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INTERVIEW: Isaac Mizrahi On The Hometown Bay Street Crowd, His Greatest Show Business Thrills, And More

T.J. Clemente

Queen Size is a new show from Mizrahi. (Courtesy Photo)

In a wide-ranging interview exclusively for Hamptons.com, Isaac Mizrahi shared his thoughts on his talents, his career and his Monday, August 26th Bay Street show.

Isaac Mizrahi has worked extensively in the entertainment industry as an actor, host, writer, designer and producer for over 30 years. He has received an award at the Sundance Film Festival, hosted his own television talk show, The Isaac Mizrahi Show for seven years, has written three books, and has made countless appearances in movies and on television. He served as a judge on Project Runway: All-Stars for the series' entire seven-season run. For his Hamptons gig, he will be performing with his famous jazz band.

The first question to Mizrahi was about when he knew about his career path. He said, "I always knew I wanted to be an entertainer… it came very naturally…I suppose it started when I was seven with the puppets shows, when I could do all the voices, including the female and play the piano, too. I loved the attention." Then he added, "People looked at me and treated me like a child genius."

So, naturally there has to be the great influencer, the one person who believes in your talent and launches you in the right direction. Mizrahi noted, "It's in my book." That would be his New York Times bestselling memoir, I.M., which was published in February 2019. But, he explained with great admiration it was an English teacher named Sheila Kanowitz, who as Mizrahi said with the great prose that he is so capable of, "She was the instrument of my future." He explained how Ms. Kanowitz aimed him away from Yeshiva study to Performing Arts High School. "She knew where my future was," he explained.

When I asked Mizrahi what was his biggest thrill in show business, he thought a moment and said it had to be the 2000 opening night of his one man show off-Broadway. "It was something I was working on forever and ever and it was a great, great evening for me. I think that was my greatest night, I've had some great nights, it is so hard to pick one, but that was perhaps my greatest night," he relayed.

When asked about his greatest personal thrill in show business - given the opportunities to meet so many dynamic people - Mizrahi actually surprised me with his answer. It was also during his one man off-Broadway show when both "the fabulous Stanley Donen and Elaine May [his personal favorite show business legends]," appeared backstage after the show, "and then they told me I was wonderful, and then they took me out to dinner and I thought this is some kind of dream. Stanley Donen, who worked with Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire, and he's telling me that I am really talented!"

Finally, I asked Mizrahi what he loves about the Bay Street audiences, he replied, "They are smart. Sag Harbor is my home town, they [the Bay Street audience] are New Yorkers and Long Islanders, they are really smart and they are the ones who respond to my work the best."

Isaac Mizrahi: Queen Size will begin at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $79.

Bay Street is located at 1 Bay Street in Sag Harbor. For more information, visit www.baystreet.org.

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