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In the age of Trump, in the land of Trumpistan, it can be easy to get lost in the gloom and doom of the current political climate. For LGBT people, very real threats are growing in most places, not diminishing. But one man has made it his profession to place Der Trumper in a context that brings a little light to the situation—lampoon and parody—and now he’s taking his antics one the road, LIVE!
That’s right, we’re talking about Randy Rainbow, the gay YouTube sensation who has produced so many viral videos over the last eight years. Most of his career has been spent covering the hot topics of the hour, often popular culture, though he made occasional forays into politics. These videos were boosted by some major LGBT blogs and websites, fueling their viral reach.
The 2016 presidential campaign, however, and its aftermath, has left us in a world where politics remains the hot topic and given Rainbow a never-ending dumpster fire to set to parodies of the world’s greatest musical numbers! These videos raised Rainbow’s profile to a whole new level and provided him the audience, and thus the opportunity, to support a road show, so to speak.
As a minority, Rainbow is a two-fer: the gay son of a liberal Jewish family. While this means that a certain segment of Trump’s America sees him as having two targets painted on his back, this background provided him a healthy and nurturing environment—he’ll joke perhaps overly so.
“I was born on Long Island and raised in South Florida,” Rainbow said. “As far as being gay, I come from a very liberal Jewish family. My mother is super into musical theatre, and to put me to sleep she used to play the soundtracks of Oklahoma and The Music Man, so … she seriously wanted a gay kid. She certainly did everything in her power to make sure I turned out this way!”
“My coming out story,” he continued, “isn’t a very noble one because … I was around seventeen years old when mom sat me down and said, ‘Look, I worked really hard to make you this gay, so…’ Not really, but she sat me down and said she knew, and it was easy… I was very fortunate, I'm one of the too-few people who have such an easy time with that.”
His family also encouraged him as an entertainer. “My father was a musician and my grandfather on my mother’s side was a musician. I come from a long line of musical, theatrical, and very funny people. Although no one in my family was a professional comedian, it was always like Last Comic Standing at the dinner table or Thanksgiving.”
“Oh, they also put me in ballet when I was 8,” he added, “to make sure that I was really, super gay. So that kind of started my theatrical career: my first time on stage was as a ballet dancer. And then, from there, I went through theatrical summer camps in Hollywood, Florida, and that really hooked me on the musical theatre and performance aspect of my life.”
Rainbow moved to New York to follow his dreams. After a brief stint in school to study theatre, however, he opted for a non-traditional approach to getting into the business. “I didn’t have the natural trajectory most musical theatre majors do—move to New York and start pounding the pavement. Honestly, I just didn’t have the guts to do it right away … so I just worked in restaurants and eventually started working for a music producer as a receptionist.”
As a receptionist, he would discover his niche. “I kind of wound up hanging with these Broadway types,” he explained. “People like Patti Lupone and Elaine Stritch would come into the office on a daily basis. I mean it was heaven to me … but all of these interesting things were happening. That’s why I started blogging—I wanted a record, an outlet to express all of these funny things… That’s really how it all started for me. From there I got a gig on BroadwayWorld.com and that’s where I really started...”
Once he’d developed a following, however, Rainbow decided to take it a step further. “Once the blog started getting a following, the musical theatre ham and performer in me kind of kicked in and thought, ‘I have a little bit of an audience now, maybe this would be a fun time to step back into the performance aspect.’ Everyone was starting to make videos for YouTube, and I thought, ‘Why not me?’ So the first sort of ‘hot topic’ video I did was ‘Randy Rainbow is Dating Mel Gibson.’ I was thrilled that that kind of went viral and kind of kept going from there.”
Rainbow isn’t shy about admitting he chased the topic of the hour and rode the wave of conversation. “There was a lot more pop culture… That’s what everyone was talking about and I just went to whatever was trending, whatever was arguing about on their Facebook pages… I always did whatever everyone was talking about. After Mel Gibson I stuck with the ‘hot topic’ thing… You know, that was a tried-and-true gimmick.”
“So from there on, for years, I would just insert myself into whatever was the hot topic of the day. It was Charlie Sheen for a minute, Robert Downey Jr., Beyoncé... For Obama’s reelection, with Rick Perry, Rick Santorum and that cast of characters—that was the first time I really got into politics. That in a way kind of prepared me for what I’m doing now.”
After years of chasing the topic of the hour, usually pop culture, 2016 was both a radical change, but also very much in the same pattern. There was really no question for Rainbow that politics, the battle between Trump and … everyone, was what was trending, and continues to trend to this day.
