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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Frank DeCaro dishes on 'Dead Celebrity Cookbook'
NUNN ON ONE: BOOKS
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times
2012-01-18

This article shared 3593 times since Wed Jan 18, 2012
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Comedian, writer and XM Radio personality Frank DeCaro has it all rolled up into one. He has appeared on the Game Show Network's I've Got a Secret and the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and is the author of A Boy Named Phyllis: A Suburban Memoir.

In addition, the lifelong gay-rights activist lives with his husband in New Jersey.

Some people's cooking is to die for, but his new project takes the cake. Frank made a cookbook that celebrates dead celebrities' recipes while tying in their life's works. We dished on gossip and food all afternoon that made me starve for more.

Windy City Times: Hi, Frank. I just saw you on The Rosie Show.

Frank DeCaro: Oh, I had such a good time. It was everything that I hoped it would be. I have never been calmer on a stage in my life. Rosie O'Donnell is just delightful. I have met her a bunch of times and I think she is very generous and lovely.

WCT: She wrote a little blurb in your cookbook, also.

FD: Yes, she did. She worked at Sirius for a couple of years when she did her show there. She has always been kind to me. She liked my first book.

WCT: Have you always been into celebrities since you were little?

FD: Oh gawd, no. I should be selling shoes in a mall in New Jersey saying, "I've got the same thing in a brown!" That should be my life. [ Laughs ] Everything worked out beyond my wildest dreams. I wanted to be a performer and took the safe route of becoming a journalist. I wanted to be like Rex Reed as a movie reviewer but he was in Myra Breckinridge. You have to admire that he was in this cult film. I ended up getting this gig on the Daily Show in my 30s. It was the first time I had done television. I think people assumed I was a stand up comic before that but I was not. It inspired me to be a writer and performer that is what I have been doing ever since.

WCT: This book was inspired by a dead celebrity party?

FD: It was so good and in Evanston, Ill., down near Dempster. A friend of mine gave a party called the "Dead Celebrity Party." Everyone was dressed up and I came as Euell Gibbons. He was a spokesperson and a naturalist, not a nudist. He used to say, "Many parts of a pine tree are edible," and then he died. People were there from Eve in the Garden of Eden to Sid Vicious to Sharon Tate—even Jack Soo, who played Yemana on Barney Miller. Some were very obscure and some very famous. The only thing we didn't have there was dead celebrity food, so I think it placed a seed in the back of my head somewhere.

Over the years I just started collecting dead celebrity recipes as an avid flea-market shopper. I was buying anything that had a celebrity recipe in it. Then the celebrities were kind enough to drop dead, and there you have it!

WCT: Did any of their families give you trouble with publishing this?

FD: Not yet. [ Laughs ]

WCT: You have a Batman section…

FD: Oh, my God! That is my favorite show!

WCT: I was hoping that you are not waiting for my friend Julie Newmar, who played Catwoman, to die to get her recipe.

FD: No. That is why I put Eartha Kitt in there. The only one that I can't believe is still hanging in there is Betty White. She would have rounded out that lovely chapter on The Golden Girls. She has to still be funny and want this fabulous career. She is at the height of her popularity in her 80s. I was watching her last night in Hot in Cleveland. If she would rather be brilliant than be in the Dead Celebrity Cookbook, then I can't do anything about it!

WCT: I saw Truman Capote in the book, then I was looking for Audrey Hepburn. Did she cook?

FD: I don't know if she ate, let alone cook! In all my vast archives of crap I don't know if I have an Audrey Hepburn recipe. Now I will have to look for it. It would be nice to have a Breakfast at Tiffany's breakfast recipe but I don't think I have one.

WCT: What is an easy recipe for someone out of the book?

FD: Because the weather is getting cold I have a hankering for Harriet Nelson's chicken.

You take three kinds of canned crème soups, you mix them with rice, then add more crème and more butter, lay chicken breasts on top then sprinkle with paprika. After baking, it is actually kind of wonderful.

WCT: I could even make that…

FD: It is easy to make, but I am not sure it is easy to survive! Your arteries will say, "That was good but maybe we shouldn't go slow on this."

WCT: You have a whole gay section in the cookbook.

FD: You gotta have a gay section! I had to put something next to the Rat Pack section. I thought it was fun to put them together. I do a show on OutQ Sirius XM Radio. I always tell people, "I am not a gay, I am THE gay!" I had to have a gay chapter and I just got married this year.

WCT: Congrats on that.

FD: Now that we can do it for real, thank heaven. It is a strange thing to be legally married and there are no quote marks. Gay Pride is really fun in New York so I live for the last Sunday in June.

I invite my friends over and those bitches are critics. I always thought it would be fun to do recipes of famous gays so that is where that came from.

WCT: I didn't think about many famed transgender celebrities back then, but you mentioned Christine Jorgensen.

FD: Isn't it hysterical to have a recipe of the original transgender celebrity? I think the whole sense of humor she approached her activism with was a good lesson actually. She said she went abroad and came back one! That is pretty funny. She served in the war then became a woman. That is fantastic. A sense of humor is something we can't lose because it is a bridge-builder. People calm down if you have a sense of humor about yourself.

WCT: I was just thinking John Waters would love your book.

FD: Now that you mention it, I need to send him a copy. Every year he sends a Christmas card and they are hysterical. Now I need to send him a book. You are very good at this, thank you!

WCT: What are working on next?

FD: I am going to do a Christmas cookbook for 2012. It will be all people iconically linked to the holiday. It is just in the planning stages.

WCT: Where can people buy the current book?

FD: They can go to www.deadcelebritycookbook.com . All the places have it, such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Walmart.

More information can be found on The Dead Celebrity Cookbook: A Resurrection of Recipes from More Than 145 Stars of Stage and Screen at www.frankdecaro.com .


This article shared 3593 times since Wed Jan 18, 2012
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