Friday, September 30, 2011

"FORK ON THE LEFT, KNIFE IN THE BACK" (and dish all over...): Michael Musto's Greatest Hits.

“FORK ON THE LEFT, KNIFE ON THE BACK” (and dish all over…): Michael Musto’s Greatest Hits.

     How could you not love a writer who once described a new nightspot (Mars, back in 1989) as “a multi-floor exercise in fun motifs supposedly inspired by ‘Blade Runner‘, but actually more reminiscent of ‘Desperate Living’; it’s retrofuturistic rather than truly forward-facing, which is fine by tomorrowphobic me.”? Author Michael Musto beckons you from the blindingly pink cover of his new book, daring you to open it: It’s the pop culture junkie’s equivalent of a peep show window. Frankly, I didn’t know exactly what to expect with “Fork on the Left, Knife in the Back“. Was this Musto’s autobiography, chronicling his rise from “the only Italian American only child in history” in the bottom part of Brooklyn to America‘s most wanted culture vulture? Nope. (Hallelujah! I love celebrity bios, but can’t stand the perfunctory first few chapters about their childhood… unless they spent that childhood being pawned off at sex parties or on the floor seizing from an overdose.) Is Musto’s book a bitterly opportunistic expose of the entertainment biz, finally revealing the names behind the “blind items” that he regularly titillates us with? Nope again. (And hallelujah again! I couldn’t stomach the thoughts of Musto becoming an industry pariah, my own self-serving desire to read such a book notwithstanding…) Indeed, Musto’s book drops more celebrity names than Jackie Collins synthetically injects into her new novel. But while Collins’ latest book forces a character (a young gay club-hopper) to say heavy-handed lines like, “Do you think Chace Crawford will be there?” in an effort to sound very “2011“, Musto was likely at that A-list club while Crawford was engaged in some behavior that’s, shall we say, NOT A-list…) Michael Musto is one of the only journalists, incidentally, who could mention Chace Crawford and Joan Crawford in the same column and make it work.

     “Fork on the Left, Knife in the Back” is actually a collection of Michael’s favorites from his Village Voice column “La Dolce Musto”, with some of the columns dating back as early as 1985 (The hilarious “Sad Sade and other Singular Sensations”) and 1988 (“Sandra Bernhard Seeks Sperm Donor With Sense of Humor”). It’s a testament to Musto’s skills as a writer that these articles still entertain us, even though seeing a name like Pia Zadora or Marilyn (Boy George‘s ex) can indeed make us realize how much time has passed since Patti Reagan posed for “Playboy”. That said, Musto makes us realize that loyalties to NYC hotspots are always shifting, and celebrities may drop from our radar… but the club scene, in essence, doesn‘t change much (only the names of the clubs do…), and celebs have a funny way of resurfacing, for better or for worse. His “2010 In Review: Googoo for Gaga” concludes with “Everyone‘s switching seats on the same plane these days-- and there are Muslims, too. And not only does President Gaga approve, Secretary of State Katy Perry thinks it‘s totally cool.” (Snap!) And of course, there‘s the chapter “Legally Blind”, featuring Musto‘s famous “blind items“ which will set the readers‘ brains into spasms as they try to figure out who he’s talking about. Good luck!… although I guarantee that anyone even remotely on the periphery of New York City’s nightlife scene can guess a few. (from 2006: “What heartthrobby young actor was told by his publicist to lose the gay friends because that’s how rumors start? [The rumors may have also started because the actor is indeed a big, old faygeleh bottom, which some find a shame seeing as his dick is even bigger than his ego.]”) (Snap again!)

