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“Leave The Audition In The Room! Enjoy Your Post-Audition Chicken Mcnuggets Nausea-Free!” 5 Insider Tips With Joe Gulla

“If we keep it honest, we are ALL bringing goodness to the world! Honesty breeds relatability which is life-giving on so many levels! So, yeah, that is how I bring goodness to world and it is always my hope to be rewarded with free vodka-based drinks!”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Joe Gulla. Joe Gulla is the author of “GAY.PORN.MAFIA”, the white hot, hysterical new play set to have its World Premiere this April in New York CIty. Joe is also a regular performer at New York City’s famous “Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater”. Joe is best known for his award-winning monologue trilogy, “The Bronx Queen Trilogy” which includes: “The Bronx Queen”, “Faggy at 50” and “Daddy”. Joe’s play, “Garbo” took home NYC’s 2017 Downtown Urban Arts Festival “Audience Award” for its sold out performance at the landmark Cherry Lane Theatre. As an actor, Joe played “Joey” in San Francisco’s “Tony & Tina’s Wedding” for many years and “Frankie” in Off-Broadway’s “My Big Gay Italian Wedding”. He also starred on NBC’s “LOST”, one of television’s first adventure reality series.

What is your “backstory”?

My backstory? Ha! Well, that is literally what “The Bronx Queen Trilogy” is about. The story of a gay Italian kid who was born in the Bronx. The first grandson in a large Italian family. I was earmarked for glory as a football star, ladies man and future husband… tack on a coupla kids. Instead, a fey, raspy-voiced, hyper-curious theater queen emerged and quickly concocted a strategy to escape his Bronx Italian neighborhood! J LO was on the 6. I was borrowing subway tokens for the 2 and/or 5!

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your acting/directing/performing career?

In my solo show, “Faggy at 50”, I share that my first acting resume was created when I borrowed a resume from a friend of mine who worked at a regional theater. I wanted to see the proper way to format an actor’s resume. Due to a time constraint, I ended up scanning the resume and plopping my name on top. I never even looked at it! I was new to the business and figured my talent would speak for itself and I could just “pretend” that the credits were mine. When I got to the audition, I figured I would give it a once-over… just so I could “fake it” when asked questions about my achievements. What I did not anticipate was that the resume I chose was a black man’s!!! This Italian guy (me!) was forced to justify why he had leading roles in “Porgy and Bess”, “Raisin in the Sun” and “The Wiz”. I was also expected to be very athletic because, apparently, I had been an Olympic Ice Skater!

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

Right now, I am all about my new play, GAY.PORN.MAFIA. We have our World Premiere at the New York LIve Arts Theater in April! It is a collection of my award-winning, nationally (and internationally)-produced short comedies! I wrote it and I have a small role!

Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

Wow! Yeah, I’m a Native New Yorker and I’m in my 50’s. I’ve interacted with a lot of interesting people! I have a LOT of stories… which is convenient since I am a well-known storyteller! Ha! The trick is: you can’t tell all of those stories because, well, you want to keep those people in your life. For fun, I will mention that I hung out at all the cool New York clubs when I was younger: Studio 54, Xenon, Private Eyes, Area. Due to that, I had some interesting interminglings with the likes of Boy George, Bette Midler, Porn Star Joey Stefano and (a huge plot point in “The Bronx Queen”!) Jean Michel Basquiat.

Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?

When you say “History”, I go to “Theater History”. This is easy! My biggest inspiration/influence is the most famous monologist of them all, Spalding Gray. My life was forever changed when I went into a small theater and saw a man sit at a simple desk, binder and water bottle at the ready. He just talked. He told his story! It is absolutely mind-blowing to me that I’m that guy now!

What do you do to “sharpen your craft”? Can you share any stories?

I am totally and completely untrained. The “training” credits on my current resume are all a lie. For instance, I have my grandmother, Anna Schultz, down as my vocal coach. She lived with my family and she screamed a lot! If I analyze it, I think what keeps me sharp is the fact that I am (and have always been!) a voracious reader. Like a serious-business reading addict! I have about 8 books going at all times. I finish one and add another. Also, I have been going to see plays on Broadway since I am 10. (Thanks, Mom and Dad!) Yep, that was me in the front row of HAIR! “Dad, these people are naked!” “Shut the hell up, Joseph! It’s art!”

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I’m simply sharing my truth, Yitzi! If we keep it honest, we are ALL bringing goodness to the world! Honesty breeds relatability which is life-giving on so many levels! So, yeah, that is how I bring goodness to world and it is always my hope to be rewarded with free vodka-based drinks!

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

The “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Started”… Ok…

  1. “A blank resume is better than the resume of a man who is a different ethnicity.”
  2. “The less successful an actor, the more elaborate and irritating breathing exercises they will do.”
  3. “Leave the audition in the room! Enjoy your post-audition chicken McNuggets nausea-free!”
  4. “House seats aren’t free!”
  5. “You are rather effeminate and have a hardcore raspy voice! Write roles for yourself! It’s your only hope!”

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)

Perfect!… Here is my opportunity to have Simon and Schuster ask me to lunch. Actually, I am not greedy. I’ll go with either one of them. They should know in advance that I am a cheap date. A simple Goat Cheese Salad works for me. Arugula is my preferred leaf… and, perhaps, a pine nut inclusion. Oh and I wouldn’’t say no to a homemade crouton. Once we’ve settled… sipped some Prosecco… I will share the story of a simple Bronx-Italian Gay Boy… with a Dream!


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