If you’re someone who grew up watching the family-friendly sitcom Who’s the Boss? — or if you’re someone who didn’t watch because the show was a tad too wholesome for you — there’s a band of beatniks and rabble-rousers in Los Angeles who are about to make your wildest dreams come true. Who’s Da Boss? Live!, coming to L.A.’s Cavern Club Theater at Casita del Campo May 16–20, is a guaranteed great night out, referred to as “an affectionate parody of your favorite ’80s sitcom, bastardized and stretched to the limits of good taste.”
As with anything sprung from the mind of drag legend Jackie Beat, long the reigning queen of raunchy song parodies, Who’s Da Boss? Live! is some good ol’ fashioned not-so-family-friendly fun. Part of Beat’s “Reruns in Pantyhose” series — also responsible for the immensely acclaimed The Golden Girlz Live! series of stage shows — this production takes the sitcom many of us grew up watching and not only gives it a loving but twisted spin but turns it into a musical, too.
For Who’s Da Boss? Live! Jackie Beat has banded together with a few regulars of L.A.’s thriving queer comedy scene: Mario Diaz, actor and well-known nightlife guru; Sherry Vine, another drag legend whose videos have racked up more than 17 million YouTube views; and Nadya Ginsburg, whose own parodies of Cher and Madonna are sacrosanct.
And as an extra-special bonus, original Who’s the Boss? cast member Danny Pintauro will be returning to the role he portrayed for eight years as a child.
For those unfamiliar with the sitcom, which ran from 1984–1992, it’s the story of Italian-American former ball player Tony (played by Tony Danza) who along with his tomboy daughter Sam (Alyssa Milano) makes the move to Connecticut to play live-in housekeeper for single, working mom Angela (Judith Light), her son Jonathan (Pintauro) and her mother Mona (Katherine Helmond).
One of the most interesting things about this crew of hilarious talents coming together for Who’s Da Boss? Live! is that each one has such a different relationship to the long-running sitcom. Ginsburg, Sherry Vine and Diaz both recall having the hots for Tony Danza. In fact, as Diaz says, “Actually he was one of my first masturbatory fantasies. He helped me ‘discover myself’ so to speak, so you can imagine what a soft spot in my heart I have for this show.”
Ginsburg’s own life story practically mimics the show’s premise entirely. “My Jewish and Italian parents met on the steps of Flushing High School in Queens, and when I was 12 we moved from New York to Connecticut — just like Tony and his daughter, Samantha,” she tells Hornet. “I remember feeling ostracized by all of my new preppy Connecticut classmates so, looking back, I guess the theme ended up ringing even truer than I’d have thought it would later in my life. And not only because now all of my closest friends are queens!”
Jackie Beat has a funny relationship to the sitcom’s original airing, as he used to work at L.A.’s Sunset Gower Studios back in the mid-’80s, a time when “all the great, cheesy sitcoms of the era” (Silver Spoons, Married With Children, Facts of Life, 227) were being shot.
“I distinctly remember watching Who’s the Boss? rehearsals on the closed-circuit TV in my boss’s office,” Beat says. “It was fascinating to watch the actors during their ‘down time.’ I remember one day in particular watching Tony Danza, sitting on the Who’s the Boss? sofa, meticulously shaving the little balls of fuzz off his sweatpants — which he filled so well — with a disposable razor. Yep, I have seen Tony Danza shaving his fuzzy balls!”
Pintauro, naturally, offers an unrivaled perspective on the original series.
“Who’s the Boss? shaped my life, and the list of memories would take a whole book (which, yes, I’m writing) to give true credence,” he tells Hornet. “For the pilot, which this show is a parody of, I have no memories — I was 6! Who’s the Boss? memories are all about going to school, then driving to the set everyday, then doing it again the next day. As the years passed the memories become more about getting good grades and more about how little they used me in the show. I miss it and still dream about it to this day.”
Pintauro has since moved away from Hollywood and regular acting gigs but says when the idea for this Who’s the Boss? parody presented itself, he was immediately interested.
“A few years ago when they were starting to get these wonderful parody shows going we talked briefly about a Who’s the Boss? parody, and I instantly said yes,” says Pintauro. “Years passed and we all kept truckin’ along, and then late last year I got a phone call that it was happening. I didn’t even read a script, I just said yes. I’m glad I did. This show is filthy, and I mean that in the very best way. For me, I get to play with the whole notion of just how big a flaming gay I was back then.”
Those unable to make it out to L.A.’s Cavern Club Theater for this month’s Who’s Da Boss? Live! can thankfully expect more lovingly done parodies in the future. The Golden Girlz Live! (for which Beat and other legends of L.A.’s comedy scene stage entire episodes of the show, unaltered) has at this point become a mainstay of the city’s theater calendar, selling out performance after performance. Beat says there are more Golden Girlz productions in the works, hopefully featuring RuPaul’s Drag Race alums in special guest roles. Alaska Thunderfuck has famously appeared in past productions, and other hopefuls include Bianca Del Rio, Ginger Minj and Bob the Drag Queen, their busy schedules permitting.
Other shows deserving of a parody treatment are on the table as well. “Sherry and I have quite a few ideas floating around in our heads,” Jackie Beat tells us, “but I’m terrified to say them out loud since so many other queens are doing pop culture parodies and mashups.”
And that’s true — it’s a genre at which many queens and others working in comedy are trying their hand. But when it comes to raunchy musical parodies on the L.A. stage, as the name of this upcoming show suggests, Jackie Beat’s the boss, no doubt about it.