Big-hearted, professional, photogenic and obviously hot as all hell, it’s hard to argue that this guy is not the most recognizable gogo boy in NYC right now. And on top of that, he’s gradually added promoter, party host, photographer, reality TV star and actor to his *ahem* extensive resume. And now he’s got the skinny on a new party he’s hosting this week! Thotyssey’s Living La Vinny Vega!
Thotyssey: Vinny, hello! You are such a familiar presence in this city’s nightlife, between dancing and hosting… and if you’re not here, you’re usually doing it in some other city! Do you ever see the light of day?
Vinny Vega: Of course! Haha, that’s a pretty common question for me doing what I do, but of course I have my life during the day that keeps me pretty busy. For those who saw my episode of True Life on MTV, you might know that I am trying to dive in further into my career in photography.
I’ve had some really great jobs coming my way, and might have some other exciting shoots coming up in the next few months. I recently turned 30, and it’s definitely time to venture outside of nightlife and see what the world ahead has in store. It’s more of a shift in my priorities, then a total change. Really, nightlife is still a big part of me and who I am, and I’m really excited about what’s going on right now.
Are you one of those people who can have a few drinks and still be “good” at what you do, or do you have to remain kinda level-headed when you’re working?
I would say that’s an accurate statement; I know how to balance having fun and being responsible. I think that’s a big asset in being an active part of nightlife. You have to work hard and play hard, at a pretty equal pace.
As far as dancing goes… on a typical night, are you into the sexiness and the music while you’re performing, or can you move mechanically and be like “hmmm, what should I have for breakfast tomorrow?”
I would have to say depends on the night and on the moment. Sometimes I’m lost in the music, and the atmosphere of the club. Then other times, I definitely have things on my mind outside of dancing. It really does depend on the night.
I read that you got your dancing start at G Lounge in 2009. Have you been to Rebar, where G Lounge once stood, yet?
I have yet to be to be at Rebar, but I know a lot of people who work there and I really wish them the best. From what I have seen, it has a fresh new field to it and a really great industrial New York city vibe. I think that something that is really needed in my life right now: a classic return to form.
You were a Fashion Institute of Technology student. I notice that you sport some avant garde looks sometimes when you dance and host, with masks and elaborate shoulder pieces. Are those your designs?
Some pieces come out of my closet for sure, and I love a good look, but I’d have to say for the most part it’s due to styling by those in charge of the party. It’s an exciting part of what I do, getting to transform yourself. I always like expressing myself creatively and artistically, and that’s a great part of being a presence in night life.
You get all the gigs, not just because of hotness (although there’s that!), but also because you have a reputation for being really nice and very professional. Are those traits you picked up over time, or did you come into it that way?
I think it stems from me being an outcast and a target of bullies when I was very young. It really helped shape who I am, and the kind of person I knew I wanted to become. The kind of man who would always reach out a helping hand, and keep an eye out for those in need. I often see people doing what I do who might be in need of a friend, and I’m always more then happy to help. Cattiness is not for me, I’m all about the heart.
What’s the best advice you can give a new gogo boy getting started?
Well first off, always be yourself. I tried to put on the “sex kitten” act when I first got started, and that’s just not me. I’m a bit of a goofball, and I don’t hide that when I talk to people. When you are yourself, that is when you are your most endearing.
And then of course there’s the aesthetic. Take care of your body, take care of yourself. Feed off the energy of the crowd, and know that you are part of the club’s atmosphere.
And go into it knowing that it is not a career path. I’m grateful for my job, and treat it with professionalism and fun, but it is not my career that lies ahead of me. But, it’s now part of who I am, and I couldn’t be happier to be a gogo, and done the things I have with that role. It’s been a wild ride, and I’m not quite finished yet!
Do you need to be 100% secure with your body to be a good gogo boy, or can you “fake” it if you have insecurities?
Oh, I have plenty of insecurities–that’s part of being a human being, in my opinion. There’s always something you might want to tweak or change, but when being a gogo, confidence is key. At times you can find yourself venturing outside your comfort zone, but I’ve always found that to be liberating for the most part.
As you mentioned earlier, you had quite a moment when MTV aired an episode of True Life profiling NYC gogo boys in which you starred. How did you like the experience of seeing yourself in the show, and did that fame change your life significantly?
