There are very few people in the world that can say they directly made an impact on New York City nightlife. Media personality and activist, Scott Nevins is among those who can. Not that he ever would say something so self- aggrandized, because he is far too humble. So I will say it for him. Nevins is a visionary – hired in 2002 as the Entertainment Director of Therapy. The two-floor, elegantly decorated lounge was the first large-scale LGBTQ establishment in the Hell’s Kitchen – the hot upcoming gayborhood at the time.
Therapy proprietors first encountered Nevins when he was producing popular cabaret shows, featuring some of New York’s top drag talent. His work caught their attention as they were looking to incorporate cabaret elements into their new lounge. After a few meetings and negotiations, Scott, a Queens, New York native, came on board. Therapy opened with the 22-year-old at the helm as the producer of all weekly entertainment, and he was tapped to host and produce his own Monday night show “Scott Nevins Presents.” It was a talk show but in a bar and it would feature one on one interviews with celebrities. The idea was utterly unconventional.
“Scott Nevins Presents” at Therapy started somewhat lukewarm, mostly because of the newness of the establishment itself. There were also naysayers, of course. Even the owners had to consider patrons might not want to be bothered with a guy in a lounge conducting talk show styled interviews? As it turned out, the format caught on, and the crowd loved it!
Word of mouth helped to spread the news. Up and coming names, as well as established celebrities, would stop by and Scott would interview them, Merv Griffin-style, while the cocktail crowd sipped, sang along, laughed and even cried. I asked Scott if he had been afraid at the time that his live talk show might flop?
SN: “Absolutely! I had no intention of putting myself on that stage, but we needed something for the Monday night slot, and the owners pushed me to do a show of my own. At that time, no other guy besides Jai Rodriguez had ever had their own show in the NY nightlife scene – it was either drag queens or female singers – and here I was up there…talking! In the beginning, the community didn’t know what to make of it, or me, but something clicked, and it really put me on the path to the career I have today on TV. I was young, and there were no risks, so it was a magical and free time before there were contracts, studio execs, and even social media!”
The show became a hit, gained momentum, and attracted big names in entertainment. It was the perfect place for performers to talk about new projects, connect with a live audience, and perform in an intimate setting.
Some of the celebrity guests who appeared on “Scott Nevins *Presents*” included: Tammy Faye Messner-Bakker, RuPaul, Deborah Cox, talk show host Graham Norton, Billy Porter, Cheyenne Jackson, Anna Gasteyer, American Idol’s Kimberley Locke and Jim Verraros, the original Queer Eye guys, Tony Winner Melba Moore, Broadway’s Original “Annie” Andrea McArdle, Dance Diva Pepper Mashay, original Village People Cowboy Randy Jones, writers and TV personalities Michael Musto and Bruce Vilanch, Emmy Award-winning Soap stars Martha Byrne, Cady McClain, Dorothy Lyman, and Kim Zimmer, and countless other Film, TV, Theater, and Recording stars.
“Scott Nevins *Presents* ran successfully for over 2 years, maintaining its popularity. Nevins had accomplished his vision and made Therapy one of Manhattan’s top LGBT places to be and be seen. Ultimately though, a calling to pursue new endeavors would bring Nevins to decide to retire the show. It was still hugely popular when it ended.
Reflecting back, Nevins shared with me who was his favorite guest in the show’s history, and which guest appearance really blew his mind, like “OMG I can’t believe you’re actually here!”:
SN: “To think back on it now, it was mindblowing how many stars actually showed up to do a fake talk show in a bar, but they did. I’d be fielding calls from press people, agents and managers all day long looking to book their big-name clients. It’s hard to say who my *favorite guest was, but the one that holds a special place in my heart was Tammy Faye Messner-Baker. She was the first big name celebrity to come to the show and that night put the show, and myself, on the map! She was such a trip, and quite grateful for the opportunity.
I have always been obsessed with the “Rosie O’Donnell Show” and I wanted to make her appearance on “Scott Nevins *Presents*” feel like that, so I went out and bought all of her favorite foods (we even found out-of-season pumpkin pie!), created hilarious videos on the street asking NY’ers about her, and yet devised some games for the audience to play that night, including an all-male mascara applying contest! Some of that night is captured on video and lives on YouTube, and was recently used on “2020” when they profiled her!”
