Hi there Remy Germinario! I’m so glad we’re finally getting to sit down and talk. I first mentioned this interview to you at one of Paige Turner’s holiday galas and now three months later, its finally happening. Drag queens even do interviews on drag time apparently! How are you doing honey?
Hey Chiffon! Thank you for staying on brand with Drag Time! I’m tickled you called it a holiday gala, but I think Paige prefers the word GAYla! I’m doing well! Keeping busy with a bunch of projects and braving the cold. I’m actually heading down to Florida soon so I’m excited about that. How’re you???
Well, its not my normal therapy day to talk about things like this but I’m not well. I hate to come in hot right away on this interview but we have a serious issue to discuss. One month ago to the day, meteorological fraud the Ground Hog told us that were getting an early spring. For years he’s been all, “Believe me, no one knows more about weather than I do” and yet we all woke up to snow in the New York area this morning. Snow! I’m feeling very emotional about this but what can we as normal citizen do about this monster?
I couldn’t agree more. It’s a dark time we live in! The groundhog is just so different after his fame from the musical Groundhog Day.
Fame changes a person I suppose. Or a rodent. But despite the weather, we shall press on! So let’s hope in the Delorean and head back in time a bit shall we? Where does your origin story begin?
Well, don’t judge me, but it starts in Tampa, Florida almost 29 years ago!
Photo by Michael Kushner photography
Ah Tampa, Florida….home of steakhouses, strip clubs and steakhouse/ strip club combos. Sounds like growing up in Mayberry practically!
Yeah, she’s a classy dame. That’s why we call it TRAMPA. No, but actually it was a nice place to grow up in, despite me constantly complaining and urge to move to New York City, especially in my teenage years. But I grew up in the suburbs with very supportive parents and family. Tampa actually has a really wonderful theatre scene both with community theatre and professional theatre, so it was a great place to be a budding artist.
How did you first get interested in the theatrical arts?
Its a cute story. So, my dad had been a performer all his life on a small scale. Performing in bands and acting in college and such. He started getting involved in our community theatre called Carrolwood Players. I saw him do a show there when I was about 5 and it looked so fun and I said “I want to do what dad does” and caught the bug. The next year, I had my first role at that same theatre. I played Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol. I’d do another production of it the year after and my dad got to play Scrooge in that one, so that was adorable to perform with him.
Getting to play Tiny Tim to your Dad’s Scrooge almost seems like some revolutionary role play psychotherapy exercise!
Yes, they say that combined with the right medication can really cure you.
So you managed to parlay Tiny Tim into a BFA from NYU in Acting. When did you know that you wanted to pursue acting on larger scale? Was there one “A ha!” moment?
Hmm. I don’t think there was one moment. I think I just dove hardcore into other community theatre productions, school productions, my school morning show and child modeling (yes bitch, I’m on the cover of a pool toy!). It was sort of because of a series of events that I knew I wanted to do this. I was the class clown, I loved making people laugh, I marched to the beat of my own drum and knew I had a natural presence. I say that as humble as possible. *Laughs* My childhood performing experience along with listening to Broadway albums and watching the greats in movies, TV shows made me realize that I didn’t want to do anything else. I was having so much fun doing this and I saw other people were successful doing it and I thought “Well, why don’t I do that?”
Photo courtesy of Cardinal Stage Company
Aside from your father, did you have any other acting and comedy role models growing up?
The adults in my community were really inspiring to me. I had never seen anyone else perform live really except them, so in the early years they were the example for me. As I got older and started watching TV i became inspired by actors who were on the screen. My biggest comedic inspiration was Lisa Kudrow. Growing up and watching her on Friends and The Comeback taught me what it was to be funny. I have never laughed harder than I have watching Lisa Kudrow. I don’t get star struck but when I meet her I will absolutely cry and probably freak her out. I’m tearing up now just talking about it!
Do you want to sing a couple of verses of “Smelly Cat” together to help ground you so we can continue?
