BWW Feature: At Home With Julie Halston Discussing Her New Show VIRTUAL HALSTON
Every now and then comes along an entertainer so far from the norm, so out on a limb, so off the charts that they can't help but become a star. For more years than anyone can count (or she would probably care to have people count) audiences have been enjoying Julie Halston's music, whether she is on a Broadway stage playing a role, a nightclub stage being herself, or any of the off-Broadway platforms where she has represented the writing of the iconic Charles Busch, clearly an artist inspired by this muse. Julie Halston is one-of-a-kind and her recent forays onto the internet via social media have provided gales of laughter and much entertainment for her followers. Inspired by videos of Ms. Halston prowling her kitchen, dying her hair, and hangin' 'round the house, that indefatigable impresario, Jim Caruso, joined forces with his producer Ruby Locknar to convince Halston to jump into the waters of Live Streaming entertainment - with Caruso and Locknar producing for her, what better choice than to say yes?
Virtual Halston will be Julie's weekly half-hour chat show, during which she will confer with some of her celebrity pals. For the premiere episode on May 22nd at 5 pm EST, the funny girl will welcome funny boy Mario Cantone, with future episodes featuring guests Michael Urie, Santino Fontana, Maddie Corman, and the one and only Mr. Busch. The weekly program on Youtube and Broadwayworld will encourage viewers to make donations, with the proceeds going to the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation.
Before Julie Halston takes the big leap into the unknown, I reached out to ask if she could do a digital chat about the venture, her life in show business, and her current beauty regimen, and The Halston said yes... and the interview was finished an hour later. That's Julie Halston for you - ready to strike when the iron's hot, clearly the secret to her longevity in the business and her fire for living.
This interview was conducted digitally and is reproduced as received.
Name: Julie Halston
First Cabaret Show (Title, Year, Club): My first cabaret show was called "I'll Be the Judge of That ", and BT Whitehill who designs the sets for Charles Busch also designed my flyer ( in those days it was flyers) for my show.
He also designed Virtual Halston graphics --so you see we always use BT
Most Recent Cabaret Show: MY last Cabaret show was at Birdland in early Feb of this year and it was called "Judge Julie Presiding" so you can see I'm still very JUDGEMENTAL!!!
Website or Social Media Handles: Twitter @JulieHalston Instagram @actressjuliehalston
Julie Halston! You have been hilariously, deliciously, and blissfully present for your friends and fans on your social media since going into quarantine. For your new show, do you have a plan for beforehand, or will you just grab your phone, hit record, and see what comes out of your mouth?
I have a bit of a run of the show; for example, I'd like to start the show with an affirmation or devotional of some sort (something INSANE of course... as Joan Crawford, Joan Collins and Joan Rivers - they are my idols! - all the Joans)
I'll also be bantering with Jim Caruso, my producer, about what we have been doing,
and then do a segment called "Close Encounters of the Celebrity Kind, " as I am a relentless Name Dropper
We will also, of course, have a guest - my first guest, Mario Cantone, is someone I adore, so it should just all be fun, fun, fun.
You are an actor and a comedienne - when auditioning for and playing a role, what is the key to keeping people from thinking "Oh, she's that comic," and allowing you to show your acting chops?
Dare I say it -- I haven't auditioned for a theatre job in a long time -- thank you Team Halston!! (Meow)
How did you discover that you had a gift for standing in front of a microphone and making people laugh?
Charles Busch saw my dreadful comedy act in San Francisco in the early 1980s -- the act was bad but my clothes were good -- we later became friends, and he knew how to write for me. I'm eternally grateful, and he also encouraged me to do my own shows.
Describe the experience of coloring your hair all by yourself, without your colorist.
Coloring my hair was scary, as I haven't done it since college, which was in 1776. Luckily, I have enough mirrors to see from all angles.
You are about to embark on your first online series, when Virtual Halston debuts on May 22nd - what kind of thoughts and feelings are you having about this new adventure?
I'm terrified about embarking on a new Virtual Show but excited as well -- I LOVE talking with friends in show biz and I love making people laugh; hopefully, we can do both -- but obviously any new thing brings trepidation (tech difficulties, audience response, computer burnout, etc.) but let's face it -- until you try something you will never know what you have -- right ??
What was the impetus to taking this leap into ZOOM land?
I said yes to ZOOM land (actually streamyard land for this) because Jim Caruso and Ruby Locknar convinced me -- otherwise, I might still be on my couch watching every movie made in the 1960s.
When you're not entertaining us all by remote and doing your cosmetology school, what's occupying your time these days?
Last year on your social media, you gave your friends, family, and fans the honor of metaphysically standing beside you as you said farewell to your beloved husband, Ralph, whom you talk about in your shows. Tell me something about Ralph that always made you laugh.
My husband Ralph was the smartest, drollest, sexiest guy I knew - which is why I married him!! He made me laugh all the time. And I 'm a tough customer. When he was a kid, he watched a show where some character who was always fighting with his wife would say "What else Helen?" - so whenever I had a complaint about anything, Ralph would just look at me and say
"What else Helen?" and for some reason, it just cracked me up. He knew how to diffuse a bad mood or any kind of tension with a funny expression.
Did you already have the technological knowledge on how to create a virtual Talk Show, or has someone been coaching you on all the tech aspects?
Tech knowledge? Are you kidding ?? I'm a novice -- thank God I have Ruby Locknar, our behind the scenes tech wizard! When it comes to technology, I'm very ... blonde.
Over the years we've seen some great comedians take on some serious acting roles. Is there a chance you would ever consider dipping your toes in that water?
I would KILL to do dramatic roles --anyone listening -- or even DRAMEDY -- that would be the best!!
Julie, what exactly are the dangers of combining drugs and tanning salons?
It will make your mind SOUPY -- don't do it!!!
Julie, thanks for talking with us today. We all love you, you are one of our greatest treasures.
Love you all and thank you, Stephen.
Virtual Halston premieres on Youtube on May 22nd at 5 pm EST HERE