  As said before, Musto’s book isn’t a bio per se, although some of the best columns involve Musto’s own experiences as a commentator and counterculture star in his own right: “It‘s all so wildly glamorous and exciting, but you’ll quickly find that as a professional talking head, you’re the world’s only whore who doesn’t get paid.” Alongside the gossip and Musto’s interviews with the likes of Paris Hilton and porn czar Michael Lucas, the writer makes some very keen observations on everything from the dearth of NYC nightlife (written, prophetically, in 1987 and more relevant than ever today) to Marilyn Monroe’s legacy as sex symbol. One of the last passages in the book is a March 2011 column called “Why I Hate NYC! 41 Angry Reasons”, which concludes (sort of…) with “But the main reason why I hate New York is that, despite all of the above thirty-nine reasons, it has such an unbreakable power over me that there’s no way I’d ever dream of leaving. Besides, I can’t drive. Mwah, city!” I love happy endings!

     Loaded with an infinite number of priceless zingers, “Fork on the Left, Knife on the Back “ is the equivalent of the cocktail hour at a gay wedding (officiated by the ever-enduring Lady Bunny, natch…) where Tony Award winners and aging Hollywood legends mix with go-go boys, porn stars, and self-aggrandizing pseudo-celebs. As we all know, he cocktail hour is always more fun than the long, boring sit-down dinner anyway… especially with Michael Musto as host.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

"THE SEX GOD": Divine Debauchery

      David Dietzen’s vast novel “The Sex God” takes place in the adult film industry, between the years of 1981 (when porn was first flexing its love muscles as a multi-million dollar industry) to 1990 (when a certain nascent phenomenon known as the Internet was prepared to change the world of skin flicks forever). Using the jizz bizz as a backdrop, the book follows the story, in first-person narrative, of our anti-hero Nick Dumas: “The Sex God“ of the book‘s title. Right away, Dumas makes sure to inform the reader that he is “a fourth generation Charlestonian aristocrat“ and “a descendant of Charlemagne“. He‘s also a graduate of Yale. Nevertheless, the restless charmer is ruthlessly determined to be someone bigger (meaning: wealthier and more powerful) than he perhaps was meant to be. Porn again… I mean, born again as “Nick Valentine“, he takes the dive into the dangerously dark waters of adult films, engaging in acts of mutual exploitation with most of the people in his life on the way to the top… and while on top as well. He doesn’t perform in the movies, but rather becomes a monarch in a kingdom where sex on film translates into big bucks. Like the glossy video box covers which seductively stared back at the customers in the adult section of an ‘80‘s video store, however, the pretty picture that we see is only skin deep. In the world of “The Sex God”, ambition often morphs into dangerous opportunism and manipulation… and that’s just an appetizer for grander sins like corruption, violence, rape, and yes, even murder. It’s a world where every man is for himself… and for that matter, every woman is for herself as well. Altruism is a luxury none of these characters can afford. True to its title, there’s sex aplenty throughout Dietzen’s novel… but the sex is almost always just another tool to getting at the real goals: money and power. Running parallel with the saga of Nick Dumas is the story of another character, a mystery woman who we learn had been attacked, raped, and left for dead in a burning barn. She survives, changing identities several times as she runs both away from and towards…well, something. The stories do converge together by the book’s climax, but even the most astute readers will be thrown for a curve with the many twists, turns, surprises, and revelations which the author has waiting. (It’s enough, incidentally, for a sprawling TV miniseries…) Ultimately, no one gets the prize in this adults-only carnival of bodies and souls.
     A deliciously self-indulgent writer, Dietzen never bypasses a single detail, whether he’s going inside our sex god’s overheated head or describing the world which Nick both entered willingly and was railroaded into at the same time. Dietzen’s writing style is vivid, decadent, and lively. The best example of this is the opening of Chapter 17, which lets the reader play “fly on the wall” for an explicit, almost surreal porn scene that runs over four pages. It’s, shall we say, a sheet-soaker for sure. Whoa! Yet, the author can also be subtle: The relationship between Nick and his reigning male porn star Terrence, for example, is titillatingly cryptic.