*Laughs* “Smelly Cat” IS a classic but its actually not my favorite Phoebe song! “The Shower Song” will always have a special place in my heart, along with another few obscure ones. “Smelly Cat” is her “I Will Always Love You” on The Bodyguard soundtrack, which I love, but I have a soft spot for the other ones.
Wow, I try to do my research but I didn’t realize we were going to a deep dive into the Phoebe Buffay song catalog! I’m going to do a quick segue here then and ask you about coming to the Big Apple. You mentioned how you always had the urge to come here. Why New York as opposed to like Los Angeles or Chicago which also have thriving scenes for actors?
Great question. My primary background as a performer growing up was theatre. Especially musical theatre, which meant NYC was the place to be for that. My dad is originally from Long Island, so I would go into the city with him a few times when we would visit and New York just entranced me. It’s a a cliche story but that says something about what power New York has over people. It was just so alive. And as much as I hate Times Square now, walking around the Broadway Theatre’s as a kid was aspirational for me. Growing up and even into college I was all about musical theatre. Broadway, Broadway, Broadway. I, of course, wanted to do Film and TV too (I did a summer film/tv intensive in LA when I was 12). I wanted to do it all, and I still do. But back then, it was all about Broadway and NYC. My goals and expectations have certainly changed. But New York will still pump a dose of that optimist that little boy had into my cold, jaded heart. *Laughs*
Well its good to know that the city hasn’t crushed your soul yet! So we first met while you were performing in one of the aforementioned Paige Turner’s cabaret’s at the world famous Laurie Beechman Theatre. How did you hook up with Pai….no, that sounds bad. How you get involved with…..nope, still not good. Well, you get the gist of it! How did you become a regular performer in her shows?
*Laughs* I first fornicated with Pai…wait, still not right. Well, I first met Paige when she was out of drag. I was just starting to get into watching Drag Shows. I’d heard of her as a big name in the NYC drag scene. We ended up sitting next to each other at Nomi Sas and Chelsea Piers‘ show #Gypsies at XES (RIP!). We got to talking and he said he did drag and I asked what his name was and he said “Paige Turner”. And I said “Oh, so YOU’RE Paige Turner!”. And thats how our friendship started. We’d see each other here and there at her shows like So You Think You Can Drag and through mutual friends.
Photo courtesy of the Laurie Beechman Theatre
But then one day she asked me to be in her music video parody “Do You Want to Have a Three Way” as her gay bff who goes with her to a ‘Frozen’ convention. And then about a year later she asked me to perform a bunch of characters in her Easter show with Trixie Dix…I mean, Jackie Cox and here we are! We’ve done numerous other shows and videos together since. It’s a great partnership. Our humors and antics really match well together.
Speaking of humor and antics, that makes for a perfect segue to talk about one of your latest projects, TWUNK Comedy! (Head to Facebook right now and click Like on TWUNK’s page. We’ll wait for you. Insert link here) How did this video series come about?
YAS TWUNK! I’m really excited about it. The origin of the name TWUNK comes from the past tense of TWINK (though many people say that TWUNK means a hunky twink, which i don’t agree with. TWUNK=a twink who has grown out of it!) As I am getting older and aging out my the younger, baby faced, innocent roles I used to play, its sort of meant to be a joke about where I am now in life. This reflects how TWUNK started: getting tired of lack of opportunities when I was younger and creating opportunities for myself now as a more mature person where I am the maker of my own destiny and vision. I created this online sketch comedy platform because I was feeling creatively frustrated. I’m so so so lucky to get to work as an actor and comic as much as I do. But its not as much as I want.
In this business, you can’t wait for someone to give you an opportunity. Everyone always says “Create your own work” when you’re feeling unfulfilled. To be honest, it never really appealed to me. I don’t consider myself a great writer. I don’t think I’d have to chops to write a full web series or a short or a feature film. Not to mention, crowd funding these things are insane and stressful. I respect anyone who has the guts to do it, and many of my friends have and I admire them. But that path wasn’t exactly for me. But then I thought of all these crazy sketch ideas I have. I thought that doing my own video sketches is something affordable and attainable. I am confident with myself in short form writing like stand up or sketch and I have good concepts.