When asked about his favorite parody videos, Rainbow reflected, “Well I like the ones that go really viral! I’ll always have a special place in my heart for ‘BRAGGADOCIOUS!’ That was the first presidential debate—the Mary Poppins parody I did—and that really kinda took me to the next level because it got 28 million views in a day… The last one I put out, ‘A Very Stable Genius,’ did really well, so that was a fun one. Desperate Cheeto was a big one for me… We open the ‘LIVE’ show with that one actually.”
The turn to political and his utilization of musical numbers was a game changer in terms of audience, but also in terms of the feedback he got from fans. “The responses I started getting from people were more than just, ‘Oh, this is really funny!’ They went beyond just the humor of it. First of all, every day the thing I hear most of all from people is ‘Thank you!’ People are grateful that in a time when we are in crisis and everything is so doom and gloom I think people are so happy to have an outlet, to kind of poke fun at it a little bit and find some humor in it. That really is the main impetus for carrying on down this path—that people are getting something from it, that people are getting some relief.”
“Other than that,” Rainbow added, unable to remain too serious for too long, “it’s just a gold mine in terms of comedy, but I don’t have to tell you that! Every day it’s handed to me—it’s kinda easy as far as research is concerned.”
The broader audience has brought him a higher profile than he had previously enjoyed. “It’s crazy—I get stopped on the street now. I haven’t been stopped once since I’ve been on the phone with you walking down the streets of New York, which is terribly embarrassing. I hope you’ll edit this to look like I was stopped every three minutes.”
“But yeah, I walk down the street and I get noticed: I got recognized walking out of my apartment the other day. Anyone who creates internet content will tell you that it can be a very isolating experience. For me this is especially true since I work literally by myself. I don’t have a team or anybody, from coming up with the ideas to coming up with the video to editing and recording—everything is just me.”
Given the content of his video and the virulence of Trump’s most active fans, one would expect Rainbow to be drowning in hate. He said, however, “I always say you’d be surprised by how much hate mail I don’t get! I think that I kind of figured out a way to attack it that is palatable to even people who don’t agree with me politically. While I do inject my opinion—and I do point out how ridiculous Donald Trump is and his administration is and his behavior is—I try to make myself the joke at the end of the day, and that may come across in the videos so that it’s not too polarizing.”
“I hear a lot from people who say, ‘We don’t agree politically, it has nothing to do with you, I hate gay people, and I’m a racist and a bad person, but I love your videos…’ I’m exaggerating slightly for comedic purposes … but not by much. I think it’s a testament to how unifying humor can be…”
“While touring, I do Q&As and meet-and-greets with people who tell me that what I’m doing is having a more profound impact on them or their families,” Rainbow said, “I hear from parents of children who say that they use my videos as kind of a teaching tool, and I hear from teachers sometimes who play my videos in class [for students to analyze] which is interesting… Knowing that has made me more aware of the potential impact when making the videos, that this does have the ability to have a greater effect…”
Given how linked his rise in popularity has been to the Trump phenomenon, he said, “People ask me, ‘What are you going to do when you don’t have him?’ Like I said, I’ve been doing this for seven or eight years now, mostly without Donald Trump… I am not defined by one man! You know, there will always be some asshole doing some crazy bullshit that needs a song parody, so I don’t think my well will ever run dry, thankfully!”
So what can you expect from his show? “This first incarnation of Randy Rainbow LIVE as we’re calling it is all about the music. I’m so happy that most of the viral videos are song parodies because I’m a show queen. I really didn’t expect it to be that way—most of the early videos weren’t musical at all. So now that I have this kind of musical platform, it’s really about the music. I have a live band, and we’re doing all the hits. There’s a big giant screen behind me with interactive videos, and then we do them all live right before your eyes. There’s a little stand up woven in, and a Q&A…”
“I have a pretty standard set. I thought when we started touring a year ago that I’d have to change it up much more frequently because I figured my songs are so topical that I’d have to change them … but it turns out we’re still talking about a lot of the crap we were talking about a year ago, so a lot of them are a little more evergreen than I imagined. We might change a few things based on what Wolf Blitzer is talking about before I go on stage, but I guess we’ll have to see what *he* does next!”
Randy Rainbow LIVE will be staged in Nashville at TPAC’s Polk Theatre for one night only, on September 29, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. For information about the show, or to purchase tickets, visit tpac.org.
For those with a thirst to celebrate, Red Bull Unlocked is the key. In city after city, the most exciting bars, clubs, mixologists, performing artists, and more take over a local landmark building to showcase their signature ambiance while also collaborating for a must-see mashup. And now it's Music City’s turn to seize the spotlight, as the event brings 10 bars together in East Nashville’s Five Points neighborhood.
