Tony Cannoli competing for love and money in a mansion full of DILFS and himbos

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Tony "Cannoli" Ardolino in a bathing suit
Tony "Cannoli" Ardolino is multi-talented
Tony "Cannoli" Ardolino and the cast of "For the love of DILFs" in bathing suits.
Tony “Cannoli” Ardolino and the cast of “For the love of DILFs” in bathing suits.

Tony Ardolino was born and raised in New Jersey. He has lived in Los Angeles and Singapore, and toured with Paw Patrol Live as Ryder. He performed in Grease the musical, and Happy Days the musical as Chachi. He is the author of an LGBTQ children’s book titled Gill the Merboy, which can be found on Amazon, Bookshelf, and Barnes & Noble. He is the director/producer/writer of the award-winning LGBTQ short film Far Far Away, an LGBTQ twist on the classic fairy tales, and wrote and directed the more modern web series inspired by the short as well.

Tony recently bought a house on Lake Hopatcong, N.J. where he lives with his Shiba Inu puppy, Chase Wasabi. He is currently the reigning Mr. Gay World USA and an OUTtv reality star who can be seen on OUTtv’s new reality show, For the Love of DILFS.

For the Love of DILFS puts five Daddies and five Himbos in one gorgeous mansion with an open bar and plenty of drama. The show’s cast is a group of sexy gay men looking for love, but the show is hosted by the iconic Stormy Daniels, who serves as master of ceremonies as well as a friend (and sometimes counselor) to the men, who are in the house looking for a real love connection.

The end goal of For the Love of DILFS is to pair up two groups of gay men and have them get to know one another, to see if there is a connection. In the end, for one lucky couple, not only will they find love, but if they are voted to be Most Likely to Succeed as a couple, they will take home a cash prize of $10,000.

Tony discusses his personal and professional journey with us.

So, you are a Jersey boy?

Tony Ardolino: Yes, I am a Jersey boy born and raised. My grandma is from Brooklyn and met my grandpa in Nutley, and then raised my mom in Jefferson Township, and my dad’s family came from Italy and raised him in Madison. I was raised in Jefferson Township and after graduating, I moved to L.A., Singapore, and Florida, and toured all over the world, but there’s no place like home and recently I just moved back and now live in Hopatcong on the lake. Originally, I came back to help my mom with my grandma who was suffering from dementia; I spent my days singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” with her and watching Little House on the Prairie. After she passed on and became my guardian angel I kind of realized how close I am with my family after being gone for so long and decided to stay. I could not be happier. I love New Jersey.

When did you discover you were an entertainer?

TA: I come from a big Italian family so everyone is theatrical even though I am the only “entertainer.” Growing up my parents put me in sports but in 1st grade, we did a play version of Beauty and the Beast and I came home and acted the entire play for my parents as a one-man show — so my parents realized this made me happy and my mom and grandma drove me all over the county to be in every show in the area. So blessed to have had that kind of support. My grandma was at every show and was in the front row with a smile and a disposable camera, which would flash during the show, and to this day I’ve never seen a single one of those pictures. Haha!

Tony "Cannoli" Ardolino in his Mr. Gay World USA 2022 outfit
Tony “Cannoli” Ardolino in his Mr. Gay World USA 2022 outfit

Are Mr. Gay Maine and Mr. Gay USA the only pageants you have participated in?

TA: Yes, I did not know anything about the pageant world. But at the time I was dating a guy who was Mr. Gay Boston, and one day out of nowhere he said, “Tony, you could never do pageants.” The little Marty McFly that I am, told him to sit back and watch what I can do. “No one calls me chicken, Biff!”

For Mr. Gay World USA I felt like I was the underdog. I was on my own. While other state delegates had costumes that cost thousands of dollars, I made mine out of material from the dollar store and the clearance baskets at Michael’s. Everyone had tons of fans in the audience, I had my mom and dad. I never did a pageant before, but I have spent my whole life on stage. I went into this competition trusting my creativity and talent and told myself to just be myself, and I am so humbled that out of 50 gentlemen, the judges crowned me Mr. Gay World USA 2022 that night.

Did you win Mr. Gay World?

TA: It was such a grand adventure! The pageant was in South Africa, and I loved every second of it. I made my own costumes again and made great friends from other countries. Did I win, well, when it came down to me and Mr. Puerto Rico, they said it was down to a point of a point difference. And right after I placed first runner-up, I had a line of people meet me on the stage. I could not believe it!