       Making Jackie Collins‘ novels seem like kid stuff, “The Sex God” is a darkly decadent experience that you‘ll want to play voyeur to!  “The Sex God” is available from,,, and Barnes & Noble online (

"DEVIL" DOLLS: "Dally With The Devil": Power Plays, Blackmail, Media Spin… Politics As Usual!

“Dally With The Devil”: 
Power Plays, Blackmail, Media Spin… Politics As Usual!

      Watching Victor L. Cahn’s sharp new play, “Dally With the Devil”, directed by Eric Parness, made me think of the classic 1939 MGM film “The Women”. For those who don‘t remember, the entire cast of that movie was female. The film’s intriguing tagline was “It’s all about the Men”-- even though no men actually appeared on screen. Similarly, “Dally With the Devil” is “all about the men” as well. Specifically, it’s about two men who are both running for the same seat as Senator. Make no mistake, however; this is 2011, not 1939. While the women in “Dally With the Devil” are not running for public office themselves, it’s clear that they are not just silent supporters of political movers and shakers; they are equally powerful players in a game where, like love and war, all is fair.

      In “Dally With the Devil“, we learn just how much power these women have. The play opens at the idyllic beachside getaway home of Charlotte
(Erika Rolfsrud), a journalist who writes for an influential blog named Ivory Girl-prettiness aside, the ultra- sarcastic blogger is completely aware of her own power. She‘s not above using pitbull-like ferocity and invoking the “public’s right to know” to get her info-- even if, as one character states, she employs such tactics as stealing and blackmail to do so. (The character’s feminine but no-nonsense persona may remind you of Cynthia Nixon’s Miranda Hobbes in “Sex and the City”, if Miranda had maybe chosen journalism over law) In the first act, she is visited by her former professor, Irene Hopkins (Elizabeth Norment), now blunt-spoken and seemingly world-weary. The dramatic tension is clearly palpable as soon as the two women greet each other. Right away, we sense that these two ladies are too wary to be "friends"-- and that this isn't just a visit to reminisce about old times. Irene has quite a story for her former student. She unleashes a potentially explosive revelation about what happened during a certain right-leaning Senatorial candidate's military career a few years back... and it's all purportedly verified by documentation. Even if a portion of these accusations prove true, they would kill any political career. Later on, Charlotte gets another visitor, this one unexpected: Megan Hunter (Elizabeth A. Davis), a former Marine who has traded her fatigues for lipstick and skirts. Her staid demeanor, however, remains intact from her military career. Megan has a close but titillatingly undefined relationship with a certain right-leaning Senatorial candidate. Yep, it's the same man who Irene was trying to smear a few days prior. And like Irene, Megan presents Charlotte with some accusatory documents over her own, the target being (You guessed it!) her man's political opponent. Megan's revelations initially do not impress the notorious blogger, until the veteran unleashes one that's too big to ignore. Then, in one stroke, the play is not just about just the two male politicos. It becomes just as much about the trio of women themselves-- especially their individual motivations. Even the most astute of audience members will be taken by surprise with the dramatic manipulations that ensue in the tense Third Act, when all three of the actors are on stage together. One of the characters states, "Am I wrong, or is this awkward?" She's not wrong...

      "Dally With the Devil" features superb acting by all three players. Throughout the running time, a recurring theme is how individual ambitions (and occasionally, opportunism...) can be the motivation behind everything from "patriotism", to pursuit of a specific socio-political agenda, to getting a “great story” in the name of the “public’s right to know”, et cetera… These characters also remind us that women not only can play the political game as well as men, but that they can-- for better of worse-- make and break the rules with equal zeal.

      "Dally With the Devil" is playing through October 8th at The Beckett Theatre on Theater Row, 410 W. 42nd St on Tuesdays at 7PM, Wednesday through Friday at 8PM, Saturdays at 2PM and 8PM, and Sundays at 3PM.  Visit or call
(212)239-6200 for tickets. For more info, visit

Saturday, September 3, 2011

JOE MANNETTI: “This Is What 50 Looks Like!”

