelli and casts of Broadway shows. Not knocking gay rags, but at the time this little gay magazine popped up in bars and bathrooms. I would go home for Thanksgiving, and my grandmother would pass out copies of these magazines to our friends and family. “Did you see my grandson, the published author?” Meanwhile, there was a picture of a leather daddy in a cock sock on the cover. And all those ads in the back. My grandmother didn’t care. She was very proud.
So she saw the beginning of it. My first kind of viral video was in 2010 when I was pretending to date Mel Gibson. And she lived long enough to see me having a romantic relationship with Mel Gibson, I’m proud to say. And she was very tickled by it. She had my mother set up an internet connection in her bedroom, and most of my views came from her at that time.
MW: If you don’t mind, walk me through how you came up with the whole concept of pretending to date Mel Gibson.
RAINBOW: I just started experimenting. I was working at an accounting firm as a receptionist. And believe it or not, I stuck out like a sore thumb. I did not belong in that accounting firm and they knew it. And I took every opportunity to escape in any way. I had a computer at my desk, and I started blogging and working on my comedy material.
YouTube was becoming a thing, and one day I decided, let me experiment with putting myself on camera and do some YouTube videos. I was writing a blog, and I said, let me put some of these blog posts in monologue form and deliver them — the performer in me was kind of itching to get out. So one day, a couple of them got a little bit of attention. And this Mel Gibson news broke back in 2010, his horrible rants that were leaked of him screaming at his ex-girlfriend. And I just got an idea to use the audio. That was kind of an important moment, because it’s what I wound up doing and I’m still doing to this day. Everyone was talking about this, but I said, ‘If I’m going to do it, I want to find some angle that not everyone is taking.’
Everyone was enraged or shocked or appalled. I mean, really, the things that he was saying were shocking and appalling, but who cares? Everyone was sharing the same opinion. I said, “What can I bring to the table that’s a little unique?” And since his rants were in large part homophobic and anti-Semitic, I said, “Well, I’m a gay Jew. Why don’t I pretend I’m dating him?” And that sort of was the birth of this shtick of Forrest Gumping myself into the headlines.
MW: You found a gimmick.
RAINBOW: You got to get a gimmick, as Sondheim said.
MW: Yeah, and you collaborated with Josh Gad and Sean Hayes in a cover of that song from Gypsy for your 2019 album.
RAINBOW: Thank you for an album plug! I love it! Yeah. That was so fun to do.
MW: A Little Brains, A Little Talent featured a number of collaborations with big-named artists. Which, I think it bears noting, were all real. They weren’t the equivalent of so much of your video work, where you insert yourself into recorded footage.
RAINBOW: Oh, my god. Did somebody think that I stole audio of Josh Gad and Sean Hayes doing a duet of that song and just inserted myself?
MW: Actually, that thought popped to mind while listening to your duet with Bernadette Peters. It was pretty clear by the end it was recorded with you, but I did wonder if you had given any thought to using previously recorded material to fashion a kind of virtual duet the way Natalie Cole did way back when with her deceased father.
RAINBOW: That’s so funny that you would even think that. No, that was the actual me and actual Bernadette Peters actually singing in an actual studio. In fact, I got to go to her apartment for an entire week at her request — no arguments from me — to rehearse that. One of the most thrilling experiences of my life. No, when you do an album, you can’t get away with some of the audio kind of riffing that you do in YouTube satire.
MW: On that album, you wrote a new song with Marc Shaiman called “Randy Rainbow for President” and one with Alan Menken called “Pink Glasses.” What was it like collaborating with those two legendary composers?
RAINBOW: Again, I don’t know whose life this is that I’m living. Marc and I had worked together. He wrote the title track on my Christmas album a couple of years ago. So this was our second project together. And then, Alan had sent me an email: “As your main go-to composer, I just wanted to give you a virtual hug for all of the videos that you have done” — because I’ve ripped him off more times than you can imagine.
But he also said, “If you ever want to create something original, give me a call.” So, I certainly took him up on that offer. He wrote all those Disney classics that inspired me and got me through my childhood, frankly. So to be able to write a song with him — and the song is also kind of very personal, because I make it a story about my grandmother, and how she imparted this philosophy of, “Look through your pink glasses, or rose-colored glasses, however you want to say it, to see life how you want to see it.” So it was very, very exciting and also emotional on many levels to write that with him.
