In the second leg of our convo, we talked briefly about married life with husband and songwriter Jerry Dixon (their one year anniversary is today!), the affect of AIDS on gay rights, and what tunes and impressions he'll be belting out at Hollywood's Hard Rock Live next week.
New Times: You got married about a year ago. Was that in New York?
Mario Cantone: Yes. In New York on our rooftop deck, it was very lovely, with the Empire State in the background. It was just our families. Then a month later, we had a bigger party. We're one year tomorrow (today), we're going to do an anniversaire le dîner.
Thank you, dear. We've been together for 20 years, so, it's like "happy anniversary..." This is a legal one though. It's a big deal.
Has married life change anything for you guys?
Yeah. I think it feels different. Feels a little stronger. I know it's weird to say but it does. We give each other space. I think we gave each other a lot more space when we were younger, and now that we're older together we have like separation anxiety from each other. [Laughs.] We like being together. I don't like to celebrate it and talk about it too much, because when you celebrate it and write a book, you probably think it's the greatest thing in the world, next thing you know, people are off having sex with 25 tattooed hookers and it's over. Rather just shut up about it.
Are you superstitious then?
No. I just think that when people write books about their relationship or do a reality show together, make them the focal point of their acceptance speech, then the next thing you know, it's over. So, you have to be really quiet about it. The A-listers are forced to talk about it, cause people want to know. What's their next relationship? Are you getting married? Are you having kids? Being a C-lister, I'm like, oh, alright, I never have to say much about it. I never really did.
Now that it's out in the open with gay marriage and gay rights, which took forever to fucking happen, not so much even marriage but gay rights. In the '70s, gay rights was progressing. Believe me, I was there, it was happening. And then the early '80s, AIDS came along, slapped a judgment on the whole community and threw it back about 20 or 30 years. That's exactly what happened. We would have been a lot further along.
It was tragic for everybody.
Absolutely. Besides the deaths, the resistance to provide research money, there was this judgement slapped on the community. I'm glad that we finally have come further in my lifetime, and I got to see it. I thought, in my lifetime, never, gay marriage? Never. We still have discrimination. There's laws on the books that haven't been changed. There's my political statement for the day!
What can we expect from your show here at Hard Rock?
It's the show I'm taking to Broadway in 2013, there's a lot of new stuff, a lot of new music. There's a full band. It's swinging! Impressions, music, ripping apart pop culture, ripping apart reality shows, ripping apart life itself and doing some great musical impressions. I did the show up in Montreal at the Just for Laughs Festival and it got great reviews and it's doing really well. I'm ready, it's done, let's go.
Who are some of your favorite musicians out now?
You know, I like the good singers, the strong singers like John Legend, who I know. I love Jennifer Hudson. I don't like a weak thin voice, I like a full, fat voice. As a gay man, I love the classics too, I love Whitney Houston, I love Judy Garland, I love Sarah Vaughn. But as I've grown older, I've really embraced a lot of the male vocalists, which is amazing because gay men usually like the female vocalists, which I do. And Michael McDonald, love him, the Doobie Brothers. I stalk him.
Are there some songs in particular that you'll be singing?
My husband Jerry (Dixon) wrote all of the original music for my first one man show. He wrote it along with Harold Ruben. He wrote me two new great numbers. And I do a couple of standards in there. I'm mixing it up this time. He wrote me a new Liza Minnelli number, he wrote me a new Bruce Springsteen number. And he writes the full song. He doesn't just take the song and change the lyrics. It sounds like something they would sing. Brilliantly funny, great lyrics, great take on it.
When you do and impression, you have to have a point of view. You can't just present the impression. You're coming from a place with it. It's like a caricaturist, you have to highlight those certain things and bring out the funny in it. Musically it's fun. I'm so excited about it. I just thought I'd never put another show together. I was dreading it. And I did it. Came back from Montreal, was like, let's go I'm ready.
Let's go, Florida. I'm ready!
Mario Cantone, 8 p.m. at Hard Rock Live, 1 Seminole Way, Hollywood. Tickets cost between $39 and $69. Visit ticketmaster.com.
1 Seminole Way, Hollywood, FL