Fierth i-ON Interview : GREG SCARNICI

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BRIAN MILLS

Editor / Founder
Founder & Editor of Fierth.com - I am not a journalist, I am not a blogger, and I am not a writer.

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I recently got the chance to sit down with one of NYC’s most prolific creative beings- Greg Scarnici; or should I say interrogate given the length of this interview. Greg  known to many as a DJ, All-around Comedian, Web Series Anchor,   Musician,  and he who dabbles in the drag arts as the boisterous Levonia Jenkins . Greg’s professional life has found him as an Associate Producer of Saturday Night Live, where he has served for 20 years.  

Greg makes up half of the house music duo, Undercover,  creating  the beats and and contributing vocals,  a graduation of his talents from past projects as  his other  tongue-in-cheek alter-ego “B.Q.E” . Greg also stars in his own  web series called “Bitch, Please”   which  discusses  current issues in contemporary culture.  As if this roster  wasn’t enough to fill his calendar Greg has waxed reflective and  paid homage to his youth, penning a memoir of sort  entitled ‘I Hope My Mother Doesn’t Read This’   The book looks back at some of the adventures that shaped him to the person we know today,  His coming out story and bizarre segues like the time he smoked pot with the little person from Twin Peaks,  sordid hook-ups, riotous soirees, narcotic mishaps, and an unforgettable encounter with Gina Gershon at a Saturday Night Live after-party.

Greg’s  book  is now available on Amazon for kindle and in paperback and be sure to get into beats from Undercover.


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Let’s get to know Greg Scarnici.

Brian Mills: Why do you hope your mother doesn’t read this book?

Greg Scarnici: Cuz I’m hoping she’ll buy the audio book when it comes out in 2016.

 

Brian Mills: Is your Dad allowed to read it?

Greg Scarnici: As long as he pays the $5.99 on Amazon.  Are you seeing a trend here?

 

Brian Mills: What are some of the things we will learn about you in this book?

Greg Scarnici: That I got high with the little person from Twin Peaks and have a tendency to attract freaks in my life.  

 

Brian Mills: What was the experience like compiling your experiences from that time in your life, how did you examine this time period, journal entries,   memory,   insights from friends?

Greg Scarnici: There’s an entire chapter in the book of diary entries from this era which totally captures everything I was doing and thinking at that time, actually, and it’s the name of the book!

 

Brian Mills: Do you have a nick-name?

Greg Scarnici: Levonz!

 

Brian Mills: Where are you based, where do you call home?

Greg Scarnici: I live in Brooklyn and call NYC my home.

 

Brian Mills: How tall are you?

Greg Scarnici: 5’10”, or 6’2” in heels.  

 

Brian Mills: What is your motto?

Greg Scarnici: Werk and serve!

 

Brian Mills: How long have you been with Saturday Night Live?

Greg Scarnici: I’ve been with the show for 20 years now.   

 

Brian Mills: Has there ever been moments during a live broadcast where the shit has hit the fan and we at home had no idea?

Greg Scarnici: It’s funny – the show is actually an insanely well-oiled machine, but there have definitely been some moments.  Once, the camera crane accidentally hit a crew guy in the head and he had to be rushed to the hospital, and basically every single week, we’re 6 minutes long and have to figure out what we’re gonna cut at like 12:40AM.  Half the cast has no idea what sketch to get dressed for and everyone’s running around with the last minute announcement when it finally comes out.  

 

Brian Mills: Who were some of the most fun hosts to work with?

Greg Scarnici: Mike Myers is great to have back, as is basically any cast member because they’re thrilled to be back home and know how it works.  The energy is always loose and fun when they’re in the house.  

 

Brian Mills: Do you have a favorite cast era?

Greg Scarnici: Sure!  I’m a big fan of the Jan Hooks / Dana Carvey / Phil Hartman era and the Molly Shannon / Cheri Oteri / Will Ferrell era.  So many great talents and characters during those times.

 

Brian Mills: What is it like working behind the scenes on a show that holds such a history of shaping and sizing up popular culture?

Greg Scarnici: Difficult Eyes are always on us and people are quick to judge.  But it’s worth it when everything clicks and we put out a piece like the recent Adele “Hello” Thanksgiving piece that really clicked and wound up going viral the next day.  

