Greg Scarnici is a comedic writer, director, producer, performer and “Saturday Night Live” Associate Producer. Along with his gender-bending drag alter ego, Levonia, he has created videos, music, stage shows, books and other projects. HOT RODS is Greg’s latest book and is a parody of a vintage 1970’s gay porn magazine shot entirely on Fire Island. Featuring feathered hair, mustaches, speedos, un-manscaped torsos, striped athletic socks – and of course – terribly written erotic stories.
Hot Rods features actual porn stars Alex Mecum, Stephen Harte and actors and performers from the New York theatre and arts scene. The magazine, which is sold excusively in US at the moment, consists of five pictorials that are accompanied by “erotic” tales that will be sure to titillate your funny bone.
Who Is Greg Scarnici?
Some slut. Oh, wait. My mother might see this. I do a lot of things, so I usually refer to myself as a NYC-based writer/director/producer/performer/DJ/drag artist who primarily works in comedy and music.
How do you identify?
As my drag alter ego Levonia says, I prefer the pronoun, “it.”
You have written several books, also you have written and performed in several shows , your videos on YouTube have been seen by millions of people. What do you enjoy most and where do you find time for all the above?
Hmmm, I love every aspect of what I do – which is why I do so many different things. But if I had to pick one passion I enjoy the most, it would be film and video production. I love directing set and the process of editing the final product as well. As for time, I’m usually working on a bunch of things at the same time, but some projects get more focus when they need to.
How would you describe your work?
I’m a queer comedic artist. I know it sounds pretentious to call yourself an “artist” but whenever I tell people I’m a comedian, they expect stand-up, not parodies of 70s gay porn magazines and house music video performed by a non-gender conforming bearded drag queen.
How important is comedy in your work and your life?
Comedy has always been a very important part of my life. I think I developed my sense of humor as a queer child as a safety mechanism. By being funny and entertaining people, I was able to make them like me and not want to hurt me. I’ve always surrounded myself with comedic people – both in work and in my personal life because laughter is what helps me get through things like…2020.
How did you decide to come up with Hot Rods, a parody of a vintage 1970’s gay porn magazine shot on Fire Island?
I wanted to make a parody of a vintage gay porn magazine ever since I inherited a collection of used porn on Fire Island about ten years ago. I just found them so over-stylized. It was as if they put more effort into the design of the book than the actual photography. I also loved the truly terrible stories and felt the whole genre would be fun to satire.
When did you start going to Fire Island and why did you choose this area?
I started going to Fire Island back in 1992 because Cherry Grove and Fire Island Pines are LBGTQ beach communities that are not too far from my home in Brooklyn, New York. I’ve always loved the beach, and the fact that I could be myself without a care in the world n this queer paradise made Fire Island so much more special for me.
How would you describe Hot Rods and what is the idea behind?
Hot Rods is a parody of a vintage gay porn parody that aims to shed a light on the soon-to-be forgotten printed magazine format.
Why did you choose actual porn actors Alex Mecum, Stephen Harte to be featured in Hot Rods?
Basically, because I’m friends with them. Every model in the book is a friend of mine I knew visited Fire Island, so I would just tell them to text me when they were out on the island and had a few hours to spare. Then we’d put on toupees and have fake sex on the beach.
Do you like to express yourself through comedy, parody and sarcasm?
Yes, yes and of course, bitch.
Who is Levonia and how did this persona of yours appear?
Levonia is my drag alter ego who was created during an impromptu video shoot that went viral on YouTube many years ago. You can read all about her creation in my last book, “Dungeons and Drag Queens” wink wink.
What do Greg and Levonia have in common?
We both love fun and to spread love and positive energy.
Is there enough LGBTQ+ representation in the film industry?
I feel television is doing a much better job at addressing the problem of LBGTQ+ representation than film right now. Every week, it seems there is a new show featuring LBGTQ+ people, and shows like Legendary on HBO Max that are completely queer. As for the film industry, it still has a long way to go to make sure our community is represented in a better way.
Is there something you would like to do but haven’t had the chance to do yet?
Just like Madonna, I want to rule the world. Wait, no I don’t. That sounds like really terrible and onerous task. Instead, I would love to helm an all-queer sketch comedy show one day.
What is the most beautiful thing you have been told?
Your stretch marks aren’t that disgusting…
How did this pandemic change you and your life?
One of the positive things to come from this pandemic is that it forced me to have longer, more meaningful social encounters with friends. Instead of crowding into a bar and saying a casual hey to 25 people, I now find myself having long, in-depth conversations with the people I am about to have socially distant drinks with and really catch up and connect.
What are your future plans?
To survive 2020.
More of Greg Scarnici here:
*all images are courtesy of Greg Scarnici