MW: I take it that you’re currently in your 40th year of life.
RAINBOW: How dare you!
MW: Well, as a 49-year-old, I think I’m allowed.
RAINBOW: I guess, but we’re still going to lie and whoever is transcribing this is meant to say I’m 32, thank you.
MW: It’s just a number, right?
RAINBOW: I guess it is. I just turned 40 last year. My mother and I both went through this, going into a new decade of life in the midst of a pandemic, being locked in our homes essentially, which is very cruel. It’s a horrible way to do it because you’re already going through an existential crisis as it is, and then to turn 40, or in her case 70, we were both kind of freaking out a little bit. But you know, it’s a number. So whatever. I think I’ve settled into it a little bit.
It’s also nice that the world is crumbling around me, but professionally speaking, things are going pretty well for me. So, I’m grateful that that’s the case. I think if I were still behind the reception desk turning 40 — no shade to receptionists, if that’s what you want to do, but that was not where I belonged. So, I’m grateful that I’ve come into myself at this time and things are aligning.
MW: Early on in the book you reveal your lifelong adoration and devotion to Barbra Streisand. I couldn’t help but wonder if you had gotten the chance to meet or talk to her yet.
RAINBOW: Well, I did meet her briefly after one of her concerts, I think in 2016. I got sort of like a two-second audience with her. But since then, she actually saw my parody that I did [last year] called “Marjorie Taylor Greene” to the tune of “Evergreen,” and she liked it so much that she had her team call me and ask if I would produce a video to help promote her new album, Release Me 2 [which came out last summer]. And her A&R guy and her manager came up with the idea of me singing a parody of “I’m The Greatest Star,” and they asked me if I would do it. They didn’t have to convince me! And I’m happy to say that she was very happy with it and sent me a little gift box with some swag from the album, and personally signed a note that is being framed as we speak.
MW: So she hasn’t invited you to her house or to her studio yet?
RAINBOW: No, and how rude of you to bring that up! No, I have not yet been invited properly. Damn it! I have not had the full Barbra experience that I need, but I’m on my way, damn it!
MW: Do you have a favorite social media platform? Do you reach more people on one over the others?
RAINBOW: I mean, it changes all the time. It used to be that Facebook was my kind of motherboard and that was where I got my most views. A lot of people are abandoning ship on Facebook, though — it goes in and out.
Now I’m seeing Twitter has kind of initially the most number of views, and YouTube is getting more views than Facebook does, which didn’t used to be the case. It’s very difficult to keep up in this day and age, especially if you’re not 16 years old, because you’ve spent years building this audience. And I’m like, “I have a million followers here, finally.” And then they’re like, “Oh, yeah, we’re not doing that anymore. We’re doing this now.” But it’s like, “Wait, I have a million followers.” “No. Go here where you have six followers.” It’s a never-ending story.
MW: So you have to be on every platform.
RAINBOW: I do. I just finally caved and started TikToking, which I’m glad I did. I’m having fun with it. I broke 100,000 followers on Tiktok in my first month, so it’s going well. And with my last two videos, actually with my spoof called “Gurl, You’re a Karen,” that was my first million views on TikTok. I feel like a teenager again.
I don’t do Snapchat, I guess maybe I should. Listen, I have to have a life, too. I have to live.
MW: For TikTok, are you creating distinct, original content?
RAINBOW: A little bit. I’m posting my parody videos to TikTok as well, but I’m also taking the opportunity of using that as a way to be kind of more casual. Casual Randy, just talking to the camera. And I don’t know, I might use it for shorter versions of my longer-form spoofs and parody videos, but I’ll say I’m still figuring it all out.
MW: So I guess if I want to see Casual Randy, I’ll have to go and start a TikTok account.
RAINBOW: Yeah, right. I’m usually just in a muumuu, hair in curlers, no makeup. And that’s where you can see the real me.
MW: Do you wear a lot of makeup, in general? Even when not in drag?
RAINBOW: Listen, I’m the director and producer of these videos, so I know how to light myself. People see me in person and sometimes they’re like, “Oh, you’re not all made up.” “Oh, you look like a real person.” I don’t wear tons of makeup, but yeah, I always wear makeup. Frankly, I don’t leave the house anymore without a little bit of foundation. I think we’ve reached a place thankfully where makeup is becoming genderless and a lot of guys and people of all genders are wearing makeup, and I enjoy experimenting with it. So yeah, even when I’m going to the gym, I’ll put on a little foundation. And certainly, I’ll dress up if I’m doing any kind of drag for my videos, I’ll include lipstick and things like that and do it up a little bit.