My boyfriend, Michael Kushner, is an amazing photographer, editor and performer, so he could film and edit everything. And it would be a great way to stay creatively active, create characters, hone my writing skills and work with some of my favorite comedian friends to create funny sketches and have online content to put into the universe for me as a writer and performer. You never know what could come of them. I’m sure you felt the same way starting Werrrk.com and look at you now!
Now more than ever, the availability of technology has made it so much easier to create and distribute content on your own, without needing someone backing you. But that being said, I don’t know if you find this but with me, it leads to an overflow of ideas, half baked projects and partially finished concepts. As a creative type, do you feel a pressure to be an “actor/comedian/content creator/etc etc” rather than simply an actor with other skills and interests?
I completely agree. In this moment, there is So. Much. Content. The internet is over saturated with it. Its more difficult than ever to get your stuff seen and make a name for yourself. That’s why you just have to have patience, faith and gusto to keep persevering. Sometimes creating your own work is a lot of work for not a lot of payoff, especially at first. For the longest time, I just wanted to be an actor. I wasn’t interested in writing or making my own stuff. I wanted my agent to get me auditions, a casting director to cast me, a director to direct me and a writer to hand me a script that was already funny. Now, sometimes that happens, and when it does, great! But its so necessary to have those other skills. My boyfriend Michael has a great new podcast (talk about creating your own work) called Dear Multi-Hyphenate where he interviews people who are and HAVE to be more than just one thing. In this business in 2019, its sort of necessary.
Sorry for turning this into my quasi-therapy session again! But you have created some hilarious content already on TWUNK Comedy, including a ride-sharing sketch with Paige and WERRRK. com contributor Gina Tonic, plus some really great send ups of the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten and a Sex and the City-inspired satire of Cynthia Nixon’s Gubernatorial campaign. Where do you get your ideas from?
Oh, I love it when things get deep, girl! I’m an open book! And thank you for the kind words! I’ve been really pleased with how the sketches have turned out and so grateful to Michael and my comedian friends who work on them as you mentioned. I get a lot of my ideas from real life, politics, pop culture and topical information. For example doing a political style campaign for Miranda do be your favorite Sex and the City character came from Cynthia Nixon running for Governor of NY and played into how nobody wants to be a Miranda. The ride sharing app for drag queens was inspired by how Hell’s Kitchen actually is becoming slightly unsafe these days and how drag queens, unfortunately, can be harassed on the street, even in NYC in 2019. It also is just a parody about the antics that come with ride sharing apps. The sketch about how a friendship is broken because one likes summer and the other likes winter is inspired by actual arguments about which season is better with my friends. Its very polarizing! And some of the time, I don’t even know where they come from. Creative people have special brains and things just pop into their minds and it comes out in their artistic vision. I have a very unique sense of humor and I think thats what sets these TWUNK videos apart.
Its funny that you mentioned aging out of younger roles before because one of my absolute favorite roles of mine that you play is as Carol Channing’s grandson, alongside the uber-talented James Mills as Carol. I feel like we would be remiss not mention that in light of the icon’s recent passing. What is it like playing that character alongside James?
Well thats the beauty of sketch comedy. No matter what age you are, what you look like, how you identify, you can be whoever you want. So when I play Dante (Paige’s gay bff and Carol Channing’s fake grandson), I can still be that over the top twinky boy in a hilarious way. I love working with James as Carol. He’s such an incredible person and performer and he always has been in stitches during rehearsal and when I watch him onstage. His impression of Carol is one of the best I’ve ever seen and its become a tradition at Christmas to see him do it amongst the NYC drag and theatre community. Not sure what will happen this year since Carol has passed but I’m sure James has something up his sleeve!
Aside from working with Paige and on your own comedic ventures, where else has your acting career taken you of late? What are some the big “bucket list” things you still would like to accomplish?
