Out on the town: Julio Vincent Gambuto’s New York

3354338580_8472926e64Gay Cities New York editor, JJ Keyes, caught up with Julio Vincent Gambuto, the comedian and writer/performer of the Times Square hit show, Julie from Staten Island, playing Theatre Row to raves on the 25th of the month for the past year. Julio gave us a few tips as to his favorite places to go before and after the show (next performance, Saturday, July 25)–as well as some important insiders tips on Staten Island, Brooklyn and the Big Apple

JJK: Hey Julio! Congratulations on the success of your show, Julie from Staten Island!  

JVG: Thank you! The show is going really well. I’m thrilled to see it keeps on going. We just celebrated one year at Theatre Row, and it’s still going strong.

JJK: What are a few of your favorite things about Staten Island?  

JVG: So many great things on Staten Island. Of course in the summer my favorite things are the church “feasts” where all the Italians take over church parking lots throughout the borough and throw a carnival dedicated to some saint that no one’s ever heard of. I always wanted to throw a gay feast honoring our new big gay Pope. (Shhh, no one’s supposed to know that he wears Prada shoes and is tight with his “assistant.”)

JJK: Are there any fun gay bars on Staten Island? 

JVG: SI gets its first official gay bar this month–QSINY. They had a big presence at Staten Island Pride a few weeks ago and are set to open soon. But there are lots of great gay-friendly places where the gays like to congregate. My mom’s house is one of them — lol. People really have no idea that there are a lot of out gays and lesbians on the Island. It makes me happy. Growing up there in the 80s and 90s, it wasn’t so open. It’s changed a lot.    

JJK: Where do you like to go after your show? 

JVG: The show knocks me out… happily. But it’s 80 minutes on stage. So I’m usually beat and like to get a drink and cab it home. But if I do it up after the show I’ll go to Therapy or somewhere local to Hell’s Kitchen. Dull answer, I know.

JJK: If a group of friends wanted to grab dinner before seeing Julie from Staten Island, where should they go? 

JVG: They should definitely go to Caffe Cielo — and it’s not because my uncle owns it. The food is fantastic. It’s on 8th and 52nd. It’s a good 10-minute walk to the show afterward. But it’s a good way to burn off the eggplant and penne. Avoid the restaurants in the major tourist areas. If you’re from out of town, Cielo is a great way to eat like New York Italians eat.  

JJK: What are your top three restaurants in the city and why? 

JVG: Ahh, good question. Here goes:

1. Caffe Cielo (see above)

2. Good Fork (in Red Hook, Brooklyn) — take the New York City Water Taxi to Red Hook and it’s about a 5-minute walk.  The duck dish will leave you quacking for months

3. Sip Sak, 2nd Ave and 49th. The chef is a lunatic (I met him; he’s a dick) and the waiters are rude, but the food is Turkish and amazing. The chef has the hands of God.

JJK: You’re in Brooklyn now, you know, I’m always looking for new bars to check out. Do you have any Bklyn recommendations?

JVG: Favorite Brooklyn bar is the bar at Prime Meats — Luquer Street (pronounced “Loo-queer,” seriously) and Brooklyn Social.

3353516389_21bb211937JJK: You used to be an Equinox boy, didn’t you? Do you still work out there?  

JVG: Love it! I am not actually an Equinox boy anymore. I couldn’t work out there! The eye candy is too appealing and I just spent my workout staring.  

JJK: Where does Julie from Staten Island work out these days?

JVG: I work out locally now in Brooklyn at Body Elite, which is not so elite. But it’s close to home.  

JJK: If you won a shopping spree at any clothing store in the city, which would you choose?

JVG: Good question. I went into Top Shop/Top Man, whatever it’s called, the other day and could have had a field day in there. It’s new, British, fresh looks.  

JJK: Okay, two stores. Julie from Staten Island, you’ve just won two shopping sprees. What store is your second choice?

JVG: I love Saks. I could blow through a shopping spree on the 6th and 7th floors in ten minutes flat.  

JJK: Where is your favorite place to get some culture on?  

JVG: Lincoln Center really is my favorite. You walk up on that white plaza and you just feel like such a part of the history and culture of the city. I don’t love the ballet, but I do love going to it, being there, taking it all in. There’s something special about the more traditional arts in this city.

JJK: Any artistic runners up?

JVG: For more contemporary fare, The Public is my favorite. You never know what you’re going to get and the shows are top-notch. For anyone visiting, though, they should go see Hair (I left truly moved) and, of course, Julie from Staten Island.

JJK: In addition to your theater credits, you’re a hysterical comedian. Do you have a favorite comedy club in the city? 

JVG: I’d say Caroline’s if you want standup comedy. Or UCB Theatre if you want cheap and hysterical fun. They’re different animals, but both a great night out. And thank you… I try.

JJK: Do you have a favorite “New York moment”? 

JVG: Honestly, I have one every time I ride the Staten Island Ferry. If it’s a beautiful day or getting dark and the city lights are shining, you get the most incredible view of the city as it rises above you when you pull away. And you’re on the water. And you can see the Brooklyn bridges. It really gives you a sense of being part of this great city.  

JJK: How did you come up with the idea for Julie from Staten Island?  

JVG: Julie from Staten Island is based on my childhood growing up on the Island. It’s about life in the outer boroughs in the 80s and 90s, about the awkwardness of adolescence, and the need to go out into the world to spread your wings. And then come home and love where you’re from and where you’re going… all at the same time. And it’s full of Tony Soprano-like characters, screaming commuters, stuffy college kids, overbearing grandparents. Every character comes right from the book o’ life. Including the amazing gay ones. 

JJK: Your next show, Julie and the Girls, is coming up in October of 2009, any chance of a sneak preview in the coming months? Do you have anything else coming up this summer that we can check out?   

JVG: No previews on the books yet. This summer is all about Julie and nailing down the script for the next show. So, lots of laptop sessions in Starbucks and such. I’m trying to get a lot of writing done. But it’s coming along well, and I can’t wait to put it out there.  

JJK: There are so many Starbucks to choose from, what do you think the best one is to get some work done?

JVG: Working from a Starbucks is an art. I get the most work done on 9th Ave and 43rd. Or Broadway and 51st. Don’t ever work from the Wall St. one — too dark — or the Chelsea one — too distracting.

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Photos courtesy Julio Vincent Gambuto

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