His new show, Kinky Boots, a collaboration with Cyndi Lauper, has taken Broadway by storm, earning a whopping 13 Tony nods, including best book of a musical for Fierstein himself. Here, the theater vet and Brooklyn native answers our burning questions.
What’s been your favorite role to date?
Like every other actor: “I love the one I’m with.” So I’d have to say my favorite role is the next one.
Favorite Broadway show of all time?
Fiddler on the Roof. The music, the story and the breadth of its message about ethnic cleansing burns bright after 50 years.
Worst job you’ve ever had?
One summer (for two days) I sold encyclopedias door to door. “Dearth” of a Salesman is more like it.
How was growing up in Brooklyn different from growing up in Manhattan?
Brooklyn was about surviving where you were. Manhattan was always about what’s next just around the corner.
Which six iconic figures would be at your dream dinner party?
Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, Oscar Wilde, Gertrude Stein, Cole Porter and Dorothy Parker. And I’d make certain they all had steak knives at the ready.
When are you at your happiest?
Asleep—I love to dream. Or onstage—but that’s a form of dreaming, isn’t it?
If you could fix one thing about America, what would it be?
I’d love to lower the level of competitiveness. We are all so set on winning.
Who was your first celebrity crush?
Ron Ely, the TV Tarzan.
What’s in your refrigerator right now?
Food. I’m convinced that I got this answer right.
What always surprises you about New Yorkers?
They either completely ignore you or they are sharing your sandwich. There seems to be nothing in between.
What would you never be caught dead in?
An NRA meeting.
What’s your favorite TV show?
Gigolos. Heterosexuals are so funny about sex.
Funniest thing you’ve ever heard?
The sound of someone I loved laughing.
What’s your definition of sexy?
A half-open zipper.
What are you most proud of?
My taste in junk.
What was the best advice you were ever given?
When I told someone that I didn’t write because of my spelling and he told me to go ahead, write and there would always be someone to fix my mistakes.
What’s the last thing you Googled?
How to remove hard water stains from plumbing pipes. Oh, yes. My life is that exciting.
What does no one know about Harvey Fierstein?
Whom I have really loved.
How often do you lie?
I never lie. I only exaggerate everything.
Who would play you in your biopic and why?
Shia LaBeouf, because Hollywood can’t get anything right.