JOE MANNETTI: “This Is What 50 Looks Like!”

      Who is Joe Mannetti?  " He’s one of the most visible faces (and torsos!) in the Bear world, being the Recipient of multiple local and regional Titles as well as having the distinction of being named "Best Bear Fundraiser of the Year 2009 and 2010" in The "Best of the Bears" Poll not too long ago.  The performer/writer/activist hugs… uh, I mean, embraces his role as a bona fide Bear icon in a big way, while fiercely maintaining his own individuality.  To paraphrase a popular singer, “He does it  HIS way“!  Joe is a member of Sandy “Mama” Reinhardt’s coast-to-coast philanthropic org Mama’s Family, where he was named “Mama's Care Bear” for his dedication to the Leather Nation and the GLBT community at large. Joe is also Mr. Southern California Cub 2006, Mr. Long Beach Pride Bear/Cub 2008, Mr. Los Angeles Bear 2008, Mr. Southern California Bear 2008, and Mr. International Daddy Bear 2009.  Whoa!!!  (Maybe my first interview question should be, “Do you have a separate room dedicated to all your sashes?”!) He’s also a Goodwill Ambassador of Hope for The Dab the AIDS Bear Project, a community-based organization of concerned citizens infected and/or affected by HIV and AIDS.
     Mannetti is also a writer and a performer as well as an activist, having been seen in the popular gay indie films “Another Gay Movie” and "Bear City“.  Smarter than the av-er-age Bear, Mannetti holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling, has worked as an HIV testing counselor, and is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in the woof-inducing online magazine “All Bear“ and in other online webzines.  Joe Mannetti will soon be celebrating his 50th birthday.  At a time in life when so many gay men are stripping a few years off their real age or are still hiding that decaying portrait in their attic, Mannetti is hugging… uh, I mean embracing his age in a big way.  Personally, I want to take a giant picture of Joe (shirtless, of course!), scrawl “This Is What 50 Looks Like!” across it, and parade it across town.  The bear-lebrity spoke to Jed Ryan about the his upcoming endeavors.  This is my second interview with Mr. Mannetti… but don’t you dare call it “sloppy seconds”!

JR: Hello Joe! Thanks for speaking with me! What projects have you been involved with lately?
JM: Howdy Jed! It’s always a pleasure speaking with you! Thanks for stopping by to chat with the Ol’ Daddy Bear! Congrats on your Leather title, Mr. Rawhide 2011! You are doing a great job fundraising for our communities and to help support Leather history archives. Keep up the good work, Champ!
JR: Thanks!  I do my best!
JM:  As for me, I have been keeping busy trying to get my acting career going. I have always been involved with work in low-budget independent films. But I was always the “Bear cameo or walk-on” at the end of the movie. It was fun. But I am trying to get better roles in films now. I want a chance to really act. If I have talent, hopefully I will get that chance. I acted in a gore-fest flick that is making the rounds on the film festival circuit right now. I got to play a featured lead in one of the segments in it. My part is very dark. It is unlike anything that I have done before. The movie is your typical blood-bath piece of shit. But I have one scene that allows me to truly act in it. That is the only reason why I agreed to be in the film in the first place. I have not seen it myself. But I have been told by several people who did see it that they really liked my acting. I also just submitted to audition for some roles in some other film projects. I am seeking professional representation that will finally get me into SAG and AFTRA, and I just posed for some new shots taken by photographer Adam Woomer in NYC. We’ll see what happens. I have no problem with anything that I have done – even being a Bear Pin-Up. But, let’s face it. I will be 50 years old in a few months. I need to focus on other goals. Not that there is anything wrong with the Bear Pin-Up stuff!