 

Brian Mills: You make up half of the duo UNDERCOVER, What lies ahead for the band?

Greg Scarnici: Well we just released our sophomore album, Night Beats, and we’re in the process of working with some DJs and producers to put out a remix album of tracks from the album.  

 

Brian Mills: What do you visualize when creating beats?  What are some of the images that pass through your mind when making music?

Greg Scarnici: I’m more about the feel than the image when it comes to music, so I focus on a mood I hope to create – whether it be soulful, sexual, exciting – it’s about the feel when I create music.  

 

Brian Mills: You have an ongoing party at the Monster; The Monster is one of my favorite venues in NYC, why should people check it out?

Greg Scarnici: People should come to the Monster for Below Tea – the party I do with NYC legend, Robin Byrd the last Sunday of the month – because The Monster is one of the only places in the city where people go to dance!  I don’t care what time of day or what night of the week you go – when you go down to that disco dungeon – people will be dancing!  

 

Brian Mills: As a DJ, what are some of your favorite tracks that bring the crowd to life?

Greg Scarnici: I work in disco and house, so let me give you a few songs from each genre.  If you want to turn a crowd out during a disco set, just put on ANYTHING by Diana Ross or Donna Summer.  Tha chillrin could be passing out in the corner in a K hole, but as soon as they hear their heavenly intonations, they will rise and turn it out on the dance floor!  As for house, the Tensnake remix of Johnny Dynell’s “Jam Hot” has singlehandedly packed dance floors for me when nothing seems to be working more times than I can count.  Such a great track.  

 

Brian Mills: What are your thoughts on the current state of NYC Nightlife?

Greg Scarnici: New York nightlife has changed so much, and continues to.  I don’t like to cast judgments and say “it was better in the 90s” because that is pointless.  It’s just different now.  Today, the parties are in smaller spaces and geared towards very specific crowds.  I personally gravitate to the underground parties thrown in spaces like Good Room, Spectrum and The Wick in Brooklyn where Carry Nation and Wrecked DJ.  The music leans towards house and techno, the crowds tend to be very downtown and Brooklyn hipster-y, which can sometimes work my nerves to be honest.  I can’t stand when people try too hard.  

 

Brian Mills: What are one of your favorite memories of NYC in the 90’s?

Greg Scarnici: Some of my favorite memories in NYC took place on the roof decks of clubs like Mars and Club USA.  So many fun, drunken nights underneath the stars with drag queens and club kids.  Loved that era.  

 

Brian Mills: What are some of the key elements to a successful party?

Greg Scarnici: One of the most important elements is having people know what to expect at your event.  For instance, at Brut, guys go for a sexualized atmosphere, at Carry Nation parties, people know to expect great music and a creative, artistic crowd, and at Below Tea, people know they are coming to have FUN!  

 

Brian Mills: How do you describe your work?

Greg Scarnici: If I had to tag my work as I hoped it would be seen, I would say, #fun, #subversive and #gay.

 

Brian Mills: What’s your web show “Bitch, Please” about, and where can we find it?

Greg Scarnici: Bitch, Please is a web show I do on my YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/gregscarnici , where I just go off on things that annoy me, like hipsters, guys on Scruff, Facebook, Instagram – I try to touch upon aspects of living in our modern era where technology and the internet have become such a big part of our lives.  

Brian Mills: What were some of the topics that you have discussed; of which you are really passionate?

Greg Scarnici: I was kind of apprehensive to do an episode about PrEP this summer, because I felt it lacked the humor and lightness I usually deliver, but it wound up being one of my most popular episodes and showed me I could broach topics of a more serious nature and still have them work with my audience.  

 

Brian Mills: What inspired you to create a web show of this nature?  What social influences have you witnessed to make such a web show like this important?

Greg Scarnici: So much of what I have done on YouTube in the past involved music, drag and a wide range of characters, so I wanted to put something out that was just me so people could see what the real, unfiltered Greg was like.  

 

Brian Mills: When or how did you know this was what you were meant to do?

Greg Scarnici: I always knew I was going to be a creative person.  When I was in first grade, my teacher saw a drawing I made and announced to the entire class that I was going to be an artist when I grew up.  I think this was just because she saw I was a freak, not because the drawing was any good!

 

Brian Mills: What about your work frustrates you?