I’ve certainly seen a rise in the amount of people who know about me, and I can’t express how grateful I am to have been part of that project. Of course, some scenes weren’t the absolute most comfortable to watch, but that’s why the show is called True Life. It showed a small piece of who I am outside of the late night world.
I also saw you pop up for a sec in Showtime’s reality show 3AM, profiling Markus Kelle, a few years ago! Did you know you were being filmed when that happened?
I did! I just wanted to say Hi [to Markus], and was a little baffled when I saw cameras, before I knew it I was signing a waiver [laughs]. It was such a quick hi and bye, I never expected it to make the cut. I adore Markus, so it was really fun to appear on his show even if just for a brief moment. I loved the series!
And you and fellow gogo Danilo appeared in a video for Koil & Vito Fun’s remix of Clean Bandit’s “Rockabye” that featured lots of pyro. Did your beard get singed at all?
Actually, it did! But it was a really fun experience and I love working with Vito: he’s such a renaissance man, he’s talented in so many ways. I’m actually working with him on another project that we’re just starting; he’s really an all around awesome person that I would not have met if it wasn’t for working in nightlife.
I didn’t get a chance to talk to you this past Halloween because you were so busy… you showed up at Bob’s Only Bloodbath, you lurked the Blood Manor Haunted House, and perhaps most interestingly you starred as Rocky in a Monster production of Frocky Horror! What was the highlight of October 2016 for you?
You named them all! It’s hard to pick just one… but of course, singing and acting on stage for the first time in years was an invigorating experience, and the whole cast was off-the-charts awesome, I’d definitely be part of something like that in the future.
What do you think has been the biggest change about nightlife since you started?
A lot of the best venues in the city have closed. The Roxy, Westgay, Roseland, etc. That’s been so hard on the nightlife community; we all feel the loss of those amazing places. Roseland was one of my first big circuit events in 2009 with Black Party.
But with new venues opening like Flash Factory, there’s always hope that nightlife is beginning to thrive once again. I wanna see the big crowds come out and fill the dance floor! There’s nothing quite like the energy of a packed club.
As far as hosting goes, you’re a regular presence at such weekly parties as ACME’s STRUT and Ladyfag’s Battle Hymn, and you turn up at plenty of other places. Is it sometimes harder to engage people in those busy/loud settings with words than it is with your body?
For me, I often find myself conversing with patrons when I’m off-stage, helping them feel welcome in the environment and hopefully being a fun part of their night. Hosting feels very natural, and often times when I’m hosting you can find me dancing, I love the music. It’s a similar vibe, just a little less scandalous with my outfits!
This is exciting: you’re co-hosting a new Thursday night rooftop party at the Sky Room in Hell’s Kitchen this season… Lip Service! It’s you, Scotty Em, Anthony Paparelli and Maddelynn Hatter in charge. How long has this been in the works, and what can you tell us about it?
I’m so glad you asked about that; I’m beyond excited for this event! “Lip Service” is an idea that’s been in the works for awhile. In fact, I’ve talked with Scotty and Maddelynn separately about producing a new weekly event, and now we’re all coming together and combining our own unique strengths to create a new weekly late night event. I haven’t worked with Anthony much so I’m excited for that as well! All three producers bring something different to the table.
I have high hopes for “Lip Service,” and NYC needs a new Thursday night party to kick off the weekend! I’m so happy to be part of this party, and we have some great guest hosts that will bring even more fun and personality to the night. If you’re out on Thursday nights, Sky Room is the place to go!
What are your Pride plans this summer? And anything else that you wanna discuss?
Everything is still in the works, I’m weighing out my options,but June is getting busy really fast. All I can say is, thank you to everyone that has helped me get to where I am now. At the beginning of this year, I said I wanted to take more chances and try new things. That resolution is really coming to be a reality. There’s a lot on the horizon that I hope people will take notice of and really enjoy.
Okay last question: what would your drag name be?
Hmmm…well, one time I was named “Venetian Blinds” by a friend of mine, and that sort of stuck. I like the sound of that! I’ve yet to really do drag, but there’s a first time for everything!
Vinny Vega is constantly gogo dancing and hosting at various venues throughout NYC and beyond. He will host “Lip Service” at the Sky Room beginning Thursday, May 4th (10pm). Follow Vinny on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.