Fueled by the best of Nashville’s thriving music scene, Red Bull Unlocked has curated an eclectic night of show-stopping entertainment performances including a pop-up Whiskey Jam show, DJ sets, musicians, and more. The full lineup is here:
- Whiskey Jam (feat. Dozzi, Willie Shaw, and Johnny Hayes)
- A.B. Eastwood
- Daisha / Rap Girl
- Boom Bap (DJ Collective feat. DJ-Rate, Case Bloom)
- Whiskey Disco (DJ Collective feat. Coach, Jim O'Shea)
- Old Crow Medicine Show’s Jerry Pentercost (DJ Set)
- DJ Stretch
- DJ Griffin Green
- The Play Mates (Drag Show feat. Sasha, Vanity, Deception, Aura Mayari, Corlis Todd, and Carmin Triple C)
Counting down to the epic celebration, Daisha shares, “I never thought I’d have the opportunity to perform in so many of Nashville’s top spots all in the same night. Fans can expect a lot of bops and high energy. I want people to dance and have a good time.”
Ward Guenther, Whiskey Jam Founder, adds, “Red Bull has been enjoyed at Whiskey Jam since the very first night, so it's only fitting Whiskey Jam is enjoyed at Nashville's first Red Bull Unlocked. Looking forward to this!”
Red Bull Unlocked Istanbul
Photo courtesy of Red Bull
Local favorites including Pearl Diver, Tin Roof, Lipstick Lounge, White Limozeen, and more will join forces for one epic night. Full list of bars and partners below:
- The Dive Motel
- Lipstick Lounge
- Pearl Diver
- Play Dance Bar
- Rosemary & Beauty Queen
- The Stage
- Tin Roof
- Whiskey Jam
- White Limozeen
- Woolworth Theatre – Opening Fall 2022!
- Eleven Eleven - Opening 2023!
Date: August 21, 2022
Time: 6 PM – 11PM CT
Location: 1102 Forrest Ave, Nashville, TN 37206
Entrance: Ticked event
Rumble Boxing, the boxing-inspired group fitness studio, opened its doors for the first time in Nashville on June 20 at 609 Overton St, Nashville, TN. The hottest workout on the block is hosting its official grand opening from August 4th-7th with daily classes, membership specials, and prizes from local vendors. The new Rumble Boxing studio is currently offering a buy one class, get one free promotion for the Nashville community.
Rumble Boxing delivers 45-minute, 10-round, strength and conditioning group workouts, crafted around teardrop-style aqua boxing bags and high-intensity strength training circuits. This brings all fitness levels together to experience what Rumble is known for: combining the sweet science of boxing with high energy and positive vibes.
Rumble Boxing Fitness Studio
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
This boutique fitness brand offers serious benefits like increased stamina and strength, with cardio that’s actually fun. The seasoned trainers at the new studio are thrilled to serve their local community while offering this fun, new modern approach to boxing and welcome members of all fitness levels to the Rumble family.
The new Rumble Boxing studio is owned and operated by Blake Baskin and Antonio Compton. With their background in the fitness industry, this dynamic duo is excited to bring their passion for boxing and group fitness to Nashville. As business and life partners, Blake and Antonio aim to create a strong community within their new Rumble Boxing studio and share their message of non-apologetic inclusivity.
Black and Gay-Owned Business
Rumble Boxing Store with Dolly Parton Mural
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
“We own who we are, and this brand aligns with that perfectly,” said Antonio. “This is what we want to create and bring to this community: a fitness class that is designed for anyone and a place for people to be who they are. As a Black and gay-owned business, we want to help lower the division we see in the world right now. Our goal is to bring people together through Rumble, set everything aside, and have fun.”
To echo their message of acceptance and inclusion, Blake and Antonio commissioned a local Nashville artist to paint an 11 X 6-ft. mural of Nashville icon and philanthropist, Dolly Parton. The massive portrait features the country star in Rumble Boxing gear in the lobby of the studio.
The excitement and buzz around Rumble allowed Blake and Antonio to recruit top-tier trainers to head up the new studio, including Head Trainer Oronde Jones, a well-known celebrity trainer in the Nashville market.
Rumble Boxing Fitness Studio
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
“Compared to other fitness classes, Rumble is a class you can truly get lost in for 45 minutes. With the dark room, you don’t have to worry if anyone is paying attention to you. The music is awesome and inspiring, and the beat drops right when you need it the most. Also, with boxing being a sport you can never truly master, you’re always improving and crafting your skill. On the floor, you’re consistently doing something new, which prevents you from ever hitting a plateau.” Said Oronde Jones about his favorite part of Rumble.
