A writer, actor, Fire Island personality, YouTube star, associate producer of “SNL,” DJ and drag performer, this guy has a busier week than you. And now we’re about to behold his YouTube alter ego Levonia Jenkins in a way we’ve never seen in before. Give it up for Greg Scarnici!
Thotyssey: Greg, hello! I know you must be extremely busy preparing for Levonia’s upcoming show… how are rehearsals going?
Greg Scarnici: Is this any indication:
Your co-stars look pooped. I know you’ve had a long career as an entertainer, but is this your first time doing a show quite like this?
I’m gonna ask all about the new show it in a bit, but first let’s get some details about you! Where’s your hometown, and when / how did you start in the arts?
As I said when I called into WLIR in 8th grade to win B-52’s tickets, I’m from hot rockin’ Bellerose – a town in Queens! I got my start in entertaintment when I was six, and shocked my mother by wanting to be Wonder Woman for Halloween. It’s been all downhill since!
Were you always on the comedy end of things?
Yeah! In college I took a playwriting course, and this student in my class said all my scenes sounded like Saturday Night Live sketches. I was like YAAAS BITCH!
Destiny called! And when did you discover the fabulous world of gay nightlife?
I started going to clubs when I was 16–I would drive into “the city” with friends, and we’d chalk our licenses to get into Mars, The Palladium, Nightlife, etc. I was hooked when I accidentally wound up at gay night at Mars one Sunday night…
Scandalous, I’m sure!
You can read all about it in my first book, I Hope My Mother Doesn’t Read This, now available on iBooks and Amazon! (In the immortal words of Madonna, “I’m not the same, I have no shame.”)
In addition to books, you’ve written skits for the stage and screen, songs and parodies… who or what inspires your writing?
My inspiration comes from any and everywhere – and lately, some of the songs I’ve written like “Like Whore” and “Phenomemom” are directly inspired by the internet and social media. But I could, like, see a cat and get inspired to write something. It doesn’t take much.
Do you get recognized a lot on the street from your YouTube videos?
During the summer out on Fire Island it happens a lot, and also–believe it or not–on Scruff. A lot of times guys from like Minnesota will message me: LEVONIA!
As far as the videos go, do you have a favorite?
They’re all like my babies and I love them all. But I guess if I had to pick, it would be Levonia’s music video for “So Cunt,” cuz that was the first time I released a non-parody song that was an original of mine that went viral. I mean, the early parodies I did of Fergie, Beyonce and Prince–after I stopped doing those, I thought no one would care about my original shit. But it was nice to see I could create original content that still resonated with people.
Indeed! By the way, apropos of nothing: Timberlake sucked big time at the halftime show, didn’t he?
Hmmm…according to the internet, yes. But I think that has more to do with people hating him for reasons beyond his performance…which was fine, but not like LET’S CRUCIFY HIM! Horrendous, IMHO. That Zara sale rack suit had to go, though.
All I’ll say is, she needs to call her house the House of Delusion!
And now that we’re on the topic of TV… what is it like being an associate producer at Saturday Night Live?
We put in really long, hard hours at SNL, but the one thing that makes it worth it is seeing the show magically come together on Saturday night. Even though we are all hagsausted by the time dress ends and we have to go live at 11:30, you get an adrenaline rush and power bottom (and top) through it!
Do you have a gagworthy backstage anecdote?
You can read about it in my book, LOL! But I’ll recap quick: grabbing Gina Gershon’s hand and saying, “I’m not into that whore look anymore, darlin’” (from Showgirls) and having her look around like “SECURITY!” during an after afterparty.
This is our 3rd? or 4th? year doing it. I’m getting old and it’s all a blur. We got paired together to DJ and host “High Tea” in the Pines, and since we’re both high-energy Aries flakes, we hit it off instantly. So when Mitch Ferrino at The Monster asked me to come on board to DJ, I asked if I could bring her on board since we have a good synergy. I like to play high energy disco, and she is one of the best hosts I’ve ever worked with: she talks to EVERYONE, and makes everyone feel welcome.
Do you generally DJ elsewhere these days?
I’ll guest at friends’ parties here and there, but with my SNL schedule, I don’t want to take on anything more than one monthly party. I work 80 hour weeks, and am not available that much.
Understood! Regarding SNL and that schedule… In some ways it must be a mixed blessing for the writers every time Trump says or does something stupid or horrible. I mean, it makes for great show material, but he can give us just too many Trumpisms to process in a single news cycle.
Totally, it’s a double-sided dildo–I mean, double-edged sword–for sure. I’d much rather the writers having a hard time skewering Barack Obama again…
Ah, the good old days!
Tell me about the origins of the character of Levonia Jenkins. When did she first appear, and is she based on anyone?
Funny story: which you can read in my second book, if I ever find a publisher (Lord don’t get me started)! But she came about when my friend, Johnny Lopez and I decided to shoot an impromptu ad-libbed video on the roof of my house in Cherry Grove, drunk after brunch one Sunday. He started talking like a caller in Paris is Burning and the name just came out. And after Perez Hilton saw the video and posted it and it went viral, my name was just Levonia Jenkins 4evah!
[Johnny] was really inspired by a lot of the haircuts he saw the Suffolk County lesbians on the ferry wearing, and thought Levonia Jenkins sounded like a real trashy Long Island white trash Italian woman who thought she was fierce… but really wasn’t.
How often have you gotten to perform as Levonia live?
I do numbers here and there as her–especially out on Fire Island–and most recently here at Bushwig back in September–but this upcoming show will be the first hour-long cabaret show for her!
Levonz is gonna sing her greatest shits, debut new parodies, and [perform] a bitch track dedicated to the #metoo movement… and tie it all together with commentary on hookup apps and gender identity as only she can. The show segues from gender fluids to gender fluidity as she tries her HARDEST not to stumble and trigger the woke police!
Anything else coming up or out that you might wanna plug?
This is all I’m whoring out right now until I’m able to get that damn second book published! LOL.
Oh, I guess I should mention I’m a Fashion Model on Instagram now. I’ve become obsessed with guys who work at Starbucks and call themselves public figures cuz they have, like, 20,000 followers on Instagram. So this week I’m a fashion model, and next week I’ll probably be a chef. Get into it!
Work, supermodel! Thanks Greg!
Greg Scarnici DJ’s “Below Tea” at the Monster with host Robin Byrd every last Sunday (6-10pm) at the Monster. Check Thotyssey’s calendar for all his upcoming appearances, and follow him on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, as well as his website. Also, purchase his book “I Hope My Mother Doesn’t Read This” on iBooks and Amazon.