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Randy Rainbow’s (Upper) West Side Story


The YouTube star Randy Rainbow was 10 when his family relocated to South Florida from Commack, N.Y. For those who are fond of identifying silver linings, the unfortunate move furnished young Randy with a keen sense of purpose: getting back to New York as soon as possible.

“All the movies and TV shows I love take place in New York, and being a musical-theater fan, I was obsessed with Broadway,” said Mr. Rainbow, 39, who has harnessed that passion to concoct sublimely impish parodies about Donald Trump and Mr. Trump’s coterie with melodies borrowed from theater and film scores, as well as pop hits. The ubiquitous pink cat’s-eye glasses add a certain je ne sais quoi to the proceedings.

The viral videos, the concert tours and a brisk business in merchandise (those signature pink glasses and the “From now on I identify as Cuomosexual” line of caps, mugs and tote bags) enabled Mr. Rainbow to move, last summer, from Astoria, Queens, his home base since returning north 18 years ago, to a corner two-bedroom rental on the Upper West Side.

Occupation: Writer and performer

My fair laundry: “Almost the first thing I noticed about the apartment was that it had a washer and dryer. It changes everything. Every time I wash my underwear, it’s like, ‘Thank you, Lord.’”

“You’ve caught me at a good time, because I’m now living in the apartment I’ve always dreamed of,” said Mr. Rainbow — yes, that’s his real name — who enumerated the view; the floor-to-ceiling windows; the two columns in the living room; the washer and dryer; and a separate room complete with green screen and prop closet to serve as his production studio.

“I really saved up,” he continued. “I didn’t want to make a lateral move to Manhattan. So I kept saying to myself, ‘One day, when I can do it right and live in a cute-doorman building, that’s when I’ll do it.’”

Mr. Rainbow travels light, which is to say that when Mr. Rainbow moves — he lived in four different, unprepossessing apartments in Queens — he doesn’t really need a moving truck.

“I find that when I go to a new place, I throw everything away,” he said. “And this apartment was so much nicer than the other places I’ve lived in in New York that I wanted to start from scratch.”

The Randy aesthetic is CB2, with a little Wayfair and West Elm thrown in. “I’m obsessed with CB2, like any typical gay Upper West Sider,” Mr. Rainbow said. “You can walk in and say, ‘Give me this and give me that, and the little tchotchke on the coffee table, and give me the coffee table, too.’”

Because he is confused by design, he said, he laid his chips on a black-and-white palette (tufted black-leather sofa, black-and-off-white area rug with a leaf pattern, black-and-white accent pillows) backed by chrome (the mirrored desk in the living room where he does much of his writing) and gold (a lamp base). “Those are safe,” he said. “You can throw anything in there and it will work.”

The heavy reliance on CB2 notwithstanding, Mr. Rainbow has put his own stamp on the apartment. It is apparent to even the most casual observer that here lives a true family man, albeit one with two families. There’s the showbiz “kin” — Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton; Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis; Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando; Paul Newman (“because he’s hot”); Bette Davis, Gloria Swanson, Elizabeth Taylor — whose images are displayed, variously, on walls and shelves. Likenesses of Barbra Streisand are all over the place. Framed letters from fans Stephen Sondheim and Hillary Clinton hang in the studio.

The luminaries share space with Mr. Rainbow’s real-life clan. A framed New Yorker cover dated April 14, 1951, his mother’s birthday, hangs near his desk. A photo of Mr. Rainbow with his maternal grandmother, Irene, “who is no longer with us,” sits on the windowsill in the studio. A photo of his cat, Mushi, also no longer with us, sits on a windowsill in the living room; Mushi’s ashes are on the windowsill as well, nestled in a box Mr. Rainbow found on Etsy.


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