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Legendary Gay Gossip Columnist Michael Musto Responds to Being Laid Off

By Brandon Voss

For almost 30 scandalous years, humorist Michael Musto has chronicled nightlife and celebrity culture — both highbrow and low-rent — in his "La Dolce Musto" column for New York’s Village Voice. It was announced Friday that the bridge-burning blogger and baron of blind items had been let go, shocking his fans and colleagues.

Gawker first reported:

We hear that executives from the Voice's parent company flew in for today's massacre. Michael Musto, the Voice's nightlife columnist and most high profile remaining staffer, has been let go, as was rumored last week. (There had apparently been some talk of Musto's column hanging on in some form, but that does not seem to have worked out.) ... We're told that the paper's remaining staff is "devastated" and in "uproar."

The company's restructuring — food critic Robert Sietsema and theater critic Michael Feingold have also been fired — is detailed in an official press release:

As of next week, veteran gossip columnist Michael Musto and longtime theater critic Michael Feingold will no longer be staffers at the Voice. Voice Media Group recognizes their many achievements and honors over the years, and thanks them for their loyalty, their professionalism, and the iconic role they have played in establishing the Voice as a cultural touchstone in New York City.

Musto told Gawker, "So many people have come out to offer their love (and opportunities). I'll update you on all my new beginnings. My brand will be feistier than ever." Earlier today, he addressed the situation and wrote about his legacy on Facebook:

Farewell For Now, My Loves

I want to take the opportunity to thank you for following my sometimes zippy, sometimes silly, but always personally felt words through the years. My column, “La Dolce Musto,” started in 1984, when I was one of the few people alive covering clubs, gays, drag queens, and so-called freaks. With their distaste for anything bland or boring, these colorful characters tapped into their most extreme selves, creating a welcoming family that I felt connected with, proud to reflect their crazed creativity for a larger public.

It was my privilege to be able to spotlight the disenfranchised on the same plane with the glitzy show biz stars I also loved, as I attended every movie premiere, Broadway opening, fashion show, and after party I could push myself into, with one eyebrow raised in between clubbing, gay protests, and rallies.

There were virtually no limits as I was allowed to assign my own words and take the result as far as I wanted, always with running threads tying together New York’s sociocultural elements, plus a healthy sense of self deprecation to make the mud slinging go down easier.

What a ride! I got to meet my icons, piss off power brokers, and write whatever I wanted because the Voice not only let you do that, but encouraged you to do so, providing a cathartic venue in which to spout truths and even make enemies, if need be.

As print started facing challenges, I went along with any new-media idea that came along, from doing podcasts to blogging up a s**tstorm. And as the world I pushed for—with gay visibility and truthful gossip everywhere—became a reality, I worked even harder to stay unique and out there, cranking out more and more words while digging up scoops and observations and promoting them via social media every chance I got. 

It was a helluva quarter-plus century of partying and protest. I have treasured my time there and have loved guiding you through some of NYC’s (and the world’s) dizzying highs and lows.

I am reachable through Facebook and twitter (@mikeymusto). 

Promoting his book Fork on the Left, Knife in the Back, Musto spoke to The Advocate in 2011 about being a spokesman for the gay community. On how the gay community regards him, he said, "They’ve realized I’m here for the long run, so they do tend to respect my opinion. The reality is that I’ve lived through so much, and I’ve reported on all of it coherently; I don’t do drugs, I don’t drink, and for many years I was the only clear-headed grown-up in the room... Some people probably hate me or just think I’m tired, but I get a lot of kudos as well as cooties."

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