Singer / songwriter, actress, comic, DJ, makeup artist, fashionista and all around Gal About Town, Angela Di Carlo has been mixing it up with the greats of New York nightlife for decades. And now that nightlife is on pause, Angie’s taking her love of all things camp and pop culture to the digital arena.
Thotyssey: Hello Angela! Thanks so much for talking to us today! How is your Crazy Quarantine Summer treating you so far?
Angela Di Carlo: Well, I like to call this the “Saddest Summer Ever…” and then if I have a little pocket of fun here and there, it’s like a nice surprise!
We take what we can get! Are you a Never Leave the Houser, or a Go Out in a Masker?
At first I was definitely not leaving the house much except for going grocery shopping. I’ve got a husband and two black cats to feed, so I like to cook. I was doing a lot of panic baking, and that was helpful for my nerves. As the weather got better, I went on walks in the park and met friends for safe distance eyeballing. And also I’ve been making masks, so I would meet up and hand them out!
New Yorkers have been largely well-behaved with social distancing, but you can see the cracks forming. There was a big “rave” in Greenpoint last night that seems to have been pretty spontaneous. As a working nightlifer, does that piss you off of do you sympathize?
It pisses me off! I think the sooner we do our part, the sooner this will be over. Also, I’m really proud of how as New Yorkers, we met the challenge and are now kicking ass while all the red COVID denier states are getting clobbered. So yeah, a rave in Greenpoint–not so good. Those damn kids need to sit this one out…
Ha! I guess so, right? He’s pretty proud of himself! At least he was proactive and turned the horrible publicity of the 4th of July into something good. I’m just thankful he is putting all those drag queens to work. We still need something to get dressed up for….
Where are you from originally, and what kind of kid were you?
I am from Des Moines, Iowa! Just a nice girl from the Midwest. I was pretty goofy as a kid. I was always trying to make people laugh. This was very embarrassing to my bitch sister who is two and a half years older than me. I was raised by a single working mother who was always supportive of me and all of my antics. She still is, except when I talk about my bitch sister…
I’m guessing based on your material today that you consumed a lot of pop culture growing up.
Oh, yes… totally.
And what got you on a stage the first time?
Probably singing. I was always into singing from grade school on through high school.
What ultimately brought you to New York?
I went to art school in Chicago; I met a lot of friends there, and they all started to move here in around 1995. Chicago was getting old and it’s still really very Midewestern, so I was ready for a change. The only problem is it is so cheap there–rent was literally twice as much in NYC!
It’s a heavy price to pay indeed! By the way, you’ve always had this great retro style: 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s glamor! Did that start in New York or was that always there?
It was always there! I used to love to watch old movies as a kid and teen. As soon as I got a car, I would hit all the thrift stores in the 80’s. There was just so much good stuff. I’ve always been drawn to old things… which is probably why I’m such good friends with Nardicio. But seriously, I don’t know why it is….I just have never quite understood beige.
When did you start mixing it up with the queer nightlife folks here?
I’d say right from the start– I was friends with Casey Spooner, and we all had so much fun right from the start. Also, I was best friends with Stanley Love in high school, and he introduced me to a lot of great people.
Did Casey get you into DJing?
OMG, Casey is the worst DJ… heavens NO! Haha! When I first became friends with Amber Martin, she was staying at our rental in Fire Island and loved my playlist, and asked me to guest DJ at Mattachine. When she used to DJ at Lucky Strike on Friday nights, I’d go over and hang out with her there too, and play records with her. She was really the one who got me into DJing for real!
Mattachine is a celebrated monthly affair at the historic Julius’ Bar, that the great John Cameron Mitchell produces and DJs along with Amber and yourself and occasional guests. It’s a vintage vinyl groove, and attracts celebs and music lovers from all over. That little bar gets packed on Mattachine night; it’s so much fun!
It is! The first time I went, I knew it was so special! You used to work there… right?
I did! I did security there, and always enjoyed the music you guys were putting out… there wasn’t much else like it in the city! Do you have a ton of vinyl records at home?
I do! Not like Amber, though… she has way more than me. I have a pretty good collection, and a record player at home, too!
John recently presented a digital benefit for Julius’, which of course has been mostly closed during these past few months. Here’s hoping that this vital space survives the quarantine!
I know, right? Crazy times. That bar is so much better than Stonewall.