I also definitely had an OMG moment when RuPaul was there – that was epic. No one could believe that we convinced Ru to do it and in drag! I had been trying to book Ru, and with a new album being released, it seemed like the perfect time to strike – and it worked! The line to get in stretched halfway around the block. We had extra security! The thing I remember most is that when I first met Ru (in Los Angeles when I went to see our mutual friend Ari Gold perform), we were introduced and started chatting about our love of showbiz and Divas. I do a lot of vocal impressions in my comedy act of some famous divas and when I busted out with my “Liza” Ru let out that signature huge Ru laugh, and suddenly we were kindred spirits.
After the appearance on “Scott Nevins *Presents*,” Ru invited me over and told me to bring an empty iPod (yes, iPod! Hello, early 2000’s!). I, of course, followed orders and when I showed up, I spent the afternoon getting a master class in (and an iPod full of) incredible music, including lots of below the radar stuff that I had never known of. Ru was charming, sweet, and truly a force. Whenever I hear about “Snatch Game” on “Drag Race,” I always smile and think about how I was able to make Ru roar with laughter with my “Liza.”
Scott Nevins will always be synonymous with that magical time in New York City. However, his creative prowess allowed him the opportunities to expand beyond his show at Therapy. He’s worked with such greats as Liza Minnelli, Barry Manilow, Carol Channing, Harvey Fierstein, Florence Henderson, Joan Rivers, Mitzi Gaynor, Megan Mullally, Idina Menzel, Comedian/Actor Hal Sparks, and many more. This nation-wide resume includes both theater productions and hundreds of fundraisers he hosted for countless organizations.
A few years ago, Nevins decided he had taken enough bites out of the Big Apple and set his sights on the west coast. With tons of talent, an enviable jawline, sparkling green eyes, and a gym-fit physique, his move to Los Angeles quickly proved to be a wise one. He promptly landed on television, appearing on the hit TV show “TruTV Presents: The World’s Dumbest” alongside his co-stars Danny Bonaduce, Leif Garrett, Todd Bridges and yes, Tonya Harding.
He was also an original cast member of Bravo TV’s hit show “The People’s Couch” alongside his two friends, Blake McIver, and Emerson Collins. The show catapulted Nevins to national fame, as he and his friends became three of the breakout stars of the show. Now, with a large and continuously growing fan base, Scott Nevins has established himself as an outspoken political voice and champion of LGBTQ rights, HIV awareness, and education. Most notably, he appeared on “Dr. Drew” to talk about his decision to go on PrEP when very few people would openly speak about it. He also appeared as an INSTINCT MAGAZINE cover story!
Today, Scott is an award-winning TV/Radio Host, Writer, News Contributor, Comedian, and Producer. He recently made his debut appearance as a contributor and talking head on CNN Newshour with Brooke Baldwin, and has appeared regularly on CNN International with John Vause, HLN and is a contributing writer to Logo’s NEWNOWNEXT and other media outlets. He has toured the country with several of his sold-out comedy tours, and each holiday season Scott gives back by producing and hosting “Sparkle: An All-Star Holiday Concert” featuring TV, Broadway and recording stars singing holiday songs for a great cause.
Along the way, Nevins also found true love. He and his soon-to-be husband, Philip – a successful hedge fund manager, just bought a beautiful second home together in Palm Springs, CA.
Having accomplished so much so early in life, and continuing to slay, I asked Scott, what’s next:
SN: We are in full wedding-planning mode! We got engaged the day that we got our new house in Palm Springs, so it’s been a double whammy of designing our house and figuring out the details of our wedding, all while still keeping up with our work schedules. It’s an embarrassment of happiness for us right now. I’m getting used to saying the word fiancé without following it with word “Knowles” (it just sounds too similar!).
The not-so-good stuff is what’s happening in our country, but as you know I use my social media presence to keep people informed and engaged about what is going on and how we put an end to it (spoiler alert: we all need to vote!).
I take great pride in being an advocate as well as a springboard for people to keep themselves in-the-know. I sometimes laugh when I get recognized on the street or in an airport, because people used to say “I love you on Bravo, you and your friends are so funny!,” and now they say “I follow you on social media and get all of my news from you!,” or “I just saw you on CNN and loved what you said!”
Admittedly, I wear a lot of hats and sometimes that can confuse people in showbusiness because they want to keep you in one box, but I’ve got too much to say and do, and besides, I need that box to stand on and preach from!