Greg Scarnici: He Is a Whore, Darlin'...
Greg Scarnici is a working actor, writer, and musician, but many know him as the man who created countless music video parodies, such as his Britney Spears-inspired song, “Gimme More (Pills).” He’s been talked about on TMZ, PerezHilton.com, MTV, VH1, Fox News, and CNN, and had over seven million online hits. He is, in essence, a pretty huge Internet sensation and yet few people know the man, himself.
Scarnici majored in film and always loved music videos. “I directed two for my senior thesis while the rest of my class shot docs about paraplegic lesbian country singers,” he says, adding that following graduation he purchased some digital video equipment and quickly realized he could shoot his own material for next to nothing.
“My first test was a parody of Prince's 'Black Sweat' music video,” he recalls. “It cost me $100 and wound up looking like a shot-for-shot remake of his video. I threw it up on YouTube and it got 20,000 hits in one week, which in the early days of YouTube was huge!” That success inspired Scarnici to continue producing music video parodies. However, when he started getting cease and desist letters from artists who weren’t so excited to see his work, “I realized I needed my own material.”
From there came his new concept album, 12 Inch Freak, which features songs that are fun, funny and sexy all at the same time. He took a moment to chat with Gay.com about his music, his vision, and where his 12 Inch Freak is taking him.
How did the singer / character on 12 Inch Freak evolve?
Each of the songs on 12 Inch Freak emulate an artist or style I love, and you'll find versions of Sylvester, LCD Soundsystem, Cameo, Human League and a lot of other more obscure disco artists, like Tom Brown. In fact, some of the references are so obscure, I even forgot who they were.
Give us some of your history.
The first video that really clicked virally was my parody of Beyonce's "Ring the Alarm." I went away for the weekend after putting it on YouTube and when I came back, I was shocked that it got like 80,000 hits in two days! That's when I discovered the power of blogs and, most importantly, Perez Hilton. A posting on his site guarantees postings on dozens of other blogs.
You list Malcolm McLaren as being an inspiration, and he recently passed away. How did he inspire you?
Malcolm McLaren was the king of the concept album. Duck Rock was his homage to hip hop before it was even called hip hop; Operaaa House was exactly that— house music mixed with opera— and I always found his concept albums so original and inspiring. He just did what he wanted, even if he knew the audience that would get it was about .0009 percent of the population.
What else inspires you when you’re creating these songs?
There has to be a sound or melody that I fall in love with musically, and when I find it, the rest of the song usually gets built around it. In the case of 12 Inch Freak, I went for "Genre Realness," so if I found a beat or a synth that emulated— let's say, New Wave— that was enough to make the entire song come together.
Do you have a philosophy about your work?
No matter what kind of work I'm doing— writing, acting, making music— there's always a voice inside that tells me when something isn't working. If I don't listen to it, the work suffers. I know it must sound ridiculous to hear someone who makes comedy talk like this, but I put a lot of thought into even single edit, lyric and wig, believe it or not.
From your resume it looks like you’re primarily an actor, but is this material taking your life in a new direction?
I know, it's weird. I hate when people ask me what I do because it confuses even ME to utter the phrase, "I'm a writer/performer/actor/director/filmmaker/musician." Basically, I focus on "the arts," and my focus shifts constantly. Right now, it's definitely on music, but if I get called in for an audition, I'm there. Whatever pays the bills.
Wait… "A whore!" That's a much better description of what I am. A whore.
Right now, I'm currently under the delusion that I'm like Madonna when she first started out, going on "track dates" in bars & clubs, performing songs from 12 Inch Freak— even though I'm probably more like... Alisha?
How can fans follow your happenings?
"Face, face, face, I give facebook realness face!" I actually love Facebook because I get to interact with friends, both old and new, and am constantly finding out things and seeing videos I never would have caught elsewhere that inspire me.
NOW FOR SOME RANDOM FUN QUESTIONS:
Who are you listening to on your iPod?
As far as albums (or should I say "digital downloads?" God I'm old), the new Erykah Badu is on constant repeat, and my ever-changing "Latest & Greatest" playlist is currently spinning "On Board" by Holy Ghost!, "Shiny & Warm" by Goldfrapp, "Momma's Place" by Roisin Murphy, and a song I'm producing for my friend Joe Thompson, called "In Your Wildest," an early 80s-inspired disco track that'll be released this summer.
Boxers or briefs?
Briefs. In the immortal words of Janet Jackson, I need "Control."
What’s your favorite TV show?
30 Coke Rocks... which only exists in my mind. But seriously, 30 Rock, and not just because I was on it. The writing is so brilliant and the acting even more so.
If you could have performed in a classic TV show, which one would it have been and why?
I would have loved to have been Mrs. Roper on The Ropers. Is that considered a classic? Probably not, but I love me a caftan.
Who have you enjoyed working with most?
Tina Fey. She's so smart and funny and unaffected by all her success. A real rarity in this jaded biz.
What’s your favorite place to hang out and why?
I love spending time in Cherry Grove because I lead such a hectic life. It's nice to get away from it all and just relax on the beach with my funked-up, creative friends and a few libations in my hand. Even if I have to see some repulsive naked people every once in a while.
Are you dating?
I'm actually a closet lesbian. I've been in a relationship for 16 years.
What do you look for in a guy?