From his nights spinning disco at The Monster to his jaunts through Fire Island (sometimes as his endlessly fierce drag alter ego Levonia Jenkins) to his musical offerings as part of Undercover, Greg Scarnici is quintessential New York. Readers of his last tome “I Hope My Mother Doesn’t Read This” got to see how a little boy from Jamaica, Queens crafted a career as a writer a performer, and a musician, all while keeping his trademark wit and New York sensibilities firmly intact. I sat down to talk to Greg about one of the other loves of his life, the notoriously amazing Fire Island. While many see it as a party destination, Scarnici’s newest tome “Dungeons and Drag Queens” creates an image of lush greenery and prancing deer (all the while telling copious stories of other types of wildlife prancing through the aforementioned greenery)! From his current musical inspirations to what made him fall in love with Fire Island to yes, his favorite drag queens, our conversation clearly shows that there are plenty more stories for Greg Scarnici to share (he’s already working on his next book of essays)!
MICHAEL COOK: Your new book “Dungeons and Drag Queens” is finally here! How does this one differ from your last hilarious book of essays, “I Hope My Mother Doesn’t Read This”?
GREG SCARNICI: Although this book is also a collection of essays, “Dungeons and Drag Queens” is focused entirely on my experiences on Fire Island over the past twenty five years and the three major Ds: drag, drugs and dick.
Fire island is a destination for so many New York City boys and beyond. What do you think is the magical allure from Fire Island that makes it such a destination to so many people?
I think one of the most enchanting things about Fire Island is that there are virtually no vehicles on the island, so when you get there and find yourself walking on a beach with deer prancing to and fro, you feel as like you’re in a magical gay paradise far removed from city life.
Your last book “I Hope My Mother Doesn’t Read This” detailed your childhood and went all the way through your early gay life and included some pretty hilarious stories that really shaped who you were and have become. What makes “Dungeons and Drag Queens” a natural progression and how does it differ?
It’s funny, while my last book talked about how New York City helped form a large part of who I am, this book focuses on how Fire Island has influenced my life. I’d say the overall theme is how the fun and subversive nature of Cherry Grove helped create the person I am today.
Can we expect to see more about some of your favorite divas in “Dungeons and Drag Queens”? Who are you loving right now diva-wise?
Since my favorite drag queens in the book have been inspiring me since I was like nineteen, I don’t expect to see much more of them because they’re practically dead. (LOL just kidding)! . The best thing about my favorite drag queens like China and Charity Charles is that they’re still turning lewks and numbers on the island in their seventies and eighties!
Conversely, drag queens are everywhere right now in our pop culture world and have influenced you as both a performer and a writer. Your perspective on RuPaul’s Drag Race would be interesting to hear. Thoughts? And what queens are you absolutely loving right now?
As someone who has loved drag ever since I saw Divine in Pink Flamingos when I was sixteen, I am thrilled to see drag influencing pop culture so much right now. As for what queens I’m loving, I think Manila Luzon did an amazing job on All Stars 4 and I will always be obsessed with off-kilter drag artists like Dina Martina and of course, the living legend, Lady Bunny.
Speaking of divas, we know your own alter ego Levonia Jenkins absolutely loves Fire Island. What about it gives it so much allure to her? And can we expect more music from Levonia to perform on Fire Island and beyond?
Levonia loves Fire Island because it’s one of the only places she can walk her bearded face around town without anyone so much as batting an eye. You can be sure that whenever she gets a day off from C-Town, she hops on that ferry to sashay around Cherry Grove, werking and serving with a frozen margarita in her hand. And as for new music, Levonia just so happens to be in the studio right now working on her next cassingle, “Fifty Years Old” which should be out this summer!
Music is a huge part of your career; from DJ’ing at The Monster to performing as Undercover with Joe Thompson. What music or artists right now are you feeling tremendously passionate about?
I’ve always been drawn to disco and house, and right now The Carry Nation can do no wrong – both with their monthly parties in Brooklyn at Good Room and their musical releases. I also love Purple Disco Machine and Honey Dijon – two more DJs and musicians who also releasing great music lately.
Your constantly are finding new and creative ways to express your own creativity. Can we expect more books? What do you want to do career-wise that you have not gotten to do yet?
I’m already working on my next book, “Keeping Up With The Kids,” which will be another essay collection about trying to stay on top of everything in this fast-paced world. I’m also writing a pilot with comedian Stacey Prussman that centers on her being a sex addict who’s forced to move back home with her mother at the age of forty five. So far, it’s pretty sick and outrageous and I’m looking forward to working on it if and when it gets picked up.
What keeps inspiring you to craft your daily life into another amazing book?
Every day, I run into people, places and things that inspire me, so it’s just about keeping being open to doing new and different things that will keep supplying me with springboards to leap from as I dive into the pool of life… OMG that was the worst sentence I’ve ever said.. thank God this interview is over (laughs)!
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