If you’re walking down Eighth Avenue in Chelsea in the early evening and look inside the Joyce Theater box office, you may notice a slightly built, blond-haired young man named Danny Pintauro. For eight years, from 1984 to 1992, Mr. Pintauro starred on Who’s the Boss? , the absurdly ubiquitous (thanks to syndication) sitcom in which Tony Danza played a lovably brutish manservant to a fatherless suburban family; Mr. Pintauro played Jonathan Bower, the floppy-haired tyke of the house. These days Mr. Pintauro, now 25, is out of Hollywood, out of the closet, living in Brooklyn and working part-time at the Joyce. He is also, like a lot of child performers before him, struggling to be taken seriously.
“I might have to take a call if my cell phone rings,” Mr. Pintauro said, soon after sitting down to lunch at Dish, a low-lit, popular new restaurant in Chelsea. He was expecting a call from a real-estate broker about an apartment he wanted to rent in the West Village; since moving to New York from Los Angeles a couple of years ago, Mr. Pintauro has lived in a remote apartment building south of Prospect Park. The neighborhood, he said, “doesn’t really have a name–just sort of ‘Far-Away Brooklyn,'” and he was anxious to move.
After Who’s the Boss? ended its run, Mr. Pintauro enrolled at Stanford University, intending to drop acting and study to be a veterinarian. But “as soon as I started taking chemistry, I realized that I was just not made for it.” Then, he said, “I just spent a lot of time doing absolutely nothing, staring at walls and freaking out, wondering what I was going to do with my life.”
Finally Mr. Pintauro decided that he wanted to act again, and realized that New York was the place to be. Of course, it wasn’t as simple as that. “The hardest people to convince that I could actually be an actor are casting directors in New York,” he said, spooning at a bowl of French onion soup. “They’re expecting an actor who really knows what he’s doing. The show gives me a name, but it doesn’t necessarily make me an actor. You don’t have to be an actor to be on a sitcom.” Recently, however, there had been a breakthrough: In July, Mr. Pintauro would be off to Ithaca to play Puck in the Hangar Theater Company’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
“Right now, my ideal role would be in a film where people would see me as an act- or, ” Mr. Pintauro said. He said he’d like an acting career like “what’s-his-name–Kevin Spacey–even though I don’t like him as a person.” (Mr. Pintauro didn’t elaborate, but acknowledged he hadn’t met Mr. Spacey before.) He said he also admired Matthew Broderick–but not Mr. Broderick’s Producers castmate, Nathan Lane. In The Producers , he said, Mr. Lane was just “being Nathan. Nathan was playing the same part he plays over and over again. He just had to be a slimy actor. He always does that.”
Mr. Pintauro glanced down at his phone. “My phone rang!” he exclaimed. “I can’t believe I missed it!” He looked at the silver phone’s face. “Cool, that was Anthony Rapp,” he said, referring to the former star of Rent . “We’ve been trying to get together for lunch.”
Mr. Pintauro said he still speaks with most of his fellow Who’s the Boss? cast members. “I would describe them as, like, distant relatives. You always keep in touch with them,” he said. In the coming weekend, he planned to travel to Washington, D.C., to see his old TV mom, the actress Judith Light, in Hedda Gabler at the Shakespeare Theater; he recently saw his TV grandma, Katherine Helmond, in The Vagina Monologues in New York. He had also just watched Mr. Danza perform his cabaret act at the Regency Hotel.
Alas, Mr. Pintauro said he hadn’t spoken in ages to Alyssa Milano, who played Mr. Danza’s tomboy daughter in the show and who, after a post- Who’s the Boss? detour of B-movies and racy photographs, had lately rekindled her career on the WB series Charmed.
“She’s worked so hard to separate herself from [her Who's the Boss? ] character,” said Mr. Pintauro. “She’s a sexpot now. She’s gorgeous and female .”
As for Mr. Pintauro, he was just hoping for some steady work here in New York. He didn’t think his coming out had a negative impact on his career, but he acknowledged there were certain roles he probably wasn’t right for. “If I were thinking of casting me in a part that required a male straight whatever, I wouldn’t pick me, ’cause I’m not,” he said. “[That] doesn’t reflect necessarily on my being gay, but reflects on the fact that I’m a skinny guy, that I don’t have tons of testosterone flowing out of me.
“Gay or not, I just can’t play that part–the football jock, the quarterback,” Mr. Pintauro said, laughing. “As hard as I try, as good an actor as I am, you’re not going to believe me throwing the football! It’s not gonna happen!”
See You Later
I arrived at the Harlem Meer on Lenox Avenue and East 105th Street on the night of June 7–just after alligator hunter Mike Bailey, his wife Tina and Parks Commissioner Henry Stern disembarked from their police convoy. Dozens of news-satellite trucks were on the scene. I wondered if Harlem had ever seen so many klieg lights and cameras; I worried there might not be enough reporters elsewhere to cover the Giuliani divorce.
The kids assembled on the bank taunted the news crews and the alligator hunters with good-natured hostility. “I ain’t never seen no white people in Central Park before,” said one. “Where’d all these tourists come from? I hate tourists.”
A Westchester man had come with two children and a giant black, wooden L.L. Bean salmon net, which he’d concealed from the park police. “I don’t see why they had to bring in an alligator hunter from Florida,” he said. “There’s plenty of us in New York.” Another amateur hunter, an off-duty city cop named Mike, told me he had hidden a 12-foot reptile snare pole in the woods. He was convinced that Mr. Stern had ordered the park police to keep them off the shoreline, fearful that a New Yorker would be the first to grab the gator and upstage the parks commissioner and his imported hunter.
Several yards away, Mike and Tina Bailey boarded a canoe and set off into the murky Meer. The best time to catch alligators, it turns out, is at night, when the red reflection of their eyes can be spotted by moving a flashlight beam across the water’s surface. On the riverbank, the West-chester father plunged a hand into the Meer and snatched out a bullfrog. He smiled and crouched down behind a bush, where he sat until the Baileys paddled by–whereupon he lobbed the frog over Mike Bailey’s head. Hearing the loud plunk , Mr. Bailey scrambled frantically for his flashlight.
At 10:30 p.m., after Tina Bailey grabbed a two-foot ( ! ) speckled caiman from the bow of her canoe, the police sprang into action, cordoning off an area for a press conference. I watched a tall white man–definitely not a reporter–duck the tape line and wander into the scrum. Then the West-chester frog-thrower and his kids followed suit, and soon all the white people had ducked inside the tape. “Hey, I’m white, let me in,” yelled one of black kids. “I speak French,” he added hopefully. I don’t know if the kids ever got to see their neighborhood gator; if they did, they did it in the dark. Shortly after the 11 p.m. news wrapped, the press packed up and headed back downtown, taking their klieg lights with them.
–Bobby Kennedy III
A Grand One
After commissioning a poll which found that 69 percent of Americans who don’t own an American flag wish they did, designer Tommy Hilfiger announced a national contest, “Earn Your Stripes and Be a Star,” asking contestants to create a brief video demonstrating what the flag means to them. The 49-year-old designer himself will personally pick the contest’s winner, who will receive $25,000 and have his or her video aired as part of a Hilfiger TV commercial.
To help get word on the contest out, Hilfiger sent out a few dozen cotton American flags with the company logo etched on the border proudly hawking “Tommy’s stars and stripes event.” But Mr. Hilfiger must not have known that enclosed with the flag is a small pamphlet, entitled Our Flag , which contains a few instructions on its proper care. Among the code’s directives: “The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever.”
– Marcus Baram