Michael Vaccaro is the writer and star of the web-series Child of the 70’s; here is a link to his website:
Q: What is Child of the 70’s about?
A: Child of the ’70s follows “Carlo Perdente,” a total loser, whose life completely falls apart as he’s about to turn 40. He loses his survival job, his NYC rent-controlled apartment, and his hot boyfriend. His acting career is going nowhere, and his obnoxious and overbearing Italian family are forcing him to abandon his dreams of stardom and get “serious.” A chance encounter with his favorite 1970s TV star, “KiKi Lawrence,” changes everything for him.
Q: What inspired you to write it?
A: I’ve always had the idea in my head, pretty much. But when I realized that people were creating their own content on the web, I realized I could do that, too. I didn’t have to sit around anymore and try to get a meeting with a network in order to pitch an idea. When that hit me, it all took off. I began writing furiously, and it all sort-of poured out of me.
I was kind of sickened by how gay people were portrayed on TV. We were either “Jack,” the over-the-top, ridiculous fool, or “Will,” bland, sex-less and non-threatening. I wanted to write and portray a gay character who was funny and interesting and charming and edgy and flawed and real.
Q: Upon whom is your character based?
A: Me, of course! :) But also, he’s a little bit “Rhoda Morgenstern.”
Q: You worked for Lainie Kazan as an assistant. What is your most memorable work story from that time?
A: Oh, brother…I could tell you stories! Ha! But, I’ll save all that.
Lainie Kazan is an amazing woman. She is literally the person who walks in and completely lights up the room. She is fun and gregarious and intelligent and tough. She had great stories about her life and career. She should absolutely write a book. I really enjoyed my time with her. But, it was also non-stop! From the second she woke up ’til the moment she went to bed, it was overwhelming. My head would literally spin. I couldn’t keep up.
Q: How has the gay culture changed since the seventies?
A: This is a difficult question. Clearly, we’ve come quite a long way, baby, and I’m very happy about the strides we’ve made, and the rights we’ve achieved, but in my view, we’ve been watered down, diluted. We’ve been homogenized, and I feel that we’ve lost what makes us special. We are not like everybody else. We are different. And I’m interested in celebrating those things that make us unique. We are also certainly less political. We’ve become complacent. Our values have changed. I sometimes miss the fight, I miss the anger, I despise the apathy. I treasure the thought that I came up, and out, in quite a difficult, yet magical time. Of course, there will be many people who will be angry at me for this response.
Q: There have been several recent hit films sent in the seventies including Inherent Vice and American Hustle, how realistic do you think these films were?
A: I haven’t seen Inherent Vice, but I thought American Hustle was sooooooooooooooooooooo ’70s, that it made me want to puke! Not everybody who lived in that decade had a perm and bell-bottoms and beaded curtains and bean-bag chairs! Not everyone painted their apartments mustard and orange. It was ridiculous. Insanely unrealistic and over-the-top. Unless the art director and the wardrobe department were trying to portray some kind of 1970s nightmare, then they totally succeeded.
Q: What was great about the seventies?
A: Best decade for movies, ever! Filmmakers and actors took risks, nothing was safe, nothing was taboo. They don’t make movies stars like that anymore. Great TV. Norman Lear changed everything. Fantastic music, amazing performers. A decade when you still had to be able to sing in order to be a singer! Fascinating politics. The destruction of the USA began the second Ronald Reagan took office. And also, it was fun! People danced and did drugs that weren’t made in somebody’s garage. And the sex! I had fantastic sex in many bathrooms of many clubs and bars! We weren’t afraid then. We weren’t weighed down by this pall of death and sadness that eventually took over.
Q: What are some things you don’t miss about that decade?
A: Living in The Bronx. Let me qualify that… I have very fond memories of that place, but I also have nightmares sometimes where I have to move back there!
Q: Do you think being openly gay helped or hurt you as an actor?
A: Both. It hurt in that I was always out, and that wasn’t as chic as it is now, so I lost out on a lot of opportunities. But it made me a better person, and that’s more important.
Q: If you could go to lunch with Walter Findlay or Dwayne Schneider who would you pick (why)?
A: Definitely Walter Findlay! First of all, he lives in upstate NY, and he could come down to the city for lunch. Dwayne lives in Indianapolis. Second, Walter and I could have a great discussion about his fascinating wife. Dwayne would just want to talk about chicks!
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)