JR: I’ll say!  Hey, a Bare Bear is always a great thing!  Now, recently,  IBR (International Bear Rendezvous) has come to an end, with the last one having been in February 2011. This event, founded in 1994, was considered to be one of the biggest and most emblematic Bear events in the country and even the world. The creators of the event, The Bears of San Francisco, stated that the official reasons were financial in nature, as well as burnout by the Coordinators. They also stated that registration for their event dropped, even though there was a proliferation of other Bear events popping up all over the country competing for attention. What do you make of the end of IBR?
JM: Well, if anything happens, it usually happens for a reason – or a variety of reasons. Sure, the current economy had something to do with it. But that doesn’t explain why, despite the current economy, IML (the International Mister Leather event) is still going strong in Chicago. Chicago is facing its own financial troubles just as much as San Francisco is right now. Different cities might be experiencing more or less economic crisis. There is a lot to explore and examine. But I strongly suspect that money was probably not the bottom line issue as some people are claiming now. I definitely think that money and costs had something to do with it. But it was other contributing factors that really brought the curtain down in my own humble opinion. Burnout probably was a factor. But how much encouragement was given to new coordinators who came on board? I don’t have the answers, and I am not trying to wrongly accuse anyone or make incorrect assumptions. I loved my IBR experiences, and I was treated very well most of the time. But I know that others had different experiences, and I observed that myself too. It was unfortunate. I think that if “change” had been more aggressively embraced along with listening to the desires of our communities, Bear and Bear lovers alike, IBR might have continued longer. I could be wrong. I do know that I met some amazing people like John David Elam (Mr. International Bear 2009). Together, with the help of so many great volunteers, we were able to raise a lot of money for some very worthy support services that help our communities. That is a wonderful legacy for IBR to have left behind.

JR: Yeah! In June 2011, the iconic New York City gay bar The Stonewall Inn held its first ever Mr. Stonewall Bear Contest, with Mike Fass (AKA Drummerbear) receiving the Title of Mr. Stonewall Bear 2011 and Jay Edwards receiving Mr. Stonewall Cub 2011. As a mover and shaker in the Bear community yourself, what advice would you give to these gents-- or any new Titleholder or aspiring Bear activist-- about being a role model for the Bear community?
JM: My advice is not to focus on being a role model. I certainly do not consider myself one. I would never advocate that anyone, for any reason, hold up my life as a blueprint to be copied for any model of success. My life is my own. Your life should be your own. A title holder should bring in his own vision and his own sense of self to his journey. If I could share anything, I would say be true to yourself and to your communities. Focus the spotlight on something that you feel offers a contribution of lasting and significant value to others. The title, in and of itself, stands for nothing unless you make it stand for something. You decide what you want it to represent based on your own vision and abilities. Connect with people and organizations that support your goals. Make a difference and always acknowledge the fact that anything that you accomplish requires a collaborative effort with others. Nobody achieves anything significant alone, with or without a title.

JR: You have lived in Los Angeles and spent a great deal of time in New York City too… and you now call Connecticut your home. Many people have opined about the different mentality between life in L.A. and life in NYC… and then, of course, living in the suburbs adds a whole new perspective into the mix too! Where do you personally feel most “centered”, especially when it comes to being a self-identified Bear?JM: I love New York City.  I was raised in New York before I moved to Los Angeles to give life a try in Movie-Land, USA! I made a lot of great friends who I still love very much in the Southland. Obviously, I did dig a lot of stuff about life in L.A.! I lived there for 24 years! But, New York is my home. Regarding the “Bear” scene, I would have to say that San Francisco remains the HUB of Bear life just as Chicago is considered Leather Central by so many folks. There are Bear communities that are THRIVING all over the world! But I still say that San Francisco is the main station where Bear history and communities are most identified as being celebrated worldwide. New York City is MY home in my heart – now and always.

