Frank DeCaro could be the king — or queen — of all media.
That is, of course, if Oprah, Tyra, Martha, RuPaul and few dozen other entertainers fell off the face of the earth at the same time. But it’s still nice to be in the running.
The performer, writer and pop-culture commentator, 47, has had quite the career, making his unique presence felt in the worlds of television, print, radio and theater. His campy brand of humor has graced the pages of publications such as The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly and The Advocate, as well as his books, “A Boy Named Phyllis: A Suburban Memoir” and “Unmistakably Mackie: The Fashion and Fantasy of Bob Mackie.”
DeCaro has also been all over the small screen, appearing on numerous TV networks on shows like “The Daily Show,” “E! True Hollywood Story” and the Game Show Network’s “I’ve Got a Secret.”
Currently DeCaro can be heard on his eponymous daily radio show on Sirius XM Satellite Radio’s OutQ channel, and seen hosting gay comedy nights and cabarets in New York City clubs.
DeCaro will be in Philadelphia April 17 for a return engagement as co-host of Mr. Gay Philadelphia with Brittany Lynn and special guest judges Jonny McGovern, Michael Musto and Sandy Beach. He discussed what it is about Philadelphia and the Mr. Gay competition that lures him away from everything he has going on in New York City.
PGN: What keeps bringing you back to host Mr. Gay Philly? FD: Any excuse to come to Philadelphia is a good excuse. We are always treated so beautifully when we are there. We always have such a great time when we’re there. Mr. Gay Philadelphia is a hoot. It’s a fun thing to be a part of, and any chance to work with and get hammered with Brittany Lynn is a fun idea.
PGN: Is there anything that happened in previous years that sticks out in your mind? FD: I was blown away when they brought in the Cher impersonator. Basically, if you squint a little bit, you really do feel like you met Cher. This young man came in nondescript and suddenly, give him a couple of hours in the makeup chair, and he was Cher. I had pictures taken, so basically I told people I was with Cher in Philadelphia.
PGN: Are you going to do anything else in Philadelphia? FD: We stay as long as we can. Usually we bring our dog. There’s so many dog-friendly hotels. So we bring our dog and then we make sure we get a cheesesteak. The last time we were there, we saw amazing art. We went to the Picasso show and we went to The Flower Show. The food is great, the people are terrific and hanging out in the Gayborhood is totally groovy. You really can walk to everything and do a pub crawl as opposed to going here then getting a taxi and going there. You can just wander around in your stupor and have a good time.
PGN: What are you looking for in a winning contestant? FD: Someone who embodies all the deliciousness of being a gay man in 2010. I’m glad I don’t have to judge. I just have to highlight them. They not only have to be cute, they have to have a lot going on as well. Time was you could just be cute, but it’s not enough anymore.
PGN: How are things going at OutQ Radio? FD: We’ve been having a really fun time on OutQ. My co-host [show producer Doria Biddle] is all giddy because the Dinah Shore weekend is coming up [the first weekend in April]. I’m giddy because she’s not doing the show with me tomorrow. But we’ve been having a lot of fun. OutQ has grown so much. In the early days, we’d just sit on our thumbs. Now it’s pretty amazing the number of people who are out there listening.
PGN: Who is on your list of dream guests on the show? FD: I think I’d love to chat with Elton John on the show. We’ve had Bette Midler and tons of mega-stars who only need one name. Elton John or Cher would be my two legends that I would like to get on the show.
PGN: Have you ever had someone on the show where you thought, We are never having them back again? FD: Once in a while, you get someone who’s a total washout. Usually that has not been the case; I can count on three fingers the times where we were like, “God, that was horrible!” We’ve been fortunate to have really wonderful people. I like when they come back because they really know what they’re getting into. It’s sort of a vote of confidence.
PGN: Having been on so many television shows, are all these projects things you created or were you sought out for them? FD: My whole career I’ve always kind of fell into things. This radio gig was no exception. I rode a wave and happened to be in the right place at the right time. I’m good at happening into stuff. We’re working on stuff going forward. I’m itching to get back on television.
PGN: Why did you stop doing “The Daily Show”? FD: They told me to stop. They said, “Could you leave?” And I said, “Do I have to?” They said, “Yes, you do.” So I did. I‘d still be there, I guess, if they’d have me, but they were becoming a political show and my silly little movie reviews didn’t fit with what they were doing.
PGN: Would you have adapted to politics if they had asked you to? FD: We tried but we really couldn’t see a way to do it. That is so not my bailiwick. There really was no way to save it. But I had a good long run, about six-and-a-half years. And if you’re going to start television, starting on “The Daily Show” is about as good as it gets.
PGN: Given your experience on the Game Show Network, which do you prefer: new game shows or remakes of old game shows? FD: I think I like remakes of old game shows, but what I really would have liked is if they would have renewed “I’ve Got a Secret.” We did our 40 episodes and had a great time, but it didn’t go anywhere. They didn’t promote it or throw any money behind it. Then they just canned it. I did get a wardrobe that I’ve been working on for years. My gay super-villain wardrobe is completely from the wardrobe closet at “I’ve Got a Secret.” It pays to be a perfect double extra large, I tell you.
PGN: Do you have any plans to write any more books? FD: I’d like to. I have plans but I don’t know if I have the discipline to write another book. I’m kind of itching to do it. It’s been long enough now.
PGN: What do you enjoy more, writing or performing live? FD: I think I like performing better. The immediacy of it and the feedback is very appealing to me. It’s easier, to be honest with you. It’s much easier to perform than it is to write. When you perform, when the show is over, you’re out of there. That’s much less work to me than having to think something through. Each story you write or each book you do is two big projects: the reporting of it and the writing of it. Then there’s the selling of it. Performing is just the selling of it. It’s just easier.
PGN: Michael Musto and Jonny McGovern are also scheduled to attend Mr. Gay Philadelphia. With all of you working and living in New York City, do you get a chance to work together? FD: We do see each other a lot. Michael Musto just gave a party for his 25th anniversary at the Village Voice. That was one of the most fun parties I have been at in ages. And Jonny McGovern is a walking good time. He’s a very tall party in himself. He’s an awful lot of fun to be around. I love that the folk from “The Big Gay Sketch Show” are going to be a part of the event. That show really came into its own. The first season it felt kind of hamstrung by “Oh, let’s not offend anybody.” But once they let loose, boy, did it get funny. I have to say, Brittany Lynn, I love that girl. She’s my favorite. As a boy and as a girl, I’m crazy about Brittany. I think she’s an awful lot of fun to work with and even more fun to have her tell you, “Taste this, I just made it.” It’ll be some crazy shot that she just came up with. I’ll be knocking them back with her, ruing the day she became a bartender.
Frank DeCaro and Brittany Lynn host the fourth annual Mr. Gay Philadelphia contest, 8-11:30 p.m. April 17 at Voyeur Nightclub, 1221 St. James St. For more information, visit www.frankdecaro.com or www.nightlifegay.com/tickets, or call (215) 735-5772.