Rumble has massive brand loyalty and widespread appeal, partly thanks to attracting top names like Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Kendall Jenner, Hailey Baldwin, Jason Derulo, David Beckham, and Kevin Hart to its studios.
About Rumble Boxing
Founded in New York City in 2017, Rumble is a group fitness concept delivering a mix (or combination) of boxing-inspired circuits and the transformative power of resistance training. Pro and amateur fighters glove up together, no matter their fitness level or skill, to reveal their inner fighter. The experience is a 45-minute, 10-round, full-body cardio and strength workout crafted around specially designed water-filled, teardrop-style boxing bags. Rumble was founded by Noah Neiman (former Barry’s Bootcamp Master Trainer, and cast member of Bravo’s Work Out New York), Eugene Remm (Co-Founder of Catch Hospitality Group (Catch Restaurants, CATCH STEAK, Lexington Brass), Andy Stenzler (Co-Founder Cosí, Kidville), and Anthony DiMarco (13-time IRONMAN, former Managing Director, Google).
Who would have thought that we would have to get through a pandemic in order to appreciate the small things we have, such as the ability to simply pack our bags and hit the road?
For two years, there’s been nothing left for us travel junkies to do but sit at home and try to find new destinations that we will conquer once we defeat what appears to be the biggest villain of the 21st century. But once that happens, hold your bags tight because we will be up for some of the most interesting travel experiences. Take a look at some ideas for your post-COVID traveling plans:
A Gay Cruise
One of the best options to have in mind when all of this passes is a good, nice and long (pun intended) gay cruise. Or cruise in general, for that matter. Bear in mind, social distancing will still be a thing in the post-COVID world. But COVID-19 likely doesn’t mean that cruises will cease to exist. On the contrary, though cruise ships will probably keep the number of passengers smaller than before, it is believed that they will become an even bigger hit in the following period, especially because they are all going to go a lot more environmentally-friendly. On the bright side, is there any better way of celebrating the end of the pandemic than by cruising around some magnificent seas, stopping by at great cities and having romantic dinner nights at nice restaurants?
A getaway in nature
On the other hand, there is always the option of stepping away from the hustle and bustle of large cities, and spending some time in a place that’s not only healthy, but also beautiful. Some of the destinations that plenty of people will look for are the ones that can cater for both peace of mind and amazing things to see or do. One such destination is New Zealand, one of the greenest countries on Earth right now. Not only will you be visiting the magnificent country that gave us the beautiful Shire from Lord of the Rings; this is also a destination that’s excellent for everyone who prefers relaxing to partying. If you’re up for some partying, you will be able to hit Auckland, while if you’re for something calmer, there’s plenty of amazing places that you can see and visit.
Dancing Around at Pride
Pride parades are also events that you want to have in mind for the post-COVID world. Such events have always been quite important, but it seems that they are now more important than ever. The virus has canceled more than 75 Pride parades all around the world, which is one of the reasons why we must support the ones that will see the light of day once the pandemic stops. Truth be told, the upcoming Prides will perhaps be the best Prides ever organized. Give the gays a couple of weeks of quarantine, then let them outside and see what kind of party they are able to throw!
A road trip
If you’re, as well, waiting for the day to wake up and say “long gone are the days when we were not allowed to go wherever we wanted?”, and if staying at one place gave you a lot to think about, then your first post-COVID travel experience should definitely be a nice road trip. You can practically choose which country you want to tour, and you can either take your own car (you have probably missed it so much), or rent one at your destination. Australia is an amazing country for this, though, as it offers the possibility of seeing the Great Ocean Road, which is an amazing thing to see and experience. On the other hand, if you do not want or cannot leave your country, you can also choose to go on a domestic road trip – there are amazing things to see in your vicinity as well.
Holiday for a single guy
If you’re single, or you’re traveling someplace with another single friend, then you should definitely organize a nice vacation for yourself or for you and your single friend, and hit one of the best European cities. Europe has been greatly affected by the virus, which means that now it’s time to pay it back and get it back on its feet by traveling there and seeing all the amazing things it offers. Any city you choose in Europe – you will not make a mistake. Apart from being able to see great landmarks, you will also have the chance to have a drink at great gay clubs and pubs, and join unforgettable gay parties. And if the gay scenery is not your forte, worry not, as Europe indeed has to offer so many different and magnificent things.