You’re also known for “Attention Deficit Disorder Cabaret,” a series that features your original rapidfire song shorts and parodies, often with themes pulled from the headlines. “ADD Cabaret” has had several incarnations in diverse venues like Joe’s Pub, Club Cumming and Sid Gold’s Request Room. How did that all come about?
“ADD Cabaret” started during my infamous creative block during the summer of 2009. I just couldn’t write any songs, just little ditties about slices of cheese and pantyliners. Fast forward one night at our friends house… we has some gin and tonics and put on the Barry Manilow Live album, where he does something called “V.S.M.” It’s a medley of all the famous commercials he wrote, and he just sang them all one by one. That gave me the idea to take all these little stupid songs and jimmy jack them together, and the rest is herstory!
With the warp speed pace of today’s news cycle in the Trump era, the “ADD Cabaret” format is a perfect forum for a retrospective!
It’s been cathartic, writing a lot of songs about what an asshole and shitty president Dump Truck is. It was definitely one of my coping mechanisms after the election–I was beyond devastated. It was Hillary all the way–I didn’t even think about the alternative. One of the most popular songs I have is about [youngest Presidential daughter] Tiffany Trump! It’s everyone at Club Cumming’s favorite. Sweetie (the late great drag queen) gave me the idea. After the elections she was obsessed with Tiffany, and would just look at you and say “what about Tiffany!?” and we would all laugh so hard..,
I’m honestly kind of obsessed with Tiffany too… did you ever hear her original song?
No, I didn’t know she had one! Is she a “singer!?”
Well… [I send her a link to Tiffany’s original track “Like a Bird,” complete with the single’s cover photo.]
The eyeliner! OMG Vocoder! She sounds like a robot! That could literally be anyone! Remember when Paris Hilton tried to sing?
“Stars are Blind” was like Beethoven compared to this! But this is a good segue to discuss… the digital stage! You’ve been hosting “ANGsterpiece Theater” weekly Fridays on Facebook, where you introduce the children to some great vintage B-movies that are available for free on YouTube, and you spill the tea via fun trivia facts and some backstage gossip for each movie! First of all, who knew that there were all these free movies on YouTube!?
I know, right!? A couple years ago some friends were like, “have you ever seen The Driver’s Seat with Liz Taylor from the 70’s?” I hadn’t, and I watched it on there, and so when COVID happened I was just like, “you guys, you can watch The Driver’s Seat on YouTube!” Then my friend and fellow performer Adrienne Truscott was like “Ange, you need to do intros to all these cult film recommendations, a la Masterpiece Theater,” and that’s how is started. I just did them on Facebook (which is lame, I know) because it was the easiest was to do it!
You offer up the best trivia facts for these movies! For instance, you told us that the lead actress in Roger Corman’s wonderfully bad campy sci-fi from ’59 The Wasp Woman was actually the mistress to the King of Jordan. She birthed his love child after he dumped her, and the kid was a dwarf who would later murder her! Do you live for these kinds of “Hollywood Babylon” stories?
OMG yes. And that’s an incredible story! Rose McGowan was supposed to do a film based on her life–Susan something! Some stuff I just know because I’ve got a good memory, but a lot of what I say I just read on the IMDb. People love to hear that shit–that’s why Robert Osborne was so great. You know, the late host of TCM? Now they have about five or six new “hosts,” and I hate them all. I hate the Australian lady–her “style” is what people in the 90’s looked like when they tried to do “retro.” I also studied costume design, so I can tell you when your vintage “lewk” is totally bogus and fake! Hahaha!
I know the exact Australian lady you’re talking about, and I guess hate her too, lol!
They show great cult films at 2:00 in the morning on TCM. They need to get me to host those!
That would be a great match! But this brings us to the question that isn’t always easy to answer these days: what else is coming up for you, as far as appearances or projects?
Well, Club Cumming is taping a show that will air in a week or two. I’ll be doing an “ADD Cabaret” set for that. Just five minuets. I tried to do a virtual “ADD Cabaret” show, but it’s comedy… so it was really unfulfilling for me without an audience, and I just didn’t want to do it. I’m doing a lot of writing, and will hopefully have some readings and shows when this is over and done with!
Excellent! So, finally: what’s the first thing you’re gonna do once (if) quarantine finally ends?
It’s hard to get excited because I don’t know when this will be over. It’s hard to plan for anything… which brings the anxiety back!
I hear you, hang in there! Thanks, Angela!