JR: That’s great to hear!  So, Joe, what do you feel is the most important issue facing the GLBT community as we start to see 2012 on the horizon? When I have asked that question to the masses before, the predominant answer seems to be marriage equality. What’s your opinion?
JM: I think that equality and recognizing same-sex marriage are very important issues! How could you argue that point? Of course, same-sex couples deserve the right to legal marriage! It’s absurd to even argue about it. It’s a no-brainer! But, for me personally, I would like to see the dialogue on finding a cure and a vaccine for HIV/AIDS get re-ignited again. The virus is still with us. It is still infecting people. It is still impacting lives. Gay marriages, and Straight marriages, would be so much greater if our quality of life was improved by the absence of HIV/AIDS in the world. Don’t you agree? I would also like to see even more attention directed towards programs that support and protect LGBTQ youth, senior LGBT folks seeking housing and assistance, increased efforts to promote meth addiction recovery services, and we need to support awareness and outreach that protects Transgender people!

JR: You made a decision to go back to being an actor and performer full time. I know that you have had some ups and downs along the way… and a good deal of drama too!  What is it like trying to make it as a professional actor? It seems like you’ve learned a lot about the film industry as of late-- both positive AND negative!JM: How can you avoid "drama" if you are involved in the acting field? I mean, that is what acting is all about, right?
JR: (Laughs)JM: Seriously, I feel that the only drama that any actor should have to focus on is the professional emoting that he attempts to develop in his work. It's been my experience that the personal drama that can erupt on sets between some casts and crews is most often the result of something else. When unprofessional behavior is inflicted upon others by amateurs on power trips who get off on bullying people who care about their work, it creates the personal drama. There is never any such thing as a perfect work environment. But when you feel exploited in one too many bad productions spoiled by hack directors pushing bad scripts, it can really do a number on you. The bad films that I have acted in were horrible experiences. Most of it had to do with the director and his production team in each case. This can happen at any level of filmmaking. But, when you have no union protecting your work, an actor can become a target for some very unprofessional people. Unions like Screen Actors Guild were developed for very good reasons. Low-budget filmmaking can be the most exciting and exhilarating experience any actor can have with the right director and the right team. It can also be Hell on earth with the wrong director and the wrong crew, especially in a non-union situation without any guarantee of any professional guidelines or the promise of even a minimal salary for your hard work. So, what have you learned, Dorothy? No actor should work for anyone without pay. If they offer you nothing, it establishes that they think that you are worth nothing. It’s a set-up for a truly horrible experience no matter how desperately you may want the opportunity to be in a movie. Don’t do it. Actors need unions. Working non-union may be necessary when you are starting out. But, if you are serious about advancing in the acting field, you must get union representation as early as possible to insure decent pay, appropriate credit for your work, and respectful/civil treatment on any movie set. Screen Actors Guild would never have allowed even one fraction of the truly abusive and unprofessional behavior that I experienced and observed on my last non-union movie project. I realize that now, and I am sure that the director who took a sick kind of pleasure in having free reign to exploit others realized it at the time too. It was a grotesque experience. I really have nothing positive to say about any director who sends actors emails calling them “dumb faggots” or sends messages to women online calling them “cunts.” It’s a disgrace to the low-budget independent film industry that this director is winning awards for his movie on the indie film festival circuit right now.

JR: One of your recent projects is being interviewed in a documentary about transman and adult film star Buck Angel. What was your involvement with that project?
JM: Award-winning documentary filmmaker Dan Hunt told me he was working on directing and producing a film about the amazing life of Transgender Porn Mega-Star Buck Angel. I told him that years ago Buck and I had worked together. Actress and Performance Artist extraordinaire Selene Luna approached me at the time about her friend Buck Angel needing someone to agree to pose nude with him for some kinky shots.
JR: Yum!
JM: Back then, nobody would agree to work with Buck because he was a man with a pussy! I was outraged by their narrow-minded prejudice, and I was anxious to pose with such a sexy and interesting individual! I was impressed by Buck’s radical independence and spirit. So, I signed up for the gig, and we took the shots together! Buck and his assistant/partner were two of the most wonderful people that I ever worked for in my life. They treated me well, and they paid me very decently. I cannot say the same about everyone who I worked with in the industry. Years later, Buck thanked me for being one of the only men at that time willing to work with him. It was an honor. When I told Dan about my experience with Buck, he asked me to be interviewed for his documentary on him.