MW: This feels like the point in the interview where you plug your new proprietary line of makeup or foundation, or what-have-you.
RAINBOW: We’re working on it. I’m actually getting ready, hopefully soon, to release my new line of nail polishes, which will be available soon on www.randyrainbow.com, and at my tours. So I’d love to do that, I’d love to do more of that. I hear from people all the time, when I do drag in my videos to back myself up, the number one question I get is, “What is that shade of lipstick? I must have it.” So I’d love to have my own line of lipstick.
MW: In the CBS Sunday Morning profile of you earlier this month, although they didn’t make any mention of it, I noticed you had painted your fingernails pink.
RAINBOW: Yeah, I think I had blue in the first [visit] and then pink when they came again. It’s becoming normalized a little bit, at least for people in the entertainment industry. Machine Gun Kelly has a whole line of nail polishes, I believe. It’s fun. I mean, if I can paint my nails a fun color, why not do that? Life is short. Wear the nail polish. Have fun. Things get boring. Especially during the pandemic, I really started experimenting with makeup and nail polish and stuff like that. Because I was sitting around looking at myself in the mirror for a year. And I’m like, “I’m fucking bored looking at you! So let’s see how we can play around a little bit.”
MW: The CBS Sunday Morning piece also hinted about a possible Broadway show in the works. Is that true?
RAINBOW: I am actively discussing it. I’ve been touring my Pink Glasses Tour around the country and will be touring through this year, dates to be announced. I would love to bring that to a Broadway stage. It’ll come as no surprise to people that that’s certainly on my bucket list. And I’ve been approached by producers who have interest in working with me on something like that. But we’re just kind of in the preliminary stages of discussing how we can make it happen.
MW: How would you characterize your live show?
RAINBOW: It’s really a concert experience. It’s me in concert. So there’s a large screen behind me with projections, kind of backing myself up. And it’s a little stand up. It’s some of my greatest hits that people know from social media. It’s evolved to where I talk a little bit about my personal story and how I came to do this — some of the origin stuff that I talk about in the book, I now talk about on stage. And I’m accompanied by a four-piece band of fabulous Broadway musicians. And it’s Randy In Concert. And we do a Q&A, and audience interactive stuff. Those are some of my favorite parts of it.
MW: I know your video parody work didn’t start out being political at all. That really didn’t happen until the rise of Trump in 2016. Yet before reading your book in which you say otherwise, I still had you pegged as somewhat of a political junkie or aficionado.
RAINBOW: Like everyone, I think we’ve all become more aware of those topics. In the first chapter of the book, I come out and dispel the myth that I am hired by the DNC or Nancy Pelosi or some political figure to push a political agenda. I kind of just followed the bouncing ball of what the hot topics were to make my content.
And in 2016, it comes as no surprise to anyone that people started talking about nothing but politics. And we kind of still are, that’s become the celebrity gossip, almost. But none of my work is really politically motivated. It’s politically themed, and I have opinions about all of this stuff, there’s no getting around that. But everyone is talking about these things, and I’m just following suit.
MW: Have you heard or gotten feedback from any of the politicians you’ve parodied?
RAINBOW: Marjorie Taylor Greene has not reached out and invited me to brunch, I’m sorry to say. No, I haven’t heard from any of them. When Trump was in office, people would ask me if I ever heard from him. First of all, no. That would have been great publicity. I wish that I had. He didn’t even block me on Twitter when he was allowed to use Twitter, damn it! But no. I did hear from some whistleblowers within the White House that I did have fans in his administration. I’m assuming they meant Melania.
MW: Speaking of, have you joined TRUTH Social?
RAINBOW: Oh, my God, I have not. Do you think they would let me on TRUTH Social? I probably should try, just to see what happens. I would have to have an alias or something, so they wouldn’t recognize me.
MW: On a long list I made noting many of the people you have either parodied or featured in some way in your videos, I come to J.Lo, from your fake American Idol audition tape.
RAINBOW: Oh, yeah. You are digging into my vault, into my archives. No, never heard from J.Lo.
