Gossip hound Michael Musto dishes on dishing about celebs

By Jocelyn Voo
New York Post | January 7, 2007

We live in an era in which stars go pantyless, call each other a "firecrotch" and have no qualms about hurling telephones at their underlings. No wonder gossip has become the coin of the realm.

Michael Musto, the Margaret Mead of the party set, has a tidy sack of that lucre. But while others merely observe stars in the wild, he's spent the last 20 years turning his celebrity safaris into a travelogue of the glamorous, infamous and absurd.

And while he's got enough ego to insert himself into every story - as well as just about every VH1 special ever made - he's still humble enough to be seen cruising Sixth Avenue on his bike.

This week, Musto, who describes himself as being "between 40 and death," releases a collection of his Village Voice columns, "La Dolce Musto." He'll be reading some of his favorites Tuesday night at the Barnes & Noble in Chelsea. Meanwhile, we tried to scrape up some fresh dirt on one of the city's goofiest mudslingers.

You describe your writing as "part Proust, part garbage pail." Which is it: high culture or low?

I'm very lowbrow. My mind is in the gutter, but I revel in it. I know that I come from not only bad taste, but no taste whatsoever.

What would you be doing if you didn't traffic in gossip?

I'd be working at Arby's because I have no other skills. I can only work a cash register.

Ever written something you later regretted?

I don't have time for guilt.

So your subjects never contact you to yell?

I did hear from Rosie O'Donnell in the heat of my outing her. Before she was officially out, she had hosted the Tony Awards and she made a lesbionic remark that was only said to the live audience because it was during a commercial break. She said something to the effect of, "Gee, I'd like to be the one to strap down Raquel Welch for her 'Victor/Victoria' costume."

And at the party afterwards, Rosie came up to me and said, "That remark was for you. Maybe now you'll stop talking about my private life." And of course I didn't. I ran right back to my computer and wrote "Rosie is a big lezzie" 100 times, like "All work and no play" in "The Shining."

You've called out a few other closeted celebrities. What's with your policing the gays?

I'm both policing the gays and the media. Even if the celebrity doesn't come out, I'm always livid at the media for going along with that little dance that they do, helping to "protect them," whereas they don't seem to protect any other aspect of their private life.

Have you ever been wrong about a celeb's sexuality?

No. I am spot-on in my gaydar. I don't even need to see them. I can just listen to the voice, look at their CD collection, check out their apartment, and it's 100 percent clear.

You're unabashedly self-deprecating, calling yourself a sound-bite whore and a celebrity-news dinosaur. Is there anything you are sensitive about?

I am incredibly sensitive and have complete breakdowns when I read nasty things about me, but you just get used to it.

What's the worst piece of gossip that you've heard about yourself?

I think somebody online said that I hired a go-go boy to dance in my window. But I'm much too cheap [to do] that.

Is it all champagne swilling and chandelier swinging?

When I go to something like "The Coast of Utopia" and take in the history and brilliance of it, I realize that I do have a high cultural side. But at the end of the night, I would rather find myself on that chandelier.

With all the self-promoting, are you trying to become a celebrity?

Any gossip columnist who says they don't want to be famous themselves is a liar. I have a weird dichotomy where I crave attention and tirelessly self-promote, but then when I'm offerd something major, I turn it down. On some level I'm afraid of greater success.

So you're OK with the fact that you likely won't make it past C-list celebrity status.

Oh, thanks a lot! I don't see myself as C-list. At least a B-minus, I mean, come on.

Any predictions for the new year?

I think the most shocking thing that will happen is a major celebrity will get caught in some horrible hate-involved incident, a la Mel Gibson, and will actually admit that they were wrong without blaming the bottle or having been abused as a child.

Is this an educated guess?

Well, I'm not Sylvia Browne. Actually, I get a lot more things right than she does 'cause she just makes s--- up. But I'm pretty good at prognosticating. Though I thought Madonna was going nowhere - I still say I was right.

Well, now she's designing H&M tracksuits ...

So that's pretty much the end of the road. You don't wear a tracksuit on a crucifix. It just doesn't match.