Randy Rainbow, the flamboyant singer-comedian from Commack, has a new memoir,...

Randy Rainbow, the flamboyant singer-comedian from Commack, has a new memoir, "Playing With Myself". Credit: Dirty Sugar Photography

Ever since he was a child, Commack native Randy Rainbow (yes, that's his real name) has been enamored with musical theater. After years of paying dues in Florida and New York — he left Long Island and moved south at age 11, then later came back to NYC — he unexpectedly became a star through his YouTube videos.

First there was his breakthrough skit involving “dating” a hateful Mel Gibson, and then he broached hot button topics through an endless stream of show tune satires like “Gee, Anthony Fauci” and “Rudy and the Beast.” His self-deprecating new memoir "Playing With Myself" (St. Martin’s Press, $28.99) chronicles his self-made rise to stardom. Now that all the virtual world has been his stage, Randy wants to do Broadway.

When will we get the Randy Rainbow version of "Moulin Rouge?" Or "Hooters The Musical" with you as the divine emcee, based on your old job.

That's funny. I've been hearing some different pitches on which chapter should be a musical. You're the first one to come up with the full-scale Hooters musical, but I like it. I'm for it.

You started off growing up in Commack, then your family relocated to Cooper City, Florida. Did you ever wonder what your life would have been like had you stayed here?

That's a good question. When I left Commack, I was in the performing arts, I was in ballet. So maybe I would be a prima ballerina by now. Maybe I'd be with the New York City Ballet or something. My mother would have traveled with me wherever I went, I suppose. And she had it in her mind, as I say in the book, to raise the gayest kid on the block. This was her agenda to really fill my head with Rodgers and Hammerstein and Sondheim, so I think there was no escaping this.

Even though your dad didn't get you, your mom did, and Nanny [his grandma, Irene] whose spirit lives on in you very clearly.

Very much so. This book started out as a thank you and an introduction of my real self to the fans and followers who've been with me for so many years now on this crazy ride I've been on, and that we've all been on. Then it turned into a love letter to the women in my life, and I dedicate it to them — my mom and my Nanny who, as you read in the book, pops up constantly when I need her most. Talking about my childhood, I realized it was also a love letter to myself a little bit, to little Randy and to Randy just a decade ago who had no idea what direction he was going in. An opportunity to say, “You did something, kid, good for you. You made something happen.”


I guess we could credit Nanny for the fact that you are able to entice people from across the aisle to watch your videos?

There was a hostess quality to her. She could be ranting and raving, but there was something welcoming about it. It was like a Don Rickles kind of thing. She was a roast comic at heart. I might have inherited some of that because I have people come to my shows [who say]: “I'm a hard-core Republican and you make fun of me all the time. But I love you!” They're in on the joke. It is a funhouse mirror reflection of all sides, and I'm making fun of all opinions and parties including my own. I'm making fun of myself first and foremost. I think that translates to people and it makes them feel welcome in some way.


 

What would be your ideal Broadway musical to do with Patti LuPone?

It's funny because in this last video, this parody that I sang to Ron DeSantis, there's a Broadway marquee that says "Gay! The Musical," which is just artwork that I created. But now everyone's messaging me: “You’ve got to do 'Gay! The Musical.' Call Alan Menken!” We’re thinking of getting "Gay! The Musical" made. I'm thinking of calling my friends Harvey Fierstein and Alan Menken and seeing if we can throw that together. I think me and Patti LuPone should probably headline that one.

When does your podcast start?

We started recording it. We have a great roster of guests, including Josh Gad, Sean Hayes, Carol Burnett, Titus Burgess and Harvey Fierstein. It's going to be sketches, real conversation and some musical stuff.

The most humanizing chapter of your book involves your cat Mushi.

I got this book deal shortly after he passed, and I promised him that I would tell his story, that I would touch other cat people and pet people, and that his death wouldn't be in vain. That was such a miserable experience to lose a pet, but to have to go through it at the beginning of the pandemic. … People went through worse, but that was my struggle and my loss. I wanted to turn it into something that could at least touch people, and I'm glad that it has.

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