Queer writer, performer, and activist Justin Sayre returns to Joe’s Pub September 29 and September 30 with Justin Sayre Makes The Case for America, in which he offer a hilarious and heartfelt response to perhaps the most pressing question of our time: What does it mean to be an American at this moment and how do we move forward?. It will be an intimate evening of stories, songs, and fried chicken that any woke New Yorker worth one’s salt won’t want to miss.
Justin is the multihyphenate behind The Meeting, The GAYBC’s: A Brief History of Gay Culture, Night of a Thousand Judys, and the YA novels Husky and Pretty. BroadwayBox caught up with him to discuss the new show, his ideal America, revamping The Golden Girls through today's lens, and more!
1. In your opinion, who is doing great coverage of the current administration? Is there a late-night host or cable TV program that you think is nailing it right now?
Well, I think everyone on MSNBC plays too big for the camera, and I don't really care to be shouted at. Especially by Joe Scarborough, who sounds like your boring Uncle at a barbeque. Any time I hear him, I imagine the tongs in his hands and the kiss the cook apron. That being said, I like Rachel Maddow and Chris Cuomo is dreamy. When I really need news, I like calm cool and collected women of a certain age, so my heart belongs to Judy Woodruff of the PBS Newshour or Amy Goodman of Democracy Now. Slightly off topic, the one ray of light in this whole catastrophe is the reemergence of Jill Wine-Banks and her brooches. There's even a website, where she describes the brooch and why she's wearing it. She's my hero.
I think Stephen Colbert is doing great and Laura Benanti's send-up of Melania is truly brilliant. I think on the comedy front, Samantha Bee is really knocking it out of the park. She's tapping into our frustration and our angst in a way that is the brilliant rolling poetry of rage. I think more so than anyone else, she's out there making the case for sense, in the most hilarious way. I'm a huge fan. I think John Oliver runs a close second.
2. What’s your hope for America in a year from now? In 5 years from now?
First, I hope we're still here. One nation, all connected. My hope for America is that we can see how we've gotten here and start to repair the damage done. I really want to see a new recalibration of America ingenuity and fairness. I think we need to think about Equality in its truest sense. How can we be equal when Flint doesn't have water? How can we have equality when so many people live below the poverty line? I would like to see almost a New Deal type overhaul where people are given tools to live in nature and to be more self-sufficient and industrious. My hope is we get back to an idea of community. Investments in infrastructure and renewable energies, better education and healthcare. I think we need to be healers instead of warriors moving forward. I only hope we start to see that.
In five years, I would love to see us making real changes to combat climate change and renewable energies. I would love to see Student Debt forgiveness to be a real conversation in this country and making strides toward universal coverage. I would like a female president. I would like to be out of Afghanistan. I would like to be taking care of this beautiful country and its people. It sounds like a utopia, but it's actually so very doable. It's innovative, and that used to be part of our identity.
3. I lived for your #SecretsofTheGoldenGirls on Twitter. If you could cast a GG remake for today, which four actresses would you like to see sharing cheesecake?
Oh my goodness, thank you. I'm really trying to turn them all into a book, so fingers crossed. Well I don't know if I'd ever want to remake that classic. And we've changed so much since the show. You have to think that first season, Dorothy wasn't even sixty yet. Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin are both Sophia's age! Age and our perception of Age has shifted so much! But since you asked here's what I think. Diahann Carroll or Joan Collins as a Blanch character. Diane Keaton or Goldie Hawn as a Rose. Goldie could actually do anything she'd like. Maybe Susan Sarandon or Jennifer Lewis as a Dorothy. And with these ladies, I don't know if you could have Sophia, maybe Angela Lansbury. I would go back to the pilot and have the return of the gay butler, Coco and for that role, I nominate myself.
4. If someone were unfamiliar with your work and was going to watch one YouTube video before Joe’s Pub, which would you suggest?
Well, that's a little hard to say, because I only watch them to edit them, and then never look at myself again. I'm like Maggie Smith in that way and many others. But I think the one that people most often comment on is The New Hanky Code.
But I think for insights into what kind of relationship I have with my audience, I think I would say All the Stages of Mame.
And for my righteous anger, I think Ab Privilege.
And I think for taking on my own kind:
5. Having lived in both places, what do you think is the biggest difference between gay men on the East and West Coast?
I don't know if I'm the best to answer that. In New York, I was part of a Downtown/Brooklyn scene where eccentricity was encouraged and displayed. But there was also an uptown of brokers and chorus boys and other more straight-laced varieties. In Los Angeles, which is more of a company town, everyone wants to be an actor, so being outlandishly gay is simply not done. I will put it to you this way: In New York when people saw how I dress, 30% were delighted, 60% were coldly indifferent, and 10% were horrified. In Los Angeles, it's more 50% delighted, 50% horrified. It takes all kinds, but I don't know where I'm ever really supposed to be. Who knows what the future will hold. Hopefully more costume jewelry.
Do not miss your chance to see Justin Sayre and his incredible brand of comedy live in ‘Justin Sayre Makes The Case for America’ at Joe’s Pub September 29 & 30.