JR: Wow!  I really like Buck’s work, so I can’t wait to see the final project!  Now, while we are on the subject: In the past, you have been very open about your work in the adult film industry. You are now “retired”, but a lot of adult film stars have higher rates of recidivism than Lindsay Lohan. Would you ever consider going back to that career path?
JM: It’s enough that some folks still tolerate me being bare-chested in photos at my age. No, I do not wish to go back to performing in adult films. I really was never pleased or comfortable with my work in them if you want to know the truth. They were very cheaply shot productions. I don’t regret that I did it. I didn’t get wealthy from participating in it, as some folks seem to believe. I just got a lot of notoriety, and the producers got a lot of money. End of story. But I still do advocate that people should have the freedom to choose whether or not they wish to be involved in porn without being discriminate against for it. They also need and deserve protective guidelines. There should be HIV and STD testing available for all performers. I do not support porn that promotes unsafe sex (anal sex without condoms) or allows drug use/abuse on the set. Children/minors should never be sexually exploited in porn or outside of porn. Consenting adults have the right to do whatever the fuck they want to do on and off camera. Judging adults for being involved in porn is more perverted than anything that they do on the set. This current generation of “Gladys Kravitz” characters that self-righteously point fingers at others are truly pathetic and laughable. I am not talking about the Religious Right as much as the hypocrites that exist within our own LGBT communities. Get a fuckin’ life! Better yet, start getting fucked in your own life so that you don’t have to obsess on the fucking that other folks are enjoying on and off camera. Joe has spoken!

JR: And when Joe speaks, people listen!  In your posts on Facebook, I learned that you have a fascination with Jayne Mansfield, Marilyn Monroe, and a few other misunderstood, late blonde actresses from vintage Hollywood! So do I, by the way! Where does your affinity for these women come from?
JM: These ladies were individuals who challenged sexual boundaries and made the world a more sexy and enjoyable place for all of us in the process! What’s not to love about any of them? I don’t particularly love the way that most of them were treated by moralistic and sex-phobic bigots. But a lot of them did display a resilience that was wonderful. Jayne Mansfield laughed right along with everyone at her own image a good deal of the time. She was far more confident and in charge than Marilyn in response to her detractors. Marilyn, of course, was actually very wise and very sensitive about sexuality and how her image was viewed by the public. She was also treated very poorly by the people who exploited her the most ruthlessly. A lot of them are still profiting from her long after her tragic death. That makes me sad – and angry. There is a lesson there, and it is not just the crap about how troubled she supposedly was during her life. The more significant point, to me, is how much trouble was thrown into her life by some very mean-spirited and truly self-serving people. The ladies that I love also include Gypsy Rose Lee and Mae West. Gypsy, like Jayne Mansfield, laughed first at herself before others did. She was quite a gal. Mae West, of course, liberated and empowered herself with her sexuality. Mae was all about healthy living and being the best you that you could be. She advocated, “No drinking and positive thinking.” She never got into abusing drugs or alcohol, and she created her own material. I dig her style 100%. The more tragic figures like Barbara Payton and Yvette Vickers teach us as much about ourselves, in terms of the way that they were treated and their lives sadly ended, as they do about anything. So, I identify with a lot of the strengths and human frailties of all of them. Personally, I like to keep most of my focus on the strengths part. I am a strong person just in case you didn’t know by now.

JR:  I noticed, trust me! So, what does Joe Mannetti do for fun?
JM: I work!
JR: Now, you know what they say about “all work and no play”!  Be careful!  Thanks again, Joe!

You can see more about Joe Mannetti on IMDB at and visit Joe on Twitter at