Meet YouTube Star Randy Rainbow
One of YouTube’s fastest-rising gay stars is New York actor and writer Randy Rainbow. He is known for his series of clips in which he stages fake phone calls by editing existing audio from real celebrities. His breakout video, "Randy Rainbow Calls Mel Gibson," put him on the map in 2010 and was soon followed by "conversations" with celebrities ranging from Lindsay Lohan to Mitt Romney to a drunk Diane Sawyer. In January 2013, he was signed to create content for the newly formed gay-themed "GWIST" YouTube channel created by LOGO founder Matt Farber. EDGE sat down with Randy to get his story.
Name: Randy Rainbow
Hometown: Long Island, New York, and Plantation, Florida
EDGE: Like countless others, you moved to New York with artistic aspirations.
Randy Rainbow: I had only ever been an actor before moving to New York, but did not actually come with any specific career aspirations. I always knew I wanted to be in New York and that I’d eventually wind up doing something creative, but I was a very young and confused 21 at the time and moved here to become a person, first and foremost.
EDGE: How did you discover YouTube?
RR: If I remember correctly, the very first video I ever watched on YouTube was a forward someone sent me of Stephanie Mills singing "Home" from a live performance of the original Broadway production of The Wiz. Needless to say, I was hooked instantly.
EDGE: Which came first for you -- the medium (youtube.com) or the message? Prior to YouTube’s launch in 2006, what was your stage?
RR: I guess I’m kind of a latecomer to the medium. I didn’t really start making videos until the summer of 2009. Prior to that, I was doing a written blog, which got some attention in the gay and Broadway communities and eventually led to a gig as a contributing theater critic and interviewer for the late HX Magazine, may she rest.
EDGE: Your videos are topical with high production values for the medium. How fast do you work to turn them out?
RR: When I feel a topic is really hot, I’ll work as quickly as possible to get it out a day or two after the story breaks. I do all my own writing and editing, and film mostly everything in my modest studio apartment. There’s a green screen in my kitchen. It’s no Paramount Studios, but it works.
EDGE: GWIST -- how did that happen? What are the advantages, and are there any limitations?
RR: I was approached by the founder of GWIST, Matt Farber, who’s also the founder of LOGO TV, to do a series of my videos for this new online network. It’s been a lot of fun to be a part of something like this from its inception, and I’ve had complete creative freedom. It’s also been an honor to be "on the bill" with such wonderful talents as Howard Bragman, Miss Richfield and Judy Gold -- all of whom I’ve always been a fan. And I’m sure likewise for them.
EDGE: People can be awful with their comments on YouTube. What was the worst comment you ever received? Do bad comments bother you?
RR: I’ve been lucky so far in that the comments on my videos tend mostly to lean toward the positive. I’m extremely thankful, considering how vicious people can be, especially on a lot of the gay blogs where they post me. But even the couple of times Perez Hilton has posted my stuff, people have for the most part been kind. Of course, there’s always some queen who doesn’t get the joke or doesn’t like my hair or something. I don’t let the negative comments get to me, though. That’s a lie -- they devastate me, and if anyone comments negatively on this interview, I’ll cry.
EDGE: What doors has your YouTube celebrity opened for you? What are your artistic aspirations?
RR: Amazing things have happened over the past couple of years. I’ve been approached by a few fancy Hollywood types to participate in their television projects. I’ve been a talking head on VH1. I guest regularly on Sirius XM radio. My favorite bar in New York, Therapy, gave me my own live Sunday-night show, and I have a web series on BroadwayWorld.com, "Chewing the Scenery with Randy Rainbow." I hope to continue to parlay all of this exposure into a career as an actor and writer and one day have my own TV show. Most exciting for me, though, has been hearing from so many of my idols, like Alan Cumming and Audra McDonald, who follow my stuff now! It’s sometimes too much for my gay heart to handle. I recently met Kristin Chenoweth and she told me she was a fan, so basically I can happily retire right now.