When Scott Nevins walks onto the stage, he has the audience enthralled with his exuberance and boy-next-door charm. His act has just the right mix of storytelling and movie star impressions with a little guilty gossip thrown in. I had the pleasure of watching him perform his show on Saturday September third in the Rrazz Room at the Raven in New Hope.
He was born and raised in an Irish Catholic family in Flushing, New York, and he says he is very lucky that he knew what he wanted to do from a very young age. As a little kid he would perform for his family whenever he could. Scott said,
“I would literally make them sit through my one man, word for word reenactment of the “Wizard of Oz” countless times on holidays and special events. I wanted to be a Broadway star, but a nun in my Catholic school called me out in front and said, “You see Scott Nevins? He loves to sing more than anything in the world… but he shouldn’t because he’s tone deaf!’”
“She was sort of right. Most of my professional singer friends say it’s not that I’m tone deaf, it’s more that I’ve never been trained properly to sing, but I didn’t let that stop me from singing all day, every day! Then I got into The Mickey Mouse Club on the Disney Chanel, and wanted to be a Mouseketeer alongside Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake. Well, the ‘tone deaf’ thing sort of put an end to that.”
“Then I got into movies, and wanted to be a director. Then I got into TV, and my mom would yell at me to get off the couch and get outside! I would love to go back and say ‘you know, one day I’m going to get paid to sit on a couch and watch TV!’”
His hero growing up was his Aunt Grace who he affectionately refers to in his act. She was his aunt, godmother, best friend, hero and… everything. “She made me who I am today,” he said. “She enriched my life with knowledge, art, music, and most importantly, self-worth and laughter. She was hilarious. Funnier than anyone I’ve ever met, and it came to her naturally.”
“She passed away in 2015, and it was very rough for me. The only solace is that she asked me to spread her ashes in all of the fabulous places that I travel to for work. And I have done so happily, with some hilarious situations ensuing. I miss her terribly, and think about her every day. She was the person I called every single day. We would gossip, talk about current events, and of course, she would always deliver when I needed advice.” When he was a kid, she gave him the most important advice of his life, and it’s his motto today: Why worry what other people think? Do they pay your rent?
After high school, Scott went on to study dramaturgy in college and moved to New York City. He landed a job producing weekly entertainment for a new lounge in midtown called Therapy. It was the first gay bar in the neighborhood.
“After struggling to find a show on Monday nights, the owners said that I should host my own show,” he said. “It was a talk show. The first two months of struggling and failing to capture the audience and hold their attention
in a noisy bar, was the best hosting school I could have ever attended. Then I booked Tammy Faye Bakker as my special guest star, and planned a huge show in her honor. That night was a massive hit, and It lead to booking real live celebrities as guests on this fake talk show every week. It put my name on the map — at least in New York City.”
Fans of Bravo TV know Scott Nevins for being on the cast of The People’s Couch. When asked how he became involved he said, “Some of the people working in production knew of me from other TV work and reached out asking if I had any friends that I watched TV with. I said, ‘I do, and they are on their way over to watch the Real Housewives of New Jersey now.’ We had no clue that The Peoples Couch was for Bravo. They asked if they could Skype us watching TV. I joked that this all sounded very creepy, but ultimately I said yes.
He knew it could be big because everyone spoke about the project very secretively. “They would not tell us what the show was about, which network it was for, etc… I set up my own makeshift studio,” he said, “by taking a bunch of lamps and turning them into studio lighting,
hidden right out of the frame of the shot from Skype on my laptop. It must have worked, because we were the first group signed on, and the rest is history.”
Scott said he is very proud of the diversity of the cast and the show has one of the most diverse casts on television.
He now lives in Los Angeles and admits it wasn’t hard adjusting to life on the West Coast. “Not at all! It’s always fun visiting my hometown of New York City, but I love living in Los Angeles. I first came out here when I was 16 years old to visit some family members, and I fell in love with it.”
Scott also hosted the Joan Rivers Roast. “Joan was the end of an era. She was true showbiz. She worked and worked and worked, never taking a break,” he said. “She wanted every gig, big or small. She was a consummate professional, and quite generous. She was always kind and very funny to me. I remember performing in a theater one night after her. When I entered the dressing room, I was bombarded with the smell of Lysol, and there was a note that read ‘Scott, the maid cleaned the room. Have a good show! Love, Joan!’”
Besides his TV show, interviewing celebrities and hosting red carpet events, Scott finds the time to involve himself with charities such as the Desert AIDS project in Palm Springs, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS in NYC, and the NYC Gay Men’s Chorus.
“If I ever got the tiniest amount of success, I would use it to do some good,” he thought at an early age. “I’ve always felt that we all have a responsibility to take care of each other, and those of us who are blessed with success, have a responsibility to give back! I spend a large portion of my year traveling the world hosting and appearing at charity events for a long list of worthy causes and organizations.”
For those who follow Scott on social media, they know that he is very passionate about the upcoming Presidential election and a huge Hillary Clinton supporter. He said he first met Hillary in college when she announced her candidacy for U.S. Senate. He also was there when she clinched the democratic nomination in Brooklyn.
“The campaign invited me to the event, and when I got there,” he recalls, “I was placed right behind her podium. So, as every news channel waited for her speech, there was a static shot of me in the front row in my Hillary t-shirt, waving an American flag.”
“My phone blew up! I think almost everyone was watching that speech. After she delivered it, she came by and I congratulated her and we took a selfie together. This moment was captured by the press, and that photo is now framed in my house.”
On a more serious note, he said, “The fact that the next President could pick up to four Supreme Court Justices plays a major role in how important this election is. People don’t seem to grasp that these judges will be weighing in and making decisions that could change the course of the country for many decades! This is no joke and should not be taken lightly. If Trump gets his way, he will appoint very anti-gay, anti-anything-progressive judges to vote down any advancements for our society. It would be a devastating blow to our country.”
I asked him if he could see himself going into politics and he said, “Absolutely. It’s been a dream of mine for some time. I want to do it when the time is right, and when it makes sense. I don’t want to be that guy from The People’s Couch running for office. I want to find a place where I can actually make a difference and not just use my ‘celebrity’ as my platform.”
We talked about his celebrity status and being a role model for LGBT youth. Scott said, ”The thing that ultimately saved me and changed my life was that I never, ever thought of being gay as a bad thing. I always thought it was a gift. Too often I meet gay adults who are victims of systematic homophobia, and to this day, they still feel less than because they are gay. Being gay is a blessing, not a curse, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”
He does not consider himself a role model but is well aware of the impact he can have. “I receive so many Facebook messages from kids all over the world who follow me, or see the TV shows, or hear me speak when I travel to schools across the country,” he said. “And they thank me for being an inspiration. It’s a little daunting but ultimately very rewarding. I always try to live my best, authentic life, and knowing that these kids are watching only keeps me more on track to reaching that goal each day.”
I asked Scott the proverbial question of where he sees himself 10 years from now. With his vibrancy and passion he said, “Married with children, running for political office and/or hosting and producing TV shows, continuing my charity work, and feeling relieved that I finally wrote that book I’ve been planning to write.”
After meeting Scott, I have no doubts that he will accomplish all he sets out to do.