Greg Scarnici: Right now, what frustrates me is trying to get my work seen.  We are now living in a world where so much work is created, and it’s getting harder and harder to get your projects noticed without having to become #desperate.  I mean, the last thing I want to do after putting out what I think is a really fun and great music video is get on Twitter and tweet it @ like 50 stars in the hopes of getting a retweet – something, sadly, that is the only thing that might get your work seen nowadays.  Since I need to have a self of integrity about what I do, I try to keep my self-promotion to a level that makes me able to see myself in the mirror and not throw up.  That’s my biggest frustration right now.  Getting the work noticed.  

 

Brian Mills: What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Greg Scarnici: I’d say my biggest accomplishment is my 22 year relationship with my common law husband, Paul.  

 

Brian Mills: What do you like most about what you do?

Greg Scarnici: I love the energy and excitement that comes when an idea just comes to me out of nowhere!  The initial days when I just daydream about a project, before real-life things like locking down locations and hiring a D.P. come into play.    

 

Brian Mills: How do you keep it real?

Greg Scarnici: I keep it real 100%!  Ask anyone – I am the most real person.  A lot of people don’t like me because of that, and I am sure it has kept me back from getting ahead in this world, but I don’t give a fuck.  It’s who I am.  

 

Brian Mills: What is the secret to success?

Greg Scarnici: Resilience.  You can’t let failures set you back – you just have to keep working at what you love.  

 

Brian Mills: If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?

Greg Scarnici: Play a piano.  

 

Brian Mills: What motivates you in life?

Greg Scarnici: Taking care of myself so I can have good health to do everything I want all the time.  

 

Brian Mills: If you weren’t doing what you are doing now, what do you think you would be doing?

Greg Scarnici: Postman.  Lol.  I mean, I do so many things that I love already – but if I had to focus on one thing as a career, I guess I would like to act more.  

 

Brian Mills: Have you ever felt hopeless? How did you get through it?

Greg Scarnici: Of course!  Life is ever-changing, so you just need to focus on the fact that no matter what is going on – whether it be good or bad – it’s temporary, so don’t get too attached to any one situation in your life – because it will change!

 

Brian Mills: If someone wrote a biography on your life, what do you think the title should be?

Greg Scarnici: Trantastically Yours…

 

Brian Mills: How would your best friend describe you?

Greg Scarnici: Fun loving and caring, I hope.

 

Brian Mills: What are some qualities you value in your friends?

Greg Scarnici: Loyalty, integrity and having a positive outlook on life.  

 

Brian Mills: List 5 quirky things about yourself.

Greg Scarnici: I’ll give you one:  I gnaw on the inside of my cheek when I’m working on creative projects – a weird childhood tick I can’t seem to knock.  

 

Brian Mills: What were you like as a child?

Greg Scarnici: Fun, naïve and flamboyant!

 

Brian Mills: Where did you grow up?

Greg Scarnici: I grew up in Bellerose, Queens.  

 

Brian Mills: As a child did you put on shows like you do now, If so how?

Greg Scarnici: Yes!  I was a total gaylord that put on puppet shows in my backyard!  

 

Brian Mills: Did your parents encourage your creative side,   if so how?

Greg Scarnici: Not at all.  Up until my 20s, my father was still telling me I should become a postman because they have good benefits!

 

Brian Mills: What was it like for you coming out?

Greg Scarnici: Bittersweet.  Some friends and family took it better than others, so it was always a case of, “How is this one gonna go?”

 

Brian Mills: Was your family accepting or expecting?

Greg Scarnici: My sisters totally were accepting, and my parents came around eventually.  Took them some time, though.  

 

Brian Mills: Do you think  your mom  had suspicions before you came out ?

Greg Scarnici: I’m sure – my Aunt said she knew I was gay when I was three, so I’m sure my mother had an inkling based on my predilection for Wonder Woman costumes when I was a kid.

 

Brian Mills: What did you do growing up that got you into trouble?

Greg Scarnici: Sucking lots of dick before I turned 13…

 

Brian Mills: My generation was …

Greg Scarnici: Scared of AIDS.

 

Brian Mills: The kids today …

Greg Scarnici: …are all on PrEP and think of HIV like it’s diabetes.  

 

Brian Mills: What makes you angry?

Greg Scarnici: Fake people.  Social climbers.  Basically people with no integrity.  

