Arts & Entertainment
2 min

Mario Cantone on Hollywood homophobia

Stand-up comic and Sex and the City star in Montreal for Just for Laughs

Mario Cantone is in Montreal for the Just for Laughs festival.
It should come as no surprise that fierce Sex and the City star Mario Cantone has always been pretty much out.
“I remember in seventh, eighth and ninth grades I was kind of out and got a lot of shit. I grew up in the 1970s, when bullying was really bad,” Cantone says. “I never got beaten up, but I got a lot of threats and verbal abuse and would leave class to make an early escape. I mean, everybody’s got their fucking bullying stories. But honestly, I’m sick of it: toughen up and let’s go!”
I tell Cantone I think that when gay kids are pushed around they should push back.
“Abso-fucking-lutely!” he says. “And I had a mother who would say horrible ­– horrible – things to me about gay people. But I was like ‘Fuck you’ in the 1970s: I never thought about killing myself or opening fire on a class. So this stuff [gay teen suicides] is mind-boggling because there are more people coming out today for young [LGBT] people to look up to.
“I do feel sorry for them, but I want to grab some of these kids, shake them and say, ‘Toughen the fuck up! Guess what, it doesn’t really get better!’ And I’m not talking about being gay; I’m talking about life.”
Cantone has a routine about bullying in his new one-man show, It’s Funnier Live, sequel to his hugely successful 2005 Tony-nominated one-man Broadway show Laugh Whore. “I’m bringing back [my] Liza and Judy [impressions], adding Bruce Springsteen and a lot more pop culture observations and political stuff. It’s a work in progress that I’ll work on over five nights in Montreal.”
Cantone hopes to bring It’s Funnier Live to Broadway soon, especially since he “really, really honestly” doesn’t think there will be a third Sex and the City movie, and NBC turned down the pilot for his new hairdresser drama (by SATC’s Michael Patrick King) called A Mann’s World and co-starring Don Johnson. “I was devastated,” he admits. “I couldn’t get out of bed for three months.”
But Cantone – a regular on The View – always knew he’d have it tougher than closeted actors ever since he starred in  Steampipe Alley, a children’s TV show that ran on New York superstation WWOR-TV, from 1988 to 1993.
“Two gay men hired me for that show – which is not the way it is anymore. Some of the gay men in this business are the most homophobic. When I went to LA, I met closeted actors who told me not to tell anybody I was gay. I never denied I was gay, but I was never asked by the press if I was until 1998. I knew saying that I was gay would cut my workload. I know there’s a glass ceiling. I told myself, ‘You’re gonna get what you get and it’s not going to be big and you’re not going to be rich.’”
Cantone, now 52, believes the alternative is worse.
“The Hollywood closet is infuriating to me, though I do get it: there has not been a gay leading man in Hollywood motion pictures who’s a big star. I don’t think it’s going to happen for a long time. But now when you got the two big ones [closeted Hollywood stars in the media], it’s coming back to bite them in the ass. You can see it starting because you can’t get away with it anymore.”
The Deets:

Mario Cantone stars in It’s Funnier Live 
Just for Laughs Festival
Tues, July 24-Sat, July 28 at 9:30pm
Gesu Theatre
1202 de Bleury Rue, Montreal

Cantone also guests in the John Pinette Gala
Just for Laughs Festival
Wed, July 25 at 7pm
Salle Wilfred-Pelletier
175 Sainte Catherine St W, Montreal