I did not win, but here I was on stage doing a full-on meet and greet with a line of people running off the stage, with people saying, “I love your energy and personality.” I think that is why I stand out because I am not the 6-foot model in a three-piece suit. I like to smile and laugh, and my national costume was a gay Captain America with giant wings. I just love to have fun; when you enjoy your life, the audience will feel that too. I am very flattered by all the wonderful things people said to me that night, but right after the pageant my mom and I went on a safari — so my trip to South Africa was amazing.

Is your organization, My Gay Big Brother, still active and how is that going?

Tony "Cannoli" Ardolino can dress conservatively too.
Tony “Cannoli” Ardolino can dress conservatively too.

TA: Yes, my Gay Big Brother organization is still going strong and I also mentor LGBTQ youth at EDGE New Jersey. Growing up I wish I had someone that I could talk to about things, and I am so happy I get to be the gay big brother for this new generation.

Are you attracted to big, hairy guys such as a bear type?

TA: Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Above all, I fall for a great sense of humor and a big fat thick co…cough sorry something’s in my throat…where was I, oh yeah, big fat thick confidence! Yes, I like someone that takes care of themselves and goes to the gym, and I have a thing for dreamy eyes, but the biggest thing I like is a sense of humor because I think life is hysterical, so let loose and laugh along.

We learned a lot about you in a prior issue. I would like to find out details about you and your personal life that have not been discussed in other publications. What can you share that has not been said before?

TA: Growing up I was teased a lot. I mean I had Facebook groups where I talked about how much people hated me. The worst part was I still could not come out because I was the oldest son of an Italian family and I wanted to be an actor. I thought if I came out that I would be typecast or never work. But when I moved to Singapore, I was so far away that I told myself, “Well, you can’t get much farther away — just be yourself.” And I loved it. I loved being myself so much that when I came home to New Jersey, I came out to my family with every bit of confidence. The funny thing is I did not have anything to be worried about, my family is amazing, and my mom and dad come to pride events with me. I wish that scared little boy could see his life now. I would have never thought it would be possible, and now I look at it and could not be happier. I am just so blessed.

Are you a size queen?

TA: Nah, I am a personality prince.

What is your ideal date?

TA: I do not even care where we are — we could be in McDonald’s for all I care — I just want the conversation to be meaningful. Ideally, there are laughs, stories being shared, and listening to each other. Or just take me to Disney World! Hahaha!

Dog or cat guy?

Tony "Cannoli" Ardolino on a "date"
Tony “Cannoli” Ardolino on a “date” on the Outtv show “For the love of DILFS.”

TA: Dog guy! I just bought a house and got my first puppy! He is a Shiba Inu. His name is Chase Wasabi. He is my pride and joy!

What is your diet and workout routine to keep that body in tip-top shape?

TA: I have a personal trainer in Boonton, named Eric Moss. He is amazing and has helped transform my body! Plus, he has been there cheering me on when I went for Mr. Gay USA and World. Thank you, Eric Moss, for all my health and fitness needs! As for a diet, I eat chicken, spinach, eggs, and a whole lot of Oreos.

Tell us about a day in the life of Tony Cannoli. What are your daily routines?

TA: Aside from going on auditions and being an actor, my day job is being the MWR Marketing Director of the New Jersey Army base Picatinny Arsenal. Our main mission is to create great morale for military families, and we are so excited to be opening our gates to the public so you can check out the gorgeous wedding venue “The Club at Picatinny” as well as the amazing golf course. I love the team I get to work with. Plus, I own my entertainment company, Movie Magic Parties, where we do everything from princess parties to murder mystery dinner events.

What are you using your platform for?

TA: I just want to be someone positive to look up to. Whether you are queer or not, I just want to make people laugh and show the world through the eyes of a guy who thinks he is a gay Disney prince! The world needs positivity and role models and I hope, even if it is just for one person, I can be that guy.

What is everybody’s biggest misconception of you?

TA: That I have a team of people making costumes, flyers, and getting gigs — but it is all me. I pride myself on being a doer and a go-getter. You have one life, and I just want to make it one to remember. I am constantly coming up with ideas, hot glue, and costumes, sending emails out, and just trying to build a future for myself and for more LGBTQ representation.

