In 2012, Joe Gulla started following me on Twitter. I remember wondering who this guy was. After a few emails back and forth, I learned Joe was a "theatre buff." It then took us a full year before we got to meet in person (finally met Joe after his performance of The Bronx Queen) and then another full year to finally do an interview together (for Faggy at 50, the second show in his "Bronx Queen Trilogy"). Now, another year later (does anyone else see a pattern here?), we are getting to do a new interview! I'm so excited to catch up with Joe about his latest show, Daddy, the final chapter in his "Bronx Queen Trilogy." Daddy, will be featured in the United Solo Festival on Saturday, September 19 at 4pm and Thursday, October 8 at 9pm at Theatre Row in NYC (410 West 42nd Street, between 9th & 10th Avenue). Click here for tickets!
1. This September and October, you are once again returning to the United Solo Festival with a brand new show called Daddy, which rounds out your "Bronx Queen Trilogy." What excites you about performing in the United Solo Festival again? Hey Adam! Honestly, I’m a native New Yorker and I don’t think I will ever get tired of performing on Theatre Row. I saw so many plays there as a youth. It’s always been a special part of New York City to me. It was always a goal to perform there. So, entering the Theatre Row Stage Door is still a huge turn on!
2. So far, you have modeled all your shows, Daddy included, after legendary monologist Spalding Gray. What is it about him/his performance style that made you want to perform your shows this way? Adam, it’s funny! I was a major fan of Spalding Gray back in the day! I was completely fascinated by him…awestruck! In my late teens/early twenties, I’ll admit that I went to see him because it was "the cool theater thing to do." I was not drawn to the idea of seeing a man sit at a table and tell stories. The idea alone bored me to tears. I was simply doing my due diligence! I wanted my "theater queen" cred! Ha!
But, I sat there in the dark and was captured by this man’s words and his stories. Completely captured. It was magical to me. The time flew. Spalding had a gift. People left entertained…changed. Over those years, I saw him perform in small Off-Broadway Houses and then, ultimately, Lincoln Center. What a ride!
When I sat there in the audience, I felt challenged to do it! Who knows why?! But I never imagined that I ACTUALLY would! The "Bronx Queen Trilogy" will always be performed behind a table…just me, a notebook and a bottle of water….in the style of Spalding Gray! A full on homage, Adam! It just feels right!
3. What can audiences expect from Daddy? After the chandelier falls and the helicopter flies off, the audience can expect to see a gay, Bronx-born, Italian man with a raspy voice share his story! Some will laugh. Some will cry. Some will refer him to a cost-efficient therapist!
4. If you could give people one reason to come see Daddy, what would that reason be? Easy! If they get a seat in the first two rows, they will be able to smell my rare Italian cologne. I discovered it in Rome, Italy. But, thankfully, I found a place in New York (there’s only one!) where I purchase it in small batches!
5. What made you want to write a show about this phase of your life? The shows finally caught up with me! The Bronx Queen was about my youth in the Bronx. Faggy at 50 was about defining myself at middle age. Webster defines Daddy as "the oldest, best or biggest example of something." What a concept! I want my audiences to witness my exploration of this! "Who’s your Daddy?"…indeed!
6. Did you automatically embrace being a "Daddy" or has it taken time to accept the fact that you are at an age where you could be considered a "Daddy"? Is this something you lean towards to when dating? Ah, Adam! I love your questions! No! I have not embraced being a "Daddy" at all! Suddenly, I was at an age where this concept needed some exploring. Truth be told, I do not relate to it. But, I’m beginning to see some of its merits! In a nutshell, the show is about me coming to terms with my "Inner Daddy!" Between you and me, I am praying that this "Inner Daddy" shows up with some good dating advice! I need it!
7. Daddy not only encompasses the gay terminology, but it also touches on fatherhood/father figures. Is fatherhood something you want still? How do you feel your relationship with your dad influenced the way you shaped this show? I‘ve never wanted to father my own child. I knew I wouldn’t be able to give the job my full attention! Hence, my gift to the world: ONE LESS MISCREANT!
As for my Dad, he has informed the entire "Bronx Queen Trilogy." He died 20 years ago and I am shocked and pleased to say that I still feel very much "in relationship" with him! It has been a beautiful and surprising realization. His presence, in life and death, continues to nourish me!
8. What is at least one thing you've learned from your dad? "Grease your bartender early… and heavily!"
10. If you could create your own signature drink, what would you call it, and what ingredients would you put in it? This has actually happened! A bar in Rome named a drink after me! It was completely unexpected. I felt so honored. All I need now is: a Tony and a Pulitzer. Adam, I’d be set!
The drink is called "Joe’s Mint." Muddled fresh mint, top shelf vodka, splash of club soda…on the rocks, of course! Insert black cocktail straw…bend straw at the rim of the glass!
Since you asked, you should know that this drink is a plot point in my play, Garbo. And, incidentally, we are doing a two-act version of Garbo in early 2016! You are the perfect interviewer, Adam! You led me right into that plug!
Thanks so much for talking to me about Daddy! I’ve been a fan of your website from it’s birth! It is my pleasure to call you Adam…as per your request! Ha! I look forward to seeing you at my show!
Joe Gulla is an American playwright, actor and reality television participant. He is best known for the autobiographical monologues that he writes and performs for the theater. His best known work, "Bronx Queen Trilogy" is based on his experience growing up as a gay boy in the Bronx. The Bronx Queen, first in the series, was awarded Best Comedic Script and Most Popular Show at NYC Theater Row's 2012 and 2013 United Solo Theatre Festival, respectively. Faggy at 50, second in the series, was awarded Best One-Man Show at NYC Theater Row's 2014 United Solo Theatre Festival.
His play, Garbo was based on an unrequited love affair experienced while living in Rome, Italy. Garbo was selected to be part of the New York City's Times Square International Theater Festival in 2012. He played the role of "Frankie" in Off-Broadway's long-running hit, My Big Gay Italian Wedding. REEL WOOD, a short play written by Joe, had its World Premiere at the Hollywood Fringe Festival in June 2015. It was also selected by NYC's Village Playwrights to be performed in their "Re-Inventing Family" series commemorating Gay Pride. Joe's play, Knock Off!, had its World Premiere in Houston, TX at Theatre Southwest.
Joe was a contestant on the NBC adventure reality series, Lost in 2001. The show followed three teams of two as they made their way from the Gobi Desert in Mongolia back to the United States. The Advocate Magazine named Joe its "Anti-Bullying Hero." in 2012. Joe is a member of the Dramatists Guild.