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Monday, September 30, 2013

Q&A with Larry Costa

It is my pleasure to have the opportunity to do a Q&A with the talented, charming and debonaire singer and actor, Larry Costa. Larry has taken on many compelling roles in real life, as you're about to discover, and has a remarkable story to tell about his breakthrough into show business. So, without any further ado, I present my interview with the one and only Mr Larry Costa:

Dj Buddy Beaverhausen: Larry, thanks so much for blabbing it to Beaverhausen. Our readers and I want to learn more about you. Are you a native New Yorker? And can you tell us about your growing up?
Larry Costa: I only moved to NYC in the 1990s. I am from North Florida. I’m a hillbilly, except there were no hills. The Florida sunshine and fresh fruit makes it a great place to raise children. When I first moved to NYC, I lived on E.14th Street in a studio apartment with my friend Krissi Dimartino. We shared the bed, she had the mattress and I had the box spring. There was a window missing, and a huge hole in the wall between the neighboring apartment, and a dog on the floor below us that would attack. We had to carry dog biscuits and throw them down the stairs so we can escape to get out of the apartment.

DBB: What made you decide to be an entertainer? Who were you mentors? Who were your idols?
LC: You know what, I was "discovered." I was invited by my friend Richard Skipper to see his off-Broadway show he was starring in and I was seated next to Joe Franklin, the original TV host and discoverer of Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler and others. He tapped me on the shoulder and asked me, "are you an actor?" At the time, I was not, I was a business owner in midtown Manhattan. However, he looked at me and said,"With that smile I insist that you become an actor." So, I did. Just for fun, I answered an ad on craigslist for a film that needed a Devil. They chose me and I was in my first speaking role in a movie. 
I remember the day I decided to be a professional singer like it was yesterday. I was at a cabaret show and the entertainer sucked. I was so pissed off. The venue was beautiful and well known and also $89.00 a person. When I looked around the room and saw the audience smiling and clapping and laughing and then a standing ovation at the end, I was floored. I thought to myself, what the hell is wrong with this picture, has the public forgotten what beautiful songs sounded like? Well, I made a vow right there and then to bring back the classics and sing them in the way that they were supposed to be sung -- with feeling, intent, love, passion, desire, greed, and pain. The rest is history. Oh, by the way, I only had two singing lessons in my life. Growing up, I loved to listen to Barbra Streisand, I think she must be the biggest influence in my singing. It's also a curse, if I am singing one of her songs, it's so difficult to get her out of my head and replace my voice with hers to make the recording.

DBB: Tell us about your much talked-about short film, Larry Ravioli, that you co-wrote and co-directed with Gabe Rodriguez.
LC: The character Larry Ravioli is naive and ambitious with a relentless zeal for stardom as a crooner. He has a knack for getting himself and his appointed sidekick Gina into trouble whenever the Mafia sends him out on assignments to repay a loan. His movie star smile, charm, and singing save him… most of the time! We are already in the planning stage of two full-length sequels, Larry Ravioli Meets The Ghost and Larry Ravioli Gets Drafted. 

DBB: I see you're also in an upcoming film, The Cold Winter. Could you tell us a little about that? 
LC: Wow, I forgot about that film, I play the Dad of a teenage runaway girl that becomes a hooker. I think that I used to give her money as a child and she believes that all men should give her money for love. [Chuckles.] I did 18 films that year, but I think one of my favorites is called The Sickness; it was written for me, well, I really can’t say written because the entire film is improvisational, the same goes for all Joe Ciminera films. We had a guideline to go by and it was up to the actors to come up with the content. I play myself. However, in the film, I am a washed up singer that has taken to the bottle…. It's really fun with a twist ending. The Sickness can be found on YouTube and watched for free.
Also coming out is Apex Rising, in which I play a CIA agent named Bradley; this film is already gaining tons of press due to the controversial content. Producer and director Jim Terriaca of Big Thunder Productions wrote the character into the film for me. I even get to fly a plane and sing in this film.

DBB: In your photos, you're always the tallest person in the shot. How tall are you exactly?
LC: What an interesting question. I was always shy about my height and therefore slouched all the time, then one day, I decided… oh, what the hell, stand up straight for Christ sake! That day, I went from 6’ to 6’2”. When I take a deep breath, I am 6’3”.