That American Idol spoof was one of the first videos I did of its kind, when I greenscreened myself into a scenario like that. I did hear from Nigel Lythgoe, one of the creators of American Idol, who took me to breakfast one day and said he wanted to make me a star, and that they were all fans of mine over at American Idol. Unfortunately, the project he had in mind for me was shelved. And I had to keep chugging away, and nothing really took off for me until about six years later. It’s amazing, this social media thing. It allows you to reach people you never imagined you would.
MW: Can you give any more insight into what that was or might have been, the project with Nigel?
RAINBOW: It was in the very developmental stage, but if I remember it correctly, it was some sort of Broadway reality show where they would follow people at various stages of their careers. And I would sort of be the, I guess, Ryan Seacrest glue that held it all together. That’s how it was kind of pitched to me, and I signed the contracts. But it didn’t take off. Damn it!
MW: You’ve also made mention of Anderson Cooper from time to time. Have you ever heard from or met him?
RAINBOW: I have not yet heard from Anderson Cooper. But he is one of my guest moderators on a stop on this book tour. I’m happy to say that in the next couple of weeks, he will be interviewing me for his CNN Plus show, where he will likely ask me to marry him, and you’ll never hear from me again.
MW How is your dating life? Are you seeing anyone?
RAINBOW: I think that’s all we have time for.
It’s very depressing. There’s nothing to report. It’s that stock answer: I’ve been very focused on career. It’s my own fault. I haven’t really been putting myself out there enough. Although I’m starting to do that more now. Because I do want to get back on the saddle again and start dating. It’s hard. I’m wildly famous now. Everybody knows me. And you have to be kind of careful. Of course, I like that too, though. My friends are like, “You have to be careful now, because there are so many starfuckers out there.” To which I say, “You mean there are people out there who think I’m a star and will want to fuck me because of it? Sign me up! Bring it on.”
MW:“Don’t hate me because I’m famous.”
RAINBOW: Come on, that’s all I want.
MW: Is it true you’re developing a podcast?
RAINBOW: Yes! Sean Hayes, who has been an inspiration to me my whole life, is producing a podcast for me with his production company, Hazy Mills Prods, which of course is behind Sean’s podcast SmartLess, which is the biggest podcast on Earth now.
And they are producing the Randy Rainbow podcast, which we’ve started working on now and will be coming out, hopefully, at the beginning of May. It’s going to be a mix of some sketch comedy, some musical elements, and I’m also getting to interview some incredible friends and celebrities that I’ve never even gotten the opportunity to meet before. But so far, it’s all friends. We’ve got Titus Burgess. We’ve got Josh Gad. We have Sean Hayes, Jon Cryer, Carol Burnett. It’s going to be a lot of fun. Harvey Fierstein just did it the other day. And those are just some of the names.
MW: Speaking of a Jewish ham.
RAINBOW: Harvey Fierstein, oh, my God! He’s been so supportive of me. And actually, just a couple of months ago when I played Ridgefield, Connecticut, which is his hometown, he picked me up at the theater before the show and took me to dinner with Alan Menken. So that’s a dream come true, but he’s been so so kind, and he is good for a quote. In fact, I quote him at the end of a chapter in my book, and when it came time to do the audiobook, which I narrate, I had to learn to do a Harvey Fierstein impression, which if I do say, I’m actually quite good at.
MW: Now I have to go and check out the audio version.
RAINBOW: If for no other reason.
MW: What else is on the horizon for you?
RAINBOW: Well, I’ve decided to go with the flow, because that’s ultimately what I’ve been doing this last decade. And it worked out for me. I try not to make too many specific plans. I’m excited about this book. I think that that will hopefully lead to some fun, new projects, be it a TV show or a theater piece or something like that. Or another book, I don’t know. I’m just kind of strapping in and ready for the ride.
I’m excited for the podcast. I will continue doing my satire on social media and beyond. And I love my tour. I love being able to have these opportunities to travel the country and meet people and perform. It’s all been a dream come true. So, I ain’t stopping anytime soon.
“Playing with Myself” by Randy Rainbow ($28.99) is available in hardback, download, or audiobook from St. Martin’s Press. Visit https://us.macmillan.com.
For more information on Randy Rainbow’s tour stops, visit www.randyrainbow.com.
For more on Signature Theatre’s 2022 Sondheim Award Gala and to purchase tickets, visit www.SigTheatre.org/Support/SondheimGala.
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