What do you want to tell the younger generation that is discovering their sexuality and having it hard out there?

TA: Be yourself, be smart, and be safe! But most importantly, do not compare yourself to others with social media at its high. Live your story, go at your pace, and be happy for others! And let the haters hate; from someone that has been bullied like no other (and is still bullied today), you find out that they are talking because you are doing everything right. So let them watch from the stands as you sparkle in the spotlight.

Do you have any projects or upcoming projects that you would like to talk about?

TA: I just published my LGBTQ children’s book Gill the Merboy and now I am working on my personal book. You can follow me on my social media @tony.cannoli for all the details!

How did you get on the show? What was the process?

TA: A friend heard of the audition and told me, “Tony, you should audition for this! They will pick you.” I said sure, but the deadline was basically in 10 minutes as it was 11:50 pm that day! So, I made a quick video of how I am single, looking for love, and a little about me. It was probably their last submission as I sent it in at 11:59 pm right before the deadline.

I heard nothing for a while and then the day my realtor told me my offer was accepted for the house I was buying, I got a phone call from the producers telling me they loved my video, and they want me to join them for the summer to live in a mansion full of DILFS. At first, I was a little resistant because I now was buying a house and it was a lot of paperwork and I did not want that to distract how I was on the show. But I said yes, and every morning in the mansion I was doing paperwork for my house at the crack of dawn and then for the rest of the day love my little gay bachelor life.

What can you tell us about the show and your experience?

Tony "Cannoli" Ardolino on the show "For the love of DILFS."
Tony “Cannoli” Ardolino on the show “For the love of DILFS.”

TA: I will say I go through a journey. There are ups, there are downs, there’s drama — but I kept telling myself to have courage and be kind (what can I say, I’m a Disney gay.) I start the series looking for a Prince Charming, but at the end of the series, I realize who that truly is. You will have to see.

On the show, you stated that you were in marketing and that you teach young girls to dance on the side when Alex asked what you do. He bluntly called you an actor, but you did not say that you were. Was this a character you were playing, and you gave the character a backstory?

TA: No, I actually am a marketing director for the U.S. Army base Picatinny Arsenal MWR here in New Jersey — check out all of our events, wedding venues, and water park open to the public at picatinny.armymwr.com. I also do teach dance to kids at Trinity Studios in Sparta, and I love it so much! They do not watch the show, but they think Mr. Tony is on The Bachelor. But yes, I also am an actor as well. I have worked on numerous national tours and commercials, and just recently worked on the last season of American Horror Story before they cut my character out of the scene! Oh well, there’s always next time!

How much of Tony Cannoli on the show is real compared to produced?

TA: Tony Cannoli is a bit of a heightened version of Tony Ardolino. He is a Disney prince come to life and is placed in a house full of DILFS, and I am here for every moment of it. I just wanted to have fun and for me, that was living the fantasy of it all. My parents always say I live in Fantasyland, that is just me. I love the D….Disney that is!

Is there anyone on set that you just did not gel with?

TA: Where do I begin? I have some drama with someone on the season. I felt like I was different from all the Himbos, and that was kind of feline upon them. I did not work in the nightlife scene and a lot of them knew each other, so I felt like Lindsay Lohan in Mean Girls. But once Alex left, I was single and that made the Himbos realize I was available for their Daddies and one person just wanted to get me out before his Daddy asked me out. In the words of Alyssa Edwards, “Jade, jealousy is a killer in this industry.”

Did you find love with Alex or any others in the house or do you remain single?

TA: You are going to have to watch it. By now you will see that Alex left the show due to personal life outside the show. But I did not give up; I came there looking for love, and, in the end, I truly believe I got my happily ever after.

Give me a fly-on-the-wall moment being in the house that nobody got to see.

TA: There was a gym in the house where I worked out with the daddies every morning while the other guys were sleeping. But I am used to waking up for work every morning, plus I was buying a house. The other guys are used to working late hours and then they sleep late but that just gave me more time to be with the daddies and talk to them more. I also still have the jockstrap Alex gave me; I guess that is my glass slipper moment.

What have you learned from being on the show? What is your takeaway?

TA: Don’t be afraid to speak your mind, not everything has to be perfect all the time, and watch whom you trust.

The streaming show on OUTtv has been renewed for a sophomore season due to the show’s overwhelming success. Be sure to tune in every Tuesday to watch Tony’s quest for love.