Well, the past few years, most of my gigs have been stand up comedy, sketch comedy, web series, and workshops and full productions of new plays. I’ve also been lucky to perform Buyer and Cellar a few times. If you don’t know, its a one man show written by Jonathon Tollins about a guy who gets hired to work in Barbra Streisand‘s shopping mall in her basement. Its hilarious, unique and really touching. Its one of those roles that feels like it was written just for me, even though it wasn’t. I’ve never identified with a character more. I relate to the character’s struggles and the comedy is right up my alley. And because its a one man show, I get to play all the characters, where my sketch comedy background helps. I’m about to head off to Florida to do it for the 3rd time! (Get your tickets here all you Floridians!)
And of course, Paige, Jackie and I are reuniting for the revival of our Easter show on April 19th and 21st at the Green Room 42 (Get your tickets here!)
I’ve always been a huge fan of stand up comedy. How do you find it challenges your sensibilities as an actor? It would seem that its using a different set of muscles than acting in a lot of cases. Do you find one more challenging than the other?
Well, I got into stand up two years ago. Sort of for the same reason I started TWUNK: to create my own opportunities. People had always told me to do stand up because I was always the comedic relief in shows, I’d write funny jokes on Facebook, etc. But, I doubted myself and eventually just bit the bullet. Its been an interesting journey. Being a comedic actor was a huge benefit to me and allowed me to be comfortable and confident as a stand up right from the start. But it took me a while to get how it was a different world than acting. It has a lot of similarities. You write a script, you say the words, and sometimes people laugh, sometimes they don’t. But the vibe is just different. Its more conversational. You have to play off the audience even more and do crowd work, etc. Because the structure is a little more free form, I started to notice a lot of tics I’d do in the early days of my stand up that I have now grown out of. You learn how to change your joke delivery, which jokes work and which don’t and how to alter them, and how to alter your set based on the venue.
Photo courtesy of Comedians on the Loose
Stand up also has a completely different set of people you have to know, a whole new crowd you have to break into, and not the traditional “audition” scene as acting has. You REALLY have to take matters into your own hands as a stand up by going to open mics, auditioning for clubs at bringer shows, where you have to have a certain amount of people attend to perform, and making friends who will put you on their produced shows. I think both acting and stand up offer various difficulties, but I’m very lucky that I have the opportunity to do both. I think stand up was a natural step for me.
So normally we do…..THE LIGHTNING ROUND…..but the questions tend to be drag related, however as a four time Glam Award nominated writer and a four time Glam Award loser, I think I can rework them on the fly to suit you…..if you dare?
YES GLAM AWARDS! OH I DARE! BRING IT ON!
The Best Part of Acting?
Making someone laugh
The worst part of acting?
Post show food craving?
Diner food like eggs and bacon or french fries!
Most surprising thing about you that people might not know?
I have OCD!
Actor you would pay the most to see?
Watching “Dr Pimple Popper” on Instagram
Death Row last meal?
Domino’s Pizza, Publix Donuts and iced coffee
Netflix Binge recommendation?
This is so nerdy, but I love the CNN docu-series about the different decades. They’ve done the 1960’s through the 2000’s! Its really crazy to look back at the various aspects of each decade. I’M A NERD
Disney character you relate to the most?
Mary Poppins cuz I’m organized
Final question, most embarrassing song on your phone?
Probably recordings of me in singing class in college
We’ll let that one slide so I am very pleased to say that you managed to survive our first ever non-dragified LIGHTNING ROUND Remy!
I’m so honored! This was so much fun!!!!
We talked about a lot of your upcoming gigs but where can the WERRRK.com Universe find you out there on the interwebs?
Well my dear, we have just about reached the end of the road here but I am so glad we got the chance to talk! I am such a fan of yours and I’m looking forward the Easter show and all the future content coming as well! Before we call it day, do you have any final words of wisdom to leave the WERRRK .com Universe with?
First of all, I had a lovely time and thanks for having me. I adore you! My words of wisdom is that everyone is doing the best they can. Its really scary times in our world right now, and our jobs as artists is to reflect those problems and enact change or to create an escape from these bad times so people can laugh and be entertained. In this business of show, we all have one common goal. Be kind to each other. Collaborate and engage. We are all just people.