 

Brian Mills: Write a brief story about an actual accidental adventure you’ve had.

Greg Scarnici: In College, my friends Julie and Jen and I would have “adventure nights” where we would just get together and have an adventure!  Oddly, it was always a Tuesday night.  Sometimes we’d decide to take the tram to Roosevelt Island – other times we’d go to score weed on the street in LeFrak City – or go to Coney Island at night when it was still shady and scary.  I love adventures!

 

Brian Mills: What’s the strangest thing you’ve done this month?

Greg Scarnici: Given up drinking for a month.  I just felt my body needed a cleanse, so I’m not drinking until Christmas.  

 

Brian Mills: What’s something about yourself that no one knows?

Greg Scarnici: Please – I am such an open book – everyone knows everything about me!!!

 

Brian Mills: Ever had a rumor spread about you?

Greg Scarnici: Hopefully!

 

Brian Mills: What is the worst advice you have ever gotten?

Greg Scarnici: Daniel Nardicio once told me I should focus on just one thing.  

 

Brian Mills: Are you a morning or night person?

Greg Scarnici: Afternoon, actually.  Mornings suck and I’m getting too old to have late nights!

 

Brian Mills: What were you doing last night at Midnight?

Greg Scarnici:  Petting my cat Venus while scrolling through Instagram.  

 

Brian Mills: When do you tend to be most creative?

Greg Scarnici: The afternoon – say 12-6PM.  

 

Brian Mills: What do you do to get you into the zone to be most creative?

Greg Scarnici: Just set aside time to work on a project and allow it to happen.  

 

Brian Mills: What do you daydream about?

Greg Scarnici: Getting interviewed on the Wendy Williams Show!

 

Brian Mills: Who is Levonia Jenkins ?

Greg Scarnici: Only the fiercest drag queen to hail from Jamaica Queens!

 

Brian Mills: What was it like when Seth Myers mentioned Levonia Jenkins  personal style similarities to Taraji P Henson on his show?

Greg Scarnici:  Ha!  Funny story.  I was on vacation in Costa Rica with no internet service, so I didn’t find out about it until a few days later, and by that point, it was just surreal!  

 

Brian Mills: Is Levonia there?, I’d like to ask her a few questions:   I see on Facebook that you are widowed.  Can you tell us a little about your first husband?
Greg Scarnici (as Levonia) :  Yes, honnee, that was up and coming record producer, Rodney Jenkins, who died in a diabetic-related motorcycle accident!  I miss him vurry vurry much.  We were soul mates!  


Brian Mills:  Synthetic or human hair?
Greg Scarnici (as Levonia) :  Honnee, half the time that human hair comes from gorilllas so I’m synthetic!  I don’t need to be pickin’ nits outta my weave!

 

Brian Mills : When is your next music video coming out ( to Levonia )?

Greg Scarnici (as Levonia) : Honee, we gonna drop our next cassingle, “Like Whore”, this winter.  Just having fittings and meetings with directors making sure the lewk is on pernt!  Truss!

 

Brian Mills: Who are you voting for President?
Greg Scarnici (as Levonia) :  Dukakis.  

 

Ok enough, Back to Greg…

Brian Mills: What do you think is the meaning of life?

Greg Scarnici: I think we are spiritual beings here for a human experience.  

 

Brian Mills: What is your beauty secret?

Greg Scarnici: Eat lots of olive oil!  Keeps my skin nice and supple.  

 

Brian Mills: How do you describe your personal style?

Greg Scarnici: All over the place?  Fashion is generally not the strong suit of people who work in comedy.  

 

Brian Mills: How long does it take you to get ready?

Greg Scarnici: 20 minutes from shower to out the door.  

 

Brian Mills: What exactly are you wearing right now?

Greg Scarnici: It’s cold in my office at SNL, so I’m wearing a Banana Republic sweater, a leather jacket and Levis.  

 

Brian Mills: What would be the introduction song to a movie based on your life?

Greg Scarnici: Native New Yorker – it has both the disco vibe and the lyrics to set the tone for my story.  

 

Brian Mills: Describe your home in 6 words or less.

Greg Scarnici: Chic, yet comfortable.  

 

Brian Mills: Do you collect anything?