DBB: You're an excellent singer, an accomplished actor, director, writer, composer. Of all these many hats, which is your favorite to put on? And do you consider yourself a modern renaissance man?
LC: You forgot to mention: twice published author on the New York Times best seller list, chemist, former undercover agent, skincare developer, ballroom dancer, soap maker, and massage therapist. So, choosing just one will be impossible. I loved being each and every one of those people. I live my life compartmentalized, meaning, for any given time period, I make a decision on who I want to be and then become that person. When I was a retail business owner, I had to take on the persona of boss, caregiver, trend-setter, and payroll supplier and do all of these to the best of my abilities; now that I have decided to be an entertainer, I am blessed to have the life experiences needed to draw from for my performances in song and in film. When I was working undercover, I was able to be different people all the time, this was so natural for me and now I get to do the pretty much the same thing but in front of the camera.

DBB: Tell us something about who you loved working with. Who you didn't. 
LC: I love most of the people that I work with. I love working in the experimental film and indie film networks. You always see a lot of the same talented people on different sets, its like we are one big happy family and it keeps growing. There isn’t one person that I do not like to work with, but rather a type of person. A person that gets nervous in front of the camera irks me beyond anything. If you want to be an actor, you cant be nervous, it takes away time that is valuable to the director. Just take a breath and relax. The camera is your friend.

DBB: You're in the documentary, "Chasing Gaga." Tell us a little about it. And are you a Gaga fan? 
LC: I really enjoyed being in this, I played myself in this film as the skincare developer and a performer. This docudrama followed the early career of Stefani and how she utilized her business training to create the Gaga product. So, as a result, entrepreneurs such as myself would develop their own brand of Gaga products. Set just before she got shot out of the canon, you know, she is still the same nice girl that she was before she was famous. I also included my friend Denise S. Anderson in this film.

DBB: You were also on a BBC tv series called "What Not to Wear."
LC: I was also on another BBC series that aired in the UK called "Facejacker," a sketch comedy. My part was a weekly spoof on The Apprentice, only at the end, everyone got fired. [Laughs.] What Not to Wear was so much fun! I was on that show four times the first two seasons and they even filmed a few other segments at my Day Spa that I owned in Chelsea, New York City. I loved being on that show; I became friends with every one [in the cast], and we still remain friends today.

DBB: What was the experience of appearing on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno like? 
LC: Nothing compared to when I was on Dr. Oz. I had to propose marriage so that I could sing on the show. I worked with the segment producer for a week beforehand, I had to write an original song, score original music overnight for her, I had to get the ring, I had to get the outfit, I had to get musicians together to record the backing track to sing to on the show... and low and behold! The producer screwed me. She never played the song. Well, I was standing there but the music never started, so then just got on my knees and proposed… all dressed up like Prince Charming… ha! Oh, the engagement is off.

DBB: What do you consider your proudest professional achievement? 
LC: Winning “King of Indie Films, 2012,” hands down my proudest entertainment field achievement to date. I don’t have any kids, otherwise I would say… my beautiful children, but no kids for me. I have a cat named Popcorn, and she’s too much sometimes, too. It even makes me crazy to play the “Dad” in films, especially when the kids are in their 20s. I played the father of a son that gets plastic surgery in a Japanese TV show, they dubbed my voice with Japanese voice over, such fun to watch.

DBB: Most people would not only consider you very talented but describe you, I think, as tall, dark and handsome. When you look in the mirror, what do you see? And do you have a special diet that keeps you fit? I know it probably isn't ravioli-based. 
LC: You make me blush. But, thank you. All I do is try to stay one step ahead of trends and eat right and exercise as much as I possibly can without overkill. I do, however, have one interesting hobby that keeps me in shape. I stack rocks. Yes, I know... but, I really do. I have some mountain-top land and I collect the rocks from the property and make walls with them. Not to mention, I have some great friends that actually are responsible to help me not stray from good and smart choices. Oh, and, by the way, yes I like ravioli but only with spinach filling. Then maybe a cannoli... or two. [Laughs.]

DBB: Where would you like to be in five years? 
LC: Just singing. I get great enjoyment out of singing. I can’t explain it. My body transforms when I sing, it’s sort of an out of body experience for me. I become someone else, I become the teller of the story, the lyrics becomes my words and I feel each emotion from each word as it comes out of my mouth as a song.

DBB: Larry, thanks so much. Look forward to seeing you at one of your NYC performances and, again, thank you from me and from my readers for this fabulously entertaining and delightful interview! 

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