In the Closet With Rob Paluso

This actor and costume designer is anything but a drag

Photo by Gene Smirnov

Rob Paluso may be best known as Anita Manhattan, the retro-inspired drag persona from GayBINGO!, but the 31-year-old is actually a professional actor and costume designer who’s appeared in dozens of shows, films and the online gay soap Secrets. While he may be donning vastly different wardrobes (not to mention pantyhose) in the spotlight, in his private life, Paluso’s got a penchant for some seriously butch vintage duds.

Hometown: Washington, PA. “Also known as Washpa.”

Neighborhood: Queen Village.

Designed Costumes for: “I’ve been designing since 2006—most recently for local productions of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and A Streetcar Named Desire.”

Style Inspiration: “Classic Hollywood—and, honestly, my parents, Patti and Eugene. They were married just before the hippie movement, so they have a lot of great, sleek clothes that are very Mad Men.”

Favorite Winter Look: Military. “I love peacoats and jackboots.”

Must-Have Accessory: Leather gloves that are tight and tailored. “I think there’s nothing more polished than a man or woman in a pair of well-made gloves.”

Most Interesting Item: “A Mountie belt that has a leather strap that crosses your chest.”

Can’t Live Without: “Stripes and plaid!”

Favorite Men’s Designer: Dolce & Gabbana. “I love that it ranges from whimsical and casual to just outright classic and beautifully tailored.”

Shoe Count: “I lost count somewhere around 124.”

Most Surprising Item: Diesel leather jeans. “I just can’t seem to get rid of them.”

Biggest Fashion Regret: “My Eurotrash phase. Right after I moved back from Milan, I was wearing white blazers and huge diamond studs and was doing too much tanning.”

Vintage Item: “I have a watch fob from my great-grandfather from the 1890s.”

Favorite Item: “I have my brother’s three-quarter-length naval dress coat from Admiral Farragut Academy, a military high school that used to be near Toms River, NJ.”

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