Greg Scarnici: I used to, but as I get older, I just think about what the people will have to get rid of my crap when I die, so I keep trying to shed myself of possessions.  That said, I have a huge music collection that keeps growing and growing – I have about 20,000 digital files I have amassed personally – not by copying all the music off a friend’s iTunes library, like all the kids do these days.

 

Brian Mills: Do you have any obsessions right now?

Greg Scarnici: OMG.  I always have obsessions.  Right now, it’s learning this new software I get to help prepare DJ sets with called Rekordbox.  

 

Brian Mills: What’s the weirdest item you’ve ever mourned losing?

Greg Scarnici: When I was a child, I lost this army jeep I would put my Star Wars figures in when I was at Jones Beach with my family one day.  I hated army shit, but I loved that Jeep for some reason.

 

Brian Mills: What is your greatest extravagance?

Greg Scarnici: Food.  I have no problem spending a lot of money on high quality, organic, grass-fed meat and produce.

 

Brian Mills: What is your guilty pleasure?

Greg Scarnici: Freestyle music.

 

Brian Mills: If you could buy anything regardless of cost, what would you buy?

Greg Scarnici: A vintage Jaguar circa 1974.  

 

Brian Mills: What is your “Safety Word”?

Greg Scarnici: Cabbages!  It’s just something that doesn’t come up that often…

 

Brian Mills: You can trade places with any other person, living or dead, for 24 hours. Who would you choose and why?

Greg Scarnici: Jesus.  Whether you believe he was the son of God or not, he was pretty fuckin’ cool.  

 

Brian Mills: Who are your main inspirations?

Greg Scarnici: Always changes.  One thing I love about the internet is that I’m always discovering artists who put out great work and inspire me – drag queens like Christeene, DJs like Jackie House, – so many.  

 

Brian Mills: Who do you have your eye on right now?

Greg Scarnici: I just feel like The Carry Nation – the name Will Automagic and Nita Aviance use when they DJ together – are about to blow up .  They’re both so talented, and when they spin with each other it is like next level amazing.

 

Brian Mills: Which stars, if any, leave you star struck?

Greg Scarnici: Absolutely no one.  The more you work with “stars” and “celebrities” the more you realize that, just like US Weekly says, “They’re Just Like Us!”  That said, there are plenty of artists I am completely in awe of creatively.  I’m just not gonna faint if I meet them.  

 

Brian Mills: Whom do you despise?

Greg Scarnici: Narcissists, stupid people and social climbers.  In that order.  

 

Brian Mills: Which celebrity do you suspect is actually a hologram? 

Greg Scarnici: I think Erykah Badu became one in 2010, actually  

 

Brian Mills: What’s the sweetest thing anyone’s ever done for you?

Greg Scarnici: I guess Paul putting up with me for 22 years?

 

Brian Mills: Do you believe in karma?

Greg Scarnici: Of course I believe in karma!  In science, your life and spirituality, every cause has an effect.  I fully believe this.  

 

Brian Mills: Which places have you traveled to that you feel had changed your perspective of the world?

Greg Scarnici: I loved San Francisco – it’s the only other city I can picture myself living in.  

 

Brian Mills: Which causes do you believe in the most in, and why?

Greg Scarnici: I hate causes!  They always get ruined by some loud mouthed asshole!  Just be a good person and respect others!

 

Brian Mills: So, Did your mother read your book after all?  What did she have to say?

Greg Scarnici: She read it the day it came out and enjoyed it, although she did say there were things she skipped over – in her words – “any mother would.”

 

Brian Mills: Leave us a quote to carry on with:

Greg Scarnici: “If you shoot and arrow and it goes real high, hooray for you” – Dorian Corey  

 

Brian Mills: How can we find out more about you?

Facebook:  /gregscarnici

Webpage:  www.gregscarnici.com

Twitter: @gregscarnici

Instagram:  @gregscarnici

YouTube:  /gregscarnici

 

Greg’s  book “I Hope My Mother Doesn’t Read This”  is now available on Amazon for Kindle and in paperback


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The following two tabs change content below.
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BRIAN MILLS

Editor / Founder
Founder & Editor of Fierth.com - I am not a journalist, I am not a blogger, and I am not a writer.
avatar

Founder & Editor of Fierth.com - I am not a journalist, I am not a blogger, and I am not a writer.

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