Dishing it Deadly with Frank DeCaro By Margoh Channing
Interview by Margoh Channing
I was terribly excited to be invited to an exclusive viewing of Elizabeth Taylor’s auction items at Christies. You know kids when all the big celebrities and moneyed nobodies get a gander before theâ€¦Well I’ll just say it. â€œThe General Public.â€
It was pure coincidence for I had just tried one of Liz’s recipes chicken and avocado with mushrooms from this fabulous new read The Dead Celebrity Cookbook by Frank DeCaro. I was burping all the way from the subway while making my way into Christies. Mama ran straight for the caftans! Jewelry or handbags are nice but a caftan that Liz may have spilled a martini or dribbled some pee on is what I want. Now that has value!
I’m fingering my way through the racks and ready to grab the one that melts my butter, a black chiffon evening caftan with encrusted jewel on the bodice is just the ticket. OH! My! I went to pull out when I felt a tug from the other side. I tug again! Then it’s an all out tug of war until my press-ons pop off. I fall to the floor caftan less with flask and cookbook falling from my bag.
I stumble up and snap â€œGive me that caftan or I’llâ€ when I realize it’s the funny man himself Frank DeCaro.
â€œOr you’ll what?â€ He says in a Divine tone as if he has some ironing to do
â€œI’ll, I’ll, then â€œburpâ€ â€œOh! Excuse me.â€
â€œThat smells like Elizabeth Taylors recipeâ€ Frank replies â€œI see you have my bookâ€ eyes gazing to the floor.
â€œOh! It is! I just made it for dinner and it repeats a bit, excuse me. Yes I do, I just love it. I’m MargOH! Channing so nice to meet youâ€ extending my hand.
â€œNice to meet you too, I thinkâ€ pulling the caftan further away.
As a bright light blinded my eyes from Mr. DeCaro’s noggin I said â€œCan I rub your bald head?â€
â€œIf it helps me sell copies of the dead celebrity cookbook, you can rub anything you want.â€
â€œI may just take you up on that! Don’t tempt MargOH!â€ wagging my finger.
â€œOH! Frank I love the book and am getting one for everyone I know as holiday gifts. Now I’m sure you’ll let me try on that caftan won’t you?â€
â€œI don’t think they let you try things on, it’s just a viewingâ€ Frank giggled handing me the caftan.
â€œWhere is the bathroom I wonder?â€
â€œWell mine is just off the bedroomâ€â€¦Frank winking lovingly.
â€œOh! Frank stop, you are turning me onâ€ winking and pulling the caftan towards me. â€œSeriously, I’m a big fan of your new book The Dead Celebrity Cookbook.â€
â€œHow many recipes are there with booze in them though?â€ As I flipped frantically through the pages.
â€œNot enough! Although Richard Deacon’s bitter and booze dessert just puts it right out there.â€
Frank looking puzzled, â€˜It’s on pageâ€¦â€
â€œOh! Never mind I’m not sure if we can fit into this caftan anyway. I thought these things were one size fits all but they must be one size fits mostâ€ I put it back on the rack as Frank looked disappointed.
â€œIs there a low calorie recipe in here?â€
â€œI hope not,â€ frank replied â€œI thought you read the book?â€ He added
â€œWell I mean I skimmed it and decided to try the Liz recipe but I haven’t dug into it yetâ€
â€œHow did you cook up this idea?â€
â€œWhen I was at Northwestern University in the early â€˜80s, one of our funniest friends threw a dead celebrity party. We all came dressed as stars that had gone to the great green room in the sky. We had everyone from Sharon Tate to Sid Vicious at that party. Our host dressed as Judy Garland and ran around all night with a pill bottle that read â€˜take until dead.’ The one thing we didn’t have at that party was dead celebrity food. That planted the seed for the dead celebrity cookbook. Since then, I’ve been collecting anything that has celebrity recipes in it â€“ out of print cookbooks, supermarket flyers, spiral-bound manuals that came in microwave ovens in 1975, magazines, you name it! From there the celebrities just did the work for meâ€¦by dying. My husband Jim Colucci said I had to do something with all that crap I’d collected or I was going to end up on â€˜Hoarders.’ So I wrote the book.â€
â€œFabulous! Congrats on your wedding! Jim is right we all need to clean house don’t we? That story made me thirsty-Where is the bar?â€
â€œNever out of sight.â€ Frank laughed
â€œOh! There’s one! Let’s get a bevy! I want to hear more about the book. It’s a diner but they must have some booze? Let’s get outta hereâ€, pulling Frank out the door.
â€œI guess so! Where’s Doria when I need her?â€ he replied looking worried
It’s a dry diner so I add a little Irish whiskey to my coffee as I ask â€œDo you prefer a frittata or omelet?â€
â€œHam and cheese omelet with a side of pancakes, please.â€ he ordered.
â€œI hope I’m not paying?â€ I thought
I took out the book and fingered through it.
