Now that I’m living in Los Angeles, my day begins at 5:45 AM, and I’m not by nature a morning person. Before I moved to LA, I didn’t know there were two 5:45s.
Anyway, when the alarm goes off, I get up and make coffee, grab my phone and start catching up on Twitter, Facebook, my email, and the obituaries section of The New York Times. I like to see who died. I wrote The Dead Celebrity Cookbook, so I guess I’m the Gay Reaper.
I shave and shower and get in the Prius – one of my listeners named her Mildred – and I drive over the hill from the Valley to the studio. While I’m driving I talk about that day’s radio show with my producer, Doria Biddle, and we figure out what we’re going to do.
Where do you usually conduct your show from?
The Sirius XM studio in LA is not far from the LA County Museum of Art on Wilshire Blvd. It’s very centrally located and we validate parking!
What about your radio show do you feel makes it so successful too be running for over 11 years now?
The Frank DeCaro Show is very silly but also pretty smart. It’s what some people call “high-brow low brow.” We look at pop culture, which we love, but take the piss out of it. We’re very respectful to our guests, though. But when it’s just us talking, look out!
In eleven years on the air, we’ve had everyone from Justin Bieber to Jane Goodall on the show. She was more fun than he was, by the way. My all-time favorite guests were Bea Arthur – that Golden Girl swore like a sailor! – Dick Cavett, who is the ne plus ultra of talk show hosts and a real inspiration, and Dame Edna, whom I adore. She’s as smart and funny as anyone you’re ever going to meet in your life, and her friend Barry Humphries is a dear, too. He sent me the most beautiful Casablanca lilies after the interview. I really do love old show biz types best, I guess.
Well, old show biz types with one exception. Alan Arkin came on the show and was impossible. He was there supposedly to promote a memoir he’d written, but he didn’t want to talk about it. He didn’t want to talk about anything. It was awful. A couple of members of DEVO also seemed like they would have rather been any place else, which was a drag because I love their music.
Is there anything you regret saying on your radio talk show “The Frank DeCaro Show?”
There was one bedroom story that was just too gross for words, and I should never have shared it. It was just T.M.I. as they say. And I belched the loudest belch I ever belched once right into the microphone. It was so not-of-this-earth that we recorded it and use it over and over again whenever we want to really upset my cohost, Doria. It’s disgusting.
How did The Frank DeCaro Show come about, and how did you and Doria meet?
I had been playing the flamboyant “Out at the Movies” guy on The Daily Show for six and a half years – both with and without Jon Stewart – and freelancing for publications like Martha Stewart Living, TV Guide and The New York Times. I’m originally a print journalist. Sirius asked me to do fill-in work on various shows on OutQ, the LGBT station, which was brand new at the time, so I did it as a lark. I sat next to everybody in the first few months of that station’s existence. One day, a show on the channel was cancelled. They canned the host but kept the producer, who was Doria Biddle. They asked me if I wanted to do my own show, and I said yes. Doria and I met on the phone on a Wednesday, met in person on a Friday, and were on the air together the following Monday. The rest, as they say, is herstory. It’s been 11 years now.
What was it like to work on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart? How do you feel about Jon Stewart stepping down from his famed show; can anyone ever replace him?
I was there before Jon! The show had been on only about three months when I first appeared. Craig Kilborn was the host back then. Doing “Out at the Movies,” which was created by two of the funniest straight boys in television and me, was the best job I ever had. I did it first in a partnership with Daily Show creator Lizz Winstead – a sort of fag-and-hag Siskel and Ebert – and then I started doing it solo, and it really took off.
Everyone’s tenure on a show has to end. I left and the show soared to new heights. Go figure. They’ll find a new host and people will be resistant at first, but the writers are too smart to not be able to weather the transition. I wish they’d give it to Lizz, or John Fugelsang, or Rachel Maddow. But if they give it to a gay other than me, I’ll spit.
My favorite Broadway musical of all time is the original production of Sweeeney Todd. I saw it with Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou when I was in high school, and I had no idea at the time it would give me bragging rights for the rest of my life. In the last year, I was most taken with the most recent production of Sideshow, which was one of the most moving nights of theatre I’ve experienced in 37 years of going to see Broadway shows.
You married your wonderful husband Jim Colucci in 2011. What do you think is the key in having a long and successful relationship, especially in the LGBT community?
You really have to marry your best friend, someone whose values are similar to yours, and someone who makes you laugh harder than anyone. Someone who eats a lot is good, too. Jim has all of those things covered. And the dog likes him. Plus, he’s writing a book on The Golden Girls, so I have to keep him around in case it’s a hit.
Where did you come up with the idea for The Dead Celebrity Cookbook? What types of recipes can we find, and what is your favorite dish?
My friends gave a Dead Celebrity party in college – I went to Northwestern – and it was the best house party I’ve ever been to. Everyone came dressed as a person of note who’d gone to the Great Beyond. I came as a naturalist named Euell Gibbons, who espoused healthy eating and then up and died. Anyway, we didn’t have any celebrity recipes to serve that night, so afterwards I started collecting anything that had celebrity recipes in it – benefit cookbooks, old magazines, and newspaper clippings. Later on, I figured I might as well justify my obsession by writing a book and sharing them. There are recipes in there from the stupendous – Katharine Hepburn’s Brownies – to the horrendous – Isabel Sanford’s “Weezy” Chicken. We called that one “Chicken a la Barf” in our house. I wrote a sequel called Christmas in Tinseltown. It’s fun, too.
What is the best advice you can give to aspiring journalists who want to be in your shoes?
Read a lot and write every day. And be a stickler for accuracy. Learn how to properly spell, construct sentences, punctuate, and proofread. There are rules of grammar and they’re meant to be followed. So many writers are so lax these days. Even the New York Times says “died from,” which is incorrect. It’s “died of cancer” and “died from Connecticut,” as my sainted journalism professor Dick Hainey used to say. Get it right, people.
What is coming up next for Frank DeCaro?
I’ve just stated writing a book on the history of drag in show business for Rizzoli and I’m appearing IN drag in a new web series called Spooners this summer. The two episodes I did are pretty funny. I play a Jewish mama named Goldie. I look like a Far Side cartoon come to life.
Finish this sentence! Frank DeCaro is??
Fat but adorable.
Thanks again Frank for chatting with Rye The News Guy!