â€œHow come you don’t have Abe Vigoda’s Cream Puffs in here? They are delicious.â€
â€œAbe Vigoda only seems dead, so he didn’t qualify for the book. But some day!â€
â€œHe’s still alive?â€
â€œBarely but yesâ€
â€œThanks so much for coming with me! I’m a huge fan and always listen to your show on Sirius whenever I’m in a rental car or in Florida. You bring such light, love and laughter to people’s lives. What is your favorite moment from the show?â€
â€œThanks for the compliment, I think I liked when Bea Arthur â€“ whose recipe for a vegetarian breakfast is in the book! â€“ came on our show and told a story about going to an Emmy luncheon and having her costar Bill Macy run up to the podium, drop his pants and scream â€˜cocksuckers of the world, unite!’ I love that story.â€
â€œThat’s a bizarre story but Bea was a hoot! I’m sure she got a kick out of that! The recipe sounds dry though, like her humor.â€ What was your favorite recipe in the book?â€
â€œLiberace’s sticky buns. They’re really delicious and they prove he was in on the joke. I hope.â€
â€œOh! I loved Lee and I bet he got stuck to a lot of buns. I got to swim in his pool once with Rock Hudson when I was making Russ Myer films. I think everyone new about old Lib but Rock did everybody if you know what I meanâ€¦â€
â€œI do, I do know what you meanâ€ squirting some ketchup on his home fries
â€œSpeaking of sex that could be fun, A Dead Celebrity Sex Book? I mean I’d like to know what Rock Hudson did in that pool cabana with Liberace. Wouldn’t you?â€
Laughing and spitting out some potato
â€œWell, my Sirius XM radio co-host Doria Biddle, who really is the Kevin bacon of lesbian Los Angeles, says I should do the dead celebrity phone book. It’ll be a quick cut-and-paste job with numbers that used to belong to stars in it.â€
â€œWell I mean Doria isn’t as funny as you are, poor dearâ€¦â€
â€œShe is the straight man after allâ€ Frank added
â€œThis is just so exciting for you to be sitting here with me I’m sure but if you could sit down with any of these celebrities in the book and share their recipe who would be your first choice?â€
â€œKaren Carpenter! I’d have gotten that skinny bitch to eat her chewy pie.â€
â€œI’m sure you would have and to hear that voice live one more timeâ€¦â€
â€œAnother omelet Frank darlingâ€?
â€œI really should be going, there were a lot of caftans I wanted to bid onâ€, Frank said as he slapped a twenty down on the table
â€œWait! Don’t go yet! You know I write for Fierth.com and I’ll whip this chance meeting into a promo for the bookâ€. I pleaded
â€œThat’s sweet but I gottaâ€â€¦Frank grabbed his coat.
â€œIf I kill myself will you put me in your next edition with my Cheesy Fingerling Casserole?â€
â€œDon’t do it! Wait, who are you fingering?â€ Frank looking confused and sat back down
â€œNo silly I make a fabulous recipe called Cheesy Fingerling Casseroleâ€
â€œI do love cheeseâ€ Frank giggled.
â€œSometimes I can’t believe I cook but I do enjoy it, especially rum cakes and my turkey soaked in bourbon.â€
â€œWhat dead celebrities were you surprised ever cooked at all?â€
â€œBob Crane from Hogan’s Heroes! With his sexual proclivities, I figured he would have been too tied up to cook.â€
â€œThat was such a strange showâ€¦Speaking of sexual proclivities you appeared on the new Rosie Show. You were so funny; any chance we’d see you having your own TV talk show?â€
â€œ I would love to have my own TV talk show. If you know anyone, tell them I’m free every day after 2 pm.â€
â€œYou and Rosie did the Cheesy Fingerling Casserole?â€ Frank looked intrigued.
â€œFrankie darling a lady never kisses and tellsâ€ I giggled.
â€œIs there a lady at this table?â€ Frank said and we both laughed out loud.
â€œOh! Frank thanks so much for sitting and chatting with me. This has been a wonderful day. Liz’s caftans, now sharing a nosh with you, I’m over the moon!â€
â€œMy pleasure, I love Drag Queensâ€ Frank said.
â€œOh me too where is the drag queen?â€
As he scanned the room Frank looking even more confused excused himself and gave me a kiss on the cheek.
â€œWait, do you even cook?â€
â€œI’m a good cook and an even better eater.â€ Frank roared.
â€œOh! Honey happy bidding on that caftan! May the best chunky monkey win?â€ Following Frank running out of the diner I yelled. â€œSeriously darling I’m so happy for you and the success of the book. What do you think Lucy would say about the book?â€
Frank dramatically turning to me as he flung open the door and said â€œI like to think she’d open the book to her chapter and just make the spider noise. You know- eeeeeeeeewwwwwwww!!!â€
I blew a kiss to Frank. On my way home I decided to put this fabulous day down on paper. Luckily I had my mini martini tape recorder with me. I got the whole thing on tape.
Kids, I highly recommend Frank DeCaro’s book The Dead Celebrity Cookbook. It’s much more than a cookbook. Frank also dishes about the celebrities and the films and TV shows they were in. You get a sense of the admiration and love Frank has for his dead celebs. It’s a fun romp! Even though I love my Jamie Oliver easy peezies from now on I’ll grab this book. Frank DeCaro knows his food and a good caftan when he sees it!
Frank DeCaro can also be heard on his weekly SiriusOutQ radio show (Channel 108) â€œThe Frank DeCaro Showâ€ with co-host, the fabulous Doria Biddle weekdays 11AM-2PM. Franks dishes with celebs and makes you giggle about everything you need to know about Pop Culture. He’s a gem!